Litvak Dance may be a newborn, but there were no tentative baby steps in the repertory company’s sold-out debut concert last weekend. Litvak exploded onto the stage at UCSD’s Molli and Arthur Wagner Theatre with assured dancers performing work by four choreographers, shifting deftly between styles. And the closing piece by artistic director Sadie Weinberg was so glorious and theatrical, it begs to be shown on a larger stage.
The Live Arts Fest put on by Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater is truly a shoestring event—on Saturday, Isaacs was working as a stagehand, handling props. So it’s all the more remarkable that the ten-day festival offered a rich palette of work by international artists, including Christine Dakin, longtime principal with the Martha Graham Dance Company, doing Graham’s legendary solo, “Cante Jondo.”
“Schrekstoff” offered much to appreciate: clarity, humor, and strong performances by a five-member ensemble. But Lavina Rich warned the audience beforehand that we might get scared. I wish. The only emotion I felt was humor.
Who’s going to die? In Jean Isaacs’ propulsive, stomping, ominous “Rite of Spring,” one dancer after another appears isolated from the rest … and will he/she be chosen to be sacrificed? Erica Ruse does a tortured, limb-flinging solo, while the others stand and watch. And these folks, denizens of a wonderfully creepy leather bar, doesn’t look friendly.
There’s a global palette of movement, from Middle Eastern Sufi dance to Brazilian capoeira to hip-hop, skillfully blended, so for instance the dancers do Sufi spinning not only standing but also, in dramatic B-boy style, on their hands and heads.
Powerful movers with bodybuilder thighs, Malpaso Dance presented one of the most satisfying dances I’ve ever seen—”Indomitable Waltz” by Aszure Barton.