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Dance Review: Bodytraffic At The Broad Stage

Wiebke Schuster |
October 13, 2013 | 11:12 a.m. PDT

Contributing Writer

Lillian Barbeito with Guzman Rosado in "Kollide." Photo by Tomasz Rossa.
Lillian Barbeito with Guzman Rosado in "Kollide." Photo by Tomasz Rossa.
Local L.A. dance troupe Bodytraffic sets the standard for a fall full of dance highlights that may finally put the City of Angels on the international dance map.

When humor and wit successfully share an evening’s bill alongside a work that takes the viewer on a journey to the basement of our dusty souls, it is a sign of quality. Co-artistic directors (and dancers) Lillian Rose Barbeito and Tina Finkelmann Berkett struck a perfect balance with a triple-bill performed this Friday at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

Lucky timing played to their favor: Two weeks prior to the company’s tour to San Francisco and New York City, commissioned choreographer Kyle Abraham received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. This Friday saw the world premiere of his 22-minute piece ‘Kollide’, a work so profoundly striking, the audience could feel the ground move. Set, lighting and music create the atmosphere of a room about to collapse in an abandoned building. The shades of copper and sand in the set and lighting design by Dan Scully blend with the haunting score (by Hildur Guðnadóttir and Valgeir Sigurdsson) made up of pedestrian sounds and melodic cello episodes.

Lillian Rose Barbeito is a powerhouse, leaping from a great height to her whole body lying flat on the floor in a split second, without noise. Spiraling arms and swiveling turns reverberate to infinity. The softness of fluidity is broken by sudden outbursts of energetic upper body thrusts and pungent battements. Guzmán Rosado, similar to Abraham himself, is a fascinating mover, snake-like at times, then direct and hard-hitting. His jumps pause time in the air.

"Kollide" is framed by two pieces. The first, "And At Midnight, The Green Bride Floated Through The Village Square" by Barak Marshall (a 2013 L.A. Times “Face to Watch”) is a story full of dark humor. At its core, it is a “morality tale” of a large family and their feuds. Marshall’s influence by Ohad Naharin (he was the first resident choreographer of the Batsheva Dance Company in 1999) is clear—he wants space-eating, grounded performers with a sense for comedic timing. The most memorable part remains the gestural movement phrases performed in perfect unison to the lively mix of folklore music. Marshall’s mother Magalit Oved narrates the piece. Her monologues, though not always understandable, are extremely funny. She tells the audience of her grandmother, who wrote a book called "The Wisdom Of Life." “Do not look for it in the library,” she says. “I swallowed it.”

The final piece "o2Joy" by Richard Siegal (Munich Dance Award winner 2013) showcased the company’s versatility and strong base in classical ballet training. Siegal throws in speedy petit allegro next to jazz hands and lip-synching (a favorite audience moment had Andrew Wojtal reveal his inner diva while singing Ella Fitzgerald’s "All of Me"). "o2Joy"is a friendly reminder that entertainment, humor and pop culture references all have a place in concert dance.

Barbeito and Finkelman Berkett have assembled a stunning group of performers who are not afraid to turn their skin inside out to bare their souls. Add to the mix an eye for choreographic talent, a little luck and the perseverance it takes to hold it all together and the future for this L.A. home team is golden. 

Reach contributing writer Wiebke Schuster here or follow her on Twitter here. Read more about dance by Wiebke on The Ballet Bag.



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