When Jacob Jonas the Company performs, energy doesn’t just seem to bounce off the walls, it reverberates off of bodies.
For the “Side Door Series” this weekend, the company is presenting two new pieces by its artistic director, Jacob Jonas, plus his breakout 2014 work, “In a Room on Broad St.” The program, which closes Sunday, opened on Friday to a packed studio at the Los Angeles Ballet Center.
“In a Room on Broad St.” was an explosive display of the company’s vitality and range. If break dancing and concert dance had a baby, it would be the Jacob Jonas company. With balletic arabesques, acrobatic flips and spinning headstands, the dancers showed that they could hold their own in the studio and on the street.
Whereas the company pulled out all the stops for “In a Room,” the debut of “Primary” was an exercise in concentration and control. The severe and svelte trio of Jill Wilson, Wesley Ensminger and Brooklynn Reeves was laser focused on the moves.
Reeves sensuously rolled her exposed belly and back, all while rising on an unshakable toe point. Wilson sliced the air with scissor-like precision, and Ensminger landed in the same leg-contorting twist on the floor even after vaulting into the air several times. The tension they generated was breathtaking.
However, the evening’s second debut, “Obstacles,” fell into a disappointingly familiar routine. Based on 23-year-old Mallory Smith’s battle with cystic fibrosis, the duet pitted Jonas, symbolizing the disease, against co-choreographer Marissa Labog, representing Smith. Jonas, using his body as a blockade, stonewalls Labog’s progress across the room thwarting her earnest attempts to dive under his legs, climb over his shoulders and side-step his assaults. The confrontation is repeated ad nauseam, proving “Obstacles” to be a tribute that's more tedious than tender.
Jacob Jonas may take some struggles too literally, but when it comes to dance, his imagination is wonderfully wide open.
Jacob Jonas the Company
Where: Los Angeles Ballet Center/Side Door Theater, 11755 Exposition Blvd. (entrance on Stoner Avenue), Los Angeles
When: 8 p.m. Sunday