Dance lovers will be treated to multifaceted styles of the art March 8 at the Glendale Alex Theatre as "Celebrate Dance," in its ninth year, brings together dance companies from throughout California to perform for one night only. And for the first time, tap and live music will be included.
Eight dance companies will perform dance styles from urban tap and contemporary jazz, to new wave and ultra modern dance. As "Celebrate Dance" Executive Producer Jamie Nichols does each year, several new companies will be introduced with this year's performance, to join returning dance companies — SoleVita Dance Company and Mizerany Dance.
Artistic Director Adam Parson brings his Commonality Dance Company to "Celebrate Dance." The group was formed in 2002 "out of the necessity to be able to perform," Parson said in a telephone interview.
Parson put together his company with dancers from his classes at the Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles after a year and a half of teaching there. "I realized they were really good dancers. And I thought, maybe I can do this. I can create a company and use these dancers. If they're not working, they can express their talents."
Parson, who was born in Nairobi, Kenya, didn't start his career life as a dancer. He was working as a computer programmer and accountant in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C. while studying to be a pastry chef when one day his sister asked him to drop a friend at dance class.
"[I see] all these girls thrown in the air, guys twisting and turning ... I had never seen dance live ... and I thought, 'Oh my god!' Literally, my energy clicked into dance."
Parson's first job was as the Blue Power Ranger in the popular live tour, and he went on to dance in and choreograph for stage, film and TV (he's choreographed for Australia's "So You Think You Can Dance"), as well as performed at the White House for President Bill Clinton.
Parson has taken his dance company Commonality around the globe, performing jazz, ballet, lyrical and world dance. For the March 8 performance of "Celebrate Dance," the company will perform "NeXuS6/4," an excerpt from a larger show, which Parson said was inspired by the movie "Blade Runner," and explores "human-android relationships."
For the first time in "Celebrate Dance," tap will be performed, and with live music. BPR beatsperminute combines tap, vocal, bass, guitar and drums in a performance that has been described as "Innovative, cheeky and energetic," by Australia's Herald Sun, and their work has been compared to the raw style of renowned tapper Savion Glover.
While BPM was originally founded by choreographers and directors Glyn Gray and Nathan Sheens in Australia, Gray formed a U.S. troupe after he moved to the States.
Gray said the original troupe was formed during the many nights out touring doing musicals in Australia.
"What happens when you're on tour, you either go two routes: you perform, stay out all night and party; or perform, enjoy what you do, and use the downtime to create new work."
The group got its break in 2002 when they performed during "scratch night" at the Sydney Opera House. Lesser known or new companies have a chance to perform during this open performance night, and if the opera house producers like a show, they will produce it. BPM was chosen and had three successful sold-out seasons at the opera house, and went on to perform at other venues throughout Australia. They premiered their work at the Nvitational Festival in Los Angeles in 2011.
What makes BPM unique, Gray said, is that the band has a unique part in the performance. Rather than being hidden, like most orchestras are with a dance performance, or the dance group using recorded music, they are on stage with the dancers. The dancers and musicians work together to form the show.
It is a "collaboration and fusion of all sorts of exciting things going on," Gray said.
What: Celebrate Dance 2014
Where: Alex Theatre, 216 North Brand Blvd. Glendale
When: Saturday, March 8; 8 p.m.
Tickets: $18 to $38; discount tickets for students and seniors; children $12 if seated with an adult.
More info: (818) 243-2539, alextheatre.org
LAURA TATE is a frequent contributor to Marquee.