Concert Will Take a Light and Airy Approach

If you prefer your modern dance without a trace of angst, somber introspection or dark psychodrama, Three's Company's repertory concert should suit you to a T.

As associate choreographer Nancy McCaleb explained, "It's a concert people will go away from having a real good time. Maybe happy isn't the best word, but there's a lot of comedy and some tragicomedy on the program. My dance and Jean's (Isaacs) are borderline weird and funny, and Betzi's (Roe) piece is jazzy and full of lightness."

Three's Company, the granddaddy of them all, has been dispensing modern dance to local aficionados since 1974, but the designers of the new repertory concert think this one, which will run over two weekends at UC San Diego's Mandell Weiss Center for the Performing Arts, is very special.

"We've all gotten so damn good," said McCaleb, flashing her broadest grin."

Interjected Isaacs: "Well, it's just that everything (on the program) is so new. It's the first time we are performing over two weekends, and it's also the first time everyone is collaborating with a composer.

"Typically, choreographers find a taped (score) they like, and they create a dance with it. It's unusual to work with a composer," Isaacs said. "It's a much bigger expense to use music that was actually written for the dance."

Three's Company pulled out all the stops for this concert, with commissioned music to be played live at all performances. Miles Anderson contributed the score for "Gurney," a quirky number danced by Denise Dabrowski (Sugar Plum Fairy in California Ballet's recent "Nutcracker") and Three's Company veteran Patrick Nollet.

Anderson also composed the aural environment for McCaleb's "Swamp," which combines a surrealistic environment by sculptor Andrea Bjeldanes (who dazzled dance audiences with her "Alice in Wonderland"-style setting for McCaleb's "Osirian Fields" last season), a spoken text (based on a distillation of one of McCaleb's own short stories), and dance icons that date back to the dawn of civilization.

Emmy Award-winning composer Larry Morton provided the sonic impetus for Roe's "Rasputin Said Goodnight," a work that had its genesis in improvisations by a quintet of company dancers.

The La Jolla Playhouse's resident composer, Michael S. Roth, made his first foray into the dance world when he contributed the music for "The Seasons," a four-movement, pure dance work by Isaacs.

Also on tap for this new repertory concert is "Sequenza," a solo by Roe which previewed last summer. Soprano Ann Chase will sing the accompaniment in an on-stage performance that qualifies as a dance event by itself.

Three's Company will spread its wings outside San Diego this season with a couple of concerts in San Francisco. The troupe has received its first national exposure through "Take 3," a dance-video program created in conjunction with KPBS-TV. But as Isaacs pointed out, the company has condensed its San Diego season to just two concerts.

"We'll be doing another local concert in April at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, but with 15 imported dance companies and three to five California companies coming to town, we didn't think we could keep audiences coming if we did any more here."

Consequently, Three's Company has put most of its eggs in one basket, and as McCaleb said, "This one is going to be a real blockbuster concert."

Performances will be at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday and Jan. 15 and 16.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World