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Dance Kaleidoscope to Be Revived at Cal State L.A.

In a move that has been lauded by key members of the local dance community, Cal State L.A. plans to revive Dance Kaleidoscope, an annual summer festival that faded from the scene more than three years ago.

The first Dance Kaleidoscope II is scheduled for two consecutive weekends (six different mixed-bill performances) on the campus in July, said university spokeswoman Ruth Goldway. Open auditions will begin in February and about 500 applications for Los Angeles County-based dancers will be sent out this week, she said.

Karen Goodman, president of the Dance Resource Center of Greater Los Angeles, the area’s 350-member dance service organization, praised the re-creation of the festival, which waives theater rental fees and all other production costs for participants.

“There are just so few possibilities for (dance) performance in L.A. right now,” said Goodman, artistic director of the dance company that bears her name. “We have two problems: a lack of presenters and a lack of viable, alternative spaces where people can produce their own work on an affordable scale. This doesn’t address that need, but to offer another venue for dance to be seen in L.A. is very, very important.”

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“If you can’t find a space to progress in your art form, it makes the struggle to survive 15 times harder,” said Bella Lewitzky, artistic director of one of the city’s most prominent dance companies. The festival revitalization, she said, is “fabulous.”

Donald Hewitt, an organizer of former Dance Kaleidoscope festivals put on by the defunct Los Angeles Area Dance Alliance, initiated the restoration and will be its director.

About 30 groups and soloists are scheduled to perform in the 400-seat State Playhouse on campus next summer. Cal State L.A. will provide all services and facilities for festival performances, said Hewitt, who lectures about dance at the college. The annual budget, covered by the university, will be about $40,000, he said, adding that he wants to raise $7,500 above that for customary dancers’ honorariums.

Past Kaleidoscope festivals showcased works by more than 150 dance companies and soloists over six years. The last one was presented in 1985, a year before the project’s sponsoring alliance dissolved due to management and financial woes.

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“Most of L.A.'s best dancers came through Kaleidoscope,” Hewitt said, “like Mary Jane Eisenberg and Rudy Perez,” the latter a performer in the 1987 Los Angeles Festival of artists from around the world.

Cal State L.A.'s Goldway said the festival jibes with a university decision to “become a focal point for the arts.” The school recently announced plans to build a $21-million on-campus arts complex. It is also home to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where Hewitt is principal ballet teacher.

For Dance Kaleidoscope II information or an application (deadline is Jan. 2), call the Cal State L.A. theater arts and dance department at (213) 343-4110.


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