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She’s Taking Steps

Most people go through profound mid-life crises only once during their lives, but local dance torchbearer choreographer Mary Jane Eisenberg is sent into virtual psychic tailspins every time she and her five-member company put on a performance.

Talk about a taxing regime--especially when you consider that Eisenberg has been presenting experimental work at least twice a year for the past 15 years. With her pencil-thin, androgynous physique and facial intensity, Eisenberg smiles at suggestions that the pace is getting to her.

“I always make work that somehow reflects what I’m going through in my life,” she explains. “So, because I’m changing all the time, it’s logical that the work would be too.”

Sure, Eisenberg acknowledges, she “literally flipped some audiences out” last spring when she offered up an unprecedented evening of what she calls “straight, conservative, traditional, ballet-informed dancing for dancing’s sake, movement.” But the plethora of hefty, and sometimes even troubling, assumptions that her loyal fans have of Eisenberg’s efforts have actually provided the artist with the creative fodder for her newest and most autobiographically revealing piece to date.

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“OK, maybe I am proving to myself that I can ricochet around what everyone expects of me and not get burned,” she says, laughing herself into a tizzy while warming up at the First Methodist Church of Hollywood, where on Wednesday she will premiere “Accumulated Assumptions--Going Up,” a benefit performance for Connexxus--a womens’ center. (Money raised will go toward educating women about AIDS.)

“This year, I went out of my way to leave out the balleticisms and include a bunch of autobiographical musings, just to break a pattern.

“Last year, I wanted to dance my backside off,” she says of her controversial dance work called “Dance in Four Directions.” “This year, I wanted to make a more accessible work, a celebratory piece about moving through and upwards and away from so many assumptions about work, sex, love and spirituality. And I’m psyched for the change. OK . . . and maybe even a little freaked.”


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