Some missteps for Sola festival

Special to The Times

Besides the birth of Regina Klenjoski's son on Thursday, there was very little new to celebrate in the third annual Sola Contemporary Dance Festival, which took place over the weekend at James Armstrong Theatre in Torrance.

Klenjoski's eponymous company produces the event that each year promises 10 "boundary-breaking" contemporary choreographers.

Unfortunately, most of those boundaries had already been broken.

Which isn't to say the night was a complete turkey, as two solos lived up to Sola's credo.

Myshia Moten's premiere, "Always at Least Two Sides," showcased a compelling Leslie Odom in a chartreuse unisex top and full-length culottes. Moving to Damon Zick's jazzy sax and piano score (on tape), his improvisatory-like, angst-ridden gestures -- swooping arms, backward bends, huge kicks -- exploited the notion of abuse.

Eve Kikawa's "The Oracle" (2002), created with Heather Gillette, saw the latter in no-holds-barred mode tackling a Grecian seer motif. Set to an energetic Arvo Part thrashing string work, Gillette sliced the air with a sense of abandon.

Whether she was lying on the floor, rolling about or falling to her knees, the tableau took a surreal turn when Gillette's open-mouthed scream morphed into the dancer plunging her face into a bowl of water.

Another premiere, "The Mundane," by Marissa Labog, associate director of Klenjoski's company, embraced its title: The choreographer, a font of smiley faces, gamboled over, under and around a park bench to Dave Brubeck's "Take Five."

Also haplessly pedestrian: Laurie Cameron's new "blackbird whistling or just after," in which a trio of black unitard-clad dancers dipped, sprinted and looked bizarre with raccoon-eyed makeup.

More feeble group efforts: "Pandora," Hilary Thomas' new work for her Lineage Dance, a frenetic interpretation of the mythological lass and her box of ills; while Hanh Nguyen's excerpt from "Ocean Form" basically had her company, Notoriety Inc., performing a glorified yoga class.

Previously reviewed works helped save the night: Patrick Damon Rago's witty "Four Inches to the Left"; Michael Mizerany's "Bump in the Road," adroitly performed by Jeff Bulkley; San Pedro City Ballet's bustling "Light"; and Klenjoski's excerpt from "Love Lies Waiting."

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