Dance the day away

Suzie Harrison

Don’t get stuck on the mouthful of a name, the important thing is

that the California Choreographers Dance Festival is all about

bringing dance to Laguna.


This Saturday, as part of Cultural Arts Month, the group is

presenting Dance Day, an entire day of dance classes free to the

public taught by world-class professionals.

“The idea is going back to bringing new dance to audiences and new


audiences to dance,” said Kimberly Leeds, public relations director.

Dance Day is open to anyone who wants to learn dance at all levels

of instruction.

“There’s so much variety, that’s another incredible aspect --

ballet, jazz ethnic and the list goes on,” President Suzi Chauvel


Leeds expressed that although Laguna Beach has been such a

wonderful place for art for such a long time, California


Choreographers Dance Festival wants to show off dance as an

expressive art form.

This Saturday the group will exemplify what dance is all about

with classes taught from 9 a.m. to 7:55 p.m.

“We’re really lucky to have Lila Zali teaching ballet,” Leeds

said. “She started Ballet Pacifica.”

Zali is well known as a preeminent ballet master instructor.

Lula Washington is another master teacher whom California


Choreographers Dance Festival is thrilled to have teach modern dance.

“She’s one of the top modern choreographers known in this area”,

Leeds said. “She brings a crowd.”

Suzi Chauvel, the dance company’s chairman, said it was quite a

coup to get Washington for its dance day.

West African dance will be represented with the accompaniment and

excitement of live drumming, instructed by Nikola Clay who studied

under a master teacher from West Guinea.

One of the fun things for couples to participate in is a swing

class and learning the Argentinean Tango.

“Linda Marie Leve is flying all the way in from Germany just to

teach this class,” Leeds said. “She’s so excited about it, she’s just

teaching it and going home after the class.”

Mostly they expressed that they want people to enjoy themselves

and learn as many types of dances they want from master teachers.

“We really want to have fun with the California Choreographers

Dance Festival Dance Day,” Chauvel said. “The point is to have fun

and it’s a great way by offering every kind of dance -- people can

get little tasters of dance.”

Dance is very good for cultural and spiritual health, Chauvel


“What better way to celebrate being alive than dance and get more

people involved,” Leeds said.

“To be able to open your body to movement through dance is so

great for the spirit -- it allows you to celebrate your being,” Leeds


Starting in 1998 California Choreographers Dance Festival has been

working in collaboration with other art entities to offer a wide

display of master choreographers work.

“The whole dance movement is done by grants and volunteers and

it’s incredible to see how it has grown through sweat, equity and

help from the city, Festival of Arts and cultural arts grants,”

Chauvel said.

California Choreographers Dance Festival has performed in

collaboration with First Thursday’s Art Walk, at Laguna Art Museum’s

Surf Culture exhibition and at the festival, as well as Music in the

Park concerts and other art event happenings.

“When you look in the audience and see the people’s faces and they

are swept away, you realize why we’re doing it,” Chauvel said. “It’s

a powerful thing.”

Dance Day classes will be held at No Square Theatre’s rehearsal

studio. They donated the space, at 221 Broadway, and they encourage

everyone to come. Even if someone has never danced a step in their

life, there will be a lot of electricity and excitement, said Sally

Gallagher, the choreographers’ outreach director. For more

information, times and schedules of the classes, visit