Bethune Theatredanse is celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary in a new city with a tip of the hat to nature.
“Silent Roar” was inspired by the marine environmental artist who goes by one name, Wyland, said Artistic Director Zina Bethune, who wrote, directed and choreographed the production coming Feb. 5 to 7 to Glendale Community College Theatre.
The performance relays the plight of whales as they travel from Alaska to Baja California with the help of original music, graphics, film and other digital elements, she said.
Bethune plans on making the area a permanent home for her company, saying its collective cultural mentality is conducive to forming a relationship with the city.
“Glendale wears a kind of cultural signature,” she said. “I think we can be part of that cultural signature in a very positive way.”
After having done research on the city, Bethune believes the tight-knit and supportive nature it offers will be a great fit for her company, which comprises diverse dancers, she said.
Although Bethune Theatredanse might not be the only dance group fusing dancing, digital arts and storytelling, it was a trailblazer in the field when it began 30 years ago, when defined lines separated the worlds of dance, theater and media, Bethune said.
Because of her story-oriented nature and background in dance, theater and film, Bethune found it natural to blur the lines and provide audiences with an experience that is difficult to categorize, she said.
She hopes that by forming a solid relationship with the college, she can create an exchange between the company and students on campus, she said.
“We can really provide an opportunity for students to work alongside seasoned professionals in a multitude of departments, including dance, drama, graphics and media,” Bethune said.
Glendale resident Marc McCall, a video game programmer by day and the multimedia production designer for “Silent Roar,” calls Bethune’s unconventional methods admirable.
A former GCC student, McCall thinks the company’s presence in Glendale will be nothing but positive.
With a head start, Bethune Theatredanse already has a few dancers from the Glendale and Burbank area who are performing in “Silent Roar,” including Ciny Ricalde, who has trained with the National Academy of Arts and the Joffrey Ballet.
After taking time off to raise her daughter, this production is Ricalde’s comeback into dancing. She has nothing but praise for Bethune and credits her openness to casting diverse dancers.
“The diversity brings a different look and different qualities, like a canvas and textures on a painting,” Ricalde said. Different textures is what Bethune is all about, like giving those with disabilities a chance to explore and showcase their dancing abilities, including break-dancer and aerialist Jacob “Kujo” Lyons, who is severely hard of hearing. He has about five roles in “Silent Roar.”
“I dance to show that I can,” Lyons said. “The whole point has always been to show that anyone can do anything they put their minds to.”
Bethune, who started “Infinite Dreams,” a dance program for disabled children, is no stranger to disabilities herself, having had scoliosis, lymphedema as well as numerous surgeries on her dysplastic hips.
She is already working hard to place programs within Glendale schools, similar to what she has already done in Pasadena, she said.
With a tight budget and a dance program already in place for disabled students, the GCC Center for Disabled Students doesn’t necessarily have room for another, according to Associate Dean Joy Cook, who called the inclusion of disabled and diverse students of Bethune Theatredanse commendable.
“I think when a person with disabilities can be involved, it’s a wonderful experience both for the dancer and the audience,” said Cook, who added that the company’s establishment in Glendale would give students another option.