Have you ever wondered how dancers choreograph those pieces that so amaze an audience? I remember when I took ballet lessons at school as a child. I always complained about how sore it made me. Ballet was always fun, but I never really liked the work that it required. So, I quit. But now I regret it, because whenever I see photographs, movies or performances related to dance, it drives me crazy – how much have I missed out by quitting?

Celebrate Dance is one extraordinary stage of dance filled with vitality and passion that reminds us of how dance not only requires great physicality, but also passion and intense work. Having previously won the Lester Horton Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement for Festival for the performances in 2007, 2008 and 2009, this year’s Celebrate Dance will be its sixth annual, reminding us of how dance is truly a form of art that has the power to influence the audience and leave them with a feeling of warm energy and a series of questions, long after the show has ended. On March 12, for one night only (as always), Celebrate Dance will seduce us into the world of modern contemporary ballet and jazz dance through its storytelling and the dancers’ technique.

In this year’s Celebrate Dance, eight dance companies come together with pieces, very different from each other, to explore a variety of subjects. Two dance companies outside of California that have been applauded for their outstanding pieces join the program this year: Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn, directed by Jamel Gaines, who also has choreographed for the hit TV show, “So You Think You Can Dance,” and Malashock Dance from San Diego, directed by John Malashock, who is finally making his comeback to Los Angeles after several years of abscence. Six other companies will also contribute to this dreamy experience: BARE Dance Company, Deborah Rosen and Dancers, Monat Dance, Regina Klenjoski Dance Company, Terri Best Dance and Visions Dance Theatre.

Fortunately, I was able to connect with the artistic director of Deborah Rosen and Dancers and Regina Klenjoski Dance Company for a sneak peak into their pieces. The piece by Deborah Rosen, titled “The Space Between, Before & After,” is specifically structured to explore and “create a sense of place, emotion, arrival, searching and coming together” that is moved by a need for recognition and connection. Rosen employs the use of negative space and movements hugging into and pulling away from areas of space to establish the sense of avoidance, while incorporating movements folding into space to communicate a sense of connection to one another. Very different, yet a bit similar in the themes they explore, is a piece by the Regina Klenjoski Dance Compnay, directed by Regina Klenjoski. Her piece comments on our fast advancement in technology, providing us with a reflection on whether it hampers or enables our ability to connect with each other. She builds the piece with movements not only from her creative genius, but also with some of the movements individual dancers came up with during a reactionary improvisation to a piece of music. Both pieces will for sure, like all the others, tap into our emotional senses and leave us with something to ponder.

Overseeing this truly vivid experience of dance is Jamie Nichols (executive producer), a former dancer who meticulously and single-handedly organizes the event, from the selection of companies all the way to marketing. As always, she is more than excited to introduce to the public a brand new collection of amazing dramatic pieces of choreography. Jamie Nichols is truly a woman of passion. She pours her energy into the annual nonprofit event to see the positive reactions of her audience. She knows her job is successfully done when she sees that the audience has enjoyed the event and is moved by it in some way.

I’m pretty sure, after having the opportunity to talk with the executive director and two of the artistic directors, this year’s Celebrate Dance will be another successful event in the history of dance. I don’t think Jamie Nichols will be the only person feeling the joy and excitement when the doors close and the theater goes dark.



Alex Theatre is located at 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. For more information, visit alextheatre.org or celebratedance.org
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