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Interview with Clairobscur – Bully

January 25, 2013

“Bully” will be performed by Clairobscur this weekend, January 25 and 26, 2013 at Diavolo Performance Space at the Brewery.

For information about Clairobscur:
For tickets to “Bully”:

How has Clairobscur Dance continued to grow and evolve?
2012 was a big year for us. We won the Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival’s Festival Champion and People’s Choice awards in February and returned to Utah to perform a full evening concert there in October. We have been doing some teaching, at Imagine Ballet Theater’s summer intensive and we set a new work on Francisco Gella’s Colabo Youth Collective dance company this past December. We now have a regular home for our rehearsals thanks to the generosity of Los Angeles Ballet and just returned from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York, where we will be showcasing in 2014.

Please tell us about the pieces and theme in your upcoming show, “Bully.”
This new work, with an original score by Mark Hadley, looks at the contradictions of needing to belong to a peer group yet wanting to be a unique individual. How do bullies and victims designate themselves as such or do others push them into these roles? How does one act when they become a bully or a victim and the resultant emotions and consequences? The role of bully is not always manifested in the same way. In this work I consider the emotional similarities between the bully and his/her victim, the function of the gang/henchmen in creating and selecting the victim and the negative impact of being bullied. The piece is strongly driven by the amazing score by Mark Hadley. Mark and I talked a lot about each section of the music, what it was supposed to depict, themes and tones. It was a wonderful collaborative process.

Please tell us about the inclusion of guest artist Allynne Noelle.
Allynne and Noelle and I became friends while taking ballet classes around Los Angeles. In late 2011 she suggested that I apply for the Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival. She is a close friend of Raymond Van Mason who is the Artistic Director of Imagine Ballet Theater (IBT), festival presenter. I submitted two works and was invited to participate in the Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival. I took a group of dancers and we performed an excerpt from my piece “Obviam Somes” and “Crawl Xipe Totec II.” We were awarded the Festival Champion award for “Obviam Somes” and the People’s Choice award for “Crawl Xipe Totec II” and were invited to return in October to perform a full evening at Peery’s Egyptian Theater. As discussions grew up around my returning to Utah in the Fall, it was decided that I would include the IBT dancers in a section of a new work that would be performed with my company in October. I was scheduled to return to Utah to teach the choreography in the summer. As I sketched out the new piece of choreography on my own dancers I became concerned that the work might be to difficult for the IBT dancers to learn. Allynne regular teaches at their summer intensive and know most of the students well. I asked her if she would come in to watch a rehearsal and tell me what she thought of the work, if it would be to complex for the IBT dancers. She came to rehearsal and watched. As we were running a section I sat on the floor with her and asked her what she thought. She said something like I can hardly sit still, I want to be in it. I thought she was just being nice, but she repeated several times that she wanted to dance in my work. Several hours after the rehearsal she sent me a text repeating that she want to dance in my work. She said it was like a puzzle and she really wanted to do it. I was looking for one more female dancer at the time and so we decided that we would see if it would work out. It has worked at beautifully. She has been a great addition to my work. She is musical, technically brilliant and more versatile than one would ever suspect of a ballerina that just finished dancing the lead in Los Angeles Ballet’s Swan Lake in 2012! She has learned some floor work and has brought deeper intensity to my more emotional works. She performed with us in October at Peery’s Egyptian Theater and after performing six weeks of the Nutcracker with Los Angeles Ballet is back to perform with us again this month.

What do you hope to evoke in your audience at “Bully”?
I feel that the audience always brings their own feelings, aesthetic, moral and social views to the theater and that they decide what the work means to them. That being said I always have specific things that each movement depicts, is designed to emulate and/or evoke. Some things are obvious, some subtle and obscured. I hope that the audience will be drawn to contemplate the situations they have been in and the potential consequences of our actions when “teasing” and that the work will be a jumping of point to further discussions.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see for Clairobscur Dance in the future?
I would like to see us grow into an internationally touring company with a regular season in Los Angeles.

Any words of advice or inspiration for other dancers and choreographers?
Don’t ever give up if your really love it. Seek out great dancers and choreographers and work with them, ask them to mentor you and work as much as possible.

Interview with Nanette Brodie Dance

January 11, 2013

Nanette Brodie Dance will be performing their 25th Anniversary Concert this weekend in Long Beach.  Tickets are available for purchase here.

For more information about Nanette Brodie Dance, visit their website at

When and why was the company started?

The company was formed in September of 1986 after presenting an evening of my own work. I and the dancers enjoyed the process so much that I felt we had become a company. And our first out of town date was in Bakersfield in 1987. I was in another dance company and found that this was the life for me. I enjoy the camaraderie and the chance to truly develop work over time and train dancers to mature as artists in the process. I wanted to see my dances continue into the future and not be performed just once, thereby a company was the answer.

What’s the underlying philosophy and purpose of Nanette Brodie Dance?

We are a company of artists that have developed an eclectic style of dance with roots in modern dance from the philosophy and pedagogy of Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis and Janice Day. They were my earliest influences. There were many other instructors and inspiring artists along the way, but the theory of Nikolais and Louis always led the way. It was the tools they provided me to find my voice in dance. Our purpose is to perform my work and the work of other artists and to share our training skills and creative methods with youth of all ages in our community and abroad.

Has this changed since the company was first founded?

When it was first founded all the choreography was mine, but then I decided to branch out to include other choreographers if their concepts blended well with mine. I think we have stayed true to our purpose and expanded upon it with our projects with fashion, opera and film.

What is your favorite piece of choreography to date?

That’s difficult to say, except that it is always the newest work, with which the love affair is the strongest. I like the big works very much like Body of Water and Émigré, yet the smaller works, solos, etc. have so much charm, that I love them too.

Briefly tell us about the pieces in your upcoming show.

Romantic Reruns has a nostalgia that every girl has experienced dancing alone in a living room for her invisible perfect man. Polymorphic is pure design and energy created by our Rehearsal Director, Erica Villalpando. It has incredible athletic movement with homage to Eastern yoga. There and Back choreographed by Peter Kalivas, blows across the stage like a tumbleweed in the desert, relentless in its ongoing motion. Émigré draw deeply from the dancers as they find the drama of escape, anger, force, emptiness, confusion and acceptance……the plight of the immigrant. Asking the question why must I leave my country. Dark to Light has 4 separate pieces that each deal with how we see according to the presence of light or darkness. The source of light is important as it may come from beneath, above, internally, etc. This work has a keen dramatic feel that should draw the viewer in to witness the light and the dancer. Let Them Eat Cake is our closing piece and it was created by the entire company with phrases and duets along with phrases that I created. It is based a lot on running in patterns and has a baroque quality, which we play with in the costumes.

What do you hope to evoke in your audience at the 25th Anniversary Concert?

I hope to evoke a love of dance and the passion it brings. I want them to lose themselves in the dance and feel their imagination as they touch the images.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see for Nanette Brodie Dance in the future?

I would like to see a studio of our own, a place to develop ourselves and future dancers, more funding to allow us to create more work and to travel, and then to perform at the Kennedy Center!

Any words of advice or inspiration for other dancers?

Stick to your dreams with perseverance and fortitude. When choreographing try to find unique movement that is not like what you saw on someone else. Follow the creative image all the way down the dark tunnel till you finish the work. Have a sense of humor that things change all the time and to be in an improvisational mode in your life. Be able to swing with it!

Best of LA Unbound

November 7, 2012

If you are still looking for an amazing dance event to attend this weekend, look no further than LA Unbound.  They will be showcasing their “Best of Unbound” show, with reworkings of many of their popular pieces. I have been a part of this show for many years now and cannot speak highly enough about the amazing people and dancers in this show.

Saturday, November 10th at 8pm
Sunday, November 11th at 2pm
Sunday, November 11th at 6pm
El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood
Tickets are $18 in advance, $25 at the door.
You can get presale tickets at

Interview with Donna Sternberg – “Beauty”

November 5, 2012

How has Donna Sternberg and Dancers continued to grow and evolve?

The company has evolved in ways I did not foresee or envision when I began it 27 years ago, and that’s positive.   I developed a strong interest in science about 10 years ago, which surprised me!  Since that time I have been delving into how to build a bridge between science and dance, using science as a framework for my artistic explorations and to examine the human experience.   I have found that I particularly enjoy collaborating with artists of other disciplines and the company’s work has become increasingly interdisciplinary.   My way of working with my dancers has also changed and they are an active part of the creation process, contributing their ideas and movement.  I use a lot of improvisation and have the dancers do journal writing, drawing and other methods to probe the themes and help us come up with movement.  Over the years I have found the best way for me to delve into topics I am interested in is to work on one project for an entire year, producing a full evening-length work.  This allows the dancers and me the opportunity to explore a topic in depth and to use a lot of our time in pure experimentation.

Please tell us about the pieces and theme in your upcoming show, “Beauty.”    

The space we will be performing in, Brasil Brasil Cultural Center, is a studio.  My philosophy about performing spaces is that you acknowledge the type of space you are in and capitalize on its strengths and uniqueness.  Rather than try and recreate a theater, the space gives the company the opportunity to be up front and personal, letting the audience see the dancers from a perspective entirely different than the more formal proscenium stage.  I decided it would be interesting to present this show in a way that would let the audience be a part of the performance, discussing with them how the dances were created and engaging in conversation about their reactions and questions.

The topic of beauty came up when I was researching another project called The Flowering of Desire, which looks a desire from the plant’s point of view and the human desires that connect us to plants.  One of the books that I read was “The Science of Beauty” which examines beauty from a scientific point of view.  I found it fascinating and wanted to explore the theme incorporating movement and text.  So the first work on the program is called just that The Science of Beauty.  It looks at scientific evidence about what humans think is beautiful and intermixes that with the dancer’s personal stories about beauty.  I didn’t want the show to get too “heady”, so decided I needed some humor to balance it out.  I had heard an album many years ago of songs from West Side Story reinterpreted by different artists, and fell in love with Little Richard’s interpretation of “I Feel Pretty”.  Naturally I had to use that song to spoof the whole idea of prettiness, which I did in the new dance Pretty.   The last dance using the theme of beauty is entitled The Back of Beauty and was inspired by an image from the movie “Snow White and the Huntsman” of an exquisite bare back.  The beauty of that back motivated me to explore how the back alone can move and communicate.  This entire dance is performed with the dancers facing away from the audience so only their backsides are visible.

The other 2 dances that round out the program focus on the theme of desire. Parasites is a section from The Flowering of Desire that looks at how parasitical plants feed on a host plant with metaphorical references to how the same kind of behavior exists in the human world, with people feeding on the life energy of others.  It is only dance that is not a premiere in this show.  The other dance is Inhale choreographed by Anandha Ray.

Please tell us about the inclusion of Anandha Ray’s work “Inhale.” 

I have never had another choreographer work with the company over its long history.  I first saw Anandha’s work on a shared program several years ago and I was completely blown away by it.  Her choreography was inventive, surprising emotionally engaging, and her female dancers were strong, fierce and did lifts and balances that I could hardly believe.  I saw another piece of hers last year and had the same reaction.  I knew then that I wanted one of her dances in my company’s repertoire.  I thought her choreography, while very different than my one, would also be complimentary.  I wanted to be a part of her creative process and I wanted my dancers to work with her to stretch them in different ways than they get working with me.  The only parameter that I gave her was that the theme of the dance was desire, and that’s where she started.  The process was fascinating for me and intense for the dancers, who completely invested themselves in it.  The end product is a dance that burrows into the desires that reside in the deep nameless places of our beings.  I’m very excited to have the company perform it.

What do you hope to evoke in your audience at “Beauty”? 

An emotional connection response, something that touches their heart and soul.  Curiosity that motivates them to look at their own notions of beauty and desire.  Pathos, wonder, being swept away by the dancers, the movement and the themes being explored.   And the desire to see more dance.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see for Donna Sternberg and Dancers in the future?

Collaborative projects that involve scientists and other artists that are presented in different cities and countries.  Partnerships with institutions like science centers, museums, observatories, universities and non-traditional places where we could collaborate on a host of projects, developing performances and educational programs.  I would like to the company to develop and present a festival of science-based performance works from all over the world that we could present all over the world.  All of my dancers would be paid a living wage – that would be a true magic-wand wish!

Any words of advice or inspiration for other dancers and choreographers?

Follow your heart and live your passion.


For more information and to purchase tickets, visit:

Interview with Malashock Dance – RAW comes to Los Angeles

October 31, 2012

UPDATE: This event has been cancelled. 

Malashock Dance is making the journey up from San Diego on November 9 and 10 to treat Los Angeles audiences to their incredible dancing.  The RAW series promises to break barriers and bring uncensored dancing, combining the unique talents of John Malashock, Michael Mizerany and Regina Klenjoski.  As I am a big fan of all three, I’m looking forward to the show and hope to see you there!

Uneasy Surrender – Malashock Dance – All Rights Reserved

How has Malashock Dance continued to evolve and grow?

In the past, Malashock Dance has been a one choreographer company.  With the advent of Malashock/RAW, other artistic voices have been invited into the choreographic mix.  This year the featured choreographers are John Malashock, Michael Mizerany and Regina Klenjoski.

Please tell us about the inspiration for the RAW3 series and about the pieces and themes in your show.

Malashock/RAW is an annual modern dance series, which is part of Malashock Dance’s annual performance schedule. Each new installment of the series features gritty, audacious, cutting-edge dance. The choreography is fierce and fearless, exhibiting a bold athleticism and stark sensuality.

The collaborative production combines the talents of three professional contemporary choreographers who contribute an original dance work, which tackles current controversial, sociocultural issues such as censorship, bullying, gender, LGBTQ themes, and interpersonal relationships.

Malashock / RAW is staged in-studio, providing audiences an intimacy with the provocative themes and offering the choreographers “a safe place to do unsafe work.” Each choreographer is encouraged to make experimental choices that foster unfettered artistic expression and audience discussion.

John Malashock’s new work, UNEASY SURRENDER, is a wrestling match between the unruly mind and a universe that refuses to act the way we want it to.

Michael Mizerany will present his own personal story in the dance work, BULLY.  Violent, brazen and candid, BULLY examines not only the act of bullying but how it plays into our interpersonal relationships.

In SPLINTER, Regina Klenjoski looks at the cause and effect of the breaking of trust.

Please tell us about the inclusion of Regina Klenjoski’s work SPLINTER.

Actually, SPLINTER, will be a Los Angeles premiere.  We brought her in for two weeks to choreography the piece on the MD dancers.  We first became interested in Regina when she taught at our Four Sundays in February Master Class Series.  We also saw her work in Celebrate Dance.  We admired her piece and though it would be the perfect contrast to John and Michaels’ dances.

What do you hope to evoke in your audience with RAW3?

Malashock/RAW is visually stunning and viscerally potent.  Each piece is very different and will evoke a myriad of responses and reactions.  Malashock/RAW will inspire and challenge.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see for Malashock Dance in the future?

In the future, we would love for Malashock Dance to tour a little more.  We love that we can share our art with Los Angeles once again.

Any words of advice or inspiration for other dancers and choreographers?

Find a choreographer that you admire and work with them.  Learn from their successes and mistakes.  Then, find your own voice and approach your work with honesty and conviction.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit:

The dance of life – a tribute to my grandparents

October 30, 2012

Yesterday my family and I said our goodbyes to my grandmother, who was laid to rest with my grandfather after a brief, but serious illness. These times often remind us of just how precious this life is, to live every day to its fullest and tell the people in our lives how much they mean to us. But this story is more than just a reflection on a time of transition and grief. My grandparents met nearly 70 years ago in a swing dance hall in a small town in South Dakota. As the story would have it, my grandfather arrived on base and went to the local town Saturday dance, quickly eyeing the best dancer on the floor and asked her to dance. That beautiful auburn-haired girl accepted and four months later they were married in the turbulence of World War 2.

Although I never had the joy of actually seeing my grandparents dance together in their more advanced age, stories of their beautiful and talented dancing from their younger years are  legend in my family. It seems they are the source of my dancing genes; genes that skipped a generation and many in my family, and came in concentrated form to me. For that I am ever-grateful, as dancing is quite literally in my blood. My grandparents weathered good times and bad together, raised five children and were fortunate to live late into their years. When I think about all they were and saw in that time, I smile when I think that it all began with a dance. Today would have been their 69th anniversary. Although they are no longer here with us, I’d like to think they are now dancing together among the stars.

Tri-Art Festival: The Hidden Gem in LA

October 25, 2012

The Tri-Art Festival is an unassuming outdoor festival hosted in San Pedro that showcases a mix of dance companies, bands and visual artists. This year I had the good fortune to both attend and participate in the festival. Most immediately I was struck by the very high quality of the dance companies and solo performers. Each of them could easily, and often do, play host to their own full length performances to paid audiences. However, the Tri-Art Festival provides a free opportunity to see these delightful and very talented performers in an up close and personal performance.

The festival took place over two days and presented over 20 dance groups and 7 bands in addition to several visual artists. For a free event, one would be hard-pressed to see so many quality performances otherwise. This year’s festival was dedicated to the memory of its founder, Joe Cacavalla, who sadly passed away a few months prior to the festival dates. I very much hope the Tri-Art legacy will continue with his son Mike Caccavalla and Louise Reichlin taking up the reigns in his absence.

If you are a dance aficionado in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, it is well worth the drive and time from your busy schedule. It is a truly a hidden gem and an amazing way to experience and be introduced to top notch dance and musical talent from the local community for no cost.

For more information about the festival, visit: