3 Cities, 3 Choreographers

At Center Stage Theater, Sunday, May 25.

Kerstin Stuart (left) and Ana Flecha in Stuart's "Mitten Drinnen."

Three choreographers from different parts of California converged Sunday in an innovative show at Center Stage. The brainchild of Misa Kelly, director of SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre, 3 Cities, 3 Choreographers brought her together with Kerstin Stuart of Monterey and Louie Cornejo of Long Beach for a tour that ended here in Santa Barbara.

The evening opened with three solos-two of Kelly’s and one of Stuart’s. Kelly’s “Gypsy Dreams” was powerful, the music frenetic and intense with screeching Russian vocals. Her style has a strong gymnastic component, and in this piece she put it to use, incorporating martial arts movements with modern fluidity. Dancer Erika Kloumann, in red, was lithe, springy, and incredible to watch.

Kelly also presented “Nadar Sabe Mi Llama el Agua Fria,” recently performed at Santa Barbara Dance Theatre’s Unplugged show at UCSB.

Stuart danced her own solo, “Love Is a River,” which blended athleticism with deep emotion. She also performed with Ana Flecha in “Mitten Drinnen,” in which unison was especially effective considering the dancers’ physical resemblance.

A highlight of the evening was Stuart’s duet “Zu-Sam,” which she performed with Sebastian Grubb. A masterful blend of dance, theater, live music, and humor, the piece opened with offstage questions about relationships being fired at Grubb as he began to dance, and continued with Stuart joining him onstage with her guitar to sing a song with the refrain, “I want more.” The two sparred, reconnected, sang to each other, and engaged in beautiful sequences of tumbling, lifting, and intertwining. A frank portrayal of romantic relationships, the piece ranged from slapstick comedy with a pair of chairs to heartfelt moments of real connection.

Cornejo’s single offering ended the evening-a rich and dazzling piece for nine women titled “Weathering.” At the outset, the dancers reverently placed small stones at the edge of the stage area. Throughout the piece, they picked up and put down the stones, incorporating them into the dance or simply rolling them in their hands. There was a refreshing variety of body sizes and shapes among the dancers, and their movements were simple and clean, seeming to portray falling, dying, and rebirth-the cycle of the seasons, and of life.

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