Named “The Company of the Future” by The Joyce Theater Foundation and “20 to Watch” by Dance Magazine in 2013, BODYTRAFFIC has been the pioneer of the contemporary dance scene in Los Angeles. Although they are both from New York, the two founders, Lillian Rose Barbeito and Tina Finkelman-Berkett, met for the first time at a dance studio in LA. Together they have made the company, founded in 2007, one of the most recognized contemporary dance companies in United States, with highly talented and athletic dancers who can handle a wide variety of choreography. Just back from their biggest International performance as one of the presenters of a four-week DanceMotion USA in Israel and Jordan, which is sponsored by the Department of State, they return to Philadelphia with four premiers as the second performers for NextMove project at the Prince Theater.
The four short pieces showcase the versatility of the company. The opening performance, the New 45, is choreographed by Richard Siegal to music of Clark Terry, Oscar Peterson, and Harry Belafonte. The piece starts with Finkelman-Berkett’s jazzy and vivid solo dance, joined by Guzman Rosado, into a fun, comical and thrilling duet. The dancers’ movements are completely synced with the sounds of the jazz music and give the impression they are watching the various rhythms and notes of the music, tangling and interacting with each other like a swinging jazz session. Great dancers are often required to be great actors, and the dancers at BODYTRAFFIC are certainly no exception. While handling the very technical and strenuous choreography, they convey their joy and excitement to the viewers through the comical mimes which give viewers the tingle and chill, the kind that makes us feel like dancing together.
The next piece, Once again, before you go, is choreographed by Victor Quijada, a co-artistic director and a choreographer of RUBBERBAND. Quijada’s career as a dancer ranges from the hip-hop clubs in LA to Internationally acclaimed post-modern dance and ballet companies, making his choreography colorful and rather enigmatic. Set to an original score by Jasper Gahunia, a DJ, producer, songwriter, and musician, the dancers float the borders between hip-hop, ballet and contemporary dance without restriction.
Fragile Dwellings shows their essence as contemporary dancers. The Belgian choreographer Stijin Celis states that he “wanted to make a work based on a dialogue with silence and emptiness” and “is dedicated to the homeless Los Angelinos.” On hymn-like music by Arvo Part, the dancers fill the stage with precariousness and the fragility of not having a secure dwelling, through their constantly shifting and unbalanced movements.
The last of the program is A Trick of the Light, choreographed by Joshua L. Peugh, who was named as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2015. Inspired by the green flash that occurs before the sun sets, it is a charming and comical piece. With nostalgic settings, a mirror ball and costumes such as a dress with a puffy skirt, the dancers deliver a whimsical and playful scene like a good old Hollywood movie through their chic and playful movements induced with ballroom and theatrical dance.
Overall the program is a well-balanced and great for audiences, including those who are not familiar with contemporary dance, showcasing of the company’s growth and potential.
[The Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street] November 4-8, 2015; bodytraffic.com.