In a new production, LITVAKdance embraces the unknown

An outdoor stage is an unpredictable backdrop that can bring liveliness to performers and audiences.

It’s one of the things LITVAKdance loves about San Diego North Institute of Contemporary Art – formerly Lux Art Institute – where the upcoming “Dancing Outdoors Take 2” will be staged.

Encinitas’ intimate amphitheater is set in a shady grove surrounded by rows of plants and towering trees. The sunlight illuminates the audience and the dancers.

There are no curtains or walls to disappear behind. Everything is visible and anything can happen.

“There’s joy in that,” said Ashley Akhavan, a member of the LITVAKdance company who will perform in the upcoming production.

“It’s great fun because it challenges us.”

“Dancing Outdoors Take 2” features works by award-winning Entity Contemporary Dance, a Stomping Ground LA resident company that blends modern movement and hip-hop.

The program’s repertoire also includes the popular Tijuana-based Lux ​​Boreal troupe and a Latin jazz band will accompany the dance “Estirpe” by Maria Jose Castillo of LITVAK.

Carly Topazio and Jeremy Zapanta of the Rosin Box project will perform a duet, and LITVAKdance founder Sadie Weinberg will feature three dancers from the company in “from dark comes light,” the third excerpt from “LIGHT,” a choreographic work that “celebrates the diversity of our communities and the sometimes unexpected stories we carry within us.

The collection of different dance companies in the outdoor setting invites mixing and opportunity.

“We get to know each other and we become a community again,” Akhavan said. “We support each other throughout dress rehearsals and sometimes you make meaningful connections and get to know each other as a dancer.”

Akhavan said she enjoys being part of the four-year-old repertoire company because dancers are encouraged to become “masters of our bodies.”

“Sadie helps us learn different dance styles,” she said. “And that favors smart dancers with strong technique and smart bodies.”

Akhavan will dance with Nick McGhee in “I Hear Everyone You Know Is More Relevant Than Everyone I Know,” a clever work choreographed by Los Angeles-based dance duo Whyteberg and accompanied by “Losing my Edge ” from LCD Soundsystem.

Whyteberg — Gracie Whyte and Laura Berg — is known for creating work for films and music videos.

The choreography that Akhavan and McGhee will perform was originally staged in a nightclub setting that emphasized the “we’re too cool to party” vibe, and now they have to do it. so it works in a bright outdoor garden.

They need to come up with a compelling look. A fluffy fur coat, silver jacket, tight-fitting sunglasses so you don’t fall off, harem pants, and metallic leggings are all costume considerations.

“Just being in this space is so beautiful, but the focus is definitely on quality performance,” McGhee said. “We have no lighting to hide behind and we cannot distance ourselves. We start and end in character and we have to sell the piece all the way.

Something for everyone

Organizing different dance companies at an outdoor concert is risky, but last year Weinberg was encouraged. The pandemic necessitated the use of an outdoor venue, and Weinberg consulted with city officials in Encinitas, where LITVAKdance is based.

“I was thinking of using the tennis courts, but the old Lux ​​Art Institute has all the amenities you need,” she said. “He has the toilet. It has parking. And we don’t need to bring a lot of things. I contacted them and they were very generous with the space.

The inaugural Dancing Outdoors concert was so well attended that extra folding chairs were brought in to accommodate last-minute ticket buyers.

The audience was an unlikely mix for a dance event. There were families with young people, as well as ballet and contemporary dancers. San Diego dance royalty came to sit near the stage, including retired choreographers Jean Isaacs (San Diego Dance Theater) and Patricia Sandback (San Diego State University).

This year, the plan is to create a festival atmosphere and introduce more guest artists and a selection of short dance works with different styles of movement.

“As a repertoire company, I strive to present productions that have varied works that appeal to different audience members,” Weinberg said. “This summer show takes that to a whole new level. Not only do I commission works, but I ask companies to perform.

Weinberg said the outcome of all that planning is unknown, but if she could name one main goal, it would be to make dancing more accessible.

“I want people who aren’t dancers to come to the show,” Weinberg said. “It’s something I talk about with the company, customers and others. It’s always surprising and enlightening to hear the range of reasons why people like such different work, and I try to deliver shows that appeal to everyone. Fingers crossed it’s just amazing.

LITVAKdance presents ‘Dancing Outdoors Take 2’

When: 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: San Diego North Institute of Contemporary Art, 1550 S. El Camino Real, Encinitas

Tickets: $25 general, $15 military, $10 children

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Luttrell is a freelance writer.