Two Nights of Dance

The last two nights we’ve gone out to see dancing—specifically, productions of the Van Nuys High School Dance Department under the direction of Mike Nakauchi. We learned about the program because our daughter, Erin, is in the Advanced Dance class.

Thursday night’s program was Dance Showcase 2011. This was a production highlighting the work of the beginning and advanced dance classes, as well as the VNHS Jazz and Hip Hop Dance Teams (you can learn about all these program at the VNHS Dance page). As one would expect from such a program, there was a wide mix of skill levels and talent, but loads and loads of enthusiasm and heart. The production consisted of segments in various styles (ballet, jazz, modern, and hip-hop) punctuated by performances by the teams. There was also a mix of student and instructor choreography. In total, there were 10 class performances (2 beginning ballet, 1 advanced ballet, 3 beginning jazz, 1 advanced jazz, 1 beginning modern, 1 advanced modern, and a combined hip-hop), and 5 team performances (3 jazz team, 2 hip-hop team). If I had to name some favorite performances two days later, I’d have to say the various team performances (not a surprise, as they are at the competitive level) and the Advanced Modern performance, “We Are All Finnish Farmers”. In general, it was an enjoyable evening (although the music was a bit loud for me).

Last night’s program stepped it up a level, for it was the Alumni Show 2011. This is the show where graduates of the Van Nuys Dance program voluntarily come back and do a show (evidently, it is pretty unique to have such a show in LA Unified). This show featured 13 segments, and included performances by the Fasmode Dance Crew, kangaGroove, and the Elusive Dance Crew. All of the performances were high-quality and excellent (including the hip-hop, and I’m not a big fan of hip-hop). I had three favorites. The first was “The Lazy Dance” (choreography by Joseph Cayanan, danced by Stephanie Hoston and Joseph Cayanan). My daughter said there were some technical errors in this, but I found it fun and enjoyable. Even stronger was “Solo” (choreographed and performed by Miko), which was a technically strong performance that was joy to watch. The last of my favorites was “Kids” (choreographed and performed by Joseph Gurrola and Amanda Riley). This was enjoyable not only for the dance but for the acting skills of the dancers. However, these were likely favorites because the music was more accessible to me; all of the dancing (even with the music I didn’t like) was great. I do have to say, however, that wearing foam earplugs definately helped with my enjoyment 🙂

If you live in Southern California and enjoy dance, I suggest you set aside May 12-14 for the “Collabor8 Dance Production” at Van Nuys High. Tickets should be avalable at the door. If you’re free today, you can go to the Student Dance Festival starting at 1pm at Van Nuys HS. The Student Dance Festival features dance teams from all across LAUSD.

Upcoming Theatre, Concerts, and Dance: Tonight brings “Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein” at ICT Long Beach. February starts with “Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune” at Repertory East on February 4, and “Dangerous Beauty” at The Pasadena Playhouse on February 5. The next weekend also brings two shows: “The Marvelous Wonderettes at Cabrillo Music Theatre on February 12, and “Adding Machine: The Musical at The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble on February 13. The third weekend of February is another with two shows: “Rock of Ages at The Pantages Theatre on February 19, and “33 Variations at the Ahmanson Theatre for February 20. February closes with “Moonlight and Magnolias” at The Colony Theatre on February 26. March is also busy. It begins with a Noel Paul Stookey concert at McCabes on March 4. March 5 is the MRJ Regional Man of the Year dinner at TBH. The first two weekends of March are also the Spring Musical, “Evita”, at Van Nuys High School; we’re likely going on Saturday, March 12. Sunday, March 13 is “The Cradle Will Rock” at the Blank Theatre. The weekend of March 19 is currently open, but that probably won’t last for long. Lastly, March 26 brings “The Diary of Anne Frank” at Repertory East. April will bring the Renaissance Faire, “The Producers” at Cabrillo Music Theatre, “The All Night Strut” at the Colony Theatre, and (pending ticketing) Brian Stokes Mitchell at the new Valley Performing Arts Center.