Students of the Dance

Last night, we went to the Spring show of the Van Nuys High School dance department, “Collabor8”. This is the student produced dance show, featuring primarily student-choreographed worked and primarily student performers (the class instructor, Mike Nakauchi, performed in one number). It is always an interesting show, although I do advise those unfamilar with today’s music scene to bring your foam earplugs, for it gets LOUD in the auditorium, especially when the subwoofers and bass gets turned up.

The show last night featured three acts. Act 0 was the senior spotlight, with Acts I and II being the main production featuring students of all years. I’d like to comment on a number of the productions that particularly caught my eye.

Act 0: Senior Spotlight. In this act, there were two performances I particularly liked. The first was “My Immortal”, choreographed and performed by Dixie Zelaya, perhaps because it was more traditional and ballet-like. The second performance (which was stronger) was “My Chick Bad”, performed and choreographed by Amanda Molano. This was a very athletic performance to a strong beat, which even though I didn’t like the music drew me in from the movement.

Act I. There were a number of good performances here. Here are the ones I particularly liked, in presentation order… “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, chroeographed by Tatyana Saldana and performed by Arielle Bell, Layla Chatthoranongsak, Paloma De Ruiz, Alex Geronilla, Amanda Molano, Tatyana Saldana, and Andrea Vargas was a relatively traditional number, which I liked primarily because the music (“Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack) was accessible, and they did a good job of executing it. “Beautiful Liars” was a belly dance-like number choreographed and performed by Layla Chatthoranongsak and Dixie Zelaya. “ABC” was a tap number choreographed and performed by Natalya Shoaf and Tatyana Saldana to the Jackson 5 song… and I’m a sucker for tap. Always have been, always will be. “Heavy”, choreographed by Thomas Murphy O’Hara and performed by Thomas and Andrea Vargas was an extremely strong number, very moving. “Fembot”, choreographyed by Myelle Bossette, Erin Geronimi, Quest Sky Zeidler and performed by the choreographers plus Zoya Hasan, was a very cute and appealing number. “Stay with Me”, choreographed and performed by the faculty advisor, Mike Nakauchi, showcased his ability very well. Lastly, “SAW”, choreographed by Mike Nakauchi and performed by the Jazz Dance Team, was a wonderful story peace, well performed and danced.

Act II. Again, here are the numbers I liked in this act, in performance order. “Wonderland”, choreographed by Dixie Zelaya, Rebecca Monterroso, and Mary Jannie Taylor, and performed by a hell-of-a-lot-of-people was an interesting take on Alice In Wonderland; I found myself wondering what they might do with the new Frank Wildhorn score. “Mafia”, choreographed by Joseph Cayanan, Stephen Park, Joe Gravina, and Lionel Vivar and performed by the Hip Hop Dance team was also an excellent story piece about mobs and mob violence. Also enjoyable was “Bad Romance”, choreographed by Thomas Murphy O’Hara and performed by another-large-bunch-of-people (including my daughter)—it was a joy to watch. “Otea”, choreographed by Lyndel and performed by May Poovaviranon, was a traditional hulu dance and made an interesting change of pace. I may be biased on this, but I enjoyed “Atonement”, which was choreographed by my daughter, Erin, and was performed by Erin, Taylor Morris, and Quest Sky Zeidler. Lastly, I enjoyed the finale piece, “Salome”, choreographed by Mike Nakauchi and featuring the entire company.

Upcoming Theatre, Concerts, and Dance: Next weekend brings us to “Gypsy… Stripped” at West Coast Ensemble (specifically at the Theatre of Arts Arena Stage in Hollywood) The last weekend of May brings Cabaret” at REP East on May 28. June begins with “Year Zero” at the Colony Theatre on June 5, but most of June is lost to the college visit trip (but who knows — we might go see “Always Patsy Cline” at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville). July should hopefully start with “Les Miserables” at the Ahmanson on July 2 (pending hottix), and continue with Jerry Springer: The Opera (July 8, Chance Theatre, pending ticketing); “Twist: A New Musical” (July 16, Pasadena Playhouse, ticketed); “Jewtopia” (July 17, REP East, ticketed); Dolly Parton (July 23, Hollywood Bowl); “Shrek” (July 23 or 24, Pantages Theatre, pending ticketing); and “The Sound of Music” (July 30, Cabrillo Music Theatre, ticketed). August will bring “Doubt” at REP East on August 13, and “On Golden Pond” at the Colony Theatre on August 20. The remainder of August is currently open.