Category Archive for: ‘Jo Tomalin’

Daiane Lopes Da Silva In EnGulfED Photo By Richard Baranyai

Labayen Dance Company: Fall 2013 Season

(Above) Daiane Lopes da Silva in En-GULF-ed Photo by Richard Baranyai

Review by Jo Tomalin

Sandrine Cassini & Victor Talledos in Stitched by Enrico Labayen
Photo by Andrew Faulkner

Rich Offerings from Labayen Dance/SF

Award winning Labayen Dance Company’s Fall 2013 Season opened in September at San Francisco’s ODC Theater with an array of eleven pieces, including four premiere works and several revivals.

This company is an important part of the San Francisco Bay Area dance scene because Enrico Labayen is not only a prolific choreographer but he is also a notable teacher developing new dancers and a generous mentor to several up and coming choreographers.  Each season it is evident that they have been hard at work creating new work.

Premiere Stitched, with choreography by Labayen , music by WuMan, and costumes by Ismael Acosta is a balletic piece with modern motifs danced by the accomplished Sandrine Cassini & Victor Talledos.  Their partnering is exemplary – they interact beautifully and really do seem to care about each other. Cassini en pointe with the strong Talledos – they both leap, stretch, support and mirror the other effortlessly. This is a solid piece to join the company repertoire.


Victor Talledos, Jaidah Terry and Ismael Acosta in Door Ajar
Photo by Andrew Faulkner

Door Ajar Choreographed by Labayen and re-staged by Michelle Lohmar presented the ensemble of eight dancers in vibrant lime green costumes with black edging, gauze midriffs and black strappy tops (Costumes Design by Ismael Acosta). The dramatic Lighting by Jose Ma. Francos (Lighting Design for the entire program) plus the variable soundscape music (melodic to scratchy or buzzy bee violin) by Forbidden Fruit created an evocative insect-like atmosphere.  The ensemble dances were completely in unison, sharp and agile with precise footwork – well finished off – in their surprising movements.  Smaller groups performed very fast turns to arabesques with beautifully angled arms and hands – or transitioned smoothly to languid music and movement. An exciting fleshed out dance piece.

Labayen Dance ensemble in Door Ajar
Photo by Anandha Ray

Hunger, a premiere choreographed by Laura Bernasconi is an athletic, intense male duo wearing black and white shorts and sleeveless T shirts with detailed necklines by Acosta. Through a series of balances and pirouettes a relationship evolves from this physical storytelling. They support each other with outstretched arms then “converse” with dynamic leaps in this strong, tender and warm piece set to Gabriel Goldberg’s live singing and melodic music.

Victor Talledos’ Secrets Like These danced by Leda Pennell is an interesting piece set to Diana Krall’s jazzy music. This is a well-structured dance very well performed by Pennell. She balances against a chair, then she skips with slinky movements punctuated with fouettés.  Talledos enters briefly at the start providing the opportunity for some flirty moments.  Secrets… is an appealing piece with a quick and witty ending.

Ismael Acosta in Kiss My Arp
Photo by Anandha Ray

Kiss my arp choreographed by Labayen is a premiere of a muscular solo dance with Ismael Acosta to pulsating electronic music by Andrea Parker.  Acosta demonstrates a range of skilled and supple movement starting with a body building look, intense twists, falls, fast yoga and then dance positions that works well with the music. His interesting costume – designed by Acosta himself – included leather body straps and black speedo.  This was the most daring piece of the evening and it was very well received by the audience. Therefore, it is worthy of more choreographic development.

Laura Bernasconi in Spirit of Intention “Anima San a In Corpore Sano”
Photo by Anandha Ray

Spirit of Intention, is a Work in Progress choreographed by Anandha Ray & Laura Bernasconi. Beautifully danced by Bernasconi, this is a beguiling and interesting dance based on eastern influences. Bernasconi is dressed in a grand costume with a feather headdress, beaded bodice and long pleated skirt gathered up in an abstract look. The eerie music is paired with the dancer’s hands and fingers in fibrous rhythms – then modern belly dance and turning movement to syncopated cello with laughter and breathing sounds. Sometimes bird-like, Bernasconi is always fluid with the music – a mysterious and fascinating dance.

Suzanne Saltmarsh in Labayen’s Is This Perhaps Death
Photo by Anandha Ray

Other pieces in the program were Labayen’s politically charged en-GULF-ed sensitively danced by Daiane Lopes da Silva, Bernasconi’s Nourishment danced by her and Acosta with grace, humor and strength in their relationship, Labayen’s lyrical Is This Perhaps Death?  featuring Suzanne Saltmarsh, Labayen’s FRIDA: A Broken Column set to a collage of wistful piano, guitar, flute and cello music danced emotively by da Silva & Diane Mateo, and Labayen’s recently premiered and refined Tears – a loving memory to his sister – superbly danced by the ensemble to Goldberg’s original music performed live.

Labayen Dance Company always shares a freshness of spirit and depth of thoughts and ideas in their programs. Look out for their next program early in 2014.

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Jo Tomalin Reviews: Dance & Theatre Performances

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
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