SERIES 7: THE DANCE NETWORK’S 6TH ANNUAL STUDIO SHOWCASE
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Senior Performances); 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Junior Performances)
Where: Center Stage Theater, Paseo Nuevo
Information: http://www.centerstagetheater.org/ or (805) 963-0408
Last week we checked in on one dance company that expanded over the last year–Momentum Dance–with a new store front and an annual recital; so it seems fitting that a week later The Dance Network will also be celebrating new digs, a growing student and instructor base, and a year of hard work under their belts, with four performances at Center Stage Theater, starting tonight.
“Series 7,” now in its 6th year, used to set aside a whole evening to celebrate its senior and junior companies. But with nearly 40 numbers and a lot of dancers, it is separating its junior and senior programs into separate performances, a matinee and an evening performance respectively.
“Our new location (at Magnolia shopping center) has allowed us to offer more dance numbers and to bring in more students,” says director Karyn Laver. “Our original space was a great space to start from but we were maxing out out classes. We had days starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. and there was only one room. Now we have three.”
They have also expanded their roster of teachers/choreographers: along with Laver, there is Bethany Sutherland, Carisa Carroll, Emma Neumann, Kyle Ybarra, Michelle Hester, Leonard Reed, Willie Bryant, Morgan Geroghty, Richard Chung, Katie McDowell for the seniors and juniors; And Patricia Martin, Amanda Astorga, Jet Xiong, Natalia Emily Smith, Aaron Nishikawa, and Maya Fuentes for the juniors.
“They are creating some really beautiful dances for this show,” Laver says, adding that the three rooms have meant plenty of surprises when she’s checked in on the work her fellow teachers have been doing.
For choreographer Michelle Hester, working just with the seniors–and saying goodbye this year to The Dance Network–means that her work, “Somebody New,” is tailored for young women and a new maturity, “now that the juniors are watching from the wings.”
Look out for Amanda Astorga’s “Move It!” for the juniors, as well as her work with Nishikawa on “Can I Kick It?” from the hip-hop class. It’s been fun to see her step up after dancing and assistant other teachers, Laver says.
The late teens is a good age to start choreographing works for the young students. That’s how Laver started when she was 16. Some of the choreographers here are not that much older. Maya Fuentes, 17, brings her experience with flamenco and performing in Fiesta Pequeña to a Spanish number, “Piratas Malvados.” (Also: Fuentes started at The Dance Network by working at the front desk).
One of Laver’s longest serving teachers/choreographers is Bethany Sutherland, and a friend to Laver before the Dance Network.
“She’s a chameleon,” Laver says. “I’ve seen the hip hop class and they’re killing it.” (It’s also the one piece to use this summer’s undeniable hit: Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.”
Sutherland has also created a throwback ‘90s block-party number; and advanced hip-hop number about “feeling the beat and letting it come through your party.” And on the other hand, Sutherland has created a tribute to Degas’ paintings of dancers for the senior ballet class.
Laver, of course, has her own share of works across both sections, from opening number “Renegades” (set to Rage Against the Machine’s “Renegades of Funk”) to the closing number “Kiss the Sky” with music by Shawn Lee and the Ping Pong Orchestra.
“This year it’s all about the excitement about the new space,” Laver says. “Our teachers, the students, the parents, they’ve all been excited. The feeling is: This is awesome, let’s take it and run.”