In anticipation for the upcoming Dance Camera West’s Dance Media Film Festival happening at several venues across Grand Avenue including Grand Park, I reached out to Julia Diamond, Grand Park’s Director of Programming. We talked dance in LA and, more specifically, about some site-specific work being presented in the park. Here’s what came of our convo:
MC: So I’d like to start off by touching upon the importance of dance in Los Angeles. Given the plethora of emerging companies and the unique types of work being presented, what do you think the current state of dance in Los Angeles?
JD: I think it is awesome. There is a lot of negativity and hand wringing about the LA dance community but that is not new and will likely also not change anytime soon. The cause of worry is not the lack of work being produced. The concern is that it doesn’t look like the way other cities do it. Since when has LA ever done it anyone else’s way??
MC: I agree, there can be a bit of negativity in the sea of awesomeness. I see critics lay claim that Los Angeles has no large resident dance companies. Who is to say Los Angeles needs them? Regardless of the size or type of the company, there is so much work being created here. I think we should take more opportunities to celebrate it.
MC: Okay, let’s move on to what is happening in the park. During the upcoming Dance Camera West Festival, Grand Park has commissioned LA Contemporary Dance Company to perform its work, Prite Oef Springh, as a site-specific piece. When did you first encounter this piece and what was your reaction?
JD: I saw the piece at LACDC’s spring show in 2013. I was completely drawn in. I felt the beats and the pulsation and the emotion it in my gut. That is when you know that you are watching something truly great whether it is a movie, a DJ set… Prite is about being an insider or an outsider. It is interesting to note which side you identify with. Do you see yourself on the inside or the outside? It is also about how those on the inside persecute those on the outside. Prepare to be a little unsettled.
MC: This sounds riveting. I’m excited to see it for the first time, especially in a completely new setting. So what about LA Contemporary Dance Company? I understand the company is unique in the way that it employs choreographers. How is it distinct from other companies?
JD: A choreographer recently told me that LACDC has created a dance community. I think this is a hallmark of the work specifically of Kate Hutter. Kate invites the LA dance world in and gives them the freedom to express themselves however they wish. That is a major reason why I think this company is such a great fit for the park. LACDC is a platform for LA dance artists. It showcases what makes LA awesome. Grand Park is dedicated to supporting organizations and the projects and creative thinkers who make LA such a wonderful place. All of our events bring people together and the partners we work with are all experts in bringing certain folks together around some common thread.
MC: This is not the first time contemporary dance has been presented in the park. From your experience presenting site-specific pieces, how does gathering in an outdoor, public space affect the work?
JD: That might be a question for a choreographer but I’ll give it a shot. It loosens up the control that a choreographer has on the audience experience. When you create work in a theatre, you know where they are sitting, you know more or less how they will be behave (when they will stand, sit, clap, etc). In a space like Grand Park, there are a million places the audience can stand and a million things they can be doing. So their experience could be anything. That is probably scary but also likely exciting. It is also the reason why not every artist is interested in creating that kind of work. I get it. I am a control freak.
MC: I hadn’t thought of it in that way, that an audience can have an incredibly unique, yet shared, experience because of the space itself. It’s really exciting!
MC: So, following the live work by LA Contemporary, park-patrons can enjoy two screenings of dance-related film in Grand Park as a part of the Dance Camera West Festival. What can we expect to see the evening of the 7th?
JD: First, a dance performance: get ready to feel your heart beating. Second, and awards ceremony: the best in LA dance. Third, 2 films: this will give you a little bit of what artists are doing here and now with film and dance and then it will tell you the story of an amazing woman who really was a pillar of dance. Even crumpers and twerkers should thank Miss Hill.
MC: Sounds like a great night to celebrate LA Dance.
Come celebrate with us! Check out the details on Grand Park’s Event Calendar.
–Julia Diamond, Grand Park’s Director of Programming & Mitchell Colley, Grand Park’s resident blogger.