Fresh air on a very hot night: No)one. Art House @ Highways

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It was a sultry, sweltering, wonderful Saturday evening when a new dance posse, No)one. Art House, propelled ‘danse du moment‘ onto the stage of Highways  Performance Space in Santa Monica. The audience, half-shvitzing from the room temperature, also seemed half-stunned by how stimulating, immediate and excellent the experience.

no1arthouse-2An amazing cluster of nine dancers arising from an arts collective of painters, photographers, fashion designers, choreographers and musicians was led in “Recortes” (“clipping” or “reduction” in English — and I like that title) by choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. The company occupied Highways in the most intense possible fashion for the hour-long fresh and super-hip showcase.

Ramirez Sansano is a Spanish-born choreographer (a peer of one of my favorites, Cayetano Soto Ramirez) with credentials across Europe and commissions from Compañía Nacional de Danza, Hamburg Ballet, TanzTheater München, Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballet BC among others.

What a privilege to view his work in Highways’ intimate space.

A thrilling, pleasureful time tracking the dancers’ excellent and precise execution. With not a bad dancer on the field, I found to my surprise that the troupe was as good as any in town. This is a town, remember, where three years ago Benjamin Millepied could not source one local dancer sufficiently skilled to earn a living wage with his well-funded L.A. Dance Project. Hno1arthouse-4e had to import six dancers from New York City to populate his company. What an insult!

By contrast, at the end of Saturday’s show, No)one. Art House passed the hat for donations. And yet, I saw several dancers at Highways Saturday night better than Millepied’s. (Is he still around?)

With the venerable Highways configured into a circular round, the first jolt arrived when the dancers themselves were revealed to be seated amidst the audience. Up they popped from their chairs as a cool sound score kicked in like a shotgun. Rough-and-tumble, deep-digging dancing ensued.

I love strong starts. Dance concerts rarely have them.

On offer was the kind of granular movement that is the global after-effect of Israeli gaga training: lots of lunges and floor work, inside-out movement with leeway for highly personal interpretation; then, in partnering, dancers getting way up close, poking, with great finesse, into each other’s air space, or in group work, scrambling on hands-and-feet, bodies flipped upward, like crabs, from a tripod position, pelvises stretching toward the sky.

Not only was the mix of dancers handsome and amiable, with every shape, color and body type represented, but a pleasant humanity radiated; it was manifest in an open alertness and sense of kindness between the dancers.

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The excellent group, all strong individuals, included: Christopher Bordenave, Christopher Carvalho, Sabrina Johnson, Charissa Kroeger, Anila Mazhari, Nia-Amina Minor, Kalin Morrow, Cooper Neeley, Jordan Saenz.

Bravo to Highways, the stellar, long time dance incubator, for more than 25 years under courageous leadership of Artistic Director Leo Garcia enabling this kind of adventurous art.

Yet another harbinger that incredible things are happening in dance in Los Angeles.

upcoming: No)one. Art House “Recortes| Electric Lodge, Venice | Nov 9

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