Choreographer Stephen Petronio, leg man


As a choreographer Stephen Petronio is a leg man. His meticulously constructed movement-chains travel on high-kicking, fully swinging legs. Transporting the dancers across the stage, they then pause in off-kilter balances before sinking into deep solid lunges. We observed this leg action during the West Coast premiere of Petronio’s “I Drink the Air Before Me,” (the lovely title derives from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”) at UCLA Royce Hall last night; it’s on view again tonight.

None of his fine dancers give Petronio’s limb-mania more compelling expression than Shila Tirabassi, whose long slender gams and beautiful high-arched feet clearly give her boss ideas — in a good way.  She’s Petronio’s rehearsal director, but is she also his muse?

Your legs can look like this, too. All you need to do is get re-born with Shila Tirabassi’s DNA; then get your BFA from The Juilliard School, studying with ballet master Benjamin Harkarvy. Then dance with Ballet Hispanico, Merce Cunningham Repertory Group, Lar Lubovitch, and Mark Morris. Email me once you’ve done this, and I’ll put your picture on arts·meme.

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