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Beyond the Breakup

altDietzman & Co. examines heartbreak in debut showcase

It all started with a rough break up. Well, two actually. “Literally we were offered the show, my partner and I broke up a week later, and then I moved to Santa Cruz,” says Sierrah Dietz, co-director of “It Just Is,” an upcoming dance showcase. The performances run April 13-15 at Motion at the Mill.

Dietz’ longtime friend and fellow choreographer, Molly Katzman, was also experiencing a difficult breakup at the time when the pair was given the opportunity to direct the production. “When we were questioning what this show was going to be about, it was so clear that that was where I was,” explains Dietz. “I couldn’t vocalize anything that was going on for me and I just needed to get it out somehow.”

And so, the two friends decided to dedicate “It Just Is”—the first show produced by their new 21-member dance company, Dietzman & Co.—to those sentiments that are verbally inexpressible and need to be conveyed through a medium more powerful than words.

With the help of Santa Cruz Dance’s Incubator Project—a program designed to provide new choreographers with support, space, and resources to present new works—Dietz and Katzman formed a company and went straight to work.

Both directors are extremely talented dancers themselves; locals may recognize them from Santa Cruz Dance’s resident company, Flex. In fact, it’s because of their skills, that Abra Allan, director of Motion at the Mill and coordinator for Santa Cruz Dance, offered them the showcase. “They both have a strong drive to make dance their life,” says Allan. “They live it, they breathe it, and that is absolutely necessary if you are going to make a living doing it.”

The production has three segments that mirror the stages a person can move through after a breakup. A blend of contemporary dance styles, the show features some of the directors’ favorite songs from Explosions in the Sky, James Blake, and The Weekend, as well as instrumental selections.

The first segment examines the initial heartbreak. “We kind of took that place that you’re in as soon as that really terrible thing happens to you,” describes Dietz. “It’s the realization between you and that person that it’s over.” The second segment highlights the self-reflection that can emerge after the fact. “The middle part is more of the internal discovery period,” adds Dietz. “It’s about regaining that energy you expended in that relationship and bringing it back into yourself.”

Dietz and Katzman do not promise a happy ending, but rather describe it as the “breath” before taking the next step forward. It’s not necessarily about getting past the hard times, but rather hope for the future. “It could be a little depressing,” admits Katzman, “but that’s OK. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to feel, and we really use our ending to touch on that. So it’s not just ‘life is terrible and everything is hard,’ but it’s about growth through those experiences and the acceptance of your feelings in both spaces.”

Both directors are passionate about partnering dance work—moving together as if physically connected—and have chosen to exhibit it heavily in their production. It’s just one of the ways that Dietzman & Co. has united dancers throughout the county. The auditions for “It Just Is,” held in January, were open to all dancers in the area. “We just wanted to move with people that we haven’t moved with before and for those people to move with each other,” says Katzman.

With a debut production around the corner, a talented dance company, and bad memories left in the dust, Dietz and Katzman are in better places now. “I have been incredibly impressed by the tenacity of these two dancers,” Allan says, “and my hope is that they will continue on with the company, building their repertoire, and preparing to take their work to the next level and to new audiences.”

No matter where they go, the two friends vow to never lose their passion. “For me,” Katzman says, “dance has never felt so good.”

“It Just Is” begins at 8 p.m. April 13-15 at Motion at the Mill, 131 Front St., Santa Cruz. Dietzman & Co. will hold a workshop in dance partnering on Sunday, April 15 beginning at 12:30 p.m. Visit santacruzdance.com for details.

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