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The Ties That Bind

ae leadThe fourth annual ‘Looking Left’ dance festival is all about connections

What is connection? Is it tweeting and pinning and updating our friends with what we ate for breakfast? Is it a bond that occurs between people? Or is it a feeling that comes from within? The connection generated through dance is the theme explored at Motion Pacific’s upcoming showcase, “Looking Left.”

The festival, which takes place April 11-12, features performances of postmodern, contemporary and avant-garde dance. In addition, local dancers and members of the community without prior dance experience are invited to attend a series of workshops on April 11 as a part of the festival.

The brainchild of Cid Pearlman—local choreographer and co-producer of “Looking Left”—the festival is a collaboration of artists from Santa Cruz, the Bay Area, and as far afield as Los Angeles, created with the intention of exposing audiences to the innovative work of emerging and mid-career artists.

“I was interested in making a festival where I could bring artists whose work I was really excited about from outside Santa Cruz to the area, and then also introduce them to those audiences,” Pearlman says. “It’s a cross-pollinization of smart, creative rigorous dance that is engaging with big ideas.”

Each artist will perform for between five and 15 minutes, and explore themes as diverse as how feedback from others affects one’s artistic choices, and the relationship between mind and body and how it affects movement within our environment.

“One of the major themes that all of these artists are interested in is the complicated nature of what it takes to be in the world and in a relationship with other people,” explains Pearlman.

Among the participating artists is award-winning dancer and choreographer Gerald Casel, who will perform “Cragg and Tail”—an excerpt from his upcoming evening-length work, “Visiter,” which will debut at Motion Pacific in May. “The dance asks, ‘do we reside in our bodies, or does the mind allow the body to adapt to its environment? How do we navigate these porous boundaries?’” Casel explains.

Other artists performing in the show are Pearlman herself, Fog Beast, David King, Molly Katzman, Carol McDowell, and Christy Funsch, who was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2014. Funsch’s piece, entitled “Impose Upon Me,” is a self-described dance solo that is interrupted by interfaces with other people.

“‘Impose Upon Me’ stems from a desire to bring conversation with trusted colleagues into my choreographic and performing practices,” says Funsch. “I invited two colleagues to respond to my raw movement beginnings. These responses are now becoming part of the work. ‘Impose Upon Me’ is deliberately thrust out of myself and, as such, is less internal and more relational.” 

What sets the festival apart, according to Pearlman, is the amount of artistic freedom that the performers are offered. “I give the artists a lot of freedom to do what they want,” she says. “So I choose them for who they are and not necessarily the pieces that they’re doing.”

Because the show is experimental in nature, the artists can present each piece in a very personal way. “Their work is very much like their work and not like anybody else’s, and that’s what makes it exciting to me,” Pearlman says. 


The ‘Looking Left’ dance festival will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12 at Motion Pacific, 131 Front St., Santa Cruz. General: $18/adv, $20/door. Students and seniors: $16/adv, $18/door. For tickets and workshop information, visit motionpacific.com.

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