Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Transit Space combines skateboarding and dance

(Photo by Randall Bass)
When I first heard about L.A.-based and world-renowned Diavolo Dance Theater's resident project at the Music Center, I knew I had to learn more. Skateboarding and dance - how does that work? Similar to MOCA's summer exhibit, Art in The Streets, Transit Space takes an American subculture sometimes frowned upon, and injects it into the world of - for lack of a better word - highbrow art.

What's exciting about Transit Space is seeing how two seemingly opposing worlds come together. On the one hand, you have skateboarding. On its surface, it appears raw, unrefined, and anarchist. On the other hand, you have dance - a form that appears composed, graceful and bound by rules and strict discipline. But upon deeper reflection, dance can be very raw, uncontrolled and freeing. Skateboarding requires lots of control and discipline, and the tricks, when pulled off, are beautiful to witness.

With Transit Space, Diavolo uncovers the similarities between these two worlds. Both are forms of artistic expression while at the same time are sports by their own rights. Both require mental exertion just as much as physical exertion. The performance also draws inspiration from skateboarding's fearless and boundless nature.

With 17 total sections, Diavolo brings the essence of extreme sports into dance. While you won't see a single skateboard in the entire performance, you will see ramps. You'll also see the dancers approaching their art with the same sense of risk and thrill that you see in skateboarders at skateparks. Also featured in this performance will be music and a spoken word artist.

(Photo by Randall Bass)
Diavolo's performance, part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 will also be the first of its kind for the group here in Los Angeles, with open rehearsals from Saturday, November 12 through Monday, November 14 from 11AM-4PM. The free rehearsals will provide the general public with a look into the creative process, and allow them to participate and provide feedback. Audiences may even see their feedback incorporated into the performance. A screening of Dogtown and Z-Boys, a skateboarding documentary, will also be held on the Music Center plaza on Saturday, November 5 at 6:30PM.

Transit Space, as one member of Diavolo puts it, is "positive rebellion." Audiences will not only see the dancers confront and overcome perceived limitations, but will hopefully walk away with a new perspective on dance and skateboarding, and simply have a good time.

For so many reasons, I'm excited about Transit Space. I love the idea of taking something that might seem exclusive and inaccessible to some, and turning it into an inclusive process - something the entire city, all audiences, can participate in and appreciate. My hope is the performance can reach new audiences and bring in some kind of record attendance or similar milestone for the Music Center as Art in the Streets did for MOCA. I'm also looking forward to seeing skateboarding through the eyes of dance and vice versa. Skateboarding and dance. It's brilliant.


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