After two years of dark stages and zoom performances, the students and faculty at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts are thrilled to be live at the Luckman Theatre for their spring dance concert “AS ONE”. Included in the evening will be several excerpts of famous repertoire including “Overgrown Path” by Jiri Kylian, “Missa Brevia” by Jose Limon, Minus 16 “Echad” by Ohad Naharin, “Casa de Las Secas” by Don Martin, “Counter/Part” by Jim Vincent, along with student choreography and four female faculty new works. The Naharin piece is being staged by Bret Easterling, who recently moved to South Pasadena, which will close the show and promises to be very exciting.
Dance department Co-Chair (with Alexa Kershner) and former soloist with famed Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), Fiona Lummis, tells us, “For us at this moment, the biggest unique aspect is that we will be performing mask free and not on zoom. It’s been two years since we have had a live spring dance concert. For most of our dancers this is their first spring dance concert at Lachsa.” She goes on to explain, “We are ambitious for our students. We want to introduce them physically and visually to a high professional dance level – introducing students to world renown repertoire is part of that; experiencing being choreographed on, experiencing choreographing, experiencing learning many different disciplines, experiencing the sheer joy and adrenaline of live performance. We work all year on building up the students’ technical ability and our spring Dance concert is an opportunity for them to excel. It is an opportunity for our dance community to enjoy these young dance students honing their craft and celebrate their potential.”
Lummis is a Stager of Kylian Repertoire. Jiri Kylian was the artistic director of NDT from 1973-1999 where he became one of the most ingenious choreographers of the 20th century and a well respected and much loved director of the world renowned company. Lummis is tasked with teaching the steps, style, nuance, musicality, spacing, and oversees all aspects of the piece as it goes on stage to make sure it’s as close to the original as possible. She explains, ‘the outcome in an educational situation can be different than working with a professional company but the process is the same. For schools and colleges I usually stage an excerpt of a longer piece.”
Lummis resides in South Pasadena as does one of her lead dancers in Kylian’s “Overgrown Path”, Kenneth Sweeney. “To have Fiona set this ballet on me means a lot because I know she has experience with it and I trust her teaching and judgment,” says Sweeney. “To be able to work with her in general means even more because I have known her since I was in second grade, because I went to school with her son. Having known her then, when I was so young, and now having her teaching me and setting important works on me is really an amazing experience and I am truly grateful to be able to know and work with someone as professional and caring as Fiona.”
Before this year, Sweeney was unfamiliar with Kylian’s work but says being cast in the piece filled him with curiosity. “Now that I’ve become more familiar with it, I really like it,” he says, “and even though I have a small part in the Kylian piece, it’s fun to do, and I love watching the Seniors (who dance a bulk of the piece) in rehearsals because it is a beautiful work to watch.”
Sweeney has been honing his craft since, at the age of 11, his mother took him to see the documentary “Getting to the Nutcracker”, about the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet’s Nutcracker production. With a desire to intensify his training, he auditioned for LACHSA after hearing about the dance program from a fellow dancer at the Daukayev studio in Los Angeles. He came into the program extremely ballet focused, he tells us, but “now, in junior year, I feel like I am much more well-rounded thanks to the LACHSA dance program because of the variety of classes they provide that cover all facets of dance.” He goes on to explain that what he loves about dance changes based on the type of dance. “What I love about ballet is the ability to have a model of what I need to be, so I always know if I’m doing well or not. What I love about other styles of dance, especially contemporary and my own choreography, is the ability to truly express myself and my emotions through my body and my movement.”
Sweeney is thrilled to be on stage at the Luckman Theatre on the CSULA campus and is especially excited to share the Limon piece. “We spent so many long school days working on this piece, and it has been such an amazing experience. Doing a piece this long, and working as one with all of my other classmates to achieve the goal of making the piece look as good as possible has been an eye-opening experience for me. I am so excited for all of our hard work to come to fruition, not just in our Limon piece, but in our contemporary ballet piece, “Salt”, where we come together at the end, and in our Modern piece, which represents so many things that have happened and are still happening throughout society. Overall, I am excited for people to see all of our work, and for us as a class to feel the repercussions of our hard work.”
LACHSA’s spring dance concert is held Saturday April 16 at 2pm and 7:30pm at Luckman Theatre at CSULA, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90032. For tickets and information visit lachsa.net/boxoffice