The AVPA Will Dance Away the WeekendBy Art & Entertainment @ 3:00 PM April 20, 2012
From Garth Sanders
“Are We There Yet?” is the spring offering from the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts DZDP Dance Company at Culver City High School, opened last night at the Robert Frost Auditorium on campus.
Tara Griffo, right, reaches for Laura Schaffer
Three performances remain – tonight and Saturday at 7, and Sunday at 1.
Are We There Yet? features a stunning array of choreography, including student dance work reflecting post-modern, classical ballet, folklorico, musical theater, and hip hop and pop influences. The AVPA’s four professional dance faculty members will show dance theater, ballet, postmodern, and jazz work.
Following a four-year tradition, the concert will be presented as an evening-length work, containing dances seamlessly woven with unique, unexpected and entertaining theatrical transitions, creating a very special evening of dance theater.
“Are We There Yet?” refers to the students’ navigation through life with a particular focus on their years of high school. It includes poignant and humorous theatrical comments examining “beginnings, endings, and certain things in between.”
“The AVPA dance department has taken immense artistic strides over the last few years,” Artistic Director Julie Carson said.
“We have more senior dance students than ever before. They are well educated and particularly creative. In discussing a theme for the concert, I noted that this year’s group of seniors, most of whom are making fantastic contributions to the concert, will be saying goodbye in June.
“We began to think about process, and beginnings and endings. We thought about the excitement we feel when we finally arrive at a new place, while feeling sadness as we look back over our journey and realize it is ending. We are all excited to see our seniors move on, yet we know how much we’ll miss them.”
Thanks to a grant from the Surdna Foundation, the dance department has employed more dance educators for the students this year than ever before. Throughout the year, students have had the opportunity to enroll in two levels of ballet and modern dance, as well as musical theater workshop, and intermediate/advanced jazz. More experienced dance students learned composition and benefitted from workshops with professional Los Angeles choreographers.
“The enhanced curriculum due to the Surdna grant will not go unnoticed in this concert,” said Ms. Carson. “The additional technical and experiential prowess presented by students and faculty is evident in the students’ performance and very exciting to watch.”
Another unique feature in the concert will be a sample of short dance films created by student filmmakers, dancers and artists. The first-ever collaborative AVPA workshop of its kind, spearheaded by creative director of film Alexis Butler, was offered last fall. This resulted in impressive student films in which the dancers were the main characters, and the art students took their initial foray into art direction for film. Encouraged to explore innovation and creativity, the films were shot, directed and edited by student filmmakers. The project was made possible by a national ING Unsung Heroes grant awarded to Ms. Butler. The films will later be submitted to a number of film festivals.
General admission is $12; discounted price of $8 for ASB, faculty, seniors and children under12.