Usually choreographers choose dancers. Los Angeles-based BodyTraffic co-directors Tina Finkelman Berkett and Lillian Barbeito had a different idea as performers choosing the choreographers with whom they’d like to work. By commissioning contemporary dance works for their versatile repertory company, BodyTraffic creates both a power inversion and a vibrant mix tape of dance.
Los Angeles-born choreographer Barak Marshall knows a thing or two about what he calls “umbilical whiplash.” The son of Yemenite-Israeli choreographer Margalit Oved, Marshall happened upon his dance voice while accompanying his mother in the studio during a 1994 visit with the Inbal Dance Company in Israel. Since then, Marshall has been creating his own dances, working as the first house choreographer for Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company in 1999, and more recently arriving with his own company at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv. And at midnight, the green bride floated through the village square… for BodyTraffic is based on neighbors of his mother’s family in Aden, Yemen. Jewish love songs and hymns are juxtaposed with explosively jealous performer relationships.
Born in 1977, hip-hop enlivens Kyle Abraham‘s life experience and his choreography alongside his classical training. “If I’m making phrase work, there’s always going to be some kind of hip-hop or urban aesthetic that’s going to come out naturally.” Abraham notes. Additionally, Abraham is deeply influenced by the technicality and rigor of New York dance artists Kevin Wynn and Ralph Lemon. The Pittsburgh native performed his work in San Francisco during 2011 Black Choreographer’s Festival at ODC Theater with fast-motion revolutions and quick switches back to calm and control. With Kollide, we’ll see Abraham’s coiled momentum transferred onto the bodies of the BodyTraffic artists.
Pure movement and play compose Richard Siegal’s work for BodyTraffic, o2joy, set to American jazz standards. The former Forsythe Company dancer founded The Bakery Paris-Berlin in 2005 where he employs his If/Then compositional methodology, a sort of choreographic game, to generate performances, dialogue and interactive installations. For a choreographer so steeped in design and digital data, o2joy’s musical phrases seem to celebrate embodiment and remind us of the simple joy of dance and rhythm. Inhabiting the minds and movement of so many bold contemporary choreographers, BodyTraffic touts versatility with the company’s collection of work.