Presenting its 36th annual end of the school year concert, Santa Ana’s The Wooden Floor brings nationally recognized choreographers’ collaborations with under-served youth to the Irvine Barclay Theatre for four shows this weekend. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 30-June 1, “Of Knowing Where” includes dances created and performed by the young people under the direction of highly respected adult dance makers, David Dorfman, Falon Baltzell and Angie Muzzy. Curtains are raised each night at 8 p.m. and at a Saturday matinee at 2:30 p.m.
You may think, “Oh, it’s just a kids’ recital. Good if you’re somebody’s parent, but otherwise, eh….” Well, hold on a moment. This dance writer has seen several of these without knowing anyone in the cast, and the productions are way beyond the conventional homemade presentations. The guiding artists in this and the preceding years’ events are all veteran theater cast and crew personnel. Their “day jobs” happen on Broadway, big international stages and top-notch venues across the country. So, don’t expect cutesy moments and flashing light bulbs with eyes-wide-open terrified boys and girls. Though there may be financial and other struggles going on in their homes, these young people take dance classes seriously every day. They may not yet be able to do double pirouettes or Martha Graham-like floor slides, but their directors have found ways that they can communicate something thought-provoking and seemingly outside of their immediate short experience.
Dorfman, whose modern dance company has been presented internationally, is the chair of the Dance Department at his alma mater, Connecticut College. For this show, he and the students will premiere “Falling to Float (a guide to getting lost),” exploring friendship, trust and what is described in promotional materials as “a safe place in a crazy world.“ Accompanied by an original score by Liz de Lise, the music is played live on cello, percussion, guitar, electronics and voice.
Artistic Director of The Wooden Floor Falon Baltzell works with an all-male cast of 31 dancers to create “(Re)Calculating.” Investigating concepts of order and disorder, perseverance and athleticism, the boys uncover the humor and the necessary teamwork that are part of the journey from chaos to calm.
Ninety-one, yes, 91 young and younger females populate the premiere of “passing through the trees,” created by themselves and Massachusetts-based choreographer Angie Muzzy. Their collage of movement is characterized as “a visual landscape of a New England forest.” In this environment, the performers unearth playful, gestural and expressive aspects of the human connection to nature.
The Wooden Floor’s after-school program has a dance-focused curriculum with a 100 percent success rate in preparing low-income participants for post-secondary education. Starting with children in the elementary grades, tutors and counselors assist young people in reaching their academic goals via a rigorous dance structure and, if appropriate, connections to other family services. The adult artists invited to create with these students are always impressed by the learners’ openness to different ways of thinking about dance and willingness to try things they initially think are impossible.
—Benn Widdey, Culture Spot LA
Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
$10-$50 and can be purchased at https://tickets.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=4cfdc46d7d35edcba605cf54f50f866b&vqitq=54179170-3928-4c60-9ce1-1a1fc34b7ac5&vqitp=f8091889-9a9f-45d0-99fe-4492f79ee66d&vqitts=1558729410&vqitc=vendini&vqite=itl&vqitrt=Safetynet&vqith=8dcf3fe8a7d60d3f293a05169421500c