Author: Sam Byrne
This past Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the Lineage Dance Company of Pasadena hosted its biggest event of the year: the Fourth Annual Pasadena Dance Festival. Every year, Lineage Dance showcases some of the best dancers and choreographers from the greater Los Angeles area, and several dance groups are invited each year to display one dance piece at the festival. Unlike most dance companies, Lineage Dance is a nonprofit organization that receives funding from private sponsors and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division. The proceeds from ticket costs and a silent auction are donated to charity organizations. This year, the money was used to offer classes to individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease and Down syndrome. To contribute to the philanthropic spirit, several children from underfunded and underprivileged schools in the Los Angeles area were granted free admission to the show.
Lineage Dance Managing Director Peggy Burt made a speech before the festival. She articulated her passion for the charity and beneficial components of the night. The goal of the night was to “[make] the arts accessible,” Peggy explained. The company did so by inviting students to the event and extending the joyful spirit of dance to people with life-altering health issues.
The festival took place in the Civic Auditorium. The walls of the auditorium are adorned with wall murals of rustic red, orange, green and gold color schemes and references to art styles of the Greco-Roman tradition. The intricate and sophisticated atmosphere juxtaposed a minimalist style of dance. The first piece was filled with gentle, graceful movements and simplistic elegance — the focus was on the emotion of the dance, not the narrative. The original ways the dancers occupied the negative space with their bodies made the audience contemplate the choices made in the choreography, react to the dance and internalize the performance. The festival opened as a celebration of dance, movement, artistry, the human body and rhythm.
The following pieces were characterized by elements of drama, comedy, tribal rituals, acrobatics, staged fighting, stunning athleticism and cultural dances. The dances were dynamic, contemporary and engaging. The audience of primarily women, younger girls and older couples remained impressed with the varying styles of dance and the overall skill. The 10 contributing dance groups were only allowed one piece, so the dances were long and well-executed.
The festival ended with a closing piece that caused a bang. It was a high-speed action number featuring men dressed in business suits and characterized by quick and sharp body movements. There was jumping, leaping and tossing of bodies, which added a fast and chaotic feel. Among all the racing, however, was a refined sense of grace. There was no room for error with the men flying across the stage simultaneously. For the audience members who felt inspired, the ticket price included the opportunity to take classes or workshops. Though the Pasadena Dance Festival is over, Lineage Dance’s mission is continued with their classes and workshops each week that dancers of all levels can sign up for. They also have several performances coming up that are open to the public. Lineage Dance is a rare organization in the sense that its goal, according to the mission statement, is to “present works of contemporary dance … for the benefit of others” and provide workshops, residencies, assemblies and master classes for “the benefit of students, dancers and community members.” By making the arts accessible, Lineage Dance’s relatively small contribution has benefited the entire Los Angeles community.
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