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Rammed Earth at the Skirball

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photo by Paula Court, courtesy of the artist

Jordan Peimer, program director at the Skirball Cultural Center, does a great job of bringing interesting non-mainstream dance talent to our city. In the recent past he brought Neil Greenberg, Liz Lerman, the Sitelines series and international companies and artists that don’t fill the seats in the large venues, but who, nonetheless, expand the art form beyond its traditions and conventions. Always interesting, if not mind-blowing.

This week, the center is hosting New York choreographer/company Tere O’Connor Dance for for five shows over four evenings (Thursday-Sunday June 26-29). Rammed Earth is a 2007 work that has received outstanding reviews in its previous performances in New York and Philadelphia. Exploring the relationship between architecture and humanity, Moshe Safdie’s gallery design will present the rigid structure against which the four fluid dancers will interact. With original music by longtime artistic partner James Baker and lighting by Michael O’Connor and Brian MacDevitt, the hour long production probes the effect that the surroundings have on the execution of the dance as well as its viewing.

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As a metaphor for the age-old building technique of the title, O'Connor describes his modus operandi as "raising a dance up from the moment you're in." Similar to the concept that buildings can be constructed to respond to their environment, the choreographer has created a movement piece that can adapt to its specific setting. Similarly, throughout the evening, the audience will be escorted into different positions and thereby incorporated into the production, as well.

Though it has appeared internationally for over twenty-five years, Tere O'Connor Dance is making its Los Angeles debut with these performances. The Village Voice says O'Connor is "mounting a whole new codex of expressive movement" and The Houston Chronicle says the man is "a master at creating dream worlds." The artist has been awarded several "Bessie" awards for his productions in New York, a Guggenheim award and other prestigious grants. As a freelance choreographer, he has choreographed for companies that include the Lyon Opera Ballet, Carte Blanche (Norway) and for Mikhail Baryshnikov and the White Oak Dance Project. Quietly, one of his earlier dances was set on students at Cal State Long Beach a short while ago, but this will be LA's first look at the company.

Check out the YouTube bite and make plans to go to one of the five shows (two on Saturday night)!