Pennington Dance Group will be celebrating its 15th year anniversary with two concerts this Saturday, March 26th and Sunday, March 27th at the State Playhouse in Los Angeles. The modern dance company will be presenting new choreography as well as the reconstruction of historical work by Bella Lewitzky. Bella was a lead dancer with Lester Horton’s company and was instrumental in the development of the Horton Technique. She later founded the Lewitzky Dance Company in 1966 where John Pennington was a dancer and master teacher for 14 years.
This performance is highly recommended and I was thrilled to be able to attend a rehearsal and get some behind the scenes action before this anniversary performance.
The moment I walked in, John Pennington himself welcomed me into the space. The dancers were out on the dance floor warming up and going over the choreography. I was instantly impressed by their rehearsal space. Once I was past the entryway the room opened up to this large dance floor area. The viewing section was a small strip of the room a step down from the stage. It is very up close and intimate which is an interesting perspective for the audience member. ARC was set up to give dancers the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other dancers and artists and expand their circle.
The interior wall structure was supported with the original brick walls, exposed ductwork on the ceiling above and large windows behind the stage with natural light flowing in. ARC is also strategically located right on the bustling street of Colorado Blvd, visible to the community.
I talked about my passion for dance but that I live in Orange Country where we don’t have such a strong community for modern dance. John shared his concerns that dance companies are staying in their own area, not touring. If they are touring they’re going internationally. Modern dance has been strongly supported in LA in the past and John Pennington is hoping that ARC will provide that support again for dancers and choreographers and bring modern dance to its level of importance as it once was.
Between dance pieces, John would give notes to the dancers, positive and constructive. His focus during these feedback sessions was to find purpose in the movement. The transitions had to come from somewhere and make sense. He instructed his dancers to move with an element of surprise. The dancers seemed to communicate well with John and each other on ways to improve their partnering and group work.
I watched the group rehearse one of the pieces that they’ll be performing, Skins and Screens. John completely re-choreographed this dance from his 2006 version. The only element that didn’t change was the music. With two trios of dancers, the dance opens up with the first trio, Skins, moving through the space with a unique prop of versatile paper as if they’re shedding their own skin. The second trio, Screens, brings in another interesting prop and the dancers move around screens symbolizing the outward and inward perspective of one’s self. The dance concludes with the two trios coming together dancing in rounds and in unison, as if breathing together through movement.
WHAT: ‘Pennington Dance Group 15th Anniversary Concerts’
Pennington Dance Group 15th Anniversary Concerts — Two anniversary concerts from the critically acclaimed modern dance company will feature a combination of new choreography and the recreation of historical work, including a rare revival of Bella Lewitzky’sOn the Brink of Time (1969) with music by Morton Subotnick — the first synthesized music to be commissioned and recorded for a record label.
• Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m.*
• Sunday, March 27 at 2:00 p.m.
*Please note early 7:30 p.m. curtain time on Saturday.
State Playhouse (on the campus of Cal State LA)
5151 State University Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90032
just east of downtown L.A., off the 10 Freeway
• 626-204-0331 or http://www.penningtondancegroup.org
• General admission: $22
• Students with valid ID: $16
Purchase a parking pass for $3 at the kiosk on the rooftop level of Parking Lot C.