On dance and diversity: A spotlight on Sadie Weinberg

On dance and diversity: A spotlight on Sadie Weinberg
LITvak Dance Company founder Sadie Weinberg dances on Moonlight Beach Tuesday morning in Encinitas. Photo by Shana Thompson

 

ENCINITAS — As a dancer and choreographer, Sadie Weinberg said she likes to create in the space where “emotional chaos meets form and beauty.”

By launching LITVAKdance — the only contemporary dance company in North County — Weinberg hopes to bring “new momentum” and “high-caliber dance performances” to the area.

The company, which Weinberg founded in 2017 in Encinitas, will perform in the gardens at Lux Art Institute during its Art Couture event from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 23.

Weinberg has deep roots in dance and has performed nationally and internationally. Her mother, Betzi Roe, was hailed as a pioneer of the San Diego dance scene who co-founded the city’s first modern dance company. Weinberg holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in fine arts from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College and UC Irvine, respectively. She worked with Gina Gibney in New York and was a company member of San Diego-based Malashock Dance, Jean Isaac’s San Diego Dance Theater and more.

While Weinberg was extensively trained in ballet and still admires the form, she said, “There’s such a ‘rightness’ to it … and a narrowly defined sense of what is ‘pretty.’” With contemporary dance, she explained, a choreographer can take greater risks and embrace a wider range of expression and bodily size.

Diversity and inclusivity are at the core of Litvak’s mission, with dancers of different physical builds, ages (20s through 50s), genders, ethnicities and backgrounds that “mirror the changing demographics” of North County, Weinberg said. She wants her dancers to “love the body that they’re in right now” and to also “honor their personal histories” within their work at Litvak.

The company name is a nod to her husband’s discarded family name and the idea of reclaiming one’s history. In an attempt to assimilate into American culture, the Litvaks became the Lanes after emigrating from Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire) in the late 1800s. Similarly, Weinberg wants to honor her dancers’ heritage while also celebrating who they are today.

Her husband, Greg Lane, is an accomplished dancer in his own right. Lane danced for the highly regarded choreographer Bella Lewitsky in Los Angeles, for example. Now a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine as well as the director of clinical operations for the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Lane still finds time to dance in some of Litvak’s performances.

Speaking to how watching a contemporary dance performance can be an intense and dramatic experience, Weinberg said, “Dance is where we go to find meaning. It’s where the pain is. We want to dive in and feel something.” On the other hand, she said it’s important to sometimes be playful and give the audience a break from the seriousness.

Weinberg currently teaches dance at UC San Diego, MiraCosta College, Palomar College and Canyon Crest Academy, an endeavor she finds fulfilling. Her “best self” emerges while teaching and choreographing; Weinberg explained how she “went into dancing to be the best dancer I could be, but it didn’t make me the best person.”

Tending to be what she calls “overly competitive and self-deprecating” as a dancer, Weinberg said stepping back and letting others dance allows her to focus on the larger purpose of the art form rather than the vanities of the self. Through teaching at MiraCosta and other colleges, she also met several of the dancers now in her company.

As a repertory-based company, Weinberg aims to keep the dancing fresh and innovative by inviting outside choreographers to collaborate. As for dance instruction open to the public, Litvak offers classes and programs at the Performing Arts Workshop in Encinitas.

Weinberg’s sister, Wren Polansky, will have multi-media drawings on display at Lux on Saturday that depict Litvak dancers Beverly Johnson and María José Castillo. Johnson and Castillo will be performing that evening, allowing you to experience their artistry through various perspectives.

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