LITVAKdance performers will take the stage for a fall concert on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 at the San Dieguito Academy theater in Encinitas. The showcase features work from five different choreographers from across the country and aims to illustrate and celebrate diverse community voices through dance. Photo by Doug McMinimy, courtesy of LITVAKdance
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Dance company combines live music and art for a unique showcase

ENCINITAS — For Sadie Weinberg, founder and artistic director of LITVAKdance, there’s something magical about building a show that can impact any audience — no dance background required.

“I’m always trying to curate a show that makes people think, but also makes them have a good time so they can leave feeling like they saw something beautiful,” Weinberg said.

Weinberg is bringing this vision to life on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 at the San Dieguito Academy theater. Her Encinitas-based dance company, LITVAKdance, will take the stage for a fall concert. Founded in 2017, the company showcases works that promote empowerment, inclusivity and collective humanity.

Six core company dancers, eight guest dancers, three visiting choreographers and five musicians from across the country have come together to take this repertoire of five unique, thoughtful works to the stage. The musicians make up the Encinitas-based band Montalban Quintet, which will play live alongside two of the dances.

“Visually, when you see the dancers, it’s really enthralling, and to have live music performing at the same time is going to kick it up a notch,” Montalban Quintet vocalist Chris Prescott said.

The overall performance is meant to illustrate a wide range of community voices and celebrate diversity. When the dances are performed all together, they form something unintentionally beautiful, says Weinberg.

“Each piece is very different, but there’s this undercurrent of movement vocabulary that shows up in each work,” Weinberg said. “The choreographers don’t even really know each other — that just kind of happened.”

Their program consists of five unique numbers. “Kisses, Walls and Gestures” is a small group piece set to music from the Montalban Quintet. Josh Manculich, a Texas-based choreographer who made the piece, explores how it feels to be “magnetized, distracted or collapsed” by another’s presence.

“The mood of this work feels completely new for me,” Manculich said. “For some reason, I imagine it at a local bar, where you see different compositions of relationships, social groups and unsaid connections.”

“Not By Oneself” is a separate piece that shows what happens when three people on separate roads find their paths intersecting. Encinitas choreographer Khamla Somphanh took from her own experiences as an artist to create the piece, referencing the feeling of finding support in places you never realized.

“The piece is inspired by the process of finding our way, carving paths unique to our own and acknowledging others who’ve assisted in our journeys along the way,” Somphanh said.

Company member Maria José Castillo choreographs an “intimate and painful” solo for fellow company member Ashley Akhavan, portraying the grueling realities of an unsatisfying relationship. Following the solo is “Radiant,” where the company’s core dancers will come together for an 18-minute piece from New York-based choreographer Chuck Wilt. Inspired by artist and AIDS activist Keith Haring, the piece is meant to bring awareness to the experiences of the LGBTQ community while also engaging audiences in a creative way.

“My work as a whole aims to connect people to what we have in common, and Keith’s drawings were just another way to discover and translate what unites us,” Wilt said.

The show ends with “Zephyr Unfolding,” a part of a larger piece by Weinberg to honor the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Ten dancers move through “fury, tenderness and ferocity of female warriors pursuing both equality and individuality,” according to a release from LITVAKdance.

Overall, Weinberg’s goal with the show is to make this medium accessible and interesting for all audiences. She wants to humanize dancers by communicating themes that are raw, real and relatable. While each choreographer may bring their own story, there really isn’t one plot to follow. Weinberg says there is no one way to interpret a dance — she encourages audiences to go with whatever they are feeling in the moment.

“It’s not like a puzzle to figure out,” Weinberg said. “It’s about being in observation mode. Be present to the experience, and let it wash over you.”

The LITVAKdance Fall 2019 Concert is being held at the San Dieguito Academy theater on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 3 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 3, at 1 and 5 p.m. For ticket information, visit www.litvakdance.org/tix.

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