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Dance is in the air

Two CSULA students join the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre production team

Providing a “breath” of fresh air with stunning movements and lively music, Cal State L.A.’s dance students Rosemary Chavez and Kimberly Smith will help present a unique site-specific dance production at the Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles.

Pictured: Rosemary Chavez.
Rosemary Chavez, a dance major at CSULA, who is currently working as a production assistant for the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre as part of her TAD 339 class.

The “Catch Your Breath” walking performance—to premiere Oct. 25-28—is inspired by the individuals whose lives have been changed as a result of their time at Barlow. For more than a century, Barlow has been helping patients “breathe easier” by offering treatments for complex respiratory and medical needs.

The students are working directly with the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre (HDDT) to put together the four-day dance presentation.

“It is great to be able to bring the community together with dance for a good cause,” said Chavez, who is serving as a production assistant for the HDDT. “I have different goals of how this production will play out. One, I want to understand the organization required for this. Two, I want to develop a confidence to help produce and eventually lead a production. Three, I want to expand my network for future opportunities.”

According to Shanda Domango, HDDT director of communications, “‘Catch Your Breath’ will examine the intersection of art and learning through the fundamental act of breathing.” She said, “Designed as an artistic journey through the environs of the hospital property, the performance will guide the audience through scenes motivated by the preserved and reinvigorated spaces of the Barlow facility, the history of the hospital, and specific patients’ stories to recovery.”

HDDT is a dance company that creates “ephemeral contemporary art experiences in extraordinary places that boldly redefine the relationship between audience and art.” Founded in 1987 by artistic director and choreographer Heidi Duckler, HDDT was formerly Collage Dance Theatre.

Pictured: A photo promoting a Heid Duckler Dance Theatre production. Courtesy of Adeline Newmann.
Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre’s “Catch Your Breath” performance to premiere at the Barlow Respiratory Hospital this October.

“Rosemary has been a truly intangible asset. She pays attention and catches the small details that subconsciously make a performance extremely successful and entertaining,” said Domango. “We are also lucky to have Kimberly as a production stage manager. She is playing a major role in making the performance run seamlessly, smoothly and efficiently.”

Both Chavez and Smith were recommended by Cal State L.A.’s Theatre Professor Meredith Greenburg to work with HDDT.

“Rosemary has experience working on a number of projects for CSULA’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, as a dancer and choreographer,” said Professor Greenburg, who has an extensive background as a stage manager for theatre and opera productions. “Kimberly also stood out as not only a fabulous dancer, but also a leader with potential. Both of them deserve to, and are ready to, have a professional, practical experience working with a dance company in town.”

The duo is currently enrolled in Greenburg’s Stage Management (TAD 339) class. Students in the class must complete a practical stage management assignment for the course.

“All Theatre and Dance option students are required to take this class, so they get the experience before they go out into the world,” explained Greenburg. “I am so very excited for Rosemary and Kimberly, and I do hope that they make contacts on this show that last them throughout their professional careers.”

Chavez’s goals are to become a member of a Los Angeles-based dance company, complete a master’s degree, and eventually teach dance at the university level.

“This production is broadening my dance career,” she said. “I have never been a part of a production team, so I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge while producing a production like this.”

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Last Update: 10/24/2012