Sunday, July 31, 2011
Days 7 & 8: Pastime With Good Company
Laurie's friends, and my new friends (hereafter shall be known as "our friends"), Robin and David had invited us to dine with them at Primitivo Wine Bistro in Venice, CA. Past the line of gourmet food trucks, Primitivo is a chic little tapas restaurant (the bacon wrapped medjool dates were transcendent.) I am given to understand that it has been over 25 years since Laurie and Robin had seen one another, so, in a sense, we were all catching one another up with a lifetime.
We rose early on Saturday and drove to the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. A high school chum of Laurie's is the proprietor of the acclaimed Watts Coffee House. Gathered were six or so friends. The conversation was lively and delightful. The food was some of the best of the entire trip. I had chicken sausage, lightly spiced, eggs which I doused with the Louisiana Rooster Sauce provided at each table, and waffles. The waffles did not need butter. We tarried, enjoying the food and company, well beyond the time in which the establishment closed.
The Backhaus Dance Company was formed in the early 2000s by a handful of dancers who went to Chapman University at the same time as I. I knew several of them and The Facebook has been ablaze for the past several weeks with news of their recital from other friends from my graduating class. The preeminent New York dance venue Joyce SoHo has numbered the Backhaus Dance Company as one of the seven emerging North American dance companies to watch. Needless to say, I had been eagerly anticipating taking in their performance for some time.
And the performance exceeded our expectations. It was a wonderful night of dance, very smartly infused with commentary and choreographic exposition by Jennifer Backhaus. These interludes served to draw us deeper into the performances and, much like the brilliant decision to have the dancers warm up to the performance onstage in full view of the audience from the moment the doors opened, gave a tour of the clockwork behind such a performance. I especially remembered their Disintegration piece which, if memory serves, was performed at the Kennedy Center back when I lived down here (and which I believe I saw in a student recital.) The Pink Martini piece Love and Other Impossibilites was delightful. Capping the evening, however, was their new piece (performed by long term members of the company, rather than Backhaus Dance Intensive graduates who, I think, comprised the other pieces) Duet(s). We were stunned by the perfectly bridled mastery and emotion of the piece. It was a meditation on love, the accompanying pain, separation, and I would go so far as to say what it is to be human, all expressed in dance.
Oh, guess what. God bless the internet, because here the entire piece is on Vimeo!
If you ever have the chance to see their work, do everything in your power to see them.
As a personal aside, the performance took place in the Waltmar Theater which used to house Shakespeare Orange County. I spent hundreds of hours in that theater in my 20s. Of supreme sentimental value to me, when I went upstairs to use the restroom, I saw the doorway to a room which housed props and leads to the catwalk far above the audience. I used to live there, occasionally literally.