Dancing on Fire

Nathan Hirschaut is the fire, getting wild and out of control in “Wildfires,” an excerpt of a work-in-progress dance piece by Carmel-based choreographer Fran Spector Atkins.

Since 1997, SpectorDance’s recurring choreographers showcase has presented the local audience with over 450 dancemakers – both locals and guests from distant places – in multi-day events. This year the theme is “Dance That Makes A Difference,” and for the first time the program will focus fully on dance’s power to promote dialogue and be a vehicle for social change.

There will be 12 dance pieces featuring the work of 56 performers, nine choreographers and a tech crew shown to the public. Many pieces focus on weighty themes – visiting Israeli choreographer Shany Dagan will present a piece called “Dust Between Us” to the music of “There’s a Violin in My Heart” by Idan Reichel (in Hebrew and Arabic). This work explores the challenges, the friendships and the lingering hope between Israelis and the Palestinians living side by side, on the same land.

Another piece that will be presented, at least in nascent form, is “Wildfires” by SpectorDance Company Coordinator and Founder Fran Spector Atkins. Inspired by an evolving partnership with Tom Little Bear Nason, chair of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, “Wildfires” will officially premiere in late 2023. But showcase attendees will get to see an advance excerpt with dancers Kaeshi Chai, Shany Dagan, Nathan Hirschaut, Claire Simmons and Yana Williams, and a powerful video presentation that features not only stunning local nature but also an interview with Nason.

“I’m surprised how quickly it’s coming together,” Spector Atkins says. “The piece will bring together scientific and Indigenous knowledge of fire ecology and heighten awareness of best practices for protecting our forests.”

The list of dancer/choreographers in the showcase also includes Angela Chambers (Santa Cruz), Camrin Dannelly (Monterey), Ramya Harishankar (Irvine), Tracy Kofford (Santa Barbara), Jonathan Lipow (Monterey), Margaret Wingrove (San Jose) and Allen Xing (Baltimore).

“I really feel the post-Covid world is different,” Spector Atkins says. “The world is exploding with the need to share. And I feel generosity from everyone. It’s like the community wants to be together.”

THE CHOREOGRAPHERS SHOWCASE RE-IMAGINED: “DANCE THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE” happens at 7:30pm Thursday, May 19 and Friday, May 20. Hidden Valley Music Seminars, 104 W. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. 659-3115, spectordance.org.

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