Last evening at the Wallis I watched one of the very best of Los Angeles companies, BodyTraffic, founded by Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett, perform five fresh pieces, one of them “A Million Voices,” representing a world premiere (although it has been performed as excerpts elsewhere). Indeed, that work was one of the very best of this spirited company’s creations.
That work was followed by an excerpt from their popular “Fragile Dwellings,” choreographed by Belgian dancer Stijn Celis, dedicated to Los Angeles’ homeless population, and with music by Arvo Pãrt. The “dwellings” of this piece (designed by Erwin Redl) are represented simply by hanging strings of light, a bit like the neon-lit streets of our city, wherein dancers Davis, Leibert, Liu, and White dive, rise, twist, and turn and even writhe between the gradually lowering ribbons of light which by work’s end, like the individuals to whom this piece is dedicated, are finally “bedded,” draped across the stage floor, the dancers almost hedged in by the metal bar that has held the lit-up strips.
But if there was any doubt of the vibrancy of this young company, their much-admired Ode to Joy, “O2Joy” followed. This popular work, performed across the country, is a testimony to the American Song Book, with jazz music by Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, and great numbers by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields and numerous others. The ecstatic dancers Berkett, Davis, Leibert, Rosando, and White spun and leaped in grand jetes exuberantly, Davis lip-synching a totally camp yet charming rendition of Gerald Mark’s and Seymour Simon’s “All of Me.” It’s this sense of total joy, sexuality, and outright silliness that separates this company from so many others.