The first time I met Drew Silvaggio, the Civic Ballet’s artistic director, he had a very ballsy thing to say about dance. Are you ready for this? “Dance,” he said, “is the most unselfish pursuit.”
- PHOTO BY BARRY GOYETTE
- JUMP, BRUSH! : The Civic Ballet’s Jane Selna, pictured, takes the festival’s title literally.
Damn, I thought. But the more I considered it, the more it began to make sense. The art form is, essentially, a physical sacrifice made by the artist, all for the sake of bringing a moment of beauty, poignancy, or joy to others.
Surely, too, there is something profoundly egoless about creating art that immediately vanishes, instead of sticking around demanding to be adored. A viewer can stand in front of a painting and take in the piece in its entirety, but the reality of dance necessitates that a piece be destroyed as it’s created—with every second, another part of the work passing into nothing, as if time itself were following the dancer with its great jaws wide open.
This idea seems intrinsic to JumpBrush Pacific Coast Dance Convergence, an ambitious three days and four nights of dance brought together by the heavy-hitters of the local dance community: the Civic Ballet’s Silvaggio, Ballet Theatre SLO’s Theresa Slobodnik, Lisa Deyo of Deyo Dances, Leslie Baumberger of CORE Dance, and Diana Stanton and Jude Clark Warnisher of the modern dance group Variable Velocity.
JumpBrush—an event whose very name, as Slobodnik pointed out, blends physicality with artistry—is unique in its equal emphasis on performance and training. For audiences, the event offers several unmissable shows. The Bay Area-based Joe Goode Performance Group, guest artists of the festival, will take the stage on Thursday, Aug. 9, at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center, and the festival comes to an epic finale with the Aug. 11 performance Jumpbrush in Concert, featuring members of Goode’s company alongside dancers handpicked from the community.
For dance professionals, there’s an opportunity to be a part of this super-company: A program referred to as a “reverse residency” gives local dancers a chance to audition (it’s Friday, Aug. 3, at 6 p.m. in the Cal Poly Pavilion, if you’re the last-minute type). Local choreographers also have a chance to submit pieces for the newly formed group to perform during JumpBrush in Concert. Dancers then have just one week of intensive rehearsal to prepare the new works for their stage debut.
The festival opens on Wednesday, Aug. 8, with a Studio Showcase, in which area studios and dance groups perform work to be critiqued by acclaimed choreographer Joe Goode and members of his company. The public is invited to the showcase, held at 7 p.m. in the Spanos Theatre, where Goode will choose two works to be presented during JumpBrush in Concert.
Silvaggio’s short, energetic piece “M.O.B.” and Diana Stanton’s ethereal “We Come, We Go” are already on that evening’s lineup. And in a massive, cathartic closing piece titled “Convergence,” dancers from all involved companies will perform to the accompaniment of Paul Woodring on the Forbes Pipe Organ.
JumpBrush happens every other year, and the coming event is only the festival’s second run. And while it should be easier this time around, much of the festival’s success still rests on the petite shoulders of director Lauren Chertudi, a 23-year-old graduate student in dance at Sarah Lawrence. Fortunately, Chertudi, who holds a business degree from Cal Poly, seems to possess that elusive crossover of creative and organizational skills.
“It’s not just a destination for dance,” she said of the festival, “but for forward-thinking people.”
The festival also offers adult dance classes in genres as diverse as modern, ballet, musical theater, jazz, folk, contact improvisation, and African dance. A newly added class package called “HopBrush” caters to dancers ages 8 to 12 and includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the PAC’s facilities.
To the uninitiated observer, JumpBrush’s lineup of events and the way they all fall into place may be rather hard to follow. But that’s because the festival deliberately descends on the dance scene and starts mixing and matching, hoping thereby to expose dance professionals to new challenges and unfamiliar styles.
“The more informed your dancers are, the better they dance, explained Deyo Dances’ Deyo. “We only benefit each other by sharing.”
“Dancers tend to get caught up in their own tiny dance worlds,” added Baumberger of CORE Dance. “They lose sight of why they dance in the first place.”
“I feel a shift in the dance community,” Baumberger went on.
It’s a movement toward more communication between studios, she explained, a certain abandoning of the idea that one should jealously keep one’s dance “secrets” to oneself.
“When dance is done right,” she concluded, “it’s a selfless endeavor.”
Arts Editor Anna Weltner jumps while she brushes. Contact her at email@example.com.