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Jo Tomalin

Labayen Dance/SF: TAKE 5

By November 15, 2012November 28th, 2012No Comments
image of Keon Saghari, Yuko Hata, Regan Fairfield in Chysalis photo by Weidong Yang
image of Jaidah Terry + Yuko Hata in Love Songs Photo by Weidong Yang

Jaidah Terry + Yuko Hata in Songs of Love  Photo by Weidong Yang

image of Victpr Talledos + Leda Pennell in Love Songs Photo by Weidong Yang
Victor Talledos + Leda Pennell in Songs of Love,  Photo by Weidong Yang

(Above) Keon Saghari, Yuko Hata, Regan Fairfield in Chysalis (photo by Weidong Yang)

Wonderful Evening of New Dance Works in San Francisco

The Labayen Dance/SF company’s latest show TAKE 5 at The Garage in San Francisco November 1-3, showcased four prolific choreographers working with this company, and culminated with a compelling piece choreographed by award winning choreographer Enrico Labayen himself.

Labayen’s premiere of his memory dance Awit ng Pag-Ibig (translated from Tagalog:  Songs of Love) is based on his family life growing up in the Philippines, exploring themes of love, domestic violence and poverty, set to melodic Violin and Piano music by Gilopez Kabayao & Corazon Pineda. The four sections: silent witnesses, mother & daughter, children in fear, despair & abandonment, were danced sensitively in changing combinations by five excellent dancers: Leda Pennell, Regan Fairfield, Jaidah Terry, Yuko Hata and Victor Talledos. Pennell and Talledos were outstanding in the last duo, playing the parents expressing a range of emotions through intricate choreography, ending with Talledos alone in an innovative section intertwining on a bench, with a dramatic ending – very powerful and moving. Labayen’s dancers do not only dance with commitment but they also act the characters believably, which is impressive.

image of Anna Rehr in Such Great Heights Photo by Robert Baranyal

Anna Rehr in Such Great Heights
Photo by Robert Baranyal





Such Great Heights, a new work choreographed by Frederick Gaudette is set to dynamic dance music by The Temper Trap and The Postal Service. Three accomplished dancers (Anna Rehr, Lauren McCarthy & Regan Fairfield) danced athletically and joyfully in black shorts and tops in this fun piece. These very flexible dancers came and went doing short solos and duos with fluid movement, expressive arms, and perfect timing. They made it look so easy and almost made you want to get up and dance!

Another premiere, Call to Prayer choreographed by Laura Bernasconi is a fascinating piece based on “the realization that anatomical configuration is secondary to the love between two spirits of human beings.” This mise en scène was accompanied mainly by the continuous rhythmic sound of a Halo, a round resonant steel instrument played on stage by Gabriel Goldberg. Five dancers featured in this piece – Samantha Beach, Ana Robles, Katherine Disenhof, Victor Talledos & Kevin Hockenberry. In the first section the Asian influenced hands and arm movements were striking.  Beach, Robles and Disenhof next became a type of Chorus setting up the final male duo beautifully performed by Talledos and Hockenberry with sustained balances, precision, fluid movement and excellent phrasing.

Walls within Walls choreographed and performed by Frederick Gaudette to Samuel Barber’s wonderfully mournful music was an appropriately inward dance yet had leaps and tension as the dancer was searching for freedom from self-limitation. Dramatic lighting supported the mood very well.

image of Rachel Elliot in Chrysalis Photo by Weidong Yang

Rachael Elliot in Chrysalis Photo by Weidong Yang

Chrysalis, with concept and choreography by Daiane Lopes da Silva, investigates “the connection between the primitive state of mind and bodily sensations.” This is an innovative piece danced by Michelle Kinny, Rachael Elliot, Keon Saghari, Reagan Fairfield and Yuko Hata. All five dancers are wonderful and perform in duos and trios.  The highlight is an outstanding beguiling solo near the end, as the dancer, Rachael Elliot, in a white shirt is covered with the colorful abstract projections by Weidong Yang & Wolfram Arnold. While the projections were intriguing they were also a slight distraction at times, depending on the placement of the dancer. However, this is a very creative piece, which surprised us with its unpredictability, entertained us with moments like the toy dog, and moved us – therefore, it is well worth developing further.

Desde lo mas Profundo del Corazon al Limite de la Razon (from the depths of the heart to the limit of reason) choreographed by Victor Talledos, danced by Leda Pennell. On a diagonal in a narrow line of light, Pennell movingly danced this emotional piece, with dramatic movement as she stretched out towards the light.

image of Ana Robles and Ismael Acosta in Desolation Photo by Richard Baranyai

Ana Robles and Ismael Acosta in Desolation
Photo by Richard Baranyai


Desolation is a moving piece choreographed by Victor Talledos, which tells the story of two strangers who have both given up on life, set to music by Singur Ros. Ana Robles and Ismael Acosta make a tall, dramatic, sultry duo, very well matched in grace, precision and athleticism. Their adagio style lifts and swoons with superb lines are outstanding.  This choreography is complex and Robles and Acosta deliver – even when knotting themselves around each other flexibly one minute and seemingly defy gravity by flying the next.

Labayen Dance/SF is a small but mighty celebrated contemporary ballet company founded in 1994 which has toured nationally and internationally – and always offers thought provoking work. Check out this company’s upcoming shows.


For more information:

Labayen Dance/SF

Jo Tomalin
Critics World
San Francisco