Creatures of Dance: An Odyssey
As the music of beating drums and adventurous rhythms expanded throughout the audience, a crew of fashionably clad dancers leaped across the stage. The Broad Stage was entertained by renowned choreographer Laura Gorenstein Miller's contemporary Helios Dance Theater's latest project, "The Lotus Eaters".
It was an evening of exceptional modern dance and talent that collaborated together on April 3 at Santa Monica College's very own state-of-the-art Broad Stage for the world premiere of "The Lotus Eaters" dance performance and benefit party.
A group of handpicked professional dancers, a visionary and creative choreographer, a reality TV show famed fashion designer and talented singer/song writer acclaimed by Rolling Stone Magazine all combined their talents to demonstrate the story of a crew of men at sea being stranded on an exotic island who get seduced into eating the island lotus fruit. The peculiar tale of "The Lotus Eaters" dance performance is based on the works of ancient poet Homer's "The Odyssey".
Dance, defined as a performing art, was depicted during the hour-long performance that was mesmerizing and sexy. The male and female dancers went between graceful and fierce as they intertwined with each other's bodies and coupled up during the passionate island quest. Pointed toes catapulted through the air, back bends embraced the floor and lifts, shifts and carries intrigued the audience.
The opening act comprised of a group of male dancers who were portrayed to be sailors jumping, lunging and striking their arms simulating martial arts-like moves as if they were fighting in a battle while being draped in black torn and tied fashionably hip costumes. Females joined the males on stage wearing pretty pastel metallic tunics replicating a mini version of a fine evening gown. The men and women dancers lunged towards each other with curiosity, engaging one another with a seemingly enticing and mysterious dance persona as they coupled up back and forth throughout the performance.
The men performed as barbaric sailors and the women who simulated creature-like Greek goddesses, represented the lotus fruit, luring the men in with creature like moves. They preyed off of each other's energy, seducing and being intrigued with one another as if the men were encountering female fruit eating aliens.
"Are they women? Are they insects? Are they animals? I'm playing with boundaries with what is beautiful and with what is exotic," said Miller.
The costumes were designed by fashion designer Rami Kashou, notable for his presence on Bravo's "Project Runway" and was a finalist on the show. Kashou is known for his draping skill, has a handful of celebrities such as, Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Lopez and Paris Hilton that have all worn his designs.
The music was remarkable. The dancers danced to a striking, all original musical soundtrack. The songs varied between romantic vocal serenades and adventurous drum beats with a touch of Jazz. All music was composed by Rob Cairns and the sounds of impressive vocalist Grant-Lee Phillips who was voted best male vocalist by Rolling Stone magazine during his career.
Miller is the director and the founder of the Helios Dance Theater that originated as a local company out of UCLA that has been active since 1995. Miller and the Helios Dance Theater have won several awards. She has also choreographed for Milwaukee Ballet Company and has her B.F.A. in dance choreography from Cal Institute of the Arts.