Encinitas dance company presents debut performance

As she sat watching a play at the La Jolla Playhouse last year, dance teacher Sadie Weinberg had a vision.

"If theatre companies can bring in different directors for plays, thus presenting a variety of voices for audiences, why doesn't something similar exist for dance companies?" the Village Park woman thought.

Enter Litvak Dance, an Encinitas-based dance company that Weinberg set into motion late last year.

"In dance, we can get kind of bogged down by the same voice all the time in a dance company," she said. "I thought we should shift the model a little bit. I think it keeps the dancers excited, and it can potentially keep audiences coming back because the work is going to be different."

The company, which focuses on contemporary dance, will host its first performance on April 28 and April 29 at UC San Diego's Molli and Arthur Wagner Dance Building. Ticket prices range from $15 to $20.

The show includes four choreographers: Weinberg, Bradley Lundberg, Dave Massey and Yolande Snaith.

It will also feature 11 dancers, some of whom are Weinberg's former students.

The 15-year teacher said she wanted to create the company, in part, to provide young dancers with an opportunity to dance while remaining in San Diego.

"There's not really any professional dance in northwest county," Weinberg said. "I feel like there's a vacuum of professional contemporary dance up here, so that started to feel like something that needed to happen."

Joshua Dunn, who studied dance with Weinberg at Coronado High School, returned to San Diego late last year after studying dance and trying to make a living in the competitive New York arts market for seven years.

Dunn, 24, said Weinberg's company mission resonated with him, and returning to his hometown to perform with Litvak was a no-brainer.

"It's a beautiful way of keeping art alive by incorporating so many other voices and giving them a platform to explore," he said of Litvak.

The company includes both male and female dancers. Weinberg — who recruited her husband, a retired dancer, to perform for the first time in years — said it's important to show diversity on stage.

Dancers also range in age from early-20s to mid-50s.

"Being an educator, I really see the change in demographics in this area and just of the country in general," she said. "It feels really important to make that part of our mission statement. When we do outreach projects, it's important to us for people to see dancers that look like them, rather than people that only look like me."

Dunn, one of three male dancers in the show, said he was proud to represent men in an arguably female-dominated craft.

He said while he played a variety of sports in high school, dance pushed his body the hardest. He believes the exercise is mental, physical and spiritual "all in one."

"All guys should dance," he said. "As men, we need to start adapting the idea of camaraderie and being intimate with another male without it having this weird stigma attached to it. There's strength in numbers and expression. I feel like that's what dance brought into my life."

Weinberg said she is planning community workshops over the summer for youth and students. A winter show — with guest performers Mad Boots from New York — is also in the planning stages.

For more information about Litvak Dance, visit www.litvakdance.org.

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