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Rachel Levin
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LADi 8 - The Los Angeles Dance Invitational - A Tribute to Stanley Holden

by Rachel Levin
September 15, 2007
Nate Holden Performing Arts Center
4718 West Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
When the lighting and tech equipment in the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center went down temporarily after the opening act of the 8th annual Los Angeles Dance Invitational (LADi), executive producer Howard Ibach offered a potential explanation.

"Stanley's here," he told the audience.

Indeed, the spirit of Stanley Holden pervaded the showcase. An acclaimed character dancer in London's Royal Ballet and a respected teacher to generations of Southern California dancers for nearly 30 years, Holden passed away in May of this year. He helped shape LADi as one of its co-producers, and this evening's invitational was dedicated to him.

In his own work, Holden combined technical brilliance with levity and humor, and many of this year's pieces reflected this union of elements. San Pedro Ballet's "Ruckus" alternated lyrical movements with bawdy, mischievous gestures set to Mozart's Symphony #35. Amy Ernst's "Raft" featured two women spinning on Lazy-Susan-like discs, a synthesis of grace and play. Commonality Dance Company choreographer Adam Parson punctuated his tribal-inspired piece "Kecak" with amusing,Tarzan-like moves. LA Contemporary Dance Company's wittily titled "A Personalized Approach to Life by the Founders of Insecurity and Ego" had dancers Carlos Rodriguez and Kevin Williamson hoofing it in business attire.

Though shorter on humor, the remaining pieces shone in technical achievement. Sacramento Ballet's premiere "Souvenir" was a beautifully executed, romantic interlude of three couples in black and white formalwear. Anandha Ray and Moving Arts Dance presented "The Presence of Absence," a work in progress, featuring a couple interacting in and around a sumptuous chair. Breakdancing icon Jacob "Kujo" Lyons infused Lux Aeterna's piece "Serendipendence II," an acrobatic exchange between himself and dancer Sarah Moser, with a breakdance sensibility.

The second half of the program paid homage to Holden, complete with piano serenade by renowned ballet pianist Michael Roberts; a dance tribute by Pacific Festival Ballet; and personal tributes by friends, family, and colleagues of the late, great Holden. The finale was a video of Holden's signature 1960 performance as Widow Simone in the Royal Ballet's "La Fille Mal Gardee," for which he received a 25-minute standing ovation at the Royal Opera House. At LADi 8, Holden stole the show and brought down the house once again.
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