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Rachel Levin
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Santa Monica, CA

Go Metro… – LA Public Transit Dramatized Through Dance

by Rachel Levin
May 20, 2008
Highways Performance Space
1651 18th St., Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica, CA 90404
8:30 p.m. Friday May 23 & Saturday May 24
Los Angeles' love affair with the automobile has paved the way for a tragically underdeveloped public transportation system. The fledgling Metrorail doesn't service large swaths of the city, relegating a majority of working class people to the elaborate and exasperating Metro Bus system. Brimming with people from vastly different backgrounds, LA buses are sociological studies unto themselves.

What better way to examine the joys and frustrations of traveling across the Los Angeles grid than through dance? In "Go Metro…", premiering at Highways Performance Space Friday and Saturday, choreographer Jamie Benson and designer Andrae Gonzalo will explore the themes of movement, mobility, and cultural clash through six pieces inspired by real people and situations that Benson observed as an avid bus rider.

His observations range from the bizarre—like a 300 lb woman washing herself with a water bottle—to the mundane. "You can have really loud, colorful characters on the bus and then you have someone heading to their waiter job," Benson says. "There's quite a vast range of people in perhaps a similar monetary situation but doing a lot of different types of things." In "Go Metro…" all walks of life will be dramatized through dance, represented by styles ranging from funk to jazz, ballet, and modern. There's even a tap dancing bus.

Benson got interested in the idea of "haphazard communities in public – people who are thrust together that normally wouldn't choose to be together." Central themes of the piece are the opposing poles of alienation and integration: the things people do either to connect themselves to or separate themselves from other individuals on the bus. "How you choose to either deny [others], ignore them, or embrace them is kind of intriguing to me," says Benson.

Ultimately the message is about the color and character of our city and the need we have for community. There's even an underlying environmental theme; the theatre will be passing out Metro tokens to audience members at the reception following the performance. Perhaps the show will motivate a few people to abandon their cars and experience the strange poetry that is public transportation in LA.
Left to right: Sam Widaman, Shannon Grant, and Andrae Gonzalo

Left to right: Sam Widaman, Shannon Grant, and Andrae Gonzalo

Photo © & courtesy of Emily Marchand

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