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Robert Abrams
The Alex Theatre
Celebrate Dance
United States
Greater Los Angeles
Glendale, CA

An Interview with Francisco Gella of COLABO Youth Dance Collective about their upcoming performance in Celebrate Dance 2013

by Robert Abrams
February 18, 2013
The Alex Theatre
216 North Brand Boulevard

Glendale, CA 91203

Featured Dance Company:

Celebrate Dance
Celebrate Dance (office)

Los Angeles, CA

More information about Celebrate Dance 2013
Robert Abrams: Celebrate Dance always represents a chance to grow the dance community. This year one way this is especially true is with the inclusion of the COLABO Youth Dance Collective. Francisco Gella, the founding Artistic Director of COLABO Youth Dance Collective, kindly answered some questions about the Collective's upcoming Celebrate Dance 2013 performance. (More information can be found at www.facebook.com/colabodance; www.colabodance.com (to be launched in early March 2013), www.nuevodance.com, and www.franciscogelladance.com. Also see the Colabo launch press release.)

Please describe the performance you will present at Celebrate Dance 2013.

Francisco Gella: COLABO Youth Dance Collective will make it's Los Angeles debut at Celebrate Dance. The collective consists of highly trained young dancers ages 13 – 21 specializing in the style of contemporary concert dance. The collective will be premiering a new work by myself entitled "Concentric Harmonies," a three section work to the music of Max Richter exploring the concept of individuals choosing to listen to what culture dictates to them or to listen to their instincts/their hearts.

RA: What is your role in the show?

FG: I am the founding Artistic Director of COLABO Youth Dance Collective.

RA: Have you collaborated with anyone to create your Celebrate Dance presentation?

FG: No, not for this Celebrate Dance piece. However, Colabo dancers have been working with other choreographers who are setting pieces to be performed this summer.

RA: What is "new" or "fresh" about the art you are presenting at Celebrate Dance?

FG: First, it is a Youth Dance Collective which means none of the dancers are professional however they do dance proficiently and have been trained technically to be able to handle the challenging work. Second, the style of dance combines elements from the ballet/modern concert dance worlds and commercial/contemporary styles of dance. The choreography does have a specific structure in terms of overall timeline however the movement vocabulary was built using each dancers name to construct phrases for the piece.

RA: How does your art build on what came before?

FG: First, there was NUEVO School of Contemporary, the school I also founded to train these young dancers proficiently in both concert and commercial dance styles. COLABO is the next step of the process where the dancers don't have to rely on commercial competitions to showcase their talent and always be limited to a specific competition dance-making formula filled with nonsensical tricks. COLABO is much freer giving the young dancers an opportunity to be exposed to concert dance choreographers, expanding their already vastly diverse training.

RA: How will your presentation inspire the audience?

FG: "Concentric Harmonies" will allow the audience to go into themselves, in a medidative state. The juxtaposition of having a very structured method to create the timeline of the work against the individual movement signatures of the dancers creates a unique effect where audience will find themselves captivated by the stage environment, what the dancers are performing, and finally realizing these are young pre-professional teens performing a very mature piece of work with verve and total commitment.

RA: Who or what inspires you?

FG: My life and business partner Jeffrey Hoffman who has been an integral part of this entire process. He is my rock and reminds me of why I do what I do, why I love it, even during the toughest times. He keeps me going! My students who constantly surprise me with their hard-working and dedicated ethic, and how fearless they are, always open to learn something new. Finally, my professional colleagues in dance education who both teach and choreograph, artists who are not afraid to be who they are and stay true to themselves.

RA: What makes your dance company a top-notch dance company?

FG: Although the dancers are young, they are trained by the school's faculty at a very high level. The expectation is they trained at a level to become successful dancers or otherwise in their careers, and generally as people of integrity in life!

RA: What is special or unique about dance in the Greater Los Angeles area?

FG: I think L.A. offers something unique where there are numerous amazing concert dance companies and yet the commercial dance world is very much rampant in the area. This could be viewed both as advantageous and not. What is still missing is having each sector and genre collaborate to create something unique from other cities in the U.S. I feel COLABO provides a bridge for both genres in L.A. and exposes the dancers in the collective with talent from the concert AND the commercial side of dance.

RA: Does your art have an activist message?

FG: No.

RA: Do you work with schools or children?

FG: Yes. Please refer to the whole premise of COLABO Youth Dance Collective and NUEVO School of Contemporary Dance.

RA: What questions would you want to ask of members of the other dance companies in Celebrate Dance (other than the questions here)?

FG: How have they attained long standing success as a concert dance company within a city where commercial dance seems to be the dominating industry?

RA: What else would you like people who are thinking about purchasing a ticket to Celebrate Dance to know about your art?

FG: It is going to be a phenomenal showcase of diverse talent by very different companies, strong with their own unique styles and each with a special voice, exemplifying the amazing talent Los Angeles has to offer from a concert dance perspective.
Francisco Gella

Francisco Gella

Photo © & courtesy of Neil Rickman

Francisco Gella

Francisco Gella

Photo © & courtesy of Neil Rickman

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