Winner of the 2014 & 2015 Bravo awards for best dance show, San Diego Civic Dance Arts Company stages Collage 2016: Change. The show features 85 dancers performing in various styles — tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, modern and musical theater.
San Diego Civic Dance Arts is a program run through the Park and Recreation Department, offering affordable dance classes throughout the city. Every year, the arts organization puts on this Collage show featuring members of its various, age-specific companies. The theme of this year’s showcase is “Change.”
The performance, run by the Julliard-trained Andrea Feier, is two hours long with a 15-minute intermission. For additional details call (619) 235-5255.
Editor's take: Because San Diego Civic Dance Arts is associated with the city (rather than with the established local arts community) it’s easy to go into Collage with low expectations.
But from the minute the curtain goes up and tap dancers in sequin dresses perform “Stepping Out” more in sync than many professional companies, it’s clear that this show is something special.
Collage showcases various styles of dance, using students that range from children to senior citizens, though the majority of the work is done by its teen-based company dancers. The quality is professional, but there’s an enthusiasm and joy coming from the stage that’s unique to San Diego Civic Dance Arts.
The tap numbers are the most fun to watch, thanks to precise steps and colorful costumes. The modern and hip hop pieces are beautiful and thoughtful, covering themes that include gun violence (“Ticking”) to female empowerment (“Flawless,” “Changing Labels”).
It’s a long show but make sure to stick around for the second act, which features two standouts. The first is "Polka," which was first performed by the New York City-based Mark Morris Dance Group in 1992. The other is “It Starts With One,” a disturbing but breathtaking apocalyptic piece about the dangers of apathy and war.
Collage is a show that’s been around since the 1980s but is still relatively unknown in the local arts community. With a showcase this strong maybe that can eventually change.
Nina Garin, KPBS/Arts Calendar Editor