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Arts & Culture

Choreographer Michael Mizerany Launches New Dance Company

The dancers of "Man Clan:" Martin Anthony Dorado, Bradley Lundberg, Chad Allen Ortiz, and Nicholas Strasberg. Michael Mizerany is premiering this dance at Diversionary Theatre.
Sue Brenner
The dancers of "Man Clan:" Martin Anthony Dorado, Bradley Lundberg, Chad Allen Ortiz, and Nicholas Strasberg. Michael Mizerany is premiering this dance at Diversionary Theatre.

'Man Clan' at Diversionary marks West Coast premiere

Companion Viewing

"Blood Wedding" (1981)

"Planet B-Boy" (2007)

"Pina" (2011)

Being pumped up after Fringe, I was looking for some more "eyeball busting" entertainment and I found it with the launch of Michael Mizerany’s new dance company and his show “Man Clan” (now through Sunday at Diversionary Theatre).

This is not a dance review. What I know about dance could fill a matchbook cover. But I know what I like and I know what impresses me and “Man Clan” was a visual treat on multiple levels. Yes, they are hot men dancing and there’s nothing wrong with appreciating it on this basic (or should I say base) level.

It’s also a jaw-dropping visual treat because Mizerany loves to display the body in all its muscled beauty and sinewy power whether it’s the transcendent grace of “Via Dolorosa” or the frenetic energy of “Uncoupling.”


Thursday night marked the West Coast premiere of Mizerany’s new Compulsion Dance and Theatre, and it's a shame that the theater wasn't packed for the event because the launch of a new dance company in San Diego is an event worth celebrating. There were two dances that he’s showcased before, “Via Dolorosa” and “Bump in the Road,” and two premieres, “Uncoupling” and “Man Clan.”

Working in the tiny theater space of Diversionary proves to be a plus. Not only are you just a few feet away from the dancers but there’s a heightened sense of intensity at times when you wonder if the dancers’ long legs might catch a light as they are lifted into the air.

I decided that since I don’t have a dance background, I would let Mizerany elaborate on his work.

Bradley Lundberg and Nicholas Strasburg performing in "Man Clan."
Sue Brenner
Bradley Lundberg and Nicholas Strasburg performing in "Man Clan."

What were the inspirations for the two new pieces?

“Uncoupling” was inspired by a couple I know who seem to always be fighting or involved in some sort of disagreement. I could never understand why they were together. But, every now and then, I would catch them sly glancing at each other — he would stroke her back, she would grab his waist. There was fire there, it just was very well hidden. “Uncoupling” is my take on what happens between them when no one is looking. Passionate, volatile and dangerous.


“Man Clan” is something I've been thinking about for a while. Sometimes we get stuck in outmoded notions of what makes a man — that aggression equals strength and that intimacy and gentleness equals weakness. I really wanted to skewer these outdated ideas, turn them on their ear but also acknowledge that they don't always go away. It is something we are taught as young men and not always easily altered.

Talk about how you choose music. Does the idea come first and then you find music or does the music come first? And talk about the choice of no music. You use breathing quite a bit as a kind of music, what do you like about that?

For “Uncoupling” and “Man Clan,” the idea came first, then the music. In “Uncoupling,” since they are constantly on the war path, I choose Kodama - synthesized drums. It perfectly echoed their less than stable relationship.

For “Man Clan,” I really wanted a pop flavored feel to the music. Plus, some of the song lyrics gave the sections the irony they needed. For example, during the extreme fighting match that segues into violent kissing - the lyrics croon "I Love You.”

In “Bump In The Road,” the breath is just part of what happens when you practice the manly art of self-gratification. It's innate so, actually, was just a matter of research.

Tell me about your company. What are the plans for it?

Though I have choreographed extensively in San Diego already, I felt I needed the infrastructure of a company to further my vision. I will produce both dance and theatre. I have my eye on the play “Extremities,” but that will be a few years down the road. In the mean time, I will continue to create dance work to present on tour and in San Diego.

Talk about your use of humor.

I don't know if the use of humor is typical, but I use it occasionally. Humor can really put an audience at ease, especially when you are presenting provocative subject matter like in “Bump In The Road.”