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The Rosin Box Project's Carly Topazio and Jeremy Zapanta rehearse for "Empower" while Rony Lenis and Bethany Green observe in an undated photo.
Jim Carmody
The Rosin Box Project's Carly Topazio and Jeremy Zapanta rehearse for "Empower" while Rony Lenis and Bethany Green observe in an undated photo.

San Diego weekend arts events: Women choreographers, '25 Million Stitches,' free music and freeway art

The Rosin Box Project: 'Empower'

Dance, Contemporary ballet
The Rosin Box Project is a contemporary ballet company founded by Carly Topazio in 2018. This weekend they kick off their 2023 season with a collection of four performances of "Empower," featuring new works by women choreographers, all part of the company, created for the company. I spent some time at their studio to watch a recent rehearsal.

"I think there is a very obvious saturation of predominantly male voices creating new works within the dance industry," Topazio said. "I think it's needed, and a big part of what our company is about, is creating a safe space for these people," she added, gesturing to the handful of dancers warming up in the studio, "to create the art that they want to create. The voices that are lacking within the industry that we would like to amplify more are female voices."

The first of the three works is Topazio's "Se(quell)," a gorgeous, expressive and athletic work of contemporary ballet, with the performers dancing en pointe, or wearing pointe ballet slippers to dance on the tips of their toes. This detail washes the piece in a sort of mournful, graceful tension.


“Se(quell)” is the second installment in an ongoing series following last year's "Don't Look Down," and it explores the human condition — first through fear, and now through conflict. It's set to three pieces of music by composer Travis Lake, "Times," "Sin," and "Avalanche."

Lauren Flower's "Compulsion," is based on ideas of fixation and obsession. Flower is also interested in gender roles in their choreography. "I'm queer and I really like exploring how maybe we can take away gender from certain styles and movement," Flower said. "Stripping that away and seeing us as just individuals. My last piece focused more on that. This piece is more just about the mind."

Flower's piece is moody but athletic, demonstrating not just the passion of the dancers, but also their strength as they sweep through difficult, measured movements — some artfully and almost excruciatingly slowed down.

"I would say there's a level of — not dark, but maybe moments of intensity, but really internal intensity," Flower said.

Rony Lewis rehearses for "Mise en Place" in an undated photo.
Jim Carmody
Rony Lewis rehearses for "Mise en Place" in an undated photo.

Bethany Green's "Mise en Place" is set to a string of beloved, high-octane excerpts from classical and Baroque composers — Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn, Handel, Telemann and more. Most works have their own iconic ballet, but Green wanted to pull off something completely new, and completely fun.


Like several of Green's previous works of choreography, "Mise en Place" is theatrical and gestural — often showcasing the comic acting of the dancers. The sequences teeter between a peaceful, almost classical sensibility and precision to the movements and the recognizable stresses of service and work.

"I've been calling it my love letter to the service industry," Green said. "I've always been inspired by seeing the workings of a really tight restaurant team, because my guests all the time at the restaurant where I work say, 'it's like a dance, like choreography."

Details: 7:30 p.m. performances on March 23, 24, 25 and 27. Light Box Theater, 2590 Truxton Rd., Ste 205. Liberty Station. $15-$50.

'25 Millions Stitches: One Stitch, One Refugee'

Visual art
The Mingei International Museum will host a traveling exhibition from Jennifer Kim Sohn, who is a Sacramento-based, Korean American curator and fiber artist. Sohn wanted to commemorate every single displaced person in the world with a stitch on an embroidered panel. Her project calls attention to and reflects on the global refugee crisis — a crisis, and a count that continues to grow. Hundreds of floor-to-ceiling "flags" contain thousands of panels, and all-in-all, more than 25 million stitches.

Panels from the "25 Million Stitches" exhibit at The Mingei are shown in an undated photo.
Mingei International Museum
Panels from the "25 Million Stitches" exhibit at The Mingei are shown in an undated photo.

The stitches are embroidered into scenes, designs and even text, created with the help of more than two thousand crowd-sourced stitchers from around the world.

Details: On view Saturday, March 25 through Oct. 15, 2023. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Mingei International Museum, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park. $0-$15.

Caltrans Clean California 'commUNITY Days'

Art, Family, Outdoors
A segment of I-15 North will be open to pedestrians and bikes during a routine maintenance closure this weekend. It's part of a bigger initiative to create art to beautify parts of San Diego.

To create some murals, the Southeast Arts Team collaborated with the Logan Heights Community Development Corporation and the Flint Public Arts Project, a group that completed hundreds of murals in the wake of the Flint, MI water crisis and is now working with agencies across the country to promote public art.

The team will work on two specific installations on Saturday. First, they'll install a fence mural on the chain-link fence along National Ave. beneath the 15 freeway. Then, the group will move to the freeway, on a chalk mural along the concrete wall by Oceanview Blvd. All ages and levels are welcome to help with the National Ave. installation, but they're looking for volunteers ages 16+ with some professional art experience for the Oceanview chalk mural. Sign up to volunteer here.

The event also includes hands-on activities for kids, highway clean-up, games and more. The I-15 North can be accessed from Main St., Ocean View Blvd. or Market St.

Details: Fence installation begins at 7 a.m.; public event is 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 25. I-15 North between Harbor Dr. and SR 94, Southcrest/Logan Heights. Free.

San Diego Symphony: Music Connects - South Bay

Music, Classical, Visual art
The San Diego Symphony's string section will perform two free concerts at the Front Arte & Cultura and at Southwestern College. Both concerts will include five works by composers from Venezuela, Mexico and the U.S., as well as Edvard Grieg's "Holberg Suite," which is a series of dances. Teresa Carreño's "Serenade for Strings," Juan Bautista Plaza's "Fuga Criolla," Juan Ramírez's "Suite Latina," will be performed, as well as one of my favorite compositions, Jessie Montgomery's "Strum."

For Saturday's concert, you can check out visual art, too. Currently on view at The Front is their annual "Dia de la Mujer" (day of the woman) exhibit, featuring the work of 27 artists from the border region and beyond, including Irma Sofia Poeter, Natalia Toledo, Alessandra Moctezuma, Delana Delgado, Arzu Ozkal, Melissa Walter and more.

Details: 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 25 at The Front, 147 W. San Ysidro Blvd., San Ysidro; and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 26 at Southwestern College Performing Arts Center, 900 Otay Lakes Rd., Chula Vista. Free.


The San Diego Opera's production of Puccini's 'Tosca" opens this weekend.

The story of "Tosca" revolves around a woman, Tosca, a prisoner, Angelotti and an artist named Cavaradossi, who is a supporter of Angelotti and the object of Tosca's affections. Tosca, meanwhile, is the object of someone else's affections: the chief of police, Scarpia, who in 2016, KPBS' Beth Accomando described as someone who "can enter like Darth Vader and provide a character you love to hate."

The impressive Act Three set for San Diego Opera's "Tosca" featuring Alexia Voulgaridou in the title role.
Corey Weaver
The impressive Act Three set for San Diego Opera's 2016 production of "Tosca" featuring Alexia Voulgaridou in the title role.

Greer Grimsley, who played Sciarpia in the San Diego Opera's production in 2016, returns for this year's production. Michelle Bradley will perform the title role.

You can find seats for as low as $13. And if you're willing to wait until the last minute, discounted "rush" tickets may be available by lining up at the box office two hours before the show.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28. Additional performances March 28, 31 and Apr. 2. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown. $13-$330.

Mali Irene in Concert with Joshua White

Music, Jazz
Mali Irene will perform a free concert this weekend with jazz pianist Joshua White. The Atlanta-based vocalist (and erstwhile San Diegan) is set to release a new album next month with White, of spirituals, jazz, boleros and folk tunes. Bonus for the eagle-eyed local arts fan: that's a Bhavna Mehta papercut headdress on the album cover.

Details: 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 26. First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, 4190 Front St., Mission Hills. Free.

More weekend arts events we're covering:

KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado visited Sew Loka and spoke with founder Claudia Rodriguez-Biezunski in advance of their 10 year anniversary event from 12 to 9 p.m. on Saturday in Barrio Logan. Rodriguez-Biezunski likened her community in Barrio Logan to fabric: "You're basically able to sew things together and keep them strong, and I think that that's a community."

Julia Dixon Evans writes the KPBS Arts newsletter, produces and edits the KPBS/Arts Calendar and works with the KPBS team to cover San Diego's diverse arts scene. Previously, Julia wrote the weekly Culture Report for Voice of San Diego and has reported on arts, culture, books, music, television, dining, the outdoors and more for The A.V. Club, Literary Hub and San Diego CityBeat. She studied literature at UCSD (where she was an oboist in the La Jolla Symphony), and is a published novelist and short fiction writer. She is the founder of Last Exit, a local reading series and literary journal, and she won the 2019 National Magazine Award for Fiction. Julia lives with her family in North Park and loves trail running, vegan tacos and live music.
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