After It Happened – Invertigo Dance Theatre Thrills

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Los Angeles contemporary dance company Invertigo Dance Theatre is awe-inspiring. With sinuous movements that seem to defy gravity and the human body, an enthralling flow of dance and a testament to the human spirit ignites audiences in After It Happened.

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Choreographed and directed by artistic director Laura Karlin, the beautiful, poignant story of the aftermath of a natural disaster is a vibrant and involving 90 minute performance that’s truly a must-see. Playing at the newly re-opened Ford Theaters on Cahuenga September 30th only,  After It Happened will also be performed in Santa Barbara October 22 and 23 and is well worth the drive.  We saw the dress rehearsal tonight, and were as blown away as if a hurricane or tidal wave had carried us.

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Originally sold out when performed in 2014 (see photo directly above), the production chronicles what occurs in a community as it rebuilds following an unspecified natural disaster. The community is near the sea – awash in blue light, with fishing, boating, and triumphant performer/waves appearing at certain points in the production.

Even during light-heartened moments there is a tinge of deep seated sorrow underpinning the often-ecstatic choreography, as this isolated community turns to its own members for the strength to rise again.

Artistic director Karlin wrote the story as well as creating the dances through which its told – in what she describes as “an intensely collaborative” effort.

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The piece opens with the occurrence of the disaster, moves through clean-up, disaster-porn tourism, robbery out of hunger, the rise – and fall – of dictatorship, rebuilding, illness, and the memories nearly lost in the terrible destruction of a place that was once home. Ending with a spirit of renewal and rebirth for the devastated community, the performance is nothing if not redemptive; both story and choreography are transformative.

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This is the second piece I’ve seen from Invertigo, the first being last year’s relationship story,  Reeling. Like Reeling, the production is an incredibly intense, truly jaw-dropping spectacle of human movement, one that wrings emotion from viewers and serves up inspiration to compensate. To create the living sculptural art that are these dancers bodies is no small feat, to infuse this performance art of the highest order with such heartfelt, political and emotional substance is rare indeed.

But above all, Invertigo offers pure pleasure: through modern, eclectic dance, contemporary live music and song, imaginative costumes and set design. As a side note,  John Burton, the company’s set designer worked with the community at large and CAFAM in the creation of collaborative set pieces such as a tree that grows and blossoms in the back of the stage.

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And beyond the wonder that Invertigo shapes, there is the fact that the company supports such terrific causes. Invertigo offers engagement programs such as Invert/ED youth education and Dancing Through Parkinson’s. “We believe in empowering people through the creative process ,and the idea that dance is for everybody and every body,” Karlin has said.

As to After It Happened, the performance is an experience – of heart and soul, mind and body. The compact, rehabilitated Ford amphitheater setting adds to the vibrance of the production, but frankly it could be performed in a parking lot and lose none of its wonder.

Fan of performance art? Dance? Fine music? Subtle but seductive stage design? Then hurry to the Ford Theaters or plan a late October drive north to Santa Barbara – you won’t want to miss the visceral impact and adrenaline-rich excitement of After It Happened – get there before, not after, the show.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Invertigo and Genie Davis