'Infusion' dance concert mixes many styles

Academy of Dance and San Luis Jazz Dancers come together for show

Special to The TribuneMay 29, 2014 

Sixty-six dancers perform in a program of 24 pieces in "Infusion."

JULIE CAMPBELL

"Infusion,” the title of this season’s annual Academy of Dance and San Luis Jazz Dancers concert, describes the variety of styles in a program of 24 short pieces, danced by 66 dancers.

“It is a very eclectic mix of music, with a little something in there for everyone,” said director Michelle Epperheimer. “It’s a diverse group of dancers, and this showcases our versatility.”

The "Infusion" show includes ’80s jazz style, contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop and modern jazz. The professional-level San Luis Jazz Dancers are featured, with other numbers by dancers from the performing groups from the Academy of Dance that lead up to that level. The youngest dancers are in Razzamatazz, and they work their way up through Pizzazz, Junior Jazz, and Academy Jazz to the professional company, which has 18 dancers ages 14 to 24. 

As both director of San Luis Jazz and a dance instructor, Epperheimer has worked with many of her dancers for over a decade.

“It’s fun to watch them develop as they travel up the ranks to reach that skill level,” she said. “They have been together, and it builds camaraderie.”

In her choreography, Epperheimer said she often collaborates with her dancers through improvisational movement, using the dancers’ life experiences and current events to create her pieces and is “always inspired by their extraordinary depth.”

“I have choreographed the majority of pieces in the show, but I have asked some fantastic local choreographers from the Academy of Dance to contribute some pieces.”

A contemporary piece by Drew Silvaggio, artistic director of the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo, is titled “Alibi,” with music by Edith Piaf and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. Elena Lorton-Smith’s piece, “Wake Me Up,” is about conformity and features lifts and partnering. Ryan Lawrence’s “Dark Matters,” is a mix of contemporary movement and hip hop with music by the Kyteman Orchestra.

“I have choreographed a couple of pieces to the music of “Earth Wind and Fire that have an ’80s jazz flair,” Epperheimer explained. “The younger dancers are dancing to ‘Move,’ from the movie ‘Dreamgirls’ and ‘Ease on Down the Road’ from ‘The Wiz,’ to name a few.” 

 “Applause,” by Lady Gaga, is an exciting and upbeat ensemble piece using the 18 San Luis Jazz Dancers, the director said, and a structured improv piece set to Bach’s BVV988 is classical, fluid and unique. 

The 24 pieces are short vignettes, from about two to six minutes long, with music old and new, some instrumental, some with lyrics.

“Most of the dances are left up to the audience’s interpretation of the piece, so they can connect with them on a personal level.”

The Academy of Dance has presented an annual San Luis Jazz show for 40 plus years. All of the jazz groups tour, with performances at farmers markets, fairs, amusement parks and Pier 39 in San Francisco. In the past, dancers have participated in international exchanges in Cuba, Russia, China and Spain. 

Epperheimer noted that this year’s show, with its mix of dance styles and a wide range of music, should appeal to all ages. 

IF YOU GO

"Infusion"
6 p.m. Sunday 
Spanos Theatre, Cal Poly
$18 to $30
756-4849 or www.pacslo.org

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