‘ CORE: Rhythms—A New Beginning” will feature 50 dancers from 6 to 80 years old at the Spanos Theatre. The title of the production marks the formation of a new studio and a new dance company, but it also continues the tradition of teaching eclectic dance styles set by American Dance.
When Lissa Beck retired American Dance last year, CORE Dance Company was formed by four of the company’s former teachers, explained Leslie Baumberger, director of the show. She had been with American Dance for 35 years, and she and Stacy Estrada, Rose Patti and Zhella Pouraghabagher formed CORE.
“We wanted to continue to provide a place for the talented dancers of the Central Coast to dance and perform,” Baumberger said. “CORE stands for Creative, Original, Raw, Energy.”
There are good ballet companies in the region, she said, “but part of our philosophy is to introduce all genres, to fill the need for styles other than ballet.”
The “New Beginning” performance will include a variety of dance, including jazz, musical theater, hip-hop, modern and ballet.
The company’s advanced teens will be performing several pieces, including two choreographed by former students of Baumberger. “Rolling in the Deep,” a jazz dance, is choreographed by Wes Krukow, who now studies dance at the University of Arizona. “Dog Days Are Over,” another jazz piece, is choreographed by Kelly Allen, who is assistant choreographer on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.”
The advanced teens will also perform pieces including modern dance and a musical theater Bob Fosse-style number. Daniela O’Donoghue, Alex Wilson and Mikayla Patti, all high school seniors, will perform solos.
“These are students who have danced with me,” Baumberger said. “They give up lots of things to dance, and I encourage high school seniors to perform a solo. It’s a special thing for them.”
Guest performers include dancers from Civic Ballet and Ballet Theatre SLO, as well as Pat Jackson of Alumni Dancers and The Grads, tap dancers between 60 and 80 years old who are celebrating 25 years together.
The youngest company members, eight girls age 6 through 9, will perform “US,” choreographed by Melissa Baumberger.
The focus for this age group is getting used to learning and remembering, Leslie Baumberger explained. “We don’t want to overwhelm them with technique, but just see them become comfortable onstage.”
Suzy Milller has choreographed two numbers for dancers age 9 through 13. One is a musical theater style piece about an old-time gospel meeting, and the one boy in the group is the preacher. The other one is a fast-paced jazz number.
“We have higher expectations for this group,” the director said, “with more dance skills and a more complex story line.”
There are not many boys in the younger groups, Baumberger said. Boys don’t seem to decide until they are high-school age whether they want to dance. They are inspired by seeing and performing in high school musicals.
The teen group, 13 to 15, will perform “Paris,” choreographed by Stacy Estrada, and “Oh Yeah,” a comedy number choreographed by Suzy Miller.
The adult company members, 18 and older, will present three numbers, a high energy hip-hop dance, a partner dance, and “Crazy,” in which a hat shared by the dancers makes each one go a little “crazy.”
Dance shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars” have stimulated interest in dance, Baumberger said. “People have more knowledge about dance and higher expectations.”
Dancers from the Central Coast have garnered a strong reputation as they travel around the country participating in competitions and performances.
“When we first arrive, people just think we’re from some little town, but after we perform, people are following me out the door asking me where San Luis Obispo is, and how to get there,” she said.