Photos courtesy of RhetOracle Dance Company. Photo above by Josh Taylor.
Long Beach's own RhetOracle Dance Company, well known for its narrative-rich choreography and out-of-the-box approach to controversial subject matter, will present The Great American Mixtape, its first large-scale stage show in two years, on Saturday, January 17 and Sunday, January 18. Performing alongside SoleVita Dance Company at the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theatre, this eclectic repertory performance will commemorate a dying art form, the experience of making a mixtape as a thoughtful gift for a friend or lover.
The Great American Mixtape will be the first major collaboration between the two dance companies and will attempt to bridge the gap between the commercial and concert dance world with a night full of Greek nymphs, tap lights, babysitters, sword fighting, retrograde movement, self-discovery and last but not least, an awkward burlesque experience.
Nate Hodges, the choreographer who founded RhetOracle—now in its eighth season—in 2006, is especially excited to have a main stage show in Long Beach again. “We’ve made it our mission as a Long Beach dance company to do our main stage shows in Long Beach and to really try and connect with our community as much as possible. This will be first time we’ve done a main stage show in two years, which is awesome.”
Inspired by their educational residency at The Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Arts for Life, where RhetOracle dancers taught LBUSD first and second graders how to express themselves through movement culminating in a student recital, Hodges decided, “Well, we have all these dances, we should do a show that everyone can see, not just first and second graders. An hour show didn’t feel substantial enough.”
Originally revitalized for the children’s performance, The Great American Mixtape is comprised of dances performed in previous RhetOracle shows, and the company will be introducing one all-new dance, as well. Working with SoleVita Dance Company, a Los Angeles-based company founded and run by Joelle Martinec, has allowed both entities to realize a creative vision that wouldn’t have been possible without such teamwork.
“Working with Joelle, talking about the vision, that has been a really great experience to talk with another artistic director,” said Hodges. “Sometimes you have these ideas and you think, ‘Is this really a good idea?’ It really has become something that it couldn’t have been if it was just me or just her.”
Chosen by readers as Long Beach Post’s Best Hidden Cultural Treasure in 2012, RhetOracle is truly an ever-evolving facet of the Long Beach arts scene, a company that works diligently to create a bridge, not a moat, between their performances and the audience, creating an accessibility rarely found or prized in the commercial dance world. The Great American Mixtape will combine the flow, contrast and attention to detail found in the painstaking activity of creating a mixtape for a loved one or close friend. Come reminisce—or depending on your age, come learn—about the lost art of the mixtape.
Tickets for The Great American Mixtape can be purchased for $20 here. The Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theatre is located at 6200 Atherton Blvd. Doors open on Saturday at 7:30PM and on Sunday at 4:30PM.