A Sunday afternoon of original dance choreography and music will bring life to the Philanthropy Theatre, a charming gem on the second floor of the Plaza Theatre, on Nov. 13 at 2:30 p.m.
Titled, “Boheme Noir,” the recital is primarily a showcase of the Tumbleweed Collective, a contemporary dance troupe that formed at the beginning of the year. Dancers Jazmin Ortega, Emma Butler, Christina Mitchell and Mindy Chanson will perform several pieces that portray the dynamics of humanity and its habitat.
This isn’t the first showcase of “Boheme Noir.” The show premiered in June at The Warsawa, a humble music venue housed in a historical Downtown building.
“We had two nights and both of the nights filled the house,” Ortega said. “We were like, ‘This is good material. This has to be seen by a lot more people. We have to do it again.’”
They applied for the Jewel Box Series, a project of the El Paso Community Foundation that showcases a diverse array of local talent at the Philanthropy Theatre. Ortega expressed much excitement after learning they were selected.
“It’s a milestone for such a small company to get in the Philanthropy Theatre,” Ortega said. “The Community Foundation is really excited about this, and so are we.”
The concept of “Boheme Noir” formed when the dance troupe would get together with musicians Daniel Rivera and Carlos Benitez at night to collaborate on performance pieces. The unconventional approach of artists of diverse backgrounds prompted the word “bohemian” while their informal nighttime rehearsals inspired the word “noir.”
Rivera and Benitez composed some of the musical pieces in the show. Rivera, who will play both the guitar and saxophone at the show, composed a new piece titled “America 2016.”
“I think our country this year has peaked to a point that has everybody in shock, and it has inspired certain things like collective angst and hopelessness,” Rivera said when describing the inspiration for his piece. “A lot of people want to leave or wonder if we can stay here. It turned out that I stayed here and I said, ‘You know what? This is what I’m going to do, and I’m going to make it count’.”
Some of the pieces will be renditions of the work of musicians such as Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla.
“I personally think there’s composers to be found in Latin America altogether,” Rivera said. “There’s a whole new sound.”
There will also be pieces from German-born British composer Max Richter and Italian composer Nino Rota. Joining Rivera will be cellist Jack Chessa.
The Tumbleweed Collective will perform alongside two of the live songs while other pieces will be accompanied by recordings. One of the dance pieces, titled “Prana,” is named after the Sanskrit word for "life force."
“It’s an experimental piece that I’m exploring, because the last time we performed, the cellist was thrilled at how he could hear our breath,’ Ortega said. “So from that, we went on to do a piece inspired by breathing together.”
For Rivera, the upcoming performance is the result of cohesion among artists.
“It’s been a strong collaboration,” Rivera said. “All the dancers are quick and efficient with communicating. The concept was born, and all they needed was music. The show brings something different to our people.”