PROFILE: Erica Rebollar
by Taryn Brown
When Erica Rebollar formally started Rebollar Dance in 2003, she embarked on a mission to create a “modern dance collaborative where multi-genre artists can make innovative work” (www.rebollardance.com). This mission is ever-present in both her recent and upcoming productions. Ms. Rebollar has a penchant for bringing together a multitude of dance artists to share in an intricately designed experience of thematic content that is accessible to a wide range of audiences, yet pushes expectations in unique directions. Her choreographic events are distinguishable by their clarity of visual and auditory flow. Additionally, she is an important facilitator in the DMV region for utilizing a diversity of movement genre talents in ways that equally elevate her collaborators, and her own company, simultaneously.
This was made evident in her recent evening length collaborative show, Sacred Profane. Rebollar created the first version of the event in 2015 at Dance Place. Her main intention was to focus on female-led companies and issues about women. She was interested in how the female body is seen and displayed, as well as, all of the “political stuff wrapped up in women’s skin on stage.” The first version included punk dance group Tia Nina, The South Asian Performing Arts Network (SAPAN) Institute, Somapa Thai Dance Company, and guest artists Esther Geiger, Heather Doyle, and Annemarie Clark.
Trisha Sanghavi, Dance Director of The SAPAN Institute since 2014, stated in an email interview that “this show juxtaposed pieces where women literally had their hands tied; with dances where women unabashedly [were] sexually liberated.” She went on to say that the audience questions “whether the obedience and purity that are conventionally considered “sacred” are actually symbols of a “profane” oppression and commodification of women. We [SAPAN] loved probing these themes through different dance styles and cultural lenses…we found ourselves discussing the challenges of merging Indian ideals of femininity and American individuality.”
SAPAN returned for the slightly altered second version of Sacred Profane at the Reston Community Center in April 2017. The recent iteration featured many returning artists, along with the addition of Katie Sopoci Drake and Sandra Atkinson’s Light Switch Dance Theatre (LSDT). LSDT performed portions of The Girl Child Project, a 3 years in the making process-based piece involving research into violence against women and children. Atkinson reworked the 2014 piece with a dramaturg, current company members, and “a deeper understanding of my own experiences as a woman.” (www.lightswitchdancetheatre.wordpress.com)
Atkinson is no stranger to shared shows. She too produces events that highlight many voices in the local DMV performing arts scene. Her production skills are evident through LSDT’s A Light Mix: Wine, Cheese, Dance events at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. These highly attended shows feature performances by many common names in the District’s pool of choreographic talent.
With all of the aforementioned cross-pollination emanating from D.C.’s dance locus, it is no wonder that Rebollar Dance is gearing up for a new show with many guest artists. 40 and UP! is Ms. Rebollar’s upcoming event that will focus on a through-line highlighting a celebration of age by local and nationally renown choreographers. The pieces are independently themed, but share the focus toward a showcase of the wisdom that comes from the aging process. Ms. Rebollar believes that we truly are “stronger when we come together” and that because we are “all in our own struggling worlds” we can create fortitude through unity when we join forces. By bringing artists together through shared stories, we can increase artistic strength and audience engagement.
Her take on the D.C. dance scene is overwhelmingly positive. She feels that it is “inclusive, friendly, and helpful.” She surmised that the large turnover rate of people coming in and out of our local dance community “keeps itself fresh.”
40 and UP! is poised to entertain and engage with its large list of notable talent that bridges both individualistic styles and performer ages. 40 and UP! will include work by Erica Rebollar, Helanius Wilkins, Sharon Mansur, Carol Hess-Vait, Dan Kwong, Sandra Lacy, Jack Kirven, Giselle Rusany, Malcom Shute, and Maida Winthers. It may not feature a Thai dancer with a chainsaw, as seen in Sacred Profane, but it’s bound to contain something as equally surprising due to the unpredictable innovation that arises out of artistic collaboration.
40 and UP! will take place at Joe’s Emporium in Mt. Rainer. It’s bound to be worth the bus ride from the metro station (see Joe’s website for detailed info) to see this anticipated event. Performances will take place on Saturday, June 17th at 8pm and Sunday, June 18th 4pm. Ticket prices vary from $15 (student/senior/military), to $20 (advance sales), and $25 (door price). They can be purchased online at www.joesmovement.org.