Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Feet apart, back together

Dirty Feet Dance Company recharged from hiatus, ready to perform new show

Express Staff Writer

They are, from left, Ruth Clark, Amberle Behr, Caron McNamara, Keri York (behind), Judah Clafey, Alysha Oclassen, Dawson Howard (in back), Kassidy Brice Thompson, Alex Roman and Sherry Horton.
Courtesy photo by Brooke Bonner of the Dirty Feet Dance Company

The state or quality of being two or in two parts, as a mirror duality or as a dichotomy, with the two halves opposed or contradictory to one another, both are characteristic of the human condition.

Which side one chooses to lean on, embrace and put forth is not always a conscious choice, but it is a form of defining ourselves, of setting us apart from one another.

When Alysha Beth Oclassen and nine other dancers put their bodies behind this exploration of this common inner dialogue, she hopes audiences will come away with a stronger desire to see how to make peace with our inner sides and with the outside world, no matter how vast our differences.

After a year's hiatus, Oclassen, artistic director of Dirty Feet Dance Company, is back for two performances of "The B Sides," at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey on Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, at 7:30 p.m.

"The B Sides" is a compilation of dance numbers choreographed in the vein of the Jungian idea that "the distinction between mind and body is an artificial dichotomy, a discrimination which is unquestionably based far more on the peculiarity of intellectual understanding than on the nature of things."

The idea of examining duality came to Oclassen as she considered her own personality and response to the world around her. She is a certified massage therapist and Pilates instructor, owning her own studio, Pure Body Pilates. She spends a lot of time in self-reflection.

For Oclassen, "It's an aspect of the human condition. There seems to always be two sides battling it out. It's more looking at duality not as having a positive or negative side, but seeing this is what is and how do we work together. I tend to be very left in my politics, but I am also very aware that people, friends of mine, have views that are very, very different from mine.

"There are those that are 'I'm so positive all the time and nothing bothers me,' until they are confronted with that conflicting opinion, and then there's not enough yoga in the world to keep them from having a problem with that. The question I'm raising is how do we deal with people in a compassionate way worldwide and get along while honoring our differences."

This is the sixth show for Oclassen and her core artists, a collection of local performers who have been rehearsing since January. Oclassen allows dancers to contribute ideas and choreograph segments of the shows.

"I'm the artistic director, but it's a very collaborative game," she said.

There are no formal auditions for the Dirty Feet dancers; instead, those with a desire and commitment gravitate to the company, reveling in its equal-opportunity motto that true dance is not always about training, but about the love of movement and self-expression.

"In college I really had my eyes opened," Oclassen said of her experience as a child, taller than most of her peers, who left Hailey to attend Cornish College of the Arts, where she was exposed to a wider range of dance.

"There were some big girls and tiny guys lifting them and it was so fabulous and liberating," she said. "It really taught me to see the heart of people and look past the cover. To see first what people are bringing to the table."

For fans, she lets slip that the show is decidedly "short on tutus this time," but costumes play a huge part in getting the theme across.

Having had a year's break, Oclassen said, the group is anxious to get back on stage.

"It was good to step away for a while," she admitted. "But we're rearing to go."


"The B Sides"

What: An original dance performance choreographed by members of the company.

When: Friday, April 20, and Saturday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Liberty Theatre in Hailey.

Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors.

Buy: From individual dancers, at Pure Body Pilates in Hailey, or by calling 721-8594.

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