REVIEW: ORANGE COUNTY DANCE FESTIVAL (OCDF-Pro)—Rose Center Theater

Updated: May 14


MAY 7TH, 2022—

ROSE CENTER THEATER, in collaboration with AkomiDance, once again hosted the annual ORANGE COUNTY DANCE FESTIVAL this past Friday and Saturday, May 6-7, 2022, featuring dance troupes within the Southern California dance community.


The partnership of Rose Center Theater with AkomiDance has been instrumental for the past five years in solidifying the union as ambassadors of dance, innovation and excellence in modern dance performance, not only allowing professional companies and choreographers to showcase and develop their work, but also helping to connect their fellow artists with audiences. Enthusiastic companies ranged from novice to seasoned performers and choreographers, some with well-honed technique and unique theatrical ideas, concept and technical performance. All pure dancers, with clear, focused, effective and emotional sets.

Marie Hoffman, Anthony Aceves and Alex Rasmussen, the directors of AkomiDance has been connected to one another since 2005, with dance as the centerpiece of their relationships. Since officially establishing as a nonprofit, they have created many well-received works of professional dancers and have introduced the Orange County Dance Festival, which premiered at the Rose in April, 2016. Their intention was to create an event that included various southern California based companies and choreographers to unite together for the purposes of delivering concert dance to our Orange County populace.


“Orange County Dance Festival is our signature accomplishment,” says Marie Hoffman. “Our relationship with The Rose has enabled us to produce an unparalleled annual event— complete with a pristine facility, state of the art technical capabilities and a top-notch crew of industry professionals. We take great pride in OCDF and have been thrilled with its continued growth and success over the past five years.”



On the schedule for the May 6th event was Academy for the Performing Arts with “We are Alpha;” Calliopus Contemporary with “Vitae;” SBCC Dance Co., featuring “Linger;” Strong Pre-Professional Dance Company with “Inner Lines;” Volta Collective with “Frenzy;” Evolution Dance Co., with “An Ending, A Beginning;” APA’s Tap Ensemble in a set called “Here and Heaven;” The Fox Project with a special guest performance; Mikayla Fleming in “Absens;” Core Dance Co./The Academy of Dance with “Waltz from Prague;” Kelly McGill in a performance called “Auden;” Wise Dance Company with “At Midnight;” and SBCC Dance Co. with “Seekers.”


“We are now presenting the artists selected for Orange County Dance Festival PRO! Our second night of OCDF on Saturday May 7, 2022, 7:00PM at the Rose Center Theater has a dual purpose: The concert will feature professional and established dance companies and choreographers from around the Southern California area, followed by our beautiful OCDF Gala, and you won’t want to miss it.”


"Raise the Barre" was the theme of The Orange County Dance Festival Gala Reception, and the Directorial Team of AkomiDance cordially invited supporters to celebrate the Artists of OCDF at their annual post show reception, held in the upstairs lobby of the beautiful Rose Center Theater on May 7, a combination meet and greet and fundrasier. Attendees had the chance to bid on some exciting items that have been graciously donated for their Silent Auction, which helped to support, create and contribute to our dance community as a whole.


As is the case with many regional artistic organizations, the primary hurdle is securing consistent funding for these types of projects. AkomiDance is devoted to delivering live concert dance to our community and toward this end, they are constantly striving to convince a broader audience that live dance is relevant and necessary. In our current fast paced, technology-based culture, making our community aware of the benefits of engaging in live theatrical experiences has become a passion for the organization. In that regard, they have embraced the fact that it is not a one-step process, nor is it a one-person job. It is a continual, communal commitment, and one that we approach with hope and enthusiasm. At the Gala, tables were available for reservation through the Rose Center Theater website, at $125 each, which included full access to the open bar, snacks, and a bottle for parties. General Admission tickets were also available for $75 each, which included Preferred Seating to OCDF Pro and full access to the many offerings of the OCDF Gala. Advanced ticket purchases were required for this event.


Saturday’s OCDF-Pro line-up boasted ten thrilling sets showcasing an array of professional and established dance companies throughout Southern California, all unleashing captivating performances, intricate partnering and dance routines choreographed to perfection that had the whole audience on the edge.


AKOMIDANCE with “Hors du cadre” – Marie Hoffman - Choreographer, Anthony Aceves, Alex Rasmussen; Dancers: AJ Dirickson, Ryan Marks, Tayrn Nowels, Jana B. Taylor; Lighting Design: Trevyn; Music: Night Run/Adagio/Courant D’Air – Rene Aubrey; Costume Design: Heather Lerma/Trevyn.


7TH STREET DANCE COMPANY with “Rude awakening” – Chelsea Brooks and Alexa Sampson; Chelsea Brooks - Choreographer; Dancers: Valerie Brewster, Chelsea Brooks, Sydney Conte, Lauren Hamilton, Chelsea Harper, Sydney Hutcher; Lighting Design: Chelsea Brooks; Music: Sun Glitters/Nadine Carina; Costume Design: Chelsea Brooks/Marilla Aldrich.


JAZZ SPECTRUM DANCE COMPANY with Santana Suite PT. 3 “Treat;” Janell Burgess; Janell Burgess Choreographer; Concept by Christine Baltes; Dancers: Karli Padilla, Estelle Verdugo; Music: Treat/Santana; Costume Design: Tomo Swan.


AKOMIDANCE with “Inanimate;” Anthony Aceves, Marie Hoffman, Alex Rassmussen; Anthony Aceves Choreographer; Dancers: Anthony Aceves and Matt Wiley; Music: Wash/Bon Iver; Lighting Design: Trevyn Stephenson.


DORCAS ROMAN THEATRE COMPANY with “Clandestine;” Vannia Ibarguen Dance Arts; Dorcas Roman & Vannia Ibarguen Choreographers; Costume Design by Dorcas Roman; Lighting Design by Vannia Ibarguen; Music: Tango de la Destruccion/Skeewiff; Sonata No. 1 in E Minor OP38 Allegro Non Troppo/VC2 Cello Duo/Diferente/Gotan Project.


EMERGENT DANCE COMPANY with “I think it is right;” Megan Pulfer Choreographer; Dancers: Bridgette Burnett, Lydia Marzluf, Jesse Mays, Stephanie Ocampo, Stacie Overmyer, Paloma Per Music: Travis Lake (edited by Nick Pethtel), VO by Emma Watson.


BROCKUSRED with “Flood: dealing with now;” Deborah Brockus Choreographer; Dancers: Julienne Mackey, Mara Hancock, Stephanie Mizrahi; Music: Jars of Clay.


RE:BORN DANCE INTERACTIVE with “Unveil;” Boroka Nagy; Boroka Nagy Choreographer; Dancers: Jestoni Dagdag, Katie Marshall, Krissy Gullen, Boroka Nagy, Mate Nagy, John Ponitius, Kaitlin Wright; Music: Stay/Tricky/Zentrifuge/Einsturzende Neubauten.


KAIROS DANCE COMPANY with “Calvary;” Hazel Clarke Choreographer; Dancers: Nekai Abriol, Gunta Liepina Miller, Haley Loeffler, Katelyn Martin; Music: Night After Night/Laura Marling.


BENITA BIKE’S DANCEART with “Griot Songs;” Benita Bike Choreographer; Dancers: Nola Gibson, Lydia McDonald, Samantha Rogers, Skye Schmidt; Music: Sinanon Saran/Kasse Mady Diabete, Splendid Wood/Jennifer Higdon, Vero/Ensemble 3MA; Lighting Design: Shawn Fidler; Costume Design: Brynn Holmes.


All teams exhibited enchanting, formidable performances that were extremely athletic and powerfully transformational, with quite impressive physicality, losing themselves in mesmerizing pieces, exemplified by lovely, constructed weavings, lifts, limitless extensions and turns. Audiences witnessed ever-brilliant technical work with sensuality amid poignant music and rhythms. Many times, their voiceless communication was clear and stunning, intricately using each other’s bodies with versatility.


The sets were fascinating to watch, with all of the facile performers taking turns defining their own personal space with command, grace and poise. Ranging from two to a full stage of artists, strong moments and dramatic effects intermingled with conceptual fun as each dance troupe solidly explored their individual concepts and themes.


Most of the evening consisted of unique contemporary styles, with ballet pieces amid upbeat performances. With impressive choreographic styling, flavor and ambience, as well as breathtaking vision, the gallery of figurantes moved in tune with the music’s brisk, soulful melodies, prompting thunderous applause following each performance, connecting solidly with the audience and their fanbase, as each company’s dance ensemble envelops them with the story that is being told.


For more information on AKOMIDANCE, visit www.akomidance.com or their Instagram @akomidance. To directly contact AKOMIDANCE: akomidance@gmail.com


Chris Daniels

Arts & Entertainment Reviewer

The Show Report