Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at UCLA Live

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs Alexander Ekman’s “Tuplet” at UCLA Live on April 28. / Photo courtesy of UCLA Live

Several times on April 28, Benoit-Swan Pouffer, the French-born artistic director of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, walked through the lobby of Royce Hall looking like he was nervous. He made eye contact with passersby, stopped to chat with other young, stylishly dressed people, but mostly, he looked as if he couldn’t sit still. That evening’s performance was his company’s second of a two-night engagement at UCLA Live. It’s surprising to think Pouffer would be worried, considering he’s incredibly gifted at spotlighting beatific dancers, with just enough impeccable training mixed with the gift of free flow. Cedar Lake’s versatile movers wrap their bodies around choreography like Silly Putty. Toned, flexible and funky, this performance was a prime example of how they ease from one choreographer’s work to the next, shifting effortlessly from one particular style to another.  If my attention ever wandered throughout the night’s three sets, it was no fault of the dancers.

Especially not Jon Bond, who makes 28-year-old Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s “Tuplet” piece his own. The scene opens with a white screen, Bond standing as a black silhouette. Every time he moves, a sound escapes. An arm causes a whirring, a foot evokes a beep, and a shoulder lets out a hum. Simple, but evocative. By replacing counts of eight with noises, the body becomes a toy and the movements more relatable. The rhythmic exercise roots dance firmly in everyday life. But there’s nothing ordinary about Bond’s graceful execution. He plays his body like a virtuoso. Or, more likely, Bond acts as DJ, his body acts as turntables that blend and create sounds with every revolution.

“Nothing isn’t a rhythm,” a voice blares out…

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