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March 17, 2011 / HJD

LAVA leaps into 11th year with gala

(Published on Prospect Heights Patch)

The award-winning acrobatic dance troupe LAVA kicks off a benefit with a performance that somersaults, literally, into their 2011 season. The event also marks the 11th year that the Prospect Heights-based, all-female troupe have been defying gravity.

Tickets sales will help support this locally-grown dance troupe. The $111 price tag for a seat at the benefit pays for artists’ fees and make LAVA’s new projects possible.

“It makes it sustainable working with the same artist for many years,” said Sarah East Johnson and who founded LAVA in 2000. “And we can deepen its quality.”

The benefit will feature a 30-minute performance recreating the intensive training the dancers go through. It will be held at Dixon Place in Manhattan on Sunday at 2 p.m.

A LAVA performance is a high-energy and athletic mix of gymnastics modern dance, contact and improvisational movement, theater, capoeira, yoga and martial arts. But more than anything, its performance looks like a lot of fun. I saw a 2009 performance at the Brooklyn Lyceum and wanted to jump in.

LAVA offers adult and children classes at its 524 Bergen Street location — a well-lit renovated warehouse space with floors of wood and cushy mats and rope swings that hang from the ceiling. Kids’ and adult classes include beginner acrobatics, tumbling, trapeze and handstands and the instructors are trained in Chinese acrobatics. For those who want more of a challenge, there’s a company class that is based on company training. Every Wednesday, from 5:00 to 6:00 PM, LAVA has a drop-in free community class.

LAVA also has a junior troupe called Magma.

East said the response from adults and children has been positive. “For parents, and especially for girls, class they can take they can feel good about themselves,” said East.

Sarah East Johnson came from California to New York as a teenager and trained with the contemporary dance company, Merce Cunningham. She also trained at the San Francisco Circus Center. East, who made the Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2010 by online magazine and social media site, Velvetpark, promotes a positive and supportive philosophy towards dance, movement and the concept of the “ideal” dancer’s body.

The dance groups’ website states that unlike traditional dance and gymnastic classes, the LAVA method focuses on a connection with our physical, social, creative and intellectual selves.

The LAVA dance troupe returned from a circus festival in Tasmania, Australia earlier in February. They will performing at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.

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