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Jacob Jonas The Company Ends Wallis Residency With Two World Premieres­

Daniel Ezralow and Jacob Jonas. Photo by Matthew Brush
Jacob Jonas The Company culminates its year-long residency as The Wallis’ 2018/2019 season company-in-residence on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11, 2019, 7:30 pm, in The Wallis’ Bram Goldsmith Theater. Photo courtesy of Jacob Jonas The Company

Posted Friday, May 3, 2019 - 7:52 pm

By Steve Simmons

Jacob Jonas The Company is ending it’s 2018/2019 company-in-residence run at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with two world premieres and a collaboration with director, choreographer and one of Jonas’ mentors, Daniel Ezralow.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 in The Wallis’ Bram Goldsmith Theater.

“We are deeply grateful to The Wallis, which we consider our home venue, for its continued support,” says Jonas. “We have been able to expand and explore our repertoire in exciting new ways.”

Jonas, a 2010 BHHS graduate, first auditioned for Ezralow’s company at 19. “I didn’t get the job, but there was a lot of creative chemistry over the years as I was building my company,” says Jonas. “Daniel was always supportive, and we’d meet at events and he’d say, ‘let’s do a duet together.’”

The work, viceversa, created and performed by Ezralow and Jonas explores the unique voices of two choreographers across generations with similar backgrounds, but different perspectives.

The months of rehearsal have been “human and raw,” says Jonas. “We’re different in how we approach dance, how we think about dance and our expectations of dance. The differences accelerate the relationship and what the piece will be like. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Since Jonas believes in using dance to tackle serious themes, the other premiere is There’s Been A Study, about how the education system stifles creativity.

This is a piece I’ve wanted to do since high school, says Jonas. It was inspired by a virtual TED Talk Jonas came across by educational thought leader Sir Ken Robinson. “It made a big impact on me.”

When he told the Wallis’ Director of Education Mark Slavkin about hearing Robinson’s speech, Slavkin replied, “why don’t I connect you two,” Jonas recalled. The pair had two meetings to bounce ideas off Robinson’s research and “he’s on board,” says Jonas. “It’s exciting.”

“The education system conforms people to think the same way,” says Jonas “and doesn’t encourage individuality, passion and purpose. There was definitely a time in school when I did not have a sense of value. And I wanted to explore that in a dance work.”

The work was created in partnership with educational furniture company, Virco. “I met with representatives in the corporate office in Torrance,” says Jonas, and the piece utilizes nine desk-chair units.

Jonas’ choreography for the nine dancers, including a 14-year-old from Crossroads School, in the piece is to an original score by Nicole Miglis, lead singer of Hundred Waters. As of this week, the art-rock pianists/electric guitarist was finalizing the music which she will perform live.

His unique “modern ballet” company of 10 highlights acrobats and breakdancers, reflecting his background working with the Calypso Tumblers, a street-performing group on the Venice Beach boardwalk, at the age of 13.  “Through dance and movement Jacob Jonas The Company tackles complex societal and environmental issues as well as interpersonal relationships with compelling and, often, gravity-defying physicality, pushing artistic boundaries in novel ways,” says The Wallis’ Artistic Director Paul Crewes. 

The program will also see Jonas reprise Crash, his abstract piece emulating waves breaking on the shore that premiered at The Wallis last fall with Afro-pop singer-songwriter and drummer Okaidja Afroso, once again flying in from Ghana to perform his original score live.

“It’s great to share the stage with so many brilliant artists,” adds Jonas.

To The Dollar, another Jonas work, rounds out the program with a physical representation of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s speech on Equal Pay Day (Nov. 2).  “It’s about respect for women and equal pay,” says Jonas.

Tickets,  ranging from $29-$89, are available online at TheWallis.org, by phone at  310-746-4000 or at the box office, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills.

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