The Assembly, a company that embraces the site-specific, from brick walls to 1920s Spanish mansions.EXPAND
The Assembly, a company that embraces the site-specific, from brick walls to 1920s Spanish mansions.
Michael Townsend

Casa Romantica Commissions Site-Specific Dance for the San Clemente Mansion

For the evening of April 21 only, Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is hosting dance performances throughout the historic site. Casa Kinetic: Contemporary Dance Collective includes two local companies, The Assembly and OC Ballet Theater, and LA's Helios Dance Theater. Each was commissioned by Casa Romantica to create site-specific pieces somewhere on the grounds—I'm hoping someone uses the magnificent green bathroom where Weekly Art Critic Dave Barton's Ophelia held sway a couple years ago for his adaptation of Hamlet, called Slings and Arrows. Aside from Barton's play, the center has commissioned visual arts, literature, music and other contemporary dance over the last few years.

Executive director Berenika Schmitz says Casa Romantica's mission in South County is "to create a rich cultural heritage, including an appreciation for the contemporary dance." Here's hoping for much, much more in every medium.

Be on time, though, because at 7:05 the doors close and the audience will promenade from Beehive Fireplace to Ocean Terrace to Art Gallery to see the three new works. After intermission, spectators will assemble in Casa Romantica's Main Salon to view established works from each company's repertoire in a more traditional audience-to-dancer configuration.

Co-founder of OC's The Assembly, Lara Wilson, choreographed Brusque for Casa Kinetic. "The piece speaks to a domestic relationship," says Wilson. "It's a little bit violent and a little bit tender. It's about a hidden love—a hard-to-reach love." She doesn't reveal where the duet will be danced on the grounds, which she finds inspiring. "There's a great energy of art that has filled these walls and of people that have been here. I strive to be inspirited by place and landscape and architecture, and Casa Romantica has all three." The Assembly is no stranger to site-specific collaborations, it's in their mission to work in "nontraditional physical and digital spaces."

Expect fierce duets on the Ocean Terrace at Casa Romantica.EXPAND
Expect fierce duets on the Ocean Terrace at Casa Romantica.
Helios Dance Company

Helios Dance Theater has created Untitled, a response to Casa Romantica's architecture that will be danced on the Ocean Terrace, the site of many a wedding with its massive, curving stairs and gobsmacking ocean view. Minor Obsessions will make its OC premiere after the interval. The piece "can best be described as hyper-romantic, fiercely physical duets," says Helios founder and choreographer Laura Gorenstein Miller. "The title is somewhat of an oxymoron and certainly an understatement, because when you watch the performance, it’s obvious that there is a major obsession between each of these pairs. We will perform 3 duets."

At the Beehive Fireplace, you'll see technical prodigy in classical and cutting-edge ballet Megan Goldstein in What Is This, choreographed by Travis Wall, a dance genius whose work can get you sucked into the summer reality competition So You Think You Can Dance? if you let it. Goldstein will perform after intermission with other dancers from OC Ballet Theater.

Summer is in the air, with films beginning to be screened outdoors all over the county. But this Friday from sunset to dark, you'll hear Elvis Presley, Eno, Bowie, Philip Glass, Rachmaninoff, Rob Cairns, Sophia Loren and more; see world premieres by award-winning dance artists; and explore Casa Romantica—a magical place and ongoing champion of the arts. See you there.

Casa Kinetic: Contemporary Dance Collective, at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, (949) 498-2139; 7 p.m. Friday, April 21. $25.


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