Hipsters often go out to see movies, attend concerts, or even visit art exhibits at their local museums, but attending dance recitals is often a rare and special occasion. Not helping matters, there are not too many venues which promote modern dance as an artform. Thus, when Lara Wilson met fellow dancer / choreographer Delyer Anderson at a dance class, it was the beginning of what would become The Assembly, one of the few contemporary dance companies in Orange County. This weekend The Assembly will present the latest in its ongoing series of productions, which feature the work of local and guest artists.
Wilson told The Weekly the story of how The Assembly initially formed through her chance meeting with her co-director. “I met [Anderson] through mutual friends,” she says. “I came to their class one day, and she basically asked me if I wanted to stay for rehearsal because she was creating a piece…without really an end performance in mind.” Wilson then proposed that they pool their resources and put something together. For their collaboration, they wanted to create a brand for it, and it took off from there. She recalled, “We started with no expectations, just kind of a one-off performance, and then after we did it, it seemed like we were filling a need…because in Orange County there's not a very present contemporary dance community,” Wilson says. When they formed the company, two years ago, they decided that they would produce two shows a year.
For the performances, Wilson and Anderson trade off with choreographing the various pieces included in each show, but they also commission outside choreographers. For their current show, The Assembly will feature the work of four choreographers, including: Anderson, Christopher Bordenave, Jobel Medina, and Kalynn Marin (all who hail from SoCal). The choreographers are working with a core group of about four Assembly dancers, whom Wilson said have performed in most of their shows thus far.
The content of Assembly IV is based around communicating a variety of takes on the human experience. Wilson explained that each of the choreographers was given a different starting point and allowed to explore their respective themes. She said, “We collected four pretty arbitrary elements from the world in order to metaphorically tap into different aspects of the human experience, so we have concrete, light, wood and then reflective glass (or mirror).” The actual assignments per choreographer were literally picked out of a hat. After receiving their respective images, the choreographers were asked to create 8 – 12 minute pieces. Concurrently, set designer Isaac Bekker, costume designer Hannah Jenkinson, and sound designer Unigen (Luke Folger) were informed of the concept and asked to create their own interpretations on the themes. Wilson pointed out the challenge of working in this manner: “[It's difficult] not starting out with the music and then setting movement to it; [however] I'm happy with how it's coming together!”
Beyond this production, Wilson says that the company serves as a lab for the core group to create work and open doors for other artists as well. In addition to the exhibitions of the group and its guest artists, The Assembly holds open classes, on Saturdays, as a means for dancers of varying levels to learn and network.
The Assembly IV is currently scheduled for two performances at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. The performance dates are Nov. 13 – 14 at 8 PM.