Summer dance series at Mojalet debuts at new Rancho Bernardo venue

Mojalet Dance Collective will bring its wide range of dance styles to its summer series, which returns in mid July to a new venue — The Vine Arts Village in Rancho Bernardo.

Mojalet — the name represents the company’s three preferred dance forms of modern, jazz and ballet — has held the annual summer series since 2008. The company moved from its home of many years in Bernardo Winery to the nearby Oaks North Plaza in early 2020.

Now shows will be at the Vine Arts Village at Oaks North Plaza, 12540 Oaks North Drive.

“We were forced to cancel in 2020 and in 2021 brought it back, but did a modified outdoor show … a masked performance,” said artistic director Faith Jensen-Ismay. “This is the first summer where we are not feeling like COVID is hovering over our heads.”

“It was important for us to stay in Rancho Bernardo because we had planted ourselves in an under-served community for arts and culture,” Jensen-Ismay said. “We had opened for three weeks in 2020 when we had to close.”

“It was anticlimactic having of couple weeks of classes and no performances,” she said about the pandemic-forced closure.

After a year Mojalet’s studio was able to reopen, but had to limit classes to a few students who initially danced outside on the sidewalk and temporary flooring, she said.

In addition to offering dance classes Mojalet has a professional dance company.

The summer dance series is a way for Mojalet to perform in its Rancho Bernardo home and bring other dance companies from downtown San Diego, La Mesa or RB.

The internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company Mojalet Dance Collective will open the series on July 16 and 17 with new and revised works that range from intimate to athletic, serious to thought provoking and playful.

One number is based on a nostalgic radio hour. Its dances are inspired by radio ads from the 1930s to 60s, such as a Coca-Cola commercial and a public service announcement about the atomic bomb, Jensen-Ismay said.

“It is all across the gamut,” she added.

Other numbers are “Secrets” — it has a mysterious and “little bit edgy feel” — and “Eye of the Storm,” which focuses on sweeping, moving patterns inspired by COVID. “The Optimist” is a light number about how one can be a positive influence.

Coalescence will present a collection of excerpts and small dances choreographed by Roberta Ruocco and Jasmyn Hamblin on July 23 and 24. The show with 17 dancers will present a mix of themes, including identity, humor, power and liberation.

“It is quite lovely choreography in modern dance,” Jensen-Ismay said.

“Collage Contemporary Dance” on July 30 and 31 will feature several dance companies. Their works will vary from tap to contemporary, solos to large ensembles. Companies and choreographers participating are the California Rhythm Project, which focuses on tap; Betzi Roe Weinberg; H20 Dance Company, a young, up and coming group, said Jensen-Ismay.

“Collage,” which combines different artistic groups, is an annual favorite for audiences, she said. In this show Weinberg, now in her 70s and an instrumental influence on the San Diego dance community for decades, will dance alongside young artists.

Mojalet Dance Collective dancer and choreographer Alia Ismay will be among performers in the 2022 summer series.

(Jocker Alejandro)

Mojalet Dance Collective’s Core Group will present “Journey, That’s Life” on Aug. 13 and 14. Among the choreographers are Jensen-Ismay, Alia Ismay, Ryan Lee Harris and Christina Wurz, with guest performer Jessica Reed. The dances will explore traditions, joys and fears that are part of the journey through life.

The show will feature 12 professional dancers — primarily Mojalet members — who focus on modern dance.

New West Ballet bring its dancers to perform a variety of dances ranging from classical to contemporary on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21.

While New West Ballet does classical works, it likes to put a contemporary spin on them, Jensen-Ismay said.

“It integrates components of technicality with a current, relevant twist,” she said. “ Like you will not be expecting to see ‘Romeo and Juliet’ … to pop music and themes. Last year they did ‘Harry Potter.’ They make it their own or do ballet with a modern twist.”

Summer series newcomer Sannidhi Performing Arts headed by Divya Devaguptapu will present “Natyanjali” — an offering of Bharatanatyam, a culturally-rooted classical dance form from South India. Its shows will be Aug. 27 and 28.

Devaguptapu is an internationally-acclaimed dancer, choreographer and educator. “Using a vocabulary of hand gestures, footwork, rhythmic patterns, mime and expression, the dance is a spiritual celebration of Indian culture and its philosophy,” the show’s description says.

While wearing traditional Indian costumes, dancers will tell stories from Indian mythology that are considered timeless metaphors for life.

Closing the series will be Visionary Dance Theatre. It will present “Cradle,” a show that represents the experience of Tanya Lewis as someone from both the Middle East and America. Performed on Sept. 3 and 4, it explores concepts of immigration and identity through opposing dance forms, including traditional Middle Eastern dance and Western dance training.

“(Visionary) is a small company like Mojalet that gives an opportunity to young dancers,” Jensen-Ismay said.

The website also lists “The Hobo’s Circus” by Jerry Hager on Aug. 6 and 7. The show has been postponed and Jensen-Ismay said she is trying to get another performer booked for that weekend. Check the Mojalet website for updates.

Tickets to each show in the series are $21 for general admission and $16 for seniors and students. Saturday shows begin at 7 pm, while Sunday shows will be at 2 pm and 4:30 pm Buy tickets at mojalet.com.

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