On Saturday, September 8 at 2 p.m., the sandy shores of Manhattan Beach will become a dance theater and the sounds of the crashing waves and children playing become the musical accompaniment for the performers of the ANAHATA Dance Company.
The modern dance performance, titled “How Is It Infinite,” was created specifically for Manhattan Beach. Not in the sense of the local culture, but rather because the beach is “the cleanest, least populated beach that was accessible by MetroCard. Also, the sand is compact enough that the performers don’t have to work extra hard to perform the dance,” according to company founder and artistic director Natalie Teichmann.
There are, however, also a host of more esoteric reasons as well. The dance is Teichmann’s response to life’s bigger ideas, such as the birth of man, the Big Bang Theory, spirituality and cultural creation myths.
Through movement, she ponders, “How do we as humans today relate to where we came from, our beliefs, scientific, spiritual, religious, and so on?” and “If we all came from the same thing or being, then are we all essentially the same?”
That’s not to say that through her work, she’s found the answers, but Teichmann doesn’t shy away from exploring her personal understanding of mythology as it relates to her art.
“Dance has been a part of the human experience since we became human, and maybe even before then if you look at the mating and ritual dances that birds, lizards, bees and other animals perform. These dances existed for many different reasons. To thank the gods, to declare war, out of sheer joy, anguish and ecstacy. They were performed with many types of music, or with no accompaniment at all…Dance can exist in any environment for any reason. It is not limited to professionals, to a specific genre or movement or motif style, to a stage and is not permanently or always tied to accompaniment,” she said.
Her minimalist set and organic soundscape are not to be taken as a simplistic approach to performance. The dance bases its meter off of the rhythm of the ocean waves.
According to Teichmann, “We all came from the waters. Within our own bodies and around the planet, there are pulses, natural rhythms, the breath, our heart beating, the blood flow and the ocean mimics these pulses, or vice versa and our pulses and rhythms mimic that of the ocean. The ocean will provide our soundscape and allow the dancers to synchronize their movements, and ultimately their breathing, with the timing of the waves rolling towards and away from the shore.”
The dance also revolves around a biblical quote that struck a chord with Teichmann, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth…when the morning stars sang together?” from Job 38:4-7. She’s incorporated it into the routine and the dancers will periodically repeat portions of the quote during the performance.
The 18-person company mainly practices out of their Midtown Manhattan space; however, site specific work is how they began (on a friend’s rooftop, to be exact) and how they continue their creative growth with their upcoming show.
As for what’s next for Teichman and her troupe? She’ll be working on a staged performance with live bands and a women-only performance with an Orthodox Jewish group.
The dance features: Natalie Teichmann, Rebecca Ain, Liza Brink, Kristin Corayer, April Dayok, Liz Hyland, and Cameron Lussier. As well as first time ANAHATA performers: Eleonora Aldegheri, Nicole Bugge, Brianna Clark, Sara Cohen, Dia Dearstyne, Krystel Mazzeo, Emily Montesino, Chelsea Page Piper, Alexandra Rivera, Alex Rodabaugh, Melanie Swihart, and Kit Stanley.
If you’re headed out there, look for their canopy and banner on the right side of Manhattan Beach as you face the shoreline.