By Daniella Walsh | LB Indy
A preview of this year’s Laguna Dance Festival in the form of “Ekphrasis,” a dance performance inspired by the 1967 Lee Mullican painting titled “Lotus Land,” makes its debut Thursday, Aug. 14, at the Laguna Art Museum.
Set to music by composer Alan Chan and choreographed by Bernard Gaddis, the founder and artistic director of The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater, the piece will be slightly abbreviated and follow a 7 p.m. concert of Chan’s music by the Argus Quartet. The Los Angeles string ensemble specializes in contemporary music and diversified performances.
Chan and Gaddis accepted the challenge posed by the Laguna Art Museum, music presenter Laguna Beach Live and the Laguna Dance Festival to create the dance performance around a painting of their choice. It is their first joint commission.
“After viewing hundreds of images, ‘Lotus Land’ landed on our short list and we chose it for its many visual facets,” said Chan, of the work in the museum’s permanent collection. “I did not think we would pick an abstract work but its coloration suggesting both water and earth and the cultural reference to the story of ‘The Lotus Eaters,’ added a cultural dimension as well.”
Museum Executive Director Malcolm Warner chose the collaborative work’s title, rooted in Greek and meaning interpretation of one art form through another.
Classically trained in the United States and Austria, Chan professes a strong interest in contemporary art and sculpture. And cross-pollination between art forms helped nurture Laguna’s arts heritage. After all the Pageant of the Masters production, involving visual and performance art, began 80 years ago.
Though just 10 minutes in duration, “Ekphrasis” thrusts that concept into a contemporary realm.
Currently, Chan is working on final edits of the music, and museum audiences likely will see the production minus final costumes, but otherwise ready for its larger debut. “Ekphrasis” will be staged at the Laguna Playhouse on Sept. 13 as part of the Laguna Dance Festival.
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