Body/Traffic is a LA-based dance company with a unique philosophy and supportive work environment. As co-director Tina Finkelman Berkett explains, “We’re 10 individuals who love what we’re doing and we want to share our work in a passionate, generous way.”
They will be sharing this work with Vancouver as part of the Chutzpah Festival, presenting three pieces, including a world premiere and two Canadian premieres.
Berkett said that Body/Traffic is “absolutely thrilled” to be back at the Chutzpah Festival after their performance two years ago. Appropriately, all of the works they are bringing this year are by Jewish choreographers. “All of the works have a very different style and feel; each has a distinctive choreographic voice,” said Berkett. “The audience gets to see three very different faces of our company.”
Barak Marshall’s piece is gestural and influenced by dance theatre, described Berkett, and it has a comical mood. Hofesh Shechter’s work is more grounded, athletic and physical, with an internal focus and emotional maturity. The final work, by Richard Siegal, is an homage to American jazz music. It’s light, upbeat, and fun with challenging musicality for the dancers.
This variety in one evening can be difficult for the dancers but Berkett said, “We love it. It’s challenging, we love a good challenge.” There is an added layer of responsibility for Berkett as her relationship with the work is unique: “Being the director, I’m responsible for the show in a different way, so there’s a different attachment to the work — I see things from behind the scenes and there’s a whole backstory with the choreographers — it’s very rich.”
The philosophy of the company is to create an environment where dancers are supported and can thrive. “At Body/Traffic,” said Berkett, “we’re really trying to make a breeding ground to make work. We have the most open and loving environment as possible; we’re a tight knit family. It makes a difference when you trust the people in the room, and respect them. We have a common focus and goal, and you can see it on stage — it’s reflected in the work.” Their teamwork and mutual trust makes their work stronger, which is felt by the audience.
Before founding Body/Traffic, Berkett danced with Aszure Barton & Artists and she spoke very fondly of her time there: “Aszure had a tremendous impact on me both personally and professionally. She taught me about integrity, artistry, professionalism, and etiquette in the dance world.” Those are principles that have become the foundation of what Body/Traffic is all about.
“I learned that it was very important to be attentive in rehearsal, to be a tool to the choreographer and allow yourself to facilitate the process,” said Berkett. “It’s important to be respectful and patient with a choreographer, you have to have faith in their decision and that they are doing what is best for the art. It takes a mature dancer to do that.” She passes this knowledge on to the dancers of Body/Traffic, and this attitude of respect and trust is fundamental to their work ethic.
“I hope what we’re doing is curating a sense of what’s going on in contemporary dance today,” said Berkett. It seems that they are succeeding with this performance, as they are presenting the works of three world-renowned contemporary choreographers.
Body/Traffic will perform at the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre as part of the Chutzpah Festival Feb. 22 to 24. For more information visit chutzpahfestival.com.