BODYTRAFFIC | A Three-Piece Performance

LA-based contemporary dance company showcases new talent

Written by

Maria Kyriakos

Photographed by

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Styled by

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On November 28th at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, the city welcomed back its very own contemporary dance company, BODYTRAFFIC. The company was founded in 2007 by co-directors and dancers Tina Finkelman Berkett, who still runs the company today, and Lillian Barbieto. They first danced professionally in New York, and then mutually agreed that they wanted to bring their knowledge to the West Coast, opening a dance organization welcome to all. In the present day, BODYTRAFFIC is run by Finkelman Berkett and Gillian Wynn, promoting their mission to elevate the voices of established choreographic talents, as well as new ones.

They strive, and have accomplished, a reputation that provides not only opportunity for a variety of dancers to exhibit their work, but to have a home for it too. After a record-breaking sold out opener in October at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, followed by a slew of performances across the country, the dance company returns to LA with a three-piece production done by choreographers Matthew Neenan, Baye & Asa, and Joan Rodriguez.

Neenan's piece is rooted in the inspiration garnered from the music of Peggy Lee, reminding audiences that our communities not only shape us, but how we also shape it. The intention is perhaps how we can persevere through the darkest of times, with the music of Lee and the fluidity of Neenan’s choreography capturing that message precisely.

The second piece in BODYTRAFFIC’s performance is The One To Stay With, done by emerging choreographers Baye & Asa, the idea was originally born out of response to the opioid crisis in the States. The tones feature a sense of corruptive greed and the consequences that proceed it, transcending the main plots itself and securing audiences to land in a place of: Where do we go next? As a society, and as humans, this performance captures the common sense of helpfulness when it comes to simply helping others.

The third and final performance in the Company’s queue was titled, Bloquea’o, by choreographer Joan Rodriguez, accompanied with original composition by Oscar nominee Pedro Osuna. Set during the devastating Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the presentation expands on the political themes of resistance, community, and the sense of home. There is a love story attached to the piece that is not only blossoming before the audience's eyes but also assigns a direct personalization to the nonstop fight for human rights during this time period where we see the love interests navigate their growing relationship; all while seeking safety and refuge, along with the hope that keeps propelling them forward with strength.

Bloquea’o is direct inspiration from dancer and choreographer Rodriguez's personal history of fleeing his homeland of Cuba, while simultaneously solidifying his choreographic debut with the Company. BODYTRAFFIC dedicates and identifies as a company and space that supports the Los Angeles community of dancers–young and professional, in maintaining their generosity through educational resources and outreach programs alike. In the upcoming Summer of 2024, BODYTRAFFIC will be making its return to Sun Valley, Idaho for its second annual Summer Residency at the Argyros Performing Arts Center. 

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Maria Kyriakos, BODYTRAFFIC, Art, Dance