Dance troupe takes over LA City Hall

"Governing Bodies" at L.A. City Hall
"Governing Bodies" at L.A. City Hall Collage Dance Theater

It’s been home to many notable public servants - and some shady politicians. Tomorrow, possibly for the first time, Los Angeles City Hall will host a performance by a modern dance company that’s marking its 25th anniversary.

As she was finishing her dance studies at UCLA, Heidi Duckler founded Collage Dance Theater. She was itching to choreograph with found objects, and to stage dance in unusual locations.

Her first show took place in a Santa Monica laundromat. Another was set inside L.A.'s old jail in Lincoln Heights – there, dancers used the metal bars to thrust their bodies into the air.

Her professional career, she says, is intertwined with the city. "When we thought about where to celebrate our 25th anniversary, we thought about City Hall. It’s such an iconic building, a symbol for our city," she said.

It’s also a symbol of the support the city’s given her dance company. Her current performance is called “Governing Bodies.” Twenty dancers and five musicians lead the audience through City Hall’s Spring Street steps, the marble rotunda and the high-ceilinged council chambers.

Duckler’s dance piece doesn’t critique government as much as it explores the interplay between the human body, city hall’s grandiose architecture and the energy of L.A.'s seat of government – especially the horseshoe of desks and microphones of L.A.'s 15 elected council members. "There’s some political posturing, but also the microphones are an important part of the work, because it’s a place where people want to be heard. It’s a place where the disenfranchised can come and their voice can be expressed," she said.

Heidi Duckler says budget cuts have directed a lot of negative energy toward L.A. City Hall, so she hopes her dance performance will allow its workers and the show’s audience to appreciate the beauty of the historic structure.

Collage Dance Theater performs “Governing Bodies” at L.A. City Hall tomorrow night and next Saturday.

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