photos by Keith Weng


"Praxis is an amazing workshop and performance experience, which I can't commend highly enough. The quality of classes is so high, with choreography taught & performed by world-class forces in dance. Dancers are inspired to develop expression, technique, artistry, and musicality. Praxis Project is a dream-come true for Los Angeles!"

Theresa Saldana (performing arts professional, Praxis supporter)


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August 02, 2005
Daily News
Innovation drives dance workshop
By Vicki Smith Paluch, Correspondent

Choreographer Christine Chrest knows the frustrations of freeway driving all too well. The Burbank resident spends hours commuting to the dance departments at UC Irvine, Cerritos College and California State University, Fullerton, and now to the Crenshaw District studios of the Lula Washington Dance Theatre.

To vent her frustration at the callousness and aggression of drivers, she has created a new modern-dance work, "405," that explores our daily rite of passage as part of the Praxis Project, a five-week dance workshop.

The workshops culminate Friday and Saturday with "Live: Reality," a showcase of seven new works featuring amateur and professional dancers, at the new Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. The new works were created by seven choreographers who have served as master teachers during the Praxis Project's "summer intensive" workshop.

"Intense is the word," said Chrest. "Working with a wide variety of dancers who have a vast variety of skill in a quick time frame is high pressure. It's also rewarding and fun." In addition to creating a new work, Chrest is also teaching master classes for some 40 students, ages 13 to 59, at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre studios. Her dancers in "405" range in age from 16 to their mid-30s. "It's a great variety of people because that's what's on the freeway," she said.

Lula Washington, whose own company is celebrating its 25th anniversary, is setting an excerpt from her work-in-progress, "For Those Who Live and Die for Us," her tribute to U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

"The arts bring shape and focus to neighborhoods," said Kacy Keys, a former dancer turned economic development consultant who started Praxis Project in 1998.

With Praxis, Keys brings together emerging choreographers to create new works and expose dancers to a variety of styles. "It's a quick hit and it's focused," Keys said. "We have high-quality teachers, a variety of styles and techniques for established and up-and-coming dancers."

Other choreographers whose work will be featured include Frit and Frat Fuller, who have participated in Praxis since its inception (Keys danced in their KIN Dance Company) and Scott Putnam, who teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University and has his own modern company, Amaranth.

Also in the showcase are works by Kenji Yamaguchi, who uses a jazz style, and Dorcas Roman-Colins, who uses Latin jazz and flamenco in her work.

Putnam will be performing a solo, "Seeing the Silence," and has created a group work, "This Side of the Unknown," a modern piece for eight dancers set to the music of Brian Eno. The piece explores what society views as normal.

When working with dancers of different ages and technical skills, Putnam gets them to tap into their true selves. "I ask them about what type of movement makes them feel beautiful and comfortable. Then, they feel confident enough to take risks and grow."

Where: Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles.
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Tickets: $20. Call (323) 292-5852 or go to


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