Malibu native gives birth to ‘Dance is Dead’

Caitlyn Carradine is set to perform in the self-choreographed ballet production.

By McKenzie Jackson / Special to The Malibu Times

Eleven years ago Caitlyn Carradine left the scenic shores of Malibu for the historic European fine arts hub of Vienna, Austria to study classical ballet.

Now, she is nine days away from performing in a self-produced dance show.

On Aug. 7 and 8, the 27-year-old choreographer and producer of the Los Angeles Contemporary Ensemble (L.A.C.E.) will perform “Dance Is Dead” at the Electric Lodge in Venice, Calif.

Carradine described the two-person performance as a “funeral for dance.” The concept was inspired by a conversation a few summers ago she had with her ballet peers, who had made comments about dance dying because of the lack of support and understanding that concert dancing receives.

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In November of last year, Carradine and the production’s co-star, 30-year-old Ziga Jereb, a Slovenian dancer, decided to put together a symbolic dance routine that they said would allow dance to rest in peace. The two dancers are graduates of the Vienna State Opera Ballet School.

The production is small, consisting of four people including the two dancers, lighting and video artist Victoria Coeln, and Carradine’s younger brother, Henry Carradine. Henry, 19, who left Malibu in 2006 at age 15 to study music in Vienna, composed the music for the piece.

“Dance is Dead” depicts four stages surrounding death: a symbolic wake, funeral, burial and reincarnation.

Carradine said the reincarnation portion of the performance is important, because it symbolizes a new beginning for dance, for herself and Jereb.

“When you start dancing as a child you have magical dreams of what dancing is going to be, and then you are confronted with the reality that you are not perfect and have to go to school for training,” Carradine said. “When you become a professional you are other people’s robots-doing what a choreographer tells you. You give up your childhood dream. The idea of rebirth is being a freelancer able to create your own work and to do something in a performance that hasn’t been rehearsed.

“It’s accepting that you have all that training, but you are able to do anything.”

Carradine described the dance in the performance as classical ballet meshed with contemporary structures.

“There is some improv, a lot of contact and lifts, and juxtapositions,” she said. “As soon as the audience gets used to the idea that this is a classical dance production, we turn the status quo on its head.”

Jereb said the production is important to him because of the time that went into putting the production together.

“It is a collaborative work and it’s challenging, creative and inspiring,” he said. “There has been a lot of artistic challenges that I have not found working in a company. I find myself breaking free from traditional forms of theater dance.”

“Dance Is Dead” is a return to dance production for Carradine, who has performed in more than 30 productions since first performing in “Dancing with Paints” in 2002 at The Episcopal Church of St. Andrews and St. Charles in Granada Hills.

In 2003, she founded L.A.C.E. Theatre in Camarillo. For three years, L.A.C.E., which had an ever-changing roster of dancers and visual artists, had been involved in about seven productions a year, which Carradine had a hand in producing.

“We had murder mysteries, ballet evenings, haunting ballet shows, everything,” Carradine said. “It was just an experimental ground to do anything and test it.”

In 2006, Camarillo closed the theater and started performing in local shows in California and in Vienna, where she still lives most of the year with her brother Henry.

“I wasn’t producing many shows,” she said. “Just finding out what people liked and performing.”

Since graduating from the Vienna State Opera Ballet School nine years ago, Carradine, who has practiced ballet since age 3 and left Malibu at 16, has been featured in California shows involving the Venice Art Walk, Beverly Hills Art Walk, Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, the Red Cat Dance Theater and the Ecological Art Gallery.

In Austria she has performed for the Vienna State Opera, the Vienna People’s Opera and the Chamber Opera.

Carradine garnered the support of the Austrian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Kaminick Tourism Office in Slovenia, which helped finance “Dance is Dead.”

The Kaminick Tourism Office also donated a schnapps bar, which will be in the theater lobby during the shows.

Carradine said she is excited about the upcoming show and hopes to perform “Dance is Dead” at different festivals after the initial showing.

She hopes the production allows attendees to look at dance in a new way.

“[Many] people have a lot of strong opinions and they don’t really take a lot of other things into consideration,” Carradine said. “I also think people can be less critical and allow themselves to laugh and to take it more lightly.”

“Dance is Dead” will play at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. Admission ranges from $10 to $20. To purchase tickets, go to www.danceisdead.eventbrite.com.

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