LA Dances to a global movement

LA Dances, based in Malibu and headed by local Rebecca Witjas, is submitting a performance DVD to the International Dance Council and hopes to participate in the World Dance Congress in Cyprus in November. Photo by Michael Eggert

Malibu might have an opportunity to take part in the global rhythm, thanks to choreographer Rebecca Witjas’ efforts in organizing LA Dances. The newly formed, Malibu-based dance company seeks to explore its universal vision of the human spirit, and has found an outlet in the International Dance Council or CID.

CID is the official umbrella organization for all forms of dance and was founded within the UNESCO headquarters in 1973. It is a worldwide forum bringing together international, national and local organizations, as well as individuals active in dance.

LA Dances was formed in partnership with Pepperdine University with Witjas as its artistic director and has set its aim for participation in the World Dance Congress in Larnaca, Cyprus this November.

“This has become a Malibu thing, and I’d like to do it with the Malibu Arts Council,” said Witjas, a Malibu resident who has made it her mission to educate and share her life’s passion.

Witjas, 43, a choreographer for film, television and stage for nearly 30 years, is an adjunct professor at both Pepperdine and Santa Monica City College. She received her bachelor’s in dance at UCSB and master’s in dance at UCLA. Witjas is also the creator of Ballet Boot Camp and an instructor at Conjunctive Points Dance Center, Malibu Ballet By the Sea and Santa Monica Dance studio.

Witjas was asked to join the CID advisory board last year and later decided to formulate a dance company that would represent the United States at CID events.

Colleagues and friends interested in her purpose contributed their knowledge and expertise helping Witjas jumpstart the fledgling dance company.

The company, which is a mix of students and professional dancers ranging in age from 20 to 40 and boasting a widespread training background, solidified its endeavor on May 26, when it taped its 10-1/2 minute dance piece at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theater. The performance is currently being edited for a DVD to be sent to CID.

The piece, titled “White Light,” is set to Bach’s 3rd Brandenburg Concerto, combining hip hop, ballet and modern stylistic elements to express the overarching theme of joy, Witjas said.

Pepperdine seniors and LA Dances members Akil Benoit Thompson and Tiffany Coons spoke with the same exalted enthusiasm they intend to express in the piece when they described their involvement with the project.

“It’s hard work, but it’s an amazing opportunity,” Coons said.

Both Coons and Thompson said they see this as a career-developing opportunity and a chance to be a part of a worldwide event.

“This could end up being an ongoing project,” Witjas said

Witjas also hopes to create another DVD to encapsulate the entire congress experience once they reach Cyprus in the fall (Witjas is certain they’ll be asked to attend). The DVD would feature LA Dances at the largest gathering of dance specialists in the world, and would be used for educational purposes here in the U.S.

Last year, the World Dance Congress showcased 450 top dance specialists in all forms of dance from 40 countries. The U.S. has not had a dance company representative for the past two years, and CID has expressed a strong interest in U.S. involvement. LA Dances hopes to fill that role with a mission that is “to unite people, by showing them, through dance, how we are inherently the same, regardless of our ethnicity, age or beliefs,” Witjas said.

LA Dances’ mission so far has run parallel to that of CID, which reflects the principles of the United Nations and UNESCO, in that it is open to all approaches to dance, without prejudice for race, gender, religion, political affiliation or social status, Witjas said.

Communication may be one of the unifying challenges of the UN, but dance is clearly a language that transcends those barriers, Witjas said, adding that LA Dances is hopeful that it can take its “white light” to the World Congress and join a global tradition of shared meaning.

LA Dances is currently raising funds for transportation, food and lodging for their trip to Cyprus. More information or for ways in which to contribute can be found by contacting Rebecca Witjas at