A show with ballet, hip hop, jazz, belly dancing, drag, video projection, LED lighting and a lot of talent debuts at the Liberty Theatre on Friday, March 9.
And “Enigmatic! A Dance Extravaganza,” staged by the Work Dance Company of Eugene, has something else: local dancers such as Daylight (aka Astoria’s Marco Davis); Jessamyn Grace West, owner of the Astoria Arts & Movement Center; Trixie Kerfuffle & The Kerfuffles, The Oddfellows Dance Collective; and West’s Triple Moon Belly Dance, composed of women in her quarterly choreography class.
“There are people in my choreography class that have never performed at the Liberty before, so to have that opportunity in Astoria’s most remarkable venue is really exciting” said West, an Astoria city councilor. “We’re honored to be asked to be a part of this.”
It’s the first time Work Dance Company has premiered a show outside of Eugene. “Astoria gets it before anyone gets it,” Work Dance founder Nathan Boozer said.
“Anyone who loves any sort of style of dance will get something out of the show,” Boozer said. His goal is always to “infuse” his shows. The dancers interact with the audience and toss things out at them. There are prizes. “We want the audience to feel like they are included and like they aren’t there just to see us, but that we are there to party with them,” Boozer said.
Davis said he basically watched Boozer grow up.
The two met in Eugene in 2001 through the Eugene dance community. Davis was completing his MFA in dance at the University of Oregon. Boozer was a 15-year-old performing at local dance companies.
In 2007, Boozer started Work Dance Company, which has since received numerous awards and sold out shows at the Hult Center in Eugene and Portland venues.
The company began to make a name for itself locally through their performances at the Astoria Pride festival. “When we did our first (Pride) four years ago I invited him to come up and dance at the gala,” Davis said.
Davis then introduced Boozer to West. The three share a vision for the Astoria dance community.
“If you boil it all down to one thing all three of us really strive for in our lives, (it’s) building community and putting stuff out there that helps educate and inspire,” Davis said.
Last year, Boozer started teaching monthly hip hop workshops at the Arts & Movement Center. His workshops are well-attended, and he has become a popular instructor.
“He has quite the following of dancers here now,” Davis said. “We all secretly hope that we’ll hypnotize him into moving here someday.”
Its own show
The Astoria community has been incredibly supportive in making the Enigmatic show happen, Boozer said. When he was faced with the predicament of finding lodging for his 20 dancers, the Astoria Riverwalk Inn donated rooms for the weekend performance.
The gesture, which solved one of Boozer’s biggest logistical hurdles, brought him to tears.
“It’s nice to see places like that in the community, that want to support the event,” he said. “I feel like Astoria has that, where people come together and it’s a community still.”
Davis and West both applaud Boozer for inviting local dance companies to perform at the show rather than using the dance companies he usually works with in Eugene.
“It was very important to me that the guest groups be from here and around here...” he said. “I want it to be its own show.”