Baring Body and Soul in ‘Dancer Briefs’

Undergarments — knickers, bloomers, tight whites, slips, flannel PJs, short shorts, and dance belts. They’re the heart of Dancer Briefs, Michael Mizerany’s newest dance series on view at ion theatre this month. He asks his favorite choreographers to strip away physical and emotional masks, to expose true intentions and secret desires, and they can’t dillydally.

Erica Ruse hovers over Travis Ti. Image: Raymond Elstad

Erica Ruse hovers over Travis Ti. Image: Raymond Elstad

“The dances can’t be longer than eight minutes, or shorter than six,” said Mizerany, “and they must feature an undergarment. I don’t tell people how to work. I chose people I admire, and I know how they think. It’s going to be provocative, in an artful, thoughtful way. We have short attention spans, and these are short dances, so if you don’t like something, hey it’ll be over soon.”

Anne Gehman presents Left Eye, Right I, a duet for Sandra Ruiz and Jaime Nixon.

Sandra Ruiz and Jaime Nixon in "Left Eye, Right 'I'". Image:  Jim Carmody

Sandra Ruiz and Jaime Nixon in “Left Eye, Right ‘I'”. Image: Jim Carmody

“I love how Anne thinks and moves,” said Mizerany. “She has a unique take on things. Brad Lundberg debuts a sensual duet with Justin Viernes and Erica Ruse, two of San Diego’s top dancers.”

Mizerany works in both contemporary dance and theater.  He’s building his own company, Compulsion Dance & Theatre. He choreographed “A New Brain” running at Diversionary now, and many others. He has raised eyebrows with bruising works in the dance series Malashock/Raw and Hot Guys Dancing. In Dancer Briefs, he encourages choreographers to choose their direction.

“Brief Trivia: The jockstrap was invented in 1874 by C.F. Bennett of Chicago to give support for bicycle jockeys. In 1934, Arthur Kneibler, a designer-engineer for Coopers Inc., a Wisconsin hosiery and undergarment company, got a post card from a friend visiting the French Riviera. A photo of a man in a short, tight bathing suit gave him an idea. They were later called Jockeys.

“I keep my hands out of the music and concept,” he said. “I met Travis Ti when I was choreographing Carnival at Coronado Playhouse. He brings an adagio circus act about balance and trust and the beauty of the male form. Sidney Franklin and Katie Amarillas do a tap number that becomes a competition. Grace Shinhae Jun brings hip hop fusion. They’re all so different, and I trust them implicitly, such as Lara Segura. We danced together in Malashock’s Chagall. ”

In her solo, It’s Always the Quiet Ones, Segura asks questions.

“It’s a tongue-in-cheek strip tease,” Segura said, “and I start out in my pajamas with cows printed on them. But I ask, ‘what is sexy?’ Is naked sexy? Not always. Is showing a little skin? Music is by Tori Amos and Amy Winehouse, two extremes. I think confidence is sexy. I’m attracted to those comfortable in their own skin. Comfort and confidence can co-exist. I look at the personality behind passion and play. We all try on different outfits and have different boundaries.”

This isn’t the first time Segura has been asked to peel off clothes. She was part of the cast in Mark Haim’s San Diego debut of This Land is Your Land which requires multiple costume changes and complete lack of costumes.

Dancer Briefs has partial male nudity. In addition to Travis Ti’s acrobatic Cirque de Soleil statue poses, Chad Ortiz hides little in Mizerany’s achingly beautiful Via Doloros, set to the choral piece “O Magnum Mysterium.”

Tappers Katie Amarillas and Sidney Franklin in "#GameOn." Image: Raymond Elstad

Tappers Katie Amarillas and Sidney Franklin in “#GameOn.” Image: Raymond Elstad

“I’ve done a lot of festivals,” Mizerany said, “and I’ve been fortunate to have a stage for my work. Our dancers need more opportunities for putting work on stage and getting paid. I am sweeping the floor and setting lights this week so others can show work, about 64 minutes worth. There will be bows. I’m excited, and I love ion because it’s up close personal – -you can almost touch the stage and dancers, wait, I don’t recommend that.”

Performances are:

Thursday, June 4th at 8pm; Friday, June 5th at 8pm; Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 2pm
Thursday, June 11th at 8pm; Friday, June 12 at 8pm ; Saturday, June 13th at 4pm and 8pm
Sunday, June 14th at 2pm and 5pm

ion theatre BLKBOX
3704 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Seating is limited; advanced purchase is recommended.

General Admission Tickets at $20 in advance
$25 day of show/at the door.




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