The L.A. Dance Project explore freedom through high fashion > Dogecointool

The L.A. Dance Project explore freedom through high fashion

“The word that comes to mind with L.A. is expansiveness,” the dancer Marissa Brown says. “Every time I’m dropped into different types of work, I try to figure out, how can I be my most expansive self or open my heart into this work? I feel like I have the space to do that and the landscape inspires you to keep doing that work.”

Marissa Brown wearing an organza hearts tier dress by Nor Black Nor White.

Marissa Brown wearing an organza hearts tier dress by Nor Black Nor White.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Marissa Brown wearing a navy blue jersey slip dress and navy blue zoot suit jacket by Gypsy Sport.

Marissa Brown wearing a navy blue jersey slip dress and navy blue zoot suit jacket by Gypsy Sport.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

I’m sitting with Brown on the audience benches at the L.A. Dance Project’s large studio space downtown. Brown is one of 18 dancers at the L.A. Dance Project, also known as LADP, founded in 2012 by Benjamin Millepied. This week, LADP will be performing “Be Here Now,” the first piece Millepied choreographed after a year and a half of not choreographing at all during COVID. “I was fresh,” he says of creating the work. “My body language had a complete reset. It was amazing.”

Dance unlocks. It gives your whole body the chance to speak.

Vinicius Silva wearing a red zoot suit Jacket by Gypsy Sport and blue plaid skirt by Río Original.

Vinicius Silva wearing a red zoot suit Jacket by Gypsy Sport and blue plaid skirt by Río Original.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Vinicius Silva wearing lavender crop hoodie by L.A. Roxx and black Papi boxer shorts by Planeta.

Vinicius Silva wearing lavender crop hoodie by L.A. Roxx and black Papi boxer shorts by Planeta.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

David Adrian Freeland Jr. in a robe and striped button-down shirt by Planeta, and lime green ruffled pants by Río Original.

David Adrian Freeland Jr. in a robe and striped button-down shirt by Planeta, and lime green ruffled pants by Río Original.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

David Adrian Freeland Jr. wearing red plaid long flannel and red zoot suit pants by Gypsy Sport.

David Adrian Freeland Jr. wearing red plaid long flannel and red zoot suit pants by Gypsy Sport.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

“Be Here Now” was directly inspired by the dancers Millepied works with. “What interests me is really their personality,” he says. “How they choose to move and express themselves — their individuality is everything.” You can sense how the dance gives the dancers the space to be vulnerable — how it allows them to, in Vincius Silva’s words, lay their “heart on the floor.” Daphne Fernberger tells me the piece lets her “instinct run wild.” Courtney Conovan says the experience of watching the other dancers from behind the curtain feels like “I’m watching them and not just a dance that they’re doing.”

“Be Here Now” is part of a series of performances funded by Dance Reflections, a 2-year-old program by Maison Van Cleef & Arpels supporting choreographers and dance troupes around the world. (The art form is actually a part of the jewelry brand’s centurylong history; Louis Arpels was so enchanted by ballet that he helped create the Maison’s scintillating “ballerina clips” — hand-sized dancers twirling in diamond and sapphire tutus — in the early 1940s.) This week in Los Angeles, Dance Reflections is also supporting “Crowd,” by Gisèle Vienne, which will happen at LADP following “Be Here Now,” and “Slow Show,” by Dimitri Chamblas, which will be performed at the Aileen Getty Plaza at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

Nayomi Van Brunt wearing a vintage vest and fringe shawl provided by Sister Kokoro and a Blinking Eye skirt by Leeann Huang.

Nayomi Van Brunt wearing a vintage vest and fringe shawl provided by Sister Kokoro and a Blinking Eye skirt by Leeann Huang.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Nayomi Van Brunt wearing a vintage lace dress provided by Sister Kokoro and olive green zoot suit jacket by Gypsy Sport.

Nayomi Van Brunt wearing a vintage lace dress provided by Sister Kokoro and olive green zoot suit jacket by Gypsy Sport.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Shu Kinouchi wearing a black and white Galaxy shirt by Planeta and black jersey pleated pants by Gypsy Sport.

Shu Kinouchi wearing a black and white Galaxy shirt by Planeta and black jersey pleated pants by Gypsy Sport.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Shu Kinouchi wearing black plaid long flannel by Gypsy Sport.

Shu Kinouchi wearing black plaid long flannel by Gypsy Sport.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Courtney Conovan wearing an upcycled orange silk wetsuit by Boy Kloves.

Courtney Conovan wearing an upcycled orange silk wetsuit by Boy Kloves.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Courtney Conovan wearing a black all over print sequins jacket and skirt set by Gypsy Sport.

Courtney Conovan wearing a black all over print sequins jacket and skirt set by Gypsy Sport.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

To celebrate a week of dance, stylists Ursula and Rebecca Recinos, a.k.a. Sister Kokoro, dressed eight of the LADP performers in L.A. brands: Planeta, Hologram City, Gypsy Sport, Río Original, Leeann Huang, Amor Prohibido, among others. The sisters, who worked under the direction of stylist Keyla Marquez, describe the clothes as L.A. streetwear, but “with a twist” and “avant-garde touch.” They pulled plenty of denim and plaid — a callback to ’90s style, which you now see all over the city — as well as sustainable brands that recycle vintage clothes and inventively “reconstruct” them, like Boy Kloves that makes “wet suit-type” of pieces to emulate that “beachy L.A. vibe.”

Lorrin Brubaker wearing flannel by Gypsy Sport, a jacket and top by Oak & Acorn and track pants by Natashia Miyazaki.

Lorrin Brubaker wearing flannel by Gypsy Sport, a jacket and top by Oak & Acorn and track pants by Natashia Miyazaki.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Lorrin Brubaker wearing a blue denim jumpsuit coverall by Oak & Acorn.

Lorrin Brubaker wearing a blue denim jumpsuit coverall by Oak & Acorn.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Daphne Fernberger wearing a gray see-through hoodie by Hologram City and black dress provided by Sister Kokoro Vintage.

Daphne Fernberger wearing a gray see-through hoodie by Hologram City and black dress provided by Sister Kokoro Vintage.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Daphne Fernberger wearing a Sparkles top by Hologram City and vintage pink and gray leotard provided by Sister Kokoro.

Daphne Fernberger wearing a Sparkles top by Hologram City and vintage pink and gray leotard provided by Sister Kokoro.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

Inside the studio and out in the parking lot — before an abstract mural by the late L.A. artist Channa Horwitz — the dancers bent their bodies into shapes. Gypsy Sport’s flowing pants and oversized jackets of many delicious folds swelled and swayed in the assertive spin of an arm or the impressive lift of a leg. Nothing like a dancer to reveal the potential of clothes and how they move you — whether it be Leeann Huang’s playful skirt with blinking eyes or Planeta’s constellation shirt of twinkling black stars or Hologram City’s bewitching teal and pink robe. The dancers seemed to embody L.A. style: fun, otherworldly, and open to all your multitudes. The mashup of styles makes you think of what Millepied observed of the dancers themselves: “they’re all very different,” but together provide “a complete range of emotion.”

Eight LADP dancers posing on the bleachers of their dance studio

Dancers in the studio at L.A. Dance Project. From left to right: Marissa Brown wearing Gypsy Sport; Courtney Conovan wearing a vintage dress provided by Sister Kokoro; David Adrian Freeland Jr. wearing Gypsy Sport; Nayomi Van Brunt wearing a skirt by Amor Prohibido x Género Neutral and vintage top provided by Sister Kokoro; Daphne Fernberger wearing a shirt by Hologram City and a vintage leotard provided by Sister Kokoro; Lorrin Brubaker wearing Oak & Acorn; Shu Kinouchi wearing Gypsy Sport; and Vinicius Silva wearing Oak & Acorn.

(Dyan Jong/For The Times)

“Be Here Now” is also very much about the dancers’ intimate dynamic as a group — the secret moments on stage: a squeeze of the hand, an exchange of looks, a smile. “There’s the statement on the wall,” dancer Shu Kinouchi says, referring to Barbara Kruger, who designed the original set for “Be Here Now.” “And there’s what we have been expressing ourselves, being here now to understand each other.”

Stylists: Sister Kokoro in collaboration with Keyla Marquez
MUA: Valerie Vonprisk

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