With a new work titled “Project Bust,” it’s clear that young choreographer Malinda LaVelle does not shy away from the literal. Taking her primary inspiration from the complex identity of the contemporary female, LaVelle’s work could become known as the “Vagina Monologues” of dance when it premieres at Z Space on Wednesday.
“It’s about ‘T’ and ‘A,’” LaVelle says laughing, putting it bluntly. “We live in a very boob- and butt-obsessed culture. Where do young San Francisco 20-year-old women fit in? We listen and dance to rap music that tells women to shake their a--, but we hate it too.”
Is a scantily clad pop star gratuitous objectification or an example of female empowerment?
In addition to investigating such questions, LaVelle uses “Project Bust” to explore the effects of today’s cultural climate on the interior of the female psyche, and what this contributes to the female community.
“We get so much information from a male perspective on women, from song lyrics, advertising and television,” LaVelle says. “What I tried to get at were the ways that women perceive women, from within that culture.” Appropriately, LaVelle’s work features eight female dancers in their 20s, who get to do almost as much acting as they do dancing.
The first choreographer-in-residence for San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, LaVelle comes from a background of classical ballet training, but her work, particularly “Project Bust,” would typically get classified as dance theater, a genre which has gained visibility in recent years due to its breaking with tradition, including the occasional incorporation of speech into the work.
“Dance theater for me means to organize action into a series of scenes, events and arcs rather than movement,” says LaVelle. “That means using voice at times, and emotive paths to get from one point to another.”
San Francisco Conservatory of Dance became a “second home” for LaVelle while she was completing her college degree in dance, and continues to be a guiding force on the local dance scene as it trains and encourages budding dancers and choreographers.
“Project Bust” is part of San Francisco Conservatory of Dance’s Summer Dance Series, which has additional billings at Z Space on Aug. 2, featuring the choreography of Bay Area favorite Christian Burns, Bobbi Jean Smith of Batsheva Dance Company and Tom Weinberger.
Where: Z Space, 450 Florida St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday and Aug. 3
Contact: www.brownpapertickets.com, www.projectthrust.com