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BODYTRAFFIC to Channel James Brown and Others
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BODYTRAFFIC performs “SNAP.” PHOTO: Tomasz Rossa courtesy of BODYTRAFFIC
 
 
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Wednesday, July 12, 2023
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Athleticism, technical prowess and a deep love for dance as an art form will be on display when BODYTRAFFIC takes the stage of The Argyros Performing Arts Center Friday and Saturday.

The international dance company based in Los Angeles will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 14-15. Tickets start at $20, available at https://theargyros.org/calendar/bodytraffic/.

“We’ll be offering a taste of what we’re up to at BODYTRAFFIC, of what’s garnered us so much success over the years,” said Artistic Director Tina Finkelman Berkett.

 
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BODYTRAFFIC performs “A Million Voices in an outdoors performance. PHOTO: Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow Festival.
 

The first number, “A Million Voices,” is set to the music of Peggy Lee and features balletic and jazz influences. “Snap” was inspired by soul singer James Brown and features some of his songs. The third piece offers the audience a peek at the company’s newest creation. And “Paco Pepe Pluto” is a sweet, sassy, fun piece wrapped around music by Dean Martin.

“BODYTRAFFIC is a company directed from the perspective of dancers, and it’s important to maintain this idea in the work we do,” said Berkett. “We really love performing and we love sharing it with audiences. Our curating really impacts our work, and you will see dancers doing things they absolutely have always dreamt of doing and they really love sharing. We’re interested in building a dance audience, and we want people to experience dance in a way they haven’t before.”

Berkett, who founded BODYTRAFFIC in 2007, grew up in New York City where she graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University with a double major in Mathematics and Economics. She began dancing at Aszure Barton & Artists and became a founding member of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance, touring alongside Baryshnikov.

“It was extraordinary,” she recounted. “So much of what I learned about discipline and work ethic was from Mr. Baryshnikov. He’d get to the theater hours before a performance to start to warm his body up and prepare. He was just a consummate professional, making sure he cared for his vessel and his tool as  best as he could.

 
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BODYTRAFFIC will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at The Argyros in Ketchum. PHOTO: Guzman Rosado, courtesy of BODYTRAFFIC
 

“To have that on your resume--I was so young, just 22--gives you a sense of responsibility to carry on and continue to evolve and making something great—to pay it forward.”

Berkett named her contemporary dance company BODYTRAFFIC because she wanted a very Los Angeles-sounding name.

The dance company features dancers from Utah and Florida, as well as Portugal and Cuba. It serves as an incubator for new voices, tapping such choreographers as Kyle Abraham, Ohad Naharin and Victor Quiada.

“We’re a values driven company, super-duper committed to impacting community in positive way,” said Berkett. “Our dancers come from all different walks of life. And it’s important to them and to me that we give access to our work to people of all walks of life, that we share our work with many different kinds of communities and peoples.”

BODYTRAFFIC caught the eye on the Obama administration in 2015 when it was selected by the U.S. State Department to serve as cultural ambassadors to Israel and Jordan. The group has also served as cultural ambassadors to South Korea, Algeria and Indonesia.

“It was incredible,” said Berkett. “Having a nonprofit organization in the United States is not the easiest task. But every now and then extraordinary things happen where you get recognized for your work. We try hard to create really high-quality work of great value, and to have the Obama administration identify us as a group of artists they felt worthy of representing our country abroad was very meaningful.

“And,” she added, “It changed us as it allowed us to have a broader view of how we can touch people’s lives and bring them together across cultures.”

 

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