Blythe Barton - The San Diego Union Tribune

Blythe Barton - The San Diego Union Tribune

By Marcia Manna - Contact Reporter

The San Diego Union Tribune

Blythe Barton's award-winning company, Blythe Barton Dance, is collaborating this season with Balboa Park's Old Globe Theatre to present site-specific dance inspired by "Romeo and Juliet." Barton also co-directs the 40 North Dance Film Festival, which occurs Sept 25-30 at three San Diego locations. She recently accepted a full-time faculty position at San Diego Mesa College, where she'll share her signature "big moves" with the next generation of dancers.

What do you love most about your craft?

As a dancer and dance maker, the things I love most about my craft are the physicality, the innovation, and the revelations of those witnessing the dance. I am a mover. I crave the sensations of muscular extension, air streaming past my body, and sweat. I yearn for the pull of gravity on my bones and the draw of energy from above....

The desire to move my body through space — at its greatest height, depth and breadth — is why I dance. In my choreography, I push the boundaries of physicality. I want the audience to feel the power and tension of my dancers, to experience their rush and release.

Yet physical and technical dance must be made purposeful by intention, the discovery of movement for communication. I desire for audiences to perceive the physical sensations of my body dancing and of my choreography.

The kinetic energy that emanates from the action muscles as they manipulate flesh and bone, gives me room for a personal expression that words cannot. No other career allows for this level of artistry and athleticism. Dance allows me to share a bit of my soul, if only for an ephemeral moment.

Besides dance, name an artistic or cultural endeavor that inspires you here in San Diego.

Lynn Susholtz at Art Produce has created a space in North Park that makes art grow. Her combination gallery/studio/garden provides artists a location for experimentation and self-exploration. It is also a venue for those who didn't know they needed art in their lives to fall in love with its textures, tastes and adventures. A community of people who aren't typical art-goers: low-income seniors, immigrants, refugees, non-English speakers, families from out of town, come to interact and engage.

Each time I look into the gallery window, I have been intrigued by work that has included knitted tunnels from the ceiling, peek-a-boo art that makes me take a step closer, and videos that bring the outside in via the moving body.

I first met Lynn many years ago as a patron of dance, and have come to know her as someone who will go out of her way to connect people with people, art makers with art lovers, and eager minds with engaging activities that encourage expression from even the most cynical creators. Lynn's Art Produce resonates for me the reasons I dance: to offer a snippet of myself for sharing, with the hope of igniting a spark in someone else's creative soul.

Is there an artistic or cultural event that you're looking forward to this season?

Two events stand out for me each fall.

Trolley Dances by San Diego Dance Theater surprises me every year because it renews itself in collaboration and it's on the pulse of modern cross-discipline innovation. The site-specific dance event transports audiences to unique corners of San Diego via the trolley line and fills our city's corners with motion. Each year the locations, choreographers and dancers change, but the sense of inclusion and discovery remain. My world-scope is continually expanded by its founder, Jean Isaacs, and her willingness to take risks and make the city vibrant and filled with life.

And though it's only in its third year, the 40 North Dance Film Festival is already changing the perception of dance in San Diego. Dance film is a growing and ever-reinvented art form that deepens the artistic movement experience and provides a platform to share a single dance event throughout the world.

The 40 North fest brings dance and artistic filmmaking to a broader audience by mixing the different styles of art and dance and film, inspiring future movers and filmmakers alike. This year, the fest is expanding to present an interactive experience. Rather than sitting in seats, audience members will be able to move through an environment created by video projection and dance.

40 North Dance Film Festival: Sept. 25-30. Art Produce, 3139 University Ave., North Park; Museum of Photographic Arts, Balboa Park; Whistle Stop, 2236 Fern St., South Park. $15 general; $25-$30 festival pass; $10 students. 40northfest.com

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