Dance fever

Posted: May 22nd, 2015 | Arts & Entertainment, Feature, Top Story | No Comments

By Ken Williams | Editor

Local choreographers “strip away” the masks we wear

Few artistic mediums bare the soul more deeply more than dance, and the upcoming “Dancer Briefs” performances next month at the ion theatre dare to push the envelope even further.

Choreographer Michael Mizerany, artistic director of Compulsion Dance & Theatre, says the idea behind “Dancer Briefs” is threefold.

“One, every dance is brief, and no dance is longer than eight minutes,” he said. “Two, every dance needs to strip away any physical, emotional and/or psychological masks we wear to hide our true intentions, our hidden lives or secret desires. And three, every dance features an undergarment — slip, lingerie, dance belt, flannel underwear, etc. — the range and choice is exclusively up to the choreographers.”

The theme allows individual choreographers take whatever direction that inspiration leads them.

“I delineate the overall concept and then give the choreographers the freedom to choose the themes they want to explore,” Mizerany said.

“For example, Lara Segura will present ‘It’s Always The Quiet Ones’ — contemporary — which is a tongue-in-cheek striptease,” he said. “Sidney Franklin and Katie Amarillas will premiere ‘#GameOn’ — a competitive tap number with hidden underpinnings. Grace Shinhae Jun will debut her new work ‘Disclosure’ — hip-hop fusion — that challenges the idea that revealing equates honesty. All very different genres with their own unique examination of what it means to strip away the facades we hide behind.”


“Dancer Briefs” will explore what’s under the masks we wear. (Photo by Raymond Elstad)

One of the more unusual pieces will be choreographed and performed by Travis Ti, who is well known in San Diego as an acrobat and aerialist.

“I met Michael Mizerany when I did ‘Carnival!’ at the Coronado Playhouse when he was the choreographer. So through that show, I was able to get to know Michael and he was able to discover my other pastime of doing circus arts and asked me if I would perform a little ditty for the ‘Dancer Briefs’ show,” Ti said.

“I think our piece will be very different from the rest of the numbers because it’s not really dance heavy but more based on movement and strength. It will still be choreographed to music and I think it will add a great aspect of variety to the show.”

Ti will rely on his day job to construct his piece for “Dancer Briefs.”

“Me and my circus buddy, Ehrick Costello, will be choreographing and performing this number. The number will be a bit of an avant-garde adagio circus act,” Ti said. “The number will be about balancing the weight of societal labels and their implications. While also trying to balance these labels, we want to try and blur them, to see past them and realize that in the end, we are all just human. The act will be a ‘living-statue’ type act that will feature many different acrobatic poses showcasing the strength, versatility and beauty of the male human form.”

Ti is not a complete neophyte to dance, but is courageous enough to admit his limitations.

“Doing this show and performing in the ion theatre will be a new experience for me. I have done adagio before for various shows — usually circus-themed — and I have done dance for musical theater,” Ti said. “I would not say I am a trained dancer, but have taken a couple of modern dance, ballet and hip-hop classes, and think I can keep up pretty well.”

Ti is grateful that Mizerany is giving him the chance.

Mizerany, a resident of Uptown, is one of the hardest-working choreographers in San Diego. He is the creator of the popular dance series “Hot Guys Dancing” and “Malashock/RAW” and is a choreographer at local theaters such as Diversionary, Cygnet and more.

(l to r) Travis Ti and Ehrick Costello rehearse their piece that will be part of “Dancer Briefs” opening next month at ion theatre in Hillcrest. (Photo by Travis Ti)

(l to r) Travis Ti and Ehrick Costello rehearse their piece that will be part of “Dancer Briefs” opening next month at ion theatre in Hillcrest. (Photo by Travis Ti)

As such, Mizerany sees growth in dance in America’s Finest City.

“San Diego has a vital and energized dance community,” Mizerany said. “Not only do we have the larger companies like San Diego Dance Theatre, Malashock Dance and San Diego Ballet, but there are many new companies such as my own, Compulsion Dance & Theatre as well as Blythe Barton Dance, youturn Contemporary Arts, to name just a few.”

In “Dancer Briefs,” Mizerany will also showcase his solo, “Via Dolorsa,” which premiered in January at “Hot Guys Dancing.”

Other pieces will be by Bradley R. Lundberg, who debuts a romantic and sensual duet featuring Justin Viernes and Erica Ruse.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 8.33.02 AMAnne Gehman’s new work “Left Eye, Right ‘I’” is also a duet — about the values of self-portraiture and self-identity.

As Mizerany and other choreography push the boundaries, viewers are forewarned that “Dancer Briefs” contains mature themes and partial male nudity.

Ken Williams is editor of Uptown News and Mission Valley News and can be reached at or at 619-961-1952.

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