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A ‘Spicy’ Show to Start the Year off Right

A ‘Spicy’ Show to Start the Year off Right

By Alejandra Enciso

Jean Isaacs starts off the year by re-setting her iconic show A Geography of Risk at San Diego City College’s Saville Theater, featuring text by Garrison Keillor.

Originally from Boston, Isaacs moved to San Diego from San Francisco in 1970. Making work and running her nonprofit since then, she has been helping the dance community grow. “I felt this was a fertile ground for me because there was no modern dance”. Explained Jean Isaacs in an interview with Vanguard Culture. “It was a good decision; things are much stronger now. It is not always the best place to show work, or sometimes people do not understand our art form, they understand ballet or think they do not like modern dance. That part has been more challenging. We do have a wonderful following but, it has taken a while to grow” she added.

She has been the Artistic Director for three different dance companies: Threes Company, Isaac/McCaleb & Dancers and now, San Diego Dance Theater where she joined in 1997. Now in her 18th year, she is involving different strategies in which she will include new work for their traditional January Concerts. “You have to keep creating the work” … A Geography of Risk based on risk taking behavior and choices and how that, also leads into risky emotional states. “For most of us this is when you fall in love with someone, you know, you are putting yourself out there emotionally, I think. It is a piece that has a lot of parts to it, a lot of humor, but there are also some very serious parts to it as well” detailed the choreographer. Geography is being revived. 1991 was the first time it was performed. “It is a beautiful company this year, the diversity is marvelous. I have two dancers that are almost 50 that are performing, another dancer who is 5’2 tall. We tend not to have -cookie cutter- type dancers, even more so with this show”.

The new piece is called Requiem for an Ocean a piece where its first 8 minutes were done at the 2015’s Trolley Dances; now, it is an almost 30-minute piece with 8 dancers. “One of the things about this concert that it is so exciting is that it is the first time that I have been able to commission my husband Steve Baker to write a piece for us. He has performed with us a lot. A jazz, musician, pianist…but this time, he wrote a piece of music that is so interesting and kind of scary a little bit. He has used really interesting human voices altered and that is his first big composition for him”. January 1st was Steve’s first day of ‘retirement’. Jean is excited about how different this work is to others and so are her audiences. Another one of the highlights of Ocean is the 93-year-old sculptor, Arline Fisch. She has designed hanging wire sculptures called ‘jellies’ like sea jellies. “They are incredible; I cannot believe she is still working at 93”.

Blythe Barton, who has been a lead dancer for the past 5 years is pregnant so Isaacs commissioned a special piece for her and Executive Director of the company Matt Carney called A Soldier’s Lullaby. Created by Katie Stevinson-Nollet. This promises to be a spectacular experience in dance.

For these evenings of dance taking place from the 15th through the 17th Jean reflects: “I would love for audiences to both laugh and cry… alternately laugh and cry, and then, I would want them to feel that the dancers are telling their stories in some way. So they can relate and feel like it is almost your story being told. It is going to be a lovely concert. I’ve been doing concerts in January almost every year since I have been here, end with the sugar and start the year with spice, this is a pretty spicy show”. For tickets visit

Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.

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