'Jumpbrush' kicks off tonight at the PAC with a performance from San Francisco-based Oberlin Dance Collective. The festival continues with dance performances, workshops, classes and lectures over the course of the weekend. – Courtesy Photo

Cal Poly will become a “dance destination” this weekend when four local professional dance companies teach, practice and perform together for the first time in JumpBrush, a Pacific coast dance convergence. The four featured dance companies are Ballet Theatre San Luis Obispo, Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo, Deyo Dances and Variable Velocity Performance Group.

The “big four” have been planning JumpBrush for more than a year-and-a-half. Festival coordinator Tanya Tolmasoff said she hopes the event promote the dance companies and bring local dancers from different companies together for the first time.

“We have a small community with four diverse and strong companies,” she said. “The dancers don’t know each other and it’s a really cool opportunity for them to finally dance together.”

People will get a broad range of what dance looks like on the Central Coast. JumpBrush is one more opportunity for people to go somewhere they already know is beautiful, said Lisa Deyo, director of Deyo Dances.

“For the population we have an extraordinary number of dancers,” she said. “When people are performing in Los Angeles then San Francisco it’s much nicer if they can stop and do a gig in between; if we can get that reputation going from dance as well we all benefit.”

The three nights and two days of dance festivities leaps into action with a performance by Oberlin Dance Collective (ODC) San Francisco in the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC) at 8 p.m. tonight.

“ODC will blow everyone’s minds,” Tolmasoff said. “It’s a modern type of dance with a very strong ballet background and technique. They are phenomenal – the best in California.”

Classes, workshops and lectures are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The classes are intended for intermediate dancers ages 13 and up, but everyone is encouraged to come watch any of the collaborative activities and interactive workshops.

“People can come see the dancers training, which is really rare because they are kept separate from the public,” Tolmasoff said. “Watching classes is equally as valuable to taking a class.”

To dance in a class a la carte is $15; to watch costs $5.

Dancers will be coming to the festivities from California, Colorado, Utah, Seattle and Oregon.

Diana Stanton, co-artistic director for Variable Velocity Performance Group, will lead the moving mural.

“All of the dancers will be a part of a mural that goes around the PAC,” she said. “It’s structured improv that will make visual arts out of (the dancers) bodies.” The mural will begin at 7 p.m. Friday.

Stanton will also teach modern dance this weekend and said she hopes more people will see her company’s style of dance.

“Our company focuses a lot on athletic complex movement,” she said. “We make up a lot of our own dance moves; you jump and spin and crash and roll on the floor. You use your arms in ways that look un-balletic, it’s about putting ideas into movement.”

Deyo will teach classic ballet with an emphasis on music.

“I will work on people’s cleanliness of the technique but encourage them to keep moving and have their spirit and body moving and to remember dancing as a kid,” she said.

Saturday night the four dance companies will be on stage together for the first time in a two-act performance. It will end with a structured improvisational dance with all of the performers on stage at the same time. They will be performing to three different sections played on the Forbes Pipe Organ.

“You can feel the organ through the floor – it’s fantastic,” Tolmasoff said. “We chose three different sections of music that are very different from each other to give the organ a fantastic venue to show off what it can do and to also show the different types of music it creates and inspires.”

Deyo said it will be one of the highlights of the festival. The overall architecture of the final performance is structured timing-wise with the movement but the dancing isn’t structured.

“Like any song you hear, you get familiar with it and you know what happens with the music,” she said. “We use the structure of the music to make a structure of the dance.”

A dance party will take place in the PAC pavilion after the performance.

The ODC performance begins at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $28 for general admission. Prices for participating dancers are $15 to $20 for classes, $10 for workshops and $30 for performances. Prices for observers are $5 for classes, $5 for workshops and $30 for performances. All are held throughout Friday and Saturday in the PAC, Spanos Theater, the dance studio and Harmon Hall.

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