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Helios Dance Theater: finding romance in monsters and vampires

October 20, 2010 | 12:38 pm

Helios

Throughout her childhood in Milwaukee, Laura Gorenstein Miller remained convinced that she lived in a haunted house. “My sisters and I would walk past certain rooms and we’d hear voices of women having a tea party,” she recalls. “Maybe that was our overactive imaginations but the important thing is that we believed it was real.”

As an adult, Gorenstein Miller has no trouble accessing her youthful convictions about the supernatural. A choreographer with a penchant for narrative and emotionally driven movement, she channeled old childhood memories and dreams into her latest work for Helios Dance Theater, “Beautiful Monsters.” Premiering at UCLA Live’s on Saturday, the multimedia dance delves into the different facets of the vampire myth and depicts seduction, romance, death and nightmarish dream states.

“There is something erotic about vampires. They seduce you, they charm you and they mesmerize you. That interested me from a dance making perspective,” says Gorenstein Miller, who founded her company in 1996.

Jam packed with high-energy, sensual movements, “Beautiful Monsters” reflects Gorenstein Miller’s ongoing fascination with “choreographic extremes. I love when a release movement and a held position bump up against each other in the same choreography. That always excites me,” she says. “But it requires a very skilled dancer and I always look for classically trained dancers who can release.”

Helios’ upcoming performance will mark the first time in over a decade that a Los Angeles-based contemporary dance company will appear at a UCLA Live program at Royce Hall.

“It’s a huge honor and a great opportunity,” says Gorenstein Miller, who hopes to counter perceptions about locally created dance seeming second-rate compared with works produced in New York or Europe. “We’re an L.A.-based company and personally, I don’t plan on ever moving to New York.”

To read more about Helios Dance Theater, click here.

-- Susan Josephs

Photo: Helios founder  Laura Gorenstein Miller watches as Chris Stanley and Sandra Chiu rehearse "Beautiful Monsters." Credit: Christina House / For The Times.

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