Choreographer Barak Marshall and Body Traffic won the first prize at “The A.W.A.R.D Show!” at REDCAT Sunday night. The honor includes a $10,000 grant to develop new work.
Performing excerpts from Marshall’s zany and affecting “Rooster,” Body Traffic garnered the most audience votes out of the 12 local entries over the four-day dance competition.
An acronym for Artists With Audiences Responding to Dance, the 6-year-old program, now administered by New York’s Joyce Theater Foundation, delivers audience feedback directly to dance makers. Cal Arts performance space REDCAT partnered with “The A.W.A.R.D. Show!” in the first-ever Los Angeles staging of the populist showcase.
Body Traffic’s six men and six women whipped through Marshall’s dance version of Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz’s shtetl tale of romance, marriage, and an egg-laying peasant. Yemenite singer-dancer Margalit Oved, Marshall’s colorful mother, figured prominently in his “Fiddler on the Roof” update.
Dancers Lillian Barbeito, a Juilliard graduate, and Tina Finkelman Berkett, a founding member of Baryshnikov’s Hell's Kitchen Dance, formed Body Traffic at the end of 2007. In three short years, the company has surged to the forefront of the Los Angeles dance scene, pairing sophisticated choreographers, often Europeans, with top-rung local dancers. Body Traffic's Cal State L.A. Luckman Theater performance on May 14 will feature a premiere by Belgian dance maker Stijn Celis. [For the record: Berkett was misidentified as a veteran of the White Oak Project in an earlier version of this story.]
Finkelman Berkett says: “This [prize] shows what a gem Los Angeles has in Barak. Body Traffic has served as his laboratory, but [the completed] works always get produced in Israel, because there is no funding in the U.S. We hope to use the award to bring to fruition a Los Angeles performance of a new Barak Marshall work.” UCLA Live will present Marshall’s “Monger” at Royce Hall, April 15-16, with Israeli dancers.