Express Week

Filipino dancers to take the stage at Los Angeles’ Ford Theatres

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“Anytime younger dancers ask me for advice, I tell them about our company member Irene,” says Laura Karlin, Artistic Director of Invertigo Dance Theatre.

Irene is Irene Kleinbauer, one of two performers of Filipino descent who performs in Invertigo’s After It Happened on Friday, September 30 at the Ford Theatres. 

“Irene started with us as an apprentice and was selected as an understudy for a piece called Descent of the Docent,” Karlin continues.  “She came to every rehearsal and learned not only her understudy role but all the roles.  She was always working and she very quickly made herself indispensible.  Then one of the dancers ended up moving suddenly to New York, and even though Irene was not the understudy for that part, she knew it and was slotted in. I was like, ‘welcome to Invertigo!’ So yes, I tell young dancers, ‘be irreplaceable and work so hard that someone has to hire you, just like Irene.’” 

Kleinbauer explains, “I learned quickly as a dancer to learn every skill, learn everybody’s part because you just never know.  Even in my younger years dancing I pushed myself to go with the first group every time. I wanted to train myself to learn quickly, to make sure I was visible.” 

Also in the cast is Louie Cornejo.  Born in Manila, Cornejo moved to Los Angeles in Junior High and began dancing in nursing school.  Both he and Kleinbauer earned a BFA in dance from CSULB. 

“There is a beautiful fluidity to the way that Louie moves.  It feels as if there are no edges or angles, it is so reaching and soft,” adds Karlin. 

Sometimes dramatic, sometimes heartbreaking and often touchingly funny, After It Happened follows what happens in a community after a natural disaster. Both Kleinbauer  and Cornejo danced in the 2014 Los Angeles premiere, named “#1 Dance Show of 2014” by LA Weekly.  

In the show Cornejo plays a man fractured and fragmented from his experience. 

“Something happened which left his character broken. Louie brings a beautiful subtlety to that, it feels incredibly poignant,” Karlin explains.

“It is a very private thing to be hurt, and it is a challenging for me to share that. The emotion has to come from a real place, I find the acting more difficult than the movement,” adds Cornejo.

Kleinbauer’s character is an adolescent, already in the tipping point between childhood and adulthood, now dealing with monumental changes to her world.  

“Irene is beautifully trained as a dancer and she has developed a wonderfully honest theatrical instinct.  It doesn’t feel as though she is trying to tell you how she is feeling, she is just open to feeling it. She is in almost every scene even if she is not dancing as a central figure, she is on the periphery watching, because that is what younger people do in these situations, they absorb everything,” says Karlin.  

Kleinbauer‘s mother moved to the U.S. from the Philippines as a high school student. Cooking is one way her family celebrates its Filipino culture. “We always make the same pancit, lumpia, and adobo.  My mom has passed those recipes down to me,” she says

To Cornejo dancing is a way he celebrates being Filipino.  “Filipinos love music, we love to sing.  I am naturally drawn to dance because it is very musical, I am using my body as an instrument,” says Cornejo.

Invertigo Dance Theatre’s After It Happened: Friday, September 30, 8:30 pm, Ford Theatres (2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood 90068) $35 General Admission, $75 VIP, $18 Students, $15 Children,, 323 461-3673.


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