Amanda Hart, director and choreographer of Hart Pulse Dance Company, comes from the small San Joaquin Valley town of Visalia. And she did not want to be a dancer. At least, not at first.
“The reason I went into dance was because I sucked at basketball,” she says, having never grown beyond 5’5″. Discouraged, her mom suggested dance at age 9. “I cried my whole first class,” she admits.
Well, that’s over now, and Ms. Hart is now bringing a full evening of choreographed works with her on a short spring tour, playing Center Stage this Sunday, then moving on to Visalia for a hometown visit, San Francisco and back to Santa Monica, the company’s home base.
The evening features 13 dance pieces for all nine members of her company, from solo work to the full group. Music selections are very much contemporary: M83, Broken Bells, Chet Faker, Florence + The Machine, Skrillex and more. This is bleeding-edge stuff for sure. The dance style is contemporary, full of passion and recognizable emotions, with a dash of Broadway and Vegas. The evening is a mixtape of influences running through Ms. Hart’s head. “I like to leave the audience feeling good, not depressed,” she says.
Ms. Hart solidified her love for dance and her career path when she arrived at CalArts after two years at the Fresno Ballet Company, dancing “The Nutcracker” and “Firebird.”
“At CalArts I learned I was good at choreography,” she says. “Graduation came and I thought, ‘Well, I could just continuing making dances, and I could start a company, and it could be a non-profit . . . so let’s do this!”
So Ms. Hart started her company in 2006, learning along the way and sticking to it. She looked at the grind of dancers getting agents and doing contract work, and decided it would be better just to start it herself, having been inspired by her teachers in CalArts, in particular American Ballet Theater’s Melinda Cordell.
“In L.A. dance is very commercial, so the artistic dancing, the contracted, seasonal dancing, gets a little neglected here,” Ms. Hart says. “So I wanted to stay here and be an advocate for that.”
All the dances in this upcoming show are by Ms. Hart, with most coming from their last revue, “Bask.” Solo dances include “Live with It” performed by Ryan Ruiz, and “Tempt” by Morgan Ashley. More complicated works include “Dusk” featuring Dominique Lyons, Jacob Magana, Mackenzie Allen, Angela Todaro and Alyssa Thompson and the show-closing “Assent”—a brand-new piece—which features the full company (Ms. Ashley, Ms. Allen, Ms. Todaro, Mr. Magana, Morgan Van Gemert, Ms. Lyons, Nicholas Zerman, Ms. Thompson and Mr. Ruiz)
On top of that, for every stop along the way of their tour, they are bringing in local companies to perform, a way of giving back to the companies that have hosted Hart Pulse in Santa Barbara. They’ll open the stage up to ArtBark and Nebula dance companies.
Of ArtBark’s Misa Kelly, Ms. Hart says, “I think her modern dances are some of the best in the world,” she says. The two met at the MixMatch Dance Festival in Los Angeles, the festival Ms. Hart began before starting her company.
That’s where she also met Devyn Deux of Nebula, another “really, really great modern dance company.” (Devyn Deux’s own curated festival HH11 opens March 27 at Center Stage, by the way.)
“Shows never really have a ‘theme’ because everything is so different,” Ms. Hart says of Sunday afternoon’s performance. “We have love pieces, pieces about self-reflection, social pieces, and then there’s just some pieces that we think look cool. We really just want to make sure every nerve gets hit.”
Hart Pulse Dance Company
California Tour 2015
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Center Stage Theater, Paseo Nuevo
Cost: $20 general, $15 students
Information: (805) 963-0408, www.hartpulsedance.com