The director of Mojalet Dance Collective listened to the disc several times before she decided to choreograph anything to it. The percussive music was challenging. It changed meters constantly. But she decided to go for it anyway and ended up choreographing a few pieces to different songs by the Swiss band.
The next time she was in Switzerland in 2006, Jensen-Ismay wound up in the city where the band lives, so she invited them to a performance.
“They were excited to see dance to their work,” the longtime dancer and instructor says.
And so were others in the audience. Mojalet was immediately invited back to Switzerland to perform at an annual festival, with Rhythm Talk playing live. A few months later, Jensen-Ismay found herself in the country yet again, this time meeting with the band to discuss ways in which they could collaborate in the future.
Before the year was out, Rhythm Talk was spending a three-week residency in San Diego with Mojalet, performing with the dance collective and composing new songs based on their experience.
That was in 2007, and now the band has a new album out, Stick Together, which comprises several songs—“Oceanside,” “Diego Dance,” “Go West” and “Transparency”—directly inspired by their time here. The band is gearing up to come back to San Diego again to perform live with Mojalet in a series of performances that shares the name of the album.
Mojalet's fall season kicks off at Canyon Crest Academy (5951 E. Village Center Loop Road in Carmel Valley) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24. The centerpiece of the Stick Together performance is “Transparency,” which started out as a choreographed dance piece and was turned into a musical composition.
“To have original music that's written for these pieces is super cool,” Jensen-Ismay says.
In turn, the band will have two new songs that Jensen-Ismay will then translate into dance.
“It's sort of twofold,” Jensen- Ismay explains. “As we've been working and sort of sticking together in this collaboration, it's proven to be meaningful to both. They've had inspiration to make new work, and we've had inspiration to make new work, and we've both had a reason to work as hard as we do because we're so inspired by one another. And it's grown from just an artist collaboration to a really deep trust in each other's work.”
Mojalet's fall Stick Together tour continues at various locations through Oct. 7. mojalet.com.
On a roll: It's been happening for 12 years now, so if you haven't been to the annual Trolley Dances, you should be just about out of excuses. Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater will perform six tours daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on two weekends: Sept. 25 and 26 and Oct. 2 and 3. $10-$25. sandiegodancetheater.org
Out of place: Peter Kalivas must like a good challenge. The man behind PGK Project is one of the busiest choreographers in town, but that doesn't stop him from continuing San Diego Dances, a biannual festival that puts professional dancers in unexpected places. This year, Kalivas has dancers from City Ballet of San Diego, Opus Mixtus Post Jazz and others performing at 57 Degrees, a wine shop and tasting room at 1735 Hancock St. in Mission Hills, at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 8 and 9. $10-$25. thepgkproject.com
Africa moves: At 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, ArtPower! brings us a performance by Compagnie Jant-Bi. The all-male dance company has arranged a piece called “Waxtaan,” which reconfigures African dances from around the continent. The group performs at Mandeville Auditorium at UCSD. $30-$40. artpwr.com
Broadway baby: Broadway San Diego brings shows likes Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance to life with Buthe Floor, a ballroom-dance theatrical performance happening at the San Diego Civic Theatre (1100 Third Ave., Downtown) Oct. 12 through 17. In fact, Mary Murphy and a few other veterans from So You Think You Can Dance will actually be on stage. So, yeah, this thing's pretty legit. $20-$79. broadwaysd.com
Vampire obsessions: Charles Bennett choreographed “Dracula” for the California Ballet Company back in 1987. People loved it then, but it's safe to say that the post-Twilight world will absolutely want to devour the vampire-rife Ballet Bites: Taste of Transylvania performance now. See “Dracula” and other darker works at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, and at 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, at California Ballet Theatre West, 4819 Ronson Court in Kearny Mesa. $35-$50. californiaballet.org
On the edge: Gender roles, raw vulnerability and attempted suicide—these are all topics covered in MALASHOCK / RAW, a provocative new performance by choreographers John Malashock, Michael Mizerany and Bradley Michaud. We've been told that boundaries will be pushed in these gritty pieces, so be prepared. The performance is happening Nov. 11 through 14 at Sushi Performance & Visual Art, 390 11th Ave. in East Village. $20. malashockdance.org