None of the dancers in Brad Lundberg's modern class are wearing shoes. Lundberg has duct tape stuck to the balls of his feet, and the students dance barefoot.
'Up, break free, gather, slice-slice,' Lundberg says as he demonstrates the routine. 'Elbow elbow elbow, step through the torso, boom.'
He adds the music almost as an afterthought, randomly pulling up songs on his iPod. They do the same moves to a slow country ballad, a bluesy rendition of 'I Heard it Through the Grapevine' and, toward the end of class, Missy Elliott's 'Pass That Dutch.'
Lundberg surveys the class, then stops the music and approaches one of the younger dancers. He keeps seeing her make the same mistake in the same place, he says, and he wants her to try it differently this time.
'Isn't that the definition of insanity?' Lundberg jokes. 'Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?'
Lundberg, once a president of a Future Farmers of America chapter at his high school, didn't take his first dance class until his senior year of college. Now, at 35, when he's not teaching class or creating freelance choreography, he's dancing for both Malashock Dance Company and Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theatre.
'I don't like things that are really abstract or really dramatic--I want it to be real and human,' Lundberg says. 'That's part of the reason that I make work, so I make a piece that I would want to see. And if people don't really dance, or don't really move, or don't really have a connection, then I don't want to watch it.'
He acknowledges that the majority of people who attend dance shows are usually other dancers, but this doesn't seem to worry him much.
'I've always struggled to get people to come to shows,' Lundberg says, 'so I'd choose shows that are already much more accessible.'
Lundberg says the San Diego Dance Theater's Trolley Dances--which happen at various outdoor locations along the trolley line this weekend and next weekend--are perfect for getting people to adjust their preconceived notions about dance.
'It's much more accessible dance. It's not kind of the heavy, cliché modern pieces that most people saw in college and think that that's modern dance,' Lundberg says. 'There's a small bit that borders on performance art, but the majority of it is really dance-y, really physical, really nice to watch.'
Lundberg is encouraged that dance seems to be experiencing a bit of a pop-culture revival. 'There will be moments where different things will kind of spark interest, and I think right now we're in a dance spark,' he says, pointing out the popularity of shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars.
'People that know me that aren't dancers, they talk to me about it,' Lundberg says. 'Where else do you have people seeing dance?'
Part of the issue on the local level, Lundberg speculates, could be that most non-dancers don't respect the sheer athleticism that professional dancing requires.
'Basically, the art of it is to make it look effortless,' he says, 'and I think dancers are maybe too good at it.'
Trolley Dances offers two-hour guided performance tours at 11 a.m., 11:45, 12:30 p.m., 1:15, 2, and 2:45 on Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 6 and 7, starting at the corner of Park Boulevard and Broadway, Downtown, $10-$25, free for individuals in strollers or wheelchairs. 619-225-1803 or www.sandiegodancetheater.org.
But wait, there's more
We might as well dance
Nova: Butterworth Dance Company introduces Binary, its new youth dance company directed by Butterworth dancers Rayna Stohl and Molly Terbovich. Presenting contemporary dances set to music by Gotan Project, David Daniels and Ella Fitzgerald (to name a few), they'll culminate with a piece called 'Origin,' a movement-based portrayal of the evolution of the individual ego. 8 p.m. Oct. 12 and 13, California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., $15-$20. 1-800-988-4253, www.butterdance.com.
One Shot: Photographer Charles 'Teenie' Harris took documentary-style photos of life in black urban America from the 1930s through the 1960s. Now, New York City-based choreographer Ronald K. Brown and his company, Evidence, bring Harris' photographs to life with an eclectic mix of African, modern, ballet and hip-hop. 8 p.m. Oct. 13, Mandeville Auditorium, UCSD, La Jolla, $15-$36. 858-534-TIXS or www.artpower.ucsd.edu.
Ballet on Fire: San Diego City Ballet presents a night of classical ballet, featuring Stravinksy's magical Firebird--choreographed by Elizabeth Wistrich in 1979--and Gershwin's Who Cares, an ode to New York City choreographed by George Balanchine in 1970. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, just keep on dancing. 8 p.m. Nov. 3 and 2 p.m. Nov. 4, Joan B. Kroc Theatre at the Salvation Army Center, 6611 University Ave., College Area, $29-$49. 858-272-8663, www.cityballet.org.
Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal: With moves that let its dancers show off both their strength and sensuality, the Canadian company blends ballet, jazz and hip-hop to a mix of modern melodies. Practically bouncing off the walls with exuberant physical self-expression, it's the kind of dancing that makes sedentary audiences wish they could leap out of their seats and onto the stage. 7 p.m. Nov. 18, California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd, $35-$50. 1-800-988-4253, www.bjmdanse.ca.
Eveoke gets a new home: After 13 years downtown, Eveoke Dance Theatre is packing up and moving to a trendy new North Park location. Help the evocative dance organization make its move smoother by attending its annual fundraiser from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30 (not only will you witness an intimate dance performance, you'll get food, drinks and a chance to bid in a silent auction, too). The public opening of the new space will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 10 in conjunction with North Park's Ray at Night gallery walk. The fundraiser is at a private home in Point Loma and the new studio is located at 2805 University Ave. in North Park. Ticket prices vary. www.eveoke.org or 619-238-1153.