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San Diego Fringe: Falling Man and Hikari

Falling Man at San Diego International Fringe Festival
Falling Man at San Diego International Fringe Festival

SD Fringe Festival: Falling Man

Falling Man. In his one-man, completely improvised dance/theater piece, Leonard Cruz tackles topics that range from 9/11 to his own days as a troubled frat guy searching for acceptance at UCLA. Wildly different themes? Sure. Do they all work in a one-hour show of seamless synthesis? Absolutely.

Cruz begins with traditional dance moves. His short, muscular stature has been an impediment in his career, but that’s only obvious because he tells us. Throughout the seven-part piece, he talks to the audience through each transition like a tour guide into his creative process.

His lines are clean. He uses his powerful frame to create moments of portraiture with his hands and arms. His extensions, kicks, and leaps are tightly controlled as he moves, using the whole space – even the walls – as his palette.

Cruz’s most enthralling piece, inspired by a mix of expressionist Max Beckmann’s “Falling Man” and the iconic photograph of a man plunging to his death at the World Trade Center, interprets the terror of death with nothing more than a spool of white paper and red paint. He screams, chokes, spasms, and is consumed by his prop. The desperation of his movement is evocative.

Keeping the piece from being too stark, Cruz juxtaposes pantomime and Southeast Asian dance forms, adding fluid beauty to raw themes as he explores self-loathing, eating disorders, obsessive consumption, and, ultimately, self-acceptance.


SD Fringe Festival: Hikari

Hikari at San Diego International Fringe Festival

Hikari. The Mexico City-based dance company Komorebi presents a tale of creation, destruction, and metamorphosis, all in about 30 minutes.

Accompanied by an electric guitarist playing industrial rock riffs (bring earplugs; the space is small and the guitar is LOUD), a solo dancer covered in lights punctuates a darkened room to begin the show.

Her movements recall geometric shapes. She reaches, poses, and forms lines with the lights. It’s fascinating to watch, though I wished the space would have been darker, bigger, or both. At times natural light washed the space, killing the mood.

The second act of the triptych was the most jarring. From the darkness that birthed the light, a gruesome, mummified creature emerges: same dancer, scarier outfit. A large hump rests atop her back. Bloodied wraps adorn her. She wears a disfigured mask that she tears. Movements are labored and violent. Standing in place, she contorts her body into awkward poses and shrieks in pain. Images of ruins and graveyards flash on the screen behind her. The energy in the room is tense as the dancer comes apart physically.

A bit of peace returns in the final act. The dancer emerges from a cocoon of flowing fabric and fans what she uses to create curving, ethereal lines. Her movement is confined, simple, slow, and thought-provoking.

The pace of the final piece allows for reflection, which was helpful. After being kicked in the gut by act two, calmly pondering my own mortality didn’t seem so morbid.

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Falling Man at San Diego International Fringe Festival
Falling Man at San Diego International Fringe Festival

SD Fringe Festival: Falling Man

Falling Man. In his one-man, completely improvised dance/theater piece, Leonard Cruz tackles topics that range from 9/11 to his own days as a troubled frat guy searching for acceptance at UCLA. Wildly different themes? Sure. Do they all work in a one-hour show of seamless synthesis? Absolutely.

Cruz begins with traditional dance moves. His short, muscular stature has been an impediment in his career, but that’s only obvious because he tells us. Throughout the seven-part piece, he talks to the audience through each transition like a tour guide into his creative process.

His lines are clean. He uses his powerful frame to create moments of portraiture with his hands and arms. His extensions, kicks, and leaps are tightly controlled as he moves, using the whole space – even the walls – as his palette.

Cruz’s most enthralling piece, inspired by a mix of expressionist Max Beckmann’s “Falling Man” and the iconic photograph of a man plunging to his death at the World Trade Center, interprets the terror of death with nothing more than a spool of white paper and red paint. He screams, chokes, spasms, and is consumed by his prop. The desperation of his movement is evocative.

Keeping the piece from being too stark, Cruz juxtaposes pantomime and Southeast Asian dance forms, adding fluid beauty to raw themes as he explores self-loathing, eating disorders, obsessive consumption, and, ultimately, self-acceptance.


SD Fringe Festival: Hikari

Hikari at San Diego International Fringe Festival

Hikari. The Mexico City-based dance company Komorebi presents a tale of creation, destruction, and metamorphosis, all in about 30 minutes.

Accompanied by an electric guitarist playing industrial rock riffs (bring earplugs; the space is small and the guitar is LOUD), a solo dancer covered in lights punctuates a darkened room to begin the show.

Her movements recall geometric shapes. She reaches, poses, and forms lines with the lights. It’s fascinating to watch, though I wished the space would have been darker, bigger, or both. At times natural light washed the space, killing the mood.

The second act of the triptych was the most jarring. From the darkness that birthed the light, a gruesome, mummified creature emerges: same dancer, scarier outfit. A large hump rests atop her back. Bloodied wraps adorn her. She wears a disfigured mask that she tears. Movements are labored and violent. Standing in place, she contorts her body into awkward poses and shrieks in pain. Images of ruins and graveyards flash on the screen behind her. The energy in the room is tense as the dancer comes apart physically.

A bit of peace returns in the final act. The dancer emerges from a cocoon of flowing fabric and fans what she uses to create curving, ethereal lines. Her movement is confined, simple, slow, and thought-provoking.

The pace of the final piece allows for reflection, which was helpful. After being kicked in the gut by act two, calmly pondering my own mortality didn’t seem so morbid.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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