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Igniting a passion

Dance company steps away from music videos for a weekend of live performances.

October 09, 2010|By Joyce Rudolph, joyce.rudolph@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

Dance is all about fun for choreographer Sophie Olson.

And that's why she named her dance company Sophie Olson Dance Explosion.

"I always get very excited about stuff," says the bubbly 32-year-old. "I wanted a fun name and that's what it is. Dance doesn't have to be serious all the time. So the name of the company defines who I am as a choreographer. I don't take myself too seriously."

When she's not teaching at Garri Dance Studio in Burbank, Olson is a choreographer for music videos. On Thursday, she was on the set with her company's dancers filming the new She & Him video (Zooey Deschanel and M Ward) "Don't Look Back."

Her company is celebrating its first anniversary and later this month, will debut its first full-length live production. Olson had created choreography on a live production for Jonathan Luria, owner of the Studio City Stages in Studio City. He was so impressed with her style, he suggested she come back and do something with her own company.

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"Her sense of humor and her ability to laugh about things — it comes out with her choreography," Luria said. "I'm not a dancer, but I've been an actor/producer/director in theater for 30 years. I pick it up and I assume other dancers do and the audience will."

Olson is keeping the element of "fun" in mind creating her first show, which has a Halloween theme. It's called "Trick or Treat: A Night of Dance Haunts."

"I love Halloween," she said. "I thought it would be a fun theme to work with because you can do so many different things, you can do a zombie piece or a psychological piece — anything that hints at spookiness," she said.

Her upcoming show is for more mature audiences, 13 and older, she said. There will be pole dances, hip hop and some scary elements, probably a little too much for young children, she said. There will be six main dancers, two apprentice dancers and a few guest artists performing.

Olson has choreographed all but two of the 16 pieces for the show. Her favorite is "Disguise," she said. Eight dancers are using oversized T-shirts as props — tricking each other with them and exchanging them.

"I'm playing on the Halloween theme that you can disguise yourself, but it's about choosing the skin you want to be in, so I choose to be confident, sassy, delicate — whatever it is," she said. "It was the base of my choreography."

Megan Baade, owner of Garri Dance Studio, called Olson a creative teacher and dancer. Olson teaches jazz, the triple threat class — singing, dancing and acting — as well as hip hop and tone and stretch classes for Baade. Olson also choreographs one dance per class that is performed in Garri's annual recital at the Alex Theatre.

"She's very creative in her choreography and she is a perfectionist," Baade said. "She adds more rehearsals to really polish the dance routines — so she's really dedicated."

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INFOBOX

What: Sophie Olson Dance Explosion presents "Trick or Treat: A Night of Dance Haunts"

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 22 and 23, and 2 p.m. Oct. 24

Where: Studio City Stages, 11101 Ventura Blvd., Studio City

Tickets: $18 in advance; $20 at the door

Contact: http://www.sophieolsondanceexplosion.com

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