PICTURED: Stars of “Peep From the Street,” from left: Alyssia Troutman, Emma Steiner, Ella Hoyt and Ella Ullrich. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Noblin/Ventura County Ballet
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
It’s been a quiet couple of years for local dancer, Aloft Dancetheatre founder and GyrotonicⓇ teacher Pamela Pilkenton. A former member of the Plexus Dance Theater and NAMBA Performing Arts Space, Pilkenton has been keeping clients in shape at her second-floor studio near Memorial Park and, since March 2020, waiting out the pandemic like the rest of us. But spring has sprung, dancers gotta dance, and Pilkenton is ready to take the leap.
She will be presenting “Peep From the Street” on Friday, March 26. With performance venues remaining closed, the “pop-up” dance performance will take place outside, on the patio of her second-floor workspace.
“It’s like a flash mob, but with four people. And it happens to take place on the porch of my studio,” she says. “It has a grandstand porch, and so, why not?”
Pilkenton currently occupies a space upstairs from Lights Beautiful in Midtown Ventura — near the intersection of Lincoln Drive, Main Street and Santa Clara Street. People walking by, driving past, who live or work nearby or are stopped at the intersection’s red light will all be able to see the original piece that Pilkenton put together for students from Ventura County Ballet (VCB).
Pilkenton did the choreography herself — “I just had something crash across my mental video screen” — but she partnered with Kathleen Noblin, VCB’s founder and executive director, to pull it off.
“She was dying to do something with me,” Pilkenton confirms. “The muse struck me and [then came] the offer of Ventura County Ballet to revive some of their Zoom-weary dancers and bring them into the light. . . . They’re just dying to do it! And they’re <em>really</em> good dancers.”
Participating dancers are Ella Hoyt (16 years old), Emma Steiner (15), Alyssia Troutman (18) and Ella Ullrich (15).
“They are all pre-professional students at Ballet Academy Ventura, the official school of the Ventura County Ballet,” says Noblin. “They are happy to be dancing in this collaboration with Pam Pilkenton and Aloft Dancetheatre. Pam’s original choreography will delight the audience and hopefully brighten the day as we put the confinement of COVID aside for a moment and just enjoy the dance.”
VCB has had a year of disappointments. In addition to losing indoor performance opportunities, the ballet company had its outdoor drive-in production of The Nutcracker canceled after heavy winds severely damaged the Concerts in Your Car stage at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in December. Finally getting dancers back on their toes has boosted spirits, and Pilkenton hopes that this weekend’s event will bring a little love and attention to VCB as well.
“It’s really great for [Noblin] to have some of her dancers come out into the street and have the people of Ventura be made aware of her enterprise.”
There will be two 10-minute performances, at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Japanese kodo drums will provide the background music, to really bring the boom and beat to the street.
“It’ll be a lot of fun!” Pilkenton exclaims.
The dance party won’t start until Friday, but Pilkenton is already excited to do another one. She’s primed for whatever her muse has in store, saying, “I’m just waiting for it to cross my mental video screen.”
“Peep From the Street” takes place on Friday, March 26, at 5:30 and 7:3 p.m. in front of 1453 East Main St., Ventura. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ALOFTDANCETHEATRE/.