Invertigo Dance Theatre Proves Fearless Once Again with Interior Design

In all my years of dancing, I have never experienced a performance like that of Invertigo Dance Theatre’s full-length Interior Design.

This version of Interior Design premiered Saturday night at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Seventeen years in the making, Interior Design is ostensibly about the process of a young couple setting up house together in a new neighborhood. Alternately humorous and heartbreaking, the 75-minute piece is a stroke of genius and tour de force for its choreographers and dancers. Originally commissioned for Mexican dancers Rebeca Hernandez and Abraham Ponce Díaz in 2007, this was the first piece ever created under Invertigo’s umbrella. What began as a short dance that included two people discovering how to assemble IKEA furniture has now morphed into the longer journey of a couple working through the fun and frustration of moving in as well as discovering their new neighbors and ‘hood.

From the first moment, Saturday’s audience was filled with empathy and support for the two charming protagonists, “Anna” and “Carlos” – in no small measure due to the virtuosity, vulnerability, and vivant of dancers Hyosun Choi and Marco Palomino. The audience’s peals of laughter rang out over the constant competition of where to place the houseplant in the couple’s new digs. Gasps were elicited during an obnoxious neighbor’s voiceover and his latent racist insensitivity. Sorrow radiated throughout the audience at the slow revelation of the couple’s grief, rage, and helplessness over a prior miscarriage. And when lead choreographer Laura Karlin and her co-conspirators exuberantly exploded the stage’s mythic fourth wall, the audience was literally invited into the onstage living room for an epic housewarming dance party. I could easily image Karlin asking the question, “How can I make Interior Design a fully authentic and community participatory piece?” – and then answering it with the help of her co-creators in her inimitable and joyous way.

Karlin and Invertigo Dance Theatre are known for their witty, quirky, thoughtful, and thought-provoking contemporary pieces that combine dance, music, voice, sets, and environment into theatrical experiences. Since Invertigo’s inception in 2007, Artistic Director Karlin has created over 40 pieces – two full-length, many shorts, some site-specific. Throughout this journey, Karlin has shown herself to be fearless in her creativity and creative process, as well as in her approaches to the audience and larger community. From her statuesque “House Lights Up” (2016) situated in the seats of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, to her biographical “Formulae & Fairy Tales” (2019) based on LGBTQ+ and mathematical pioneer Alan Turing’s life, to her community-based dance film “Community Spark” (2020) that inspired thousands during the darkest days of the pandemic and jumpstarted her lockdown “Kitchen Table Project” films, Karlin continues to tease and conquer perceived boundaries in her creative quest for authenticity and community.

In some ways, Interior Design feels like Karlin’s love letter to Culver City and her Los Angeles home. Soon she, her husband, and their young children will uproot for a new home and ‘hood

farther afield, and have their own real-life tiffs over where to put the houseplants. I predict they will host their own epic and community-building dance house party as they welcome new friends and neighbors. But, despite the distance, Invertigo will continue to thrive as Karlin breaks new ground yet again with her reimagined approach to creative collaborative leadership at the helm of this unique and endearing company.

Thank you for your years of heart and generosity as you graced our stages and community, Ms. Karlin, and mazel tov.

Fiona Nagle, PhD, is a retired professional ballet dancer from the West Side of Los Angeles. She is a freelance arts journalist and also represents world-class performing artists. /

Photo Credit – Invertigo Dance 

The Actors' Gang