Will Johnston

Braxon vs. Oregon: A Life Changing Trial

The U.S. justice system is unfamiliar territory to me. I've eluded jury duty for the past seven years, I've never been arrested, and I've yet to be tied up in a legal battle. There is something mysterious about the courtroom setting, and my lack of experience has kept me intrigued.

So imagine my excitement when I was summoned this year to serve as a juror for a major murder trial taking place in San Francisco, CA. The case asks some impossible questions surrounding love, the meaning of family, and morality versus legality. It is emotional and complex, and has thus far been a life changing experience.

Okay. Maybe I'm talking about a fictional trial.

Braxon vs. Oregon is Entity Contemporary Dance's inaugural full length show. It premiered at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Los Angeles, CA in November 2014. After four sold out shows, the production went on to do five more sold out encore performances in January 2015. To quote LA Weekly, Braxon vs. Oregon is a "contemporary dance drama... examining Annette Braxon, who is brought to trial after assisting the suicide of a loved one suffering from a terminal illness."

The production seamlessly integrates intricate and powerful choreography into the story and avoids being cheesy or confusing. Directors and choreographers Marissa Osato and Will Johnston manage to physicalize human emotions in a relatable yet artistic way. Braxon vs. Oregon demonstrates how "commercial" dance qualities can meet the concert world. While dynamic and musical, there is an abstract quality to the movement. Marissa and Will tell a passionate story with a clear and defined voice.

And now, Braxon vs. Oregon is headed to the Bay Area. This is very exciting for a multitude of reasons, one of them being that it is a step toward our goal of making Entity Contemporary Dance a touring company. This run of shows in SF is an opportunity for us to introduce our work to a non-LA audience.

Furthermore, it gives me the opportunity to be a part of the magic. I was out of town during the LA premiere in 2014, and I wasn't in the encore performances earlier this year. I was so ecstatic when I found out we were taking the show up north, and to my hometown no less.

Rehearsal on 9/30

I know there are plenty of things to do in San Francisco on any given weekend, and October 10-11 is no exception. You could attend the San Francisco Dance Film Festival or the 5th Annual Yerba Buena Night. Both are fine ways to spend an evening, but I urge you to consider attending Braxon vs. Oregon at the Dance Mission Theater.

Braxon vs. Oregon is a master piece created by two of Southern California's freshest choreographers, and features some of Los Angeles' most talented dancers. We've even recruited the multi-talented and captivating MATT CADY, who most recently contributed choreography to Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour, as our judge.

This production is really not one to be missed. After all, it will be my first time stepping into a court room.

Join me, won't you?

For more information on Entity Contemporary Dance, visit www.entitycontemporarydance.com
Instagram: @entitycontemporarydance
Twitter: @bzentity
Facebook: Entity Contemporary Dance 

Entity: Ultimate Brawl 2013 and Will's M.F.A. Thesis Concert

Last weekend I had the opportunity to dance with Entity at Ultimate Brawl (UB) 2013. UB is a hip hop dance competition organized by the hip hop dance group, 909. I always enjoy performing at community dance events because there is a greater sense of respect and support than at non-community dance events. I also enjoy watching the community teams and seeing how they have evolved and/or progressed.

It's been a long time since I was a part of the creative process with Will and Marissa (I believe my last number with them was the Aliyah one), and I was fascinated with how they brought our latest piece to life. Especially interesting to me were the parts where there were two or four dancers. I've never choreographed a duet or a small group, and I loved seeing how Will and Marissa created moments in which two dancers not only danced in sync with each other but also interacted with each other.

I think "As the Sky Settles" is one of my favorite Entity pieces to date. Watch how the different moments in the piece are flawlessly unveiled, and how the piece flows seamlessly from one vignet to another:

Marissa and Will are so talented at what they do, and I feel grateful to be able to learn from them. It's been four years since I began dancing with the group, and I forget how lucky I am to be a part of the duo's unique artistic vision.

Members from top/botom & left/right: Courtney Bradley, Krystal Matsuyama, Alec Guthrie, Emily Silber, Tess Hewlett, Grayson McGuire, Mikael Villela, Ashley Paige (Gomez), Will Johnston, Aimee Ferguson, Me, Marissa Osato, Victoria Acker, Aisha Gibbs (Missing: Bailey Stump, Ray Naval, Anthony Westlake, Diana Schonfield, and Liane Aung)
Entity's next performance will be at Will's M.F.A thesis concert 5/13 and 5/14 at UCI:

The hour-long show includes a variety of work pertaining to Will's thesis research. We've been rehearsing for a few weeks and I've gotten a sneak peak of the other pieces that are in the show. I am blown away by everything I've seen so far, and can't wait to share the stage with all the amazing dancers that are participating! 

RSVP for the FREE show at: mfadanceconcerts13@gmail.com.

Hope to see you there!