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Heidi Duckler Dance collaborates with composer Leaha Villarreal for a new dance opera under the 7th St Bridge above the Los Angeles River.


Heidi Duckler Dance (HDD) has commissioned Leaha Villarreal to create an original score for a new work, titled UNDERWAY, in collaboration with LA Opera’s festival, “Eurydice Found.”  Inspired by Sarah Ruhl’s play, “Eurydice,” the festival will be a city-wide civic event featuring performances and partnerships with prominent organizations, including the Getty Center and Hammer Museum.

HDD’s performance will open on March 14 and 15, 2020 in a new public art space called THE SPAN, which will be built in the underpass beneath the 7th Street Bridge above the LA River, between Boyle Heights and the South Arts District.  Built in 1910 to allow trolleys to cross the River, the Bridge was refurbished with an upper deck in 1927 as LA’s population expanded.  When trolley traffic ended, the lower bridge was sealed off, and has remained vacant ever since.  To make the lower passageway accessible, HDD, in partnership with the City of LA, will construct temporary scaffolding (designed by architect Alex Ward) encapsulating a ramp from the Bridge down to the performance space below, where flooring and seating will be installed.  HDD’s Artistic/Executive Director, Heidi Duckler, will serve as the project’s Director and Choreographer, and will work with Villarreal and LA Opera to secure vocalists and musicians to perform live along with HDD’s dancers.

In 2019, Duckler and Villarreal will research and engage in planning meetings with LA Opera, and audition singers to begin work-shopping the piece.  The first public workshop will take place June 1 and 2, 2019 during EBB & FLOW: CHINATOWN, HDD’s free public community-based festival in the Los Angeles State Historic Park (commonly known as Cornfield Park).  EBB & FLOW serves local residents – including youth, seniors, families – through interactive workshops and curated performances by HDD and local artists.  This outdoor setting provides the perfect opportunity for HDD to present a preview of Villarreal’s score and Duckler’s choreography for an audience ahead of the opening at THE SPAN.

HDD’s artistic practice is unique in that all rehearsals and engagement activities are open to the public and take place onsite, culminating in landmark performances tailored to foster community bonds.  This participatory and transparent process is generated in collaboration with the community HDD serves.  This project is important to HDD because it will bring the community’s diverse residents together in an overlooked space that is layered with history and emblematic of the past, present and future of LA’s story.  Because the Bridge is less than a mile away from HDD’s offices in the Bendix Building, the project provides an opportunity for HDD to connect with its local community through a playful and public art space with open borders between artists, disciplines and viewers.  The project is important to the community because re-purposing this vacant underpass as a performance space establishes a new public resource that can last beyond the festival, giving the City and local artists a unique opportunity to utilize this historic space on an ongoing basis.

Project Media

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Oceania is the smallest Continental grouping in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica. This evolving relationship between land and sea is explored through changing points of reference in the work. Oceania was commissioned by the chamber ensemble Hotel Elefant and premiered in New York City in Feb 2018 featuring Domenica Fossati, flutes; Christa van Alstine, bass clarinet; Andie Tanning Springer, violin; and Caleb van der Swaagh, cello.

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A unique performance with a 15-foot steel fish designed and built by architect Alex Ward, premiered in 2016 at Marsh Park. Duckler’s work at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook explores the Ballona Wetlands highlighting the interaction of dancers with the sculpture, encouraging investigation and responsiveness as key strategies towards greater environmental awareness. HDD dancers include, Danny Dolan, Lenin Fernandez and Mollie Wolf with musicians Andrew Tholl and Nic Gerpe performing an original work by composer Juhi Bansal. Cue: 00:20-3:20

LOADED at the Ford Theatres
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Loaded premiered in October 2018 at the Ford Theatre’s loading dock. Performers and audience share the confined space of the Ford’s loading dock, transformed by Duckler into an arresting site-specific work. As our society contemplates the implications of erecting walls – both physical and psychological – Loaded explores how borders manifest in physical space. HDD dancers include Raymond Ejiofor, Lenin Fernandez, Micaela Taylor and Himerria Wortham with live music composed and performed by Justin Scheid and Sarah Belle Reid. Cue: 00:00-3:00

Start and End Dates



Los Angeles, California

Project Created By

Los Angeles, California
MISSION Heidi Duckler Dance creates place-based performances that transform non-traditional spaces, providing learning opportunities and engaging diverse communities, in the belief that the arts can change our vision of the world and of ourselves. ABOUT HEIDI DUCKLER Heidi Duckler is the Artistic Director and founder of Heidi Duckler Dance. Since its inception in 1985, she…

In Collaboration With

Los Angeles, California


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