When arts educators gathered at Tempe Center for the Arts in August, a dance company started by two Arizona natives previewed a new work called “Every Move Matters” — which explores issues of diversity, bullying and empowerment.
After months of development, EPIK Dance Company returns to TCA today to premiere the work for an audience of more than 500 middle school students who’ll enjoy a Q & A session after the performance.
Next week they’ll follow up by visiting classrooms to talk with students about the issues featured in the work, according to EPIK Dance Company co-founder Sarah “Saza” Dimmick. It’s all part of producing a six-week bullying prevention curriculum that’ll put dancers in schools and integrate students into the production.
Dimmick and EPIK Dance Company co-founder Luis “Weezy” Equrrola met while dancing with the Phoenix Mercury hip hop squad. Today they’re co-artistic directors leading 22 dancers ages 19-32. “We perform several styles of dance,” says Dimmick, “so we have broad appeal.”
EPIK Dance Company also performs their “big show” at TCA this weekend. It’s called “EPIK Effect” and focuses on sustainability of self and world. “We’re from an ‘I want it now’ society,” reflects Dimmick. “EPIK Effect” reminds audiences that what we do with ourselves and our environment matters.
“EPIK Effect” incorporates street fusion dance, spoken word performance, video elements and satire/comedy, says Dimmick. She’s quick to rattle off a long list of its themes — including consumerism, plastic, recycling, water scarcity, pollution and medication.
It’s an especially fitting theme given Tempe’s participation in a Smithsonian touring exhibition called “The Green Revolution.” The Gallery at TCA currently features works by local artists who incorporated the “green” theme.
“The show is appropriate for all ages,” says Dimmick. She notes that each performance lasts about 90 minutes before intermission, and features a different guest artist.
Tonight it’s Scorpius Dance Theatre, well-known to many in the Valley for performing Lisa Starry’s “A Vampire Tale” each Halloween. Saturday’s matinee features a youth hip hop group called MEO Phon’Etics, and the Saturday evening performance features Automatic Response, a group specializing in hip hop and jazz.