Nearly all the members of the Boise-based Off Center Dance Project were raised in rural Idaho and one might call bringing modern dance to the state’s remote locales a mission for them.“We want to keep cultivating that,” says Katie Ponozzo, 29, a professional dancer and Orofino native. “You don’t have to go to New York or Los Angeles to be an artist or dancer. You can do your art here too. I think that’s important.”
Off Center Dance Project will present “Ball Change!” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Orofino High School Auditorium Theatre. “Ball Change!” combines 10 dancers and 40 balls of all sizes in a modern dance program with a theatrical flair.
The company, founded by Kelli Brown in 2008, is a side project for its dancers who all have other jobs. Ponozzo runs the dance program at the private preparatory school ArtsWest in Eagle, Idaho, and teaches dance at Boise State University, College of Idaho and two private dance studios. She also teaches aerial fitness, a kind of yoga done in suspension, at Boise’s Ophidia Studio.
Ponozzo will present two solo pieces at Saturday’s program. One is a political commentary on women in advertising in the 1950s, she says. In other pieces she dances on a plank or performs with aerial silks — fabric hung from the ceiling that she climbs, hangs from, and wraps into knots during the dance.
“It kind of looks like I’m floating,” she says.
The silks she uses are the same ones used in aerial yoga, which arose from the circus tradition, she explains. One of its founders is Christopher Harrison, a former Broadway dancer and gymnast who created AntiGravity Yoga where people are completely inverted and suspended during poses. Ponozzo tried it at New York’s Om Factory and brought it back to Boise.
Ponozzo started dancing in elementary school when she joined ballet classes in Lewiston twice a week. As she got older she commuted to Festival Dance classes in Moscow. After graduating from Orofino High School in 2001 she went on to receive theater and dance degrees from BSU in 2006 and joined Idaho Dance Theatre where she met Brown.
Off Center Dance Project puts on two shows a year, a Halloween program and a main show in February at Boise Contemporary Theatre. In the past they’ve taken that show to McCall. This year it’s her hometown of Orofino. The performance is sponsored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts.
“It’s fun to come back,” she says. “This is where I came from and this is what I’m bringing back.”
IF YOU GO
What: Off Center Dance Project’s “Ball Change!”
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Orofino High School Auditorium Theater
Cost: $10 general admission, $5 students and seniors.
At the door or online at www.brownpapertickets.com.