The choreographic brains behind modern dance company Nebellen's high-energy shows are company co-directors Ben Howe and Ellen Rath.
Usually they are the ones coordinating Nebellen's break dance (or “b-boying”), hip-hop, modern dance and martial arts moves, incorporating Glow Sticks, swords and eye-catching costumes into the mix.
Not this time: In the Nebellen Dancers Choreographic Showcase on Saturday, Nebellen fans will see moves developed by the company's dancers.
“We have 17 dancers in the company, and there are 14 who are choreographing,” says Rath, who also is a nine-year company dancer with Ballet Arizona.
“It makes for a really diverse show, because basically they were able to choose whatever music they wanted, they're in charge of their own costumes; it's really everything that Ben and I are usually in charge of.”
The 90-minute performance will feature a variety of pieces developed by dancers with a range of experience. Some have danced at local clubs; others teach dance. Most have full-time jobs or are students in addition to performing with the company.
“There are some pieces that look like street- or hip-hop-style dance,” Rath says.
Dancer Ruben Gonzales, for example, is b-boying to military-style music with drums, while Kelly Scovel, a dance teacher at Xavier High School in Phoenix, has choreographed a modern dance piece to music by the Doors.
Of his piece, Gonzales says, “It's a song from the new Z-Trip album called 'About Face,' and it has . . . a hard-core beat and sounds really military. . . . It will take you into the mind-set of marching, formations and different stuff that the military would normally do.”
“I decided to mix it with b-boying ... because I kind of grew up with a military background,” says Gonzales, whose sister is in the Air Force and dad is in the Army.
“I wanted to do it to show that . . . just because we're dancers, we also do realize that there's a war going on; we're not just up here dancing around for fun. . . . I wanted to show kind of a tribute.”
Nebellen will perform “Mixer with a Twist” — a repertory that combines energetic dance, spoken word, graffiti and live DJ sets — on Oct. 28-29 at the Herberger Theater in Phoenix.
“We're asking the audience to come in costume, since it's close to Halloween,” Rath says. “Then the people with the best costumes, we're going to pull up on stage with us in the second half (of the show).”