"(I've Had) The Time of the My Life" isn't the tune that came to mind when AXIS Dance Company announced its 25th anniversary. But we were reminded that, when AXIS first rolled out, Dirty Dancing was a massive hit. Founded in 1987, AXIS was one of the first companies to integrate dancers who were dependent on wheelchairs, crutches, and prosthetic limbs. It was miles away from Patrick Swayze's squeaky-clean mambo, but no less significant. Over the years, AXIS has changed the way the world views dance, while earning seven Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (Izzies) and helping California State develop the nation's first B.A. program in Physically Integrated Dance along the way.
For the millions who saw AXIS duets on So You Think You Can Dance?, the grace, agility, and power of these dancers is no surprise -- but it was only a hint of what the company can do. Onstage, contraptions become expressions, a new terminology for a world that rushes beyond our soft centers. This is the ultimate in modern dance, an amalgamation of man and machine that is transcendent. Tonight's anniversary celebration includes what if would you, the first collaboration between Guggenheim Fellow Victoria Marks and composer Beth Custer, as well as works by Imagery choreographer Amy Seiwert and longtime AXIS favorite Sonya Delwaide.
AXIS Dance Company's performance begins at 8 p.m this Friday April 12 at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland. Admission is $10-$25; call (800) 838-3006 or visit axisdance.org.