Non-profit dance group MAC & Company reaches out with “Counting Cranes”

Brandon Trieu performs a solo dance routine in the Counting Cranes exhibition. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Choreographer and MAC & Company founder Micaela Church dances at MonOrchid. (Nicole Neri/DD)

MAC & Company co-founder Li Pei Khoo performs in a Red dance at the Counting Cranes dance show. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Martha Hernandez performs an aerial routine. This is the first time MAC & Company performed in the part of MonOrchid that can accommodate aerial silks. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Brandon Farrer and Martha Hernandez perform in a Red dance duet. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Brandon Farrer performs in a Blue dance in the Counting Cranes show. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Movement in the Counting Cranes dance show extended all the way to the fingers, which appeared to be an important element in the dance routines. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Non-profit dance group MAC & Company performed a show called Counting Cranes behind MonOrchid’s art gallery on First Friday.

The show earned its namesake because audience members voted on which dances would be performed by placing paper cranes of different colors into jars.

MAC & Company is a non-profit public charity founded in 2014. Once the company grows large enough, it aims to give free dance lessons to adults in need of a creative outlet.

The Counting Cranes show was self-described as an experimental dance exhibition. Each dance routine was given a color corresponding to the general aesthetic of the dance. Dancers sometimes moved to long periods of total silence, changing rhythms, natural sound and periods of spoken word. Sometimes the dancers stayed completely still. The movements were often sudden, and almost all movements extended all the way through the fingers.

Founder and choreographer Micaela Church said she and her co-founder, Li Pei Khoo, created MAC & Company because they both were teaching dance full-time and needed to “create outside of an educational environment, where we could just create because we wanted to and be able to share that with others,” Church said.

Church said after students graduate, they lose their most accessible creative outlet for dance and need a space for it, just like Church and Khoo did.

Khoo has danced since she was 11 years old in Singapore. She came to America to study dance education after earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting in Singapore.

Khoo said for her generation, dance culture in Singapore was far stricter than in America. She took classes in ballet then taught ballet in Singapore, all under a stringent Royal Academy of Dance curriculum.

“My generation, we only got to perform once in four years,” Khoo said. “When I came here, I realized that performing is the way to learn, to have a character is the way to learn, rather than technical perfection … It was more fun dancing here than it was in Singapore.”

Now, Khoo has been teaching dance at Copper Canyon High School for six years. She said MAC & Company gives her a sense of confidence and an important creative outlet.

“We’re trying to give them an outlet to come and be able to choreograph and perform,” said Church, “(which is) an opportunity that there isn’t a lot of when you get out of school.”

Brandon Farrer, a member since MAC & Company’s first year, said the group gives him a chance to “practice dance as an art form,” and that Church “challenges (him) so (he) can grow as a dancer”.

Farrer was studying at Paradise Valley Community College on a chemistry and biology track when he found dance.

“Nothing I found was as engaging as dance,” Farrer said. “It’s mentally engaging, physically, and extremely challenging. It’s everything I wanted.”

Brandon Trieu, who is in his first season with MAC & Company, said it’s important to him to share art with other people and to have a place for self-expression.

“I love connecting with my body, expressing myself through movement,” Trieu said. “It just feels right to be in the space.”

MAC & Company will have a larger-scale show on August 26 called Andrew’s Dream Adventure, featuring music by “resident composer” Jeffrey Ouper.

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