When his dancers perform "seven" (the title of Erik Fine’s piece is the number seven written in tally marks) at Santa Monica College’s (SMC’s) Synapse Dance Theater at the SMC Performing Arts Center’s Broad Stage on May 24 and 25 it will be a sort of homecoming for 27-year-old choreographer Erik Fine. It will be Fine’s fourth time performing in Synapse, and his second time choreographing for it, but equally importantly, it will be a return to the concert that changed the trajectory of his career.
After high school in his native Chicago, Fine’s family moved to Phoenix. Two years later Fine moved to Los Angeles to pursue his interest in music. And then he met a girl. Who happened to be an SMC dancer. She took him to that year’s Synapse Dance Theater. He was hooked. First he took a dance class. Then he changed his major to dance. Looking back, he’s amazed at how much he’s learned and grown in the last four years at SMC.
"seven" is Fine’s visual representation of Dante’s Inferno and the Seven Deadly Sins. The version of Inferno that Fine is drawing from is a video game. In this telling, each of the Seven Deadly Sins is a Game Boss. In Fine’s choreography, there is no Dante, his cast of eight features Beatrice, and one dancer for each of the Deadly Sins. Each dancer was chosen because Fine saw a resonance between their movement style and one of the Deadly Sins, or in Beatrice’s case, because of her strong, graceful ballet technique.
"seven" opens with a cinematic set piece depicting Beatrice’s descent into hell. Fine says he wants to depict a lingering element of danger. To keep us wondering what monstrosity is around the corner. He says, "On a social level, it’s about what we value as a society. About religion and the sometimes archaic though processes we carry with us."
Asked if there would ever be a dance piece inspired by Dante’s Paradiso, Fine said, "no", that as you ascend from Inferno to Purgatorio to Paradiso, it gets less interesting.
Fine expects to finish his dance studies at SMC at the end of 2019 and then transfer to the dance department at Long Beach State University. Once he finishes there, he plans to head off to The Big Apple in hopes of taking his career to the next level. Meanwhile, Fine has started to perform with different dance companies around Los Angeles which has generated some money to help pay rent. He knows dance can be a hard career, and has asked himself, "do I want to be an artist?" But then answers his own question with, "I can’t picture myself behind a desk."
Of his time at SMC, Fine says that "the Dance Department is amazing. I didn’t realize the quality of the teacher’s training. SMC really goes above and beyond offering different styles of training to include behind-the-scenes help with what it takes to be a dancer."
"The SMC Dance Department doesn’t just create strong technical dancers, they also create strong artists and scholars as well. The faculty here work to provide us with the tools we need."
"seven" will be one of eleven works presented at Synapse Dance Theater. The concert will feature works by SMC student choreographers, faculty, and guest artist Jay Carlon on the Broad Stage at SMC’s Performing Arts Center campus on Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25.