Sierra College dance teacher Lovie Bucknell likes to participate in the multicultural dance performance “Gypsy Soul” because the dancers are like family.
So it’s no surprise that Bucknell will be in the sixth annual “Gypsy Soul” performance this Friday and Saturday at the Center for the Arts.
Natina Pistone, who teaches dance at the Nevada City School of the Arts and Bitney Springs High School, organizes the annual performances as a benefit for the two school’s dance programs.
“When I was 10, I wanted to be Natina so bad. I thought she was the coolest thing. She had so many friends; she and my mom were friends,” Bucknell recalled on Monday. “We were at a get-together, a celebration, and watching her dance, I wanted to be a dancer. She was my inspiration.”
More than a decade later, Bucknell would graduate from the University of Oregon with a degree in psychology and dance and then perform and choreograph with Magic Circle Dance Company for six years in Bend, Ore. Bucknell also co-founded the local collaborative dance company Movement Alliance and is currently its executive director.
Crediting Pistone as reawakening her desire to dance when Bucknell moved back to Nevada County in the late 1990s, Bucknell explained, “When I came back, I was burnt out on dancing, but I had a break in Alaska working on a train as a tour guide. I didn’t dance all summer; I really missed it. Natina came into the Herb Shop where I was working in 1998 and said she wanted to do a show. I said ‘yeah!’ ‘Gypsy Soul’ got me back into dance.” Shortly after that discussion, Bucknell started teaching modern, jazz and modern jazz fusion dance classes at Sierra College.
Rehearsing for the first “Gypsy Soul” show six years ago quickly reminded Bucknell of her satisfying years in the Bend, Ore., dance company.
“While school was hard, Magic Circle Dance Company was like a family and so was Gypsy Soul like a family,” Bucknell noted.
This weekend, as in the first “Gypsy Soul” show, Bucknell is excited about dancing with her mother, Jacquie Castileja Bucknell, in the previously named “Mother-Daughter,” a piece revised and now called “Mother-Child Blessing Dance.” Her mother, who belly dances in Troupe Al Ama, is usually in “Gypsy Soul” performances.
She will be in a solo belly-dancing piece this year.
“It’s rewarding as a mom to be able to dance with Lovie. It’s also hard because she’s very, very good,” Castileja Bucknell said and added with a laugh, “Modern is very strenuous as compared to belly dancing. You can do belly dancing at all ages until you die, but you can’t stand on one foot when you’re 60, or at least it’s hard to when you’re 60.”
Bucknell is also honored to dance this weekend in the returning “Sandman” piece dedicated this year to Cassandra Schley-May, who was killed last June in a car accident on Highway 49.
“When I came back to town, I danced with Cassandra in a lot of pieces at the first ‘Gypsy Soul’ and then she took my classes,” Bucknell said. “She was a beautiful dancer and I enjoyed working for her. It’s nice to do the piece as a memorial for Cassie ” we all think of her when we’re dancing. ‘Sandman’ has West African, salsa, samba, jazz, modern moves ” all movements she did beautifully.”
A video recording of Schley-May dancing in the first “Sandman” performance will be projected above the dancers.
“Gypsy Soul” includes jazz, hip-hop, modern, African, flamenco, Middle Eastern, aerial and salsa dance styles.
KNOW AND GO:
WHAT: “Gypsy Soul” benefit
WHEN: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
WHERE: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley
ADMISSION: $13 in advance and $15 at the door. Advance tickets at Love Shack Records, The Book Seller and BriarPatch.
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Editor’s note: The following is the 2021 Valedictorian Address for Ghidotti High School, given by graduate Amina Federspiel-Otelea.