Alumni ‘tell stories’ with dance

By Julie Barzilay

Two alums will take the stage as the Mad Hatter and Alice from “Alice in Wonderland” in 11 upcoming performances of an original show by BoomKat Dance Company.

The show is titled “Neverwonderland.”

The company was launched in 2006 by Lili Fuller ’05, who is currently the artistic director, and Matthew Krumpe ’08 has been a company member since September.

Natalie Williams ’08 also danced in BoomKat from September through February 2009, but had to stop due to conflicts.

According to the BoomKat website, the company “is a group of like-minded performing artists dedicated to telling stories through compelling and accessible dance-theatre. Through the intermingling of this communicative dance style and other media, the group strives to create art that both expresses and illuminates.”

The group hopes to evoke, express, question and challenge the traditional limits of the dance world through collaborative and creative choreography driven by strong concepts and messages. Each show is preceded by discussions on themes, involves group brainstorming and choreographing and emphasizes the idea that each member has a voice and a gift to share.

In its first year, BoomKat was a group of actors, dancers, singers and athletes at the University of Southern California seeking an “eclectic” group of people with whom they could create meaningful dance, Krumpe said.

After Fuller got the ball rolling, the company put on their first show, entitled “Revolutions,” which dealt with the throes of love, sex, drugs, music, society, family and other issues of concern to young adults.

Krumpe said the company has grown in many ways since that first show.

By 2008, the company extended beyond USC to include Krumpe (a UCLA student) and had begun performing full-fledged storylines, notably Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.”

Because its founder and several dancers graduated from Harvard-Westlake, the fingerprint of performing arts teacher and annual Dance Concert director Cynthia Winter is tangible, Krumpe said. Winter always emphasizes stories and messages over dance tricks and emotion over technicalities, Krumpe agreed.

“H-W Dance is what allowed us to start BoomKat,” Krumpe said. “Cynthia Winter is a genius. She truly is an inspiration and brings out something in her dancers that is beyond high school. Her emphasis on storytelling through dance is what Boomkat does.”

The type of conceptual dance that goes beyond the superficial in its choreography is what Krumpe says he learned in high school.

BoomKat is a company that choreographs all of its own pieces, and which tries to defy the stigmas of the dance industry.

“As I have thrown myself into the dance world with full force after high school I have realized how brutal an industry it is,” he said. “We get paid the least and beaten up the most out of any performers but dance is like breath. It’s what keeps me living. Its hard work but that’s what makes it fun.”

Some of the company’s members have professional acting and performing careers.

Nathan Parsons, who plays Peter in the upcoming show “Neverwonderland,” is a lead on “General Hospital.”

Donald Webber Jr., who plays Hook and is a teacher, is also a professional singer and actor and was on “American Idol” this season.

BoomKat will audition any Harvard-Westlake senior dancers who plan to remain in Los Angeles after high school.

“Neverwonderland” is an abstract blending of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” set in Industrial Revolution-era England that plays with the intersections between fantasy and reality, exploration and fear. Krumpe portrays the Mad Hatter and a pirate and Fuller plays Alice.

The show is at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, is playing from May 29 through June 14.

Tickets are $10 for students and $20 for adults. Shows are every Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.

The company will perform a total of 11 shows, as well as two to four outreach performances for inner-city students on Monday and Wednesday mornings.

More info can be found and tickets can be bought at

Krumpe is excited to continue developing as a dancer and helping the company express important ideas in the near and distant future.

“We don’t just turn and leap and call it dance,” he said. “We communicate. I love performing with BoomKat because I feel like there is a purpose to what I am doing. It is fun to dance, but as a tangible art form it can’t survive without meaning, without purpose. We are what’s new in dance. We are innovative.”