Peter Kalivas is a buzzing figure in the local dance scene. Born in New York, he danced in NYC and in Europe before returning to San Diego eight years ago. Now his company, the PGK Project, looks for nontraditional venues to dance in, like the Bluefoot Bar in North Park. This weekend they’re kicking off a summer series of dance at a winery in Rancho Bernardo.

“People expect performance to happen in a theater,” he told me this week. “We all buy a ticket, sit down, stare forward and watch someone on an elevated space on a platform. So now we’re dancing in storefronts, we’re dancing in hair salons, we’re dancing poolside, we’re dancing in all kinds of different unexpected spaces, which creates a new environment and a new experience with dance.”

I checked out the project’s rehearsal in El Cajon this week for performances Saturday and Sunday at the Bernardo Winery. Here’s video from that rehearsal, this week’s Behind the Scene TV with NBC7 San Diego:

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You can read more about the space where Kalivas’ troupe will be performing this weekend, the Vine Theater at the Bernardo Winery, in a U-T story from last week. The theater will host contemporary dance performances all summer. The U-T included a few more details about Kalivas’ plans for this weekend:

His show at the Vine will span more than two decades of his choreography, going back to “Listen to the Quiet,” a 1989 solo he developed at the request of Judith Jamison, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. There are also several premieres, including “Tabla,” inspired by “this amazing improvised a percussion solo on the tabla I discovered while performing and teaching in Turkey,” he says. Another influence is the Greek dancing he did growing up.

Once I got Kalivas talking about his philosophy on dancing for an audience that isn’t used to dance, he had a lot to say. Here’s a bit more from our interview:

If you go out on the street and you ask someone in a survey what their impressions of dance is overall, it’s generally positive. They like dance. They like dancers. They like the things that dancers do. What’s a problem is that it’s not available. We go in these expensive houses of art, where it costs $50, $60 or more to go inside. And that immediately negates a large part of our population.

It’s not that they’re economically disenfranchised. Art creates this syndrome or this idea of this economic disenfranchisement, which isn’t really true. Everything’s there. The people are there, the money is there, the art is there. But the connection’s not. So we’re negotiating, where do we connect? Put art where people can connect with art.

If you want to go see the performances this weekend, you can find more info on the project’s website.

I am the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with me on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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