Rosin Box Project pays tribute to Women’s History Month

The Rosin Box Project dancer-choreographer Bethany Green is creating a dance work for the company's "Empower" show.
The Rosin Box Project dancer-choreographer Bethany Green is creating a dance work for the company’s “Empower” show.
(Courtesy of Carly Topazio)

‘Empower’ will feature three new dance works choreographed by women choreographers Carly Topazio, Bethany Green and Lauren Flower


The Rosin Box Project is a boundary-breaking band of dance professionals who have quit the best of the big ballet companies.

This tight-knit troupe prefers to apply its mastery of traditional classical dance to modern stories and themes. And everyone in The Rosin Box Project gets the opportunity to choreograph their ideas, including the women.

The company’s 2023 season opens this week with “Empower.”

Dancer Chelsea Kuhn of The Rosin Box Project, which presents "Empower" this week.
(Carly Topazio)

It’s a production that celebrates Women’s History Month with an all-female trilogy of premieres by artistic director Carly Topazio and resident dancers Bethany Green and Lauren Flower.

“The ballet world is predominantly female, yet there is still such an absence of women in authority positions,” said Topazio, who founded The Rosin Box Project in 2018.

Carly Topazio, the founder of The Rosin Box Project.
(Courtesy of Carly Topazio )

“I like creating art and it goes beyond strictly movement. I like creating an atmosphere and an experience.”

Topazio’s dance is titled “Se (quell)” and its theme “considers the human condition of conflict.”

Earlier this month, seven dancers rehearsed movement that had an almost mechanical grace, accompanied by a foreboding electronica composition by Travis Lake.

Interjected throughout the percussive soundtrack is a spoken narrative: “Time ticking beneath my feet/waiting to be rescued/they’re coming for you/ but you keep waiting/ frozen.”

Topazio said that “Se (quell)” follows last year’s “Don’t Look Down,” a dance that explored the concept of fear, demonstrated with lighting strips on the floor.

In “Se (quell),” Topazio uses 10-foot-high rectangular pole lights as props.

“To quell is to suppress,” Topazio explained. “Thematically, the light poles are like a prison, representing physical segregation.”

Dancers Green and Flower have created new, very different works for “Empower.”

As they conducted a walk-through rehearsal of their choreography at the company’s Liberty Station headquarters, the commitment of the dancers was evident.

Lauren Flower, a dancer and choreographer for The Rosin Box Project.
(Carly Topazio)

Flower’s dance is titled “Compulsion” and it exemplifies the hyper-focus dancers must have in order to remember all the steps and sequences of a choreographic work.

“Compulsion” is a mesmerizing piece performed by six dancers to classical music by Michael Wall.

Flower contrasted fluid, repetitive phrases with a potent gesture that had dancers pressing a hand in front of their faces with fingers splayed, then pulling it away as if trying to extract the burden of recalling a million steps.

Bethany Green, a dancer-choreographer with The Rosin Box Project in San Diego.
(Carly Topazio)

Green’s dance is titled “Mise en Place,” a French cooking term that translates to “everything has its place.”

She describes her choreography as a “love letter to the service industry.”

It’s accompanied by classical music and it marries serious ballet technique with comedic pantomime gestures that reflect restaurant workers starting a day, reviewing a chef’s resume or judging the worthiness of a dish.

Green is a former dancer with City Ballet of San Diego and in addition to her dance skills, she has a side job working at Callie, a Mediterranean restaurant in the East Village.

She said she started her process by breaking up the dance into sections and taking a lot of notes.

“Mise en Place” incorporates three lightweight tables that serve as sinks or judging stations, depending on the segment.

At the rehearsal, the dancers would sometimes laugh at the exaggerated gestures of sniffing a dish or checking a watch.

“Each movement of the ballet has three drafts of notes,” Green said.

“I have to build it that way to stay organized because there is so much happening.”

Since its beginning, The Rosin Box Project has been a vehicle for dancers to express and develop their strengths.

Collaboration and mutual respect are a critical part of that process and ultimately, the quality of the work empowers all the dancers and generates more opportunity.

In May, members of The Rosin Box Project will travel to Missouri to perform.

Resident dancer/choreographer Jeremy Zapanta, who has choreographed for the California Ballet company and, more recently, for the La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls Festival, was commissioned to create a work he calls “Personal Perspectives.”

It will be presented at the Emerson SPRING TO DANCE Festival 2023, hosted by Dance St. Louis.

The ”Empower” production has added an extended version of “Mise en Place” on March 27. It’s an interactive, playful show with a special invitation going out to restaurant workers.

Green said that the support she receives from The Rosin Box Project dancers, both male and female, encourage her best work.

It’s the same for Topazio.

“There is trust between the dancers in this company,” she said.

“They empower me to create and experiment and be vulnerable and take chances. That is the art that we want to do here.”

The Rosin Box Project: ‘Empower’

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday. Virtual stream at 7 p.m. Saturday

Immersive performance of “Mise en Place” at 7:30 p.m. March 27

Where: The Light Box, 2590 Truxtun Road, #205, Liberty Station, San Diego

Tickets: $45, $50 at the door. $25, virtual performance on March 25


Seating is first-come, first serve.

Luttrell is a freelance writer.