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A Fizzled Evening with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal

Ballet Jazz de Montréal in "Harry" by Barak Marshall. Photo: Gregory Batardon

The house was packed. The second-ever dance company to perform at the cushy new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal easily sold out its two-night run  (January 10-11 2014), and was welcomed by a good faith audience, comfortable and ready to cheer.  The program had strong local ties, with the eagerly anticipated West Coast premiere of "Harry" (2013) by the remarkable L.A.- and Tel-Aviv-based choreographer Barak Marshall, as well as a staging of "Closer," a sensual, crowd-pleasing 2006 … [Read more...]

Great Moments in L.A. Dance in 2013

Gregory Maqoma in "Exit/Exist." photo: John Hogg

With strong flavors of Stravinsky, Balanchine, and Trisha Brown, 2013 was a satisfying year for iconic dance, and dance music, in Los Angeles. The centennial of Stravinsky’s game-changing “Rite of Spring” for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes delivered unto us both the Joffrey’s faithful reconstruction of the nervy Nijinsky choreography and, earlier in the year, conductor Gustav Dudamel’s first galloping ride conducting the piece with the L.A. Philharmonic. As well, impassioned performances of the standout Stravinsky-Balanchine collaboration “Agon” … [Read more...]

Blood-Rich ‘Beauty’

sleepingbeauty_photo 7

Considered the consummate classical ballet, "The Sleeping Beauty" features devilishly hard technical challenges, with nowhere to hide. Traditional stagings -- like Pacific Northwest Ballet's long, rich, drafty one -- have pretty vapid storylines. Instead, the audience identifies with the dancers' technical struggles. That's the meaningful, heroic story. In “Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty” (2012),  which opened in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatre on Thursday night, the visionary Bourne – the world’s only living director/choreographer who … [Read more...]

BodyTraffic Excels in Kyle Abraham Premiere

BodyTraffic perform "Kollide"

[Los Angeles struggles to support a pure dance company. You'd be surprised how the city trails behind NY, SF or Seattle.  Yet this weekend, some good news: a small company called BodyTraffic! With a premiere from Kyle Abraham! I wrote for the L.A. Times on the Saturday night show:] Coming off prestigious gigs at New York’s Joyce Theater and Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts, the award-winning Los Angeles-based repertory company BodyTraffic presented two sold-out programs at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage this weekend that demonstrated a most … [Read more...]

David Roussève/REALITY in the soft premiere of “Stardust”

Nehara Kalev in the 'avant-premiere' of "Stardust" by David Roussève/REALITY

  Though dubbed an 'avant-premiere" (the official world premiere is slated for January 2014 at the University of Maryland), there was nothing anemic  or glitchy at the Los Angeles opening of "Stardust," the latest challenging, one-pot dance-theater stew from David Roussève/REALITY.  A dogged 85-minute work, “Stardust” was chockablock with ten unique, infallible dancers, a hard-hitting narrative thread developed via projected text messages and Skype-d monologues, and a propulsive aural landscape built from D. Sabela Grimes' smooth, … [Read more...]

Dancers in the Architecture

Maya Gingery at HomeLA. Photo: Ritsu Yoneyama

As a lover of dance and a lover of architecture, I was both excited and fearful about “HomeLA,” the dance performance held on May 4th in a private home on the cliffside heights of Mount Washington. Directed by Rebecca Bruno, working in partnership with the Dance Resource Center and the dance lab Pietor, the recent site-specific event advertised 14 choreographers on the bill, some with companies, some working solo. As the day approached, I began envisioning  the crowding that seemed inevitable when you consider the liberation of so many … [Read more...]

The Well-Oiled Alvin Ailey Audience in SoCal

AAADT in Ohad Naharin's "Minus 16." Photo: Paul Kolnik

Southern California is old, good friends with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, with a rightful claim to a crucial piece of Ailey choreographic history (the Lester Horton connection was forged here) and a revered longtime company member (Matthew Rushing).  Ailey concerts have a party atmosphere at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion -- the houses are full of high-spirited, dramatic revelers. Based on the number of giddy, lurching people who came through my row each night, a certain portion of the house was totally pissed during the Ailey run … [Read more...]

Blessed Stillness of Trisha Brown Retrospective at CAP-UCLA

Amelia Rudolph in "Man Walking Down the Side of a Building."

A funny thing happened when Amelia Rudolph, artistic director of Oakland-based BANDALOOP dance company, launched into the very rare, permit-heavy re-staging of Trisha Brown's "Man Walking Down the Side of a Building" (1970) during the Brown Dance Company Retrospective on Friday evening at CAP-UCLA. Just as she crested the edge of the 8-plus story Broad Art Center, in that split second of obtuse-angled suspension before snapping into the 90-degree downward wall-walking path, she heard --- amidst a generalized audience gasp -- the abrupt words of … [Read more...]

Krump Choreography, Coming to a Stage Near You

The Underground by Dan Carino

Over three months, I followed pioneer krumpers Lil' C and Miss Prissy (from "Rize") during the gestational year of The Underground, the first-ever krump-based concert-dance company which they're building with street dance artists from Los Angeles and beyond. I saw their concert, talked to them at Miss Prissy's house on South Wilton Place, and watched them dance at a krump session at Chuco's Justice Center in Inglewood. It's still remarkable to think that Miss Prissy, one of the very first krumpers, actually chose the very aggressive, twisted … [Read more...]

Doug Varone the Painter-Choreographer

Doug Varone and Dancers in "Caruggi." photo: (c) Cylla von Tiedemann

"I'm like a painter," said choreographer Doug Varone during his opening remarks for "Stripped/Dressed," the unique program on choreographic process and performance that he and his company of dancers brought to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts' Off-Center Festival in Costa Mesa on January 25-26 2013. The phrase sounds a little poetic (wouldn't a choreographer be more of a sculptor?) but damn if Varone didn't justify those four words with demonstrations of how he smears and strokes and dots his dancers around the stage using various crafty … [Read more...]

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