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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...]

The Horses Keep Coming

Cavalia horses

Back in February, I received the fun assignment to look at the choreography created for the dozens of horses in "Odysseo," the new $30 million touring production from Cavalia. As usual, the show is a popular hit -- originally slated for a 3-week run in March, it keeps getting one extension after another after another. As of now, the end date is April 21. The revue, created by one of the Cirque du Soleil founders, Normand Latourelle, was a little TOO spectacular for me. (It's not just my age -- I've been a fraidy cat for decades.) Aerialists … [Read more...]

Buried Love Affair Evokes Elusive Moment in American Ballet History

Golden headshot

With ballet’s 15th-century Renaissance origins still somewhat imaginable,  it’s hard to keep in mind that American ballet -- born in 1940s New York City -- is still less than 100 years old.  The two pillars of American ballet --  George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet and Lucia Chase’s American Ballet Theatre -- both arose in that same urban, pre-war moment, with dogged New York City arts impresarios ushering in choreographers’ arrivals from Europe, the formation of the first classical training academies, and the organization of the first … [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...]

Wheeldon’s Wonderful ‘Alice’

Christopher Wheeldon's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

When British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon left his dance company Morphoses in 2010, I was so worried he might retreat from choreography, exhausted from the battle of keeping a transatlantic dance company funded and strong. How glorious, then, to see the National Ballet of Canada (NBC) bring Wheeldon's robust new creation, a three-act version of "Alice in Wonderland" (2011) created jointly for NBC and London's Royal Ballet, to the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion last week as part of the Music Center dance series. It was an eye-popping design … [Read more...]

Teatro Zinzanni Comes to Southern California

Norm Langille. Photo: Lawrence K. Ho for the Los Angeles Times.

[first published in the L.A. Times] As the outré Euro-style dinner-theater called Teatro ZinZanni parks its vintage 1910 Belgian spiegeltent on the scrubbed architectural grounds of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts for the next three months, there's much cooing among the ZinZanni staff about the luxuries of this Costa Mesa locale. "Marble bathrooms," says associate artistic director Reenie Duff. "It's a huge deal." On a break from retooling scenes for the three-hour vaudeville revue "Love, Dinner & Chaos," ZinZanni Artistic Director … [Read more...]

The Divine Axis of Akram Khan

Akram Khan's "Vertical Road"

The west coast premiere of “Vertical Road” at CAP UCLA’s Royce Hall this week had some vocal public detractors, which surprised me. Khan is one of the most promising and original voices on the dance landscape right now, and the only one who’s creating a completely new dance lexicon. Though its still relatively early in his career, Kahn already belongs on the list of seminal modern dance choreographers, probably the first since Merce Cunningham to truly redraw and revitalize movement with forms never before seen. And "Vertical Road" may be his … [Read more...]

The Mariinsky Ballet’s “Swan Lake” Satisfies Every Craving

Oxana Skorik & Vladimir Schklyarov in "Swan Lake"

 I went for the downy thunderbolt of technique and expression possessed only by Russian ballet artists in Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” and I was not disappointed. The 200-person forcefield of sophistication, generosity and technical excitement that comes at you when St. Petersburg's Mariinksky Ballet and Orchestra (formerly Kirov) brings its gold-standard classical ballet to town certainly made the standard touring productions by our U.S. ballet companies feel thinned and rigid. At the Mariinksky’s concert, every performer was a superstar … [Read more...]

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