Irish dance in Long Beach, a Turkish-born choreographer’s latest in Santa Monica, 19th and 20th century ballet masterpieces open in Redondo Beach, a New York contemporary company’s finale in Malibu, and more SoCal dance this week.
5. Cinderella in the London Blitz
While he may never seize public attention as ferociously as his transformation of Swan Lake with its male swans in feathered knickers, Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella displays the master’s uncanny ability to transform ballet into a theatrical experience that can run for weeks while most ballets barely extend a full weekend. Bourne retains the Prokofiev ballet score and the basic architecture of the fairy tale but as is his wont, sets the action in WWII London during the blitz, reconsiders the fairy godmother as a male who is equally an angel of death, and moves the pivotal meeting from a palace ballroom to a kind of underground nightclub that actually existed despite the German bombings. Reviews from London suggest Bourne has tinkered with the choreography and other details since the original was seen here in the 1990s. Music Center Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 2 & 8 p.m., Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m., thru Sun., March 10, $30-$175. https://www.centertheatregroup.org/tickets/ahmanson-theatre/2018-19/new-adventures-matthew-bourne-cinderella.
4. A fond farewell
The financial and staffing struggles of small, understaffed dance companies are not just an issue in Los Angles. After seven seasons, contemporary choreographer Jessica Lang is disbanding her New York-based Jessica Lang Dance. Ironically, the closing performance is here. The program includes a number of the choreographer’s greatest hits including what may be her signature work, The Calling, a solo/duet for a dancer and a white dress with an extraordinarily long circular skirt. The choreographer has been in demand with ballet companies’ new interest in female choreographers, so Lang is not leaving, just her company. Pepperdine University, Smothers Theatre, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; Tues., March 5, 8 p.m., $20-50. 310-506-4522, https://arts.pepperdine.edu.
3. Never nervous
Led by choreographer Seda Aybay, Kybele Dance Theater unveils the choreographer’s latest SINIR/SIZ which in Turkish roughly means “without nerves.” Born and raised in Turkey, Aybay draws on her own training in ballet and modern dance in her high-energy works for her ensemble. For this premiere, the highly accomplished dancers include Genevieve Zander, Alan L. Perez, Sam Chin, Amanda Tran, Caitlin Heflin, Omar Canedo, Ryan Houston and Aybay. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Sat., March 2, 8:30 p.m., Sun., March 3, 3:30 p.m., $25, $20 students & seniors. https://highwaysperformance.org.
2. First they vote, then they persist
Now led by former dancer Janet Eilber, the Martha Graham Dance Company anticipates the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in 1920 with the second of two performances at local venues. The program is devoted to works by women choreographers including the legendary namesake of the company and her distinctive approach to dance. Under the banner The EVE Project, the performance includes live music by Christopher Rountree and wild Up. Cal State University Northridge, Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya), 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Sat., March 2, 8 p.m., $39-$94. https://www.thesoraya.org.
1. Two masterpieces from two masters
L.A.’s own professional classical ballet company closes its season with a 20th century George Balanchine classic that defined New York City Ballet and a 19th century August Bournonville story ballet that defines Denmark’s Royal Danish Ballet. The choices reflect the deep roots Los Angeles Ballet‘s artistic directors have with both the two choreographers and their companies. Colleen Neary danced with NYCB where Balanchine personally selected her to stage his ballets which she does for major ballet companies all over the world. This time L.A. gets the benefit of her gifts with Serenade, the first ballet Balanchine created after arriving in the U.S. Thordal Christensen’s roots are with the Royal Danish Ballet where he trained and had a stint as artistic director with the company where Bournonville created both the fleet Danish ballet style and his signature work La Sylphide. A taut two-act tale, La Sylphide follows a Scottish aristocrat who abandons his own wedding festivities to follow an entrancing woodland sprite, a Sylphide, while at the same time he is being pursued by a vengeful witch. Neary may be the Balanchine expert, but she shows her character chops as the ferocious and manipulative witch. Both ballets put the strong LAB corps deservedly in the spotlight for their exquisite ensemble dancing, a recognized hallmark of a classical ballet company. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach; Sat., March. 2, 7:30 p.m. Also at UCLA Royce Hall, Westwood.; Sat., March 9, 7:30 p.m. Also at Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., March 16, 7:30 p.m. $36-$104, 310-998-7782, http://www.LosAngelesBallet.org.
Other dance of note:
For the last two years, Gema Sandoval and her Danza Floricanto/USA have been developing and refining the equivalent of danced short stories conveying the individual yet interwoven stories of the immigrant experience. The finished event Immigrant Stories, An American Journey receives its first, but undoubtedly not the last, performance. Rosenthal Theatre, Inner City Arts, 720 Kohler St., downtown; Sat., March 2, 7:30 p.m., Sun., March 3, 5 p.m., $20 pre-sale, $25 at door. http://www.danzafloricantousa.org/store.php.
Led by choreographer Mark Howard, the mostly-female (one male is on the website’s roster) Trinity Irish Dance Company arrives for one local performance. Like its cousin Riverdance, this company combines traditional Irish dance with contemporized creations. Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Cal State University Long Beach, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach; Sat., March 2, 8 p.m., $50. http://www.carpenterarts.org.
Can’t get enough of Dancing With the Stars on television? This live touring production with recent show participants stops off. Tour and special guest info at https://dwtstour.com. Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Sun., March 3, 7 p.m., $65.55-$116.60. https://www1.ticketmaster.com/event/0B005568B8A51769?dma_id=374#efeat6916.
A harbinger of 2019 centennial activities celebrating the life and legend of the late modern dance choreographer Merce Cunningham, Clouds and Screens, includes two large works by Andy Warhol and Charles Atlas, both artists associated with Cunningham’s company. The installation also includes two early videos of Cunningham’s work with performances and more to come during the exhibition’s run. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Hancock Park; Thurs.-Tues., thru March 31, $25, $21 students & seniors (museum admission). http://www.lacma.org/event/memprev_merce2.
Note to readers: In keeping with the growing activity surrounding the Cunningham Centennial, LA Dance Chronicle is providing a place for individuals who worked with Merce Cunningham, saw his work or otherwise just want to say something about Merce Cunningham to participate in the Centennial remembrance. L.A. Dance Chronicle founder Jeff Slayton danced with Cunningham’s company and championed the idea of a place individuals could post a remembrance or comment about Merce Cunningham, his dance works or his legacy. The Cunningham Centennial Page now is live at the website (http://LADanceChronicle.com). Comments will be collected and passed on to the Cunningham Trust.