Compensations: the integrity and soul informing even the stunts (and they were thrilling) of Pavlo Virsky's Ukrainian State Dance Company at the Pantages in March, and Amalia Hernandez' stylized, deeply personal approach to folklore in her Ballet Folklorico de Mexico at the Shrine in September.
DANCE-BASED PERFORMANCE ART: Thematic confusion wrecked both Remy Charlip's grandiose "Amaterasu" at MOCA in February and Jan Munroe's smug "Woodworks" at LACE in April--major disappointments from artists usually far more focused.
But the year also brought profoundly purposeful work by Ishmael Houston-Jones (the nightmarish "Beginning of the End of Everything" at LACE), Ann Carlson (the sharply whimsical "Sarah" at LACE), Tim Miller (the autobiographical "Some Golden States" at the Cast Theatre) and Alan Pulner (the visionary "Sonny Boy" at LACE). Moreover, in "Soldier, Child, Tortured Man" at First Methodist Church, Hollywood, Lin Hixon's Chicago-based Goat Island group re-created societal processes of brutalization in the most spectacularly raw and punishing work of movement theater to be seen locally since Pina Bausch's "Bluebeard."
CLOSE TO HOME: A program of meticulously crafted, quietly adventuresome pieces at the Wilshire Ebell in January heralded Loretta Livingston's emergence in the top rank of Southern California dancer-choreographers.
Rudy Perez's "Celestial Acrobats" at El Camino College in November again displayed his ability to shake the cliches off the most hackneyed subject (here the-dancer-as-athlete) and reveal its primal issues. And L.A. Contemporary Dance Theatre began winning points for artistry in 1988 as well as credit for community service, capping the year with Lula Washington's vibrantly danced M.O.R. group showpiece "A Gospel Christmas" on the 29th annual Los Angeles County Christmas Program at the Pavilion.
NOT CLOSE ENOUGH: In May, the seductive and accomplished Sydney Dance Company performed Graeme Murphy's "Shining" at Memorial Auditorium, Stanford. In the same month, Bebe Miller's provocative "Hell Dances" turned up at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, confirming Miller's reputation for innovative dance-theater. In September, brilliant Tharp veteran John Malashock showed off his new company in the premiere of his exciting "Flames" at the Sushi Gallery, San Diego.
Murphy, Miller and Malashock each flattened their California audiences, but bypassed the L.A. area. Meanwhile we're about to get the fifth (or is it the sixth?) visitation in 22 months of "Nureyev and Friends." Who said 1988 was a year of hope?