From its opening season at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in 1979 through the past 10 years at Cal State L.A., the annual Dance Kaleidoscope series has remained so intent on encouraging any hint of local achievement that its programs have often represented a curatorial vacuum. No standards, no focus, merely a celebratory inclusiveness at all costs.
This tradition continued on Friday with an opening program at the Luckman Theatre supposedly devoted to California dance pioneers but sporting, as usual, some misguided choices. Alvin Ailey may have started his dancing career here, but he choreographed so far from local stages that it's ridiculous to label him a "California Master" and present an excerpt from his "Revelations" (1960). If Ailey qualifies, why not Twyla Tharp, who took her first tap lessons locally at age 4?
Similarly, passages from Eugene Loring's "Billy the Kid" (1938) have no place on such a program, for Loring began making his important contributions to Southland dance education a decade after that ballet's creation, when he moved West to work in films. Antony Tudor also taught here after choreographing his masterworks--why not dub him a "California Master"?
Four months ago, the locally based American Repertory Dance Company offered a far more pertinent survey of early California choreographers at UCLA--and Dance Kaleidoscope borrowed three of its selections: Carmelita Maracci's moody ballet solo "Evocation" (1952), danced by Victoria Koenig; Ruth St. Denis' solo India fantasy "Kashmiri Nautch" (1919), danced by Bonnie Oda Homsey; Lester Horton's powerful modern dance duet "To Jose Clemente Orozco" (1953), with Homsey and John Pennington.