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Chandler promises an eclectic dance season

For the first time, the Music Center will be producing its own program. Most 2003-04 offerings are domestic.

June 20, 2003|Lewis Segal | Times Staff Writer

With the Los Angeles Philharmonic moving to Disney Hall, six North American dance companies will appear at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the orchestra's former home, from early October to late June in the first self-produced dance season of the Music Center's 39-year history.

Although dance has been featured sporadically at the Music Center -- most notably when the Joffrey Ballet appeared as a resident company from 1983 to 1991 -- those events and engagements were farmed out to specialist producers and institutions. However, the 2003-04 dance season is being produced in-house, with Karen Schmidt overseeing the programming as director of booking and presentations.

"For the past three years we have been dipping our toes in the water to see what the interest in Los Angeles might be for a dance series at the Music Center," Schmidt said Thursday. The results have included performances this year by the companies Pilobolus and Diavolo and an engagement next week by the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.

"What we found out," Schmidt said, "is that the interest here is very broad, and that's what led us to present a wide range of offerings rather than just a conventional ballet season."

San Francisco Ballet is to launch the coming season with seven performances beginning Oct. 7, dancing a mixed bill and a new production of the full-length "Don Quixote" staged by Helgi Tomasson and Yuri Possokhov. Dance Theatre of Harlem will follow Jan. 3 and 4 with a program including Michael Smuin's new "St. Louis Woman: A Blues Ballet."

The season's wild card will turn up March 19 and 20 when Shen Wei Dance Arts presents two contemporary works. Born and trained in China, choreographer and designer Shen Wei founded his New York-based ensemble in 2001. The much-loved Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre will return to the Music Center on March 19 for seven performances of mixed repertory.

American Ballet Theatre will also revisit the center for 10 performances beginning April 1, dancing Kenneth MacMillan's full-length "Romeo and Juliet" and a mixed bill.

The season is to close June 26 and 27 with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in a program that will include Taylor's recent "Promethean Fire."

Although five of the six companies are familiar to Southland audiences, the Shen Wei engagement is a local debut, and Schmidt said she is particularly excited about introducing Los Angeles to his "Rite of Spring" and "Folding."

"His story as an individual and in the dance world is unique," she explained. "And his combination of Western and Eastern cultures -- including Chinese opera and modern dance -- is groundbreaking."

Asked why foreign ballet companies and modern dance are conspicuously missing from the Music Center season, reportedly budgeted at $3.5 million, Schmidt replied that "you have to book those companies three and four years in advance, and here our focus was opening Disney Hall. We were not able to determine the schedule for the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in enough detail to pursue international bookings."

Such companies will be pursued in the future, she said.

Season tickets for the 2003-04 series will go on sale at the Music Center box office beginning Thursday.

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