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Faces to watch 2007

December 31, 2006|Lewis Segal

RASTA THOMAS

Ballet star

Not many dancers have performed leading roles with the Kirov Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and National Ballet of Cuba, plus Twyla Tharp's "Movin' Out" on Broadway and a featured solo at the Academy Awards. But Rasta Thomas has earned credits and medals galore without, somehow, establishing himself in the ballet public's mind as indelibly as other dancers who've spent their careers in one place or company.

That situation might be about to change, for this season Thomas will make his debut with American Ballet Theatre, a company at the epicenter of our nation's classical consciousness. His vehicle: the title role of Lar Lubovitch's full-evening Shakespeare ballet "Othello."

No word yet whether Thomas, who was born in San Francisco in 1981 and whose family then moved to the Virgin Islands, will be on board when the ABT "Othello" comes to the Los Angeles Music Center in July.

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YVONNE RAINER

Choreographer-filmmaker

An eloquent spokesperson for the postmodern revolution of the 1960s, Yvonne Rainer co-founded the influential Judson Dance Theater in New York and explored ideas about dance minimalism and the use of everyday movement in her choreography until her attention turned increasingly to experimental filmmaking in the 1970s.

Rainer began an association with the Getty Center in 2004, returning annually since then, and now the Getty Research Institute has acquired her extensive archives: diaries, letters, drafts of her dance projects, film scripts, scores and other materials that provide invaluable insights about a turbulent era in American art.

Some of the materials will be on view as part of Getty exhibitions -- for instance, one that the institute plans for next summer on the evolution and documentation of performance art.

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JACQUES HEIM

Choreographer/company leader

Best known as the founder-artistic director of Los Angeles' daring Diavolo Dance Theater, Jacques Heim also has choreographed "Ka" for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, along with projects for theater companies and corporate clients.

He moves into a challenging new arena in 2007 when he choreographs Esa-Pekka Salonen's "Foreign Bodies" for a Sept. 6 premiere at the Hollywood Bowl. That score has never been danced until now, though Salonen is quoted as saying that it "has to do with bodies in a very real sense ... how music and the body are one and the same thing. Musical expression is bodily expression."

Heim says he plans to stage "Foreign Bodies" on a large aluminum structure that can morph from a cube into many other shapes -- architectural expression as bodily expression.

-- Lewis Segal

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