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Los Angeles Ballet tries the untraditional

The troupe's 'New Wave LA' at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center is heavily influenced by 'So You Think You Can Dance' choreographers. George Balanchine it's not.

May 09, 2010|By Victoria Looseleaf, Special to the Los Angeles Times

"We have a tendency as dancers to compartmentalize," says a bubbly Moore, "but movement is movement. It doesn't matter if you stand at the barre or put on tap shoes. I think of somebody who's used to only going to ballet performances, to see the work of Travis, Josie and me, it's going to be thought-provoking."

As for the company's dancers, they seem to thrive on the new movement vocabularies. Andrew Brader, 24, has been with L.A. Ballet since its inception and is in works by Walsh and Tayeh. "Sonya's movement is not as familiar as what we're used to. There's a rawness to it, and getting it into the body is at first uncomfortable, but she keeps pushing and it becomes ingrained. Josie's movement is more accented. There's more intention behind it."

Walsh, 38, has her own company, MYOKYO. She's produced several full-evening works that are a mash-up of pointe shoes, aerial dances and industrial rock music, composed by her husband, Paul Rivera. She calls it "renegade ballet." Walsh's premiere for six dancers, "Transmutation," while making use of classical technique, also features thrusting tango gyrations, huge grand plies on pointe and sexy split leg lifts — all to Rivera's pulsating score.

Says Walsh: "I'm constantly breaking my own barriers and exploring new movement, new dynamics. When it comes to my work with a ballet company, it's definitely harder-hitting."

Los Angeles Ballet continues to dial up the heat. Of their recent all-Balanchine program, the Los Angeles Times wrote that the troupe "entered a new phase … its dancers showing increasing mastery with a repertory that, while familiar, is unforgiving."

How they ultimately handle unfamiliar choreography, albeit works tailor-made for their bodies, will prove revealing, as will the dances themselves.

"You want a choreographer to have ideas," says Christensen, "and to be able to give them to the dancers. These choreographers are inventive and a good mix. We also like their moods in transition with each other."

"So You Think You Can Dance" notwithstanding, "We're not here to do reality shows," Christensen says. "We're here to produce art."

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