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Fall Arts Preview: Dance

Laura Bleiberg offers her picks.

September 07, 2012|By Laura Bleiberg
  • Ekaterina Kondaurova and Evgeny Ivanchenko in the Mariinsky Ballet production of "Swan Lake."
Ekaterina Kondaurova and Evgeny Ivanchenko in the Mariinsky Ballet production… (Gene Schiavone, Segerstrom…)

Sept. 22-23

L.A. Dance Project

With  Benjamin Millepied as director and Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center as the primary backer, L.A. Dance Project is the most hyped dance event of this season — or of any other, for that matter. That's been a boon for Millepied, the French-born former principal dancer with New York City Ballet and choreographer of the hit movie "Black Swan." Overflow crowds attended two site-specific events in the Museum of Contemporary Art. And the company was lustily cheered during a prime-time national TV guest spot on "So You Think You Can Dance"; Millepied was there as a guest judge. L.A. Dance Project's touring schedule is impressively full, from Augusta, Ga., to Paris, from Montclair, N.J., to Istanbul. If there is a potential downside to all this hoopla, it's that expectations have been set impossibly high for a fledgling group. But it's too late to worry about that. L.A. Dance Project charges out of the gate this month with a new Millepied ballet, "Moving Parts," that has an original score by Project composer Nico Muhly, costumes by fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte and a scenic design by New York City painter Christopher Wool. Also on the premiere program are Merce Cunningham's "Winterbranch" (1964) and William Forsythe's "Quintett" (1993).

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. $28-$110.

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Critic's Picks

Sept. 28-30

Diavolo

L.A. Dance Project is not the only company that has benefited recently from the largesse of the Music Center. Diavolo was the recipient last year of a center residency that included open rehearsals on the plaza. The piece "Transit Space" was inspired by Southern California skateboard culture and will have its West Coast premiere at the Broad Stage. The company will also perform "Trajectoire," artistic director Jacques Heim's ship-rocking classic. It was 20 years ago that Heim, a California Institute of the Arts graduate, began his contemporary troupe, which mixes modern dance vocabulary and sensibility, with acrobatics, gymnastics and oversized equipment. Like Millepied, Heim was born and raised in France. Maybe there's a theme here.

The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. $49-$110. http://www.thebroadstage.com

Oct. 2-7

Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra

Despite a gorgeous score by Peter Tchaikovsky, "Swan Lake" didn't come into its own until its original production was re-choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1895 for the dancers at the Mariinsky Theatre. That troupe has safeguarded it ever since, thanks to its impeccable style and devotion to the classical tradition. On the downside, the current production maintains the Soviet era's controversial happy ending. But few men and women surpass these dancers for refinement, symmetry and conviction. Three casts of principal dancers and one up-and-coming soloist duo will lead this production about enchanted swan-women and a prince searching for true love.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. $30-$135. http://www.scfta.org

Oct. 5-6

Akram Khan Company

The story goes that movie director Danny Boyle went to see Khan's spiritual spectacular "Vertical Road" (2010) and was so moved he invited the British choreographer to create a segment about mortality for the London Olympics' opening ceremony. If you don't remember Khan's work, it's because NBC cut it from its televised broadcast of the ceremony, causing a lot of angry words on the Internet. Well, next month we can see Akram Khan Company performing "Vertical Road" at several Southern California theaters. (Khan, who is a virtuoso performer, is not in this 70-minute piece.) The work is a meditation on the human journey from birth to death, inspired by the 13th century Persian poet, mystic and philosopher Rumi. The percussive score is by Khan's frequent collaborator, composer Nitin Sawhney.

Royce Hall, UCLA Campus, 340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles. $20-$55. http://www.uclalive.org

Also, Oct. 10 at Irvine Barclay Theatre, Irvine (http://www.thebarclay.org and Oct. 14 at the Grenada Theater, Santa Barbara (artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu/Index.aspx.

Oct. 10-14

Nan Jombang

Based in Sumatra, Indonesia, choreographer Ery Mefri comes to the United States for the first time with his contemporary performance ensemble — all members of his own family. Mefri's "Rantau Berbisik" ("Whisperings of Exile") combines Western movement with traditional drumming, dance and a martial arts form practiced by the Minang ethnic minority of Indonesia. "Rantau Berbisik" draws its inspiration from the bittersweet local custom of men being forced by economic hardships to leave home and family — forever, in many cases.

Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, 631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles. $20-$25, http://www.redcat.org

Oct. 19-21

National Ballet of Canada

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