Benjamin Millepied's newly minted L.A. Dance Project opens the Music Center's 2012-13 dance season this weekend with a chance to get back on balance after getting off on the wrong foot. After glowing pronouncements about establishing a truly L.A. dance company, founder/artistic director Millepied had to admit that none of the dancers he had selected for the debut season were from Los Angeles. The misstep seemed to reflect Millepied's rather recent relocation to SoCal after retiring as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet to focus on his blossoming career as a choreographer and following his work on the film Black Swan with his highly publicized relationship with its star, Natalie Portman. While it's understandable that he would reassemble his established creative team, particularly his go-to composer Nico Muhly, the handling of the dancer selection and dissing the caliber of dancers at the L.A. audition raised eyebrows. And judging from its brief performance recently on TV's So You Think You Can Dance, LADP has a cadre of strong, energetic dancers. Notably, the lineup includes Charlie Hodges, an astonishing powerhouse who was seen here when he danced with Sacramento Ballet before he joined Twyla Tharp and wowed Broadway in Tharp's Come Fly Away. One dancer missing from the SYTYCD segment was Millepied, who will be onstage this weekend in a program that includes William Forsythe's 1993 Quintett and Merce Cunningham's 1964 Winterbranch plus the premiere of Millepied's Moving Parts. Whether the current kerfuffle over LADP'S lack of L.A. dancers has legs may depend on what happens when the curtain goes up this weekend. Music Center Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sat., Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 23, 2 p.m.; $28-$110. musiccenter.org.
Sat., Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 23, 2 p.m., 2012