21st-Century Beowulf

The adventurous troupes assembled for the three-week New Original Works (NOW) festival have nothing in common. Nothing, that is, except a shared commitment to experimenting with innovative ways to combine dance, theater, music and other performance elements. For example, in this week’s program, Collage Dance Theatre blends dance, theater, text, music and some other surprises in the latest installment of choreographer Heidi Duckler’s reconsideration of the Beowulf legend. Duckler has been presenting segments of My Beowulf at different venues, including a San Fernando Valley ice skating rink. For those who struggled trying to read Beowulf, Duckler’s piece may unveil the power, charm and mystery of the story in the same way her site-specific performances have revealed L.A.’s streetcar terminal, its concrete riverbed, and the historic jails and Laundromats lost to gentrification. My Beowulf shares the bill with Lars Jan’s multimedia-infused opera, Autopilot. Next week’s closing program includes Hans Fjellestad’s musical improvisations on analog synthesizers and vacuum-tube processors, a post-butoh troupe from San Francisco, and a contemporary folk opera. A curated glimpse at the crossover acts taking performance arts into the future, this festival is very now indeed. REDCAT, W. Second & Hope sts., dwntwn.; Thurs.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; thru Aug. 4; $18, $14 students. (213) 237-2800 or

—Ann Haskins

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