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5 Dance Shows to See in L.A. This Week, Including a Dance About Sylvia Plath

Pony Box Dance Theatre

Photo by Tracy KumonoPony Box Dance Theatre

This week's dance events include a dance drama based on Greek tragedy, a dance about Sylvia Plath, and the latest from Victoria Marks.

5. Ponies and poets
The Long Beach-based Pony Box Dance Theatre was a crowd favorite at last year's Pasadena Dance Festival. The ensemble returns with two works: edge explores the evocative writing and troubled life of American poet Sylvia Plath, with Los Angeles Ballet soloist Sadie Black as Sylvia; the collective showcases a quartet of ripped male dancers. Lineage Performing Arts Center, 89 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; Sat., May 24, 8 p.m., $15. (626) 844-7008, lineagedance.org.

Maurice Hines

Photo by Teresa WoodMaurice Hines

4. Taps for Maurice Hines' Show
Despite his impressive credentials as a dancer, choreographer, director and singer - even a Tony nomination - Maurice Hines can't avoid being identified as the brother of the late, higher-profile Gregory Hines. Displaying some deft footwork, Maurice Hines: Tappin' Thru Life embraces that reflected identity, paying tribute to his early career as one-half of a brotherly tap duo, while at the same time affirming his own credentials as a multitalented performer and mentor to a new generation. The version that toured the East Coast saved most of the tappin' to follow Hines' singing of some standards, interspersed with anecdotes about the stars he and his brother worked with.

For these shows, Hines, 70, does lay down some licks before opening things up to John and Leo Manzari, a new generation of tapping brothers (18 and 21 years old, respectively), whom Hines featured a few years back in a production of Sophisticated Ladies. They're joined by an even younger phenom, 11-year-old Luke Spring, who already has Broadway and touring companies on his résumé, along with show-stopping turns on So You Think You Can Dance and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. It's all backed by a live jazz band, but not for long. Bram Goldsmith Theater, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Fri. May 23, 8 p.m.; Sat., May 24, 3 & 8 p.m.; $79-$129. (310) 746-4000, thewallis.org.

3. Great Greeks
The legend of the great Greek warrior Ajax inspired the playwright Sophocles and now provides the lens for choreographers John Farmanesh-Bocca, Jones Welsh, and the dancers of Jones' troupe Not Man Apart. The resulting dance drama, Ajax in Iraq considers historical concepts of heroism with modern military issues of sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress. Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Sundays, 5 p.m. thru May 31, $25, $10 student rush Thurs. only, (818) 618-4772, milesplayhouse.org

Riptide Dance

Photo courtesy of Riptide DanceRiptide Dance

2. Dancing at cross currents
With the recent heat wave heralding summer's early arrival, heading to the ocean is a no-brainer. With a program titled Turn the Tide performed beach-adjacent, Riptide Dance suggests sometimes a riptide is to be enjoyed, not avoided. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Fri., May 23, 8 p.m., $10. 310-306-1854, electriclodge.org.

Dancers Alexx Shilling and Willy Souly

Photo courtesy of Victoria MarksDancers Alexx Shilling and Willy Souly

1.  On your Marks!
The name Victoria Marks often crops up in L.A. dancers' and choreographers' bios to establish their own bona fides, either touting that they've danced for Marks or studied with her. Before her tenure as a professor in UCLA's World Arts and Culture department, specializing in choreography and performance, Marks was a respected contemporary dancer-choreographer, so it's always an event when she moves outside the classroom to renew her creative juices. A Marks performance is guaranteed to be insightful, provocative, tempered with humor and beautifully danced. Her wide-ranging subject matter has included veterans, disabilities and mother/daughter relationships, with ear-catching titles. (Think: Not About Iraq, which, of course, it was.) This program of new works includes Seven Things (OK, Six) with dancers Alexx Shilling and Willy Souly, plus Dan Froot with Ian Isles, Samantha Mohr and Tida Sripanich. The shows will include the premiere of Action Conversations: Bellows Falls, a film capturing a summer workshop Marks undertook with the Vermont Performance Lab, which produced the film along with Ann Kaneko. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., May 23-24, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., May 25, 4 p.m.; $20, $15 students. (310) 315-1459, highwaysperformance.org.