This week's dance events include two festivals, a one-woman show and two companies sharing the stage
5. A prodigal artistic director returns
Almost 10 years ago, Ethan Stiefel was in Southern California, basking in the afterglow of his star turn in the dance film Center Stage, still a major presence at American Ballet Theatre and, as the new artistic director of Orange County's Ballet Pacifica, announcing what proved to be unrealistic plans to take a regional company into the major leagues with a $6.5 million budget. When less than $1.5 million had been raised after two years, Stiefel left California. Fast forward. Always a fine jumper, Stiefel landed on his feet as artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, where he appears to be having more success with a budget funded in part by New Zealand's government. The company arrives with a new production of Giselle that takes a page from The Phantom of the Opera, with Albrecht remembering the events that led to Giselle's death and subsequent attempts to spare him from the vengeful Myrta and her minions. Both evening performances showcase ABT star (and Stiefel's fiancée) Gillian Murphy, who makes her debut as Giselle (with her home company, she is always the vengeful Myrta). Murphy is partnered by Qi Huan, also her partner in the filmed version that recently screened here and is headed to film festivals. While the spotlight is on the stars, the true measure of the company will be the caliber of the soloists, the precision of the corps de ballet in the second act, and the lead performances at the matinees. At the Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., Feb. 1-2, 2 p.m.; $34-$125. (213) 972-0711, www.musiccenter.org, www.newroads.org.
4. Finding many women in one
Dancer-actress Sheetal Gandhi has credentials ranging from Cirque du Soleil's Dralion to Broadway's Bombay Dreams plus wide-ranging experience in traditional Northern Indian dance and song. Her talents are on view in her solo performance Bahu-Beti-Biwi (Daughter-in-Law, Daughter, Wife), which brings to life several generations of Indian women. With the ongoing furor over violence against women in India and their changing economic and social situation, this is a timely commentary on traditional and evolving definitions of women in that Southeast Asian culture. At Theatre Raymond Kabbaz, 10361 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A.; Thu., Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m., $25, $15 students. 310-286-0553, www.theatreraymondkabbaz.com.
3. A dance festival awakens and begins
Presented by Rubans Rouges Dance Company, this festival offers two showcases, matinee Beginnings and evening show Awakenings, hence the name Awakenings & Beginnings Dance Festival. The afternoon show includes works by ArtBark International, Hart Pulse Dance Co., L.A. FUSION Dance Theater, Los Angeles Rock Opera, OdDancity, Merge Dance Theatre, Nicole McKenzie Improv Group, Relentless Dance Theater, Rubans Rouges Dance, San Pedro City Ballet and Marlita Hill and a film by Robin Bisio/Arna Bee. The evening boasts Brockus:RED, Invertigo Dance Theatre, Luminario Ballet, Nickerson-Rossi Dance and the host company. At Diavolo Performance Space, 616 Moulton Ave., dwntwn.; Sat., Feb. 1, 2 & 8 p.m., $20-25, $15-20 students & seniors., 323-225-4290, www.rubansrougesdance.com.
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2. And a dance festival returns
South Coast Dance Arts Alliance and Golden West College present the two-day So-Cal Dance Invitational, featuring 100-plus dancers performing works from 18 SoCal choreographers and dance companies. Friday includes works from Josh Romero, Ismael Murillo, Jamie Hammond, Nannette Brodie, Brian Moe, Javier Gonzalez, Joei Waldron, Kathleen Helm, Laurie Sefton and Elke Calvert. Saturday's lineup features Robin Johnson, Amythyst Fritzler, Marie de la Palme, Chad Michael Hall, Lori Torok, Benita Bike, Peter Kalivas, FranciscoGella, Gonzalez and Brodie. With troupes coming from San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties as well as L.A., this is a great chance to discover what is happening in dance all over SoCal. At Golden West College, Studio Dance Theater, 15744 Golden West St., Huntington Beach; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 8 p.m., $15, $10 students, seniors & children under 12. 562-598-7182.
1. Two troupes, twice the fun, twice the dancing
Clairobscur Dance Company's half-dozen dancers are joined by Bradley Michaud and his Method Contemporary Company for a pre-show, site-specific event at 7:30 p.m. The onstage program includes three works from Clairobscur's artistic director Laurie Sefton - the premiere of More Please, the reprise of Bully and the award-winning duet Crawl Xipe Totec 2 - plus vert, a new work from Michaud, and his Cedars. At Ann & Jerry Moss Theater, New Roads School, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; Sat., Feb. 1, 8 p.m., $25, $20 students. www.newroads.org