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5 Dance Shows to See in L.A. This Week: Martha Graham Dance at a New Beverly Hills Theater

Martha Graham Dance Company
Martha Graham Dance Company
Photo by Costas

This week's dance events include lost boys, the day of the dead, Susan Marshall live and two phoenices rising from the ashes.

5. Phoenix rising #1

Not sure what is more impressive, the fact two dance companies, each a Phoenix rising from the ashes, arrive here the same week, or the fact that the resurgence of both has been led by women artistic directors who once were star dancers with each company. Following a performance hiatus tied to a tumultuous probate dispute after the death of its legendary founder, the Martha Graham Dance Company has been reasserting its influence under the leadership of former star dancer Janet Eilber. During her life, Martha Graham entrusted her own roles to Eilber and after Graham's death, Eilbert, who resided in L.A. and had established the L.A. Repertory Dance Company with Bonnie Oda Homsey, initially accepted -- and then resigned -- the MGDC directorship during the squabbles with Graham's executor. When the dust settled and the dancing could begin, Eilber returned. She is credited with successfully confirming not only the company's dedication to the Graham choreographic legacy, but also that MGDC is not simply a museum, reinvigorating the repertoire with edited versions of Graham classics and new choreography commissioned on the universal themes Graham mined from mythology and her insightful reflections on the human condition. With Martha Graham Dance Company selected to officially open a new Beverly Hills venue, it may just be that a woman's touch is what a phoenix needs to rise. At Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Fri., Nov. 8, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov., Nov. 9, 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.; $59-$99; 310-746-4000 www.annenbergbh.com.

Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Ashley Murphy and Davon Doane in Far But Close
Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Ashley Murphy and Davon Doane in Far But Close
Photo by Rachel Neville

4. Phoenix rising #2

Dance Theatre of Harlem is the second resurgent dance company, arriving with a woman artistic director who once was a star dancer with the company. Since its founding by Arthur Mitchell, the first African American dancer with New York City Ballet, DTH made it clear that dancers of color could go toe to toe with the rest of the world of classical ballet (including the Balanchine oeuvre and a Creole Giselle that reset the classic in the American South). DTH also taught the rest of the ballet world a move or two in the contemporary field, showing new worlds of movement contemporary choreographers could explore with skills ballet dancers bring to the floor. Eight years ago, financial woes cause DTH to retract to just a school and training company, but recently the professional company returned to performing in New York and gained a standing ovation this past summer at the Kennedy Center's Dance Across America Festival. DTH returns to L.A. for the first time in nine years, the resurgence and this visit led by its new artistic director Virginia Johnson, formerly the DHT's principal dancer. At Cerritos Center for Performance, 12700 Center Court Dr., Cerritos; Fri., Nov. 8, 8 p.m.; $50-$80; 800-300-4345 www.cerritoscenter.com.

See also: 5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Danza Floricanto
Danza Floricanto
Photo by Richard Rivera

3. Dancing for the dead

Halloween is over, but it's time for the 12th annual Fiesta Del Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), as artistic director Gema Sandoval and the dancers of Danza Floricanto/USA mark the Latin celebration honoring the departed. At Floricanto Center for the Performing Arts, 4232 Whiteside St., Los Angeles; Sat., Nov. 9, 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 10, 3 p.m., $15 in advance, $20 at the door, 323-261-0385, www.danzafloricantousa.com/store.php.

2. Susan Marshall live, not recorded

Choreographer Susan Marshall is known for her embrace of rock music and her tendency to launch her choreography online concurrent with its performance debut. This visit by Susan Marshall & Company offers Play/Pause. It is available online, but seeing Marshall's moves in three dimensions with live dancers and musicians is the real thing. UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Wstwd.; Sat., Nov. 9, 8 p.m., $30-$50., 310-825-4401, www.cap.ucla.edu.

See also: Our Latest Theater Reviews

One of Kevin Williamson's Lost Boys
One of Kevin Williamson's Lost Boys
Photo by Ryan Patterson

1. Kevin Williamson's lost boys

Not exactly Peter Pan, but choreographer Kevin Williamson's The Lost Boys draws elements from that iconic tale as four men examine the external influences during their youth in the '80s and '90s. Williamson gets support from musician Jeepneys (Anna Petrisko) and movement artists/performers Michael Crotty, Raymond Ejiofor, Kevin Le and Amilcar Aguilar. At Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Nov. 8-9, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m., $20, $15 students. 310-315-1459, www.highwaysperformance.org.


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