This week's dance events include touring Russians, a lecture/demo on Balanchine and two contemporary troupes.
5. The allure of ballet's Baz Luhrmann
With lush, dizzyingly theatrical storytelling as he reconsiders classic tales for modern audiences, John Neumeier arguably is the Baz Luhrmann of ballet. The American choreographer has now led Germany's Hamburg Ballett for four decades, and he's built a company of dramatic dancers that dazzles but with tricks that consistently serve the story. Last year's visit brought Neumeier's The Little Mermaid, which created onstage worlds that shifted seamlessly above and below the sea. This visit brings the American premiere of Neumeier's Liliom, drawn from the same 1909 Hungarian play that was the basis for Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel (that musical's Billy Bigelow is an Americanized renaming of the protagonist Liliom). Neumeier shifts the time period to the Great Depression but retains the heart of the story: Liliom/Billy Bigelow, a would-be tough guy who died making bad choices in hard times, is sent back from Purgatory for one day to aid the troubled child he never knew and Julie, the woman he never admitted he loved. Dancing the leads are the exquisite guest artist Alina Cojocaru and the powerful Carsten Jung, whom European critics adored in these roles - except for the Saturday matinee, when Dario Franconi and Hélène Bouchet take over. Beyond the leads, look for dancers creating distinctive, individual characterizations, the dramatic depth for which this company is known. Music from the legendary, Oscar-winning Michel Legrand should give the beloved Rodgers & Hammerstein score a run for its money. At Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; Feb. 7-8, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 8-9, 2 p.m., $30-$135. 714-556-2746, www.scfta.org.
4. A contemporary trio
New York's Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet brings Jiri Kylian's Indigo Rose, Crystal Pite's Ten Duets on the Theme of Rescue, and the U.S. premiere of Johan Inger's Rain Dogs. At Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Dr., Irvine; Thurs., Feb. 13, 8 p.m.; $34-$100, $17-$22.50 under 30 years. 949-854-4646 www.thebarclay.org
3. A shift key-challenged dance troupe
Led by Danielle Agami, the Ate9 dANCEcOMPANY has quickly made its mark as a local troupe to watch. The contemporary company performs its intriguing Sally Meets Stu. Richard & Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach; Sat., Feb. 8, 8 p.m., $30. https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/921772. 562-985-7000, www.carpenterarts.org.
2. Russians missing their Olympics
Artistic director and former principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet, Sergei Radchenko brings the Russian touring company, Moscow Festival Ballet, to town with two programs. Thursday offers a full length Giselle and Saturday is a two-fer, a Romeo and Juliet set to the Tchaikovsky overture plus Chopiana (the Mikhail Fokine ballet known as Les Sylphides outside of Russia). At Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Thu., Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m., Fri., Feb. 14, 8 p.m.; $25-$65.818-677-8800, www.valleyperformingartscenter.org.
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1. Considering Balanchine's Chaconne
To open the third season of the Dance + Design series, American Contemporary Ballet dancers Theresa Farrell and Zsolt Banki perform the central pas de deux and solo variations from George Balanchine's Chaconne with artistic director Lincoln Jones providing commentary on Balanchine's genius. The series offers dance, live music and a light reception with the performers. At ACB Studios, 5900 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sat., Feb. 8, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 9, 2 & 4 p.m., $25, 800-838-3006. www.acbdances.com