This week includes a local folkloric troupe dancing for the dead, experimental dance downtown, a dozen local dance companies in one friendly festival, Mexico's premiere folkloric troupe makes two stops and free screenings of two legendary dance films.
5. Dancing with the dead
Halloween may reign supreme, but in much of South America, Central America, and Mexico, October 31 is the run up to November 1, which is observed as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). A day to demonstrate respect and remembrance, families traditionally visit tombs of their loved ones, clean the gravestones and bring the departed's favorite food, drink and flowers. Artistic director Gema Sandoval and her Danza Floricanto/USA inject a California sensibility into the occasion with their Fiesta del Dia de los Muertos. Now marking its tenth year, this Chicano style approach to the Day of the Dead has become its own tradition starting with the transformation of the venue into a cemetery. On arrival, audience members encounter a community altar where they can add names of their own departed loved ones. A skeleton acts as a guide as the audience encounters stories and dance segments reflecting on an array of social issues including love, death and immigration. Perhaps as part of the California sensibility, the Fiesta del Dia de los Muertos is not actually on November 1, but set for the weekend. At ARC Pasadena, 11158 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Fri.-Sat., Nov. 2-3, 8 p.m.; $20. www.brownpapertickets.com/event/282185 or (800) 838-3006.
4. Experiments at REDCAT
Experimental performance is always the subject of REDCAT's quarterly Studio series. Curating this edition are Charles O. Anderson and Deborah Oliver, who selected works by Brandon Alter, Karen Anzoategui, Moira MacDonald, Gabriela Garcia Medina, Jordan Saenz, Emily Beattie and Johnathan Snipes. Come prepared to be surprised, provoked, entertained and sometimes all three in the same dance. At REDCAT: Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, 631 W. Second St., Los Angeles; Sat., Nov. 3, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 4, 7 p.m.; $15, $12 students. , 213-237-2800, www.redcat.org.
3. Not just the Mexican Hat Dance
For many, many years, it was simply Ballet Folklórico de México. Led by the dedicated and visionary Amalia Hernandez, the company built a world-wide reputation for its dual goals of preserving traditional dance from Mexico's many regions while presenting those traditions in a theatrical context. More recently, the company sought to distinguish itself from other similarly titled and somewhat competitive Mexican folkloric companies with a name change that acknowledged its high profile founder Amalia Hernandez. Still known for its crowd pleasing interpretations of Mexican dance, the popular company, now officially Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernandez, returns to two local venues. At Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Fri., Nov. 2, 8 p.m., $20-$65. 818-677-8800, www.valleyperformingartscenter.org. Also at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos; Fri., Nov. 2, 8 p.m., $20-$65. 562-467-8818, www.cerritoscenter.com.
2. The family that dances together...
Nancy Evans Dance Theater Festival showcases dances from the home team (family) and several guest companies (friends), hence the subtitle Friends/Family Dance Festival. Among the "friends are Cornerspoon, Darnell Dance Works, DatuganDanceTheatre, Ashleigh Doede, Nancy Evans Doede, Jenn Logan, Merge Dance Theatre, Louise Reichlin & Dancers, Movement Theatre CoLab, SoleVita Dance Company, Tom Tsai and Watson Dance. The festival brings a dozen troupes from all over SoCal to one site. It's a chance to sample an array of dance styles without too much driving. At Porticoes Theater at St. James Methodist Church, 2033 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena; Nov. 2-3, 8:30 p.m., www.nancyevansdancetheatre.com.
1. Take the Red Line for Red Shoes
Dance fans may be calling in sick to work on Monday as two iconic dance films, 42nd Street and The Red Shoes, receive free showings. "You're going out there a chorus girl, but you've got to come back a star!" may be the most famous line, but it's just the start of the treasures in the iconic 1933 film musical 42nd Street. There's Ginger Rogers in a supporting role as Anytime Annie, Ruby Keeler in her heyday, Warner Baxter as the dictatorial producer, not to mention all those dancing feet you can come and meet at this free Dance Camera West screening of 42nd Street. It's part of the AFI Fest. There's time for a late lunch or early dinner before heading downtown for the second half of a commuter double bill. The Red Shoes may be six decades old, but still carries more seductive power than much younger ballet films like Black Swan or Center Stage. Directed by Michael Powell in almost animated color and starring Moira Shearer, Robert Helpman and Leonide Massine, The Red Shoes captured the allure and compulsion inherent in ballet and every other dance form. As the young ballerina explains, "Why do I dance? Why do you breathe?" Dancers know. Everyone else can find out as this iconic film screens with ballet historian Elizabeth Kaye providing insights. Free, but only until the reservations fill up. 42nd Street at the Rigler Theater at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles; Mon., Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m., free, www.dancecamerawest.org, (323) 466-3456, www.americancinemathequecalendar.com. The Red Shoes at Colburn School of Music, Zipper Concert Hall, 200 S. Grand Ave., dwntn.; Mon., Nov. 5, 6:30 p.m., free with reservation. firstname.lastname@example.org., (213) 621-2200.
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