Five Dance Shows to See in L.A. This Week, Including Ancient Heroes in Santa Monica

Los Angeles Ballet dancer Allynne Noelle in Rubies
Los Angeles Ballet dancer Allynne Noelle in Rubies
Photo by Reed Hutchinson

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*5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week

*Our Latest Theater Reviews

*Our Calendar Section, Listing More Great Things to Do in L.A.

Upcoming Events

This week's events include ancient poetry goes hip hop, the Balanchine Festival Finale and a D.C. as dance magnet

5. Balanchine Festival Finale

Last chance to enjoy three of George Balanchine's masterworks with music by Ravel and Stravinsky, film clips of Balanchine's Hollywood movies and pre-performance discussions with a line up of former New York City Ballet stars, L.A. dance critics and historians celebrating the most important and influential choreographer of the 20th century. Go to www.LosAngelesBallet.org for information on the roster for each pre-performance Balanchine Talks as well as information and rehearsal clips of the three ballets. At UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Sun., June 9, 2 p.m., $24-$95, www.losangelesballet.org. 310-998-7782.

4. Ancient poetry takes to street dance

For the opening salvo of this summer's Ford Amphitheater dance series, choreographer Amy "Catfox" Campion and the high-energy dance virtuosos who make up Antics Performance return with Illuminated Manuscript, bringing a hip hop dance theater retelling of the ancient Mesopotamian poem The Epic of Gilgamesh. While he may not have the same high popular recognition as Hercules, Gilgamesh shares many of the same traits. He's part human and part god, a gorgeous, strong, and ruthless king who sets off on a quest with the poem recounting his adventures as he seeks the secret of immortality. The ten Antics dancers taking the stage include Gilyon "Gillatine" Brace-Wessel, Liliana Frias, Mike "Shockwave" Hummer, Curtis "Creez" Jones, Lisa Kapchinske, John "Random1" Molina, Cyrian Reed, Amida "Shofu the Beatdown" Shofu, Garvin "Gyroe" Tran, Kirlew "Bliss" Vilbonbreakers and Campion. They get help from original music from several composers including Campion, graffiti art by Gilyon "Gillatine" Brace-Wessel, animation by Sapphire Sandalo and lighting design by Jim Smith. Early arrivals can bring a picnic or purchase food and beverages at the concession stand while listening to DJ Drez spinning records on the Plaza. Hip-hop merchandise will be on sale and the Antics graffiti mural offers a photo op. Start the summer at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hllywd.; Fri., June 7, 8:30 p.m.; $30-$75, $15 students, $12 children 12 & under. www.fordtheatres.org or (323) 461-3673.

Antics dancers
Antics dancers
Photo by Rawd Emortal

3. Big week for ancient heroes

Originally commissioned by the Getty Villa, this is the first full performance of Hercules Furens {The Madness of Hercules}, adapted from a play by Seneca. The Not Man Apart Ensemble explores the legend of Hercules, who returns from war and murders his wife and child in a mad rage. Seneca's play is considered one of the first to consider what is now known as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and also ponders questions of surviving ones own unforgivable crimes. Tickets and info at www.NotManApart.com. At the Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 5 p.m., through June 23, $25. www.NotManApart.com

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Dancer Laurel Tentindo in Neanderthal versus Cyborg
Dancer Laurel Tentindo in Neanderthal versus Cyborg
Photo courtesy of Kevin Williamson

Photo courtesy of Kevin Williamson
Dancer Laurel Tentindo in Neanderthal versus Cyborg
2. Electric Lodge launches High Voltage series

Dancer/choreographers Laurel Tentindo and Kevin Williamson join forces for this debut installment of High Voltage. The evening offers scored improvisation, new choreography and dance theater under the title Neanderthal versus Cyborg. The two dancers are aided by live music and cameos from other local dancemakers. Expect things to morph into a post performance dance party with audience participation. At Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Fri., June 7, 9 p.m., free. 310-306-1854, www.electriclodge.org.

Washington Ballet dancers at Ballet Across America III
Washington Ballet dancers at Ballet Across America III
Ballet Across America III

1. Destination dance festival

Yes, this is about a dance event in Washington D.C. Yes, we usually cover only dance in L.A./SoCal. But the Kennedy Center is hosting an extraordinary seven dance performances that merits using those frequent flier miles for a last-minute trip. Ballet Across America III brings nine ballet companies from all over the U.S. to perform in the Kennedy Center opera house with a live orchestra. While L.A. gets its share of foreign companies and always-touring U.S. companies like Alvin Ailey and American Ballet Theater, there are a lot of worthwhile U.S. companies that don't tour but ought to be seen. Three different companies are on each program with each program performed at least twice. The event last occurred three years ago which suggests the intricate logistics involved in bringing this all together. Program A (Tues. & Wed) included Virginia's Richmond Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Boston Ballet. Program B (Thurs., Sat. mat. & eve.) has Florida's Sarasota Ballet, D.C.'s Washington Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet. Program C (Fri. & Sun. mat.) teams North Carolina Dance Theatre, Texas' Ballet Austin and New York City's Dance Theater of Harlem.

While each program promises strong dancing, the mix from such different geographies offers an important snapshot of the state of ballet in this country, a chance to see the current generation of choreographers like Edwaard Liang's Wunderland and Stephan Mills' Hush, plus sterling productions of 20th century classics like Sir Frederick Ashton's Les Patineurs and George Balanchine's Four Temperaments and Symphony in Three Movements. The festival also marks the resurgence of Dance Theater of Harlem which disbanded its professional company in 2004, but continued its ballet school and this year resumed its professional company, rising like a phoenix from its financial ashes. Since most U.S. ballet companies seldom tour much beyond their home turf, one would have to travel to nine different states to see these important companies on their home turf. From that point of view, a trip the D.C to see all nine companies in the Kennedy Center seems almost frugal. At the Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington D.C., thru June 9. $15-$75. tickets and info at www.kennedy-center.org.

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