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Five Dance Shows to See in L.A. This Week, Including The Little Mermaid, But Not the Disney Kind

The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid
Photo Courtesy of Hamburg Ballet

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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.

5. She Swims! She Walks! She Dances!

Those who know The Little Mermaid mainly from the Disney film may want to touch base with the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale before heading to see Hamburg Ballet's full-length ballet, which adheres more closely to the original story. American-born choreographer John Neumeier created The Little Mermaid for the Royal Danish Ballet on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Andersen's birth and it was presented in Copenhagen not far from where the statue of the Little Mermaid, perhaps Denmark's most recognizable landmark, eternally gazes wistfully out to sea. Neumeier's own Hamburg Ballet has made the ballet its own, although other companies, including the San Francisco Ballet, have performed The Little Mermaid, attracted both to the story and Neumeier's nonpareil skills. This masterful storyteller draws audiences into known stories then blends dance and theatrical elements to cinematic effect that injects fresh insights into familiar plots. Here he makes palpably physical the mermaid's pain as her fins (a brilliant bit of costuming with billowing fabric extending far beyond the dancer's feet) become legs. But Neumeier goes on to capture the after-pain of ambulating on the newfound limbs in an unfamiliar world no longer of water, but earth and gravity, and finally, the painful lesson that no matter how many barriers a powerful love can overcome, there is no guarantee of reciprocity. The story has resonated throughout the world since it was written in 1837, but it has long ties to Danish ballet including its reigning ballerina posing as the model for Little Mermaid sculpture unveiled in 1913. Neumeier's ballet reunited the story with the Royal Danish Ballet, but his Hamburg Ballet brings it to a new generation and to Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; Fri., Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 9, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 10, 2 p.m.; $25-$100. www.scfta.org or (714) 556-2121. Fri., Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 9, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 10, 2 p.m., $25-$100. 714-556-2787, www.scfta.org.

4. Tokyo's Hiroaki Umeda: A One Man Show

Described by The New York Times as moving "like a tin man with oil flowing freely through his veins," Japan's Hiroaki Umeda is a solo performer based in Tokyo who creates light and sound environments in which he dances. This visit, he performs companion pieces haptic and holistic strata, which draw on dance forms from ballet to butoh to hip-hop. At REDCAT: Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, 631 W. Second St., Los Angeles; Feb. 14-16, 8:30 p.m.; $20-$25, $15-$20 students. 213-237-2800, redcat.org

Five Dance Shows to See in L.A. This Week, Including The Little Mermaid, But Not the Disney Kind
Laurence Cooper

3. Flamenco at the Fountain

Spain's Andalusia region is the inspiration for this installment of the long-running Forever Flamenco!. The only American to win two national awards in Spain, Lakshmi Basile (aka La Chimi) headlines the cast, which includes dancer Carlos Hernandez making his Fountain Theatre debut, singer Pilar Moreno from Sevilla, Spain and guitarist Ethan Margolis. At the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Hlywd.; Sun., Feb. 10, 8 p.m., $40. 323-663-1525, fountaintheatre.com.

2. If the Shoe Fits

The Russian National Ballet Theater performs two full-length ballets based on fairy tales. Saturday offers Sleeping Beauty and on Sunday it's Cinderella, with comical stepsisters adding levity to the familiar telling of the girl who just can't keep her shoe on. This company was founded in the late 1980s, but this version of the ballet dates back to 1945. At the Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Sat., Feb. 9, 8 p.m., Sun., Feb. 10, 3 p.m., $20-$65. 818-677-8800, valleyperformingartscenter.org.

Atlantic Steps
Atlantic Steps
Photo courtesy of Atlantic Steps

1. Irish in Santa Clarita

A kissing cousin to the Irish dance styles popularized by Riverdance, Atlantic Steps focuses on Ireland's sean-nós (old style), an exuberant dance form that evolved in Connemara along the rugged Atlantic coast of Ireland. Brian Cunningham is the star of the ten dancers performing with live music at Santa Clarita College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Rd.; Fri., Feb. 8, 8 p.m., $20-$45. 661-362-5304, canyons.edu/Offices/PIO/CanyonsPAC.

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