This week's dance events include two worthy Nutcrackers, holiday flamenco and the answer to the question: What is a "Blaktina"?
5. An acrobatic Nutcracker in pointe shoes (with ninjas)
A few years back, an astonishing photograph captured a Chinese version of Swan Lake with the Swan Queen balancing in toe shoes on the head of the prince. Turned out the performers were acrobats with ballet training, and someone had the bright idea to incorporate those acrobatic skills into classical ballet. The Dalian Acrobatic Troupe's Terracotta Nutcracker takes that fusion several steps further with help from American choreographer Dennis Nahat: The final pas de deux concludes with the Sugar Plum Fairy flipped onto the shoulders of her partner, where she balances en pointe. That impressive trick is preceded by snowflakes wearing in-line skates, an Arabian dance that involves balancing candelabras, ninjas instead of mice, oh, and some dancing. Southern California gets a look at the result at this ambitious blending of pyrotechnical acrobatics with classical ballet as Terracotta Nutcracker joins this season's lineup of traditional, or, in this case, highly untraditional, versions of The Nutcracker. Catch a video preview of this one at www.terracottanutcracker.com. At the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena; Fri., Dec. 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 14, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 15, 2 p.m., $30-$180. (626) 449-7360, www.ticketmaster.com. www.thepasadenacivic.com.4. Celebrating BlakTina
This new festival, organized by Licia Perea and co-produced by Bootleg Theater's Alicia Adams, showcases eight emerging and mid-career black and Latina/o (i.e. BlakTina) L.A.-based choreographers: Jasmine Burgos, Sofia Carreras, Hugo Diaz, Michelle Funderburk, Cyrian Reed, Dorcas Roman, Joshua Romero and Eluza Maria Santos. At Bootleg Theater, 2200 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; Thurs.-Sat., Dec. 12-14, 7:30 p.m., $20. 213-389-3856, www.bootlegtheater.org.
See also: 5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week
3. A Nutcracker with a flying sleigh, an Arabian horse and an orchestra
Over the years, artistic director David Wilcox' version of The Nutcracker has acquired an array of special effects from three Disney designers, Flying by Foy, pyrotechnician John Bordeaux, magician Franz Harari and even a white Arabian horse. This year's production includes a live orchestra, and guest artists Melissa Sandvig (finalist in So You Think You Can Dance!) and Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Seth Orza are joined by students from the affiliated ballet school. At the Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Starting Dec. 14, Saturdays, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Thru Dec. 22, $28-$95, 20% discount for seniors & children under 12, www.ticketmaster.com., 562-436-3636, www.longbeachcc.com.
Flamenco goes festive in Fiesta Navidad, the December edition of Forever Flamenco! Caminos Flamencos is led by Yaelisa with a dancer lineup that includes Mizuho Sato, Briseyda Zarate and dancer-percussionist Manuel Gutierrez, with help from guitarist Jason McGuire "El Rubio" and singer Kina Mendez from Jerez de la Frontera. At the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Hlywd., Sun., Dec. 15, 8 p.m., $40. 323-663-1525, www.fountaintheatre.com.
See also: Our Latest Theater Reviews1. A Nutcracker that's all L.A.
The season's most polished and professional Nutcracker belongs to Los Angeles Ballet. Set in 1912 Los Angeles, this Nutcracker is an L.A. original, choreographed by company co-artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, with set design by L.A. artist Catherine Kanner. Now in its eighth season, L.A.'s own continues to demonstrate how well it understands this city. With home theaters in Glendale, Westwood, Northridge and Redondo Beach, LAB brings ballet to the audience rather than expecting folks to overcome hours of gridlocked traffic. The company dancers are a home team to root for, splendid performers who make the challenging choreography look effortless. Plus, since the company performs throughout the year, the ticket income will be spent on stage here, not taken back to some other city as occurs with touring productions. Next week the show moves to UCLA's Royce Hall and concludes at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. This week the show is at Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Sat., Dec. 14, 1 & 5 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 15, 1 p.m., $30-$95, $24-$76 seniors, students & children 12 & under www.losangelesballet.org 310-998-7782