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Dance While You Can

Photo by Anne Fishbein

1. New Real Estate. The opening of the Kodak Theater this fall initiated the return of American Ballet Theater to an L.A. venue. After years of only sporadic visits from the troupe, let’s hope the relationship sticks — and that the Kodak broadens its scope to include a range of companies.

2. The Return of the Music Center. L.A. has become Matthew Bourne’s second home thanks to the Ahmanson Theater, which presented Bourne’s third large-scale opus, The Car Man, as part of its annual season. In addition, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Ahmanson were resurrected as prominent dance venues with the help of a cabal of moneyed aficionados who hosted a slim but high-caliber roster that included the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Twyla Tharp Dance, and Complexions.

3. Foreign Troupes. Thanks to dedicated and imaginative local presenters, the year was abuzz with visits from international companies: El Camino College brought in the outstanding Bangarra Dance Theatre from Australia; the Carpenter Center hosted Dance the Spirit of Cambodia, the first tour of classical Khmer court dance since the 1990 Los Angeles Festival; and the Irvine Barclay Theater opened its doors to the New World Flamenco Festival — an introduction to the sleek, hip look of flamenco nuevo and a new generation of masters, including the Madrid-based Companía Belén Maya and the leather-clad rhythmic dynamo Domingo Ortega and his eponymous troupe.

4. Ballet-O-Rama. From Nederlands Dans Theater’s sublime poetry to Sylvie Guillem’s refreshing production of Giselle for La Scala Ballet and Miami City Ballet’s electrifying performance of Balanchine’s Jewels, 2001 proved the continued vitality and originality of the form.

5. America Butoh. Another downtown venue that upped its profile with famed butoh master Min Tanaka and, earlier in the year, Eiko & Koma’s When Night Were Dark, a mesmerizing journey into the mythic and elemental, set within an illusory context.

6. Local Boys. In Schlammer, Dan Froot danced, sang, juggled, and all-around amazed and delighted audiences with this sly inquiry into what makes a man a man and a performance a performance. It was a hyperanimated tour de force that gave us the truly memorable Jewish gangster turned vaudevillian star “DEHdee.” David Rousseve’s The Ten Year Chat earned him a Lester Horton Award in 2000, when it was still a work in progress. After a year’s worth of tinkering, it premiered as a sleek, 80-minute meditation on survival that ricocheted between trenchant character monologues and exultant, loose-limbed jazz solos, demonstrating Rousseve’s ample gifts as a writer and mover.


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