This week's list of dance includes Alice in Tutuland, a festival with dance from New York, San Francisco and L.A., and Heidi Duckler doing site-specific dance at a hospital.
5. Queens, rabbits, hookahs…oh, and what's-her-face
With the bombastic Queen of Hearts, the evaporating Cheshire Cat, the hookah-smoking Caterpillar and the ever-tardy White Rabbit, Lewis Carroll created such extraordinarily theatrical characters that he inadvertently upstaged Alice. It worked OK in the book, but even in the classic Disney animated film, Alice comes off as little more than a tour guide, as much a spectator as the audience.
Britain's Royal Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada commissioned choreographer Christopher Wheeldon to create a full-length Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and he not only created a fantasy-filled ballet, but also found ways to include Alice in more than the title. Wheeldon's Alice is a young teenager, not Carroll's young girl.
The ballet opens at a garden party introducing Alice's family, who morph into the major figures in Wonderland, including a young gardener who becomes the Knave of Hearts, providing a romantic interest for Alice and allowing for several of Wheeldon's luscious pas de deux. The second act is devoted to the Queen of Hearts and Alice's efforts to save the Knave of Hearts. A live orchestra performs the original score by L.A.-based composer Joby Talbot.
If the reviews from last year's Canadian premiere are any indication, Wheeldon may have solved the puzzle of Alice, a feat that would be appreciated by mathematician Charles Dogson, a puzzle fan whose pen name was Lewis Carroll. At the Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sun., Oct. 19-20, 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., Oct. 20-21, 2 p.m.; $34-$125. musiccenter.org.
4. Dancing about air quality
Not too many decades ago, Angelenos could see the air they were breathing on a daily basis. Now L.A.'s serious smog days are far fewer, but issues of breath and breathing still carry meaning and concern for L.A.'s doyen of site specific performance Heidi Duckler and her Heidi Duckler Dance Theater.
Duckler and her entourage of dancers, writers, actors and musicians created Catch Your Breath, which takes the audience around the Barlow Respiratory Hospital grounds while guiding them metaphorically through questions involving breath and movement and being. An acute care hospital specializing in respiratory patients for more than a century, Barlow Hospital is known for its success in weaning respiratory patients off of their ventilators, teaching them how to breathe again on their own.
As usual, the human stories that are part of the site inform the performance. Also as usual, guests are advised to dress to keep warm and wear walking shoes. The opening night includes a reception with appetizers, dessert and drinks. At the Barlow Respiratory Hospital, 2000 Stadium Way, L.A.; Thu., Oct. 25, 7 p.m.; Oct. 26-28, 7 & 9 p.m., $25-$100. (213) 250-4200, heididuckler.org.
3. New York, San Francisco and L.A. show they like each other
The title is a bit unwieldy, but the concept of Artbark: Affinity III is intriguing–companies from New York, San Francisco and L.A. sharing the stage in a performance series that travels among those cities and beyond.
From New York, Dance Entropy offers Valerie Green who choreographed and performs Secret of the Girl of the Flowers and Brooklyn's Trina Mannino brings her duet The Presence of Absence. San Francisco's Perceptions West contributes Molly Lynch's Dance De Terroir.
The SoCal participants include Arpana Dance Company offering classical dance from India in Ramya Harishankar's Bho Shambho, while Hartpulse Dance Company promises a bit of Fluff. Robert Salas' Movement Theatre CoLAB brings Visions and Vortices and Rubans Rouge Dance Company dances Noelle Andressen Kale's Cygyzy.
Despite the number of participants, most of the works are ten minutes or less, an opportunity for dance fans to sample these companies and find for which they have an affinity at ARC Pasadena, 1158 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, Sun., Oct. 21, 4:30 p.m., $10 in advance; $15 at the door, affinitydancefestivalarc.eventbrite.com, arcpasadena.org.
2. 100 percent locavore dance continues
The locavore movement comes to dance with 100% Local Free-Range Dance Series, which began last week and still continues. Laura Karlin and her Invertigo Dance Theatre have rounded up six other respected, L.A.-based contemporary choreographers and their dance troupes for this new performance series. For three Sundays, Invertigo and two other companies take up the challenge of demystifying the creative process.
The opening weekend included Arianne MacBean/The Big Show Co. with Nickerson-Rossi Dance. Oct. 21 brings in Kate Hutter and her L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, plus Nate Hodges with his RhetOracle Dance Company. The Oct. 28 closing includes Hilary Thomas and her Lineage Dance Company, plus String Theory's Holly Rothschild and Robbie Cook.
Many of these troupes have strong track records in making dance accessible. Lineage Dance regularly hosts informal dance shows with wine and conversation, while Rothschild was part of String Theory's recent site-specific event at the FlyAway bus station. This new series at a Westside venue promises some fun, inventive and perhaps enlightening ideas about making and viewing dance. Brasil Brasil Cultural Center, 11928 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; Sun., Oct. 21, 7 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 28, 7 p.m., $15. 310-397-3667.
1. Double helix plus drinking
Nickerson-Rossi dance troupe is rather busy, with performances last week in the debut of 100% Local Free Range Dance in Culver City (see above) and now this show. The double helix of DNA inspired artistic director Michael Nickerson-Rossi's new work, DNA, which is set to premiere in January in Palm Springs. This benefit preview offers a sneak peek at the dance plus tasty treats and libations. At the Elevation Studios, 1900 E. 27th St., Signal Hill; Sat., Oct. 20, 7 p.m., $50, nickersonrossidance.com.