Taiwan's first dance company, female-empowering spoken word, improv and comedy, a basketball legend, and the histories of American cuisine and L.A's female photographers: Here are the 14 best things to do in L.A. this week.
Rhythms of "Ilha Formosa"
In the 1970s, fresh from his studies in the United States, Lin Hwai-min returned to his home in Taiwan and established the first dance company in Taiwan and the first contemporary dance company in the Chinese-speaking world. Under his leadership, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan acquired an international reputation for Lin's blending of elements drawn from classical Chinese dance, Western modern dance, meditation and martial arts. The company arrives with Lin's latest, Formosa, the title drawn from "Ilha Formosa" (beautiful island), a description by Portuguese sailors in the 1500s. Now politically sidelined in favor of mainland China, Taiwan has known waves of cultural influences over the centuries: Dutch, Spanish, Ming Chinese and Japanese. After World War II and his defeat by Mao Zedong, General Chiang Kai-shek and his followers retreated to Taiwan, establishing the current Republic of China. Those influences, conflicting forces and the rare beauty of "Ilha Formosa" are celebrated by what may be Lin's final work as director of the dance company; he's scheduled to retire next year. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; Fri.-Sat., March 16-17, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 18, 1 p.m.; $29-$129. scfta.org. —Ann Haskins
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
Don't worry if you've fallen behind in your observation of Women's History Month — you can cram a lot of appreciation into one evening with March Forth! A Spoken-Word Celebration of Female Empowerment. This third annual installment unveiling the grace, diversity and strength of women's voices brings together 2016 National Slam Poetry Champion Elizabeth Acevedo; Olivia Chumacero, discussing everything from the care and feeding of permaculture to what it's like to be an elder of the Rarámuri peoples of Northern Mexico; fiery torch singer Irene Diaz; and Myriam Gurba, LGBTQIA activist and poet from the renowned Sister Spit collective. The Skirball, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Fri., March 16, 8 p.m.; $15 general, $12 Skirball members, $8 full-time students. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org/programs/spoken-word/march-forth. —David Cotner
Under the Sea — With Cellphones
Sound Stage Live! brings what it describes as "the first-ever immersive musical theater experience" to the El Segundo Performing Arts Center. Its staging of Disney's The Little Mermaid puts live actors in an environment of projected animations that surround the audience. And unlike traditional theater, with its voice-of-God "Please turn off your cellphones" dictum before the show, here the audience's mobile devices interact with the live show (don't ask us how). Before the show, which is hosted by Todrick Hall (YouTube, American Idol), there will be a red carpet in the lobby, plus themed snacks and games. Hall will perform some of his songs before the show and conduct a Q&A after. Chassey Bennett stars as Ariel, and the whole shebang is directed and choreographed by Karl Warden. El Segundo Performing Arts Center, 640 Main St., El Segundo; Thu.-Sat., March 15-17, 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., March 17-18, 2:30 p.m.; $29/$79/$129 VIP. soundstage.live. —Lisa Horowitz
Kids lead the way into the illuminating afternoon utopia of the 13th annual International Children's Festival, which offers culture from nations around the world. Whether it's West African dance by the Dembrebah troupe, a spring showcase of Persian culture or the Podkovika ensemble's salute to Slovak and Czech folklore, music and dance, you're sure to find something to fan your flames of curiosity and exploration. Also on hand is Justin Sather, winner of this year's Young Hero Award on account of all the money he's raised for local frog preservation — and he's only 7, you lazy clod. Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach; Sat.-Sun., March 17-18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; included with aquarium admission ($30 adults, $27 62+, $18 children, members free). (562) 590-3100, aquariumofpacific.org/events/info/international_childrens_festival. —David Cotner
Revisiting Early Days of AIDS
Founded in 1952, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives is the largest collection of LGBTQ material, since 2011 housing more than 2 million books, art, film, video, periodicals and personal papers at USC. "Lost & Found: Safer Sex Activism," its latest exhibit at ONE Gallery in West Hollywood, revisits HIV-prevention and safe-sex advertisements from the early days of the AIDS outbreak, when the disease was an epidemic with no effective drug treatment. The display features more than 100 posters, brochures, PSAs, videos, clean-needle kits and other campaigns created by activist groups, public health agencies and artists in the 1980s and '90s as a means of educating not only a homophobic society but apathetic government and pharmaceutical companies. The exhibit includes notable materials from AIDS Project of the East Bay, Clean Needles Now and the Gay Men's Health Crisis, as well as ACT UP/Gran Fury's Benetton-inspired 1989 poster that reads, "Kissing Doesn't Kill: Greed and Indifference Do." ONE Gallery, 626 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood; Sat., March 17, 5-9 p.m.; runs through June 24; free. (323) 968-0410, one.usc.edu. —Siran Babayan
Improv Dream Team
Reuben Starship: We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat is the improv comedy juggernaut that's beaming in to join as one great unified chortlesome consciousness comprised of various combinations of Eugene Cordero, Katie Dippold, Anthony King, Chris Kula, Lennon Parham, John Reynolds, Ben Rodgers, Charlie Sanders, Eric Scott, Kate Spencer and Joe Wengert. You'll recognize them from shows like Workaholics and Broad City — their integrated form, however, presents a level of comedy that, much like Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, may require you to look away from the horror of the dumb jokes tonight lest you go completely mad. UCB Franklin, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood Hills; Sun., March 18, 7:30 p.m.; $7. (323) 908-8702, franklin.ucbtheatre.com/show/3603. —David Cotner
What Do Famous People Know?
Do you know the difference between poison, venom and toxins? Fortunate and fortuitous? Or coconut milk and coconut water? Launched last year, quiz show podcast Go Fact Yourself is the latest ear candy that aims to make celebrities look both dumb and smart. Created by comedian-writer J. Keith van Straaten and co-hosted by fellow comedian Helen Hong, the podcast invites comics, actors and musicians like Lennon Parham, Lizz Winstead, Maz Jobrani, Cristela Alonzo, Dave Holmes and Save Ferris singer Monique Powell to answer questions on topics they may not be familiar with, as well as subjects they claim to expertly know. Each episode also consists of guest experts who verify the contestants' answers on subjects as wide-ranging as The Goonies, Melrose Place, Scrabble and contemporary jazz. (A recent show featured The Goonies' Chunk himself, actor Jeff Cohen.) Tonight's two tapings include Jonathan Mangum and Stephanie Miller, followed by Pete Holmes and Annabelle Gurwitch. Angel City Brewery, 216 Alameda St., downtown; free, reservataion required. (213) 622-1261, gofactyourpod.com. —Siran Babayan
A Window Into the L.A. of Old
People talked about the "magic" of Clifton's Cafeteria downtown when it reopened — but an entirely different kind of magic once thrived in the old Clifton's, and that's why today's talk titled The Lost History of the Clifton's Cafeteria Camera Girls is so important. Presented by sisters Miriam and Victoria Caldwell, it tells the story of Keepsake Photography, a full-service professional photography studio that operated in the Clifton's basement from 1945 to 1959. The sisters' mother, Vilma, was one of the original camera girls; having discovered her diaries and photographs, they reveal unto you this bygone, vital chapter in the history of downtown Los Angeles. Center for Spiritual Living, 4845 Dunsmore Ave., Glendale; Mon., March 19, 7 p.m.; free. (818) 249-1045, diaryofvilma.com. —David Cotner
In Search of Serenity
Tired of filling that hole in your soul with fear? Are you anxious about nothing in particular? Are you quick to anger about little things like earwax and scrambled porn? Take a break from your incredible power trips and see Dean Sluyter presenting Fear Less: Living Beyond Fear, Anxiety, Anger and Addiction ($16, TarcherPerigree). Sluyter has instructed countless thousands on the finer points of metaphysical awakening since 1970, giving the gift of still contemplation to bright-eyed college coeds, blue-collar numbnuts and violently insane prisoners alike. It only takes one evening to change your life. Why not make it this one? Diesel, A Bookstore, 225 26th St., Ste. #33, Mid-Wilshire; Mon., March 19, 6:30 p.m.; free. (310) 576-9960, dieselbookstore.com/event/publication-party-dean-sluyter-discusses-and-signs-fear-less. —David Cotner
It's sometimes difficult to understand how we got from there to here as a civilization — history being the winding labyrinth that it is — but posterity takes on a slightly simpler cast when Daniel Stone presents The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats ($28, Dutton). It's the story of David Fairchild, a late–19th century explorer who brought avocados, seedless grapes, mangoes and numerous other exotic delicacies to the plates and palates of Americans, expanding the culinary consciousness of a nation that never dreamt it would need someone like David Fairchild quite so deeply. Pages: a bookstore, 904 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; Tue., March 20, 7 p.m.; $30 (includes book). (310) 318-0900, pagesabookstore.com/event/daniel-stone-author-event. —David Cotner
If you want to know more about methods to deal with cops out in the world beyond "hands up, don't shoot" or "drop it like it's hot," authors/activists David Correia and Tyler Wall present Police: A Field Guide ($20, Verso). How you perceive the police is as important as how they perceive you, and the authors will break down the semiotics of perception, giving you the tools to survive encounters with the police, the tactics they employ, the language they use and the constantly prevailing police attitudes and philosophies that make them behave the way they do. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Wed., March 21, 6:30 p.m.; free. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com/event/david-correia-and-tyler-wall-discuss-their-nonfiction-book-police-field-guide. —David Cotner
A Voyage Into the Underworld
Many dancers are fascinated by the intricate mechanics behind the music-making that compels them to move, just as there are a lot of gravity-bound musicians who envy the way dancers can transmute musical rhythms into physical flight. The symbiotic worlds of ballet and music align in L.A. Opera's presentation of composer Christoph Willibald Gluck's mythological opera Orpheus and Eurydice. Choreographer John Neumeier directs an arty new production in which Orpheus' (Russian tenor Maxim Mironov) descent into the underworld to reunite with his lover, Eurydice (Cuban-American soprano Lisette Oropesa), is evoked and dramatically intensified by dancers from the Joffrey Ballet. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Sun., March 18 & 25, 2 p.m.; Wed., March 21, and Sat., March 24, 7:30 p.m.; $20-$300. (213) 972-0777, laopera.org. —Falling James
From Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was never a typical jock. Even when he was still a shy, young basketball phenom at UCLA, he was developing a social conscience by boycotting the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and beginning a spiritual journey of self-discovery when he converted to Islam. He was a jazz fanatic who studied martial arts under Bruce Lee and, after becoming a professional basketball player in the NBA, he changed his name from Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In his latest book, Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court, co-written by Raymond Obstfeld, Abdul-Jabbar reflects on the various teachers, coaches and mentors who inspired him, revealing the same intuitive grace that he once demonstrated when launching his famous skyhooks. Ann & Jerry Moss Theater, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; Wed., March 21, 8 p.m.; $25-$95. (310) 828-5582, livetalksla.org. —Falling James
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Los Angeles Outside the Frame
Los Angeles writer Lynell George has always distinguished herself with an impeccable, discerning style that distills and defines her subjects with unerring sensitivity. A veteran journalist whose work has appeared in numerous periodicals and newspapers (Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and a former L.A. Weekly staffer), George has always been an incalculably valuable cultural force. Her new anthology of essays, After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame, is a superb collection of vintage George observations — thoughtful, elegant, incisive and utterly engaging — that explore the phenomenon of life in this beguilingly peculiar city with a luxuriously rich contemplative perspective that's George's alone. It's a perfect opportunity to enjoy a certain-to-be-rewarding look into ourselves. Vroman's Books, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Thu., March 22, 7 p.m.; free. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —Jonny Whiteside