Dance events this week include Los Angeles Ballet's dazzling Quartet and the humorous ballet of the Trocks.
5. The "begats" of modern dance
In the beginning, there was Martha Graham who begat Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor. Taylor begat David Parsons. And that's how modern dance rolls. Just as Cunningham and Taylor began their careers as dancers with Graham's dance company then went on to establish their own troupes and their own choreographic legends, Parsons was a star dancer with Taylor for nine years before starting his own David Parsons Dance Company in 1985.
In the intervening three decades, Parsons has found his own distinctive voice although he still best known for Caught, his ingenious duet for dancer and strobe light. Impeccably timed, the strobe catches the dancer in flight creating an illusion that the dancer is suspended in the air. Parson's dozen dancers are gorgeous and ripped, technically able to meet the demands of choreography with this high-grade lineage, but also able to mine the easy-going humor that makes Parsons' work accessible to a wide audience.
There are signs the begats continue since a former Parsons dancer, Robert Battle, now helms a revitalized Alvin Ailey Dance Company which arrives next week. This weekend it's Parsons' show at Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Sat., March 22, 8 p.m.; $25-$65. www.valleyperformingartscenter.org, www.ticketmaster.com
4. And another "begat"
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the modern dance company established by the late Alvin Ailey in 1958 and then nurtured by Ailey's muse Judith Jamison, acquired its third artistic director, Robert Battle, barely three years ago. An alum of David Parsons Dance Company (see No. 5 above), Battle's impact already was in evidence during last year's visit. As usual, the Ailey dancers were gorgeous, superbly trained and athletic, but they also showed additional depth and precision as they tackled challenging new repertoire.
This visit offers two programs, again emphasizing new works. The evening performances include the west coast premieres of British choreographer Wayne McGregor's Chroma (2006) paired with D-Man in the Waters (Part I) a 1998 revision of the original 1989 work by the prolific choreographer Bill T. Jones, who nabbed Tony awards for Fela! and Spring Awakening in between running his own company. The matinees include another west coast premiere, Lift (2013) from choreographer Azure Barton, and the return of the always popular Grace (1999) by Ronald K Brown.
The emphasis on the new does not mean the current leadership is forgetting the elements that made this company so successful. Each performance closes with the company's signature, Ailey's gospel-informed Revelations, polished to perfection. Still, it's what comes before that finale that commands attention for the company's renewed energy and depth. At Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; March 27-29, 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., March 29-30, 2 p.m., $25-$119. 714-556-2746, www.scfta.org.
3. Chinese history according to Shen Yun
No less than five centuries of Chinese civilization and culture are covered in this elaborate dance and music performance from Shen Yun World Tour. At Nokia Theatre, 777 Chick Hearn Court, dwtwn.; Sat., March 22, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 23, 1 & 6 p.m. 213-763-6030, www.nokiatheatrelalive.com.
2. Ballet spoof
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the deservedly popular all-male troupe, returns to deliver classical ballet en pointe and with tongue in cheek. The dancers delicately balance true ballet technique and affection for the classical ballets with hilarious send-ups of iconic ballets. This 40th-anniversary season includes Go for Barocco, Raymonda's Wedding and Le Lac des Cygnes (Swan Lake, Act II). At Richard & Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach; Sat., March 22, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 23, 2 p.m., $45. 562-985-7000, www.carpenterarts.org.
1. Last chance to join the cheering
Audiences have been cheering and giving standing ovations at performances of Quartet, as the dancers of Los Angeles Ballet revel in two world premieres plus company premieres of two 20th century masterpieces that only the best dance companies are allowed to perform. Choreographer Sonya Tayeh from TV's So You Think You Can Dance returns for her fourth LAB commission. Each outing Tayeh has explored new movement potential in LAB's superb dancers and the dancers take Tayeh's ferocious stylings to new levels, even dancing blind with their hair covering their faces in Tayeh's newest, Beneath One's Dignity.
The second world premiere is choreographer Christopher Stowell's first LAB commission. A recognized choreographer and former artistic director of the respected Oregon Ballet Theater, for his ballet Cipher, Stowell teamed up with composer Noah Agruss. The work of Europe's master choreographer Ji?í Kylián has been seen here on Nederlands Dans Theater and American Ballet Theater, but Kylián severely restricts who can perform his work, especially Return to a Strange Land, a luminous series of pas de deux and trios set to music of Leoš Janá?ek.
Kylián's permission is another benchmark of the international reputation LAB has established under co-artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary. Last season brought LAB's inaugural Balanchine Festival to the company's multiple home theaters and added a free summer performance at downtown's Grand Park that set attendance records. Quartet's finale returns to Balanchine for the company premiere of his terpsichorean sparkler, Stars and Stripes. Set to John Philip Sousa's exuberant marches, Stars and Stripes is a Balanchine valentine to his adopted home country.
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With performances in multiple theaters, LAB continues its commitment to make professional ballet a short drive for all of metro L.A. At UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Dr., Wstwd. Sat., March 22, 7:30 p.m., $30-$95, $24-$76 students, children & seniors. 310-937-6607 or www.losangelesballet.org.
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