This week's dance events also include a dance tribute to soul singer James Brown and a dance festival that hits number seven.
5. The high-flying Hodges and his friends
Don't miss the chance to watch Charlie Hodges, the dancer who wowed Broadway in Twyla Tharp's Come Fly Away and now dazzles with L.A. Dance Project. This performance affords the rare opportunity to see the company in town with two works it's been touring, plus a preview of a new piece. Dance audiences also get to see a promising new downtown dance venue, the restored United Artists movie theater connected with the tony Ace Hotel. Despite its name (and its studio's location here), L.A. Dance Project mostly has been touring since its 2012 debut, although its dancers shimmied around Grand Central Station last October in the headphone opera Invisible Cities and Hodges has guested with at least one local company. LADP is in something of a transition period, with its high-profile founder Benjamin Millepied (yes, the former New York City Ballet star/choreographer who's now Mr. Natalie Portman) assuming the artistic directorship of the Paris Opera Ballet and another French-born, soon-to-retire NYCB star, Sebastien Marcovici, announced as the project's new ballet master. A strong New York connection also present in two of the three works on the program, the U.S. premiere of Millepied's Reflections and Murder Ballads from NYCB's Justin Peck (who grew up in Encinitas). Oh, that sneak peek is of a new work from Japanese choreographer Hiroaki Umeda. Paris may get the premiere, but L.A. gets its first look at Umeda's choreography. United Artists Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown, 933 S. Broadway, dwntwn.; Thurs.-Fri., Feb. 20-21, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 22, 3 p.m.; $20-$125. ladanceproject.com. At the Theater at the Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, dwntwn.; Thurs.-Fri., Feb. 20-21, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 23, 3 p.m., $20-$125., 213-623-3233, www.acehotel.com/losangeles.
4. Warm up at the fireside
Just in time for Valentine's Day, the dance component of the winter series Fireside at the Miles Playhouse gets underway with two different programs. On Friday, the contemporary ensemble Hart Pulse renames itself Heart Pulse for the occasion, offering a program described as “all things love.” On Saturday, cozy up to the inviting fireplace as four dancers who are also recognized choreographers take the stage. Suchi Branfman, Sheetal Gandhi, Sarah Reich and Roxanne Steinberg each perform solos from their respective genres: tap, contemporary, Japanese Bhutto and classical dance from India. Reservations are recommended at (310) 458-8634 or firstname.lastname@example.org and guests must arrive 15 minutes before showtime to retain the reservation. At the Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Fri., Feb., 14, 8 p.m., $20, $15 students & seniors; Sat., Feb. 15, 8 p.m., $10, $5 students, seniors & youth under 17. 310-458-8634, www.milesplayhouse.org.
3. Dance well, Little Cricket
Holly Rothschild is a choreographer and co-artistic director of music/dance ensemble String Theory. Roya Carreras is a choreographer and String Theory alum. Each contributes choreography in this program titled Split. Genevieve Carson, Andrew Pearson and Drea Sobke dance in two of Rothschild's works. A third piece, Kitchen Sink, by Rothschild in collaboration with Robin Cook, explores audience engagement. Carreras' women who chew gum examines female sexuality. At Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri., Feb. 14, 8:30 p.m., $20, $15 students & seniors., 310-315-1459, www.highwaysperformance.org.
2. Move over Rose Parade
It's not yet as famous as the city's Rose Parade, but as it enters its 7th year, the Pasadena Dance Festival continues to grow in popularity and now stretches over two weekends. Southern California hosts a variety of dance festivals, but many are basically concerts featuring lots of dance companies. The Pasadena Dance Festival has a more expansive festival concept, not only presenting concerts but emphasizing that participatory dance and also grooming an audience for dance. Hosted by Pasadena-based Lineage Dance and its artistic director Hillary Thomas, the festival's Valentine's Day opening salvo is a free Evening of Tango with lessons and a performance, with Saturday devoted to a slew of free dance events and classes starting at 10:30 a.m. The first weekend closes with Sunday's Festival Kick-Off Concert with festival host Lineage Dance Company joined by Nancy Evans Dance Theater, Kenneth Walker Dance Project, Jacksonville Dance Theatre, Navarasa Dance Theater, Pony Box Dance Theatre, Marlita Hill and Colabo Youth Dance Collective.
For week two, the festival shifts to La Cañada Flintridge for two concerts on Thursday and Friday showcasing emerging choreographers. Next Saturday is a day-long swirl of events dubbed a Day of Dance, with workshops and classes open to the public beginning at 9 a.m., plus two final concerts. The Saturday matinee features pre-professional student companies Colabo Youth, Compass Dance, Creations Dance, Idyllwild Arts, LACHSA Dance, On The Edge, Nordoff High, Leverage, Brockus Conservatory, Mayfield Senior, Flintridge, Maple Ballet. The finale that evening is the Pasadena Dance Festival Concert with an impressive line-up of professional companies and dancers including Union Project Dance Company, Melinda Sullivan, Kin Dance Theater, FUSE Modern Dance, Vanessa Van Wormer Dance, Invertigo Dance, Janet Roston/LA Rock Opera Co., RhetOracle Dance and festival host Lineage Dance Company. With funding from Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division, many events are free and concert tickets are roughly the cost of a movie ticket. For a complete schedule and tickets go to www.pasadenadancefestival.org. This week at Lineage Performing Arts Center, 89 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; Evening of Tango-Fri., Feb. 14, 7-8:30 p.m.; Classes and workshops-Sat., Feb. 15, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Festival Kick Off Concert-Sun., Feb. 16, 7 p.m.; $20, $15 students & seniors., 626-844-7008, www.lineagedance.org Next week at Flintridge Preperatory School, 4543 Crown Ave., La Canada-Flintridge; Emerging Choreographers Concert-Thurs.-Fri., Feb. 20-21, 8 p.m.; Student Company Concert-Sat., Feb. 22, 2 p.m., $10. Pasadena Dance Festival Concert-Sat., Feb. 22, 8 p.m., $20, $15 students & seniors; www.pasadenadancefestival.org.
1. Dancing the Soul Man's music
When choreographer Otis Salid took on this tribute to the legendary “godfather of soul” James Brown and Brown's historic performance at Harlem's equally legendary Apollo Theater, he gathered nine other choreographers with different dance styles from the United States, Burkina Faso, Vietnam and the United Kingdom to capture Brown's far-reaching impact as a singer, musician and dancer. Performed by Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco), the original dances for James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, a Celebration in Dance are set to a musical score derived from Brown's classics. If the performance comes close to the spirit of its subject, everyone should feel nice, like sugar and spice. At the Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sat., Feb. 14-15, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 16, 2 p.m., $28-$110. 213-628-2772, www.musiccenter.org