This week's dance events include melodramatic ballroom dancers and a young man searching for stardust via e-mail.
5. Ballroom's power couple before Fred & Ginger
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' classic 1939 film biography, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, continues to introduce new generations to the eponymous dancers (and maybe to Astaire and Rogers). There was no similar biopic about the Castles' luminous rivals, Frank and Yolanda Veloz, and the dramatic and melodramatic story of the Velozes' lives and careers is no longer widely known, even within the dance world. State Street Ballet artistic director Rodney Gustafson and choreographer William Soleau set out to change that with An American Tango. Frank Veloz was from a tough part of Washington, D.C.; Yolanda Casazza was from New York's Hell's Kitchen. Together they formed a ballroom team that epitomized glamour, won competitions and gained the favor of a gangster who opened doors to gigs at New York's swankiest nightclubs, where Yolanda's one-of-a-kind gowns launched fashion trends. Successful work in film, a dance-school franchise and national tours that included the Hollywood Bowl followed, as did personal betrayal. Multimedia projections, narration and elaborate costumes recalling Yolanda as a fashion phenomenon of the time help the dancers tell the pair's story. At the Broad Stage, Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Sat., Sept. 21, 8 p.m., $50-$80. (310)434-3200, www.anamericantango.com.
4. Waterfront dances
Dance, music and crafts are the backbone of the Tri Art festival, a free, two-day event showcasing San Pedro as an arts haven. Louise Reichlin curated the dance component. The nine troupes on Saturday include Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Regina Klenjosky Dance Company and New York-based Jazz Roots Dance Company. The 10 ensembles on Sunday's stage include San Pedro Ballet and Antics Hip-Hop. The performance stage is at Ports O' Call Village, Performance stage at the South End at 1199 Nagoya Way, San Pedro. Sat.-Sun., Sept. 21-22, 1 p.m., free. 310-548-8076, www.triartsp.com.
3. Seducing Buddha
According to Buddhist legend, the demon Mara tried unsuccessfully to seduce Buddha, and continues to audaciously entice and distract humans with worldly pleasures, keeping them from finding true inner freedom. That demon's demon is the focus of bharatanatyam choreographer Mythili Prakash and the dancers of Shakti Dance Company in their newest, Mara. For this world premiere, composer-musician Aditya Prakash provides a score that draws on classical Indian music, brass-band jazz and funk, played live by his Aditya Prakash Ensemble. Video wizard Kate Johnson and lighting magician Eileen Cooley are part of the team creating a world that blends contemporary Western theater elements with South Asia storytelling, dance and music. At John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. E., Hlwyd; Sat., Sept. 21, 8 p.m., $20-$50.., 323-461-3673, www.fordamphitheatre.org.
2. The lessons Maori women have to teach
Choreographer Lemi Ponifasio and Mau, his 10-member New Zealand-based dance/theatre company, make their L.A. debut with Stones in Her Mouth as part of REDCAT's Radar L.A. contemporary theater festival. Based in New Zealand, Ponifasio and Mau travel the world, invited to international festivals by Peter Sellers and other far-sighted impresarios. For this festival, Ponifasio unveils Stones in Her Mouth, employing an ensemble comprised of Maori women (the indigenous people of New Zealand). The dancework blends traditional Maori ceremony with the choreographer's innovative mix of dance and theatre to consider the tumultuous tidal influences of tradition and modernity on Maori women specifically, and the larger world in general. At the Palace Theatre, 630 S. Broadway, dwntwn.; Thurs., Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 27-28, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 5:30 p.m., $25, $20 students. (213) 553-4567, www.redcat.org.
1. Stardust for generation Twitter
Among the delectables assembled for the Radar L.A. contemporary theater festival is David Roussève/Reality's Stardust. A winner of New York's Bessie and L.A.'s Horton awards for its richly textured choreography and evocative storytelling, the show employs projected text messages to convey the words of a gay American teenager while dancers articulate the conflicted young man's emotional arc. At REDCAT: Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, 631 W. Second St., dwntwn.; Tues., Sept. 24, 9 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 7 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 27, 7 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 28, 2 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 29, 5:30 p.m.; $25. $20 students. (213) 237-2800, www.redcat.org.
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