Among the most gifted choreographers working today, Nacho Duato blends superb craft with an instinctive understanding of how to draw new levels of movement out of dancers and an uncanny ability to merge that movement to music. Even his buoyant dances are thoughtful, much of his work suggests shadowy, half-remembered dreams, qualities reminiscent of his time as a resident choreographer with Nederlands Danstheater before he formed Compania Nacional de Danza in his native Spain. Pacific Northwest Ballet impressed OCPAC audiences with Jardi Toncat , American Ballet Theater showed SoCal Romansa , and this visit offers West Coast premieres of three more Duato creations. Gnawa (2005) is a sensual exploration of Mediterranean people with music by several Moroccan composers. Castrati (2002) tackles the subject of gelded singers who populated the soprano ranks during a time women singers were banned, but fell out of style as females were allowed into in church choirs and opera companies. In Arenal (1988) songs by Maria del Mar Bonet provide the musical backdrop as the dancemaker juxtaposes sunny and somber aspects of Mediterranean life with joyous ensemble dances alternating with a woman whose solos reflect a somber and pained heart .

May 6-7, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., May 8, 2 & 7:30 p.m., 2010

LA Weekly