Los Angeles has welcomed the birth of innovative dance companies in recent years and become a hub for the presentation of world-renowned troupes.
This fall, Southern California draws companies from Russia, Britain, New York and San Francisco. And our local talent will show off some of its best and brightest.
In all, the fall is teeming with promising possibilities to embrace dance.
Treating her dances as canvasses for both the body and design, New York-based Jessica Lang (also an alum of Twyla Tharp’s company) is as recognized for her choreographic gifts as her design sense. Her design-centric brand of dance returns to Southern California — this time with the romantically titled “This Thing Called Love.” The new work is inspired by the art and music of Tony Bennett.
Founded by Venezuelan-born dancer and choreographer Tina Ramirez in 1970 as a vehicle for teaching flamenco, the New York-based company has since expanded its repertoire to encompass contemporary dance stylings flecked with merengue, salsa, mambo, cha-cha and more. Using dance to explore the ever-evolving Latinx identity, the Cal State L.A. dance company-in-residence presents an exciting program in September: dances all made by Latina choreographers.
Not since 2014’s heartbreakingly beautiful “Stardust” has Southern California hosted a full-blown dance concert by David Roussève’s REALITY. But the company ends that hiatus with the premiere of “Halfway to Dawn,” another “Stardust”-like mixture of audiovisuals and dance. Roussève mixes his company’s expressive movement style with Cari Ann Shim Sham*’s bold video art and d. Sabela grimes’ jazz-infused sound design to explore the lesser-known aspects of arranger and activist Billy Strayhorn’s life. As the composer behind Duke Ellington hits such as “Take the ‘A’ Train,” Strayhorn lived openly as a gay man in the shadow of the jazz great. Vintage recordings of Strayhorn’s songs from the ’40s and ’50s, as well as historical footage from his era offer new artistic insight into the complexities of the talented pianist’s life.
The London-based company of Britain’s brainiest choreographer leaps across the pond for a three-date run of one of its most ambitious works. For “Autobiography,” McGregor had his entire genetic code sequenced and transformed into a computer algorithm, which selects the order of 23 dance sections for every performance (a nod to Merce Cunningham’s own experimentation with chance procedures and software). That — and live-scoring by form-busting electronic music producer Jlin — make no two shows alike.
Stepping into works by L.A. choreographer Aszure Barton and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Alejandro Cerrudo for the first time, Los Angeles Ballet ventures into uncharted territory for “Modern Moves,” the company’s Directors’ Choice program. Barton’s rambunctious and lusty “Les Chambres des Jacques” and Cerrudo’s “Lickety-Split” (driven by the music of neo-folk artist Devendra Banhart) pair with the flirtatious cowboys and saloon gals of George Balanchine’s classic “Western Symphony.”
There was a time when ACB’s season was gone by summer’s end, but this gem of a chamber ballet company offers a devilish fall double feature with “Burlesque & Inferno.” “Inferno” explores a hellish world inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” while the debut of “Burlesque” delves into the uniquely exhibitionist aspects of this sensual art form. Both feature the music of American composer Charles Wuorinen.
Ever since it started launching dancers off of giant set pieces, Diavolo — now 26 years old — has never really backed down from testing the limits of the human body, or architecture. More recently, the daredevil company competed on Season 12 of “America’s Got Talent,” but it gets back to its theatrical roots at the Music Center with the California premiere of “Voyage” and a reprise of its signature work, “Trajectoire.”
L.A. Dance Project made its bold debut in Walt Disney Concert Hall six years ago and will tackle one of the most romantic scenes in the Western canon there as well. Backed by the musical tour de force that is Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Phil, LADP Artistic Director Benjamin Millepied choreographs the balcony scene from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” with dancers from his company animating the illustrious score.
A goddess of Gaga — the otherworldly dance form from Israel — and a master manipulator of movement, Danielle Agami’s Ate9 dance company has been a gift to the L.A. dance scene since 2013. The svelte ensemble performs an update of Agami’s “Old/News” and Agami herself performs her introspective solo “Framed.”
Though only 4 years old, the L.A.-born-and-bred Jacob Jonas company has already shaken up the city’s dance scene by building community between its disparate networks and bringing world-class dance to the Santa Monica Pier. Jonas has also made his mark by fusing break-dance styles picked up from his time busking on the Venice boardwalk with choreographic methods learned from his mentor, Spectrum Dance Theatre’s Donald Byrd.
The Ford may seem like an odd choice for Los Angeles’ longtime “queen” of site-specific dance, who’s eschewed traditional theaters for places like laundromats and libraries. But never fear — the nonconformist choreographer is using the theater’s outdoor loading dock and its retractable door in the aptly tiled “Loaded” to explore boundaries, borders and how one can be locked into or out of society.
Known for its impeccable fusion of classical and contemporary ballet techniques, Alonzo King Lines draws another seamless connection between contrasting art forms in “Sutra.” The Sanskrit titled-collaboration between the San Francisco-based dance company and Indian music masters Zakir Hussain and Sabir Khan transcends the boundaries of geography and genre.
Spanning seven hours and three parts (with two intermissions and a dinner break in-between sections), Bill T. Jones’ “Analogy Trilogy” is not for the impatient or faint of heart. This opus to memory and storytelling demands time and commitment, but epic tales unfurl from its marathon showing, including that of a Jewish nurse who defied the Germans in Vichy France (Jones’ mother-in-law); the excessive life of a party boy named Lance; and the travel experiences of author W.G. Sebald’s protagonist Ambros Adelwarth.