Tuesday, August 10, 2010

UCLA Live’s Must-See Dance

This article was first published at Culture Spot LA on August 9, 2010.

David Sefton, director of the UCLA Live performance series for a decade, resigned in May. And the reason for his departure – program “restructuring” due to budget constraints – along with the elimination of the International Theatre Festival from the 2010-11 schedule, has triggered some very legitimate concerns about LA’s access to the national and international arts scene. The 2010-11 dance series that Sefton leaves behind, however, continues the program’s tradition of curatorial excellence. If fiscal limitations motivated the inclusion of more domestic artists than usual, Sefton made good use of his reduced funds – bringing artists and works that LA has not seen, and needs to.

Feb. 25-26: Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM

Foremost is Canadian Crystal Pite’s company, Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM. Founded in 2001, Kidd Pivot’s international appearances have met with consistent critical acclaim, and in July The Observer called Pite’s Lost Action “the best dance work to visit London last year.” Superfast, impossibly fluid, almost inhuman manipulations reference Pite’s background as dancer with William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt. But it’s Pite’s own choreographic vision that’s recently landed her the position of Associate Choreographer for the prestigious Nederlands Dans Theater. Kidd Pivot makes its LA debut with Lost Action at UCLA Live Feb. 25-26, and look for another Pite work in March when NDT comes to the Music Center.

UCLA Live facilitates another long-overdue Los Angeles visit with the arrival of American Lucinda Childs’ Dance, a revival of the 1979 minimalist classic, May 6-7. Member of the postmodern breakaway collective Judson Dance Theater in the ’60s, Childs choreographed Dance as her first large-scale collaboration, working with minimalist icon and composer Philip Glass and visual artist Sol LeWitt. With tripping, skipping steps, dancers skim the stage in continuous crossings. And like the repeated notes in Glass’s score, these simple movements combine in space and time to weave patterns of tremendous complexity. In the revival, dancers leap and bound in front of LeWitt’s original film – the 1979 company performing Dance – so we see in side-by-side action dancers usually separated by decades.

March 11-12: Stephen Petronio Dance Company

Stephen Petronio came of choreographic age in Manhattan in the ’80s and ’90s, and his signature style – fast and furious, sexy and leggy, hip and restless – conveys the urban energy of his home base. His company, now an established international presence, celebrates its 25th anniversary with the stormy new work I Drink the Air Before Me and performs the West Coast premiere at Royce Hall March 11-12.

April 15-16: Barak Marshall

Barak Marshall, born physically in LA but choreographically in Israel, brings Monger (2008) home for its West Coast debut April 15-16. Marshall draws movement and music from diverse cultural traditions (including his own – American, Yemeni, Israeli) to build this charging, driving exploration of power, free will, and survival.

Oct. 23: Helios Dance Theater

And with local and national critical acclaim for The Lotus Eaters (2008) under her belt, LA dancemaker Laura Gorenstein Miller and her company Helios Dance Theater open the dance season at UCLA Live with a one-night-only world-premiere performance of Beautiful Monsters on Oct. 23. For this work, Gorenstein Miller teams up with leading artists in the entertainment industry to craft a dreamscape inspired by childhood nightmares, and if The Lotus Eaters is any indication, it will be a world of physical daring, sensory thrills and riveting storytelling that we enter in October.

Photo: UCLA Live presents the world premiere of Helios Dance Theater's "Beautiful Monsters." / Photo courtesy of UCLA Live and Helios Dance Theater

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