Contemporary Dance continues to top my cultural check list as a theatrical experience, combining as it does music, movement and drama, using the stage as a tableau to make an audience feel alive.
It has been a particular pleasure of mine ever since witnessing its emergence from formal classical ballet, to exploratory modern, to the more expressive contemporary, first as a wide eyed teenager at New York City’s performing arts high schools and one dollar a seat concerts, a long, long time ago, later as a guest at Jacob’s Pillow, the renown center for dance in rural Massachusetts, and wherever my travels have taken me.
.And now in L.A. , where dance has been emerging in recent years as a prime cultural attraction, to be enjoyed downtown at the Music Center, in Westwood, at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, and most recently at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the Cal State east L.A. campus, with an offshoot in the city’s arts district which is finally living up to its name.
Any list of a place in L.A. to experience dance also must include the Heidi Duckler Company that performs, indeed celebrates, dance in non-traditional settings, be it vacant lots, laundromats, gas stations and who knows where next.
But most engaging for me recently this has been a most diverse schedule of dance performances at the very accessible Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.
As readers of my cultural commentaries in The Local and other select websites in Malibu and beyond might have noted, in the first few months of this year I have attended several performances at the Wallis.
These have included the very edgy dance company Ate9, under the artistic director and choreographer Danielle Agami. Always presenting the unexpected, the program featured live vocals of Spanish indie pop singer Lourdes Hernandez, also known as Russian Red, and in another piece percussionist Glenn Kotche playing on stage, while the dancers performed.
Then a month ago was a rare U.S. performance of Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company, “malpaso” in English meaning misstep, which is what the company was labeled when it broke away from the originally state sponsored theater.
But the company has persevered to become renown, blending as it does a variety of modern dance styles, featured a repertoire of favored old and challenging new. Of particular delight for me their performance of Fielding Sixes by the late, great choreographer Merce Cummingham.
Upcoming next weekend, May 10th and 11th, appearing will be the ever challenging Jacob Jonas Dance Company, which has been in-residence at the Wallis.
Known for its distinctive mix of contemporary ballet, breakdance and acrobatic movement, the company’s final appearance features the premiere of “There’s Been a Study,” directed and choreographed by Jonas to an original score by rock vocalist and pianist Nicole Miglisa piece.
Adding a most definitely political dimension to its program, the Jonas Company also will perform “To the Dollar,” described as a physical representation of a speech about equal pay for women by Presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren. This I have to see, and no less in decidedly affluent Beverly Hills. It should be memorable.