Caught on Film

Last chance for soaring swans in knickers, first chance for four days of dance films, and some basement dancing, three events launching SoCal dance in 2020.

3.  Noises heard under the stairs

After successfully graduating in film and media studies, but not so much with her minor in writing, Alea Olivas traveled about the West before coming home to L.A. Rather than figuring out her next step in a parental basement, Olivas draws on her dance and multi-media skills in basement sounds: playful. erotic. lover—of liquid gold. Pieter, 420 W. Ave. 30, Glassell Park; Sat., Jan. 4, 8:30 p.m., free with non-monetary donation to bar or boutique.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Photo by Johan Persson.
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. Photo by Johan Persson.

2. Swan song

The original show opened in Britain in 1997 where it was seen by then Center Theater Group artistic director Gordon Davidson who booked it into the Music Center’s Ahmanson Theatre. Thus L.A. became the American launch of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake before it went on to become a Broadway and international phenomenon. Along the way, Matthew Bourne showed how danced theater could be a game changer for both arts. Bourne kept the Tchaikovsky score but turned the classical ballet from a tale of some once upon a time kingdom into a recognizable contemporary British monarchy, replaced the female corps with male dancers in feathered knickers, and transformed the lead swan into a male who comforts and seduces the neglected prince then goes on to entice and seduce the queen herself. And now Bourne is back, the show’s 20-year old audacity still ringing curiously true. As the British crown reels once more from revelations about a current prince’s involvement with a notorious sexual predator, the return of the ballet continues to resonate, but only for a few days more. Ahmanson Theater, Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 2:30 p.m. & 8 p.m., Sun., 1:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., thru Jan. 5, $35-$145.

Dance Camera West's "Screaming Shapes." Photo courtesy of the artists.
Dance Camera West’s “Screaming Shapes.” Photo courtesy of the artists.

1.  Celluloid dancing

In 2001, long before TikTok, instagram, or facebook streaming, Kelly Hargraves and Lynn Kessler founded Dance Camera West, a festival of dance films. Today dance film and dance videos are everywhere, and anywhere someone has a smart phone. The key to DCW’s longevity and stature as one of the premiere dance film fests is its curated nature with festival audiences viewing the cream selected by organizers, led once again by Hargraves. Opening night of this year’s four day festival boasts 17 short dance films plus two internationally acclaimed guests for a Q&A. Friday offers another 17 films with films selected from around the world and Saturday promises a marathon wrap up with 26 more short films including the best submissions to the Dare to Dance in Public challenge organized by choreographer Sarah Elgart and Cultural Weekly. And things keep happening, just before publication, The action moves to Chinatown for Sunday’s free screening, bringing the total number of films to 55. REDCAT at Disney Hall, 631 W. 2nd St., downtown; Thurs., Jan. 9, 8:30 p.m., Fri., Jan. 10, 6:30 & 8:30 p.m., Sat., Jan., 11, noon, 3:30 p.m. 5:30, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m., $12 per program, $72 all festival pass. Also at The Automata, 504 Chung King Ct., Chinatown; Sun., Jan. 12, noon-5 p.m., free. 

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