To The Chapel For A “Cere-phony”

Considering connections in Santa Monica, a ballet based on an opera in Lancaster, a marriage “cere-phony” in Highland Park, early California romance and racism in San Gabriel, samba in Arlington Heights, a festival preview in San Pedro, and more SoCal dance this week.

5.  A gypsy seductress

That irrepressible gypsy siren and symbol of all things passionate and seductive, Carmen, is the centerpiece of Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre’s new full length ballet. Bizet may have composed the familiar opera score, but Rodion Shehedrin rearranged the music used here. Tampering with Bizet is less audacious than it may seem, Shehedrin was married to Russian prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya who practically owned the role. PBDT director Natasha Middleton’s version tours three venues with Elen Harutyunyan dancing Carmen, Gregori Arakelyan as the soldier who abandons his post to possess her, and Preston Swovelin as the matador who vies for her attention. Lancaster Performing Arts Center, 750 W. Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster; Sat., Sept. 15, 8 p.m., $25-$40. Also at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach; Sat., Sept. 22, 8 p.m., $36-$60.  Also at Scherr Forum Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; Sun., Sept. 23, 6 p.m., $45-$65. 

Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre's "Carmen". Photo courtesy of PBDT.
Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre’s “Carmen”. Photo courtesy of PBDT.

4.  Looking to Restore 

What began as the final dance in her trilogy Reverse, Recharge & Restore evolved into this Restore Dance Festival with choreographer Jade Charon inviting other women artists of color to share in the performances. Tula B. Strong, Asante Patrker, Jazelynn Goudy, and Tulani Weeks are the first part of the show, then Charon and her By Jade Charon Company take the stage. In Recharge, Charon considers the trauma of five young Black women responding to the deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Sandra Bland. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Sept. 14-15, 8:30 p.m., $25, $20 students & seniors.

3.  Finding the connections

Turkish-born choreographer Seda Aybay traveled the world before settling here and developing her Kybele Dance Theater. Aybay’s travels informed Güneş Doğudan Yükselir (Sun Rises from the East) referencing Sufi philosophy about the connectedness linking humanity beneath the many differences. The second premiere, Noir considers 1940s film noir femme fatales while Sonsuz from the company repertory draws inspiration from the Mary Oliver poem “When Death Comes” exploring ideas of living fully in each moment, memory, and life after death. This L.A.-based contemporary troupe is getting a nice boost being presented by the Broad Stage; another positive sign that major L.A. presenters are recognizing local dance companies perform on the same professional level as imports. The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Fri., Sept. 14, 7:30 p.m. $40-$70.

Kybele Dance Theater. Photo courtesy of KDT.
Kybele Dance Theater. Photo courtesy of KDT.

2.  Romance and racism in California missions

Based on the 1884 story by Helen Hunt Jackson, a dramatization of Ramona was a regular pageant at the San Gabriel Mission for many decades and became something of a branding tool for the romantic ideal of early California. Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre with its band of dancers, musicians, actors and performers descend on this site that figures prominently in the Jackson story for The Story of Ramona. Choreographer Duckler combines the troupe’s site-specific chops with dance, American music and contemporary considerations of female empowerment and racial discrimination that lace the romanticism in this timeless coming of age tale. Details on related show events at https://www.Heidi San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, 320 S. Mission Dr., San Gabriel; Sun., Sept. 16 & 23, 7 p.m., $50, & students, $15 youth.

Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre's "The Story of Ramona". Photo by Mae Koo.
Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre’s “The Story of Ramona”. Photo by Mae Koo.

1.  Musing on marriage

In the one night only event Dearly Beloved: A Union, Out of Wedlock, choreographer Andrew Pearson offers what he describes as a “CerePhony.” Preceded by a cocktail hour and followed by a reception, the evening’s new danceworks are set amid large-scale interactive art installations by Mary Margaret Groves and backed by live music. Known as a provocative choreographer and an imaginative presenter, Pearson’s chosen venue is a commercial wedding chapel, an inherently a theatrical space where brides and grooms revel in their moment as star performers. Where the wedding party often provides dramatic tension, Pearson gets help from recorded and live performances from a half dozen notables including Tiffany Sweat. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and top ticket price promises bridal suite access. Ruby Street Wedding Chapel, 6408 Ruby St., Highland Park; Thurs., Sept. 20, 7 p.m., $20-$60. 

          Other dance of note: 

It’s live performance from the film as some of the subject dancers perform at the premiere of Hot to Trot. The feature film explores the phenomenon and growing acceptance of same sex ballroom competition teams focusing on one male and one female team. In addition to the expected “up close and personal” aspects, the film explores how dancers migrated from highly structured traditional mixed couples competitive ballroom to the world of competitive same sex ballroom. The dancers explain how their newly chosen form is arguably more egalitarian since the issue of which partner leads isn’t fixed and often shifts during the competition. The film’s director Gail Freedman and cast members will be present to strut their stuff on Friday and Saturday. Laemmle’s Music Center, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Fri, Sept. 14, 7:20 p.m., then Sat.-Thurs, Sept. 15-20, noon & 7:20 p.m., $13, $10 seniors & 11 & under (eve), $7, $6 seniors & 11 & under (mat).

Hot to Trot. Photo by Ernesto Nilcoli.
Hot to Trot. Photo by Ernesto Nilcoli.

Later in September, the full San Pedro Festival of the Arts will unfold, but organizer Louise Reichlin and her eponymous dance troupe offer this preview with participants including San Pedro Ballet, White Crane Dance Theatre, Authentic Groove, Degas Dance Studio, Jrick & the Hot Flashers, Megill & Company and the host company offering a taste of what is to come. Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro; Sat., Sept. 15, 7 p.m., free., 

Traditional Michoachan dance, music, song and food are part of the four day festival El Grito 2018. Veterans Park, 6662 Loveland Ave., Bell Gardens; Thurs.-Sun., Sept. 13-16, all day, free.

Hungarian-born choreographer Boroka Nagy and her Re borN Dance Interactive present TWO: Re borN & You with their blend of contemporary dance and multi-media elements. Performers include Jestoni Dagdag, Kristy Dai, Christine Gregory, Simon Harrison, Megumi Iwama, Matt Kindig, Brooke Lester, Chiaki Takebayashi, Emma Walsh and Nagy. Curtis Theatre, 1 Civic Center Circle, Brea; Fri., Sept. 14, 8 p.m., $20, $15 students & seniors.

Re borN Dance Interactive. Photo courtesy of RDI.
Re borN Dance Interactive. Photo courtesy of RDI.

A 6,000 square foot restored Frank Lloyd Wright mansion is the stage and venue for Invertigo Dance Theatre’s Fall Soirée. The fundraising performance includes a reception. Top ticket includes a tour of the historic residence. Sowden House, 5121 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; Sat., Sept. 15, 7 p.m., $200-$325.

Invertigo Dance Theatre. Photo by Joe Lambie.
Invertigo Dance Theatre. Photo by Joe Lambie.

Before summer slips away, the 24th Brazilian Summer Festival brims with dance, music and song from Rio de Janeiro. Look for the LA Samba Dancers with choreography by Joany Macias to join headliner Diogo Nogueira. Union Club, 4067 W. Pico, Arlington Heights; Sun., Sept. 16, 5 p.m.-10 p.m., $45, $15 children 12 & under. 818-566-1111,

L.A. Samba Dancers. Photo courtesy of LASD.
L.A. Samba Dancers. Photo courtesy of LASD.

This venue celebrates a quarter century providing an evening of Spanish food and flamenco with dancers Claudia Moren and Jennifer “La Yeni” Larson, plus singer Antonio de Jerez and guitarist Borislav Solakov. Café Sevilla, 140 Pine Ave., Long Beach; Sat., Sept. 15, 7 p.m., $59

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