Cinderella Goes Underground

Celebrating a battle-scared immigrant grandmother in West L.A., a San Francisco visitor and a local share the stage in Santa Monica, and downtown venues host a site-specific choreographer who moves indoors, a deconstructed flash mob, Cinderella losing her shoe during the WWII London blitz, and Astaire/Rogers recreations, plus more So Cal dance this week.

5.  Making in L.A.

Choreographer Jay Carlon’s work has had a site specific focus and previously was seen at So Cal beaches, parking lots, and private residences. This time he moves indoors with FLEX, the inaugural product of L.A. Dance Project’s Making LA residency program. Growing up as the youngest child in a large Filipino Catholic family may explain how Carlon gravitated to competitive wrestling, and the choreographer draws upon both experiences in his new 60-minute work. Over roughly an hour, the action moves from the personal to larger concerns with colonization, obedience, resistance, and solidarity. Ten dancers are joined by baritone/actor David Castillo and a score by Grammy Award-winning composer Alex Wand. LA Dance Project Studios: 2245, 2245 E. Washington Blvd., downtown; Thurs.-Sun., Feb. 7-10, 8 p.m. $30.

Jay Carlon. Photo courtesy of L.A. Dance Project.
Jay Carlon. Photo courtesy of L.A. Dance Project.

4.  Shall they dance?

Reprising its recreation of five Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ dance numbers, American Contemporary Ballet offers Astaire Dances 2: Fred & Ginger. This edition adds pas de deux from George Balanchine’s Who Cares? Performances include a show on Valentines’ Day. AMC Studios, 860 S. Los Angeles St., Suite 1100, downtown; Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m., Sun., Feb. 3 & 10, 4 p.m., Fri., Feb. 8 & 15, 8 p.m., Sat., Feb. 9 & 16, 4 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 14, 8 p.m., Sun., Feb. 17, 1 & 4 p.m., $45-$90.

American Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Victor Demarchelier.
American Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Victor Demarchelier.

3.  Festival: week 5

After more than forty years as one of L.A.’s most vibrant live theaters, three years ago the Odyssey Theatre launched its own dance festival. This year’s Dance at the Odyssey 2019 has been offering a curated six week sampling of contemporary dance from L.A.-based artists. For the penultimate festival event, a choreographer draws on her family as Rosanna Tavarez pays homage to her grandmother, an immigrant, a street vendor, an influential matriarch to her seven children and their offspring, and a victim of Alzheimer’s. Tavarez’ troupe LA DANSA DANSA conjures up the revered grandmother in Hybrids of Plants and Ghosts. The press material cautions that the work contains nudity. Details on the full festival at Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m., Sun., Feb. 3, 2 p.m., $25. 310-477-2055,

Rosanna Tavarez/LA DANSA DANSA. Photo by Vanessa Crocini.
Rosanna Tavarez/LA DANSA DANSA. Photo by Vanessa Crocini.

2. Everyone dances

Resembling a deconstructed flash mob, almost two dozen dancers of various shapes, sizes and skill levels spontaneously take the stage, sometimes alone, sometimes in a group, all part of Jérôme Bel‘s Gala. In one section set to Chopin music from ballet’s Les Sylphides, a sequence of dancers each briefly take center stage to execute a pirouette or some semblance of that turn. Later, the chain move focuses on Michael Jackson’s backsliding “moonwalk” and still later, a waltz. Adored for his events in the art world, Bel’s creations have included 20 minutes of a young man slowly removing layers of messaged shirts and also a gathering of 20 singers of different voices and skill levels, each interpreting pop song lyrics. Decried by a few critics as gimmicky and diversity by the numbers, Gala has mostly drawn praise with reviewers describing Bel’s “non-dance” choreography as eye-opening and heart-warming, lauding the 50-year old Frenchman’s effort to redraw the lines for what is dance and who is a dancer. Even the doubters admire the trust Bel draws from the participants who illustrate that everyone can dance, and those who dare, whatever their training or abilities, are dancers. The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, downtown; Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m. $29-$59.

Jérôme Bel's "Gala". Photo by Josefina Tommasi.
Jérôme Bel’s “Gala”. Photo by Josefina Tommasi.

1.  Bourne is back!

While he may never seize public attention as ferociously as his transformation of Swan Lake with its male swans in feathered knickers, Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella displays the master’s uncanny ability to transform a ballet classic into a theatrical experience that can run for weeks while most ballets last a weekend. As is his wont, Bourne retained the Prokofiev ballet score and the basic architecture of the fairy tale but transferred the action to WWII London during the blitz, reconsidered the fairy godmother as a male who is equally an angel of death, and moved the pivotal meeting from a palace ballroom to an underground nightclub that actually existed during the German bombings. Reviews from London report that since the original was seen here in the 1990s, Bourne has tinkered with the choreography and other details in ways that have only added to its power. Music Center Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Tues., Feb 5, 8 p.m., then Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 2 & 8 p.m., Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m., thru Sun., March 10, $30-$175.

Matthew Bourne’s “Cinderella.” Photo by Johan Persson.
Matthew Bourne’s “Cinderella.” Photo by Johan Persson.

                     Other dance of note:

A hit at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival, MOUTHPIECE captures a woman’s struggles as she goes through the day following her mother’s death. Combining movement, a capella harmonies and text to explore universal themes through a specific woman’s loss and search for herself, the work was developed by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava, the co-founders of Toronto-based Quote Unquote Collective in association with Toronto’s Why Not Theatre. In keeping with the informality of the Scotland festival, the work is presented in a rehearsal room. UCLA Royce Hall, Rehearsal Room, 10745 Dickson Ct., Westwood; Fri-Sat., Feb. 8-9, 8 p.m., $49. 310-825-2101,

Joan H. Padeo. Photo courtesy of Highways Performance Space.
Joan H. Padeo. Photo courtesy of Highways Performance Space.

A visitor from the Bay area shares the stage with an L.A. based artist in Hope Mohr Dance/Joan H. Padeo-Split. San Francisco-based Mohr’s starting point was Ben Lerner’s novel Leaving the Atocha Station. Performers Christian Burns and Wiley Naman Strasser portray different aspects of the book’s protagonist, an emotionally crippled poet seeking authenticity. In Padeo’s Crest, a contingent of six dancers considers the fragility and finality of life. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Feb. 1-2, 8:30 p.m., $25, $20 students & seniors.

Hope Mohr Dance. Photo courtesy of Highways Performance Space.
Hope Mohr Dance. Photo courtesy of Highways Performance Space.

A distracted prince, a malevolent wizard and a flock of swans, the full length Swan Lake from Russian National Ballet takes the stage with more than 50 dancers. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Dr., Cerritos; Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m., $60-$80.

Russian National Ballet's "Swan Lake". Photo courtesy of RNB.
Russian National Ballet’s “Swan Lake”. Photo courtesy of RNB.

Led by co-founder Carlota Santana, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santa takes the stage with some of its more than 20 original works. Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach; Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m., $50.

This month’s edition of the Dance in Progress showcase features choreography from Koryn Wicks, Julie Simon., T. T. C Dance and Ghislain Grellier. Downtown Dance & Movement, 1144 S. Hope St., downtown; Fri., Feb. 1, 8 p.m., $15.

Downtown Dance & Movement "Dance in Progress." Photo courtesy of DD&M.
Downtown Dance & Movement “Dance in Progress.” Photo courtesy of DD&M.

The showcase Dance in Flight spotlights emerging student dancers and choreographers from the university’s dance department. Pepperdine University, Smothers Theatre, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; Thurs.-Fri., Feb. 7-8, Sat., Feb. 9, 2 & 8 p.m., $20.

Merce Cunningham "Clouds & Screens". Photo courtesy of LACMA.
Merce Cunningham “Clouds & Screens”. Photo courtesy of LACMA.

A harbinger of 2019 centennial activities celebrating the life and legend of the late modern dance choreographer Merce CunninghamClouds and Screens, includes two large works by Andy Warhol and Charles Atlas, both artists associated with Cunningham’s company. The installation also includes two early videos of Cunningham’s work with performances and more to come during the exhibition’s run. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Hancock Park; Thurs.-Tues., thru March 31, $25, $21 students& seniors (museum admission).

Note to readers:  In keeping with the growing activity surrounding the Cunningham Centennial, LA Dance Chronicle is providing a place for individuals who worked with Merce Cunningham, saw his work or otherwise just want to say something about Merce Cunningham to participate in the Centennial remembrance. L.A. Dance Chronicle founder Jeff Slayton danced with Cunningham’s company and championed the idea of a place individuals could posting a remembrance or comment about Merce Cunningham, his dance works or his legacy.  The Cunningham Centennial Page now is live at the website ( Comments will be collected and passed on to the Cunningham Trust.

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