The LA Dance Festival Goes Steroid

So Cal dance events this week include topical dance in Pasadena, dance for mom in Topanga, a legend’s dances with live music in Northridge, warehouse dance in Chesterfield Square, and a parade of local dance troupes on stage in West LA.

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5.  Alt Mom’s Day 

Not every mom thinks an overpriced brunch at an overcrowded restaurant is fun for Mothers Day. For that certain kind of mother, consider MOMentum Place, an entertaining excuse to enjoy dance, music, aerial, circus and other rustic Cirque du Soleil arts in Topanga Canyon’s pastoral environs. Curated by Lexi Pearl, this 19th edition of MOMentum Place begins with an optional brunch (noon to 1:30 p.m. for $30) or bring a picnic. It’s dining al fresco in the gardens before the action moves for the performances in the Shakespearean Old Globe style theatre constructed into the hillside. Casual clothes, walking shoes, sunblock, and a cushion for the benches are advised. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Cyn. Blvd., Topanga; Sun., May 10, 2 p.m.; $25 advance purchase, $30 at door, $15 students, $10 children 12 & under. 310-455-2322,

MOMentum Place Photo courtesy of MOMentum Place
MOMentum Place. Photo courtesy of MOMentum Place.

4.  Music and movement on tough topics

Continuing their masterful melding of dance, music and storytelling, Hilary Thomas and her Lineage Dance reunite with L.A. Phil violinist Vijay Gupta and his Street Symphony for Stories that Move Us, insightfully covering four themes over two weekends of performances. On May 13, issues of homelessness and housing dominate the contemporary classical pieces commissioned by and for residents of Los Angeles’s Skid Row with choreography by Thomas. On May 14, the subject of parenthood infuses the musical and dance offerings. Next weekend, the themes are refugees, on May 20, and gender/sexuality, on May 21. Complete information at Lineage Performance Arts Center, 89 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; Sat., May 13 & 20, 4 p.m., Sun., May 14 & 21, 7 p.m., $25 at door, $20 in advance, $15 students in advance.

Lineage Dance and Street Symphony Photo courtesy of the artists
Lineage Dance and Street Symphony. Photo courtesy of the artists.

3.  Will there be feathers?

Before his groundbreaking Swan Lake with male swans in feathered knickers, choreographer Matthew Bourne was building a reputation with his distinctive storytelling skills (his Nutcracker set in a Charles Dickensian orphanage for example). This program brings three of those early works to the stage, offering a chance to view seldom seen early works and explore Bourne-in-the-making. Something of a prequel before Bourne returns in September with his reconsidered Red Shoes. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Bram Goldsmith Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Thurs.-Sat., May 18-20, 8 p.m., Sat.-Sun., May 20-21, 2 p.m., $39-$99. 310-746-4000,

Matthew Bourne's New Adventures Photo courtesy of the artist
Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures. Photo courtesy of the artist.

2.  A legend and live music

Four works by the legendary Martha Graham with music from American composers highlight this visit by the Martha Graham Dance Company with the scores performed live by Wild Up with Christopher Rountree conducting. From 1948, Diversion of Angels with music by Norman Dello Joio, Maple Leaf Rag (1990) to Scott Joplin’s ragtime tunes, and two works from 1946, Cave of the Heart with music by Samuel Barber and Dark Meadow to a Carlos Chavez score. A community performance of Graham’s 1935 Panorama is the curtain opener. Valley Center for the Performing Arts, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Sat., May 13, 8 p.m., $33-$75.

Martha Graham Dance Company Photo by Brigid Pierce
Martha Graham Dance Company. Photo by Brigid Pierce.

1. Locavore dance moves west

Now in its 5th year, the LA Dance Festival has gone on steroids, expanding to three weeks with 45 choreographers over seven shows at two venues. The festival is well established as the go-to place to catch up with established and emerging local dance, but this year producer Deborah Brockus has assembled an expanded roster with pretty much all of the big name local companies and choreographers. Master classes and centralized company auditions opened the festival, with the Fringe performance component last weekend at the festival’s traditional home near downtown. This week the action moves to West LA for the Main Stage shows with a red carpet line up of companies. Complete festival info at Theater Raymond Kabbaz (TRK), 10361 W. Pico Blvd., West LA; Thurs., May 11, 7:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat., May 12-13, 8 p.m., Sun., May 14, 6 p.m., $25-$40.

BrockusRED at L.A. Dance Festival Photo by Denise Leitner
BrockusRED at LA Dance Festival. Photo by Denise Leitner.

Other dance of note:

Choreographer Sophia Stoller and her Iris Company lure the audience among four rooms in their new dance theater work. The Other Side draws from actual social experiments in the 1960’s and 1970’s concerning social hierarchy, conformity, authority and its abuse. A Cal Arts grad and long-time teacher at the Gabriella Foundation, Stoller has committed part of the proceeds to that foundation’s programs extending dance education to low income youth. Refreshments at the bar will be available throughout the show. Grammercy Studios, 2010 W. 62nd St., Chesterfield Square; Fri.-Sat., 12-13, 8 p.m.,

The Other Side Photo courtesy of TOS
The Other Side. Photo courtesy of TOS.

She describes what she does as choreography of the mind or inging, so when Alpert Award-winning artist Jeanine Durning takes the stage expect a torrent of words and movement propelled by those words. Automata, 504 Chung King Ct., Chinatown; Fri.-Sat., May 12-13, 8 p.m., $25, $20 students & artists.

Jeanine Durning Photo by Ian Douglas
Jeanine Durning. Photo by Ian Douglas.

Possibly L.A.’s first aerial military invasion, In the Hall of the Mountain Queen marks the return of Sioux ZQ’s Post Apocolyptic Aerial Army. The evening promises an array of apparatuses in the air and on the ground along with guest performer Jones Welsh Talmadge. Diavolo Studio, 6161 Moulton Ave., Lincoln Heights; Sat., May 13, 8 p.m., $20. https//

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, LA Unbound returns with its signature mix of dance styles ranging from contemporary to jazz, tap to hip hop.El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Sat., May 13, 4 & 8 p.m., $24-$29.

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