Yes, It Is a Big Deal Saturday

Hip Hop fest at USC, centennial dance in Northridge, Nina Simone inspiration in Long Beach, Japanese dance in Torrance, Chicago-style contemporary downtown, tap versus piano in Westwood, more SoCal dance this week and a peek at next week.

Live This Week

Centennial shenanigans

Under the banner Graham 100, Martha Graham Dance Company starts a three year lead-in to the company’s centenary with remarkable, century-spanning danceworks and live music from Wild Up conducted by Christopher Rountree. The banner event opens the Soraya’s 2023-2024 performance season and formally recognizes the venue as MGDC’s West Coast home away from its New York base. Artistic director Janet Eilber crafted a program that includes a 1915 dance Graham created while Graham was in Los Angeles and a new rendering of Agnes de Mille’s rollicking  Rodeo that promises updated scenery and a bluegrass rendering of the Aaron Copeland score.  Next week, MGDC moves north to Santa Barbara for another show. The Soraya, Cal State Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Sat., Sept. 30, 8 pm, $49-$129. The Soraya. Also at the Granada Theatre, 1214 State St., Santa Barbara, Wed., Oct. 4, 8 pm, $51-$106. UCSB.

A bare-chested man supports a female dancer
Martha Graham Dance Company. Photo by Brigid Pierce

A contemporary triptych

It comes from Chicago, bringing highly athletic, finely polished dancers in repertoire reflecting a European contemporary dance vibe. It’s Hubbard Street Dance Chicago opening the 2023-2024 season of Glorya Kaufman Dance at the Music Center. The company arrives with works from three stellar contemporary choreographers: Busk from Aszure Barton, Coltrane’s Favorite Things by Lar Lubovitch, and Rennie Harris’ Dear Frankie, paying tribute to Frankie Knuckles. Music Center, Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri.-Sat., Sept. 29-30, 7:30 pm, Sun., Oct. 1, 2 pm, $34-$138. Music Center.

A dancer lifts a leg while three others face away
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Photo courtesy of the artists

Love song longings

Six songs by Nina Simone provide the score for If We Were a Love Song, one of four West Coast premieres from choreographer Kyle Abraham and his contemporary ensemble A.I.M by Kyle Abraham. The program also includes Rain, a celebrated solo by Bebe Miller. Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Cal State Long pm, Beach, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach; Sat., Sept. 30, 8 pm $40. Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

A group of dancers supports a dancer
A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham. Photo courtesy of the artists

Olympic prep

Not only will it be an event next year in the Paris Olympics, this year Hip-Hop is being feted for hitting the big 5-0. Yes, somehow Hip Hop started 50 years ago and various USC locales are hosting four days of free, celebratory events under the banner Hip Hop 50, including dance along with music and vocal performances. Too many choices to list here but all are at the website. Many of the dance-focused events were organized by D. Sabela Grimes. USC and various locales, Sat.-Wed., Sept. 30-Oct. 4, times, tickets, and other details at Visions and Voices.

A bare chested man faces the camera
d. Sabela grimes. Photo by Jorge Vismara

In residence

The visceral choreography of Bobbi Jene Smith + Or Schreiber reflects their background with Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, extensive international choreography credits, and a productive, ongoing relationship with LA Dance Project. With their latest, the evening-length Missing Mountain, they continue their choreographic residence with LADP and its dancers. Catch a preview at LA Dance Project. The dancing is at LA Dance Project, 2245 E. Washington Blvd., Arts District; Thurs-Sat., Sept. 28-30, $45, $35 seniors & under 35, $25 students. LA Dance Project tickets.

A female dancer bends back in front of a man on a sofa
Bobbi Jene Smith + Or Schreiber. Photo by Josh Rose


The pianist Conrad Tao gets top billing over tap dancer Caleb Teicher, but the duo Conrad Tao and Caleb Teicher share the stage in Counterpoint. The pair explore the sonic possibilities of their individual and combined instruments at this newly opened, latest addition to UCLA’s performance venues. UCLA Nimoy Theater, 1262 Westwood Blvd., Westwood; Sat., Sept. 30, 8 p.m., $32. CAP UCLA.

A tap dancer in front of a piano
Conrad Tao and Caleb Teicher. Photo by Em Watson

Diplomatic dance

Rooted in Ethiopian tradition and informed by lived experience, Ethiocolor arrives under the auspices of Center Stage, a public diplomacy initiative of the Department of State with additional funding from several non-profit arts organizations. Directed by Melak Belay, the nine-member company draws on the 2000-year-old Azmari culture. UCLA Nimoy Theater, 1262 Westwood Blvd., Westwood; Fri., Sept. 29, 8 pm, $32 CAP UCLA.

Dancers in red vests and white shirts
Ethiocolor. Photo courtesy of the artists

Sensei sensibilities

Step into a world of Japanese folk dance and traditional music in this 58th anniversary celebration of Matsutoyoi Kai. Special guest artists from Japan join talented performers ranging from adorable young ones to elegant elders and accomplished adults who dance, sing and perform on traditional instruments. James R. Armstrong Theatre, 3330 Civic Center Dr., Torrance; Sun., Oct. 1, 1 pm, $23. Matsutoyo Kai.

Japanese dancers and musicians
Matsutoyo Kai. Photo courtesy of the artists

Ten for ten

The mostly monthly program Max 10 gives ten performers ten minutes each onstage. Hosted by venue director Joel Shapiro and curated by the staff, the line up of performances often includes dance. A post-show reception gives a chance to chat with the artists. Electric Lodge, Scott Kelman Theater, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Mon., Oct. 2, 7:30 pm, $10. Electric Lodge.

Big blue balls
Max 10. Photo courtesy of the artists

Mozart meets Don Juan

Choreographer Signe Fabricius provided the dance moves as LA Opera opens its 2023-2024 season with Mozart’s Don Giovanni (aka Don Juan). In addition to the six live performances, the opening night earlier this week was livestreamed to the Santa Monica Pier and the La Mirada Community Regional Park. At the Music Center Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Wed., Oct. 4, Sat., Oct. 7, & Thurs., Oct. 12, 7:30 pm, Sun., Oct. 15, 2 pm, $24-$349 LA Opera.

A woman in white smiles at a man holding her hand
LA Opera’s “Don Giovanni.” Photo by JC Olivera

A Peek at Next Week

Savion Glover — SoUNDz’ SaCRoSaNCt at The Soraya, Cal State University Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Sat., Oct. 7, 8 pm, $39-$109. The Soraya.

BODYTRAFFIC at The Wallis, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Fri-Sat., Oct. 6-7, $7:30 pm, $49-$79. The Wallis.

A dancer in red jumps
BODYTRAFFIC. Photo courtesy of the artists

American Contemporary Ballet  — Rite and Burlesque. At ACB studios, Two California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave., Suite 2850, downtown; Fri.-Sat., Oct. 6-7 & 27-28, Thurs.-Sat. Oct. 12-14 & 19-21, 8 pm. $100-$140. American Contemporary Ballet.

Heidi Duckler Dance — 38th anniversary gala at performance. Historic Warehouse, 205 S. Mission Rd., downtown Arts District; Sat., Oct. 7, 5  pm, $300 (tix for two) Heidi Duckler Dance.

High Voltage at Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Fri., Oct. 6, 8 pm, $10. Electric Lodge.

SoCal Dance Notes

A free screening of the film Flower and a panel discussion with producers Misty Copeland and Leyla Fayyaz. Colburn School, Zipper Hall, 200 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Mon., Oct. 2, 6 pm, free w/ticket at Colburn School.

What are you looking for?