What will define the Southern California dance scene this coming season? Will we see more work that is purely formal, dedicated to the perfection of stature and display of skill? Or that which is dramatic and pedestrian, dedicated to the expression of emotion, character, and narrative action? How about athletic, absurd and acrobatic?

From the looks of it, the new season will be a colorful one, presenting an eclectic mix of dance from different parts of the world, different eras and different points of view. Orange County audiences can expect to see diversity not just in the dance itself, but in the messages it will convey. From double unrequited love in Teatro alla Scala’s “Onegin,” to space travel in Diavolo: Architecture in Motion’s “Voyages,” interesting stories are ripe for the picking.

If narrative isn’t your primary requisite for dance, choices are still plentiful with productions such as Balanchine’s “Jewels,” the first great abstract work of classical ballet as performed by Mariinsky Ballet Theatre and mixed repertory productions by BodyTraffic and Kyle Abraham’s company A.I.M.

Additionally and notably, the upcoming season’s lineup features many companies whose work dips into the surreal, crafting environments that are physical, fantastical and oftentimes irrational. The dancer-illusionists of MOMIX will bring a multimedia spectacle to the stage and Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch will present a highly theatrical modern dance work that is both dark and humorous.

If the varied array of content wasn’t enough to excite dance patrons, Orange County will also be the site of one of the most important dance events of the year — another world premiere by Alexei Ratmansky. The new work is based on an early Greek romance novel titled “Callirhoe” and will be brought to life by American Ballet Theatre dancers and the Pacific Symphony.

Southern California has historically struggled for visibility and notoriety when it comes to its reputation for presenting concert dance, but strong seasons like this continue to flag the West Coast as a place that has a lot to offer for a diverse dance audience.

Dance top 10

Diavolo: Architecture in Motion: The renowned LA-based dance company combines elements of contemporary dance with martial arts, acrobatics, gymnastics, and hip-hop. The company recently gained commercial notoriety through an appearance on Season 12 of NBC’s hit series “America’s Got Talent.” This fall the company will bring “Voyages” a piece inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing as well as the Orange County-based installment of its Veterans Project involving U.S. military veterans. Sept. 21 at the Musco Center for the Arts.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet: The company presents “STARDUST: A Tribute to David Bowie” which celebrates the late rock icon’s music and style. The engagement also includes the Southern California premiere of a new work titled “Woke” which is set to a remix of music by Kendrick Lamar, Logic, Drake, Diplo and other contemporary artists. Oct. 5 at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

Mariinsky Ballet at the Music Center: Consisting of three acts inspired by George Balanchine’s visit to a French luxury jewelry store, “Jewels” is recognized as the first great abstract work of classical ballet. The choreography in “Emeralds,” “Rubies,” and “Diamonds” are each in stark contrast to one another. Oct. 24-27 at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

MOMIX: The famed acrobatic dance troupe, established almost 40 years ago uses props, light, shadow, humor, and the human body to create a surreal world full of surprising transformations and illusions. Oct. 25 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham: The company brings together dancers from various disciplines and diverse personal backgrounds. It’s directed by Abraham, who says his choreography is informed by the hip-hop culture of the late 1970s as well as his upbringing of classical music and visual arts. Jan. 25 at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

BODYTRAFFIC: The LA-based contemporary dance company celebrated its10th anniversary last year and continues its mission to reshape the Los Angeles dance scene. The company will perform a repertory program in Orange County this season. Jan. 30 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

BeijingDance/LDTX: As China’s first officially registered private professional contemporary dance company, this troupe — led by artistic director Willy Tsao — is a champion for modern dance in China. The company will perform “Arc,” an evening-length work that explores the ups and downs of life. Feb. 26 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

American Ballet Theatre: The company will perform a still-to-be-titled new work based on the earliest romance novel from Greek antiquity. This world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s choreography will tell the tale of star-crossed lovers on a journey that involves shipwrecks, a mistaken identity and a dashing hero. Music will be performed live by Orange County’s Pacific Symphony. March 5-8 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: This engagement will be the first U.S. performance of Pina Bausch’s groundbreaking “Palermo Palermo” since its 1991 New York debut. As one of Bausch’s more theatrical works, the piece offers a post-war view of the Italian city and is full of beauty, horror and surreal humor. April 17–19 at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company: A 19th-century Russian novel was transformed into a 3-act ballet choreographed by the late John Cranko and set to music by Tchaikovsky. The story of love and betrayal will be danced by La Scala star Roberto Bolle and guest artist Marianela Nuñez of the Royal Ballet. July 31-Aug 2 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts


Carpenter Performing Arts Center: 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach; 562-985-7000; carpenterarts.org

Irvine Barclay Theatre: 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine; 949-854-4646; thebarclay.org

Musco Center for the Arts: 1 University Drive, Orange; 844-626-8726; muscocenter.org

The Music Center: 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; 972-0711; www.musiccenter.org

Segerstrom Center for the Arts: 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-556-2787; www.scfta.org

Arts Preview 2019


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