Dance at the Odyssey festival begins this weekend and more events to start off the new year

Nikki Holck and Assaf Salhov in "The Song of Spies" (Photo by Italy Salhov)
Nikki Holck and Assaf Salhov in “The Song of Spies.”
(Italy Salhov)

Happy new year! What better way to start off 2023 than with a Chargers halftime show featuring a dance troupe of slasher dolls? The titular killer-robot doll from “M3GAN” has been all over the nation head-bobbing and twirling into the new year. I’m still planning when to watch the latest horror flick from the minds behind “Malignant.” In the meantime, check out The Times’ interview with the films screenwriter, Akela Cooper. I’m Steven Vargas, your L.A. Goes Out host, and I’m back with recommendations from the crew to get your 2023 SoCal adventures started.

Weekly Countdown

Dancers jumping into the air and tumbling to the ground
No)One. Arthouse.
(Matthew Brush)

1. No)one. Arthouse starts Dance at the Odyssey
New year, new work! The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble is starting its Dance at the Odyssey festival on Friday with No)one. Arthouse is premiering six short works by six local choreographers, with styles ranging from contemporary to hip-hop. You can see the short works until Sunday, but don’t worry, this weekend is only the start of the seasonal festival dedicated to highlighting innovative and up-and-coming dance creators. There are six other arts entities, organizations or collectives performing new work until Feb. 19. Tickets are $25 each or $20 per ticket with a dance pass. Details can be found on the Odyssey Theatre Ensembles website.

An image of smiling Cary Grant with a smaller image of him running forward
Jim Shaw’s “Cary Grant,” 2022. Oil and acrylic on muslin. 84 x 64 inches, 213.4 x 162.6 cm.
(Jeff McLane/Courtesy of Gagosian)

2. Jim Shaw’s ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’
Gagosian in Beverly Hills is bringing in new work by Jim Shaw for his first exhibition with the gallery, “Thinking the Unthinkable.” These works combine political and popular culture with mythological themes. Hollywood icons like Cary Grant are set next to Greek mythological figures such as Cadmus, and are depicted in what appears to be an acid trip, creating thought-provoking and poignant imagery. The exhibition opens Thursday, and the free gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Check out Gagosian’s website for more information.

William Kentridge, "The Refusal of Time," 2012, mixed media five-channel video installation.
William Kentridge, “The Refusal of Time,” 2012, mixed media five-channel video installation.
(Joshua White / The Broad)

3. ‘William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows’
While this expansive and impressive exhibition by South African artist William Kentridge has been up at the Broad since November, it would be remiss of me not to include it in L.A. Goes Out. So while you wait for the new exhibitions to open, catch up with Kentridge’s “In Praise of Shadows.” The presentation includes drawing, installations, printmaking and a 30-minute five-channel video installation titled “The Refusal of Time” that all chronicle the impacts of apartheid. “That regime is over, but its damage is not easily repaired,” The Times art critic Christopher Knight writes in his latest review. “What takes generations to establish takes generations to dismantle.” The exhibition is open until April 9, and admission is $18 for adults, $12 for students and free for children 17 and under. But you can also see it free every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. Details on ticketing and the exhibit can be found on the Broad’s website.

Michael Tilson Thomas with his arms up at this side looking up as he conducts and orchestra
Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in 2010.
(Bill Swerbenski)

4. MTT Conducts Mahler 9
Michael Tilson Thomas brings Mahler’s work to life at Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. This weekend’s performances by Tilson Thomas, from Friday to Sunday, will highlight the heightened energy and cathartic softness of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, the composer’s final completed symphony. Tickets range from $64 to $221 and can be found on Los Angeles Philharmonic’s website.

A man being pulled by the arms as he screams.
Leah Brotherhead as Catherine, Liam Tamne as Heathcliff and Jordan Laviniere as the Leader of the Yorkshire Moors in Wise Children’s “Wuthering Heights.”
(Kevin Berne/Courtesy of Berkeley Repertory Theatre)

5. Wise Children’s ‘Wuthering Heights’
This is not the “Wuthering Heights” you read in high school English class. Emma Rice’s adaptation brings new perspective to Emily Brontë’s famous novel. It looks beyond the passionate, gothic romance, and instead highlights the tragedy Heathcliff endures as an unaccompanied child. Rice, who adapted and directed the production, envisioned the story after learning about the realities of unaccompanied children in the U.K. claiming asylum. Rice calls it a “revenge tragedy” that serves as a cautionary tale about how today’s actions can affect the future. So how does it take shape in the National Theatre, Wise Children, Bristol Old Vic and York Theatre Royal co-production at the Wallis in Beverly Hills this month? After Heathcliff is forced to separate from his love, Catherine, a chain of events unleashes an unexpected path ahead. Tickets range from $39 to $125, and the show runs until Jan. 22 starting Thursday. For more details on the production, check out the Wallis’ website.

Bonus round: Kontrapunktus Presents ‘Bach & Handel: Soli Deo Gloria’

Chamber orchestra Kontrapunktus performs a repertoire of Baroque music at rehearsal
Chamber orchestra Kontrapunktus performs a repertoire of Baroque music at rehearsal at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Pasadena on Jan. 3, 2023.
(Sarah Mosqueda / Daily Pilot)

Seventeenth and 18th-century music never sounded so fresh. Kontrapunktus, a baroque chamber orchestra, consists of musicians who add youthful energy and flair to the music. The group will be performing music by Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel from Friday through Sunday across SoCal, going from Long Beach to Laguna Beach to Pasadena. The program, titled “Soli Deo Gloria,” is a series of compositions “in praise of God alone.” To learn more about the chamber orchestra, check out TimesOC writer Sarah Mosqueda’s profile of the musicians in the group, and their upcoming performances. Tickets range from $19.95 to $24.95 and can be found on Kontrapunktus’ website.

Your L.A. weekend, all mapped out

For a more comprehensive roundup of exhibitions, concerts, screenings, festivals and other events, check out Matt Cooper’s Culture Guide. The mapped list is a go-to for those of you who make plans based on the commute, and it also can be filtered by type of event and by price.

On my mind

Eric Huffman (Damian Hubbard) posing with dancers holding lunch trays in the air.
Eric Huffman (Damian Hubbard) and the national touring company of “Mean Girls.” (Photo by Jenny Anderson, Broadway in Hollywood)
(Jenny Anderson/Broadway in Hollywood)

Last Thursday, I started off the new year with a trip to the Pantages that was so fetch! I saw the “Mean Girls” touring musical that is here in Los Angeles until Jan. 29. While the musical premiered in 2017 and the movie was released in 2004, the story hasn’t lost its comic touch. That can partly be attributed to the art form of theater, as the new faces of each production bring a more modern look to the narrative by reflecting today’s culture with their vernacular and mannerisms.

The musical adaptation upholds the laughs we remember from the movie by omitting the problematic bits that make us cringe. It maintains the scenes that have become online memes and brings the story to the modern day with references to social media and smartphones. For example, Cady Heron (played by English Bernhardt) shows up the rest of the Plastics during their performance of “Rockin’ Around the Pole” by maintaining composure while Regina George (Nadina Hassan) becomes the target of cyberbullying. The hilariously choreographed high school performance that surfaces on Twitter feeds every Christmas remains, while the tension changes to something that reflects today’s social conflicts: bullying on social media. And my favorite is the scene in which Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman) sneaks into the all-girls assembly with a hoodie and sunglasses.

Three young women seated in a high school cafeteria interact with a fourth standing a few feet away
Pictured (L-R): Jasmine Rogers (Gretchen Wieners), Nadina Hassan (Regina George), Morgan Ashley Bryant (Karen Smith) and English Bernhardt (Cady Heron) in the 2023 national tour of “Mean Girls.”
(Jenny Anderson)

The set, designed by Scott Pask, is primarily made up of screens that allow the show to travel from Africa to the suburbs of Chicago. The imagery allows the abstract jungle to take shape and transform into a high school cafeteria. What stuck out the most was how it was directly used as a narrative tool, foreshadowing the impending school bus by showing one passing the back of the stage before the bus that ran over Regina came steamrolling in as a large, 2D set piece.

Morgan Ashley Bryant delivered a standout performance as Karen Smith, with each of her lines and quips landing just right. In one highlight, she trots onstage and sings about how she wants every day to be Halloween, and then tacks on wanting world peace at the end. She decides to switch the order of the two, goes offstage and returns to say it all over again, this time mentioning world peace first. When she’s intoxicated at Cady’s party, laying atop Gretchen Wieners (Jasmine Rogers), she asks something along the lines of “is the room moving?” just as the set piece she is on starts shifting to switch scenes, adding another layer of comedy. Speaking of Gretchen, the musical brought out a more emotional side to the character with the song “What’s Wrong With Me?” Rogers’ performance was intoxicating, allowing the audience to relate to her a lot more than the character in the movie.

Two girls sitting next to each other at the foot of a bed, smiling at each other
Jasmine Rogers (Gretchen Wieners) and English Bernhardt (Cady Heron) in the “Mean Girls” musical.
(Jenny Anderson / Broadway in Hollywood)

The most theatrical scene was Cady’s party, but not just because of the choreography by Casey Nicholaw (also the director). When Karen jumps into the scene, she knocks a shot glass off a tray. The glass, which was most likely made of plastic, bounced on the ground and landed just at the edge of the stage where performers danced. Theatrical tension like this elevates the awareness of the audience, enforcing the live nature of the performance. What grasped my attention most was how the cast recovered, showing just how unified they were. Ensemble member Avilon Trust Tate danced in front of the cup, seamlessly picked it up — in character as if to say cheers — and brought it up to join the final pose of the number. And the show went on.


“Mean Girls” runs until Jan. 29 at the Pantages and tickets start at $39. Details can be found on the Broadway in Hollywood website.

Insights: Events to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Courtesy of L.A. Works)

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and there is no one way to commemorate the civil rights activist and leader. Here in SoCal, there are events and art happenings dedicated to King that’ll expand your awareness of social movements in the U.S. and help you contribute to the community. Not sure how to start? Here are a few events to get you going:

  • MLK Day of Service: King addressed 15,000 Angelenos at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in 1964, and L.A. Works continues to honor him by gathering every year for a day of service. The event features a food festival and nonprofit fair running from noon to 3:30 p.m. For more information on how to take part in the celebration and volunteer, check out L.A. Works’ website.
  • 38th Kingdom Day Parade: The theme of Monday’s parade through Leimert Park is “Making America the Last Best Hope of the World.” Details on the parade, starting at 11 a.m., can be found on the event’s website.
  • Santa Monica Symphony: MLK Holiday Concert: The Santa Monica Symphony’s annual concert features music from George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and gospel song “We Shall Overcome.” The Saturday concert at 3 p.m. is free and only requires pre-registration. More information can be found on the orchestra’s website.
  • MLK/FBI: A Screening and Conversation with Sam Pollard: The 42nd USC Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. includes a public screening of “MLK/FBI” at Norris Cinema Theatre on the university campus. The free screening will be followed by a conversation with director Sam Pollard. Details about the event at 7 p.m. Tuesday can be found on the USC Visions and Voiceswebsite.
  • King Day 2023 at the California African American Museum: King Day at CAAM in South L.A. returns with in-person activities. The event, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., includes a performance by the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, family activities from the Los Angeles Public Library and food trucks. RSVP for the free event on CAAM’s website.

Go out speed round

A woman holding a baby
The Future Without Fear art and culture exhibit.
(Kennedi Carter)

Go out and wander: The Future Without Fear art and culture exhibit ponders the question: “If you had no fear, no barriers, who would you be?” Wander through the exhibit and see how these artists reflect on the hopes and dreams of underrepresented communities and depict themes like individuality, Black motherhood and community. The exhibit at Praz-Delavallade in Mid-Wilshire is free and open Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will be on display until Jan. 26 during normal gallery hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Details can be found on the exhibit’s website.

Go out and listen: British cello virtuoso Sheku Kanneh-Mason will be joining the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Saturday at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Westwood and Sunday at Glendale’s Alex Theatre to perform Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D. The program is accompanied by additional performances of Hensel, Bologne and Mendelssohn by LACO. Tickets range from $32 to $142, depending on the seat and venue. More details can be found on LACO’s website.

Go out before it closes: I not only saw “Mean Girls” this weekend, but I also swung by Kohn Gallery in Hollywood to check out their current exhibitions, “من الحلم .. . روضة (A meadow … from a dream)” by Alia Ahmad and “Returnees” by Jinbin Chen Tianyi, before they close Saturday. Ahmad’s exhibition is a tribute to Saudi Arabia that utilizes eclectic, vibrant colors to create landscapes with floral details that pop. Tianyi’s portraiture creates softness through pastel colors and displays desire by making the sexualized parts of our being appear ordinary. It lets the viewer have a more intimate relationship with anatomy . Kohn Gallery is free and open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Go out for free: The Hammer Museum in Westwood is hosting a screening of “Till” that will be followed by a conversation with director Chinonye Chukwu and UCLA professor Robin D.G. Kelley. The movie follows the true story of Emmett Till‘s brutal lynching in 1955 through the perspective of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. The Saturday screening at 7:30 p.m. is free and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Details can be found on Hammer’s website.

Go out and learn: If you’ve followed L.A. Goes Out for a while, you might remember a previous listing of a new exhibition with Craft in America, “Inspiration & Home” in the Beverly Grove area. The exhibit displayed traditional embroidery from the Hmong diaspora. Now you can learn about the traditional needlework with a Hmong paj ntaub embroidery workshop on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. with artist Mandora Young. Tickets are $55 and can be found on Craft in America’s website.

Go out with the kids: Studio D: Arts School for All Abilities is starting up again at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The community classes take place in the dance studio at the center and are led by artists and licensed occupational and physical therapists. There are classes for all age groups, ranging from kindergarten and up. This Saturday will be a dance and music class from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Details on the free classes can be found on Segerstrom’s website.

Go out on a date: If you’re looking to go all out to start off the new year, check out the Music Center’s concert celebrating A&M Records co-founder Jerry Moss. Performers include Peter Frampton, Amy Grant and Dionne Warwick. There will also be special presentations by Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach and Misty Copeland. The fundraiser event is Saturday at 7 p.m. and tickets start at $150. Details can be found on the music center’s website.

George Kua playing an instrument on stage.
George Kua. (Photo by Alabastro Photography)
(Alabastro Photography)

Go out all day: Take a trip to Redondo Beach for the Southern California Slack Key Festival at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. The Hawaiian music event offers performances, food, fun activities and more! Tickets to the VIP reception at 5 p.m. Saturday cost $65 and tickets to the Sunday festival starting at 2 p.m. range from $20 to $55. More information on what’s in store for the weekend event can be found on the Slack Key Festival SoCal website.

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I’m all ears!

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Follow our feed of recommendations and itineraries on Instagram and Twitter, and if you have recs of your own, send them to