Leap into National Dance Day with these top dance events in SoCal

A dancer lifts up another dancer in his arms.
Lorrin Brubaker and Daphne Fernberger rehearse for “The Missing Mountain” by Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber.
(Josh Rose)
Share via

National Dance Day is Saturday and to celebrate the occasion, this week’s newsletter is filled with dance or dance-related events in the top items (woot woot). But before we begin, I’d like to give a big shout-out to my new favorite dancer: Cal State Long Beach mascot Elbee the shark. Check out her moves. I’m Steven Vargas, your L.A. Goes Out host, and here are the top events for the upcoming weekend recommended by the crew (sign up here for the newsletter):

Weekly countdown

A dancer jumps off a ladder into the arms of other dancers on the ground.
The L.A. Dance Project rehearses “The Missing Mountain,” a new work by artists in residence Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber.
(Josh Rose)

1. ‘The Missing Mountain’
L.A. Dance Project artists in residence, Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, will premiere their new work, “The Missing Mountain,” this weekend. The piece is an extension of the duo’s previous project, “Caldera,” which depicts a group of people in limbo, and “Lost Mountain,” which follows 10 people looking for a lost mountain. Smith and Schraiber initially wanted to restage “Lost Mountain.” While rehearsing with the LADP dancers over roughly two months, they witnessed the piece’s transformation into something completely new.


“It was very fast,” Smith said. “This is not ‘Lost Mountain,’ this is something else. This is another mountain.”

For Smith, a mountain is symbolic of an “imaginary place within ourselves,” whether that be a feeling or sensation. Throughout the piece, characters within the ensemble search for something in themselves and others. For example, a male dancer instructs a female dancer to move closer. It seems like an assertion of dominance, but for Smith, it is a desperate search.

“It can appear as if he is trying to control her, but in actuality, he’s lost — looking,” Smith said. “She finds more freedom by him telling her what to do, because she flips the cards.”

All three pieces of the series are performed on carpet. For Smith, it adds a sense of nostalgia as it establishes an environment that is both “domestic and surreal.” For the dancers, it gives them permission to let go.

“It’s almost like dancing in PJs,” Schraiber said. “It makes me much more like a goofball — playful and fearless.”

Elements like the scenic environment designed by Smith and the musical landscape created by Yonatan Daskal bring the space to life. But the choreographers credit the dancers for discovering “The Missing Mountain.”


“Our work is so dependent on the people in the room,” Smith said. “It’s nothing without them.”

“The Missing Mountain” opens Thursday at LADP in downtown L.A. The sixth and final performance takes place Sept. 30. Tickets range from $25 to $45 and more information can be found on LADP’s website.

A red and gold AI robot dances in a cyber landscape.
Rashaad Newsome’s first Los Angeles solo exhibition, “Hands Performance,” opens Saturday at ArtCenter College of Design.
(Rashaad Newsome)

2. ‘Rashaad Newsome: Hands Performance’
Rashaad Newsome’s first L.A. solo exhibition, “Hands Performance,” opens Saturday at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. The commissioned work extends on Newsome’s Being, the digital griot, a social humanoid with artificial intelligence originally envisioned in 2019 to archive Black queer nonverbal vernacular and Black American literary works. This time around, Being is presented as a video translating an original poem written by Newsome into a hands performance, an element of vogue that uses the hands and arms to tell a story. By gathering data from Black queer ASL interpreters, L.A.-based vogue fem performers and flex dancers, Being recites Newsome’s poem in an out-of-this-world landscape. The piece is shown alongside Newsome’s multimedia collages. There is a free opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery on campus and the exhibition runs until Feb. 24. The gallery space is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and more information can be found on ArtCenter’s website.

Three people dance on the beach in bright clothing.
Street Dance Orixás will perform at Art + Practice in conjunction with a new exhibition, “Bahia Reverb: Artists and Place.”
(California African American Museum)

3. Street Dance Orixás
The California African American Museum presents a Street Dance Orixás performance at Art + Practice in Leimert Park. It features duets that celebrate the Orixás, or spirits of Brazilian Candomblé, including Exú, Ogum, Iansã, Xangô, Oxum, Oxóssi and Iemanjá. In each duet, one dancer will perform traditional Afro Brazilian movement while the other takes on contemporary dance movement to embody each spirit. The performance coincides with Art + Practice’s new exhibition in collaboration with CAAM, “Bahia Reverb: Artists and Place,” which shares the work of 10 former fellows at the Sacatar Institute in Bahia, Brazil. The free performance is from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and more details can be found on CAAM’s website.

A male dancer holds up the extended leg of a female dancer.
April Watson and Jacopo Calvo of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
(Rachel Neville)

4. Complexions Contemporary Ballet
This New York-based contemporary ballet company led by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson is making its way to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. Complexions Contemporary Ballet will present a packed program that includes “Hissy Fits, Choke, and Elegy,” “Snatched Back from the Edges” — a sneak preview into Rhoden’s upcoming ballet — and the West Coast premiere of “End Game.” Rhoden’s “End Game” is an eight-movement piece about love and survival set to the music of classical composers such as J.S. Bach and contemporary popular artists such as Kendrick Lamar. Tickets range from $29 to $99 and the performance is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. More information can be found on Segerstrom Center’s website.

A dancer leaps on stage.
Victor Abreu leaps in “Lift,” a documentary that follows children affected by homelessness as they discover self-expression through dance.

5. ‘Lift’
For the last 30 years, New York Theatre Ballet’s Project Lift has offered scholarships to homeless, home-insecure and at-risk children to take ballet classes. “Lift,” a documentary directed by David Petersen and executive produced by ballet dancer Misty Copeland, follows Steven Melendez, a young dancer from a Bronx homeless shelter who joined the Lift program at age 7 and became an international ballet star. The documentary spans 10 years, following Melendez and students whom he brought under his wing out of homeless shelters. “Lift” will play in select theaters across the country starting Friday, and make its way to Amazon and Apple on Sept. 22. Participating theaters in L.A. include Regal Edwards Long Beach and Regal Sherman Oaks Galleria 16. More information on the release and where to snag a ticket this weekend can be found on the documentary’s website.

Bonus round: ‘La La Land’ in concert

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dance in 'La La Land,' with the L.A. skyline behind them.
Emma Stone‘s Mia, left, and Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian in “La La Land.”

City of stars, there’s so much that I can’t see. But an outdoor screening of “La La Land” is something you can see this weekend. Street Food Cinema, in collaboration with Hurwitz Concerts and Lionsgate, presents the 2016 Oscar-nominated film led by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in concert at Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown. Bring your picnic blankets and get ready to dig into the culinary treats of local food trucks for a movie under the stars accompanied by a live 52-piece symphony orchestra and jazz band. Better yet, check out the choreography by the movie’s Emmy-winning choreographer Mandy Moore. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. Saturday screening range from $45 to $55. More information can be found on Fever.


On my mind

I started my weekend early on Wednesday and went to take a peek at Zegna and the Elder Statesman’s new partnership launch at Maxfield in West Hollywood. The event marked the opening of the pop-up in L.A. and the new fashion collection between the luxury brand and the L.A.-based knitwear label led by Greg Chait. Elements of the collaboration first started to materialize in Zegna’s “Oasi Cashmere” collection in the Fall/Winter 2023 Milan show. The latest collections fully implement Zegna Artistic Director Alessandro Sartori’s efforts to produce clothing in an environmentally conscious manner, using traceable cashmere from Mongolia that is treated and used internally in Italy. The goal is transparency and conscious consumption of materials.

The Maxfield installation — which is on view until Sept. 27 — displays the clothing amid bright colors and patterns, from hot pink hues to neutral-toned plaid. The designs embrace the versatility of cashmere. Pieces range from thick, textured crewneck sweaters to baseball caps. Zegna is known for its minimalist look. Take this bomber jacket, for example: The pockets are slightly hidden by the sleeves and there are only two buttons to put focus on the silhouette. My personal favorite piece is the pure cashmere blouson. I definitely can’t afford it, but it sure is pretty to look at.

A gallery space with portraits on the wall and hanging from the ceiling.
Installation view of “‘Pictures Girls Make’: Portraitures,” 2023 at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles.
(Hannah Mjolsnes / The artists / Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo)

On Friday, I started my day by checking out Blum & Poe’s new exhibition, “‘Pictures Girls Make’: Portraitures.” The exhibition curated by Alison M. Gingeras gathers work from more than 50 artists from around the world, from the early 19th century to today. The show reflects the range of portraiture and the ways the art form has been used to discriminate and enforce hierarchies across gender, race and class. There are six thematic gallery spaces within Blum & Poe. My favorite pieces include Sally J. Han’sObserving Painter Working I,” Elaine de Kooning’sFrank O’Hara” and Jonathan Lyndon Chase’sThey” and “Them,” but the thematic divisions are vague and the relationship between the artworks in each space is unclear. The two spaces that stood out included “If women can be odalisques, so can men” — showcasing instances where female artists embrace sexuality in portraiture — and “A poet among painters” — a series of portraits of painters. The exhibition is free and available to view until Oct. 21. The Mid-City gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and more details can be found online.

Four teen girls sit on the ground with their hands on a Ouija board.
Samantha Miller, left, Coral Peña, Lilian Rebelo and Ashley Brooke in “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord,” playing at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre until Sunday.
(Craig Schwartz / Craig Schwartz Photography)

Friday evening, I went to the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City to see “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” by Alexis Scheer. The play, presented by Center Theatre Group in association with IAMA Theatre Company, follows four teenage girls who attempt a seance to connect with the ghost of Pablo Escobar as part of their Dead Leaders Club. When they initiate a new member, a series of unexpected events and truths come to light. The show balanced dramatic tension and comedy, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats (so much so that audible gasps were heard throughout the play). The ending was jarring and shook me to my core, but don’t take my word for it. Check out Times theater critic Charles McNulty’s review. “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” closes Sunday and tickets range from $30 to $79. For more information, check out CTG’s website.

Go out speed round

A portrait of a woman getting her hair buzzed
Kennedi Carter, “(Untitled) Self Portrait,” 2019.
(Kennedi Carter / Rose Gallery)

Go out before it closes: Kennedi Carter’s exhibition, “A Meditation on the Untitled,” has been extended until Saturday at Rose Gallery in Santa Monica. The show features photography that reflects on the Black Southern experience, depicting intimate relationships within households. The photography touches on themes of queerness and gender in its portrayal of life inside the home. The exhibition is free and Rose Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More information can be found on the gallery’s website.

Go out for free: As A Place Called Home celebrates its 30th anniversary, the community hub introduces its 3rd El Centro Del Sur Latinx Theater Festival: Tu Hogar. The festival includes a free community block party in South Central from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday to ring in the milestone. In addition to the free party, the organization will share seven plays from Thursday to Sunday — including Skylight Theatre’sLa Egoista” and “(Un)Documents” by Jesús I. Valles. Tickets to the shows are $10 each, $50 for a festival pass to all seven performances and $100 for a premium festival pass. For more details on the festival, check out APCH’s website.

Go out and learn/craft: Take part in a continuously unfolding art piece at 18th Street Arts Center’s Propeller Gallery in Santa Monica. Jenny Yurshansky will host three “Rinsing the Bones” workshops from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, encouraging participants to explore their migration stories to uncover their sense of identity and belonging. Participants will be credited as co-creators in future iterations of her exhibition, “Rinsing the Bones,” for their contributions through the sessions. If you’re unable to snag a spot in the workshop, no worries. It is presented alongside the “Unfolded Narratives” drawing workshop, which welcomes walk-ups during the same timeframe. The workshops are free and more details can be found on 18th Street Arts Center’s website.

Go out with the kids: Speaking of National Dance Day, Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa is the official West Coast host of a daylong celebration co-presented by the American Dance Movement. The event includes dance workshops for the whole family, performances, an ice cream truck and photo booths. The schedule is packed from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Highlights include a ballet performance with American Ballet Theatre, a bachata workshop with Luis Aragon and a movement workshop with Studio D: Arts School for All Abilities. The event is free and you can RSVP on Segerstrom Center’s website.

Go out on a date: Attention all foodie couples: L.A. Explained is hosting a pop-up museum next to Grand Central Market in downtown L.A. from noon to 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The interactive event by Bristol Farms invites you to contribute to a community cookbook and expand your knowledge of L.A.’s culinary scene by touring the city’s food history. The event is free and more information can be found on the L.A. Explained website.

People gather around LED installations of a utopian, eco-friendly future.
As part of the Dream Dome Experience, guests will have the opportunity to render their dream visions into AI-generated images that will be showcased in a digital gallery.
(Minds Over Matter / Visions2030)

Go out all weekend: This highly anticipated festival envisioning a greener, more eco-friendly future starts this weekend at the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita. Visions2030‘s Earth Edition, a Festival of Eco-Consciousness, is an immersive experience that uses multi-sensory art installations and interactive activities to invite the community to imagine an environmentally conscious future. The festival centers around the Dream Dome Experience, which displays AI-generated images and video across the ceiling of the dome. Other activities include Indigenous storytelling, sound baths, local food, live music performances and more. Tickets range from free to $100 and the festival runs from Friday to Sept. 24. Learn more on the website.

Go out all day: Community Coalition presents the 2023 South L.A. Power Fest. The community event at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall celebrates the culture of South L.A. with music, food and empowerment sessions. The extensive lineup includes Noname, Buyepongo, Utopia Tribe (KG Superstar, Roxcizzle and DJ Adé), Baile (DJs Dina and CQuestt) and DJ Abstrkt. The free event is from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and more details can be found on the South L.A. Power Fest website.

Go out all night: “Letstalkaboutit,” you won’t want to miss this KAYTRAMINÉ concert. The duo consisting of rapper Aminé and DJ KAYTRANADA is currently on tour and the next stop is the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park with opening acts Lou Phelps and Madison LST. The artists first turned heads when they teased their first single “4eva” in April, later dropping their debut self-titled album in May. The show in L.A. is at 8 p.m. Saturday and resale tickets start at $72. For more info, check out Ticketmaster.

A girl in-line skating and a woman roller skating in the street.
Ciclavia’s second CicLAmini will transform a section of North Hollywood into a public park for the day.

Go out and wander: CicLAvia returns with its fifth open street event of the year: CicLAmini North Hollywood. The event transforms a mile of North Hollywood into a car-free zone for pedestrians to bike, jog, walk, skate and ride from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The free event also highlights the local shops and restaurants in the area to make the most of your day in NoHo. More info can be found on CicLAvia’s website.

Go out and celebrate: In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Roxy, the Grammy Museum in downtown L.A. presents its newest exhibition, “The Roxy: 50 and Still Rockin’.” The exhibit documents the history of the club, the renowned musicians who took the venue’s stage and the eclectic “Rocky Horror” stage show and movie. The exhibition opens Monday and runs until Jan. 7. To take a quick trip down memory lane, check out our recent coverage of the historic anniversary by The Times’ Steve Appleford. More details on the exhibition can be found on the Grammy Museum’s website.


Go out for a cause: Buy art, save kittens. Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats presents its annual “Buy Art Save Kittens” fundraiser at Corey Helford Gallery in downtown L.A. The exhibition sells donated art and the proceeds go to medical care and food for L.A.’s feline friends. The show includes cat-themed work by more than 40 artists and runs until Sept. 30. The exhibition is free and the gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. More information can be found on Kitty Bungalow’s website.

More from the crew here

ICYMI: Coco Gauff won the U.S. Open this weekend. If you’ve caught the tennis bug after witnessing her victory, check out these 15 friendly L.A. tennis courts.

Calling all night owls, spend your after-hours in nature by checking out these 8 enchanting night hikes to take in L.A. as the weather warms up.

I finally tried Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery last week and I’m still drooling. There’s a reason why it’s on our list of best Italian sub sandwiches in L.A.

Looking to plan one last venture as summer ends? Try one of these 9 breathtaking campgrounds near SoCal.

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