12 standout dance performances to see in L.A. this fall


Fall is a fine time to immerse yourself in the beauty of dance, from homegrown talent to global ensembles, which in the coming weeks will showcase a variety of new and historical works.

Benjamin Millepied’s upcoming festival celebrates the future of dance in L.A. with premieres from choreographers including Kyle Abraham, Jacob Jonas and Charm La’Donna. The festival runs from Sept. 26 to Nov. 24 at L.A. Dance Project’s home studio on the edge of downtown. (Read more about the festival in The Times next week.)

L.A.-based BodyTraffic is the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ 2019-20 company-in-residence. The group’s fall concert Sept. 26-28 features a world premiere inspired by soul singer James Brown from up-and-coming L.A. choreographer Micaela Taylor. L.A. Contemporary Dance Company makes a departure from the proscenium stage for its new immersive work “Terra,” performed in an empty warehouse in East L.A. on Oct. 8-13. And modern company Louise Reichlin & Dancers celebrates its 40th anniversary with a weekend of performances Oct. 19-20 at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre. One program features the company’s signature 1979 piece, “Tennis Dances.”


Here are more highlights:

Sept. 12-15

Ligia Lewis

“Water Will (in Melody)” is the conclusion of experimental choreographer Ligia Lewis’ trilogy of works including 2014’s “Sorrow Swag” and Bessie award-winning “minor matter.” A gothic tale set in black and white, “Water Will” features four performers including Lewis. It takes inspiration from mime and the Brothers Grimm story “The Willful Child” to investigate race, gender and grief. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St, Los Angeles. $14-$32. (213) 237-2800.


Invertigo Dance Theatre

Laura Karlin first envisioned “Formulae & Fairy Tales” — her latest work exploring the life of math genius and World War II code breaker Alan Turing — in 2007, the same year she created her company, Invertigo Dance Theatre. Twelve years later, the work will have its world premiere at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.


Karlin collaborated with LGBTQ activists, mathematicians and computer scientists to create her work, which she calls a love letter to an extraordinary mind. Karlin says she hopes people watching the show “feel deeply and think deeply.” The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. $49-$79. (310) 434-3200.

Sept. 27-29

Laguna Dance Festival and Rubberband

For its 15th season, the Laguna Dance Festival is moving to the 750-seat Irvine Barclay Theatre, nearly double the size of its main home at the Laguna Playhouse. This year’s festival features New York-based modern company Parsons Dance, Salt Lake City’s Ballet West and Montreal’s Rubberband in distinct programs.

Rubberband artistic director Victor Quijada grew up dancing in hip-hop clubs and b-boying circles in L.A. He created Rubberband in 2002 after dancing with Twyla Tharp’s company and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. For Laguna Dance Festival, the company will perform “Vic’s Mix,” a work Quijada calls “a greatest-hits album for the first 15 years of the company.” Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. $45-$100. (949) 854-4646.


Oct. 6

Sankai Juku

For more than 40 years, Ushio Amagatsu has built a reputation for austere elegance with his all-male butoh troupe Sankai Juku. Butoh, often translated as “dance of darkness,” combines elements of Japanese theater, martial arts and improvisational modern dance. At the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, the Tokyo-based company will present its 2015 work “Meguri: Teeming Sea, Tranquil Land.” The work is a meditative visual poem about the passage of time set against a stone wall carved with sea lily fossils. Royce Hall, UCLA, 10745 Dickson Court, L.A. $29-$93. (310) 825-2101.

Oct. 16-20


Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra

Founded in the 18th century, Russia’s renowned Mariinsky Ballet company is steeped in tradition. The company makes a stop at Segerstrom Hall to perform “La Bayadère,” first choreographed by Marius Petipa in 1877. A tale of love, revenge and redemption, “La Bayadère” is known for “Kingdom of the Shades,” a scene in which the corps de ballet perform a mesmerizing series of arabesques. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. $39-$199. (714) 556-2787.

Nov. 6 and 9

Farruquito Flamenco

Flamenco dancer Juan Manuel Fernández Montoya, better known as Farruquito, is no stranger to the stage. Born into a family dynasty of flamenco, he made his first international stage appearance at age 4 on Broadway with his grandfather, El Farruco — considered one of the greatest flamenco dancers in history.

In “Farruquito Flamenco,” the artist blends his own original music and choreography to honor the history of the art form with an ensemble of dancers, singers and musicians. Nov. 6 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. $39-$99. (714) 556-2787. Also Nov. 9 at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, 18111 Nordoff St., Northridge. $36-$79. (818) 677-3000.

A duet from Matthew Bourne's "Swan Lake"
A duet from Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” is performed by dancers Chris Trenfield, left, and Chris Marney, right, to musical accompaniment by L.A. Opera.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Dec. 3- Jan. 5

Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’

Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake,” which famously swaps out the female corps de ballet with an ensemble of mysterious and menacing male swans, first turned heads during its 1995 world premiere in London. The show later had its U.S. premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in L.A. and then returned in 2006 for a 10th anniversary encore.

Bourne’s take on the 19th century ballet centers on a dysfunctional royal family and a young prince forced to reconcile with his sexuality. After its L.A. premiere in 1997, critic Lewis Segal wrote in The Times: “Bourne’s secret weapon is intensity, and in its first three minutes alone his uniquely audacious and unforgettable reinterpretation delivers more of it than most traditional stagings generate in their whole first hour.” Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A. $35-$145. (213) 628-2772.

Dec. 3-8


Debbie Allen’s ‘Nutcracker’

It’s the 10th anniversary of Debbie Allen’s quirky and family-friendly “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker.” Allen’s version of the holiday tale centers on three wisecracking rats who guide the audience through imagined and real places including Candy Cane Land, Bollywood and a rainforest.

The show — written, choreographed and directed by Allen — features about 150 youth cast members dancing alongside professional artists. The show also stars Allen and actress Raven-Symoné. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd. $40-$125. (310) 937-6607.