Dance calendar hums with a Bowie-themed 'StarDust,' an angry 'Giselle' and more

Dance calendar hums with a Bowie-themed 'StarDust,' an angry 'Giselle' and more
Less forgiveness, more revenge: South African choreographer Dada Masilo's retooling of the classic ballet "Giselle" comes to the Wallis in Beverly Hills. (Stella Olivier)

This spring is notable for the number of local companies on major stages showing the home crowd what they got.

Beyond what’s highlighted below, Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project kicks off “Live From 2245” from May 18 to June 2, its first performance series at the company’s new downtown home. The company has scheduled an ambitious 12 shows, and L.A. premieres will include works by Millepied.

Versa-Style Dance is planning its 13th annual hip-hop festival May 4 to 6, and Lula Washington Dance Theater performs at the Ford Amphitheatre on June 8.

In an unusual alignment, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Complexions Contemporary Ballet — three companies whose artistic missions overlap with a mandate to represent people of color — will be here during the same week in April. Enjoy the riches that come with being in a big, diverse city.

April 5-7

In “Dearest Home,” choreographer and MacArthur Fellow Kyle Abraham temporarily turns away from searing social commentary to look at love and its healing potential. He did not anticipate, however, that as he was creating “Dearest Home,” the real world would intervene in painful ways: His mother died, and a serious relationship came to an end. Neither event derailed the piece nor his ultimate conclusion that love does provide solace. Freud Playhouse, UCLA, 245 Charles E. Young Drive, Westwood. $29-$59. (310) 825-2101.

Kyle Abraham's
Kyle Abraham's company will perform "Dearest Home." Carrie Schneider

April 5-7

L.A. Dance Project

From its first performance six years ago at Walt Disney Concert Hall when it revived a Merce Cunningham oddity, L.A. Dance Project has presented historical works along with contemporary pieces by director Benjamin Millepied and others. On this program, the company stages three duets from one of modern dance’s founders, Martha Graham. The trio are excerpts from 1948’s “Diversion of Angels” and 1952’s “Canticle for Innocent Comedians.” Millepied’s “Sarabande” is also on the bill as are works by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck and by Ohad Naharin, the dance-maker with Israel’s Batsheva Dance. Bram Goldsmith Theater, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. $45-$125. (310) 746-4000.

L.A. Dance Project's Graham duets
L.A. Dance Project will perform three Martha Graham duets. James Welling

April 12-14

Dada Masilo

The South African choreographer says her new retooling of the classic ballet “Giselle” focuses less on love and forgiveness and more on heartbreak and revenge. Masilo’s collaborators are two of her fellow countrymen: composer Philip Miller, who devised a score with nods to Adam Adolphe’s original music, and artist William Kentridge, with whom Masilo appeared last November in “Refuse the Hour.” Masilo is scheduled to appear as the scorned peasant girl. Bram Goldsmith Theater, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. $45-$125. (310) 746-4000.

April 12-15

Dance Camera West & To the Sea

Dance Camera West, the screen-dance and live-performance festival, crops up at venues on the Westside, including the Santa Monica Pier. DCW and partner-presenter Jacob Jonas Dance have landed a coup — a performance by Pilobolus — plus the German dancer known as Rubberlegz and others. For DCW Executive Director Tonia Barber, offering audiences a menu of both screenings and live performance is a must. Four days of programming will include documentaries about flamenco artist La Chana and one directed by Martha Graham former principal dancer Terese Capucilli about the Graham company’s longtime piano accompanist, Reed Hansen. Various locations in Westwood and Santa Monica. Free to $15.

April 18 and 20-21

Dance Theatre of Harlem

This multi-ethnic company has struggled mightily to survive since New York City Ballet principal Arthur Mitchell co-founded it in 1969 — and it has triumphed over obstacles that have felled lesser groups. With founding ballerina Virginia Johnson at the helm, it’s back in full health for two engagements of mixed repertory: works by resident choreographer Robert Garland; Ulysses Dove’s inspiring “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven,” an “ode to love and loss”; plus “Vessels” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, whom SoCal audiences might remember from “Moments,” his striking duet created at the National Choreographers Initiative and performed by Barak Ballet. April 18 at Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. $58-$68. (949) 854-4646. April 20-21 at the Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. $60-$95. (310) 434-3200.

April 18-22

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

For some Ailey fans, the reason to buy tickets can be summed up in one word: “Revelations.” Indeed, Ailey’s 1960 masterwork to gospel songs and spirituals will close each of the company’s three programs in Costa Mesa. But new works commissioned for Ailey’s gifted performers are its lifeblood, and Artistic Director Robert Battle certainly believes that. So depending on what day you go, expect to see recently premiered pieces by Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano and Jamar Roberts (an Ailey dancer) as well as three by Battle plus classic works from Twyla Tharp, Talley Beatty and Billy Wilson. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. $29-$139. (714) 556-2787.

April 20-22

Complexions Contemporary Ballet

Complexions’ “StarDust” is to David Bowie what the Joffrey Ballet’s “Billboards” was to Prince: a high-energy ballet that celebrates a popular music icon and potentially attracts new audiences at the same time. Complexions co-artistic director Dwight Rhoden says that “StarDust” is the first portion of what he hopes will be a three-act ballet to Bowie’s music. This piece includes nine songs from the rock star’s catalog, including “Young Americans,” “Space Oddity” and “Changes.” Two other Rhoden pieces, one of which features co-director Desmond Richardson, are also scheduled. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. $34-$138. (213) 972-0711.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet's "StarDust"
Complexions Contemporary Ballet celebrates the late David Bowie in "StarDust." Breeann Birr

April 26-28


Argentine contemporary choreographer Diana Szeinblum knew nothing about the folkloric dances of her country when a presenter invited her to dig deep into their history to come up with something original. Szeinblum and a trio of dancers began with bare-bones written instructions of each dance and then deconstructed and rearranged the movements. The result, which translates to “And Go!,” bears little resemblance to the originals. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles. $10-$25. (213) 237-2800.

BodyTraffic will take to the Wallis in Beverly Hills. Lee Gumbs

May 31-June 2


Co-artistic directors Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett are finalizing the program for their first performance at the Wallis. The one certainty is the premiere of “A Million Voices” by Matthew Neenan, a former principal dancer of Pennsylvania Ballet and co-founder of BalletX. Set to eight songs by Peggy Lee, the dance, like Lee’s vocal style, smolders with sensuality, Barbeito says. Bram Goldsmith Theater, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. $45-$125. (310) 746-4000.

June 29-30

Barak Ballet

Digital scenic design has come to the fore in the last 10 years. But media artist Refik Anadol’s projected and digitally produced geometric lines, as matched with Melissa Barak’s choreography and David Lawrence’s score, made for a revelatory effect in the 2017 piece “E/Space.” Happily, the young chamber-size troupe gives us a repeat performance of “E/Space,” along with new pieces by Barak and Nicolas Blanc, a ballet master with the Joffrey Ballet. This show is also a dry run for Barak Ballet’s debut at Manhattan’s Joyce Theatre in July. The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. $45-$75. (310) 434-3200.

See all of our latest arts news and reviews at


Art: Times critic Christopher Knight’s picks

Classical: Times critic Mark Swed’s picks

Theater: Times critic Charles McNulty’s picks

Broadway, the L.A. way: ‘Waitress,’ ‘Hamilton’ and more

Chamber music: 15 groups to know on a more intimate scale

An art exhibition that aims to go ‘Beyond the Streets’

Amy Freed helps Shakespeare with a rewrite in 'Shrew!'


For the Record

6:15 p.m. An earlier version of this article said L.A. Dance Project’s 12 shows will include a premiere by choreographer Kyle Abraham. The company’s plans have changed, and Abraham will not be among the premieres.

2:45 p.m. March 26: An earlier version of this article gave incorrect dates for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s performances at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The performances are April 18-22, not April 19-21.