A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Overtone Industries / Photo courtesy of the artist

For its 11th annual summer festival celebrating Los Angeles’ own dance, theater and multimedia performance, REDCAT’s New Original Works (NOW) Festival opens this Thursday for a three-weekend run in the theater below Disney Hall. Described as a laboratory for envelope-pushing ideas for the stage, two or three artists share each distinct program beginning July 24 and continuing through Aug. 9 (shows are Thursday through Saturday at 8:30 p.m.).

Previous years’ performances have served as testing grounds for productions that have subsequently ventured across the globe in their later development. This year’s roster of artists includes a few who have brought their previous creations to earlier editions of the venerable hometown festival, as well as several who are new to the scene.

In this opening program, choreographer/dancer Wilfried Souly draws from the traditions of his native Burkina Faso and contemporary dance theater to create “Saana/The Foreigner,” a solo featuring live music by multi-instrumentalists Julio Montero, aka Cuñao and Tom Moose. Though “Saana” reveals the dance maker’s personal journey away from home, all three collaborators are immigrants to the United States. The musicians bring their own individual experiences into the mix, resulting in a multi-layered blend of dance, music and spoken word.

Also returning to the downtown stage, Rosanna Gamson/World Wide presents its sextet “Still,” which promotional materials refer to as a “kinetic investigation of the neuroscience of dreams.” In this dance, explosive, violent, tender and still moments are set against an “eclectic sonic landscape of viol, cello and violin music that ranges from French 17th-century court composer Marin Marais to new world post-rock band instrumentals.”

The third artist in this trio of arresting works-in-process, Overtone Industries presents “Iceland,” a modern love story created by acclaimed composer O-Lan Jones and Irish songwriter Emmett Tinley. Performed by the 10-member Hidden Folk Choir, two soloists and a chamber orchestra, the story takes place in a “mythical and timeless world … where elemental forces and ancient creatures challenge a hero and heroine on an archetypal journey.”

As usual, the festival hums with nascent energy, committed experimentation and a deep breath of fresh air. Each program is different and surprising, offering unique experiences to an open-eyed audience. Check it out.

—Benn Widdey, Culture Spot LA

For more information, visit http://www.redcat.org/event/nowfest-2014-week-one. Individual tickets are $20, $16 for student and members, $14 for CalArts. Buy them here: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/936658. A Festival Pass, which provides access to all three programs, is available for $40.