A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

If anyone doubted the production prowess of Lineage Dance, the third annual Pasadena Dance Festival proved them wrong. Managing Director Peggy Burt and Associate Director Caterina Mercante, who served as festival coordinator, pulled off an extraordinary event. Between the obvious varieties in the audience, the marketplace of the lobby, and the stunning range and skill presented in the 10 concert pieces, the evening manifested both the educational mission of Lineage and the oft-overlooked value of dance arts in Los Angeles.

The Feb. 20 performance at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium topped off a day of festival classes and workshops (which this reviewer will most certainly observe next year).  The listings, which share the concert program, include modern and modern partnering, jazz, injury prevention, pilatesstick (yes, pilatesstick), musical theater dance, Bollywood dancing, salsa, and more, in an almost overwhelming range of options.  That far-reaching dance-for-all mentality translated to the concert listings as well.  Should the dreamlike sparring of the Capoeira Batuque demonstration fail to pique an interest, the fluid grace of Terri Best’s inimitable Through the Desert might do the trick, dancers pouring in and out of their lines and formations across a desert stage.  (A tip of the pen to Ric Zimmerman and Alison Brummer, the evening’s lighting designers.)  And if Best’s work is appealing, then perhaps so are her classes at Edge in Hollywood (which this reviewer most certainly did attend Wednesday evening!).  The beauty of this Pasadena Dance Festival is the cycle it begins, one of dance for all and, one would hope, all for dance.

The program included two past works by Lineage Dance as well, one with live musical performance by a melancholic Wil Seabrook.  The bold beginning of Luminario Ballet’s If the Walls Could Scream spoke of technical virtue and spot-on choreography, trademarks of West Coast concert dance; the costumes and enthusiasms of Ballet Folclorico do Brasil and Yogen’s Bollywood Step Dance brought the world to the Pasadena stage in vibrant color.  Two ballroom demonstrations tilted this reviewer’s head in the best way.  Headlining act Hubbard Street 2, borrowed from Chicago for the evening, performed Lucas Crandall’s exuberant, teasing Gimme. The flirting, flicking, tied-up-with-string piece delighted a cheering audience (much of it with hair still wrapped tightly in buns).  Revelations Dance Company hung from aerial dance equipment; Lux Aeterna Dance Company, in this case simply Jacob “Kujo” Lyons, provided the obligatory nod to minimalism with an Arvo Part-accompanied solo.  (Recognize Lyons?  Because he’s definitely the performer in that national Levi’s commercial.  Entertainment capital of. the. world., folks.)

When Kurt Joos established dance theater in Germany (the roots of Pina Bausch et. al), his The Green Table used elements of both art forms to convey the mass effect of a few powerful men’s decisions.  They sit around a green table planning pocket-filling warfare, and the vignettes of cultural fallout ensue.  In a weirdly meaningful tease on the theme, KIN Dance Company’s Board Room closed the Saturday night program with a light-hearted dance theater approach to (perhaps you’ve guessed?) the economy.  Blackberries at the meeting table, tomfoolery when authority seems all but absent.  One could call it “relatable.”  And, given the Lineage mission for educational, thematic, accessible dance, one could call it the perfect close to an incredible evening of dance.