A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

The Wooden Floor will perform at REDCAT. / Photo by Kevin P. Casey

Created in 1983 to use dance as a transformative tool that annually empowers 375 underserved and low-income youth in Orange County, The Wooden Floor brings its exuberant cast to REDCAT for only two shows this weekend (Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m.). Presenting the work of three highly acclaimed and award-winning envelope-pushing choreographers, TWF is currently celebrating its 10th consecutive year of sending 100 percent of its high school graduating class to college, following the students’ multi-year commitment to the after-school dance training.

Premiering Herb Alpert dance artist awardee Susan Rethorst’s “Too” and TWF Artistic Director and Co-CEO Melanie Rios Glaser’s “True or False: I was born in the Netherlands,” the program also includes last year’s gem of a dance created by student collaborators with Brooklyn-based dance maker Ivy Baldwin, “Time-lapse Alphabet.”

Using the deep pool of young talent being developed at this state-of-the-art Santa Ana facility, Rethorst has created a piece that she describes in publicity information as being “grounded in 23 individual solos … ranging from spooky to saucy” and inviting “the arbitrary, the ridiculous, the exaggerated [and] the uncool.” Rios Glaser, from the same source, states that “True or False” challenges assumptions as it reveals and protects and engages the viewer in an audacious dialogue with the performers. In Baldwin’s jointly crafted (with the performers) “Time-lapse Alphabet,” Renaissance architecture, galloping herds, thrashing, slumping and underwater mirroring are all part of what promotional materials label as “sculptural and exuberant, regal and lonely, chaotic and contemplative.” Lots of interesting adjectives and a good look at what these up-and-coming and established choreographers can do with the busloads of young people learning about discipline, commitment, responsibility, cooperation, movement and performance.

What makes this end-of-program recital more compelling than seeing your niece or nephew, neighbors’ kids or any other person moving is that the directing adults have been thinking outside the box for a while now. Watching what goes on onstage may inspire us in the audience to think more broadly about the world we live in, or incite some individual action to make what we want of our lives. It’s inspiring for the young people, and just as much for us too. Definitely worth seeing.

—Benn Widdey, Culture Spot LA

Performances are Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17 and 18, at 8:30 p.m. at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater), 631 W. Second Ave., LA 90012. Tickets are $20 general, $16 members and students and $12 CalArts students/faculty/staff. You can purchase tickets at www.REDCAT.org or by calling the REDCAT box office at (213) 237-2800.

Benn Widdey has been writing since he was a little boy and dancing with all the kids on his block since then, too. His writing has been published on blogs and in journals and magazines. He writes grants, fundraising letters, press releases and arts marketing copy as well.