A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Lionel Popkin brings “Ruth Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” to REDCAT this weekend. / Photo by John Altdorfer

Coming home to Los Angeles from his national tour, choreographer Lionel Popkin is bringing “Ruth Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” downtown to REDCAT for three performances this weekend: Thursday through Saturday, June 12-14, at 8:30 p.m.

Inspired by the early 20th-century American modern dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis, a trio of dancers (including the dancemaker) is joined by accordionist Guy Klucevsek and Sara Parkins on violin. The quintet of performers explores St. Denis’ penchant for exotic cultures and elaborate costuming in her oeuvre as they examine her sources and appropriation of foreign elements.

Paralleling the artist’s own half-Jewish/half-Indian roots, promotional materials state that Popkin “playfully wrestles with his own uncertainties [and] awkwardness with representations of South Asia.” Frolicking amidst a shower of costumes created and arranged by Marcus Kuiland-Nazario, the dancers “attempt to order a messy journey that questions the mechanisms of cultural sourcing, representation and transmission.”

Sounds like a lot of fun obscuring some provocative ideas.

Popkin has been produced at REDCAT several times in the theater’s short history, including his last evening-length work that involved a dancer dressed as an elephant. Not surprisingly, his dances seem to be whimsical and humorous, but they are (also) complex and layered with intrigue. The dancing is crisp and fresh, soft in some places and hard as rock in others. St. Denis was famous for her liquid-like arms and caravan-crossing tours of the United States. Let’s see what the two do together back at home.

—Benn Widdey, Culture Spot LA

REDCAT is located below the Disney Concert Hall at 631 W. Second St., LA 90012. Tickets are $10-$20 and can be purchased at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/931262.