A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Abraham.In.Motion / Photo by Ian Douglas

This Thursday and Friday, Feb. 12 and 13, the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA welcomes MacArthur Genius Award-winning choreographer Kyle Abraham and his company, Abraham.In.Motion, to the venerable Royce Hall for two different programs at 8 p.m.

The artist and his renowned collaborators (Glenn Ligon’s sets and Robert Glasper’s music) will present two separate programs during their Southland visit, in addition to a few community-focused activities during the week. On Thursday, AIM offers the evening-length, “The Watershed,” with nine strong dancers moving to an eclectic sound score that includes 1960s R&B, contemporary classical and hip-hop music. Referencing historical cultural and political events from the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation through to present day, the dance explores what promotional materials call our “universal aspiration toward freedom,” as it leads us to wonder, “are we yet free?”

Friday’s program, “When the Wolves Came In,” contains three works from the company’s repertory and Grammy Award-winning jazz artist Robert Glasper’s original score, among other treats. Like Thursday’s production, visual design is by conceptual artist Ligon. This evening connects the 150th anniversary of Abe Lincoln’s forward-thinking proclamation with the 20 years since the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa. Inspired by Max Roach’s iconic 1960 protest album “We Insist: Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite,” the visceral power of the dancing and evocative imagery surrounding it bring this contemporary perspective into clear focus.

Having seen what the artist has shown previously in Los Angeles, this writer expects some voracious dancing, some surprising and engaging theatricality, and thought-provoking thematic resonance. Both shows are must-see events, but either one looks like a winner.

—Benn Widdey, Culture Spot LA

Royce Hall is located on the UCLA campus at 340 Royce Drive, LA 90095. Tickets from $19-$69 can be purchased at: