Victoria Looseleaf

Sweet Dreams

A kind of cross between Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and the booze-infested flick, Lost Weekend, the world premiere confection, “Whipped Cream,” landed with a sumptuous, if occasional cloying, sweetness in Orange County for a five-day run, before making its frothy way to American Ballet Theater’s home—the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House—in May.

A Given Light

As part of its “Flower of the Season,” currently in its 14th year, Body Weather Laboratory (a forum for investigating kinesthetic and movement research that was initiated in 1988 by dancer/farmer and improvisateur, Min Tanaka), presented a new work by Oguri, the Japan-born Butoh dancer who leads BWL in Venice, and, to be blunt, never fails to astonish.

A Mixed Bill

In a concert of five works—notable for a lack of discernible style—Jessica Lang Dance roared into Los Angeles last weekend as if it were the second coming. At only six years old, this troupe has somehow catapulted itself to the front ranks of companies.

Blow Up

Waterbeds may have been a 70’s fad, but what about inflatable furniture? For a mere $74.95 (with free shipping, who knew?), Amazon offers the sofa of your dreams, one designed with a “waterproof-flocked top surface and a vinyl bottom that provides an incredibly comfortable sitting surface for any occasion.” For Lionel Popkin, a former Trisha Brown dancer and a choreographer who has mined his Hindu/Jewish roots, memorialized Ruth St. Denis and sautéed onions and curried zucchini in a range of works that satisfied, amused and, if not necessarily provoked, left indelible imagery nonetheless.

Pivotal: Jonah Bokaer

The last time New York-based dancer/choreographer/media artist Jonah Bokaer performed in Los Angeles, it was with Merce Cunningham Dance Company, more than 10 years ago. Indeed, the multi-hyphenate was 18 when he had the distinction of being the youngest dancer ever to join the iconic troupe in 2000, staying until 2007.

Local Gods

​There is no doubt that this year will go down as one of the strangest—and possibly saddest—in memory, at least politically speaking. And since the personal is political, with 2016 offering dashed dreams in terms of breaking the glass ceiling, the tragedy of Aleppo and the onslaught of so-called fake news, many of us, thankfully, continue to be consoled by art, with this writer particularly under dance’s spell for salvation. On that front, there was good news. Here, then—and in no particular order—are the dance highlights in what might otherwise be considered an annus horribilus.

Hear them Roar

What is it about a girl in stilettos—those near lethal heels generally designed by men: think Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin—that make a woman feel both seriously sexy and über-vulnerable at the same time? In her, “Girl Gods” (we prefer the term ‘Goddesses’), a dance three years in the making and a Los Angeles premiere, choreographer Pat Graney ventures into the terrain of feminine tropes with mordant wit, alarming candor and reservoirs of rage.

L.A. Tarantella

A Russian, a Dane and a Canadian—all choreographers—may never have walked into a bar together, but their works made for a magnificently diverse program presented by Los Angeles Ballet to kick off the troupe’s 11th season. The three dancemakers, George Balanchine, August Bournonville and Aszure Barton, represent three distinct styles, and showcased the company’s commitment to preservation as well as being cleverly hip in the moment.

The Forsythe Saga

Think of it as the terpsichorean equivalent of a mic drop—times four, or Beyoncé before Beyoncé (but a decided precursor to “Formation”). However one chooses to look at it, William Forsythe’s “Artifact Suite,” performed over the weekend by Houston Ballet (who premiered it just last month), was an anarchic, jaw-dropping stunner. One third of a unique bill—a trio of American ballet troupes each performing a Forsythe opus—“Artifact” is a one-act, forty-minute abstraction of the his 1984 “Artifact,” the first piece the American-born choreographer made for his now disbanded troupe, Ballett Frankfurt.

The Good WIFE

Crawling with hipsters, scenesters and lipstick lesbians, the funky warehouse in L.A.’s up-and-coming neighborhood, Frogtown, recently served as a performance space for WIFE’s apocryphal “Enter The Cave.” The hometown female trio—Jasmine Albuquerque, Kristen Leahy and Nina McNeely—had presented the first act of “Cave” at the Hammer Museum last June to what can only be called adoring throngs.
Victoria Looseleaf

Victoria Looseleaf

Victoria Looseleaf is an award-winning international arts journalist who covers music and dance festivals around the world. Among the publications she has contributed to are the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Dance Magazine and KCET’s Artbound. In addition, she taught dance history at the University of Southern California, Cal State L.A., and at Santa Monica College. Her new book, “Isn’t It Rich? A Novella In Verse,” is now available in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon.