L. A. Dance Preview: AMERICAN CONTEMPORARY BALLET 2015 (Gensler and Farmers and Merchants Bank in downtown)

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by Tony Frankel on April 20, 2015

in Theater-Los Angeles


Assuredly, Artistic Director Lincoln Jones’ American Contemporary Ballet (ACB) has become the go-to organization for thrilling dance in Los Angeles. Along with his muse Theresa Farrell (ACB’s associate director), Jones offers two programs that are always accompanied by live music. The polished technique of the company’s dancers combined with highly original pieces must be experienced.


While the MUSIC+DANCE series offers what you’ve come to expect from a proficient dance troupe, the use of live chamber musicians and an intimate space heighten the immediacy of ACB’s exciting and inspiring work. Mark your calendars now for two MUSIC+DANCE programs later in the summer: In June, the company’s first full Balanchine work, Valse-Fantaisie, will be joined by the recreated dances of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, performed by the ridiculously elegant ACB dancer Zsolt Banki as Fred and different members of the company as Ginger.


August brings a program-length work that has all but been forgotten in the repertoire: Alexander Glazunov’s The Seasons (1899). The staging of this ballet from Marius Petipa (The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker) has been lost, so Lincoln Jones offers new choreography which will be performed with a new musical arrangement by Jim McMillen. Both MUSIC+DANCE programs take place at the Classical Revival-style Farmers and Merchants Bank building in downtown LA.

ACB AstaireJust as exciting is the DANCE+DESIGN series, which offers audiences the opportunity to understand ballet from the inside in a program led by Jones. Last year, one of my favorite dance events involved Jones’ deconstruction of two Fred Astaire dance numbers—down to the meaning behind a clenched fist—followed by the sequences performed by ACB’s dancers all bedecked in sophisticated costumes matching those worn in the films. Coming up on May 2 & 3 are rare recreations of two more of Fred Astaire’s most famous dances performed to live music. On the same program, Jones will once again reveal the maneuvers behind Astaire’s inimitable artistry. The Language of Dance: The Eloquence of Astaire will take place at Gensler in downtown against one of the most spectacular backdrops in the city.

ACB’s venues seat the audience at stage level, and each program is followed by live jazz and a reception with the artists. The three programs I have seen were frequently sold out and wait-listed, so plan ahead.


production photo by Anastasia Petukhova

The Language of Dance: The Eloquence of Astaire
featuring the dances of Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers
Gensler, 500 S. Figueroa St.
Saturday, May 2 at 2, 4 & 6 pm
Sunday, May 3 at 2 & 4 pm

Balanchine’s Valse-Fantaisie
Astaire Dances II—Fred and Ginger
Farmers and Merchants Bank, 401 S. Main St.
Friday, June 19 at 7 & 9 pm
Saturday, June 20 at 7 & 9 pm
Sunday, June 21 at 2 & 4 pm

The Seasons
Farmers and Merchants Bank, 401 S. Main St.
Friday, August 14 at 7 & 9 pm
Saturday, August 15 at 7 & 9 pm
Sunday, August 16 at 2 & 4 pm

for tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit www.acbdances.com

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