Aspen Santa Fe dancers in “Over Glow.” Photo by Sharen Bradford

Okay, maybe you think you’d never drive to Long Beach to see a show. On the other hand, which theater just organized a reunion of those four champions of free speech, with two performances and a panel discussion: Tim Miller, Holly Hughes, John Fleck and Karen Finley? That’s right, the Carpenter Performing Arts Center (on the CSULB campus,) named after Karen and Richard Carpenter. So pay attention here.

The lowdown:

  • Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Oct. 13
  • Backhausdance, Feb. 2, 2013
  • Companhia Urbana de Danca, March 30, 2013

The details:

Aspen Santa-Fe Ballet is the only American ballet company I’m aware of that has really been able to have two “homes” and make it work splendidly. Artistic director Tom Mossbrucker has selected a repertory of contemporary and classic modern ballets, not so dissimilar from the Joffrey Ballet, where he was a leading soloist. Choreographers represented include Trey McIntyre, Martha Clarke, George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Sherry Zunker-Dow and many others; Mossbrucker has commissioned 24 new ballets in the past 16 years. Here, they will present Jorma  Elo’s “Over Glow,” Jiri Kylian’s “Stamping Ground” and Alejandra Cerrudo’s “Last.”

Jennifer Backhaus showed her choreographic talents early on, winning national honors while getting her bachelor’s degree from Chapman University. She performed with Donna Sternberg and Dancers after graduation, and then gathered together some fellow college alumni and friends to form this eponymous modern dance company, Backhausdance, in January 2003. Her best work is lively, whimsical, and shows clarity of vision. It’s a big break to be presented on the Carpenter Center’s dance series and she will premiere a new piece for the occasion, “The Elasticity of the Almost,” about “structure and chaos and investigates our ability to exist in multiple states simultaneously,” she said in an email. The group will also perform two repertory favorites, “Sitting on January” and “Duet(s).”

Two years ago, an all-male, contemporary hip-hop dance company from Brazil called Grupo de Rua made its So. Cal debut (at the Irvine Barclay Theatre) and impressed a lot of people with its deconstruction of street dance. Now another Brazilian hip-hop company with a very similar-sounding profile is coming to make its West Coast debut, Companhia Urbana de Danca. Actually, Companhia Urbana is not new to U.S. audiences — it knocked the socks off folks at City Center’s 2010 Fall for Dance Festival. Under the direction of Sonia Destri, this all-male group mixes hip-hop with other dance styles. How different or similar the two are, we’ll have to wait to decide.

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