On the campus of Cal State Northridge, the Valley Performing Arts Center has devised a dance season of the smorgasbord variety, with something to please differing tastes.

The details:

  • Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez, Nov. 2
  • Russian National Ballet Theatre, Feb. 10, 2013
  • Black Grace Dance Company, March 23, 2013
  • Mark Morris Dance Group, April 27, 2013

The lowdown: 

Ballet Folklorico has continued along as strong as ever, since the death of its founder, Amalia Hernandez, 12 years ago. No one has surpassed it in its ability to deliver the spectacle and polish of dozens of  dancers and musicians representing the Mexican folkloric tradition. The repertory has varied little over the years. You could expect colorful costumes and stage adaptations of dances from throughout the country.

The Russian National Ballet Theatre is a recent creation, founded in Moscow as the Soviet Union was coming apart at the seams in the late 1980s. Unlike the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky ballets, this company was open to professionals and students who had graduated from different academies around the nation. It is currently being led by retired Bolshoi principal dancer Elena Radchenko with a repertory devoted mostly to full-length classics. The company is scheduled to perform “Cinderella” in Northridge, and the Valley Performing Arts Center website notes the choreography is from a 1945 Bolshoi production. If correct, that would be choreography by Rotislav Zakharov set to the brilliant, haunting score by Sergei Prokofiev.

The Black Grace Dance Company is the leading contemporary dance troupe of New Zealand, based in Auckland on the North Island. Founded by artistic director and choreographer Neil Ieremia in 1995, it incorporates indigenous dances from Maori and Pacific Island peoples, blending them with modern and street dance.  The company made its U.S. debut in 2004.

Mark Morris Dance Group makes a very welcome return to L.A. for one performance only. The scheduled program includes: “Festival Dance,” from 2011, created to celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary and set to a piano trio by 18th century Austrian composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel; the early (1982) “Canonic 3/4 Studies,” to short piano pieces by Harriet Cavalli, who arranged her own work and was the soloist for Morris when he debuted this piece during a summer workshop at Seattle’s On the Boards; and “Grand Duo,” 1993, set to Lou Harrison’s “Grand Duo for Violin and Piano.”

One more interesting Mark Morris note: The famously musical choreographer and conductor will be the music director for the 2013 Ojai Music Festival, June 6-9. He will focus on American composers  including the late Harrison (who was a personal friend), John Cage, Henry Cowell, Charles Ives and John Luther Adams. As a bonus, Mark Morris Dance Group will perform at one concert. More specific details are promised in November.

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