The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills announced this week that its 2019-2020 dance season will be stocked with Los Angeles-based dance companies–only. It is, I believe, the first time a Los Angeles theater presenter has programmed a complete dance season just with L.A.-based companies. Quite a milestone.
Artistic director Paul Crewes, who came to L.A. in 2015 from Britain’s Kneehigh Theatre, has championed the city’s dance companies since he arrived. The theater’s biggest space, the Bram Goldsmith Theater, has 500 seats, making it easier to fill up than, say, the 3,000-seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. But it’s still fair to consider Crewes a risk-taker. He doesn’t assume, as other theater presenters have, that local groups will bring in audiences for one night only. He believes that word of mouth helps to sell tickets and so he books groups for two and sometimes three nights. He sees the one-night gig as a dead end.
When I interviewed him for a recent story (about artist residencies), he told me L.A.’s dance groups have a better reputation outside the city than they do in it. “It felt strange to me. They just need the opportunity on the right size stage. A real chance to perform. The (Wallis Annenberg) auditorium is fantastic (for dance). And the width and depth of the stage is phenomenal,” he said.
BodyTraffic will be the company-in-residence next season and will present several world premieres, including one by local choreographer and former BodyTraffic dancer Micaela Taylor in the fall, and in the spring, “The Minghella Project,” a commission from the Wallis Annenberg, its first.
The full dance season:
BodyTraffic – Sept. 26-28
Contra-Tiempo – Jan. 17-18, 2020
Lula Washington Dance Theatre – Jan. 30-Feb. 1
Blue13 Dance Company – Feb.21-22
Heidi Duckler Dance – April 15-18
The Minghella Project, BodyTraffic – April 18-25
Diavolo – May 14-16
For more information, go here.