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Dance, Dance, Dance

This is James Taylor with Theatre Talk.

Since its opening last fall, nearly everyone has been singing the praises of Walt Disney Concert Hall-but the opening of Disney Hall isn-t just cause for singing, it-s also cause for dancing

In its inaugural season, a new organization, Dance at the Music Center, is trying to make Los Angeles-especially downtown Los Angeles-a real home for both ballet and modern dance. With the L.A. Opera season winding down, Dance has taken over the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the next few weeks.

But dance fever can be felt all over Southern California. This craze really began last month when UCLA Live! hosted the Mark Morris Dance Group.

The Morris program featured old works, like Going Away Party, a playful 1990 piece set to country western music, and new ones, like All Fours, a piece accompanied by Bartok that debuted just last year. But by far the most engaging was the work titled simply V. Set to Schumann-s Quintet in E flat for piano and strings, V is one of those magical instances where movement and music come together seamlessly. To describe the choreography is impossible-those who missed it should simply make the drive down to San Diego in late April, when Morris gives Southern California a second chance to see this wonderful program.

Another famous American company comes to town this weekend: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The centerpiece of this tour is Revelations, a classic bit of Ailey choreography from 1960. Revelations may not be as revelatory today as it was 45 years ago, but it still delights and gives a good taste of Ailey-s blend of classical movement and Broadway-style showmanship.

One of the new works for Ailey this season is Juba, choreographed by Robert Battle. This frenetic piece has only four dancers but they seem to contain the energy of forty. What Juba lacks in subtlety or grace it more than makes up with in raw theatrical power. Juba will be performed as part of Saturday night-s program, Revelations can be seen at each performance.

Next week, modern dance gives way to ballet as ABT comes to Los Angeles for a long and welcome residency at the Music Center. Instead of the usual, one-weekend dip into L.A. that most companies give, American Ballet Theater is sticking around for a week and a half.

The main event is Sir Kenneth MacMillan-s famous Romeo and Juliet. Five different casts will provide ballet buffs a chance to see the depth of ABT-s dancers. For those wanting celebrity or star-power, Saturday, April 10 will feature the Posh and Becks or the -Jen and Brad- of the ballet world. For one performance the glamorous husband-and-wife dancers Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky will glide across the stage as the two doomed lovers from Verona.

ABT-s other program is a mixed bill of more modern work, including a dance tribute to George Harrison and two works by Jiri Kylian. Kylian-s work will also be on display in Orange County as his Nederlands Dans Theater makes an eagerly awaited return to Southern California. This is the Czech-born choreographer-s last season with NDT and all but one of the pieces are his. Kylian-s most recent work Last Touch received its New York premiere two weeks ago and Anna Kisselgoff described it as -a silent Cherry Orchard of the 21st century.- Who knows what that means, but it sounds interesting-Kylian could have NDT dance to someone reading from the phonebook and it would still be dazzling.

Alvin Ailey continues tonight through Sunday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. American Ballet Theater gives 10 performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, April 1 - 10. Nederlands Dans Theater performs two programs at the Orange County Performing Arts Center beginning March 30 and ending April 4. Mark Morris Dance Group returns to Southern California on April 23 and 24 at Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego.

This is James Taylor with Theatre Talk for KCRW.

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