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Music Center dance series' 2010-11 season will be its biggest ever

May 11, 2010 |  6:30 am

Morris-dance The eighth season of dance at the Music Center will be the biggest yet.

The 2010-11 series -- now named Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center -- will feature troupes from Europe and Latin America, a collaboration with Mark Morris Dance Group and Los Angeles Opera, and the returns of American Ballet Theatre and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the last of which will offer its final L.A. performances under retiring Artistic Director Judith Jamison.

"We'll have more performances than in the past, more international companies in one season and more 'firsts' in terms of Music Center debuts and our collaboration with L.A. Opera," says Renae Williams Niles, the center's director of dance presentations.

Helping to make the expanded season possible is last year's $20-million gift from philanthropist Kaufman. "The gift was significant in itself and also allowed us to leverage our fundraising," says Williams Niles. "That meant we could pursue conversations with international companies we couldn't before and projects such as the one with Mark Morris and the opera." 

The series will open with the West Coast debut of Corella Ballet Castilla y León, the Spanish classical ballet company started two years ago by ABT star Angel Corella. The performances will run Nov. 5-7 in the Ahmanson Theatre.

The rest of the programs will be at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, starting Jan. 28-30 with Brazil's Grupo Corpo, a contemporary company that Williams Niles calls "athletic, virtuosic, quirky in the best sense."

The innovative, half-century-old Nederlands Dans Theater 1, led by new Artistic Director Jim Vincent, will appear March 23 and 24 and present works by Crystal Pite and NDT resident choreographers Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, a.k.a. Lightfoot Leon.

Ailey will offer four programs -- possibly including pieces by founder Alvin Ailey, Jamison and incoming Artistic Director Robert Battle -- in 10 performances April 8-17.

Mark Morris Dance Group will return to the Music Center for the first time in three years May 5-10 with "L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato," the 1988 masterwork in which Morris blends his choreography with Handel's music and Milton's poetry. Joining the dancers will be sopranos Hei-Kyung Hong, Sarah Coburn, tenor Barry Banks and bass-baritone John Relyea and the Los Angeles Opera orchestra and chorus.

Ballet Nacional de Cuba will perform its "Don Quixote" June 23-26. The troupe was founded in 1948 by Alicia Alonso, the grande dame of Cuban ballet. Alonso, a former American Ballet Theatre star, has obtained a visa to go to New York this June to celebrate her 90th birthday and ABT's 70th anniversary. Will she also visit L.A.?

"We're hopeful," says Williams Niles.

American Ballet Theatre will conclude the season July 14-17 with the 1930s comic ballet "The Bright Stream" in a production choreographed by artist-in-residence Alexei Ratmansky, a former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet. The piece debuted at the Bolshoi in 2003.

-- Karen Wada

Photo: Mark Morris Dance Group in "L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato" in London in April. Credit: Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images


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