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Ballet Company to Bring their Edgy Works to LA

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It's unusual for a ballet company to explode onto the international scene as quickly as the "overnight" successes in other arts. To do so, there needs to be a philanthropic supporter who gets the ball rolling and stays there, like Lincoln Kirstein and the NYC Ballet or Baroness Rothschild and Martha Graham. So, for an American company to do this in our economically-challenged 21st century is an unexpected wonder! But "Hello!" to Cedar Lake Contemporary Balletand welcome to Los Angeles!

Based in New York City, founder Nancy Laurie amassed a group of top drawer ballet dancers and invited up-and-coming international (read European) choreographers to have their creative ways with them. So sprang Cedar Lake in 2003. Under the artistic direction of French-born and New York-experienced Benoit-Swan Pouffer, the company of sixteen dancers has enlisted the talents of artists like Ohad Naharin and Hofesh Shechter, both Los Angeles favorites, as well as a slew of names we know little of in our provincial American dance community. Maybe it's the limited public funding, the small audiences for concert dance or the longer history of support and development of the arts on foreign soil, but it serves as a welcome presence on our national touring scene that the company is at UCLAlive's Royce Hall for two shows this weekend.

For these performances, CLCB has elected to present two distinct programs . . . maybe, so audiences can come back after being wowed the first night and wanting more . . . or, perhaps just to educate the local dance viewers with the work of these four unique theatrical voices.

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On Friday, Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, explores themes of balance, perspective, loneliness and enlightenment in the evening length Orbo Novo (New World). Featuring live accompaniment from the Mosaic String Quartet performing a score written especially for the dance by Polish composer Szymon Brzoska, the work was inspired by Jill Bolte Taylor's book My Stroke of Insight, a memoir of one woman's return to self after a debilitating stroke.

On Saturday, the dancers performs three works, including Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue from Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite, Joe Strømgren's Sunday Again and Dutch dance maker Didy Veldman's frame of view. According to the promotional materials, the first piece explores the "spirit of liberation," the second uses J. S. Bach's baroque music to tell the simple story of a couple taxed by the quirks of cohabitation and the last investigates how emotion can energize and overtake the body.

Esteemed Village Voice dance critic Deborah Jowitt wrote that "Cedar Lake's artistic director, Benoit-Swan Pouffer, favors pieces that challenge the stupendous dancers to be fierce, athletic, and compulsively sensual."

I'm there.

Click here for a preview.