Laguna Dance Festival: What’s not to love?


One of southern California’s most charming beach communities with a long history as an art colony (group it with Carmel in the north and Santa Barbara on the central coast), Orange County’s Laguna Beach hosts, with civic pride, an eight-year-running dance festival. It’s the labor of love of Jodie Gates, the former Joffrey Ballet ballerina.

This year’s Laguna Dance Festival, opening in two weeks, offers a strong roster of three excellent contemporary dance troupes, all players on a national level.

The Orange County-based Backhausdance opens the weekend on September 7. Then in the following days, two strong shows that pair Hubbard Street Dance Chicago with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet will light up the Laguna Playhouse. The Chinese call that “double happiness.” Dance critics call it “one-stop shopping.”

The Chicago’ans offer “Three to the Max,” a work by the bad-boy Israeli dance maker Ohad Naharin, with whom Hubbard has enjoyed a long artistic association. The San Franciscans are ponying up Alonzo King’s “Dust and Light.”

Laguna’s gorgeous locale combined with Gates’s rich program makes the Laguna Dance Festival pretty tempting. What can I say? I’m ready to make the torturous drive from Los Angeles to be there.

Gates, a real go-getter, has organized a three-week residency at UC Irvine beginning this week (Aug 27-Sept 15) in which Alonzo King will be creating the new premiere work for Hubbard and Lines that will have its So Cal premiere at the Los Angeles Music Center (Glorya Kaufman presents Dance at the Music Center series) in June 2013. So Laguna and Orange County are acting as a creative engine for our benefit in Los Angeles. I like the regional synergy.

Laguna Dance Festival | Laguna Playhouse | Sept 7 – 9, 2012 | tickets

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