American Contemporary Ballet Steps Into Glamour With "Astaire Dances III" Performances
For its latest performance, Los Angeles' American Contemporary Ballet revisits the glamour of jazz-infused choreography from Fred Astaire with costumes to complement the recreation of the magical movements.
"It’s wonderful and special to see a man dressed to the nines with a woman in these elegant no-holds barred creations that are full of romance and glamour," ACB Artistic Director Lincoln Jones explained. "It’s beautiful to see."
Comprising five dances, the program relies heavily on the jazz elements incorporated by Astaire, allowing the ballet dancers to explore new types of movement.
"We’ve done the Astaire I and II programs," Jones said. "They were super popular with the audience and rewarding for us because they give the dancers the opportunity to work on aspects of dancing that can be obscured by the technical aspects of ballet. Astaire was the master of these things, in addition to being a phenomenal choreographer."
Fresh off of its December run of "The Nutcracker," the ACB had a limited amount of time and budgetary restrictions when compared with the original performances. This required renowned company costume designer Ruoxuan Li to improvise by using materials that were less costly and could be more quickly transformed into costumes that would fit the glamour and movement demands of the choreography. While the costumes didn't have to be exactly the same as the originals, they did have to provide the same movement.
"When the dancers turn or spin, the dresses follow them three seconds later. It creates this magical movement that is central to the look," Jones explained. "The dress [Ruoxuan] did for 'Something's Gotta Give’ on dancer Sarah Bukowski, it’s magical. The volume and movement of the skirt. The costume itself is contributing as much to the romance as much as dancers and music are."
The ACB premiered "Astaire Dances III" Feb. 1 and will run the program until Feb. 16 at Metropolis Los Angeles with tickets available online.