"There are pieces of music that I've fallen in love with and can't fall out of love with," says Benjamin Millepied.
That's the case with a melancholy suite of Rufus Wainwright songs that the French dancer first encountered a couple of years ago. While most of us would be satisfied with listening to the songs on loop, Millepied has taken the compositions and choreographed an entire dance performance around them, along side dancer Janie Taylor and with Wainwright himself set to join as live accompaniment.
The piece, entitled "Homecoming," premieres at the Theatre at Ace Hotel this weekend as part of a two-night return from L.A. Dance Project, which Millepied co-founded in 2011. Appropriately enough, it marks a homecoming for Millepied, who returns to the dance stage in Los Angeles after briefly serving as the director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet.
"I see Los Angeles as a performance playground," says Millepied, who's perhaps best known for choreographing Black Swan. "The history, the quality of time you can have with people, how accessible people are. I find the city endlessly interesting. I love the light, I love the new perspective the light gives on everything I look at throughout my time here during the day."
"Here," in this instance, is a mirrored rehearsal space inside of the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Though L.A. Dance Project has performed at auditoriums and unconventional venues around the city, Millepied has—at least for now—kept the company rooted in Downtown L.A.
"We came Downtown because I wanted to believe in Downtown, for the performing arts, to be part of this moment," he says.
Millepied and his wife, actress Natalie Portman, lived in Paris during a politically and socially tumultuous couple of years. It's part of what inspired "On the Other Side," another dance he choreographed in this weekend's program, this one to Philip Glass piano etudes.
"It's a moment in time for me as a human being with my view on society and peoples relationships and it literally ends on a moment of uncertainty in this communal work," he says. "It was what I was feeling after living in Paris and what was going on."
The piece happened to premiere in London the day after the Brexit vote, and here in L.A. it comes in the context of post-election turmoil. As Millepied explains, L.A. Dance Project "is a company for our times."
L.A. Dance Project performs at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on December 9 and 10.
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