Why This L.A. Theater is Only Presenting Local Dance Companies This Season

January 14, 2020

This season, The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is shining the spotlight on Los Angeles–based dance companies. For the first time in its history, the venue, located in Beverly Hills, has programmed solely local companies for the 2019–20 dance season.

While Los Angeles boasts a world-class concert dance scene, local companies have historically struggled for visibility. “Some of the companies were better known outside of their own town than they are in L.A.,” says Paul Crewes, artistic director at The Wallis. “We are creating a home for many companies who, prior to this, may not have felt like they had a home in L.A.”

A dancer in a shoulder stand is assisted in keeping their legs pointed straight to the ceiling by another dancer, standing just behind them and grasping their ankles.


Kevin Parry, Courtesy The Wallis

The season’s programming features a mix of newer and more established companies, all of which contribute to the rich and diverse L.A. concert dance community. This month, audiences at The Wallis can see performances by urban Latin dance theater company CONTRA-TIEMPO and Lula Washington Dance Theatre, a Los Angeles mainstay celebrating its 40th anniversary. Other companies this season include contemporary Indian troupe Blue13 Dance Company, site-specific pioneers Heidi Duckler Dance and the gravity-defying DIAVOLO/Architecture in Motion. BODYTRAFFIC, the venue’s 2019–20 company in residence, will premiere Jonathan Lunn’s four-part The Minghella Project, the first original dance program fully produced by The Wallis, in April.

Although The Wallis will expand its programming beyond Los Angeles–based companies for future seasons, supporting local talent is a long-term commitment. The venue has historically aimed to feature local companies for at least 50 percent of its season, and this initiative will continue going forward. Another goal is to delve further into producing original dance works, with hopes that The Minghella Project will be the first of many produced by The Wallis.