Better known as The Soraya, the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts is currently led by Executive Director Thor Steingraber, who continues to support dance by including national, international and even local dance companies of high quality. The 1,700-seat theatre was designed by HGA Architects and Engineers with lead design architect Kara Hill and was recently cited by the Los Angeles Times as “a growing hub for live music, dance, drama, and other cultural events.”
Steingraber’s desire to present first class dance works by esteemed choreographers is clear in his choices for The Soraya’s 2023/2024 dance lineup.
The seasons opens on Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 8 PM with the iconic Martha Graham Dance Company celebrating its 100th anniversary with Graham100 featuring the world premiere of a reimagining of Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo and other works that represent the company 100 year span. This will be the first year that the Graham Company under the leadership of artistic director Janet Eilber, will include the Los Angeles base musical ensemble Wild Up as well as fiddler Gabe Witcher making his debut at The Soraya. This new rendition of Rodeo will include updated scenery and a new bluegrass adaptation of the original Aaron Copland score. The rest of the program has not yet been announced.
On Saturday, October 7, 2023, Savion Glover brings his SoUNDz’ SaCRoSaNcT, a tribute to the legendary Gregory Hines and The Hoofers. Glover was a protégé of the late tap master Hines. One of his memorable performances with Hines was on Sesame Street doing the “Opposite Dance.” SoUNDz’ SaCRoSaNcT also pays tribute to hoofing heroes that long preceded Hines.
Turn It Out with Tiler Peck & Friends continues the dance season on October 28 & 29, 2023 (time not yet listed). Peck has become one of ballet’s biggest stars during her tenure at New York City Ballet and as an independent artist working with choreographers such as William Forsythe when she appeared in his The Barre Project. Moving forward on her own, Peck is joined at The Soraya by a diverse group of dancers and choreographers including dancers from NYCB and the reigning diva of tap dance, Michelle Dorrance.
The Christmas season at The Soraya brings two very talented groups. On Saturday, December 9, 2023 at 3 PM, an exclusive holiday performance from Mark Howard’s award-winning Chicago company, Trinity Irish Dance Company. This company has its roots in the Gaelic dance traditions including the reel, hornpipe, and jig—of the northern Celtic Isle.
December 16 & 17, 2023, marks the return of an annual favorite Nochebuena: A Christmas Spectacular featuring Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar. This production celebrates “the holiday traditions of Mexico. Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar pairs with Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles to blend music, dance, and culture. Spirited folk tales are shared through a stunning display of vibrant colors and dance as Mariachi music fills the air.” The Soraya press release.
The last dance event listed on The Soraya website is Diavolo: Existencia 30 Years After the Northridge Earthquake featuring vocalist Thana Alexa and drummer Antonio Sanchez on January 17 & 19, 2024. Alexa and Sanchez have collaborated with Diavolo, led by artistic director Jacques Heim, to create a new score and soundscape. The creation of Existencia was also inspired by the personal impacts that earthquakes such as the 1994 Northridge earthquake and those in Mexico and Croatia have on the people and their families living there.
“Gravity betrays you and the ground beneath your feet is no longer reliable. Then what happens next?”
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit The Soraya website.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Diavolo | Architecture in Motion – Photo by Cheryl Mann