Dance breathes life into L.A. Dance Project’s 10-year anniversary gala.
It’s hard to imagine now, but back in the mid-1990s, L.A. Dance Project was a major force in Los Angeles, but also one of the city’s only major dance organizations. Its annual gala, one of its most ambitious events, was a big deal in the city at the time. There were two categories of attendees – the gala at the main theater and the free pre-show event held at the Music Box. It featured a free concert at the Bait Shop, two dance performances, a DJ set, and two performances from the company’s dancers; then they all took to the streets to dance. A couple of photos from the event survive and they’re incredible in their way – the crowd-pleasing dance moves the dancers perform at this point in their careers are on full display, from hip flinging to a combination of street dancing and aerial ballet. The event featured a host of new talent, including a young Patti Lupone.
These days, the L.A. Dance Project is no more, though they have a new home for the free pre-show event. L.A. Dance Project Repertory Theater opened up in early 2015, in what is now the former Music Box space.
After a brief stint doing what many would describe as community theater, Repertory Theater quickly became something else. It’s not that there wasn’t a community around the theater – it was often the place where the LAP audience hung out. The program changed to include more and more community theater elements, but for many the focus was on the dancing. The first night, as many of you will remember, featured a show about the history of the company, complete with a very well-dressed guest star – the very charismatic, very talented Bill Irwin. Bill Irwin was the star of many local dance shows, but L.A. Dance Project was far and away his most notable role. Bill was also a man of strong opinions, and he was just as passionate about L.A Dance Project as the audience who hung out there.
One such evening