Los Angeles Dance Preview: ADAMIANA (American Contemporary Ballet)

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by Tony Frankel on August 4, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles


It is said that American novelist James T. Farrell regretted writing the Studs Lonigan trilogy, novels that were so iconic that fellow Chicagoan “Studs” Terkel adopted the hero’s name for a pseudonym. Farrell always believed he’d written better books but they suffered because of Studs’ popularity. We don’t know if composer Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) believed he wrote better music than his ballet Giselle (1841), but it is certain that this massively produced work has eclipsed his humongous oeuvre, which includes more ballets (including Le Corsair), 39 operas, and one of the most popular Christmas carols ever written: “O Holy Night.” Not only has Giselle overshadowed Adam’s other works, it has shaded the man’s name itself. Think about it. Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Khachaturian, Prokofiev, et al, are as popular in name as the ballets they wrote. It may be an indignity, but history has relegated Adam to be remembered for one work when his other works would suffice to keep the prolific Frenchman’s name before the public.

Alexander Castillo - next appearing in all-new ACB ballet, ADAMIANA in Los Angeles. Photo by Asilda Photography.

American Contemporary Ballet’s Lincoln Jones told me that part of the impetus for creating his new ballet, Adamiana, which opens next week, was to make a tribute to Adam’s music. But first and foremost, he chose music that he really liked, and that he wanted the audience to hear. Naturally, there is a plethora of music to choose from, and some of the pieces he originally had in mind when he conceived the ballet won’t be used. What he did settle on are selections from The Fairies’ God-daughter (La Filleule des fées, 1849), and The Pretty Girl from Ghent (La Jolie Fille de Gand, 1842), as these pieces fit logically within the new ballet, which plays for one weekend only August 11-14, 2016 in downtown Los Angeles.

ACB Theresa Farrell and musicians

For those who don’t know, this small but mighty company is as committed to music as it is to dance. That means Jones not only offers the finest dance company in L.A., as skilled and in some ways even more proficient than American Ballet Theater and other contemporaries, but he commissions original arrangements which are played live by stunning musicians in the style of chamber salons. For this ballet, Daniel Silliman, who is now at Princeton for his PhD, is arranging the work which is scored for flute, clarinet, two violins, viola, cello and piano (an organ and chimes also make an appearance).

Eva Burton and Colby Parsons of American Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Anastasia Petukhova

“The first number in Adamiana is actually the music that opens The Fairies’ God-daughter, and our closer is the music that concludes The Pretty Girl from Ghent, so those pieces were conceived as an opener and a finale,” Jones said. “The middle section is essentially the ‘white’ act (traditionally the second or middle act of a ballet) of both our ballet and God-daughter. I kept all the music of that piece together and in the order it was conceived, and even followed the libretto to a certain extent.”


This event, part of ACB’s Music + Dance L.A. series, will definitely sell out. An added treat: following each one-hour performance is a reception of drinks and nibbles with the artists and live jazz. Programs take place at ACB’s new performance space on the 32nd floor of The Bloc downtown, which features stage-level seating and 360 degree views of the city.


photos by Anastasia Petukhova and Asilda Photography

Music + Dance: L.A.
American Contemporary Ballet
700 S. Flower St. (The Bloc), 32nd floor
Thursday August 11 & Friday August 12, 2016 at 8
Saturday, August 13, 2016 at 6 & 8, Sunday, August 14, 2016 at 2 & 4
for future events, call 800.838.3006 or visit ACB

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