American Contemporary Ballet—Romanticism's Revenge

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“High above downtown Los Angeles, in a cavernous room with almost as many mirrors as windows,” wrote LOS ANGELES TIMES dance critic, Lewis Segal, “the dancers of American Contemporary Ballet and seven valiant musicians used short pieces to explore one of the most profound themes in human culture: the influence of the past on the present.” (June 17, 2017)

I missed the performances. I was out of town, appearing as a discussant on Ayn Rand scholarship in Pittsburgh, which also addressed “the influence of the past on the present.” Yet, I have attended performances of every season of the American Contemporary Ballet (ACB). For a glimpse of the future, anchored to the present “high above downtown Los Angeles,” I urge every reader to reserve August 10-13, 2017, when ACB Artistic Director, Lincoln Jones, debuts a new, original ballet.

What critic Segal writes rings true: “It may seem unlikely, but Romanticism is clearly in flower on Flower Street.” My only reservation is Segal’s use of the word “unlikely” in connection with ACB.

Romanticism, in Ayn Rand’s use of the term, is a school of art based on the premise that man has free-will and can pursue what he regards as important. In the creation of new works of art, one can choose any subject communicable in the medium one selects and masters, not because history (or one’s blood or one’s id) ordains it, but because one so chooses, and regards that choice as important.

Segal writes above that “the influence of the past on the present” is one of the most profound cultural themes. True. I will add, though, that the most profound human theme is conceptual originality in the present. Without such “steps”—literally or figuratively—there can be no future for dance or for anything else. In evidence, I offer the work of Jones and Farrell, and their forthcoming ballet, which you can see this summer in downtown Los Angeles. There you will experience how unlikely “unlikely” is when describing the Romanticism flowering on Flower Street. They practice Romanticism, a uniquely conceptual school of art—not locked inside 19th century cabinetry, but flowing from a skyscraper (of their choosing), high above Los Angeles—within reach of the 21st century and, most importantly, you.

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Jeff Britting, a composer and author, is working on an opera based on Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun and a collection of Hollywood-themed short stories.

(The views expressed here are the author’s. He does not speak for any other person or organization.)