THE CAR MAN, directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne, will have its West Coast premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre on Sept. 12. Subtitled "an auto-erotic thriller," the show reunites the creators of the multi-award-winning sensations Swan Lake and Cinderella. Set to the music of Bizet's Carmen, Bourne's new scenario takes place in a steamy, dusty mid-west community called Harmony, circa 1960. The dreams and passions of the smalltown inhabitants are shattered by the arrival of a sexy and mysterious drifter named Luca who, after taking a job as a mechanic in a garage, promptly proceeds to seduce not only the boss's wife, Lana, but others as well. Added to this volatile mix is a shy and sensitive young man named Angelo, who becomes an unwitting pawn to Luca and Lana's smoldering plan of deceit, adultery and betrayal. Fueled by heat and desire, the townspeople are drawn into a downward spiral of lust, suspecion and tragic consequences.

Through Oct. 25 at the Ahmanson, 135 N. Grand Ave. L.A. Call (213) 628-2772 or visit

George Balanchine's THE NUTCRACKER will be presented as a Christmas attraction at the Universal Amphitheatre, beginning Nov. 23rd. Produced and staged under the auspices of the George Balanchine Trust and House of Blues Concerts, The Nutcracker offers a company of 175 dancers, including 68 local children, backed up by a full orchestra. Presented in southern California for the first time in 42 years, the Balanchine production features dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet companies, among others. For information, visit

Ballet Frankfurt's artistic director William Forsythe recently took up a four-day residency at UCLA during which he deconstructed classical dance. In his address to several hundred students and academics, he said, "Ballet moves outward like a giant French compass. It doesn't require proceedure, just assemblage." He went on to add that "ballet is a group of helixes, a series of iterations moving in spiral opposition." He then demonstrated how a particular phrase or combination can develop into something contemporary, but still be traced back to the classical model. One student called Forsythe's focus on process "incredible" and credited it with having revived his creative spark.

Balletomanes were gratified to learn that New York City's recently announced $39.5 billion budget includes a $7.5 million matching grant to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre to build a new home for itself at 55th St. and Ninth Avenue. The building will be the largest complex dedicated exclusively to dance in the United States--a symbol of the company's stature. AAADT has launched a fund-raising campaign to help cover the remainder of the $47.5 million cost. Scheduled opening is 2004.

Ashley Bouder, a 17-year-old apprentice dancer, was suddenly tapped to fill in for one of the principal dancers in New York City Ballet's recent production of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins's The Firebird. Bouder, who was given only a few hours' notice to learn the part, "enchanted...with her unquestioned authority of her technique, but even more by the filligree delicacy of her dancing," said critic Clive Barnes. Bouder, who received a standing ovation, joined City Ballet last fall, after a brilliant performance in Balanchine's Stars and Stripes at the School of American Ballet. Dance Magazine has touted her as one of "25 to Watch."

Boris Akimov is the new artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet. A former dancer who was known for his elegant and graceful technical virtuosity and carefully thought-out characterizations, Akimov became a teacher and choreographer after retiring from the stage. His goal, he says, "is to preserve the Bolshoi's legacy." To do that, he has brought back Yuri Grigorovich to stage Swan Lake and expanded the Bolshoi's repertoire by obtaining the rights to La Fille mal gardee, the Bolshoi's first John Ashton ballet, which should premiere in March, 2002. Akimov will also send a group of soloists to tour the U.S. in October, and two full company trips are being planned internationally for 2002. "These will be big tours," he said, "showing the very best of our Bolshoi with its great corps de ballet and wonderful dancers. You'll see how strong we are."

Jeanne Ruddy, a former Martha Graham soloist who now heads her own dance company in Philadelphia, has found a new home for it--the Performance Garage. Situated in central Philadephia's Spring Garden neighborhood, the Garage (part of a four-building complex) offers 13,000 square feet and will be renovated over the next few years. Ruddy and other local dance and performance companies will share dance and rehearsal space, plus dressing rooms and storage space. The project is part of an overall plan to renovate and gentrify downtown Philadelphia, especially the area around the Academy of Music.

On the heels of the Kennedy Center's ten-year agreement with St. Petersburg's Kirov/Maryinsky Theatre that will bring some of Russia's best ballet and opera to the U.S. capital annually, came another arrangement that will provide Library of Congress patrons with access to priceless documents on Russian dance. LC will help preserve holdings in the Imperial Music Library, which is part of the Kirov/Maryinsky. It is a collection of musical scores, related documents and other items--including stage directions and dance notations--relevant to opera and ballet. In return for its conservatorial assistance, LC will receive copies of the rare source documents and plans to make them available to researchers.

The ballet world is mourning the death of Ninette De Valois, the founder of England's Royal Ballet. She put her company on the map with a triumphant American debut at the Met in 1949. She remained a formidable presence on the dance scene in Britain and the USA as choreographer, teacher and administrator for the rest of her long life.