5 Ways to Dance the Night Away in L.A. This Week
Flickr/JoeInSouthernCA The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, pictured here at their 2011 summer concert, will be performing the music of Stephen Sondheim -- with the legendary composer himself accompanying them.
What better time than the official start of summer to cut loose and kick off your Sunday shoes? This week in L.A. features a number of great opportunities to get up and shake it -- and even if you've got two left feet, you can enjoy as you watch the pros take a twirl.
Additionally, tribute events to musical great Stephen Sondheim and the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, will inspire you to keep dancing long after the events are over.
5. Shake a Tail Feather
At some point, each of us must ask ourselves the fundamental question: Am I as groovy as Ricki Lake? Many will try but few will be able to fill the shoes of the racism-conquering, plus size-modeling, big hair-sporting teenage heroine of John Waters' classic 1988 film, Hairspray. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try! Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Baltimore's reigning dance queen supreme at the Hairspray Dance-Along in Grand Park. Put on your white lipstick and show how bad you can be, knock over other people with your larger-than-life beehive and don't let any skinny bitches stand in your way. (For all you skinny bitches out there, you are still totally welcome; we're just messing with you.) Enjoy a screening of the cult classic movie under the stars, get some free dance lessons on the proper way to do the "stricken chicken" and seize the chance to be generally out-of-sight, my man. We've come a long way since The Corny Collins Show, but back then, they sure knew how to twist and shout. Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Fri., June 21, 6:30-11 p.m.; free. (213) 972-8080, grandparkla.org. -- Rena Kosnett
4. The Lady Teases
Much as C. Montgomery Burns is the face of nuclear power and Pablo Picasso is the face of unrecognizable faces, Dita Von Teese has become the personage representing the resurgence of burlesque as a force in popular culture. Performing her latest extravaganza, Burlesque: Strip, Strip Hooray!, the Los Feliz resident and her burlesque hit squad -- MC Murray Hill, Dirty Martini, Catherine D'Lish, Selene Luna, Monsieur Romeo, Crazy Horse Paris bombshell Lada Nikolska and America's Got Talent finalist Prince Poppycock -- rally around her oversized martini glass as it becomes something even more astounding: The glass in which Von Teese frolics in her bathing beauty routine has been bedecked with more than 250,000 Swarovski crystals. It's part of 90 minutes of brassy decadence and sassy elegance that is the essence of burlesque: tease, not sleaze. House of Blues, 8430 Sunset Blvd.; W. Hlywd.; Fri., June 21, 7:30 p.m.; also June 19, 20, 22, 7:30 p.m.; $40-$500. (323) 848-5100, stripstriphooray.com. -- David Cotner
3. Fusion on the Dance Floor
It was a proposition Alonzo King couldn't refuse. As artistic director of the Alonzo King LINES Ballet and an internationally known choreographer, King was used to invitations to choreograph for other companies, but no one before had asked him to bring his 12 LINES dancers with him. But when the offer came from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago artistic director Glenn Edgerton, King said yes. The product of that alliance, Azimuth, draws its title from an astronomical term used to locate a heavenly body in space. It premiered earlier this year in Berkeley to ecstatic reviews and receives its SoCal premiere this weekend. Despite their differences, the blending of the companies' dancers was more like a gathering of distant relatives than a blind date. Hubbard Street gets categorized as a contemporary company dancing in soft shoes, while LINES is a neoclassical ballet company, complete with pointe shoes. But each has training in the other's specialty. Those differences and similarities should be evident as each company takes the stage before joining forces for Azimuth. The 18-member Hubbard Street offers Little Mortal Jump, a perky, engaging showcase choreographed by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. LINES' contribution, Scheherazade, reconsiders the fabled storyteller in 101 Arabian Nights, with tabla master Zakir Hussain incorporating traditional Persian instruments in his reinterpretation of the familiar Rimsky-Korsakov score. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sat., June 21-22, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., June 22, 2 p.m.; $28-$110. musiccenter.org. -- Ann Haskins
2. Some Enchanted Evening
The great Cole Porter, master of both music and lyrics, once snidely remarked about Rodgers and Hammerstein, "Since when does it take two people to write a song?" Stephen Schwartz might agree -- after all, he's written both the music and lyrics to umpteen Broadway and screen hits. This weekend, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles closes out its season with a tribute to Schwartz, who appears in person with Emmy Award winner Liz Callahan as guest vocalist. Not Entirely Wicked packs punch after punch of memorable songs from Broadway musicals Wicked, The Baker's Wife, Children of Eden, Pippin, The Magic Show and Godspell and movies Enchanted, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt. As a special treat, Schwartz will perform several numbers and will accompany the chorus in the L.A. premiere of his new choral work, Testimony, which is about the difficult journey gay teens face as they come to terms with their sexuality. It is, says guest conductor Timothy Seelig of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Schwartz's "most revealing and emotional piece to date," so come prepared with Kleenex. Saban Theater, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Sat., June 22, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 23, 3 p.m.; $15-$75; $125 VIP tickets (includes reception with Schwartz). gmcla.org/gmcla-not-entirely-wicked. -- Mary Beth Crain
1. The Way He Made Us Feel
Can you believe it's been four years since the King of Pop died? Four years! What seems like an eternity will be compressed into 12 nostalgic hours as Michael Jackson's United Nation International Fan Club launches its fourth annual Remembering Michael Memories Tour. The event is a chance for die-hard fans to commiserate and share stories about what the man's art meant to them, watching his videos and playing his music in a chartered bus traveling that long and winding road through the pathways of his life. Highlights include Jackson's Beverly Hills home, his final resting place at Forest Lawn, the Neverland compound, his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Gardner Street Elementary School, which Jackson attended in sixth grade and where he may well have played tag, as immortalized in "The Love You Save." But if you think a full day of MJ is a lot, you're clearly more fan than fanatic: There's also a three-day tour option, ending up at Jackson's beloved Disneyland on the final day. You'll need the Happiest Place on Earth after all those miles of bittersweet memories. Location beginning TK; Tues., June 25, 9 a.m.; $89. (702) 226-1868, regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1177545. -- David Cotner