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Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre

October 7, 2014 • Los Angeles

Linda Vista Hospital in Boyle HeightsI was happy to hear that Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre is doing a performance at the Hale Solar Observatory in Pasadena in November. What better way to see historic and significant building than with modern dance? I’ve managed to see several HDDT performances over the years, including one in the abandoned Ambassador Hotel before it was demolished. The piece was called Sleeping with the Ambassador. The audience arrived at the empty swimming pool to be serenaded by a woman with a megaphone standing in the bottom. Performances proceeded through the hotel’s shops, eerie and unchanged since the place closed in the 1980s, into the café, through the lobby, and eventually into the storied Cocoanut Grove. It was a long evening of passionate dance, and for me, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Ambassador.

Last year HDDT took over the Linda Vista Hospital in Boyle Heights (see image), closed for twenty-odd years, for The Groundskeepers, a series of dance performances on the fire escape, in the chapel, and most dramatically, all over the pipes in the boiler room, the dancers performing sometimes 20 feet above the floor. Linda Vista has been renovated since then and serves as senior housing, but again, by using it as a backdrop, HDDT provided a unique opportunity to admire the building up close.

This year one HDDT performance was in the historic Dunbar Hotel on Central Avenue, recently repurposed as affordable housing. The residents mostly seemed happy that a crowd of people from other parts of town were there to admire their home. Jan Perry, who used to represent the area on city council, was there, and spoke to welcome the audience; she was instrumental in the conversion to affordable housing, and has done a lot of good work for South LA, including efforts to get better food options in this “food desert.”

A friend of a friend was upset when he found out we’d been at a performance down the block from his house in Boyle Heights. “That's in my neighborhood, man, why didn't you call me?” Don’t let that happen—if you can, see HDDT; it’s a great night out with great architecture. You won’t disappointed.

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