Two is always better than one, and that’s what you’re going to get this weekend.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Alonzo King LINES Ballet, two of the most renowned dance companies in America, are joining together in an unprecedented collaboration with the Southern California debut of “Azimuth.”
Both companies perform June 21-23 at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown LA.
Long Beach-native Michael Montgomery will be a part of it. He’s a member of LINES Ballet, having graduated from the LINES Ballet and Dominican University’s BFA Program in 2011.
He also trained at the Orange County High School of the Arts and studied at the Alvin Ailey School in the Certificate program.
“I was never really good at sports, so I had to try something else,” confessed Montgomery. “So that’s where and when I started with ballet.”
There’s no denying that Montgomery now sports a gifted talent on the dance floor. Interestingly enough, earlier this year, Dance Magazine named him to the list of “25 to Watch”.
While Montgomery is happy to have been named to such a prestigious list, he most definitely enjoys something else a little more. “Getting to travel and perform,” he said. “Getting in front of that audience to share your dance is a huge thing.”
Moreover, Montgomery was awarded the American College Dance Festival Association’s best student performer award for the Southwest Region in 2008. In 2010, he joined LINES Ballet and was named a Shenson Performing Arts Fellow that same year.
“LINES Ballet is just such a great company to be dancing for,” said Montgomery, who also noted that he’s having the best time of his life.
The piece, “Azimuth,” is structured in nine sections. King defines it as “the distance between where you are and where you are headed, erased by absorption.”
“Azimuth” features 28 world-renowned dancers: all 12 members of LINES Ballet and 16 from Hubbard Street’s ensemble of 18.
“That process of working together started in Irvine in August 2012,” said Johnny McMillan, a dancer of Hubbard Street. “We did shows in Berkeley and we did shows in Chicago. This will be our last stop together while working in this piece.”
He added, “It’s sort of a physical ballet. It’s taken to the extreme: lots of sensations and explorations, and all that good stuff. It’s a very fun piece, and it’s very collective.”
McMillan went on to say that every dance member has their “moment and does their own thing” in “Azimuth.”
According to a prepared statement, lighting designs are by Axel Morgenthaler, set designs by Jim Doyle, costumes by Robert Rosenwasser and original music is by composer/musician Ben Juodvalkis.
Additionally in this weekend’s shared program, there’ll be two pieces making their Los Angeles premieres: Alonzo King’s “Scheherazade” and choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s “Little mortal jump.” King is the artistic director of LINES Ballet.
McMillan will also be a part of “Little mortal jump.” He’s looking forward to it.
“For that piece, I sort of have a youthful, playful role,” he said. “It’s a really great piece because it has a lot of cool production aspects to it. It’s fun. I like it.”
McMillan, who is Canadian, began his training at age 12. He graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy receiving the young artists’ award in dance before joining Hubbard Street 2 as an apprentice in September 2010.
He later became a company member (August 2011) before joining the main company in May 2012.
“All these promotions were great,” he said. “The biggest reward is that I get to do what I love everyday. It’s always something different. Every single day there’s a chance to renew everything and kind of find a new way of thinking.”
So how does McMillan feel about performing in LA?
“I think it’s cool,” he said. “I have a lot of friends in LA, so that’s exciting.”
Montgomery feels the same way, especially because he’s a local.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun and it will be an amazing show.”