The organization that staged this remarkable production is called the
Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, but it's more performance art than
ballet. Known for its choice of unusual, non-theatrical venues, HDDT
chose a spectacular setting to tell the Queen of the Nile's story: the
former executive headquarters of the Atlantic Richfield corporation on
the top (51st) floor of the Paul Hastings building in downtown L.A.
(part of what used to be known as Arco Towers). The entire floor of
the currently vacant space is used to represent various aspects of
ancient Egypt and Rome: here, a corner office is meant to be the Roman
Senate; there, a stark white wall forms the backdrop for human
hieroglyphics. A hallway becomes the Ambracian Gulf where the Battle
of Actium is fought, the audience pressed against the walls on either
side just inches away from kung-fu-style acrobatics between the
opposing “armies”. In between, Cleopatra and Mark Antony dance a
traditional pas de deux, an opera singer performs a Puccini aria, and
the ensemble does choreographed numbers to pop tunes like Hall &
Oates' “Maneater” — all with the jewel-like, nighttime floor-to-
ceiling background of Southern California from the mountains to the
sea outside the skyscraper's windows: Cleopatra's empire. A wondrous
experience. — Jeff Schultz

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