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Performing Arts

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From actors hoping to see their names in lights to musicians dreaming up new sounds, the Golden State is abuzz with creative energy—so sit back and enjoy the show.   

California’s first theater was founded in Monterey in the 1840s by a sailor who staged performances lit by whale-oil lamps. Today, the state is home to hundreds of magnificent venues with forward-thinking troupes crafting original works. In San Diego, visit the La Jolla Playhouse to see plays helmed by Tony Award-winning creative director Christopher Ashley, and catch a classic at the 600-seat Old Globe in Balboa Park. Vibrant companies can be found across the state, including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Pasadena Playhouse, South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, and the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Come summer, head to annual festivals that make use of stunning natural settings—think Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and Santa Cruz Shakespeare

L.A. is rife with concert halls and rock clubs, including The Wiltern, The Troubadour, and The Hollywood Bowl. In Bakersfield, Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace hosts live acts paying tribute to its namesake genre, the Bakersfield Sound. Pappy & Harriet’s, a high desert honky-tonk, hosts local bands and traveling acts in Pioneertown. You can also find a number of exceptional orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Diego Symphony (and its shimmering new summer home, the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park), and the San Francisco Symphony. California is also a leader on the festival front, hosting iconic events like Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Stagecoach Festival, BottleRock Napa Valley, and the Monterey Jazz Festival, to name just a few.

Aspiring dancers from all over the world come to California to perfect their angles and sharpen their technique. World-renowned companies find homes in major cities and less expected destinations like the LA Dance Project (led by Benjamin Millepied), Sacramento Ballet, Santa Barbara Dance Theatre, and Orange County’s Backhausdance. Meanwhile, the principal dancers of tomorrow are honing their craft at highly acclaimed programs such as the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts

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