The Nutcracker and Beyond: Warm Holiday Wishes and Welcome Reflections

‘Tis the season for Christmas-music concerts, holiday-themed celebrations of all colors kinds, shapes and sounds, the loudest and brightest and most pervasive of which is The Nutcracker.

For us here at Royce Hall, the Nutcracker has taken over….last week with the Debbie Allen Dance Company’s interpretation of  the classic work–The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, which has become a perennial favorite for L.A. audiences this time of year. As I type this, I can hear sets moving above me as the hall and our (extremely and also perennially hard-working) production team sets up for L.A. Ballet to converge this weekend with their annual traditional Nutcracker performances. We pause our program as these two local groups take over the hall and create some holiday cheer for arts lovers.

I don’t think I am alone as an arts lover when I say I have very warm and nostalgic feelings about The Nutcracker. It was an annual tradition for my family, and especially beloved by me, a young flute player.

All this Nutcracker activity has gotten me thinking about the arts and this season. For many young people, The Nutcracker is  likely their first professional live-performance experience, their first introduction to ballet or classical music, the doors to these art forms flung wide in the wake of the magical story and excitement of the holidays.

And for many people, perhaps that first Nutcracker experience became more than an introduction, perhaps often it served as a complete indoctrination. Perhaps many of the audiences and arts patrons who now love contemporary dance from around the world, or gleefully celebrate up and coming new music ensembles, or revel in experimental theater, perhaps they too have far-reaching memories of witnessingThe Nutcracker during a long-past holiday season.

It’s a beautiful thing to consider, this idea that once a year, we have a completely organic opportunity to expose our children, nieces, nephews, grandkids, students, etcetera to live-performance storytelling through music and movement.  And if it inspires a lifelong passion for the arts, all the better.

Of course, around here, we’re committed to the power of live performance all year long. We’re curious about artists and art makers from around the world, with different stories to tell and myriad means by which they tell them.

This hectic and celebratory time of year also is reflective. It also ’tis the season to look back at highlights that have dotted the calendar year.

There are many that spring immediately to mind for us here at CAP UCLA. Most of them involve moments in which the center has served as a bridge between our visiting artists, the work they have created, and our audiences.

Over just the last few months, we have gathered together to witness some truly incredible and compelling contemporary performance from masterful theater makers like Robert Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Mikhail Baryshnikov and  the cast and crew of Basetrack. We encountered the creative force of Ryoji Ikeda, in a sound and visual performance that thundered and crackled through Royce Hall. We celebrated the creative vision of the one-and-only Andy Warhol, through the creative vision of a cadre of truly eclectic modern musicians. We dove into the history of the graphic novel through the wit and wisdom of Art Speigelman and music of Philip Johnston. We honored a major milestone for one of the most revered dance companies in the world—Batsheva.

For each of these performances, you not only joined us to witness the art itself, but you involved yourself with us, you leaned forward to help make art in a graphic novel workshop. You lent your faces to our tribute to Andy Warhol screen tests. You attended gaga workshops and a special performance from local dance company Ate9 in honor of Batsheva. You contributed to our first fundraiser of the season and mingled with the stars of The Old Woman.  You told us stories about what freedom and service means to you, and helped us honor those who have served.  You gathered eagerly to hear Ryoji speak about his enigmatic work in a rare post-show discussion.  You joined us last spring for our Poetry Bureau before performances of The Suit and experienced art-making up close and on-the-fly. You brought your instruments and picked your brains out on the Royce Terrace before our first performance of the season.

These moments of connection are as powerful as the performance itself, because they invite us to recall and consider that we are a community. We’re not just a loosely organized gathering of people who happen to have the same taste in art. We are so much more.

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And, when we bring ourselves together with that sensibility in mind, we are actively moving our culture forward.  No experience in the world of art is really passive, even just sitting in the audience is an activation of an idea, a participation in the process. Every time you bring yourself to a performance, whether it’s an annual  holiday attendance at any of the multiple Nutcracker productions available this time of year, or dancing in the aisles of Royce Hall to our recent presentation of New Orleans great Dr. John and the Nite Trippers, you bring something unique to the moment.

We talk a lot about how the people who are on hand and on site to experience the art of performance become the keepers of it. We are the holders of the memories and the emotions that bring about further curiosity, more ideas, and more possibilities of making things that resonate.

Early in 2014 Mike Daisey joined us with a piece entitled American Utopias. He talked about several places and ways in which our culture has collectively subscribed to a certain idea, a certain way of being in the world, about how humans might just have the power to build up the world we want to live in.

He ended his performance by asking the audience to join him on the front steps of Royce Hall. It was chilly and drizzling, much like it is today. He exhorted us to dream, to create, to witness and experience.

And that is our hope for this holiday season. The greatest gift we can possibly share is our continued endeavor to build a space for artists and art lovers to dream, create, witness and experience.

Thank you for dreaming with us. There’s much more to come in the New Year.

Have a safe, happy and art-filled season!

Vijay Iyer- ‘Music of Transformation’ ‘RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi’ and ‘Mutations I-X’ Dec. 5, 2014

The unsigned editorial from the performance program notes.

Art is inherently transformative.  The work of artists and the results of the ideas and forms in which they invest their curiosity, their creativity and their talents is imbued with the ability to change the shape of things we thought we once knew, or to wholly create something anew that allows us to reshape, reframe and rethink our own shapes in this world.

Vijay Iyer and Prashant Bhargava, two uniquely transformative artists, have collaborated to bring us a vivid rendering of an entire city embracing a transformative sentiment with RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi.

Or, as Vijay explains it so eloquently in the notes that follow: “The result is a ballet of sorts: a performative encounter between live music and film, between lived experience and myth, the self and the transformed self, winter and spring.”

The art of contemporary performance revolves around this powerful concept of lived experience, both the experience of the moment, the life and performance experience of the artists on the stage, and the experiences and perceptions we the audience bring into this space as we lean forward to receive the great artistic gifts being offered.

It is a privilege and a gift to do the good work that creates the opportunity for that shared experience to exist. To hold a space and intention for the artists of our time who are committed to shaping and re-shaping our perceptions of art and culture and music.

This is Vijay Iyer’s second appearance at Royce Hall and the second time we have worked closely with him to craft an expansive inquiry into the deep wells of artistry he inhabits. Last time, Vijay performed in several different jazz ensemble configurations, showing his skill as a versatile and intelligent band leader.

We return him to this stage to further showcase the versatility that is making him one of the most important artists in modern music, and one least inclined to sit inside any preconceived notions of genre boundary.

We are incredibly fortunate to be music lovers in a world that Vijay Iyer is dominating. His transformative explorations into the raw potential that lives inside all music continues to take shape, evolve and transform.

We welcome the transformation. And we welcome you to share it with us.

Thanks and Thankfulness

The holidays have officially begun. This time of year can be extremely joyful, but also extremely chaotic. Hopefully your personal brand of chaos includes plenty of cheer and laughter paired with moments of peace and reflection.  Hopefully at some point today, we may all push pause on the chaos if only for a moment as we contemplate all the people and things we have to be thankful for.

There’s something so powerful around the concept that today, amid the chaos of travel and planning and cooking and hosting, there is an overwhelming desire to invest in feelings of gratitude and express thankfulness.

We at the Center have many things to be grateful for as we envelop ourselves in this collective state of thanks.

We’re grateful for the artists who bring so much of themselves to our stages, and by extension, to our community. They open our minds, break our hearts, heal our hurts and expand our joys.

We’re thankful for the audiences who battle LA traffic, absorb UCLA parking fees to get to us. We thank each one of you who has attended a performance this season. Each person who witnesses art in the making, brings a unique energy and sensibility to the entire process. And each one of us walks away from a performance imbued and entrusted with the sensation that we now are the caretakers of that fleeting moment on the stage. We are the permanent gallery and we collect within us all the artists and ideas that reach into our hearts and change us, sometimes by small measures and sometimes radically and immediately and indefinitely.

We’re especially grateful for those of you who have participated in several special moments of connection so far this season. Our deep thanks go out to the members of CAP UCLA who support our mission on an ongoing basis, for everyone who contributed to our commitment to theater productions by attending our Old Woman fundraiser earlier this month, for everyone who joined us for the pre-and post-show party for our presentation of Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films. We’ll not soon forget all your beautiful faces, which you shared so generously as part of our live screen tests.

Thank you to the members of the L.A. dance community who helped us welcome Batsheva Dance Company to Los Angeles and celebrate it’s staggering 50 years as an artistic institution.

We’re grateful to the staunch supporters of our Design for Sharing program which brings thousands of elementary-school kids to the UCLA campus every season. There’s nothing like witnessing a thousand 5th graders in Royce Hall, which happened recently for the incredible On Ensemble. Whenever children fill the hall this place becomes a writhing organism of excitement and energy that fuels both us and the artists.

Thank you to artists, audiences, kids, teachers, parents. Thank you to anyone who makes art, to everyone who advocates for art and artists.

Thank you for taking a pause to read this message.

Wishing you blessings today and every day and hope we will see you soon.

Marc Ribot ‘Silent Movies’ and Los Cubanos Postizos Nov. 21, 2014

The unsigned editorial from the performance program notes. 

We are extremely fortunate here at the Center to regularly present, collaborate with and support artists who defy simple categorization, who often cannot be confined to a single presentation format.

Guitarist/composer Marc Ribot is one of those artists and we are very proud to present him here tonight in Royce Hall in a special showcase event that highlights his profound versatility and scope of artistic vision. Marc will take us on ruminative solo journey for the first half of the program, with his poignant and complex Silent Movies. Later, joined by his fellow members of New York City party band Los Cubanos Positzos (a.k.a The Prosthetic Cubans).

For nearly four decades, Marc Ribot has been a solo artist, a bandleader, an in-demand studio and touring  musician who has worked with everyone from Tom Waits and fellow New York experimentalist John Zorn to Elvis Costello, Sam Phillips, Robert Plant, and Marianne Faithful.

It is exceedingly appropriate that Marc step into the spotlight of Royce Hall and take his place among the long list of great instrumental talents whose work has filled this space before.

Tonight’s appearance of Los Cubanos Positzos will raise the roof in honor of   Arsenio Rodríguez—innovator of the son montuno in the 1940s and 1950s, the sound that set the template for modern-day salsa and an artist who greatly influenced Marc Ribot.

This group is meant to be experienced live. Their shows are fearsome and fulsome.  If you start feeling the urge to dance, you’re doing it right.

Thank you for being here with us tonight as we celebrate a true music great. Thank you for helping us welcome the one-and-only Marc Ribot to the program.

Enjoy the performance.

The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

The Body Is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

This has been one of our catchphrases this season—you’ve likely seen it on flyers, our website, and, if you’re regularly walking around UCLA, dotted on light poles across the campus. (More on our other two catchphrases in forthcoming entries)

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It’s a sort of rallying cry that we have applied specifically to enhance and encompass this year’s dance performances. But, when you sit with it for a minute it’s also a unifying sentiment that can be applied to life in general.

And this sentiment kept cropping up in my mind again and again as we interacted with the artists and artistry of Batsheva Dance Company. Our first dance performances of the weekend centered around this extraordinary group of artists as they celebrated 50 years in existence.

For much of that time (since 1990) Ohad Naharin has been the artistic director and many times over the course of multiple interactions with students and audiences while Batsheva was in residence  with us, he made me think about that phrase.

As I listened to him speak and encountered his work and the artists he works with, it was clear that Ohad essentially embodies the aforementioned rallying cry.

At every opportunity, Ohad talked about why there are no mirrors in the studios or rehearsal rooms in Batsheva’s home complex in Tel Aviv, and why the company covers up mirrors wherever they travel.

Mirrors are great for some things, Ohad said, speaking to a room of UCLA World Arts and Cultures students, they’re essentially important for your dentist to use for example, he said with a chuckle.

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But they serve no purpose for dance, he said. He trains his dancers to develop a powerful perception and ownership of their own bodies in space and time, and instead of checking their form in a mirror, they instead are seeing their fellow dancers more wholly.

A few days later, speaking to the crowd who would soon be viewing Sadeh21 in Royce Hall and who had just experienced a new work from former Batsheva dancer and now L.A.-based choreographer/performer Danielle Agami, he reiterated this statement, even more strongly.

“Mirrors are destroying our souls and really slowing us down as artists,” he said. “This is not an opinion, it is a fact.”

Ohad also responded to a question from a student about what kind of “body style” he looks for in dancers.

He said he does not look for any certain body style. “Body style cannot tell you about a person’s creativity, their passion, their generousity…body style is not important.”

This elicited applause, in the form of students snapping their fingers, which piqued Ohad.

“Why did you do that? Why do you snap your fingers?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“It means we’re agreeing with you, ” one student replied.

Ohad then revealed that he asks that students or participants do not clap at the end of a Gaga class, instead, if they’re feeling inclined to celebrate the moment with sound he has them snap their fingers.

Gaga, the incredibly free and freeing movement style that Ohad developed as a training tool for dancers and which he has subsequently extended to invite participants from every walk of life all over the world.

I participated in a Gaga workshop for the public, led by one of the current Batsheva dancers, the incredible Bobbi Smith,  who, it became clear as the practice progressed, is a being of pure light and love. (If you saw the performance of Sadeh21, she was the red-leotard-clad dancer who executed an extended headstand while writhing and twisting her legs above her in perfect control.)

As I moved among the varied people gathered in the Royce Hall rehearsal room, mirrors covered by black velvet curtains, as we all moved with our own kind of abandon, following Bobbi’s simple instructions that led us to investigate movement in parts of our bodies in ways we might not otherwise instigate, I thought of our unifying sentiment:

The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

No one is allowed to passively watch or photograph a Gaga session. If you want to be there, you must participate.

The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

As I looked around the room of strangers, some dancers, some not, some performers, some not, I feel like we were all embodying that rallying cry.

Several of the dancers from the aforementioned Ate9 Dance Company were part of that session. It was interesting to move among them in this way, after being a silent observer of their craft and skill the night before on the Royce Terrace.

Sometimes wild and frenetic, other times ruminative, other times sharply punctuated, other times chattering non sequiters, or simply picking up chairs and handing them to unsuspecting watchers  Danielle Agami’s dancers moved through the crowd. We moved with them, as a sort of serpentine organism seeking to turn its head toward the light.

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The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

It was a really special moment. The Batsheva dancers, just before they were about to take the stage themselves, perched atop a brick structure on the terrace, watching the dancers shapes and movement continually shape and re-shape the audience itself.

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Other people have spoken more eloquently about the Batsheva performance  of Sadeh21 itself. It left me personally very moved and feeling like, this company, this moment in time, this expeirence was the perfect way to set the tone for our sentiment about dance and the body.

We’ll be exploring this concept and more throughout the season as we begin work with the incredible Deborah Hay, on a project titled “Re-writing the language of dance.” With Deborah’s help we will work across broad artistic and community territories to explore the Los Angeles dance ecology and develop strategies for increased involvement and synergy.

All of this begins in two weeks, with a special event titled “Reorganizing Ourselves,” a conversation in three parts about perception, consciousness and the connection between art and science with Deborah,  Berkeley professor of philosophy Alva Noe and dance curator dance curator Michèle Steinwald.

We’re curious and excited to see what reveals itself as we reach out more cohesively than ever before to our local dance community. We want to know what people are thinking about the body, what role movement and art as exhibited bodies in motion is playing in our immediate arts culture, and how we can harness the potential of contemporary dance to push our culture ever forward.

The body, is in fact beautiful. The sooner we all get used to it, and perhaps revel in it, and support those who celebrate it…the better.

 

 

Robert Wilson, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Willem Dafoe: ‘The Old Woman’ Nov. 14-15, 2014

The unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes. 

Over the last year or so, Los Angeles audiences have been rich in opportunities to experience the iconic and unique creative vision of Robert Wilson, one of the most revered directors in American contemporary theater.

The triumphant and long-awaited performances of Einstein on the Beach, Wilson’s seminal collaboration with Philip Glass and Lucinda Childs happened last October and were met with sold-out performances populated by engaged and enthusiastic crowds of audience goers that shattered known demographics of opera audiences. We were proud to partner with the LA Opera to bring this work to the Los Angeles stage. And we held on to Robert Wilson after the curtain fell on Einstein, bringing him to Royce Hall for John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, a challenging piece performed by Wilson himself and which was met with awe and appreciation.

Over the last two seasons we have been committed to showcasing his exceptional artistry as one of the Center’s inaugural Artist Fellows and we’re proud to once again bring a Robert Wilson work to the Royce Hall stage with The Old Woman.

There’s been a great deal of excitement and buzz around this particular piece, thanks in part to the two incredible performers—Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe— who have collaborated so closely with Wilson to bring this unknown work of absurdist Russian literature to vivid life and thereby cementing Daniil Kharms, an often-forgotten writer of Russian absurdist literature into American theater canon. It is a work of passion that would not be possible without the complete creative investment of many artistic visionaries, those who you will witness on the Royce Hall stage tonight, and those behind the scenes.

Robert Wilson is a profoundly important theater maker. He also is a profoundly generous “permission giver” when it comes to artistic possibility. He creates a fertile and intricately crafted field of study that is unnatural and often bizarre. But in the bizarreness, in Wilson’s exactingly manufactured specifications of movement, sound, style and color, there is also a freedom—a freedom to explore the concept of absurdity, of perception, of reality and unreality.

The medium of theater, the ephemeral nature of the art form, lends itself to framing a safe space for us all to explore the unknowable, the gloriously unnatural. It is an invitation and an exclamation simultaneously. No one harnesses those sensibilities better than Robert Wilson.

We thank him for this work, we thank the performers and crew and staff who work tirelessly to build it for us, for just a moment in time.

We thank you for being here to share it.

Unpacking Daisies

Ronnie Burkett has arrived, along with crate upon crate of the lovingly packed wooden creatures who comprise the cast of The Daisy Theatre.

Last night, during setup at the Actor’s Gang theater in Culver City, Ronnie and his stage manager extraordinaire Crystal Salverda mulled over the precise placement of each puppet, strategically selecting where each one will delicately dangle around the Daisy stage—where they will be found waiting in the wings, slightly shifting at any small breeze.

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Ronnie has a sketch of a plan for every performance, but with dozens of characters to choose from, must prepare for anyone to take the stage–sometimes he even lets the audience vote on who they’d most like to see.

After watching him unpack the glorious Diva opera singer marionette, I felt slightly regretful that, when I saw a performance of The Daisy Theatre in Vancouver a year ago, I cheered for the “Horny Librarian” option over the portly bespectacled glitter-heeled goddess I met last night.

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And yes, there is a horny librarian in the cast. She was delightful. Who knows if she will show up this time around. Come to recall, there’s quite a bit of horniness in the show here and there. Not egregiously so, but definitely hilarity inducing.

I scoped out the Actor’s Gang theater from multiple vantage points. There’s not a bad seat in the place. It’s a stage within a stage within a stage and you’ll be able to take it all in.

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Last night, one of our new photographers in residence Tim Hailand was on hand to document Ronnie’s setup process. We’ll share some shots from his artistic lens later.

I’m excited to see the shows, see who makes it to the stage and what they do in their moment in the spotlight.

 

Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes: The Daisy Theatre Nov. 11-15

The unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes. 

Ronnie Burkett is one of those artists who knew very early on what shape his life would take. Or, at least, after watching The Sound of Music “Lonely Goatherd” puppet show segment as a kid he had a powerful image of what he would like to do for the rest of his life.

And we lucky creatures are the beneficiaries of Ronnie’s earliest artistic impulses in puppetry and his ongoing commitment to his craft. Our director, Kristy Edmunds, has often stated a deep desire to make Ronnie a household name in the U.S. theater community. He’s incredibly renowned among puppeteers around the world, but these performances of The Daisy Theatre mark only his second appearance in Los Angeles.

Last season, the Center presented his evening length narrative work Penny Plain, a very darkly comic apocalyptic tale that riveted audiences. This time around is a bit more whimsical and a lot more improvisational.

No two performances of The Daisy Theatre are alike and even if you just catch one, you’re experiencing something quite special. Ronnie is fresh off a sold out run of The Daisy Theatre in Edmonton, Canada and last year had a sold-out run in Vancouver.

These six nights here at the Actor’s Gang theater are the only U.S. performances of The Daisy Theatre. Count yourself lucky.

Ronnie is an exceptional performer, and also an exceptional craftsman. If you don’t already follow him on Facebook, you should. In the casual confines of social media he often provides a very unique glimpse into his work, documenting his process through photos and updates that detail the extremely technical craft that goes into the manifestation of a puppet.

“I love jointing marionettes,” he said recently, posting photos of a character-in-progress. Those intricately created joints, so tiny, and so intelligently designed and manipulated with such love and care by the man holding the strings are what help bring these works of sculptural art to vivid performance life and incredible movement.

In human physiology, joints connect bone to bone and are what allow our bodies to articulate movement. Artists like Ronnie serve as a kind of metaphorical joint as well, one that connects human creatures to ideas, delights, and to each other in elaborately conceived ways that serve to articulate movement within our culture at large.

We’re proud to bring Ronnie back, proud to be a cocommissioner
of his revival of The Daisy Theatre, which he first debuted 25 years ago, as he began making his name in the art world.

Welcome to The Daisy Theatre.

A Journey Through and With Ryoji Ikeda

A message from Kristy Edmunds for the evening’s program notes. 

Ryoji Ikeda: superposition. Royce Hall Nov. 7, 2014

I have had the great pleasure of working with Ryoji Ikeda over the span of a nearly 20 year arc. I first experienced his work in the context of an artist collective in Kyoto, Japan, called DumbType. I had seen their performance entitled “S/N” in 1994 at On the Boards in Seattle, Washington and was at the formative stage of my own career as a curator/artistic director.

DumbType was unique in their cross-discipline approach. They weren’t “blurring boundary lines” between art forms exactly, they were compressing many sources of artistic intelligence into a specific form. Their projects were stunning – quite literally. While we were grappling with floppy disks, dial-ups and beginning to say farewell to the marvels of our beepers and fax machines – Ryoji and his contemporaries were generating dimensional aesthetic poetry for the stage, the screens and for the gallery cubes that sought to frame their dynamic exploration.

I for one, had absolutely no idea what I was experiencing when I saw that first work – but I understood it was brilliant and it left me with a wonderment that soon converted into a recognition that I would have to galvanize something in my community in order for it to be seen. I started the Portland institute for Contemporary Art in the spring of 1995.

In 1999 we presented DumbType’s project entitled, “OR” and again in 2002 with “memorandum.” When I took up the position of Artistic Director at the Melbourne International Arts Festival, I invited Ryoji to perform and screen two of his pieces: “C4I” and “Formula” in 2005; with DumbType returning in the 2006 Melbourne Festival with “Voyage.”

By 2010, I was consulting artistic director at the Park Avenue Armory in New York and Ryoji was living in Paris, I commissioned an immersive installation entitled,  “the transfinite” which premiered in April of 2011. Below is an excerpt of my introduction to this installation

“In ‘the transfinite,’ Ryoji Ikeda takes the pursuits and structures of mathematics as one ‘material’ for his aesthetic and does so with monumental and poetic result. At the center of the work is his sonic and visual re-purposing of binary code: 0 and 1. These numbers form the string codes used to represent all information in the digital world. While few of us understand just how the intricacies of this works, we are impacted by it in every conceivable way and on a daily basis.

Ikeda is drawn to that which is at the edge of comprehensibility and human perception and he distills it into an experience we can viscerally and physically connect to. In so doing, he also offers us a tangible glimpse into the sublime purity that exists within mathematics.”

I think this continues to provide insight into his continuing explorations, now involving the language of physics, and Einstein’s theory: “superposition.”

Having with Ryoji for many years, I am interested in his return to the incorporation of live performers on the stage as a part of his immersive sonic and visual environments. So too, the conjoining of his work within the legacy of Royce Hall itself. A stage where the multiple languages and lineages of art, poetry, poetic and scholarly thought are steeped into its history located within the confines of a major research institution known worldwide for its contributions to mathematics and data.

I think it is worthy of mention, Einstein himself stood on this very same stage, a fact I cannot wait to share with Ryoji.

In both cases, and certainly the many other artists, scholars and innovators who have spanned the distance in between these two men and their ephemeral footprints – this is a place where we illuminate the existence of endless possibility.

Thank you for being here.

Kristy

Celebrating Batsheva

It’s been a whirlwind October, beautifully concluded by an extended series of performances and events in honor of Batsheva Dance Company’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

We’re very grateful to all our members for your support of and participation with this company. It is a huge undertaking to present international companies, one that requires bringing all our resources and energy to bear, weathering unexpected and uninvited surprises such as a back up at the customs dock here in Los Angeles. The Batsheva set arrived in the nick of time, but only after much rallying and hoop jumping by the company and us as the presenter.

If you attended the performance, you know just how important that set was. The final images of those beautiful beautiful dancers, perpetually climbing the back wall, facing us, driving toward us, then flinging themselves away with abandon and strength, only to march forward again….the memory of that will stay with me. It spoke to me of effort and release, of striving and accepting, of work and gratefulness.

Many thanks to Roslyn Holt Swartz for hosting an In Conversation event with Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin  for Artist Circle members and above. He was generous with his time and spirit and brought an acute and inspiring perspective of his craft. We’re lucky to have been able to share some time with him over the course of the presentation.

For those of you who were able to join us for our Batsheva post-show reception, thank you for helping us congratulate, receive and celebrate this extraordinary company.

It was a very special way to launch our season of dance, and it was an opportunity to lay some groundwork for our commitment to building demand for dance in this city. We will be relying on our members to help us in this effort as we seek to galvanize the Los Angeles Dance community around ideas and possibilities for dance here.

Here are some highlights of the afterparty. We’ll see more of you soon!

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Thoughts from the staff of CAP UCLA