All posts by Isabel

Our “jolly good fellows”

As the start of the new season draws closer, we’re giving you a sneak peek into some of the delights of the 2016-2017 spread. The CAP UCLA Fellows Program is dedicated to celebrating masters of their craft through multi-year presentation commitments. We hope you join us in our celebration!

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Anne Bogart & SITI Company

New York-based SITI Company, co-founded by acclaimed American theater and opera director Anne Bogart with Leon Ingulsrud and Ellen Lauren is known worldwide as a constantly evolving collective of artists whose collaborative spirit results in the creation of new theater that straddles performing arts disciplines and challenges norms. The Center will work closely with Anne Bogart and other members of the company to explore projects, educational programs and performances unique to our campus and immediate community.

In this 2016-2017 season we are delighted to team up with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to present Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s Lost in the Stars featuring SITI Company, with direction from Anne Bogart and musical direction from Jeffrey Kahane. An adaptation of Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country, this 1949 Broadway musical was the last score Kurt Weill wrote for the stage before his passing.

In the 2015-2016 season we presented Steel Hammer, a collaboration among SITI Company, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe and esteemed music collective Bang on A Can All-Stars. SITI Company thrilled CAP UCLA audiences in the 2014-2015 season with their adventurous collaboration with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company for the dance-theater work A Rite, inspired by Stravinsky’s iconic Rite of Spring.

Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson is among the most important visual and theater artists in the world. His work uses different artistic techniques integrating movement, dance, painting, light, design, sculpture, music and drama.

In our 2016-2017 season, we will feature a Mikhail Baryshnikov and Robert Wilson collaboration—their second for CAP UCLA. Letter to a Man is based on autobiographical texts by Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950), one of the most celebrated dancers and choreographers of his time who danced in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and created seminal choreographies himself. His diaries, written in less than six weeks in 1919, document the young man’s descent into madness. They were first published in 1936.

We presented another collaboration of Wilson and Baryshnikov in the 2014-2015 season. Developed with, and starring, the legendary Baryshnikov, and co-starring Oscar-nominated actor Willem Dafoe, The Old Woman is an adaptation of the eponymous work by recently rediscovered Russian avant-garde author Daniil Kharms. A brilliant, obscure and slyly political novella from the 1930s, The Old Woman loosely follows the story of a struggling writer who cannot find peace with himself.

In our 2013-2014 season, we featured a solo act from Wilson. As an homage to revolutionary composer John Cage, Robert Wilson performed Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, one of the central texts of twentieth-century experimental literature. The production has been described as being an “acoustically and visually inspiring approach to the philosophical and poetic text” which Cage based on a complex time length scheme similar to some of his music.

Kronos Quartet

Through our Artist Fellow initiative, we celebrate Kronos Quartet as one of the most influential contemporary ensembles of our time and a driving force in the performing arts. For 40 years, the Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet has redefined the string quartet experience through thousands of concerts, more than 50 recordings, collaborations with composers and performers from around the globe, and more than 800 commissioned works.

CAP UCLA is delighted to present a new multimedia work featuring the Kronos Quartet for the 2016-2017 season entitled Beyond Zero, which commemorates the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War.  Dubbed “the war to end all wars” World War I ushered in a century of conflict that continues into this millennium. Kronos Quartet will perform compositions by influential composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, and in conjunction with films and archival footage from filmmaker Bill Morrison.

The Beyond Zero event will feature performances of works co-commissioned by CAP UCLA for the Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association initiative Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire.

Beginning in the 2015-2016 season, Fifty for the Future commissioned 50 new works – 10 per year for five years – devoted to contemporary approaches to the quartet and designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals. The works are being created by an eclectic group of composers – 25 men and 25 women. Kronos will premiere each piece and create companion digital materials, including scores, recordings, and performance notes, which will be distributed online for free. Fifty for the Future will present string quartet music as a living art form.

In the 2013-2014 season, CAP UCLA celebrated the longevity and far-reaching influence of Kronos Quartet in a double-performance presentation, which included a special 40th Anniversary concert and the Los Angeles debut of Kronos’ first-ever collaboration with CAP UCLA Fellow Laurie Anderson.

CAP UCLA Fellows program is supported in part by the generous support of Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy.

8 Reasons You Need to See Taylor Mac This Weekend

Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The 20th Century Abridged is coming to Royce Hall this Saturday, March 12th at 8PM. If you haven’t already gotten your tickets (which start at $19), here are 8 reasons to do so:

1. Taylor Mac will be costumed for the gods.

Taylor Mac says that drag is wearing on the outside what you are on the inside. Judging by his outlandish costumes, that makes Mac’s insides pretty fabulous. You’ll see some wild and wonderful costumes, created by designer, collaborator, and costuming genius Machine Dazzle. You can read more about their partnership in this interview from Mac’s appearance in Santa Barbara this week. As drag legend RuPaul would say: it’s going to be an eleganza extravaganza.

Taylor Mac Costumes

2. You can turn the party before and after the show!

Our annual MOVEMENT party this year is “Identity in Motion.” Show up early and stay late with us on the Royce Terrace. There will be make-up and makeup artists from Smashbox Cosmetics, a Drag Pop-Up station, music from DJ Manifesto, a photo booth, a runway, and more. Party on, Wayne!

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3. No matter your age, you’ll know the songs.

It sucks when you go to a concert, but you can only sing along to that one song that plays on the radio. Not a problem here! Taylor Mac will be taking us on a ride through the 20th Century, so get ready to hear songs you know in a way you’ve never heard them before.

Here’s Taylor Mac’s take on LMFAO’s 2011 hit “Sexy and I Know It”

Sexy and I Know It

4. The local talent is going to slay.

Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles®, the first all-female Mariachi band in America, are the special guests at this event. There will also be appearances from numerous local burlesque artists, in performances choreographed by the sensational Peekaboo Pointe.

Here’s Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles with their version of  the classic “Crazy for Loving You.”

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5. You’ll know what his reviews are talking about.

Taylor Mac makes a splash wherever he goes, and the press is catching on. Frontiers has the low-down on his upcoming appearance in LA, The New York Times spilled the beans on a sensational play he wrote recently entitled Hir, and New York Magazine named him as one of the reasons New York theater is thriving.

New York Magazine

6. You’ll look really hip.

We all have one friend who seems to have the low-down on an awesome night out. Be that friend this Saturday. “Oh, Taylor Mac?” you’ll say. “He’s just this radical gender-bending playwright/drag artist/cabaret performer who’s going to deconstruct the music of the 20th Century. He’s all over New York right now. You probably haven’t heard of him.” Your Atwater Village friends will be green with envy.

7. March Madness hasn’t started yet.

The brackets get announced the next day, so don’t even trip like that’s an excuse. Peel yourself out of your lay-z-boy for a night, and come watch a different kind of spectacle. We promise: there’ll be plenty of sweat and cheering here too.

8. One City, One Pride!

The build up to this show has been so special to us. Partnering with WeHo Arts/One City One Pride, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and ONE Archives, we celebrated Drag Angeles at the West Hollywood Library last week. Now it’s our turn to host the party so come show the city your love—and your Pride!

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Center receives NEA grant

In its first 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and U.S. jurisdiction, the only arts funder in the nation to do so. Today, the NEA announced awards totaling more than $27.6 million in its first funding round of fiscal year 2016, including an Art Works award of $20,000 to Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA to present Phantom Limb’s Memory Rings.

The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The arts are part of our everyday lives – no matter who you are or where you live – they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society. Supporting projects like the one from CAP UCLA offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

Memory Rings is a multi-disciplinary theatrical presentation that tackles nearly 5,000 years of human and environmental change from the perspective of the Methuselah tree, the world’s oldest known living tree. This performance is a part of a greater trilogy that examines ecological and environmental threads of narrative and research. Defying categorization, the ensemble uses dance, puppetry, mask, installation, music, projections, and costume to transport the audience.  Phantom Limb is known for its work with marionette-puppetry and focus on collaborative, multi-media theatrical production and design. Co-founded in 2007 by installation artist, painter and set designer Jessica Grindstaff and composer and puppet maker Erik Sanko, Phantom Limb has been lauded for its unconventional approach to this venerable format.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEAFall15. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov

Who’s Afraid Of The STRAIGHT WHITE MEN?

LA has a theater problem. That should come as no surprise: LA is primarily a music and visual arts city, and it’s hard to compete with the plethora of beautiful museums and concert halls scattered across the map. Anthony Byrnes goes into greater detail about LA’s theater problem in his article for KCRW, but also into possible solutions. He highlights our recent co-presentation of Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company as an example of reaching across the void to connect the city’s theaters. We are co-presenting Lee’s play Straight White Men in collaboration with Center Theatre Group, who also co-commissioned the work.  Our director Kristy Edmunds was recently featured alongside Lee on a podcast from Center Theatre Group, with the discussion led by CTG’s associate artistic director Diane Rodriguez. If three intelligent, driven women discussing avant-garde theater, collaborative power, and exchanging silly stories sounds like something you’re into, click here to listen online.

Lee recently spoke to the LA Times about the production, describing her creative process and the birth of this production. There is always a subversive element to Lee’s work, and she continues that trajectory by tackling the responsibilities of straight white men as an Asian-American woman.

“It’s the question of, ‘What do we want straight white men to do that they’re not doing? And what happens when they do that?'” Lee told the LA Times . “It’s a very current question. Because being a straight white man is a relatively new thing, historically. For years, they got to be the default human. And now, suddenly, they’re being slapped with labels, and they hate it. So it’s sort of approaching a timeless question from a slightly different perspective.”

We were thrilled to collaborate with CTG and Young Jean Lee on co-presenting Straight White Men, and not simply because we are always happy to have our name associated with an exciting and provocative event. It’s not the first time we’ve worked with Young Jean Lee—you may remember her cabaret performance WE’RE GONNA DIE in our 2013-2014 season. Lee is doing brave, outspoken work on gender politics and personal identity, and we are proud to support it. But our true excitement stems from working alongside Lee and CTG to bring awareness of the production to an audience that might be unfamiliar with the company. LA’s theater problem isn’t insurmountable. We just all have to be willing to put the strength of the community above the desire to be number one.

Straight White Men runs at the Kirk Douglas Theater until December 20th.

To read more about our collaborations, visit http://cap.ucla.edu/artinaction/special_initatives/15_16_program_collaborations

Beyoncé danst Rosas

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It seems as though the artistic community must have the same discussion every few years (and presumably will continue to do so ad infinitum) – where do we draw the line between inspiration and theft? Every so often a song will top the charts or a video will go viral that prompts us to ask what may have inspired it. These conversations are happening on the local and national levels, and never seem to come to a satisfying conclusion. An artist can win a case saying that what some call “inspiration” others call “copyright infringement,” but where does that leave us after the settlement? However it may have been born, that art is now alive and out in the world, affecting moods and sometimes effecting change.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker entered the conversation a few years ago. A prolific and stimulating dancer and choreographer, De Keersmaeker has been active in her work since the early 80s, and received numerous international accolades. One work in particular, Rosas danst Rosas (1983), is one of her more well-known pieces, winning a Bessie award for choreography in 1987.

Well-known enough, in fact, that it would appear somebody in Beyoncé’s creative team was “inspired” by it. According to De Keersmaeker, Beyoncé and director Adria Petty lifted moves, costumes and staging from Rosas danst Rosas as well as elements from 1990’s Achterland. “I’m not mad, but this is plagiarism,” Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker told Studio Brussel in an interview. “What’s rude about it is that they don’t even bother about hiding it.” After the news hit, the Queen Bey and her creative team admitted to being “inspired” by De Keersmaeker’s work.

What was impressive was De Keersmaeker’s follow-up in 2013. She could have been litigious, but instead she decided to open up the conversation to everyone. In celebration of the work’s 30th anniversary, De Keersmaeker uploaded a series of videos on her website that allow a viewer to learn part of Rosas Danst Rosas, and invited all of us to film our performances and upload them. Thousands of people, of all ages and from all over the world, have taken her up on the offer. A trailer for this “remix” features little children, pregnant women, even teenage girls in their school yard in India. What started as a statement on theft turned into a dialogue on the right to participate in art. Sometimes participation is simply spectating, holding a space for it to occur. Sometimes it means imitating a style. In this case, however, it meant teaching the process to the world.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker is here with Rosas, her company, for a four-night extravaganza of different works—including Rosas danst Rosas on November 12th. We would love for you, as a part of our community, to learn the compelling movements and film the outcome to share in a similar “remix” video. The onus is on all of us now here at UCLA to participate in this international dialogue on who can perform and take ownership of somebody else’s artistic creation. We invite you to speak with us.

Visit http://cap.ucla.edu/calendar/details/rosas_remix for the full details.