11 Category Archives: Member Blog

Sharing news and updates for, about and by our members.

Notes from Kristy: Positive Velocity

If the year 2013 could be considered an ‘object in motion’ and I could represent the movement of where it started, to where it migrated, I would turn to Torricelli’s 17th-century equation to attempt to determine the velocity of a year. A year that felt as if it was in constant acceleration, with no knowable time interval. Here is the equation:

Not being a brilliant Italian physicist myself, what I can say is that once again, I find myself stunned at the rapid march of time. Here at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, there is in fact a constant velocity, but more accurate in characterization would be accelerating velocity. The charts below illustrate what I mean:

Of course, it could have been a year that looked like:

Instead, and in no small part due to your participation and support, it looked like this:

I have noticed since being here in Los Angeles – where the seasons are more nuanced and their transitions more subtle than elsewhere that I have lived – I demarcate the time of year in two ways – gratitude and generosity. As an Artistic Director I experience both in numerous ways, regularly. There is a great deal of giving and receiving that goes on in the arts – both are interdependent acts of resonant exchange. They seem to happen at best between artists and audiences, patronage and possibility, and are the true marks of the quality and capacity of place.

I wanted to simply express my direct and sincere appreciation for the support you provide to UCLA, to the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, and for the artists we in turn are able to weave into the exceptional mix of life in Los Angeles.

May the splendor of the season bring you all much, the tail of the 2013 comet pass over with inspired reflection, and the emerging New Year enter with it’s own charismatic allure and a brightness of possibility for all of us.

Thank you. Which looks like this:

Kristy

Notes from Kristy: Thinking of Lou Reed

As I write this, I feel a combined sensation of a need to honor and a gut filled sorrow from the loss of a truly great artist, Lou Reed. Having received countless messages, I am expressing on behalf of many the acute sensation of longing which comes to the surface when we lose someone who inspired us deeply. Importantly also, is a shared depth of gratitude for his contributions in so many ways to our collective experience through his poetry, music and spirited fullness. I offer our support, condolence and sincere compassion to Laurie Anderson most especially, and the many extended friends and loved ones of Lou’s who are and will be grieving the most, while undoubtedly celebrating his incredible life in the days and months to come. Our hearts are with you each and every one.

At the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA we honor and acknowledge the life work of many esteemed artists, at various stages within their careers and within their evolving projects and ideas. It’s in times like this that I can be grateful to know that our mission and purpose matters to many artists the world over, while at the same time I cannot help but feel overwhelmed at how much more we need to be doing to change the culture that supports the incredible possibility of greatness within artists so that they can thrive, contrive and inspire us all with what it means to be truly human in the bigness of our tiny world together.

I am struck in the media and press coverage surrounding the news of Lou Reed’s passing, that there is a tremendous articulation of his impact and artistic output — credit authentically coming where credit is authentically due. Occasionally these testimonials are flavored with the mention of his work not garnering substantial “commercial success” (however deserved).

To which I can only really offer this — if the allure for artists to deeply excavate our human truths and give them form, was motivated by commercial success alone, the songlines of our heritage would be thin indeed. I ponder this duality often in my own role as an artistic director where I am requested to deftly straddle the active importance of putting a spotlight on the artistic integrity of artists and their art, with the pressure to deliver the somewhat more comforting nuances of assured familiarity and easily knowable outcomes on behalf of another kind of measurement of “success.”

Instead, because of artists like Lou Reed, like Laurie Anderson, like their contemporaries, and the great many artists I have the deep pleasure of working with, not only are our songlines profoundly strengthened, but so too are the tools we have to bolster our awareness of what it means to be “AWAKE” in the world while we inhabit it.

So in honor of Lou Reed, and in service to our communities of artists – I feel compelled to simply say…thank you. Thank you, Lou for expanding the fence line of the familiar and allowing the creative terrain for our souls to wander well, regardless of ever being in full possession of a known outcome at the outset of your own path.

—K

Notes from Kristy: On Einstein, Generosity and Gratitude

We’re all still on a bit of an emotional high around here after a weekend of Einstein on the Beach, the images it evoked and the sense of artistic community it invoked here in our city. Seeing how the Friday night LA Opera audience responded so explosively and passionately as the curtain dropped was deeply moving, and hosting the three creators of the work here at Royce Hall the next day elicited a moment of profound gratitude and I thought it appropriate to share in this space the same message we shared with those in attendance Saturday.

When thinking about what to say about the current production of Einstein on the Beach, my mind moves immediately to the sheer fact and miraculous force of three artists: Robert Wilson, Philip Glass and Lucinda Childs. Though considering each of them makes it even more challenging to succinctly write something in an attempt to anchor what this work is, and why it has been so acutely resonant and impacting for those who have experienced it. I tend to think it is because of the towering generosity of each of them, the unassuming persistence of vision they embody, and the profound enrichment of multiple art forms through their uniquely expressed artistic genius – individually, and in this case, collectively.

The scale of Einstein On The Beach both in its physical and conceptual dimension, is staggering and permeates everything contained in it — from Glass’s music, Wilson’s direction and design, and Lucinda Child’s choreography. The libretto by Christopher Knowles is elemental to the work and a bedrock for Wilson’s direction. It gives rise to the structure underpinning the piece, and informs a profound delivery through the immense detail which is carried from each of the performers. Akin to a monumental dreamscape, I cannot help but wonder what it must feel like for these artists to look at it now, and recall the time of its inception.

If I then consider the work in relation to being an almost spiritual portrait of Albert Einstein, or if I ponder the culture of possibility that surrounded them all at the time of its original making, or the inspiring influence on successive artists (even if they had never actually seen it), or if I consider again what it actually took from everyone involved to bring this particular production to life again now in the 21st Century, I am left somewhere beyond words.

Which is perhaps entirely fitting. A monumental dreamscape that attains timelessness as a work of art is best not described, but rather gratefully received.

Instead of offering my illuminations, I want to instead express my thanks. To the artists themselves, and importantly, to team at Pomegranate Arts who have produced the production of Einstein on the Beach. Having worked for many years with them, I have been a direct witness to the dedication and integrity they have applied at every turn.

I want to thank the LA Opera for bringing Einstein on the Beach, finally to Los Angeles and into the full scope of their institution. We have thoroughly enjoyed a remarkable collaboration involving our many departments and staff members, and I want to thank all of you, your supporters and your Board members, and most especially Christopher Koelsch for that very first phone call well over a year ago, where we began the process of hatching a plan and making it stick. Bravo!

And Bravo to the staff, Board, members and supporters of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA as well. Without you, none of these seemingly impossible projects and initiatives, would become possible.

Follow Kristy on Instagram @kedmunds

Notes from Kristy: Come On In, The Water’s Fine

The other night we heard the resulting song cycles and creative framework of a new work by Heidi Rodewald and her collaborators Donna Di Novelli and Kevin Newbury, who just completed their residency here at the Center. While their time in residence was concentrated, they generated some truly remarkable material in pursuit of collaborative ideas.

And if my reaction to what they shared is any gauge of the future life for this work, it is going to strike some very resonant chords. The project is called “The Good Swimmer” and is based in part upon the found text of a lifeguard training manual from the 1940s (when women had to assume traditional male job roles as they were all off to war).

There was a particular conceptual through line in it that I cannot get out of my mind. A central thread from the instruction manual for lifeguard training: “The Lifeguard knows what she must be most alert to, and most concerned over, which is the good swimmer. The good swimmer knows how to take care of themselves when they swim out beyond where most would venture. The danger for the lifeguard is that those less capable will follow. The good swimmer therefore poses the greatest hazard to the lifeguard’s duty of care.”

I love it when an unexpected and pristine clarity knocks me sideways.

We are about to play host to a whole season of pristine clarity coming out of the artists that are soon to arrive as we open the 2013-2014 program. I thought it might be good to mention a few of the firsts – The Moth kicks off the Spoken Word series, LACO returns for their illustrious program at Royce Hall as our Resident Orchestra, Deer Tick sets UCLA’s Welcome Week off with an alt-country twist to our Roots/Folk series, and Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock – while marking 30 years of amazing music together – kick off our Jazz offerings.

Crossing over from both the Atlantic and the Pacific we welcome the mega-theater work, “Shun-kin” by Complicite in collaboration with Setagaya Public Theater — putting a momentous start to the Theater season, with a work that is quite simply not to be missed. Our Dance series opens the following week with the North American premiere of Lucy Guerin’s most recent choreography, “Weather.”

To put this into some statistical perspective, that’s about 100 independent artists over three weeks, hailing from cities and countries far and wide converging in Los Angeles this September. We are going to be heaving with the generosity of brilliant artists taking the stage to send up their finest for our ebullient audiences, and I for one am BEYOND READY.

One of the aspects to bringing that much creative mastery into a place like this, is what happens on campus, in Westwood Village, and in the venues themselves when unanticipated and astonishing moments in art between impassioned people come together in unique exchange…well, it makes the fight against the traffic and I-405 closures and daily irritations melt away and we get to be joyously AWAKE together. For the artists– the equivalency is that it makes the airport delays, visa approval processes and all of the rehearsals well and truly worth it.

This is a big and important season for the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. It marks the deepening presence of our mission and purpose, and a heightened relationship to our supporters and audiences, along with these extraordinary artists. For those of you already reading this, it means that you are interested in the Center sustaining the work of our purpose. Know that I consider one and all of you to be the exact people it will take for us to continue to develop and evolve regardless of the ever-vexing pressures that can work against a great public promise. In short, you are the good swimmers, and here’s hoping that by watching you swim out into the great beyond, others will indeed follow.

–K