Category Archives: MESSAGE FROM THE CENTER

Sussan Deyhim: THE HOUSE IS BLACK–Royce Hall Jan. 23, 2015

(Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes).

It has been a profound privilege and honor to collaborate with and support Sussan Deyhim since the very early stages of this incredible work. Sussan was in residence at CAP UCLA with The House is Black last year and tonight’s world premiere is a culmination of energy, creative spirit and integrity of purpose.

The making of a work like this has been in the hands of many believers–the people and organizations and fellow artists who believe in the importance of the story Sussan is so committed to sharing with us all, who believe in shining a light on the infl uence of a great writer and artist who came before and whose voice has been all-too-silent in the contemporary arts world.

For three years now, we at the Center have been asking the question “Who is the Poet in Your Life?” The answers are as varied as the people who supply them, and our work and lives have been enriched through this exploration. Thanks to Sussan, Forough Farrokhzad herself has become an answer to that question for us. We welcome you here tonight to celebrate her contributions to the world of art, and to celebrate the tenacity, intention and great talent of Sussan Deyhim, who will continue to bring the work of Forough to so many. We hope you leave here with a poem from our live Poetry Bureau in the West Lobby where we will attempt to capture the great power of language through a few thoughtfully typed verses.

And we hope you leave here tonight able to more deftly ponder and answer the question: Who is the Poet in Your Life?

Tonight we all become part of a living, breathing, ongoing exhibition. Our memories and experiences here tonight are what creates a permanent collection of this ephemeral art form. We become the keepers of this moment in time and this tribute to two powerful boundary-defying artists.

An Evening with Gregory Porter– Royce Hall Jan. 17, 2015

(Unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes).

Tonight is about soul and passion. The soul and passion of one artist as he transmits it to those of us here to bear witness; the soul and passion inherent in the blues, soul and jazz forms he so deftly inhabits; and the soul and passion that we as listeners, seekers and music lovers simultaneously bring to and extract from this space that has held so much of it over the decades.

We believe music is an essential part of the human experience.

Music perpetuates one of the most accessible rabbit holes in the art of performance. Throughout our lives, we will discover a sound or a song or a voice that resonates with us and dive deeper into it, uncover the influences behind the artist who created it, revel in other artists and forms and vibrations that emanate from it and evolve with it. And through all this we are expanding and enhancing our own experience.

Music is, indeed, essential.

Gregory Porter, over the last several years, has become an essential figure in the art of jazz performance. His third album, Liquid Skin, which you can read more about in the interview/bio enclosed in the program notes, earned him a Grammy, after being nominated for his first two albums. He was quickly recognized by his peers as a force to be reckoned with in jazz and is increasingly beloved by audiences worldwide. He is an imposing figure both literally and metaphorically, with a soul and passion to match his commanding stage presence.

As the New York Times put it in a recent review of a live performance in Porter’s home city: “Working from outer form to inner heart, Mr. Porter’s music is jazz via Oscar Brown Jr. and Nat King Cole; R&B via Ray Charles; thinky and poetic mid-’70s R&B, via
Marvin Gaye and Gil Scott-Heron; and then gospel, not as theology but as emotional policy, as devotion safeguarding against chaos.”

We are extremely proud to present this exceptional performer in Royce Hall.

Thank you for being with us.

From the Center: An Evening with Gregory Porter-Royce Hall Jan. 17

Unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes. 

Tonight is about soul and passion. The soul and passion of one artist as he transmits it to those of us here to bear witness; the soul and passion inherent in the blues, soul and jazz forms he so deftly inhabits; and the soul and passion that we as listeners, seekers and music lovers simultaneously bring to and extract from this space that has held so much of it over the decades.

We believe music is an essential part of the human experience.

Music perpetuates one of the most accessible rabbit holes in the art of performance. Throughout our lives, we will discover a sound or a song or a voice that resonates with us and dive deeper into it, uncover the influences behind the artist who created it, revel in other artists and forms and vibrations that emanate from it and evolve with it. And through all this we are expanding and enhancing our own experience. Music is, indeed, essential.

Gregory Porter, over the last several years, has become an essential figure in the art of jazz performance. His third album, Liquid Skin, which you can read more about in the interview/bio enclosed in the program notes, earned him a Grammy, after being nominated
for his first two albums. He was quickly recognized by his peers as a force to be reckoned with in jazz and is increasingly beloved by audiences worldwide. He is an imposing figure both literally and metaphorically, with a soul and passion to match his commanding stage presence.

As the New York Times put it in a recent review of a live performance in Porter’s home city: “Working from outer form to inner heart, Mr. Porter’s music is jazz via Oscar Brown Jr. and Nat King Cole; R&B via Ray Charles; thinky and poetic mid-’70s R&B, via Marvin Gaye and Gil Scott-Heron; and then gospel,
not as theology but as emotional policy, as devotion safeguarding against chaos.”

We are extremely proud to present this exceptional performer in Royce Hall.

Thank you for being with us.

Louise Lecavalier Fou Glorieux: SO BLUE–Royce Hall Jan. 16, 2015

(Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes)

“Energy brings energy,” Louise Lecavalier said, when asked about the work and stamina required to create and perform a dance work, recalling her years working with Edouard Locke of La La La Human Steps.

Tonight, you become the first American audiences to witness the first work of choreography from a woman who has already made an unmistakable mark in contemporary dance. So Blue stands alone as a compelling piece of work in the art of performance, but it also marks an important milestone in the life of an artist—an artist who has given so much and inspired so many.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s you may have seen her whirling across the stage in jaw-dropping barrel rolls, her long blond locks whipping along as she practically levitated parallel to the stage.

She dominates, she relents as she makes shapes in the air and she elevates the heart rate of all who witness.

As you might guess, we are deeply honored and greatly excited to be the first presenter in the U.S. to shine a much deserved
spotlight on this exceptional performer at an exciting and critical point in the trajectory of her artistic life.

As our executive and artistic director Kristy Edmunds puts it: “Louse is a force of nature and an utterly unique presence in contemporary dance.”

One of our rallying cries this season has been “The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.” You’ve likely seen our banners or flyers singing out this message—it is a truism that applies not only to the art of dance, but to the art of living.

What a privilege it is to have a body, to possess physical strength and vitality. And what a privilege it is to witness an artist like Louise Lecavalier who, with tenacity and tenderness, great prowess and graceful creative intellect, shows us time and again, just how beautiful the body is and what it is capable of.

We thank you for bringing your own energy to this hall tonight, in honor of this indomitable artist. Energy begets energy. We feel it when you bring it, the artists on stage feel it, and we share it here together. That’s what it’s all about.

Please linger with us after the performance as we toast Louise and hear more about her creative process. Thank you for helping us welcome her to Los Angeles.

Just Curious…More Curious? (Stay Curious)

Happy New Year! As we launch ourselves back into the art of performance, I am thinking about curiosity and how important it is to be curious creatures.

One of the underpinnings of what we do here is informed by a sense of curiosity, both our presenting curiosity as a curatorial entity but also as a Center that seeks to create a safe space and fertile playground to discover what artists and makers are curious about—and in turn to inspire curiosity in the students, audience goers, patrons, art makers, thinkers, inventors, creators and researchers who surround us as they matriculate, educate and encounter new ideas on this campus or as they visit this institution by attending our programs.

Kristy Edmunds, our director, last year filled in for longtime UCLA arts professor and theater director Peter Sellars, teaching his class titled “Art as Moral Action.” It is a class in UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures department, but one that is taken by students from multiple disciplines in the arts  and other studies. Kristy often talks about her time teaching this class. And given that she is one of the most curious humans around, she often queried her students of the time about their relationship to the arts, seeking to discover what made them curious about the world beyond their personal and projected studies.

What Kristy discovered and what we continue to discover as we work with and amid students, is a sense that students do not feel like they can afford to be curious. Literally. With the costs of an education rising every year, they move through their course of study with a laser focus on the classes required for their particular degree. There’s often no time or funds to spare on a meandering elective course like “Tudor England” or “Early Women Writers,” like yours truly was lucky enough to somehow fit in alongside the requirements for a Journalism Degree 15 years ago.

The ability to be curious today can be a precious commodity. When it comes to helping students at UCLA explore their curiosity in the arts, we sometimes find ourselves with limited access to their time and attention,  a fact all parties lament–which is why we are continually investing in ways to integrate artists and our program into the college experience and curriculum on this campus.

We think curiosity is an essential part of the University experience. It is an essential part of the human experience. Curiousness, whether it’s about a thing, a person, a time in history or a place in the world, is the precursor to understanding and to empathy. And understanding and empathy are the things that inspire human beings, on an interpersonal and societal level, to collectively move forward toward goals that are more aligned than combative. Curiosity, understanding and empathy are things we cannot have too much of.

And art, in all its vibrant shapes, sounds, colors, themes, its oddities and collaborations is one of the greatest instigators of curiosity.

In the spirit of curiosity, I thought I would share a few interesting tidbits about the artists visiting us this month that will hopefully pique your curiosity.

LOUISE LECAVALIER (JAN 16)

Title : SoBlue Dancer Louise : Lecavalier Choreograper : Louise Lecavalier

DID YOU KNOW…..that for nearly 20 years Louise was the principal dancer and muse for La La La Human Steps, a thrilling and innovative dance troupe from her home base of Montreal? This brought her center stage with pop icon David Bowie often and she also performed in one of Frank Zappa’s final concerts.

ALSO… “So Blue,” the work we are presenting, is the first piece she ever choreographed, for herself. She’s in her 50s now, but her body hasn’t slowed down on her. She holds an epic headstand in the piece that will have all our abdominal muscles shaking.

GREGORY PORTER  ( JAN 17)

Gregory Porter Liquid Spirit photo (4)

DID YOU KNOW….Porter was born in Los Angeles, raised in Bakersfield and originally went to college in San Diego on a football scholarship. Though he calls Brooklyn home now, California will always have a soft spot for this soulful vocalist.

SUSSAN DEYHIM (JAN 23)

great headshot bl and wh

DID YOU KNOW…Sussan, who is known amid Hollywood as an incredible vocalist and composer whose voice has been featured on such major motion pictures as “Argo,” “The Kite Runner” and “The Last Temptation of Christ” studied dance and performance in the late 1970s with the notable French choreographer, dancer and opera director Maurice Béjart at his Mudra School in Brussels.

FRANK WARREN ‘POSTSECRET LIVE’ JAN 28

frankwarrensmall

DID YOU KNOW….Frank is not only the creator of one of the most successful blogs in the world, one that inspires people to share anonymous secrets, he also volunteers for the Suicide Prevention Hotline 1(800)SUICIDE, for which PostSecret has helped raise more than $500,000. In 2006, Warren was presented a special award from the National Mental Health Association in recognition of how PostSecret has “moved the cause of mental health forward.”

ALSO…during PostSecret Live events things can get not-so-anonymous. Frank invites the audience to share secrets live in front of each other and says that far from being a tough sell, it is often the most funny, poignant and special moments of the night.

Bring your secrets, bring your curiosity. We’re ready for more creative ways of looking at the world in 2015.

Stay curious my friends!

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 its 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.

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.

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.