Category Archives: Notes from Kristy

Welcome to our 2016-17 Season Edition

The event detail pages on our site and in the season program guide offer you a running glance at the tremendous artistry that will again take root in Los Angeles over the months ahead. As you have come to expect, there is much to discover and taking part is fortifying. As the Director of both CAP UCLA (produced programs) and of Royce Hall (heritage venue of repute), it is a true pleasure to unveil this collection of recent work by such distinct voices in contemporary performance.

Though I occupy the leadership seat, what happens here is due to the staff that I have the pleasure of collectively rolling up sleeves with every day. We are conjoined with our Board members – a philanthropic body of individuals that give (and then give some more) – to ensure that this feast of ideas will continue to happen each season. We also work in partnership with esteemed local and national foundations, art patrons, scholars and numerous colleague organizations. In doing so, we play a dynamic role in the arts internationally, while serving UCLA and the greater Los Angeles community.

We spend a lot of time thinking about YOU – the audiences who are passionate about engaging with what is going on in contemporary performance. (Your response and participation is accompanied with great anticipation on our end.)

CAP UCLA programs – on and off stage – are created to strengthen the ties that bind us to continuing artistic achievement. We make every effort to engage you by adding opportunities before or after the performances and we cluster these under the banner of “Art in Action.” For those of you who seek a creative dialogue, more insight, or to actively learn what makes these artists tick or what inspired the work in the first place – I encourage you to choose your dates when Art in Action is in full swing. Every single work of art on this season, whether danced, projected, played, acted, conducted or spoken reveals a sublime global effort toward the art of much-needed perspective. We look forward to seeing you again this season!

Kristy Edmunds
Executive and Artistic Director
Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA

Below are some of the upcoming highlights. Head over to our calendar or check out the Season Program Guide for a full overview of the 2016-17 Season.

Welcome to the 2015-2016 Season

The process of planning for and later presenting live performances is a remarkable encounter with careening variables. However refined a season schedule might be or however long we have planned with artists and colleagues for each project – we are ever aware that in an instant, things can change on a dime (and frequently do). Multifarious daily adventures become months and then a year, and a new season is born!

Since our work at the Center parallels life at large, it also offers us abundant recognition of how interdependent we are in creating the conditions for great artistry to arrive and thrive on our stages. That is a potential and vitality that includes you – our patrons, members, supporters, subscribers, audiences, students and visiting cultural omnivores. Without your interest, involvement and support, none of this would happen. Thank you.

As you have come to expect from Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, the 2015-2016 season reflects a diverse and highly considered program of contemporary performances.

One particular intention within our programming focus this season is the massive contribution of women in all of the art forms that our mission envelops.

Our Words & Ideas series is chock full of powerful, maverick and generous voices – from the literary genius of Ursula K. Le Guin, to the disarmingly brilliant cultural commentary of cartoonist Roz Chast. Miranda July returns to the Center for a top-secret experience, and we will hear from Moscow-based Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot.

We also present a retrospective survey of one of the world’s most admired and influential choreographers Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and her company Rosas. The world premiere of a major commissioned work by Ann Carlson, entitled The Symphonic Body UCLA features 100 performers culled from the workers on this campus. It is unlike anything you have experienced before. And, we present the world premiere of new work from L.A.’s beloved Latin-Urban collective CONTRA-TIEMPO under the direction of Ana Maria Alvarez.

Anne Bogart and SITI Company return to the season in a new collaborative work with Julia Wolfe and Bang on a Can All-Stars. And we’ve linked arms with our colleagues at Center Theater Group to welcome Young Jean Lee back to L.A. Her newest theater piece titled STRAIGHT WHITE MEN opens just in time for the holiday season. To start the season’s theater offerings, CAP UCLA is proud to present Desdemona, written by Toni Morrison and Rokia Traoré. Directed by the singular Peter Sellars, this thoughtful work is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Othello, as told from the female characters’ perspectives.

In music, Cassandra Wilson performs her disarming Billie Holiday tribute and Regina Carter takes the stage in collaboration with Sam Amidon, in a celebration of her own Southern roots. We will also host Anoushka Shankar, Noura Mint Seymali, Lucinda Williams, as well as Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho in an intimate concert featuring UCLA’s one-and-only Gloria Cheng—just to name a few. We love men too! A generous and formidable contingent of men join us as well.

Thank you for finding us, for supporting what we do, and for coming along as we host some truly unforgettable performances this season.

Here’s just a snapshot of what’s in store.  You can also click through the online 2015-2016 program guide.

Loving Leonard

 

Director Dinner-2442

Recently I was asked to describe what it is like to know and work with Leonard Nimoy. My answer was that he is the embodiment of the very best there is in the whole of human consciousness.

Anyone who knew him well would agree.

Knowing Leonard, and having the exceptional honor of working with him, was accompanied with an awareness that he was generating something that offered me the gift of being better than I was beforehand.

Leonard’s grounded intellect, immense talent and public kindness was woven together in all of his work. He was in possession of a distinctive joy, infectious wit and compassion. His honesty in his approach to everything was wholly generous. He was an alchemist of life at its best potential.

It is tempting to wonder if perhaps Leonard actually was from another planet. No, Leonard was utterly of this world and to imagine otherwise would be to somehow miss his extraordinary example of what it means to be so resonantly, fully and inspirationally human.

Through his works of art, works of philanthropy and advocacy, and through his legacy of profound impact, I know I will continue to learn and benefit from his spirited goodness. These will indeed live long and prosper. For so many of us the world over, our capacities have been ever expanded through his life and works and I know that this will only continue.

I don’t have a deep enough word to acknowledge his rare brilliance. Whatever that word is, it is stuck in my solar plexus and tethered there in my heart as I write this.

Thank you Leonard Nimoy.

Director Dinner-2381 with KE

Kristy Edmunds and Leonard Nimoy. Photo by Spencer Davis (at top Leonard Nimoy, photo by Spencer Davis).

Kristy_Leonard_susan

 

Leonard Nimoy, Kristy Edmunds and Susan Bay Nimoy. Photo by Phinn Sriployrung

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.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

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.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

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

Behind “Exposed”

Tonight we play host to a truly unique moment in the art of performance.”Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films” is a marriage of sound and celluloid that has been a long time in the making, and its arrival to the Royce stage tomorrow marks one of those especially gratifying moments as a curator, when the dreaming of a few coalesces into an extraordinary experience for many.

A couple of years ago I was approached by a great colleague, Ben Harrison, at the Andy Warhol Museum about co-commissioning this project (then untitled, and then just a concept). They had located a number of Warhol’s short films in their collection that were related to the “Screen Tests” he filmed quite regularly, but were of a somewhat different nature. More like a cinema portrait in a way than a “screen test” – but that is a nuance I have likely invented as a way to officially organize it in my own mind. (As one does.)

Ben had been involved in the development of the precursor to “Exposed,” which was called “13 Most Beautiful” – the cinema screen tests shot by Andy, which had Dean & Britta performing live in a concert setting. Dean Wareham and Britta composed the music and if I recall (this was 2006 I think),  were part of the creative force that conceived the idea to begin with. It toured extensively, and I saw it in Sydney years ago.

Wareham, this time around, wanted to broaden out the music collaborators, so for this project, he is both the curator/music director and also a composer/performer. I guess that is four roles rather than two!

What I loved hearing about, behind the scenes as the project started to take shape, was the restoration process of the films themselves from the conservators at the Warhol museum, and their insights about the pieces of cinema along with the film curator.

Of course getting updates on which musicians were then engaged and what they were working on and how it was taking shape was also pretty exciting.

So, here we are, two years later – restored Warhol films, a massive amount of music and artistry that has come together for a three – city engagement after so much detailing and creative time has been spent behind the scenes.  I am sure the project will go on after it is performed in the ‘homes’ of the three organizations that committed early on to support the development time it needed, which include the Center, The Andy Warhol Museum and BAM.

As with anything connected to Warhol – everyone seems to have a story about “Andy” and along the way of this, I have heard many…..real and imagined….people are compelled to tell you about “the time when…..”

I swear, Andy Warhol has had dinner and drinks with people that were not even born during the Factory years – and that will probably be the case for decades to come.

Indeed, part of the impetus behind this work is to celebrate the 20-year history of The Andy Warhol Museum, which has done much to ensure that Andy’s memory and influence continues to loom large.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

My story about Andy is tied to this moment in time, to  the preservation and presentation of these incredible lost films, the talented and varied music artists who are helping bring them to life for us.

Warhol_exposed5 Warhol_exposed2

Warhol_exposed Warhol_exposed9

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: Weathering Storms and the Art of Performance

One of the artists I have been most eager to introduce to you, the Los Angeles community, is Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin and her astonishing company of dancers.

And now, after much travail thanks to the U.S. visa process and subsequent travel delays, which have required us to rearrange our presentation of her work, Lucy Guerin and all of her company are here. To perform their work for the first time in Los Angeles. We are so proud to welcome them.

Lucy has always been keenly concentrated, artistically and through her choreography, with human relationships and how we encounter and affect each other. Her newest work, “Weather,” is an analysis of the conflicts within, and desires for intimacy – which widen into a meditation on human beings as a species and our relational patterns. Particularly explored in “Weather,” are the naturally occurring forces that exist outside of the realms of human control, and our direct impact upon the elemental properties that govern the natural world order.

In the advance planning to bring this remarkable work of choreography to open our 2013-2014 season of contemporary dance, there are two particular weather events occurring now that we could not have anticipated, then. But both, in their own distinctive way offer insight into elemental and poetic forces that are explored in the conceptual and choreographic structure of this work.

The first event, is the U.S. Government ‘shut down.’ Not to dwell, but it is an undeniable display of relational impact and the kind of political weather operating at present in the U.S. One that offers remarkable difficulty in providing elegant explanation around, as we welcome our Australian friends to Los Angeles for the first time. But so too in how we approach an explanation within ourselves, as we grapple with what this current political weather means within our collective citizenry.

Perhaps this work from Australia, in crossing the Pacific to premiere in the U.S., has arrived in exactly the right moment. However robust our current head winds might be.

The second, as was reported for all Angelenos this week, is the annual onset of the Santa Ana winds themselves, a local phenomenon – due to blow in and work upon our nerve endings, on the very evening of this performance.

Guerin’s work often draws from the physical world – elemental properties and naturally occurring events – to draw parallels for exploring the ethos of human relationships, as expressively framed through the art of dance and choreography. Read more about Lucy’s approach to the creation of “Weather,” in her director’s note for the program.

We have also harnessed our local community at UCLA to explore the themes of this performance through the lens of their scientific research. I hope you are able to arrive early on Friday night and enjoy our special pre-show event The Poetry of Nature: a discussion with graduate researchers from the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies.

We may not be able to predict the political winds–nor the weather, nor visa delays nor the traffic patterns during the gusts from the Santa Anas – but we can predict with certainty that the arts in all of their expressive potential, mastery and refined exploration, can and do bring us into direct proximity with the possibility of being astonished and enlivened by the human imagination.

Follow Kristy Edmunds 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

Notes from Kristy: Looking Forward at Summer’s End

With a full year under our belt as Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, and a new season of performances soon to be upon us, I thought it was high time for me to start contributing various missives to our web site and monthly eNews. As we go along, some will invariably be generated from airports, others from my desk, likely others from backstage here or elsewhere–but since I am always thinking about something (at least when I am awake)–I am keen to share it with those of you involved in what we do over here at the Center.

I am sure I am not alone in this, but today is my elevated recognition that it is A U G U S T 1st. I have been busily looking forward to summer all summer it seems, and now it’s August 1st ! From my desk that means that we are six weeks away from the arrival of the first artists on our season.

After the announcement of the 2013-2014 season in the spring, I was in Tel Aviv, Moscow and St. Petersburg with colleague artistic directors—seeing a great deal of performance and visual art, meeting with artists and practitioners and developing plans for projects to become part of our future programming at the Center (stay tuned). I was also able to participate in the LA Dance Summit, which generated a great deal of spirited exchange about the dance ecology in Los Angeles. Still being relatively new to the city, I appreciated being able to listen to the challenges and opportunities of dance artists and organizations over the years, and to ponder what strategies might be developed for increased visibility and growth over time.

Similarly, I was fortunate to have a chance this summer to really sit down and meet with theater artists and colleague presenter/producers of theater. There is a spectacular amount of energy and wisdom to draw from and I am always motivated by the possibilities of building different bridges that can lift the capacities of great artists and connect their work and ideas to places and people where they will find resonant embrace.

I want to talk a bit about two projects for which we are in rigorous and detailed preparation: Shun-kin by Complicite under the direction of Simon McBurney, and Weather, by Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin. Shun-kin just completed a highly successful engagement in New York with the Lincoln Center Festival, and then the technical director popped across to visit us here and look at the Freud Theater, where the company will set up in a few short weeks.

Much to his delight, the venue is going to be ‘perfect’ and we have made adjustments that will accommodate the subtitle positioning quite well (this is always a somewhat vexing undertaking, so I am very happy to report this news). Still, there is ample time for those of you coming to see an unforgettable work of theater, to read the Junichiro Tanazaki text that inspired it. There’s also a brilliant L.A. connection to this work, an essay on architecture by former UCLA professor Charles Moore which stands as design inspiration to the production, and also serves as a forward to the printed edition of In Praise of Shadows. While we will be printing the synopsis of this intense and challenging piece of theater in the program notes–and making those available in advance–it would be great for those of you inclined to read the original material.

If you can come to the opening-night benefit, please do so. It is going to be unforgettable, and it will help us continue to present exceptional theater that would otherwise not make it to Los Angeles. There is so much to do, and knowing we have your support makes the difficulty of getting it done utterly worth it.

Lucy’s piece deals with weather patterns and systems in change and sets the choreography into a world of weather in dynamic change – the scenography and score are equally dynamic, and we will be updating you in the lead up. I am so happy to be able to welcome Lucy and her dancers to Los Angeles. For those Aussie expats now based in L.A., we will make sure to have a gathering while they are in town.

Thinking of Australia for a moment – when you do return to Royce this September you will discover four newly planted, gorgeous eucalyptus trees adjacent to the back entrance of Royce near the stairs that lead down to our offices. These came to us when a gentleman working at Campus Facilities saved them from the chipper at a construction site elsewhere. I wonder how on Earth he did it – these are not saplings – and wanted to say thanks.

Our lovely rescued trees will soon flank a brand-new ramp on the backstage loading dock.

While most of us on staff here spend the summer months actively detailing the complex preparation for visiting productions and concerts from the upcoming season, I am also finalizing the major works that will become the backbone of the 2014-2015 season. I am happy to say that it is now largely in place (artistically speaking), and the long march of ensuring that we can resource the scope and dimension of the program is now at hand.

I am thinking about a lot of other stuff as well, but will save that for future missives.

Have a spectacular August!

Kristy