Tag Archives: artist in residence

In Residence: Artists and Ideas Coming Together

The art-making never stops. Not even for the holidays. And, that is as it should be. While we took a much-needed pause to reflect and celebrate with loved ones, we’re delighted to be fully back in the swing of things this week, including hosting one of our fabulous artists-in-residence for the second time this season.

The ever-luminous Sussan Dehyim and her collaborators are currently installed in the Royce Hall rehearsal room, putting the finishing touches of a work-in-progress viewing of “The House is Black,”a multimedia performance and film project inspired by the works and life of Forugh Farrokhzad,  one of Iran’s most influential feminist poets and filmmakers of the 20th Century.

This highly anticipated 45-minute preview will take place on Jan 19th at Freud Playhouse as part of Sussan’s creative residency at CAP UCLA. She was in residence in November 2013 and we’ve been proud to support Sussan and her collaborators thus far with the time and space for this emerging project. We now invite you to directly support her as well and get a glimpse of what’s in store from this eclectic and engaging new work. Visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-house-is-black for more information on how to get seats to this performance.

Sussan has created a series of non-linear poetic tableaux inspired by the poems of Forugh Farrokhzad. The audience travels through a visual, sonic and theatrical journey into the heart of Fraough’s prophetic vision where her most intimate; soulful and provocative moments leap of the page and onto the stage. Her message is as poetically and politically relevant today for the women of Iran and the world as it was fifty years ago when she died tragically at the age of 32.

“The House is Black” features original score composed by Deyhim and the Golden Globe winning composer Richard Horowitz, featuring brilliant special guests, creates a cinematic musical landscape for the piece. The composition will include influences routed in Persian and Western contemporary classical music, jazz and electronic music with an elaborate sound design component. Archival images and scenes from Forugh’s documentary The House is Black and Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1965 interview with Forugh, along with Deyhim’s original film and visual projections, will create the backdrop and provide a window into the life of Iran’s most controversial poet and filmmaker.

In October we were also proud to host an in-progress showing of another engrossing music and multimedia project from another CAP UCLA artist-in-residence–the interdisciplinary artist and curator Ellina Kevorkian.

In “Some Dreams Contain Dead Time,” Ellie explores the porosity of time and dreams through video and music influenced by the works of Symbolist painter Odilon Redon, 19th-century Spiritualist photography and Victorian fairy paintings.

Ellie took us on a journey of the mind…while our bodies remained seated in the muted darkness of the Royce Hall stage, we watched Ellie’s impressionistic video work—a series of ghostly vignettes treated with splashes of color and Ellie’s own paintings and punctuated by a gloriously eerie and provocative score of vocalizations from Coloratura-in-exilio Juliana Snapper and electronic loops of virtuosic cello, created in the moment by composer/musician Skip vonKuske.

November was a busy month for residencies. The fantastically talented multi-hyphenate artist DBR (a.k.a Daniel Bernard Roumain) was joined by a group of aspiring young musicians from the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. By all accounts it was a love-fest between DBR and these incredibly inspiring students who workshopped a new composition from the acclaimed composer/violinist/bandleader, who is known for blending funk, rock, hip-hop and classical music into an energetic and experiential sonic form. DBR is assiduously morphing a new phase of his already impressive career and we’re incredibly proud to be a part of it.

Another young composer was firmly ensconced on campus this past fall—Mohammad Fairouz, also working with students. Just before we broke for the holiday campus closure, Mohammad and the UCLA Philharmonia presented a gorgeous program of original music devoted to the concepts of peace, unity and multi-cultural religious understanding. We co-presented the concert, titled “Symphonic Poems and Prayers.”

We worked closely with Mohammad on the extensive program notes for the piece. He was eager to make sure his libretto was represented in multiple language texts—Arabic, Hebrew and English. Over the course of working on the notes, we talked a lot about his time here and he was clearly moved by the great spirit of generosity he experienced from the faculty and students he worked with. It’s wonderful to interact with an artist who’s on a total high because they have found their creative pursuits at UCLA incredibly uplifting and rewarding. That’s important to us. It’s an important part of what our residency project is all about.

Mohammad also shared a fun anecdote when I asked him if he was enjoying the sunny respite L.A. has to offer.

He said he was surprised to run into DBR on the streets of Westwood one day, an incident that usually only occurs in the two artists’ home base of New York City.

“What are you doing here?” he asked DBR.

“I’m working with CAP UCLA,” DBR replied. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m ALSO working with CAP UCLA,” Mohammad said.

And that my friends, brought a great smile to my face. That’s the idea. Let’s bring great artists together into this space of ours and see what kind of creative energetic wavelengths emanate from them.

More to come on the residency front. Read more about who will be around in the coming months and how to get involved.

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

In Residence: Heidi Rodewald and Collaborators Dive into ‘The Good Swimmer’

‘In Residence’ will be a periodic feature of this blog as we check in on the activities of our residency artists throughout the season. For more information on the complete list of artists who will be working on projects at UCLA thanks to space and time residencies with CAP UCLA visit: cap.ucla.edu./artinaction/residencies

Heidi Rodewald, who you may know as an essential creative half of LA.’s own “afrobaroque” rock band Stew and the Negro Problem, is branching into an exciting new creative direction that we are incredibly proud to be a part of. It’s always intriguing to get a glimpse into an artist’s process, and last night Heidi and her partners Donna Di Novelli and Kevin Newbury shared some of that with a handful of high profile CAP UCLA donors and staff, offering insight into her new musical project and playing a few recently recorded demo tracks from the work-in-progress.

The three have been closeted together here at UCLA for the last week, living in the dorms and working on their upcoming stage project, “The Good Swimmer,” an ambitious, melancholic and thought-provoking pop requiem that explores kinship, heroism and grief as told through the experiences and sorrows facing a family of lifeguards in the early days of the Vietnam war. The storytelling is based on “found texts” including The American Red Cross Livesaving Manual, the story of Antigone, The Army Guide to the Culture of Vietnam, and quotations from ancient Vietnamese warriors The Trung Sisters.

Di Novelli has been extracting song lyrics from the texts and Rodewald is setting them to her distinctive brand of pop-rock. When paired with Rodewald’s haunting and riffy compositions, the initial randomness of the varied texts alchemizes into a kind of erasure poetry that, even when heard in a sparse room with just our imaginations as a guide, created a compelling visual of what this unique stage work will look and feel like when it comes to life as early as next year.

Rodewald is no stranger to applying her substantial rock sensibilities to the stage. She has embarked upon this new project with obvious relish and the seeming effortlessness that comes from being simply a quintessentially cool L.A. chick. She said she especially liked the challenge of working with found texts.

“I like homework assignments,” she joked. “I’m from rock bands and it is so interesting to work with something like this. I give myself the assignment of ‘I’m gonna make this sound like a pop song.’”

Di Novelli first encountered Rodewald’s work when she saw the Tony-award winning “Passing Strange”(which Heidi wrote and performed with her longtime musical partner Stew) on stage at the Public in New York in 2007.

“I thought, ‘I have to work with this woman,” she said.

Kevin Newbury, erstwhile “Good Swimmer” director said he jumped at the chance to get involved.
“It’s a unique piece that has something to say, in a way I haven’t seen before.”

Newbury said the staging will be simple and versatile, letting the dialogue inspired by the found texts, the unique lyrics and constant original music that will underscore the entire piece drive the theatricality of the work.

Next the team is planning to do an intensive workshop with actors—they are intrigued by the prospect of seeking out performers who are the same age as the 17 through 19-year-old four main characters of the piece, knowing the natural vulnerability those performers might bring to this deeply nuanced libretto. (There will also also be a small greek chorus of female lifeguards clad in the iconic red bathing suits of the ‘40s and ‘50s).

Heidi, Donna and Kevin said it was an invaluable experience to have the time and space carved out at UCLA to simply be together as a team, try things out, shed ideas that aren’t working, investigate new directions—all with no pressure to produce anything beyond their own investment in the creative process.

That’s what our residency program is all about, giving safe harbor to new or risky ideas, investing in the possibilities and aspirations of an artist, and manifesting new ones.

Keep your eyes and ears pealed for more from this team as “The Good Swimmer” continues to take shape.

We thank Heidi & Co. for giving us a glimpse at their work in an exciting and nascent stage and look forward to hearing more from them in the future.