Tag Archives: dance

From the Center: Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion Royce Hall Feb 12-13, 2015

Unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes.

Inspiration comes in many forms. As often as it seemingly arrives unbidden or unexpected it also can thoughtfully manifest from a deep well of understanding, of artistry, of commitment to craft and integrity of purpose.

You’ll read more in these pages about Kyle Abraham’s profound inspiration for the two new works we are extremely proud to debut in Los Angeles this weekend. Working with Kyle has been inspirational. We greet him here at an incredibly potent point in his arc as an artist and collaborative visionary. His voice is strong and true and sings out phrases and ideas that deserve to be remembered, pondered, spoken, sung, writ large and flung into the world in motion.

Abraham is indeed in motion. And we are all fortunate to be moving alongside him, to be able to grasp this moment in which we can align ourselves with his ideas and inspirations and instigations and ongoing evolution. In particular this weekend’s performance of The Watershed is a creative achievement. Kyle says the piece has continued to change and evolve since its premiere in New York this past September. And now, here in Los Angeles, it has come to its fullest expression. He’s pleased and excited, and so are we.

And hopefully, so are you.

Tonight is about motion and emotion. About taking an idea and setting it on a course of expression. About bringing ourselves to a space of understanding and experience and setting ourselves on a (potentially new) course of thought. It’s a powerful thing to thoughtfully rally around issues that evoke emotions similar to the times when Max Roach was writing his seminal “Freedom Now” suite. Those issues and emotions are obviously still with us today. The art of performance unleashes a certain kind of articulation that allows us to simultaneously embody these emotions and also
to free them to weave new spells on our psyche, our culture and our dreams for a better world.

Thank you for being in motion with us tonight. Thank you for dreaming with us.

Thank you for helping us welcome Kyle Abraham and Abraham.In.Motion.

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.

The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

The Body Is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

This has been one of our catchphrases this season—you’ve likely seen it on flyers, our website, and, if you’re regularly walking around UCLA, dotted on light poles across the campus. (More on our other two catchphrases in forthcoming entries)

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It’s a sort of rallying cry that we have applied specifically to enhance and encompass this year’s dance performances. But, when you sit with it for a minute it’s also a unifying sentiment that can be applied to life in general.

And this sentiment kept cropping up in my mind again and again as we interacted with the artists and artistry of Batsheva Dance Company. Our first dance performances of the weekend centered around this extraordinary group of artists as they celebrated 50 years in existence.

For much of that time (since 1990) Ohad Naharin has been the artistic director and many times over the course of multiple interactions with students and audiences while Batsheva was in residence  with us, he made me think about that phrase.

As I listened to him speak and encountered his work and the artists he works with, it was clear that Ohad essentially embodies the aforementioned rallying cry.

At every opportunity, Ohad talked about why there are no mirrors in the studios or rehearsal rooms in Batsheva’s home complex in Tel Aviv, and why the company covers up mirrors wherever they travel.

Mirrors are great for some things, Ohad said, speaking to a room of UCLA World Arts and Cultures students, they’re essentially important for your dentist to use for example, he said with a chuckle.

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But they serve no purpose for dance, he said. He trains his dancers to develop a powerful perception and ownership of their own bodies in space and time, and instead of checking their form in a mirror, they instead are seeing their fellow dancers more wholly.

A few days later, speaking to the crowd who would soon be viewing Sadeh21 in Royce Hall and who had just experienced a new work from former Batsheva dancer and now L.A.-based choreographer/performer Danielle Agami, he reiterated this statement, even more strongly.

“Mirrors are destroying our souls and really slowing us down as artists,” he said. “This is not an opinion, it is a fact.”

Ohad also responded to a question from a student about what kind of “body style” he looks for in dancers.

He said he does not look for any certain body style. “Body style cannot tell you about a person’s creativity, their passion, their generousity…body style is not important.”

This elicited applause, in the form of students snapping their fingers, which piqued Ohad.

“Why did you do that? Why do you snap your fingers?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“It means we’re agreeing with you, ” one student replied.

Ohad then revealed that he asks that students or participants do not clap at the end of a Gaga class, instead, if they’re feeling inclined to celebrate the moment with sound he has them snap their fingers.

Gaga, the incredibly free and freeing movement style that Ohad developed as a training tool for dancers and which he has subsequently extended to invite participants from every walk of life all over the world.

I participated in a Gaga workshop for the public, led by one of the current Batsheva dancers, the incredible Bobbi Smith,  who, it became clear as the practice progressed, is a being of pure light and love. (If you saw the performance of Sadeh21, she was the red-leotard-clad dancer who executed an extended headstand while writhing and twisting her legs above her in perfect control.)

As I moved among the varied people gathered in the Royce Hall rehearsal room, mirrors covered by black velvet curtains, as we all moved with our own kind of abandon, following Bobbi’s simple instructions that led us to investigate movement in parts of our bodies in ways we might not otherwise instigate, I thought of our unifying sentiment:

The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

No one is allowed to passively watch or photograph a Gaga session. If you want to be there, you must participate.

The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

As I looked around the room of strangers, some dancers, some not, some performers, some not, I feel like we were all embodying that rallying cry.

Several of the dancers from the aforementioned Ate9 Dance Company were part of that session. It was interesting to move among them in this way, after being a silent observer of their craft and skill the night before on the Royce Terrace.

Sometimes wild and frenetic, other times ruminative, other times sharply punctuated, other times chattering non sequiters, or simply picking up chairs and handing them to unsuspecting watchers  Danielle Agami’s dancers moved through the crowd. We moved with them, as a sort of serpentine organism seeking to turn its head toward the light.

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The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

It was a really special moment. The Batsheva dancers, just before they were about to take the stage themselves, perched atop a brick structure on the terrace, watching the dancers shapes and movement continually shape and re-shape the audience itself.

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Other people have spoken more eloquently about the Batsheva performance  of Sadeh21 itself. It left me personally very moved and feeling like, this company, this moment in time, this expeirence was the perfect way to set the tone for our sentiment about dance and the body.

We’ll be exploring this concept and more throughout the season as we begin work with the incredible Deborah Hay, on a project titled “Re-writing the language of dance.” With Deborah’s help we will work across broad artistic and community territories to explore the Los Angeles dance ecology and develop strategies for increased involvement and synergy.

All of this begins in two weeks, with a special event titled “Reorganizing Ourselves,” a conversation in three parts about perception, consciousness and the connection between art and science with Deborah,  Berkeley professor of philosophy Alva Noe and dance curator dance curator Michèle Steinwald.

We’re curious and excited to see what reveals itself as we reach out more cohesively than ever before to our local dance community. We want to know what people are thinking about the body, what role movement and art as exhibited bodies in motion is playing in our immediate arts culture, and how we can harness the potential of contemporary dance to push our culture ever forward.

The body, is in fact beautiful. The sooner we all get used to it, and perhaps revel in it, and support those who celebrate it…the better.

 

 

Batsheva Dance Company 50th Anniversary: ‘Sadeh21’ Royce Hall Nov. 1-2

The unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes.

Performative movement, the practice of dance, or even just standing up from a chair, can be about collapse as much as precision. Training his dancers to collapse into the abilities of the body and using bodies in movement to reveal and to convince is a constant in his work, Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin told a group of students, faculty and staff in a special artist talk on campus this week.

He also broached the concept of echo, and how he as a choreographer likes to explore movement that embraces and refines echo, which has the potential to be unleashed and
expressed so uniquely by any given individual body in motion.

The body can echo. The concepts and ideas behind a work of dance can echo through us as the audience long after the performance has ended.

And indeed, the legacy and influence and artistry of one of the world’s greatest dance companies certainly echoes— across languages, lineages, cultures, geographies, and tonight throughout this hall and within each of us.

We are extremely proud to be part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Batsheva Dance Company. The impact this institution has had on the world of dance is profound, and called for a series of programs and moments to create additional echo throughout our local community of dance artists and audiences.

We were fortunate to spend some time earlier this week on campus to hear Ohad speak about his background and aesthetic, and hosted two Gaga workshops open to students and the public.

The dancers performed Sadeh21 andanswered questions from local high school students in a Design for Sharing demonstration performance, making an impact on young emerging arts lovers and potential artists.

Part of tracing the echo of Batsheva for us also involved connecting with Danielle Agami, former Batsheva dancer and founder/director of local company Ate9. Danielle created a beautiful installation work in honor of Batsheva for the Saturday night program.

We also took the presentation of this influential company as an opportunity to start building a deeper dialogue with dance practitioners from across Los Angeles, with a special “Dance Gathering” preview performance at which we hope to begin forging new connections and inspiring new conversations about dance in our city.

For now, this weekend we celebrate Batsheva with the U.S. premiere performances of Sadeh21, a piece that serves as a wonderful introduction to the company for those who may have never seen Batsheva perform before, but also embodies the rich history and tradition of an institution that has reached a major milestone in the art of performance.

Welcome Batsheva, and welcome to you all.

Victoria Tennant: Irina Baronova and the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo–Saturday Oct. 18, 2014

The unsigned editorial from the performance program notes.

“It seems extraordinary now, when every town has a ballet school and every little girl has a tutu in her dress-up drawer, that there was a time when ballet was largely unknown in America.”

Early in her beautiful book, Victoria Tennant makes this observation in a section that recounts her mother’s teenage journey as a Russian artist touring in America.

Then, toward the end of the book, packaged alongside a picture of an aged-but-still-stunning Baronova posing with a tutu-and-tiara-clad young girl, comes these words from Baronova herself.

“It gives me, personally, a lot of satisfaction to feel that my work helped introduce audiences to ballet and made them like it. So, there is a piece of me in all the companies that have since sprung up. The work was not in vain. I achieved something, not just for myself, but for the Art that I love and for the future generations of youngsters coming after me.”

Victoria’s book is not only a loving testament to the life of an artist, a daughter’s tribute to the mother who inspired her, but an incredibly important record of an essential evolution in the art of performance, documenting a significant time period in the history of dance in this country and abroad.

She’s an exceptional storyteller.  And tonight, we have the extreme pleasure of welcoming her to the stage to share her stories with us.

Victoria will immerse us in her mother’s journey and her own journey of discovery as she embarked upon the creation of this book, mining a treasure trove of images, stories and memories carefully preserved and left behind by her famous mother.

Many programs on our season this year explore this notion of the art of archive, the potency and beauty there is to be found in the words and images from the past.

The story behind the story, Victoria’s tale, is as powerful as  the story of her mother’s incredible life and work.

We’re very proud to have her with us, to share personal and vivid memories of a woman beloved by the public, and to remind us of the great spirit, tenacity, generosity and lasting influence of an artist who came before.

Welcome, and thank you for being here with us.

On Dreams and Tightropes

The last few weeks of artists and programs that have entered our sphere have made me think about dreams and tightropes.

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr @Creative Commons
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr @Creative Commons

Mike Daisey, in a solo performance that was somehow softer, more-nostalgic and more inherently loving than I had originally anticipated, talked about not only the dreamscapes he inserted himself into– as a participating observer of Burning Man, his family’s obsession with Disney World and the passionate fervor of the people who originated the Occupy Wall—but also of his own sense of dreaming, the import that holds on his practice and career and they ways in which we can daily invent and reinvent the world together.

He ended his performance on the steps in front of Royce Hall, his booming voice echoing against the portico, the foggy drizzle of raindrops functioning as punctuation to his testament of the power of dreams, and hopes and imagination.

A few days later, as I watched decades-old footage of British miners, their faces—some grizzled, some wide-eyed and fresh—turned to the camera as they crawled into tiny box cars that led them beneath the earth. Listening to Johan Johannsson’s elegiac music of the Miner’s Hymns added to my sensation of wonder. I wondered what those men’s dreams were? And did those dreams include a life spent largely beneath the earth? What were their days above like? Were they happy? What would they think about being immortalized so many years later as part of a dreamscape created by music and film artists?

This weekend brings yet another dreamscape, an entre into a secret inner world of a percussionist. Schick Machine isn’t just a theater performance. It isn’t just a music performance. It is a shared moment of invention, a celebration of the tinkerer, the mad scientist, the creative explorer in us all.

I’ve also been thinking of tightropes. Theater legend Peter Brook uses the concept of the tightrope as a rehearsal technique, which he allowed his son Simon to document in a new film called (appropriately) The Tightrope.  He takes a seemingly simple idea—move with freedom, abandon and cleverness all while adhering to the idea that you are suspended above air on a two-inch surface.

According to a New York Times review of the film:

 The most important requirement is that they convey a sense of reality, as if they were genuinely suspended in the air, their feet hugging a thin cord. After a while, it becomes clear that the tightrope is also a metaphor, standing for the existential risk inherent in every serious instance of playing.

All art, invented by dreaming, through imagination and exploration, exists on a tightrope, a precipice of risk. Creators create in a landscape of unknown outcome.

We as an organization gladly and gratefully also walk this tightrope with every performance, every year as we carefully shape a season of what we believe will be deeply nourishing and meaningful experiences that will in turn instigate more dreaming, more reasons to step on a sliver of reality and look at the world, ourselves, our art, our relationship to art and artists from a new perspective.

Here’s to dreams and tightropes.

Cedric on Cedric

Cedric Andrieux takes the stage tomorrow night in the eponymous solo work created by Jerome Bel. We asked him a few questions about this very intimate and revealing piece of dance theater.

CAP UCLA:You worked very closely with Jerome Bel on the creation of this work and in it you speak very candidly about your early inspiration and your work with Merce Cunningham. What part of the piece was the most difficult or challenging to synthesize into a brief period on the stage?

CEDRIC: I think we struggled a bit more on the Merce Cunningham section. The rest of the script follows a chronological order, but we couldn’t do that for the middle part, the Cunningham part. We then had to find a different way of organizing ideas and thoughts.

CAP UCLA:Do you have a favorite part and if so, what is it?

CEDRIC: I am very happy that we found a way to render onto the stage the creation process that Merce used to create new dances. I also love performing one of the scenes of “The Show Must Go On.” It is one thing to perform it in the context of the whole piece, but it changes completely when I do it in the solo.

CAP UCLA:Was it challenging or nerve-wracking to be solo on stage and speaking directly to the audience throughout? As a dancer in a company, I assume it’s rather rare to have spoken moments. Was that something you had to work on as a performer or did you already have some experience with that?

CEDRIC: I think it is part of the project, to have on stage a performer who is in a situation that he knows, the stage, but having to use a tool that he doesn’t necessarily control, in my case, voice. But since it is not about pretending to be comfortable, or trying to hide the discomfort, the challenge becomes more about being in the moment and letting go of the image of oneself that one wants or is used to portray on stage. It is about allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

CAP UCLA: Toward the end of the piece you say that working on the creation of this solo made you realize you had never spent that much time thinking of what you had done and why you had done it. Are you still learning, still discovering more about yourself and what drives you? If so, what continues to surprise you?

CEDRIC: Since the solo, I would say that the flood gates are open! What continues to actually surprise me is the realization that you always end up banging your head against the same issues. They take different forms, but it always come back to the same, even though you constantly feel that you’re resolving those issues, or that you finally have enough distance….

CAP UCLA:You have performed this work extensively in France and toured the world, most recently even a stretch of performances in Africa. How does your performance translate when you are visiting audiences of other cultures? Do you get different reactions at different moments? Is there a particular kind of audience who “gets it” the most quickly or deeply?

CEDRIC: That is another interesting and challenging aspect of the solo for me, the fact that from one audience to the next, even in the same city, even in the same theater, the response might entirely be different. There is an aspect of Jerome’s work that plays with the codes of theater, and theater goers, what are we doing here, what are our expectations, and the deconstruction or the highlighting of those codes, that can get lost with people that may not have as much experience or awareness with those actual codes. But the solo was made to be comprehended by everyone, not just the elite of theater goers, not just dancers, so whatever the context is, I always feel like the information that the solo exposes comes across….

More than Words…

This week at CAP UCLA we are proud to present two unique programs that explore compelling landscapes in musical theater and dance through the art of monologue. These creative and authentic artists harness the spoken word form in ways that will stir your soul—with Young Jean Lee’s WE’RE GONNA DIE (starting Wednesday) and Jerome Bel’s Cedric Andrieux (Saturdaynight).

Words have power, I believe. The power to tell stories, reveal truths and inspire true human connection. Thinking about these two shows made me think about an interview I heard not too long ago between Michael Silverblatt and Aleksander Hemon. The Bosnian author was talking about his book, “The Book of My Lives,”which contains a personal and very emotional remembering of the loss of his daughter. In the interview the author talked about how he was confronted by a friend at that time who said: “words fail in these situations.”

No, Hemon said. Being a writer, he has belief in words. Words don’t fail, he said. Platitudes do. Empty phrases that don’t instigate connection or communication fail. But thoughtful, reflective words with meaning behind them, those can heal, those can inspire.

What you’ll find here at CAP UCLA this week and weekend is a fulsome sense of the power of words, within the context of the art of performance. And you’ll be in great hands.

Young Jean Lee is a trailblazing New York theater maker. She comes to Los Angeles for the first time with a profound and acutely realized collection of songs and stories about loneliness, loss and pain, alchemized into a surprisingly uplifting performance that might just leave us more hopeful, more connected, more compassionate and more understanding of our shared human experience.

Young Jean Lee recently told LA Weekly that she conceived this work as sort of self-therapy.

“My father had just died,” she remembers. “I tell the story in the show — he died in such a horrible way that I was so traumatized and felt completely isolated from everybody. And then I was thinking, when you’re in that place, where you’re in so much pain that nobody can reach you, I was like, ‘What can be of comfort then?’”

Saturday night we bring another perspective on the human experience—our inclination to strive for success, for expression, for joy and for creative pursuit.

We bring to the Royce Hall stage an incredibly intimate examination of the inspirations and challenges behind the growth and success of one artist—named for and performed by celebrated French dancer Cédric Andrieux. Part spoken word, part solo dance performance, this work by famed French choreographer Jerome Bel, reveals the experiences that propel and compel an artistic life.

In a nakedly honest moment on the stage, the former Merce Cunningham company dancer Andrieux tells us the stories of his life, his loves and his frustrations. Andrieux and Bel invite the audience to embrace the role of avid and confidential spectator, not just of one immediate evening of performance, but of one artist’s personal evolution.

Typically in dance performance, the movement speaks volumes. But in this penetrating performance, the words carry weight and power to build an aesthetic bridge between artist and audience.
It’s a rare and magical insight into what goes on behind the curtain and inside the heart and mind of an artist.

At one point in the performance Andrieux admits: “This solo, for me, it’s thinking about 20 years of my life, through what I have done in dance. I realized I had never spent that much time thinking of what I had done and why I had done it.”

Working with Jerome on this solo allowed Cedric to do just that–and he quite movingly shares the revelations this process has wrought for him.

So, if you also, often consider why you do the things you do, if you ever wonder how to deal with pain and loss, if you are into the kind of thoughtful, reflective moments that might just help us all remember how much more we belong to one another than not, please do join us for Young Jean Lee and Cedric Andrieux this week.

Field Notes: September and October Performances

Our first month of performances has gone by in a colorful and inspiring blur and it has me waxing a bit philosophical (and verbose).

We started the theater season off with a powerful bang from London’s Complicite. “Shun-kin,” with its quietly intricate beauty, surprising and subtle wit left me with an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude. It’s probably one of my favorite performances from my tenure here at CAP UCLA.

After one of the performances, director Simon McBurney participated in a thought-provoking Q&A session with the audience. One moment in particular has stuck with me. He talked about the use of puppetry in the work and the way the puppet Shun-kin evolved into a human character and how that progression mirrored her devoted servant/lover’s (and our own) relationship to and perspective of the character. She is, in the beginning, very remote, an imperious and demanding child, untouchable, unknowable in certain ways. But as she exhibits more humanity, more connection to the man who loves her, she becomes more humanlike and finally, in a fit of jealous rage, when she is most in tune with her raw emotions, the actress who has been oh-so-deftly portraying the voice of the puppet seamlessly takes total control of the character.

For me, it serves as a larger metaphor about what we do here. For more than a year before these incredible performers took the stage, “Shun-kin” held some part of our consciousness. As we planned and prepped and as the pages of the calendar turned, the work became closer, more real, until finally it was here and we could revel in our tangible connection to the company, their great talent and generosity and the profound emotions and sensations elicited by this intricate work, which will never be performed by these people and in this way again.

This whole relationship to the art we present– first rather remote and then progressively more intense, morphing into a truly hands-on experience– is common, especially when planning to bring major works of theater and dance to our community, which are often herculean-like efforts and which we take great pride in undertaking. We talk a lot about the ephemeral nature of the performing arts, of theater, of dance, and how we, as the audience, the community who experiences, witnesses and invests some of ourselves in each performance, then becomes the walking “installation” of that ephemeral work.

With Shun-kin in particular, we were incredibly humbled and awed by the outpouring of support from the Japanese community. Lovers of Japanese folk music pounded the pavement to ensure everyone was aware that revered Shamisen player Honjoh Hidetaro was part of the piece.

A member of our own UCLA Community, recent Ethnomusicology grad Kevin Willoughby joined us to add a beautiful layer to our presentation of the work. Kevin was on site throughout the show’s run to assist his teacher, Honjoh Hidetaro. He also graciously agreed to share several charming shamisen performances in the verdant courtyard of Freud Playhouse prior to several nights of Shun-kin, setting a reverent tone for the evenings and allowing the audience to marvel at the skill it takes to play this challenging instrument. Here’s a snippet of Kevin rehearsing in the Freud courtyard.

A Few Seconds of Shamisen from CAP UCLA on Vimeo.

Kevin is the only U.S. student of Honjoh Hidetaro. He has been studying classical shamisen as an apprentice to the master musician in Tokyo for the past four years. In 2010 his teacher has granted him his natori –his professional stage name: Honjoh Hideeiji

Kevin said it was interesting to be back on campus without worrying about classes or textbooks. “It’s also quite different having my teacher here, showing him around rather than following him around Tokyo,” he joked. “He is one of the best shamisen players in Japan, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to study under him. He is a fantastic composer who has done a variety of different and new things with the shamisen.”

Our own donor base rallied around this incredibly intricate and massive work, with an opening-night benefit party celebrating “Shun-kin” and Complicite. Check out some gorgeous photos from that very special event.

Just a week or so later, our first dance work of the season came to us after much travail. Visa issues and travel delays for key members of Lucy Guerin Inc, required us to combine the planned two performances of “Weather” into a one-night-only event celebrating the debut of this astounding Australian company in Los Angeles.

As is metaphorically appropriate, we found ourselves in a mild maelstrom of technical difficulties, but banded together with the company with flexibility and creativity to weather the challenges. We were able to open the doors to the company’s final tech dress rehearsal for donors, students and ticket holders who absolutely couldn’t make it to the rescheduled debut and quite a few people took us up on it, lingering to talk about the work and the company with our director Kristy Edmunds long after the rehearsal performance had ended.

If you saw “Weather,” you saw what an incredible set it was, and how it set the perfect mood for Lucy’s intricate and often surprisingly whimsical choreography and concept, which carries inherent deep undertones about our relationship to our climate. Thousands of plain white plastic bags hung ominously over the stage, the precise lighting design turning these simple everyday products into something totally ethereal.

Having witnessed a bit of the technical precision and exacting nature of getting that deceptively simple-looking ghostly ceiling set up, I had a slightly rueful moment when I thought about all the work and time and human effort that went into ensuring that a 60-minute piece of art had its all-to-brief moment in our lives. But, I guess that’s the idea. It’s all ephemeral. We have to keep it in our hearts and souls to keep it alive.

I felt the same way a few weeks later as I peeked in several times to see the progress of the elaborate and alluringly frenetic sceneography for Robert Wilson’s Lecture on Nothing. So much loving and dedicated effort went in to ensuring that moment will last forever in our memories in vivid relief.

We took a moment to further honor John Cage that night, presenting his notorious work 4’33” on the Royce Terrace.

John Cage’s 4’33” from CAP UCLA on Vimeo.

And Bob Wilson made the most of his time here, staying late into the night after his Lecture performance, gleefully talking with students and fans, clearly on a high after his Royce performance and also the triumphant and long-awaited appearance of Einstein on the Beach at LA Opera the weekend before.

We were all on a bit of a high after that momentous weekend. One of the first Einstein-related activities in Los Angeles was our special presentation of the Einstein chorus to 1,100 middle and high-school students in a special demonstration performance in Royce Hall as part of our Design for Sharing education program.

These accomplished singers each presented a song that resonated with them, from arias to pop songs to self-composed work, to an operatic ode to the ingredients of a Twinkie. They ended the program by singing Philip Glass’s “Knee Play 5,” which entranced the students and instigated a bevy of questions about how these performers approach learning such a piece of music and how they manage to breathe while singing it. (Answer? They take turns and plan it out!)

We collaborated with Pomegranate Arts, producers of “Einstein on the Beach” and the LA Opera to allow more than 300 UCLA students to experience this seminal work for free, bussing them downtown to watch the final dress rehearsal the night before opening. We’re still hearing from students about how this work affected them. Stay tuned for a short documentary about it that we’re producing with the campus TV station.

All this amazing theater and incredible high-concept productions lifted us way up and our first two world music performances of the season took us even higher.

Our presentation of the masterful Goran Bregovic and his Wedding and Funeral Band proved a perfect opportunity to spend some time with our immediate neighbors and our campus community. We hosted a Balkan Dance Party on the Royce Terrace before Bregovic took the stage featuring Free Range Orkestar, Tzvetanka Varimezova and Ivan Varimezov, and the Nevenka Folk Ensemble.

Folks came, they danced, they sang along in a wonderfully joyous sensation that extended into the hall that night. Bregovic rocked the house, performing for well over two hours and the audience linked arms, danced in the aisles and refused to let him go.

Just two days later another joyous frenzy awaited as the sold-out and incredibly impassioned audience for The Idan Raichel Project reveled in the positive vibes and pure artistry of one of modern music’s most life-affirming and collaborative artists and everyone who shared his stage that night.

There’s so much more to come, from the nerd-rock heroics of They Might Be Giants this weekend to much more from Philip Glass this coming spring. Thanks to everyone who has been part of our story thus far and we hope to see much more of you as the season progresses.

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