Tag Archives: Royce Hall

Celebrating Batsheva

It’s been a whirlwind October, beautifully concluded by an extended series of performances and events in honor of Batsheva Dance Company’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

We’re very grateful to all our members for your support of and participation with this company. It is a huge undertaking to present international companies, one that requires bringing all our resources and energy to bear, weathering unexpected and uninvited surprises such as a back up at the customs dock here in Los Angeles. The Batsheva set arrived in the nick of time, but only after much rallying and hoop jumping by the company and us as the presenter.

If you attended the performance, you know just how important that set was. The final images of those beautiful beautiful dancers, perpetually climbing the back wall, facing us, driving toward us, then flinging themselves away with abandon and strength, only to march forward again….the memory of that will stay with me. It spoke to me of effort and release, of striving and accepting, of work and gratefulness.

Many thanks to Roslyn Holt Swartz for hosting an In Conversation event with Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin  for Artist Circle members and above. He was generous with his time and spirit and brought an acute and inspiring perspective of his craft. We’re lucky to have been able to share some time with him over the course of the presentation.

For those of you who were able to join us for our Batsheva post-show reception, thank you for helping us congratulate, receive and celebrate this extraordinary company.

It was a very special way to launch our season of dance, and it was an opportunity to lay some groundwork for our commitment to building demand for dance in this city. We will be relying on our members to help us in this effort as we seek to galvanize the Los Angeles Dance community around ideas and possibilities for dance here.

Here are some highlights of the afterparty. We’ll see more of you soon!

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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.

Warhol, Exposed. Us, Together.

We stirred things up a bit last Friday night here at Royce Hall.

It seemed appropriate, considering the stage that night  was home to live music from an uber-eclectic smattering of modern music artists merged with home movie-esque video footage from the 60s, shot by the one and only Andy Warhol. One of my favorites included shots of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gerard Malanga, Taylor Mead, Peter Orlovsky and Gregory Corso, capering around a couch at The Factory  while punk god Martin Rev unleashed a revved up solo instrumental barrage of sound.

This was another good one too, just a few minutes of an “unidentified man” drinking a coke. Paired with Rev’s high-velocity “Sugar Baby” instrumental, a simple act performed by an exceptional-looking person became artistically mesmerizing.

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Another choice moment of the performance was Eleanor Friedberger’s gentle and loving “All Known Things” set to screen test footage of the luminous Edie Sedgwick. It was so beautiful, a moment gloriously rendered in sound and celluloid. It made me happy and nostalgic, and it made me think about how fleeting youthful beauty is.

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Speaking of beauty, we saw it in spades that night, both onstage and off. For our pre-and post-show activities, we set up a giant screen on the terrace and asked partygoers to step behind it for two minutes of minimal movement—a la Warhol’s famed screen tests.

It was very endearing to stare at these faces, faces of strangers and friends alike. Sometimes it was joyful, sometimes it was meditative, sometimes their faces conveyed deep longing and pensiveness, some stifled laughter as their friends called out to them from the other side of the screen. It was an exposition, an exposé, each person was completely exposed on a large-scale screen, and were required to simply sit and look into the confronting single eye of a camera, without really knowing what pieces of them were being exposed on the other side.

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(Many thanks for the students from the campus TV station ResTV Channel 22 for their amazing work on the live screen tests.)

With some help from our talented friends at Snap Yourself, those amazing faces could take home a Warholized memento of the evening, via our on site Pop Art photo booth.

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There’s something about Andy Warhol. Something about his way of being in the world that invited and continues to invite us to expose ourselves to art in different ways, to be OK with liking the things we like, no matter how or where they land on the scale of pop art, fine art, high brow or otherwise.

At least, that’s what Warhol’s words and work have always done for me. I’m grateful for the very specific kind of  color and vibrancy he brought to the art world, and how inviting and fun he has made it feel for me. And I’m really grateful that CAP UCLA was able to be part of his ongoing legacy. We were early partners with the Warhol Museum and BAM on this unique performance project.

And generally, it was just a great party, a wonderful moment to hang out with what was the coolest audience of the year (thus far).

So thanks for coming out, thanks for snapping yourself, for exposing yourself, for making some pop art with us around here.

Let’s do it again soon.

Here’s me–Warholized. 😉

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Photos by Phinn Sriployrung and Meryl Friedman.

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.

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.

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Art Speigelman and Phillip Johnston: WORDLESS! Oct. 15 2014

The unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes

Very few humans are just one thing. We’re all a multi-hyphenate jumble of ideas, experiences, expectations, possibilities and curiosity. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Most artists exist in that hyphenate space…the place that simultaneously creates a pause and builds a bridge. Or, as Art Spiegelman himself might put it, using a hyphen to de-familiarize us with a pair of words, allowing us to see each one with fresh eyes.

That de-familiarization and re-familiarization is a constant underlying presence in the art of performance, giving us moments that inspire us to look at the world from a different perspective alongside moments that instigate deep and poignant memory of what we know (or thought we knew).

Tonight marks the first in a series of performances on our 2014-2015 season that straddle the medium of visual art, performance art and live music.

We’re very happy you’re here with us to welcome Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston, the live embodiment of a hyphenate creative experience, a co-mingling of ideas, experiences, expectations, possibilities and curiosity.

Part of WORDLESS! includes a new work from Art, a piece entitled “Shaping Thought.”

How do thoughts take shape?  What kind of shape do they take? How do we shape the thoughts of those around us? How have artists of the past shaped the thoughts and works of the artists of today? How do we connect to the shape of each other’s thoughts? Where and how do we build our own hyphens?

We are curious beings around here. We like these questions. We hope you like them too.  Feel free to ask them of us, of each other, often.

In the meantime, welcome to WORDLESS!

BASETRACK Live! Friday Oct. 10, 2014

The unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes

How do you serve?
A hero is…
When do you feel protected?
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
What does peace look like?

As we prepared to bring to the stage the innovative work of theater you will experience tonight, these and many other questions, thoughts and themes permeated our consciousness.

And in the week leading up to this performance we asked the UCLA community to share their thoughts and answers to these questions, by interacting with our Peace & Quiet station just outside Royce Hall.

There is a powerful overarching sense of purpose that runs through Basetrack Live–one that instigates query, provokes thoughtfulness and inspires advocacy. Being a part of an institution of research, inquiry and progress, it was important to us to set in motion the opportunity to extend the concept and conversation, to provide a physical place for such dialogue to occur. A space that would do its part to serve the impetus and deep thought that went into the creation of an exceptional blending of music, media and narrative performance.

Like many moments in the art of performance, the literal coming together of creators and audiences inherently sets the stage for a dialogue. For some works of art this is even  more integral, more natural, and this piece is a thoughtful example of that.
The stories you will witness on this stage  tonight are based on true moments in the lives of men and women who serve, who witness heroism, who protect others, who exhibit bravery and who wonder what peace looks like. Part of being here to bear witness to their stories is allowing ourselves to enter into a dialogue about conflict, and the human toll of conflict. This is not always an easy thing to do. But it is a worthwhile thing to do, we believe, and it is an idea that is well served when viewed through an artistic lens.

We welcome you to linger after the performance and hear more
about its creation from the artists in a Q&A session here in the hall. We invite you to interact with them and us and to visit the temporary installation outside. Share your thoughts, share an answer to one of the questions above, write a letter to a member of active military, share a conversation with someone you’ve never met or even share a moment of silence and remembrance.

Make the most of this moment in time as we all take pause to consider the questions and stories brought to life by tonight’s
performers and creators.

Thank you for being with us.

Anonymous Awesomeness

You may have encountered, over the past two seasons, our exploration on poetry and poets. We’ve stuffed poetry writing prompts in envelopes and stashed them around the hall. We’ve created mini-poetry books. We’ve held poetry slams and instituted an on-the-spot poetry bureau.

We have typewriters scattered about our offices and  notepads with the prompt “Who is the Poet in Your Life?”

It’s been interesting to witness the ways in which people encounter these moments of poetic thought. It’s been gratifying to witness how many times it has inspired a poetic impulse.

We found the following poem on a table in our Royce Hall Pop-Up Library the other day. We’re not sure who wrote it or when. But, we love it. And we thank you, whoever you are for sharing it.

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me

by “kj”

Half of my life is spent rolling my eyes

at dumb things I do or

have done

I am rolling my eyes right

this second

Who am I to act like a poet

To pretend like I am not inadequate

To talk myself up so I don’t feel the disappointment

that creeps into my veins without warning

These same veins that once flowed with the

hot blood of want

now stiff with doubt

Am I really doing all I can to succeed

Who am I to preach when I am guilty

I am a hypocrite of the worst kind

The one with the false pride

The one who attends church every Sunday

Yet cannot recall the last time I had a prayerful thought

Is this what it means to be humble?

When I am still faking sick to stay home from school at 20 years old,

Is it fake when my stomach turns at the words

“mature adult”

Don’t look at me

But please–look at me

A fine specimen of the genuine wannabe

I want to be so many things

But especially

A contradiction

I want to be worhty

of God’s attention

I want to be honest

But until then

I will remain in this perpetual state of

eye-rolling

An actor, but never a poet

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….

On Thankfulness, and the Indefatigable Charles Bradley

Hopefully like us, you’re all taking a pause this week to marvel at the many things we have to be grateful for.

We’re grateful for the artists who have already added so much joy and inspiration to our lives this season and are looking forward to even more on the horizon. (And, were sharing the love with you, via a one-day-only, buy-one-get-one-free ticket offer on upcoming performances good from 8am-midnight on for Cyber Monday Nov. 26. Check our website on Monday!)

One of the emotional highlights of our season comes on the heels of Thanksgiving this year, with the November 29 performance from Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band.

Charles Bradley, now in his 60s and having spent decades as a struggling James Brown impersonator dubbed Black Velvet, just released his first major album in 2011 with “No Time for Dreaming.” Four years in the making, it is full of hope and heartache. This amazing performer is no stranger to suffering, his biography spans stories of drug abuse, homelessness, poverty and a great deal of loss.

And yet, somehow, by all accounts, he is an incredibly grateful, gracious and hopeful individual.

I had the opportunity recently to speak with Poull Brien, the director of Soul of America, a biography on Charles Bradley that is currently touring the festival circuit and will hopefully hit theaters next year.

Poull was deeply moved by his experience getting to know Bradley, with whom he formed a close bond during filming. He began to feel like a brother to the singer.

But that’s not a rare thing, he says.

“Charles is the most unguarded person you will ever meet,” Brien says. “He doesn’t have secrets, he is 100 percent about understanding you and opening up communication with people, and love and finding new friends and it is that open attitude is what I think separates Charles from other artists.”

Brien said one of the many things he took away from his experience with Charles Bradley is a profound sense of the importance of gratitude in this life.

“If it did nothing else for me it taught me that no matter how bleak things seem you just keep going and that the level of thankfulness that you carry with you, that alone can change your life. For Charles, it was that little hope that he had that kept him going for all these years. The guy really embodies that attitude of thankfulness and gratitude and never taking anything for granted.”

“If there’s a lesson to be taken from Charles, it’s that it’s not just about perseverance, and he has had incredible perseverance over the years, but that alone is not enough. It’s the gratitude and love that you have to have in your heart that makes all the difference.”

That’s what Charles Bradley taught Poull Brien, and that’s undoubtedly what he’ll bring to the Royce Hall stage Nov. 29 in a way only he can.

Have a safe, happy and reflective Thanksgiving and please join us next week to revel in the presence of the one and only Charles Bradley.

In the meantime, check out the trailer for Poull’s film Soul of America.

Stew & Heidi in Review

It’s a great time to get up close and personal with Stew & Heidi Rodewald. They’ll be on the Royce Hall stage March 9 with The Negro Problem for a rare full-band performance centered around their creative residency at UCLA in November and their new album, Making It, which has been getting rave reviews since its release in January. The album thematically chronicles the demise of Stew & Heidi’s romantic relationship. The duo’s ability to heal from the split was exacerbated by the fact that they still had to work together every day at the time, performing in the Tony-Award-winning musical Passing Strange.

It’s an amazing story of stress and success and interestingly enough, what came out of it is some of the pair’s best work to date.

Heidi was reluctant to even work on the album at first.

“I didn’t want to do this record,” she admits. But when she heard a bit of her own truth in the climactic track ‘Leave Believe,’ she says, “We decided that I should be involved.”

The new twist on the creative process, the raw exposing of their romantic life for album fodder, was personally challenging but ultimately gratifying for Heidi, a much more private person than Stew, who gave and took what he needed from it too.

“Stew said Making It was like his ‘therapy’ and I told him that therapy only works if you tell the truth.” The resulting song, “Therapy Only Works If You Tell The Truth” is as bare-naked as it is straight/no chaser rock ’n’ roll.

Music magazine Blurt says of Making It: “Musically Stew and Rodewald hit a new peak, deftly mixing the psychedelic pop that’s The Negro Problem’s usual stock-in-trade with the musical sophistication acquired from writing for Broadway. Lush melodies slow-dance with quirky textures and vice versa, each musical universe merging with the other.”

LA Times/KPCC music critic Ann Powers called the album “the Shoot Out The Lights of the slacker generation,” referring to Richard and Linda Thompson’s infamous post-breakup album. Listen to Powers review from “The Madeline Brand Show” here.

Stew and Heidi talk about their history, their music and the way both their hometown of Los Angeles and working in New York has affected their creative lives in a feature article in the March issue of Los Angeles Magazine, available on newsstands now.

And, read more about the he said/she said of Stew & Heidi’s fascinating stuck-together-breakup tale in this recent no-holds barred interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Hear Stew talk about the making of Making It, and reflect on his creative approach to life in this recent interview with NPR’s Terry Gross.