Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Keeping Up with Kristy Edmunds

It’s been a whirlwind around here lately, between preparing for the launch of our 2015-2016 season (subscriptions are officially on sale!) and the final performances of our 2014-2015 season, which included several epic events such as last weekend’s John Zorn Marathon and our April 25 presentation of Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament, not to mention a sold-out Gilberto Gil concert and a series of incredibly touching theater performances from Jean-Michele Richaud of Leonard Nimoy’s Vincent.

That flurry of activity is dying down and we’ll take a much-needed deep breath over the next few months as we gear up for 2015-2016. There is one whirlwind around here however,  that never quite stops—Kristy Edmunds, who is constantly on the go working with artists on upcoming projects, participating in arts-advocacy programs, speaking at conferences and events, teaching classes, working with local and national philanthropists and groups to make a case for increased giving to the arts and so much more.

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Tonight, our season wraps up with David Sedaris and tomorrow, Kristy is in Portland, a place that represents an important marker on her path as an arts curator. Twenty years ago this year, Kristy founded the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), and for the first ten of those years led the institution, also creating the lauded Time Based Art festival, a convergence of contemporary performance and visual art that annually takes over theaters and unexpected public spaces throughout Portland, activating the city with art and energy.

Today, a special exhibition opens at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, titled PICA: Celebrating 20 Years, Reflecting on the First Decade. The exhibition celebrates Kristy’s dynamic vision as the founder and inaugural curator of PICA and showcases 21 artists selected from the impressive roster of artists who exhibited, performed or were in residency at PICA during the first decade. As Kristy has said, the programming involved both tremendous risk taking and a great deal of trust.

Tomorrow, Kristy will be joined by two of the artists from that exhibition, Kristan Kennedy (currently Visual Art Curator at PICA) and Topher Sinkinson for a public conversation about the first decade of PICA. We’ll post video of it when we have it.

Later this month, PICA will ring in its anniversary by reviving its gala, the TaDaDa Ball.

This year Kristy has also been serving as is the Scholar in Residence for the Pew Center for Art & Heritage in Philadelphia and has traveled there often to consult with the organization and local artists.

Check out this recent video of her time there.

And stay tuned for more Kristy Edmunds and CAP UCLA activities. Cheers!

Breathing Circles

We began rehearsals this week with flutist extraordinaire Claire Chase to prepare for the West Coast premiere of Cerchio Tagliato dei Suoni (Cutting the Circle of Sounds). This is a rarely performed work for 104 flutes, four soloists situated at the four corners of the performance space and 100 migrating performers who continually move throughout the space, cutting into the circle of sound created by the soloists.

We gathered at the Hammer Museum Wednesday and Thursday night for public rehearsals where we were introduced to several very interesting breathing techniques that make this instrument play a very different role than one would usually expect from it.

It was fascinating and kind of physically dizzying actually. As Claire pointed out several times, we were doing breathwork tantamount to several yoga classes.

We all brought our own relationship to the flute, to performance and to music in general and it is a piece that creates space for that individuality to shine.

Tonight we move over to Schoenberg Hall and we’ll explore how to activate that space in this very purposeful manner.

Check out images from our rehearsals below and read Claire’s note for the program. We hope you’ll join us and become part of this circle of sound and breath we are creating.

I have always been fascinated by the emotional impact of a single, unpitched exhalation into the flute, a sound that, as we discovered during our thrilling public workshops at the Hammer Museum this week in which both flutists and non-flutists participated, anyone can make with exhilarating individuality, purpose and nuance. There is a kind of irrepressible poetry to this most quotidian of labors: the simple gesture of breathing in and out, trying precisely not to make a tone on the most lyrical of musical instruments. As I found myself engrossed in the sounds that this remarkable group of people, the youngest of them ten and the oldest in his seventies, were huffing and heaving and woooof-ing into these tiny metal tubes Wednesday night, I was reminded of Rumi’s wise words on flute-playing from nearly 800 years ago: We have fallen into the place/where everything is music.

 Salvatore Sciarrino’s sonic explorations of the flutist’s bow arm – our breath — have metabolized into slow-moving soundscapes, operas and immersive musical experiences that defy categorization. There are few composers since the 18th century who have done more to expand the expressive capacity of the flute than Sciarrino, whose compositional influences range from Perotin to Punk Rock.  Cutting the Circle of Sound, which takes its inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic spiraling architecture, is one of the composer’s most intrepid investigations into a few simple, barely audible sounds re-imagined en masse.

The composer describes the impulse of the work through the patterns of a particularly fearless, but supremely delicate migrating animal:

 “A wild butterfly crosses the space and seems to fly randomly, but she has a precise direction and she is at once moving of her own volition and not ever alone. There are no living beings that don’t move periodically…. In recent times we have seen that our species is very attracted to the opposite instinct, to home, to stability, to the absence of motion, to keep ourselves and our society in balance. An impossible balance. Impossible? Yes, life is mutation.”

 The hour-long piece has only been performed a handful of times, and it has never been documented as a complete performance, so our work this week has been equal parts inventing and inheriting a nascent oral tradition. I have been in constant contact via Skype and e-mail with Luisa Sello, the Italian flutist who premiered the work under Sciarrino’s supervision, and members of our dedicated migrating flute force have been online with one another, communicating between Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Brooklyn, sharing instructional videos, impressions, musings and ideas on breathing new life into humankind’s oldest musical instrument.

 I am grateful to The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA for taking the leap to present the West Coast Premiere this afternoon; to the brilliant sound engineer and instrument-builder Levy Lorenzo whose idea it was to design LED lights that illuminate the migrating flutes; to Erin, Christine and Michael for their tireless work on the devilishly difficult solo parts; and most of all to my fellow fearless, migrating, metamorphosing flutists.

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Ruminations on L.A. by Gabriel Kahane

As Gabriel Kahane prepares to bring his sonic treatise The Ambassador home to Los Angeles, he shared some thoughts on the city that inspired an album, a theatrical stage show, and a state of mind. 

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If you turn onto Vernon Avenue just east of Lincoln Road, you’ll find neat rows of modest bungalows which once announced themselves cheerfully with paint jobs in vivid reds and greens and blues, but which after decades of neglect and exposure to sun have been left mottled and fading. And so it is that these houses have been passed over in the otherwise inexorable spread of gentrification in the Venice area. I am complicit, if only as a window shopper, in this fancification that has largely replaced the seedy character of Free Love-era Venice Beach with a wealth typified by bespoke shops doling out luxury coffee, four-figure caparisons, and faux-Dutch bikes, to a newly transplanted demographic that can handily afford them.

This observation is intended without any kind of territorial griping; my claims on the neighborhood are thin at best. I was born, in 1981, in one of those bungalows, either at 648 Vernon Ave. or maybe 652, but we moved East in 1983. Of those first two years, I have only a pair of (interrelated) memories: first, that the walls may have been a pale yellow; and second, that I had a fever at some point and in its subtropical grip I looked out through the white slats of my crib with burning eyes and beheld those yellow walls, and that’s what I remember.

Though on its surface The Ambassador is a piece about Los Angeles through the lens of film, fiction, and architecture, I think it’s actually a piece about memory, and how memory dances infinitely with physical space. From what I can surmise, Los Angeles started to have a sense of its own history, of collective memory, in the early aughts, around the time of the preservation battle over the Ambassador Hotel, a three-way affair that pitted the LA Unified School District and the Kennedy Family against the L.A. Conservancy. Though the campaign to preserve the hotel failed, and in its place an architecturally vacuous complex of schools (admittedly serving a community much in need) built— about which Christopher Hawthorne has written incisively and eloquently—the process of trying to save the hotel nevertheless reified in many Angelenos a sense of pride in history.

But long before Diane Keaton spoke at the wake for the Ambassador Hotel, there was a trove of cultural artifacts that served, consciously or not, as a historical record of the city. I’m thinking now of the novels of Joan Didion and Nathanael West and James M. Cain, the films of Howard Hawks and Michael Mann and William Friedkin, the criticism of Esther McCoy and Reyner Banham and Mike Davis, and the houses—oh the houses— of Rudolph Schindler and John Lautner and Lloyd Wright. It’s this archive that was my way into making The Ambassador, which as a body of work is more a reflection of what interested me instinctively than an attempt to be comprehensive vis a vis Los Angeles. For how can one map an unmappable city? To paraphrase Christopher Hawthorne, L.A. is not great at sitting still for portraits.

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There is one portrait of Los Angeles that became familiar to me as I worked on The Ambassador, much of which was written in a postage-stamp of a studio apartment perched at the southern end of Griffith Park, an apartment whose original function was as the servant’s quarters of the connected house that Rudolph Schindler remodeled in the early 1920’s. There’s a door on the eastern side of the studio that opens onto a small wooden roof deck, canted nails jutting up and out threateningly. (During one visit, I ended up sitting in the pharmacy at the creepy Walgreen’s at Sunset and Western, waiting to get a tetanus shot before driving home rattled in that singular way one does under the combined influence of foreign chemicals and native adrenaline, one of the nails having had its way with the heel of my left foot.) Stepping outside, if I turn to face south on this little parallelogram of decklet high above the city, it’s all hypnotic views of the L.A. basin. Nights: coyotes skirling just beyond the window, their cries sharp and dry and anechoic, an uneasy counterpoint to the silent play of hundreds of thousands of lights throbbing in the basin below. Mornings: steam rising off of coffee to meet the fog; the ritual of assessing air quality by visibility— can you see Palos Verdes?

Thom Andersen, in his film Los Angeles Plays Itself, says early on that L.A., as a city, is not photogenic, that its edges are blurry, smudged, imprecise. (Another way of articulating Hawthorne’s quip about Los Angeles not taking to portraiture.) That may well be the case, but through human eyes—or at least through my eyes— to behold the city at dawn before the fog has burned off, and to read it as a quick pastel sketch of a metropolis on the brink of bustling activity, commands great emotional precision, even if the image isn’t in focus. And that emotional precision was the thing I wanted to capture in The Ambassador. For as I began to visit Los Angeles more often in my late twenties and early thirties, there was an accretion to the emotional weight of the city. Driving through East Hollywood, Inglewood, Westchester, Marina Del Rey. Walking Vermont Ave. in Koreatown, chatting up the proprietor of a piano shop that seems as uncomfortable in its skin as its owner; she’s still rattled twenty-some-odd years later. The pilgrimage to the San Gabriel Valley for soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung and the reluctant camaraderie that accompanies the lines that stand between you and xiao long bao. Or this: standing under a gunmetal grey sky and gaping at the modest majesty of the Watts Towers and the improbable fact of one man’s vision and persistence.

I wanted to know why the city made me feel so much.

Bringing The Ambassador back to Los Angeles is terrifying. I want to do right by the city that I abandoned so soon after it bore me. I want those who might be prone to reflexive defense of their city to know that if there’s tough love in the piece, it is the object and not the modifier that’s key. But ultimately, I cannot and should not offer preemptive defenses— all I have is to invite you to join me at the Freud Playhouse on February 27 and 28, and to have a look for yourself.

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.

 

 

Unpacking Daisies

Ronnie Burkett has arrived, along with crate upon crate of the lovingly packed wooden creatures who comprise the cast of The Daisy Theatre.

Last night, during setup at the Actor’s Gang theater in Culver City, Ronnie and his stage manager extraordinaire Crystal Salverda mulled over the precise placement of each puppet, strategically selecting where each one will delicately dangle around the Daisy stage—where they will be found waiting in the wings, slightly shifting at any small breeze.

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Ronnie has a sketch of a plan for every performance, but with dozens of characters to choose from, must prepare for anyone to take the stage–sometimes he even lets the audience vote on who they’d most like to see.

After watching him unpack the glorious Diva opera singer marionette, I felt slightly regretful that, when I saw a performance of The Daisy Theatre in Vancouver a year ago, I cheered for the “Horny Librarian” option over the portly bespectacled glitter-heeled goddess I met last night.

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And yes, there is a horny librarian in the cast. She was delightful. Who knows if she will show up this time around. Come to recall, there’s quite a bit of horniness in the show here and there. Not egregiously so, but definitely hilarity inducing.

I scoped out the Actor’s Gang theater from multiple vantage points. There’s not a bad seat in the place. It’s a stage within a stage within a stage and you’ll be able to take it all in.

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Last night, one of our new photographers in residence Tim Hailand was on hand to document Ronnie’s setup process. We’ll share some shots from his artistic lens later.

I’m excited to see the shows, see who makes it to the stage and what they do in their moment in the spotlight.

 

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.

Leaving a Trace of ‘Wordless’ on Campus

Wednesday night, thanks to Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston, we found ourselves immersed in a world of wordlessness. With live music, visuals and spoken word, through WORDLESS! Art shared with us images and tales of the artists whose wordless works spoke volumes to an entire community and culture of visual artists, cartoonists and graphic novelists, including himself.

The project definitely left a stamp on campus.

Art started his day on campus by speaking to a convening of students from several different areas of study in UCLA’s Design Media Arts.

Art is beloved by established and emerging artists around the world, including DESMA students here at UCLA.  Art’s e-cigarette and coffee were as omnipresent as his wit and wisdom.

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Meanwhile, our friends at UCLA Special Collections also took up the cause, creating a display of work from 1930s wood-cut artist Lynd Ward, who was the first graphic novelists and major influence on many artists who followed–including Art Spiegelman.

Scenes from the mini-installation in the Charles E. Young Research Library.

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And, on the night of the show we harnessed some creative talent from within our own community to explore one of the concepts from WORDLESS!–that of balancing on a hyphen..between words and pictures, right brain and left brain.

We invited the audience to try their hand at strip-creation here in Royce Hall , under the tutelage of UCLA grad Alexander Hoffman.  Check out a video of the workshop courtesy Daily Bruin.

And some of the awesome results:

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What did you think of WORDLESS? How do you reconcile your right-brain and left-brain tendencies? How and when do you find yourself “balancing on the hyphen?” Tell us in the comments below.

Un-expectations and Loving Life

Sometimes things don’t go the way we plan. We all know this. We adapt and survive. And somehow, sometimes we not only adapt but thrive at the same time.

Late last Thursday we got the bad news that Toumani and Sidiki Diabaté would not be able to travel for their much anticipated scheduled performance on our program the following night. Clearly, this was a bummer. It’s been years since Toumani performed in Los Angeles, and never with his son here. They are amazing performers and we were eager to watch the 71st and 72nd generations from one of Mali’s most revered griot families.

Details were few in the moment and almost irrelevant as it was time for us to rally to make the necessary announcements to ticketholders and changes to the production schedule for the following evening. Luckily, this performance was always intended to be a co-headlining event with the one-and-only, the amazing Rokia Traoré so we knew there was still something great in store.

As I spread the word to the members of the media who I knew were coming, the resounding response was while the Diabatés would certainly  be missed, the evening was still a must-see concert with Rokia and her full band doing an extended set.

I talked to our box office manager who had spoken to several ticket buyers on the night of the show who said they used the Toumani and Sidiki cancellation as a reason to find out more about Rokia, and chose to attend just for her.

I don’t think anyone was disappointed. She was luminous. She was powerful. She rocked. She soothed. She got us up out of the comfy seats to dance along with her and her mesmerizing duo of backup singer/dancers.

At one point in the evening she started talking about why she doesn’t write traditional love songs.

“I am, in general,” she said in her liltingly sultry voice. “In love. With life. And so, in everything I sing, I am singing about love.”

I can get on board with that sentiment. And it seemed to me that everyone who stuck around to welcome this remarkable artist to the Royce stage for the first time, felt pretty much the same way.

We were also fortunate to have among us KCRW’s Tom Schabel. I don’t know about you, but I consider this man to be my world guide. I trust him. I need him to help me hear sounds and songs and voices I might not otherwise encounter. KCRW in general is a great place for just that, but Tom’s focus on artists from around the globe as made him our local ambassador to the music of the world. He was on hand that night for a pre-show DJ set and to talk about the extraordinary music of Mali.

He shared some background information on the Diabate family, noting that Toumani’s sister had passed away which is what prevented the artists from traveling, which helped everyone listening understand, empathize and perhaps even celebrate the present moment more deeply.

The whole situation reminded me of a story I read about Afrocubism. Back in 1996, the plan was to gather in Havana a group of singers from Cuba and a group of musicians from Mali, including Toumani. For some unexplained to this day reason, the Malian artists never arrived. Instead, recording carried on with just the Cuban contingent, and a little album known as The Buena Vista Social Club emerged. (Afrocubism was finally recorded and released 14 years later).

A couple of years after that, I was working for a DVD/home entertainment magazine, covering the emerging music DVD market. The Buena Vista Social Club DVD blew my mind and made me think about the phrase “world music” in a very different and much more eagerly exploratory way.

It’s so interesting to know that it came into being by a sort of accident of fate. It’s had such a lasting impact on my music tastes. Many artists who come to our program have such an impact on my music tastes, deepening and broadening them at the same time. Rokia has taken her place among that list now.

We can’t control the fates, but we can control the way we react to them. Friday night we were thrown for a loop, but we still came together in celebration of music and the people who make music that speaks to our souls, music and artistry that maybe helps us all be just a little much more…..

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In Love.

With Life

Superpositions and Hyphens

One of the beautiful things artists do is open up this doorway of thought that invites us, compels us, inspires us, challenges us to think about our way of being in the world, our way of looking at the world, our definition of ourselves as it relates to the world and to each other.

Sometimes perhaps we stride through that doorway eagerly. Other times maybe we’re sucked through it by forces beyond our control or comprehension.

We think, just perhaps, some of the artists on our coming season will create both scenarios. It’s an interesting idea, this concept of self-definition, of connection to space and time, to memory and to other people.  It’s already happening to us as we’ve launched our upcoming season and begun talking to each other and audiences about what is to come.

Very few humans would define themselves as one thing at one time.  We are all many things simultaneously, constantly (hopefully) shedding preconceptions and habits and developing new ones as we learn and experience new things.

Artists are very good at shaping things– at inhabiting more than one concept, one artistic medium or expression at a time.

Through art we find our personal and collective superposition—that concept of a combination of two or more physical states to form a new physical state.

Why shouldn’t art make us think in terms of quantum physics like this? Art often agitates us in more than one state of being—often inspiring simultaneous emotional and intellectual reactions.  It’s marvelously esoteric to think about, and yet also a concept that will come to life visually and viscerally when we present the L.A. solo debut of Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, whose piece superposition uses the concepts of data—of the literal 1s and 0s that make up digital communication and explodes it into a source of poetic thought comprised of sound and visuals.

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This train of thought also leads us to Art Speigelman, who in his presentation Wordless! will use words and music to explore the evolution and power of the graphic novel format.

Art has described himself as a hyphen between words and visuals. A thing that simultaneously creates space between two words and also connects them to form another word with a new or different meaning—a superposition.

As a presenter, that’s an apt description of us too. We hold that space between an artist and the audience that experiences it. At the same time, that space is what builds the bridge that connects the two, creating in that moment its own unique position in time.

And there are many such moments to come. We’re looking forward to it.

Join us.

Poetic Thought for a New Season

We’ve been obsessed with poetry around here lately, on a mission to incorporate it into our lives more fully. As part of this ongoing exploration, last year we met Mary Ruefle, a master of erasure poetry who taught us this simple but profound practice of taking written words, marking some of them out and unveiling something wholly new.

There is a lot of poetry to be found in the upcoming season. Explore the 2014-2015 calendar up today on our website. And there will be much more to come from us in the next few months– a new website, and the official season brochure hits mailboxes in the next couple of days, keep an eye out.

We took a pause from the frenzy to sit down with some of that information and in the name of poetry, erase it.  If you’ve ever encountered our artistic and executive director Kristy Edmunds, you know how eloquent and inspiring her words can be. Figuring they would make for prime poetic fodder, several staffers here took Kristy’s welcome letter from our season program guide, and turned it into an erasure project.

Here’s what we covered and uncovered.

We ‘re looking forward to everything we may unearth in the coming season.

 

ErasurePoems

Welcome to the 2014-2015 Season

By Jessica Wolf

 An impressive appetite

We love

We thrive

You celebrate and discover

 

Artists

Art Forms

Vision

Turn sound to light

Epic and mind-expanding

 

L.A. itself

A unique world

Synthesizes poetry

Remarkable

And deliriously strange

 

Through masterful hands

Every endeavor

In passion

And an unknown outcome

 

We help the work

Stand as connectors

Diverse, voracious, curious participants

 

Thank you

Artists

Audiences

A virtuous circle

Complex and ebullient

 

Art direct for UCLA

 

 

By Meryl Friedman

 

A City…

L.A.

Standing at the apex

Of delirious endeavor

 

Us

Connectors

Participants

In the complex collaboration!

 

 

By Theresa Willis Peters

 

There is clear evidence…

of routes to one another

 

We thrive, celebrate, discover

We continue

Emerging the vision

Over decades

 

Fans that make the world turn

 

Unseen time

Marks our work

Places and sensations

Poetry

Multifaceted and perfectly scaled

Standing, rediscovered

Deliriously strange

 

Each endeavor

A question

Pursuing an unknown present

Connectors between

A curious common cause

 

Our potential.

 

 

By Phinn Sriplyorung

 

In a city

We LOVE

Center for exploration

Artists

Collaborations

Relationships

Come together

 

Cultural omnivores

Exposed sound

A spotlight celebrates

A resounding, special, mind-expanding

Epic….

Collaboration

 

We are collaborating with L.A.

Our L.A.

An homage to fame

Standing at the apex of the avant-garde

The absurd

And strange

The life of our celebrated modern stage

 

A unique endeavor

In which artists come together in mutual passion

Cause and relevance

 

Entrust us

To be actively present

Us who work as connectors

Artists

Audiences

Supporters

Participants

Enhance the art-filled potential

Of our labor