The Design for Sharing program at CAP UCLA has transformed the lives of over half a million Los Angeles students and their teachers since it was founded 47 years ago in 1969. To give you an idea of what Design for Sharing means to the students and teachers of LA, here are their own words:
I had lots of fun because we got to build a violin. Thank you for letting us go to your school. I loved it when we got to learn about the instruments around the world.
– Amy, Catskill Avenue Elementary School
When I finish high school, I am going to UCLA, and I am joining the dance program. I was planning to quit dance and start swimming, but seeing you guys I decided to carry on with my passion for dance. Thank you for inspiring me and encouraging me to keep dancing!
– Destiny, Southeast Middle School
I really enjoyed the creativeness and originality of the play. This performance showed me that anything is possible and that everyone has the right to share their story and be themselves. […] Never stop doing what you love.
– Tess, San Pedro High School
What an immensely powerful performance and a valuable experience for students to be on a college campus: many students said things like, “Can’t you see yourself being a college student now?” THANK YOU!
– The 8th Grade Faculty, Camino Nuevo Middle School
In its first 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and U.S. jurisdiction, the only arts funder in the nation to do so. Today, the NEA announced awards totaling more than $27.6 million in its first funding round of fiscal year 2016, including an Art Works award of $20,000 to Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA to present Phantom Limb’s Memory Rings.
The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.
NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The arts are part of our everyday lives – no matter who you are or where you live – they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society. Supporting projects like the one from CAP UCLA offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”
Memory Rings is a multi-disciplinary theatrical presentation that tackles nearly 5,000 years of human and environmental change from the perspective of the Methuselah tree, the world’s oldest known living tree. This performance is a part of a greater trilogy that examines ecological and environmental threads of narrative and research. Defying categorization, the ensemble uses dance, puppetry, mask, installation, music, projections, and costume to transport the audience. Phantom Limb is known for its work with marionette-puppetry and focus on collaborative, multi-media theatrical production and design. Co-founded in 2007 by installation artist, painter and set designer Jessica Grindstaff and composer and puppet maker Erik Sanko, Phantom Limb has been lauded for its unconventional approach to this venerable format.
To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEAFall15. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov
We are in the final throes of preparation for Desdemona, in its Los Angeles premiere Thursday night.
Thus far, we’ve talked and heard a lot about the creators of this exceptional work of theater, with Toni Morrison receiving the UCLA Medal just yesterday, and Rokia Traore returning to CAP UCLA after a triumphant concert experience last spring.
It’s time to talk Tina Benko. As the company has come back together over the last few weeks, remounting this work for our stage, we have been overwhelmed by the absolute greatness of this gifted actress.
Morrison’s language is as gently evocative and eloquent as you might assume, Traoré’s powerful ,musical presence and voice provides emotional tethering and texture, but Benko’s performance is what allows us to traverse time and space, to defy the laws of mortality and to experience the richness that is inherent in this quiet, but unmistakably potent piece of theater.
Benko stars as Desdemona, alongside Traoré as Barbary, but there are other characters in this play, other voices, all of whom are embodied and enlivened and shared with us by Tina Benko alone. It is a feat of performance that not just any actor could bear.
Tina is a stage actor who has performed worldwide, and is a consummate and commanding presence. She was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for playing Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in Elfriede Jellinek’s solo play Jackie. She won the Bayfield award for her portrayal of Titania in Julie Taymor’s production of Midsummer Nights Dream at Theatre For a New Audience. Other theatre credits include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s commissioned play Informed Consent, Katori Hall’s Whaddabloodclot!!!, Wallace Shawn’s Marie and Bruce, David Grimm’s Tales From Red Vienna, as well as Not About Nightingales and Irena’s Vow on Broadway. She’s appeared in several hit films and television shows including The Avengers, “The Good Wife,” “Blue Bloods,” “Mysteries of Laura,” “Person of Interest,” “Brotherhood” and “Flesh and Bone.”
In Benko, as Desdemona, worlds collide; Morrison’s words find heightened consanguinity with Traore’s lyrics. Inside this remarkable artist the centuries of ill-fated love between Shakespeare’s tormented Othello and Desdemona alchemize into a new reality, a new truth.
I feel confident in promising that her performance will be a gift we will carry with us long after the curtain has closed. Don’t miss it.
There are a few tickets still available for Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances.
Linearity plus Travel Intensity plus Center of Mass plus Gaze equals…
in solo improvisation
enacting a written score
responding to visual prompts
navigating an aural landscape
mirroring another body
translating ordinary movements into 3D sculptures.
The final day of our Choreographic Coding Lab: CCL 5 was in many ways about capturing motion.
Motion. /ˈmōSH(ə)n/ noun. The action or process of moving or being moved.
On Saturday afternoon, about 60 colleagues, friends, and observers moved through the EDA gallery space in the UCLA Broad Arts Center in an informal showing of projects, ideas, hypotheses, investigations and whimsy. How does the body move – how does the structure of motion capture the intent of the one who is moving? How does an audience or observer, interpret that intent? In this final day of the CCL, movement was projected on screens, walls and floors, bodies caught by a thermal camera, a digital paint brush, or a series of lines and dots transmitted via sensors. MōSH(ə)n. We are captivated by it. We can’t look away.
One of the participants, also a gymnast, attached some simple Go-Pros and sensor devices to her ankles and wrists. Jumping on a trampoline, her splits, scissors, rolls and tumbles were rendered digitally on a screen – capturing her flight though space. We watched a complex web of dots and lines in constant motion, and it was totally clear what she had been doing, how she had been moving. Her intent was to capture the memory of her movement, so that when she can no longer move that way, a record exists. “I wanted proof,” she said, “proof that I could do it. I wanted to see what my body feels.”
Motion. The action or process of moving or being moved.
It was such a thrilling experience to be a part of this week, to watch ideas take shape, change, and assume a different shape. It felt like things were being made, sparks were definitely flying. As the day came to an end and the projectors were turned off, and the laptops were closed and the extension chords were rolled and the ladders were struck, the EDA space – our home base for the week – regained its old shape. Empty and quiet, but ready for the next wave of motion.
Ann Carlson, our intrepid artist in residence and the creator of The Symphonic Body UCLA, joined the participants of the Fifth Creative Coding Labs on Wednesday to talk about her aesthetic, share insight into her approach to movement and explore what she calls “the movement of the movement.” Ann is the architect of a unique dance performance under construction that will be performed by workers from this campus on Nov. 21 in Royce Hall. (Check out videos of the progress of this piece here).
For Ann, the word “gesture” is synonymous with the word “dance.” Much of her work, The Symphonic Body in particular is focused on accumulation and inspiration, on “the aesthetic of the everyday.”
“The movement of the movement is taking a functional gesture of utility and moving it to something more abstract, metaphorical or ripe with symbolism,” she said.
Carlson talked about triggers in her conceptual development as an artist (hearkening back to moments that snapped her attention away from her childhood traditional ballet training). She talked about dismantling conceptions that surround what a dancer should look like and false constructs of what dance language should be comprised of. She talked about movement as both a memory trigger and memory preserver.
CCL participants got a minimalist sneak peek at The Symphonic Body, with two performers rehearsing segments of the ever-evolving performance work in front of a rapt audience who seemed fascinated not only by the intricate and unique social structure of the project, but by the potential for emotion and self discovery that can be triggered by having an artist observe a person’s everyday movement and physical gesture and then collaborate with that person to manifest a highly personalized and idiosyncratic movement vocabulary based on it. This is what The Symphonic Body is all about.
It’s interesting to watch Ann’s own gestures as well as they rehearse and create, to witness the gestural language she has developed that will allow her conduct the movement and score the physical symphony.
Her projects and presence seemed to energize the room and play on themes that had already started creeping in to this experimental space.
We’ve been working on this project with Ann for the better part of a year and have been enmeshed in the very UCLA-specific nature of this work, so it was also quite fun to see shades of Symphonic Body in a piece Ann created almost 20 years ago, titled Sloss, Kerr, Rosenberg & Moore. For this, she shadowed four young lawyers in their daily work lives, then created a dance piece based on their movements, rooting their feet to the floor.
Well, maybe not exactly asleep, but while experiencing his theater work Desdemona, if you find yourself slipping into a sort of meditative trance, or feel yourself straddling other unearthly worlds and universes…you’re doing it right.
Peter Sellars visited our offices last week to talk about our upcoming performances of Desdemona, a magical and thoughtful re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Othello, written by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and the magnificent Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré, who performs in the piece with exceptional stage and film actress Tina Benko and an ensemble of Malian musicians. As he reflected on the attitude of this quiet piece, he laughingly recalled a sentiment often expressed in Japanese Noh Theater—“dozing encouraged.”
One of the things Peter very eloquently conveyed to us was the powerful quietness and absolutely intimate nature of this piece of theater.
“It is one of the most elusive things I have ever put on the stage,” he said. “You do sort of feel like you are starting to fall asleep and dream…your heart rate slows until you are feeling differently and aware of this flowing space between waking and dreaming, and this beautiful work of theater touches the edges of the dream state.”
The physical staging is purposely simple, designed to evoke the feeling of traditional African mourning altars, he said. We enter into this benevolent graveyard to be greeted by the voices of women—songs from Rokia Traoré that defy translation sung softly, eloquent language from Toni Morrison spoken softly and with deep intent. The technical sound requirements require precision instruments and exacting attention to detail so that every gesture, every sound, every movement from the stage may nurturingly welcome us deeper and deeper into a sense of otherworldliness, Sellars said.
The scope and shape of the play itself evolved organically over the course of its creation, Sellars said. There was no initial vision or design that the performers and writers were trying to match. Morrison essentially plucked one line out of the play, one line spoken quietly by Desdemona to the woman her husband was having an affair with, and amplified that one line into an otherworldly experience for us all, one that will change the way we think about the character of Othello, the historically revered man who invented him and the racial and social themes that continue to emanate through our society.
“In this age of big spectacle, what we are doing here is examining how valuable and rich is a single human being, and how many worlds reside within each of us,” Sellars said.
It is ephemerality laced with ephemerality packaged in ephemerality—and these are the trappings of transcendence.
We have a brief shining moment with these words and these exceptional performers. Just four performances in Freud Playhouse, a 500-seat theater. After that, the cast and crew travel to Australia for two festivals and it is not likely the play will be mounted again anytime soon. Traoré is a rising force in global music and will be focusing on her recording career for the foreseeable future. She is so integral to the casting, Sellars says she doesn’t see it ever being performed without her.
Be here with us. Let’s take this journey together.
Our sincere thanks go out to everyone who has already subscribed to our upcoming season. We’re currently working on seating order for subscribers and your tickets will be in the mail soon! We are looking forward to a packed calendar of inspiring, provocative and exciting performers from around the world, and it is always great to know we have a cadre of committed arts lovers readying themselves for the season along with us.
Subscriptions to our pre-curated series of Theater, Spoken Word, Jazz, Roots & World, Global Music, Dance, and our special four-night package celebrating Belgian contemporary company Rosas ended last week. But, you can still subscribe to the 2015-2016 season with a self-programmed Create-Your-Own series of five or more events. In fact, you can order a Create-Your-Own series at any point during the season, gathering any five or more upcoming performances.
This choose-your-own-arts-adventure option has by far become our most-popular subscription method over the last several years. It makes sense. As a social media savvy society, we are increasingly able to curate our own experiences with information, pop culture and entertainment. It seems natural that arts lovers would gravitate toward desiring a series of events that will specifically enhance their individual interests. And our programming is eclectic enough that we know you are also likely to be exploring and engaging with new artists and experiences as you build those personalized series.
There are people who might ask– why subscribe to CAP UCLA or to any performing arts program at all? Why not just buy tickets as the shows approach? We know subscribing to a series in advance definitely entails a certain amount of pre-planning on your personal calendar, self-education/research into artists as well as an initial financial investment—all of which might seem daunting.
But, if you’ve never purchased a subscription to a performing arts program before, consider some of the benefits. For us, and likely for many other organizations, the only discounts on ticket prices happen during the subscription window. For example, our series subscribers (anyone who purchases our pre-curated selections) save 15% off list prices. For our Create-Your-Own option, you save 10%. This adds up to a great deal per ticket, one you won’t get otherwise.
And, ticket fees, which no one loves, but are inevitable and necessary, are lower on a subscription package because you pay one fee for five performances, rather than doling out fees on five or more different purchases throughout the year.
At CAP UCLA subscribing is also your best way to get the best seats in the house. Our venues are not large–Royce Hall is an 1,800 seat theater, Freud Playouse just 500 seats. Prime seats go to first to our returning subscribers who are also philanthropic members of CAP UCLA, then to our repeat series subscribers. By the time individual tickets go on sale every year, there is very limited access to seats front-and-center in any of our venues. So if you’re the kind who loves to see the sweat on a dancer’s brow, or catch every nuance of an actor’s facial expression, or see fingers fly across a keyboard or guitar string, subscribing is your best bet to get that experience.
For us, subscribers are the foundation of success for any given performance. We are proud of the artists we present and we bring them to Los Angeles because we truly believe that there are people here who should witness them. The subscribers who sign on now to be here for a performance up to a year from now, we know are going to bring the kind of energy to this place that will lift us all up.
For those of you who subscribe year after year, we see you. We feel you and we thank you. For those of you who are new subscribers this year, we can’t wait to see what you bring to the program. And for those of you who pick up tickets as the season progresses, we are so appreciative of the support and energy you add to the whole process as the curtain call draws near.
Individual tickets go on sale June 26 at full price. If you see several things you like on our upcoming season, consider taking a chance and Create-Your-Own series now or at any moment before a performance begins.
Regardless of how you get here though, know that we’re extremely happy when you arrive.
Here’s a peek into my arts-addled mind. This is the series I would create if I wasn’t essentially already subscribed to every single performance.
Miranda July: New Society–-Because I like earnestly rendered awkwardness and I like community togetherness and this “social experiment” is poised to provide both.
Kid Koala’s Nufonia Must Fall–While I am an electronic music lover, I’m not super familiar with his DJ work, but I find this combination of electronic sounds, live string instruments and graphics very intriguing. Plus I have a huge soft spot for sweet-looking animated robots.
Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The 20th Century Abridged.–Because I also have a huge soft spot for men in drag. (Avid re-watcher of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Rocky Horror Picture Show right here). I caught Taylor in a performance at the Hammer earlier this year and not only is he incredibly glam, but surprisingly tender and with truly legit vocal chops. Can’t wait to see him bedazzle Royce Hall.
Akram Khan and Israel Galvan: Torobaka–-I fell in love with Akram Khan’s work when we presented Vertical Road a couple of years ago. It was the same year he created this beautiful piece for the London Olympics opening ceremony, which the U.S. cut out of its broadcast in favor of a Ryan Seacrest interview. I’ve watched this segment many times since then and am looking very much forward to seeing Khan perform in what seems like it will be a very powerful physical dialogue between two dancers and two forms.
An Evening with Anoushka Shankar–I love the sitar and had many chances living in L.A. to see her glorious father perform live, none of which I took. I am remedying that mistake with the next generation.
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.
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.
The process of planning for and later presenting live performances is a remarkable encounter with careening variables. However refined a season schedule might be or however long we have planned with artists and colleagues for each project – we are ever aware that in an instant, things can change on a dime (and frequently do). Multifarious daily adventures become months and then a year, and a new season is born!
Since our work at the Center parallels life at large, it also offers us abundant recognition of how interdependent we are in creating the conditions for great artistry to arrive and thrive on our stages. That is a potential and vitality that includes you – our patrons, members, supporters, subscribers, audiences, students and visiting cultural omnivores. Without your interest, involvement and support, none of this would happen. Thank you.
As you have come to expect from Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, the 2015-2016 season reflects a diverse and highly considered program of contemporary performances.
One particular intention within our programming focus this season is the massive contribution of women in all of the art forms that our mission envelops.
Our Words & Ideas series is chock full of powerful, maverick and generous voices – from the literary genius of Ursula K. Le Guin, to the disarmingly brilliant cultural commentary of cartoonist Roz Chast. Miranda July returns to the Center for a top-secret experience, and we will hear from Moscow-based Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot.
We also present a retrospective survey of one of the world’s most admired and influential choreographers Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and her company Rosas. The world premiere of a major commissioned work by Ann Carlson, entitled The Symphonic Body UCLA features 100 performers culled from the workers on this campus. It is unlike anything you have experienced before. And, we present the world premiere of new work from L.A.’s beloved Latin-Urban collective CONTRA-TIEMPO under the direction of Ana Maria Alvarez.
Anne Bogart and SITI Company return to the season in a new collaborative work with Julia Wolfe and Bang on a Can All-Stars. And we’ve linked arms with our colleagues at Center Theater Group to welcome Young Jean Lee back to L.A. Her newest theater piece titled STRAIGHT WHITE MEN opens just in time for the holiday season. To start the season’s theater offerings, CAP UCLA is proud to present Desdemona, written by Toni Morrison and Rokia Traoré. Directed by the singular Peter Sellars, this thoughtful work is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Othello, as told from the female characters’ perspectives.
In music, Cassandra Wilson performs her disarming Billie Holiday tribute and Regina Carter takes the stage in collaboration with Sam Amidon, in a celebration of her own Southern roots. We will also host Anoushka Shankar, Noura Mint Seymali, Lucinda Williams, as well as Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho in an intimate concert featuring UCLA’s one-and-only Gloria Cheng—just to name a few. We love men too! A generous and formidable contingent of men join us as well.
Thank you for finding us, for supporting what we do, and for coming along as we host some truly unforgettable performances this season.
Here’s just a snapshot of what’s in store. You can also click through the online 2015-2016 program guide.
Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes.
This July marks the 125th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh’s death. In the intervening century-plus, the images he created in his life have become an indelible part of popular culture.
Vincent Van Gogh was just 37 when he died. His years as a working artist were largely made possible by the unflagging emotional and financial support of his brother, Theo. Sadly, early 2016 will also mark the 125th anniversary of Theo Van Gogh’s death as well. He died just six months after his brother.
Together they left behind an important and powerful legacy in the art world, Vincent through his works and Theo, as not only a patron of his sibling, but as an art dealer who helped shepherd the early careers of such Van Gogh contemporaries as Monet and Degas.
Vincent is a work of performance laden with memory and great storytelling potential that can be extracted from the art of archiving. The telling of this tale is made possible thanks to the careful preservation of hundreds of letters sent between these two devoted brothers.
Vincent also carries within it an inherent inspiration for gratitude. As we experience this story, we can be grateful for the incredible works Vincent Van Gogh brought into the world, images that continue to pervade our culture. We are grateful for Theo Van Gogh, for his passionate support of artists and belief in their contributions to society.
We are grateful to Jean-Michele Richaud, the extraordinary artist who so lovingly performs this intimate work of theater here and continues to share it worldwide.
As this performance celebrates a great artist as well as a great supporter of the arts, we are also given pause to remember and give thanks for the remarkable man who was inspired to write this work of theater.
Leonard Nimoy was not only a great artist of his time, but a passionate supporter of fellow artists and artistic endeavor.
He is dearly missed and dearly beloved.
How fortunate we all are that he left so much of himself behind for us and future generations to experience, from his films and photography to his words of poetry and the words we will hear on stage today. Nimoy himself ensured that an archive of his passions and vision will live long and prosper.