Tag Archives: artists

Center receives NEA grant

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

Just Curious…More Curious? (Stay Curious)

Happy New Year! As we launch ourselves back into the art of performance, I am thinking about curiosity and how important it is to be curious creatures.

One of the underpinnings of what we do here is informed by a sense of curiosity, both our presenting curiosity as a curatorial entity but also as a Center that seeks to create a safe space and fertile playground to discover what artists and makers are curious about—and in turn to inspire curiosity in the students, audience goers, patrons, art makers, thinkers, inventors, creators and researchers who surround us as they matriculate, educate and encounter new ideas on this campus or as they visit this institution by attending our programs.

Kristy Edmunds, our director, last year filled in for longtime UCLA arts professor and theater director Peter Sellars, teaching his class titled “Art as Moral Action.” It is a class in UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures department, but one that is taken by students from multiple disciplines in the arts  and other studies. Kristy often talks about her time teaching this class. And given that she is one of the most curious humans around, she often queried her students of the time about their relationship to the arts, seeking to discover what made them curious about the world beyond their personal and projected studies.

What Kristy discovered and what we continue to discover as we work with and amid students, is a sense that students do not feel like they can afford to be curious. Literally. With the costs of an education rising every year, they move through their course of study with a laser focus on the classes required for their particular degree. There’s often no time or funds to spare on a meandering elective course like “Tudor England” or “Early Women Writers,” like yours truly was lucky enough to somehow fit in alongside the requirements for a Journalism Degree 15 years ago.

The ability to be curious today can be a precious commodity. When it comes to helping students at UCLA explore their curiosity in the arts, we sometimes find ourselves with limited access to their time and attention,  a fact all parties lament–which is why we are continually investing in ways to integrate artists and our program into the college experience and curriculum on this campus.

We think curiosity is an essential part of the University experience. It is an essential part of the human experience. Curiousness, whether it’s about a thing, a person, a time in history or a place in the world, is the precursor to understanding and to empathy. And understanding and empathy are the things that inspire human beings, on an interpersonal and societal level, to collectively move forward toward goals that are more aligned than combative. Curiosity, understanding and empathy are things we cannot have too much of.

And art, in all its vibrant shapes, sounds, colors, themes, its oddities and collaborations is one of the greatest instigators of curiosity.

In the spirit of curiosity, I thought I would share a few interesting tidbits about the artists visiting us this month that will hopefully pique your curiosity.


Title : SoBlue Dancer Louise : Lecavalier Choreograper : Louise Lecavalier

DID YOU KNOW…..that for nearly 20 years Louise was the principal dancer and muse for La La La Human Steps, a thrilling and innovative dance troupe from her home base of Montreal? This brought her center stage with pop icon David Bowie often and she also performed in one of Frank Zappa’s final concerts.

ALSO… “So Blue,” the work we are presenting, is the first piece she ever choreographed, for herself. She’s in her 50s now, but her body hasn’t slowed down on her. She holds an epic headstand in the piece that will have all our abdominal muscles shaking.


Gregory Porter Liquid Spirit photo (4)

DID YOU KNOW….Porter was born in Los Angeles, raised in Bakersfield and originally went to college in San Diego on a football scholarship. Though he calls Brooklyn home now, California will always have a soft spot for this soulful vocalist.


great headshot bl and wh

DID YOU KNOW…Sussan, who is known amid Hollywood as an incredible vocalist and composer whose voice has been featured on such major motion pictures as “Argo,” “The Kite Runner” and “The Last Temptation of Christ” studied dance and performance in the late 1970s with the notable French choreographer, dancer and opera director Maurice Béjart at his Mudra School in Brussels.



DID YOU KNOW….Frank is not only the creator of one of the most successful blogs in the world, one that inspires people to share anonymous secrets, he also volunteers for the Suicide Prevention Hotline 1(800)SUICIDE, for which PostSecret has helped raise more than $500,000. In 2006, Warren was presented a special award from the National Mental Health Association in recognition of how PostSecret has “moved the cause of mental health forward.”

ALSO…during PostSecret Live events things can get not-so-anonymous. Frank invites the audience to share secrets live in front of each other and says that far from being a tough sell, it is often the most funny, poignant and special moments of the night.

Bring your secrets, bring your curiosity. We’re ready for more creative ways of looking at the world in 2015.

Stay curious my friends!

Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes: The Daisy Theatre Nov. 11-15

The unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes. 

Ronnie Burkett is one of those artists who knew very early on what shape his life would take. Or, at least, after watching The Sound of Music “Lonely Goatherd” puppet show segment as a kid he had a powerful image of what he would like to do for the rest of his life.

And we lucky creatures are the beneficiaries of Ronnie’s earliest artistic impulses in puppetry and his ongoing commitment to his craft. Our director, Kristy Edmunds, has often stated a deep desire to make Ronnie a household name in the U.S. theater community. He’s incredibly renowned among puppeteers around the world, but these performances of The Daisy Theatre mark only his second appearance in Los Angeles.

Last season, the Center presented his evening length narrative work Penny Plain, a very darkly comic apocalyptic tale that riveted audiences. This time around is a bit more whimsical and a lot more improvisational.

No two performances of The Daisy Theatre are alike and even if you just catch one, you’re experiencing something quite special. Ronnie is fresh off a sold out run of The Daisy Theatre in Edmonton, Canada and last year had a sold-out run in Vancouver.

These six nights here at the Actor’s Gang theater are the only U.S. performances of The Daisy Theatre. Count yourself lucky.

Ronnie is an exceptional performer, and also an exceptional craftsman. If you don’t already follow him on Facebook, you should. In the casual confines of social media he often provides a very unique glimpse into his work, documenting his process through photos and updates that detail the extremely technical craft that goes into the manifestation of a puppet.

“I love jointing marionettes,” he said recently, posting photos of a character-in-progress. Those intricately created joints, so tiny, and so intelligently designed and manipulated with such love and care by the man holding the strings are what help bring these works of sculptural art to vivid performance life and incredible movement.

In human physiology, joints connect bone to bone and are what allow our bodies to articulate movement. Artists like Ronnie serve as a kind of metaphorical joint as well, one that connects human creatures to ideas, delights, and to each other in elaborately conceived ways that serve to articulate movement within our culture at large.

We’re proud to bring Ronnie back, proud to be a cocommissioner
of his revival of The Daisy Theatre, which he first debuted 25 years ago, as he began making his name in the art world.

Welcome to The Daisy Theatre.

Kristy Edmunds: Catalyst in Residence

Recently, our artistic and executive director Kristy Edmunds was named the first visiting scholar of the venerable Pew Center for Arts and Heritage in Philadelphia.

They very quickly realized what they had on their hands was more than a simple observer or caretaker, but also a person who will work tirelessly to understand a community and to affect change in it, all with a persistent focus and drive toward serving the art and artmakers whose sense of dreaming can remake the world.

She’s to be their “catalyst in residence” and we can’t think of a better term to describe her. She’s already made her first trip to the city of brotherly love in a fact-finding mission to begin to absorb the unique challenges and opportunities that exist there and that they share with our own organization and the overarching arts national and international arts community.

No small task. But, we know she’s up for it.

We’re proud that our boss will be the first to tackle this role for the Pew Center. Read more about Kristy’s ideas, her focus, her goals for this endeavor with this esteemed foundation, and how it will continue to inform our work in our own community.

Our Dreams Motivate Our Realities: A Conversation With Center Visiting Scholar Kristy Edmunds

Notes from Kristy: Come On In, The Water’s Fine

The other night we heard the resulting song cycles and creative framework of a new work by Heidi Rodewald and her collaborators Donna Di Novelli and Kevin Newbury, who just completed their residency here at the Center. While their time in residence was concentrated, they generated some truly remarkable material in pursuit of collaborative ideas.

And if my reaction to what they shared is any gauge of the future life for this work, it is going to strike some very resonant chords. The project is called “The Good Swimmer” and is based in part upon the found text of a lifeguard training manual from the 1940s (when women had to assume traditional male job roles as they were all off to war).

There was a particular conceptual through line in it that I cannot get out of my mind. A central thread from the instruction manual for lifeguard training: “The Lifeguard knows what she must be most alert to, and most concerned over, which is the good swimmer. The good swimmer knows how to take care of themselves when they swim out beyond where most would venture. The danger for the lifeguard is that those less capable will follow. The good swimmer therefore poses the greatest hazard to the lifeguard’s duty of care.”

I love it when an unexpected and pristine clarity knocks me sideways.

We are about to play host to a whole season of pristine clarity coming out of the artists that are soon to arrive as we open the 2013-2014 program. I thought it might be good to mention a few of the firsts – The Moth kicks off the Spoken Word series, LACO returns for their illustrious program at Royce Hall as our Resident Orchestra, Deer Tick sets UCLA’s Welcome Week off with an alt-country twist to our Roots/Folk series, and Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock – while marking 30 years of amazing music together – kick off our Jazz offerings.

Crossing over from both the Atlantic and the Pacific we welcome the mega-theater work, “Shun-kin” by Complicite in collaboration with Setagaya Public Theater — putting a momentous start to the Theater season, with a work that is quite simply not to be missed. Our Dance series opens the following week with the North American premiere of Lucy Guerin’s most recent choreography, “Weather.”

To put this into some statistical perspective, that’s about 100 independent artists over three weeks, hailing from cities and countries far and wide converging in Los Angeles this September. We are going to be heaving with the generosity of brilliant artists taking the stage to send up their finest for our ebullient audiences, and I for one am BEYOND READY.

One of the aspects to bringing that much creative mastery into a place like this, is what happens on campus, in Westwood Village, and in the venues themselves when unanticipated and astonishing moments in art between impassioned people come together in unique exchange…well, it makes the fight against the traffic and I-405 closures and daily irritations melt away and we get to be joyously AWAKE together. For the artists– the equivalency is that it makes the airport delays, visa approval processes and all of the rehearsals well and truly worth it.

This is a big and important season for the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. It marks the deepening presence of our mission and purpose, and a heightened relationship to our supporters and audiences, along with these extraordinary artists. For those of you already reading this, it means that you are interested in the Center sustaining the work of our purpose. Know that I consider one and all of you to be the exact people it will take for us to continue to develop and evolve regardless of the ever-vexing pressures that can work against a great public promise. In short, you are the good swimmers, and here’s hoping that by watching you swim out into the great beyond, others will indeed follow.