Creating Beauty Together

Craig Urquhart, a friend for many years, is recognized as one of the most important original solo pianists today. To date, he has released nine CDs and a DVD performing his original music. Craig has been The New Jersey Music Teachers Association Commissioned Composer, a fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and has performed his music worldwide, including in New York, Berlin, Rome and throughout Japan. Craig has also had his music performed by singers and pianists around the globe, as well as having it performed by the Halle Symphony Orchestra. The artist is also a member of ASCAP, has served on the Board of Directors of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, is a Whisperings Artist, a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The Grammys), and is the Senior Consultant Public Relations and Promotion for The Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc.

In addition, Craig has spoken extensively about his music on outlets including ASCAP’s Audio Portraits, National Public Radio, and the BBC. Has also been interviewed for Solo Piano Publications, the Baldwin/Gibson Magazine, and NAR. The magazine Piano Today has twice featured his compositions. We are happy to welcome him to The Looseleaf Report.

VL: Hi, Craig, it’s great to speak with you again, and I’m delighted to hear you’re recording a new album of your original music. As you know I’m a huge fan and also remember collaborating with you on the song, Love Is Leonardo for my biography of Leonardo DiCaprio. Sorry for the shameless plug! In any case, kudos and congratulations are in order.

Your new project is called Calm Seas and it’s your tenth CD of your original music. Ten is a major milestone. What does that mean to you?

CU: Thank you, Victoria, and yes I know you’re a big fan. I remember well our early interviews on The Looseleaf Report, and your support and friendship over the years has meant a great deal to me. Yes, ten is a milestone, but it ‘s just the beginning. I believe it‘s a milestone, because over the many years since I’ve been recording my music, my listening base has grown worldwide, which means to me that my music touches people in many ways. I hear from “fans” from as far away as South Africa and even Mongolia – that’s the magic of the Internet – and wonderful people of diverse and varied backgrounds. It feels good to be a part of others’ lives and that they are now also a part of mine. It‘s this ever-growing global community that propels me to continue to create and share.

VL: What a beautiful sentiment, Craig. Please tell me what’s behind the title of this new album, Calm Seas.

CU: As you might understand, titles are even more difficult for me than writing the music. And as I’ve composed and written well over 100 pieces of music, it , unfortunately doesn’t get any easier, so I rely on my imagination and the imaginations of my friends. Recently, I was sharing music from my Calm Seas with my nephew, and after playing one of the works, he said, “That reminds me of sailing on a calm sea.” Since it made so much sense to me, I decided to use that as the title of my latest album, the reason also being that it’s a good reflection of where I’m at these days. The past few years have been years of change and loss, but the last year has been pretty steady – calm – and also exciting.

VL: How has your music or your approach to music changed over the years?

CU: My music, of course, has evolved over the years. As life changes, so does one’s perspective and that is reflected in the music. However, my compositional approach has remained constant – to write heartfelt music that speaks to the soul and reflects the beauty of all emotions, be they happiness, longing, sadness and optimism, for example. However, my emotional approach has changed. I’ve actually come to accept and honor my musical voice as being unique to me. I used to judge my music somewhat harshly, now I love it and understand that I can be confident in the beauty I create, and that my voice is sui generis, if you will, to me.

VL: Tell us about your compositional process. What inspires you? How do you harness that inspiration and turn it into one of your gorgeous pieces?

CU: My inspiration comes from the universe we inhabit – the beauty of nature, the emotions we experience, and the spirituality that surrounds us. My music reflects the good in all of us. I don’t dwell on the negative energy in the world, because that basically gives it power. I celebrate in my music what brings us together in loving and sharing ways. How do I harness the inspiration? I think it’s really the other way around: the inspiration harnesses my ability to create, and gives it voice. This may sound trite, but it’s almost as if I’m a continually evolving vessel that shares and renews.

VL: Wow, well said, Craig. So what or who have been some of the major influences on your writing?

CU: As a classically trained composer and pianist, the masters, of course, have influenced me. I studied and learned piano music from Bach to Berio. But if I had to narrow it down, it would be Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, Ravel. Then there’s music by contemporaries, such as [the late] Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell and Keith Jarrett, so there is no one major influence. I feel I’m a composite of all I have experienced. But probably the biggest influence on me, as you know, was my association with Leonard Bernstein as his assistant. He supported my music and gave me “permission” to write from my heart. Before I met him, music was an intellectual pursuit, but he empowered me to write from the heart and not from the head. That was incredibly important and inspirational. Note: Gustavo Dudamel will be conducting Bernstein‘s West Side Story at the Hollywood Bowl on July 14 and 19, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and guest vocalists.  (Above photo by Brian Baldasari)

VL: Why did you decide to reach out using Kickstarter?

CU: The last nine albums I self-produced and financed myself. Gratefully, I was able to recoup the initial costs of all of these projects over the years. But to create a product that I feel reflects the quality of my artistic vision costs more money these days, and I realized I couldn’t do it alone, at least for the basic financing. On an emotional level, I feel that Kickstarter is a terrific way for all who love and are touched by my music to be involved in the creation of a project we can all take pride in. This gives us a way to join together as a community, knowing that we share the same values that the music represents.

Kickstarter is not a donation, it’s participation – participating at any financial level is honored and appreciated by a “perk” – from signed copies of the CD, ringtones, autographed musical scores, a concert in your house – all depending on how much one wants to be involved. And that brings me great joy, knowing I can be supported and at the same time my also being able to show my appreciation!

While we’re on the topic, then, I would like to encourage your readers to please join in and help produce Calm Seas by clicking here.

VL: Are there other projects on the horizon?

CU: Oh, sure, Victoria, but I like to take one thing at a time and want to remain focused on Calm Seas, ultimately making it something to cherish.

VL: Thank you, Craig. It’s been wonderful talking with you. I wish you much success with Calm Seas and I’m thrilled to be a part of this marvelous and meaningful  journey.

CU: Victoria, it’s always my pleasure, and again, heartfelt thanks for all your support over the years. It means so much to me.

Click here to purchase other titles by Craig Urquhart.

Above photo by Bart Michielsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Creating Beauty Together

MO.MEN.TUM, A Dance Concert

By Victoria Looseleaf

Webster’s defines momentum as “the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity; the impetus gained by a moving object.” Madeleine Dahm, an international artist with three decades of experience in theater and contemporary dance arts, has worked with some of the world’s leading companies, arts organizations and training academies. The vivacious redhead thought that momentum was the perfect word to describe a nine-month creative lab, The Art of Choreography,  a course she conducted for 15 gifted students as part of The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ education program.

Culminating on Wednesday, April 20, Mo.Men.Tum takes to the stage of the Wallis, located in the heart of Beverly Hills, when the prestigious venue presents an evening of dances choreographed and performed by these young people.

Ranging in age from 14-22, these exceptional students have explored all aspects of dancemaking with Dahm (right), who said she is more interested in “process” than the finished product.

Still, this product – several group numbers, solos, duets and trios – promises to be a peek into the future of dance, the most ethereal of the art forms. Meeting every Monday night for several hours, the students, under Dahm’s astute and forward-thinking direction, delved into the fundamental principles of composition in dance. They explored the various creative processes that lead to the development of dynamic choreography, as well as how to build choreography from a single idea. They also examined how choreographers take inspiration from other art forms, such as visual art, music, architecture, and literature.

With dancers being the physical, emotional and artistic instruments of the choreographer, the students learned how to bring out their own unique qualities, a vital tool in communicating effectively as part of a choreographer’s success. (Above, Liessa Son, Jordyn Urman)

Explained Dahm: “My approach in developing this course was to create an open and experimental environment for these young artists to inhabit, with a focus on process, not product. I wanted the choreographers to step outside their comfort zone to find new ways of moving, creating and collaborating – going to the boundaries of what dance is and can be, and investigating avant-garde artists like Pina Bausch.

“We also explored the role that music plays,” continued Dahm, “how and when to use it, and why improvisation is invaluable in building vocabulary. Through that we developed motifs, investigated minimalist movement, viewed master works, and had time for in-depth critiques. Most importantly, we looked at how to work from a place of clear intention and authentic meaning.”

Indeed, the students were also able to study and work with choreographers presented at The Wallis this season – Twyla Tharp, LA Dance Project, Suzanne Farrell and Judith Jamison. And while this concert is the finale of their time spent together, Dahm said that it contains “a fraction of the ideas that were developed,” adding that, “although those ideas might have been left on the ‘cutting room’ floor, I trust that these young choreographers will carry them forward as they develop as artists.”

Another aspect to the course was that the students, according to Dahm, “became like a small company over the months – one that celebrates victories, overcomes challenges, and forms strong creative bonds. It has been a joy to coach these emerging artists, and see their work evolve. In staging the performance,” the energetic director added, “I have tried to bring out the nuances in each of their pieces, and to provide a theatrical framework from which to view them.” (Miles Parsons, above)

When these capable young artists fill the stage of the beautiful Bram Goldsmith Theater, the fruits of their labor promise to be an exciting and emotional high for all involved. Kudos, then, to Dahm, the dancers/choreographers, The Wallis and to Mark Slavkin, Director of Education, for supporting the adventure in, what Dahm called, “all possible ways.”

For tickets, please click here. We hope to see you on April 20, when there will also be a post-performance discussion with the students and Dahm, moderated by myself.  Victoria Looseleaf.

(All photos by Clive Alcock; cover photo, from left, Susanna Russell, Patrick Fitzsimmons, Isaac Layn, Jayde Kief)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on MO.MEN.TUM, A Dance Concert

So Much Art, So Little Time…Hello, 2016!

By Victoria Looseleaf

It’s been quite a year, 2015. Amid all of the glorious highs, there were, however, a number of nadir-like lows – personally, globally, politically and the like. But we carried on in our humble tradition of dance/theater/film/art/music/opera/party-going!

There was, as well, literature: Great reads like Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween The World And Me and Sally Mann‘s memoir, Hold Still. Then there was our first book of poetry, Isn’t It Rich? A Novella In Verse, published by the eminently fabulous Gordy Grundy. After writing about thousands of you folks over the years, we would love it if you would now scribble a few words about, well, us. Click here for the Amazon link (the book is available in softcover and on Kindle), and stay tuned for a sked of our upcoming readings/performances/staged events!

In no particular order, then, we would like to list the best performances we saw this year, beginning with Louise Lecavalier at CAP UCLA. (Read our Fjord Review here.) We’d covered Louise a number of times when she was the star of La La La Human Steps, and also wrote about her from Aix-En-Provence, after she’d struck out on her own. Her show, So Blue, with Frédéric Tavernini, was a non-stop, full-throttle terpsichorean rush. Also at Royce Hall: the wondrous Iranian vocalist/composer/multi-media artist, Sussan Deyhim, who performed The House Is Black last January, giving gorgeous voice to the long-deceased poet Forough Farrokhzad.

It was a huge year for Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre as her troupe turned 30. We helped celebrate the milestone by going to – and writing about – most of her performances, including Parts and Labor Redux, Space Opera (photo at right), Chinatown Blues and Sophie & Charlie: A Dance Telenovela.

We loved Hydrogen Jukebox at Long Beach Opera, directed by our pal David Schweizer, who will be helming Bernstein’s Candide next month for LBO. (Btw: We’ll be there!) Operas seemed to be busting out all over, with L.A. Opera, also mounting a bevy of good ones, including the first act of Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles, a fabulous Barber of Seville and a Marriage of Figaro. LAO, also celebrating three decades, presented a magnificently sung Norma, with the titular druid queen, Angela Meade, quite a formidable soprano. (We remember LAO‘s 1996 staging, when tenor José Cura blew Jane Eaglen’s Norma out of the water. We also recall our interview with the hunky Argentine, who was then being hyped as the “Schwarzenneger of opera,” so we insisted upon talking with him in a, er, gym – and shirtless, to boot. We’re still looking for those pics and will be the first to post them, so not to worry!)

And who could forget the incredibly witty Sandra Tsing Loh, who premiered her solo show, The B**** Is Back at The Broad Stages Edye, which she turned into a cabaret room in July. Kudos, also, to Ms. Loh for adapting her hysterical 2014 book, The Madwoman In The Volvo, for the stage, premiering Jan. 3-24 at South Coast Repertory. A memoir of the trials of menopause, the play stars Loh along with Caroline Aaron and Brooke Adams. We digress: The incomparable Ms. Loh gave us a brilliant jacket quote for our book, dubbing it, no less, “A hilarious, sparkling and rowdy Looseleaves Of Grass!” We’ll take it!

 

We also loved BalletNow at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with Roberto Bolle (left) and Herman Cornejo pulling out all the stops with this gala-like show in July. Also on our list of highs at the Music Center this year: Ate9 Dance Company in Moves After Dark, as well as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago/Second City, for whom we did the pre-concert talks. This was a brilliant, offbeat, funny collaboration that should tour the world. Since we were at the Ahmanson, chatting up Glenn Edgerton and various Second City peeps, including Executive VP Kelly Leonard and the show’s director, Billy Bungeroth (below, the troupes in The Art of Falling), we could not be in Irvine to help celebrate Rudy Perez receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award. On the cusp of 86, this postmodern pioneer also made a new work that his ensemble premiered.

Another noteworthy Music Center presentation was Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella, a production we loved, in no small part because Diana Vishneva was the woe-begotten chambermaid. We were, however, sorry to see Renae Williams Niles leave her long-time post at the Center, but do enjoy bumping into her at various cultural events around town.

And how fortunate were we to have chatted up Bill T. Jones in March for his collaboration with Anne Bogart’s SITI Company and their performance, A Rite, also at CAP UCLA, and one we adored. Bill T. then popped up again in October at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach with his Story/Time (right, photo by Paul B. Goode), an homage of sorts to John Cage. (Speaking of Cage, our recording of his  1948 mini-masterpiece, In A Landscape also popped up the other day on Google Alerts, so have a listen here. It’s the solo harp version from our first album, Harpnosis®.)

This year our wonderful and supremely talented friend, Kate Johnson, won an Emmy Award, along with Maria Ramas, Ted Sprague and Brenda Brkusic (the latter two are KCET producers), for their fantastic doc, Mia, A Dancer’s Journey. Johnson also directed Everywhere In Between at Bergamot Station, where we debuted nine poems, along with Lili Haydn accompanying us on violin for a few of the poems that have been hailed as, “tiny gems” – and not by us!

In short, we were thrilled to be on the bill that also included Johnson’s gorgeous short film, Michael Intriere‘s cello-playing,  Pennington Dance Group, Kate Crash and the UFO Club (left), as well as Haydn’s band, including Itai Disraeli and friends.

It was from this reading – along with Lita Albuquerque and Carey Peck’s annual Pasta & Poetry Party – that our book, Isn’t It Rich? was born. It’s all about timing…so look for us at Albuquerque‘s January 9 Kohn Gallery opening, as well as at USC Fisher Museum of Art on January 24. Congrats to Ms. Albuquerque, with whom we ushered in 2016, along with hubby CP and dozens of her terrific compatriots.

Our longtime friend (we’re both from Cleve), John Fleck, triumphed big-time in October in his show, Blacktop Highway at REDCAT (left), as did Camille A. Brown & Dancers in December.

Backtracking a bit: The unforgettable Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (left,  Rosas danst Rosas, image via ATDK), was at Royce Hall for a week of performances, with four different shows beginning November 10. It also happened that two concerts were before November 13, one on that horrendous night after Paris had been attacked, and the final show on Saturday, November 14. CAP UCLA’s Kristy Edmunds gave an impassioned speech before the last two performances  (the same week that she gave us a brilliant, on-target quote for our book, Isn’t It Rich?). We love Kristy and REDCAT’s Mark Murphy, and wrote a lengthy story on them, along with the Bootleg Theater’s Jessica Hanna, for KCET Artbound, so please check it out. Artsjournal.com did!

September arrived with a bang – literally, for us – when DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion™ (right), gave the North American premiere of L’Espace du Temps (The Space of Time), accompanied by New West Symphony and conducted by wild Up’s music director, Christopher Rountree, at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC).

We had a blast at the pre-concert dinner, schmoozing with Diavolo director Jacques Heim, LA Phil VP, Chad Smith, our innovative collaborator on ART NOW, Larry Gilbert, and VPAC director, Thor Steingraber, when, mere minutes before the concert began, we tripped on some steps and sprained our ankle, breaking a small bone, as well. Ouch! We were in bed all week, which coincided with the Pope‘s visit (below), making our pain delirium tenfold…or not!

Thanks, though, to dance goddesses Roxanne Steinberg and Sarah Elgart (we weren’t able to see Elgart‘s June performance at Mass MOCA, where she collaborated with Wilco‘s Nels Cline and painter Norton Wisdom as part of the museum’s Solid Sound Festival, but were happy to write about Elgart for her Dare To Dance In Public Online Film Festival). The two angels helped wrap and ice our foot after we got situated in our loge seat, where we could at least elevate the crushed limb), but it was not a pretty picture. Thanks, also, to VPAC’s Terence McFarland for his immediate aide on the aforementioned steps.

Steinberg appeared earlier in the year with husband Oguri and the legendary Simone Forti in a most satisfying Flower of the Season chapter at the Electric Lodge. Steinberg’s sister, Morleigh Steinberg, also danced a mesmerizing duet with Oguri at the Lodge in October, one of our first outings on our hobbled foot.

October and November also saw Yuval Sharon and The Industry’s audaciously brilliant opera for 24 cars, Hopscotch (right), with choreography by Danielle Agami, performed by her troupe, Ate9. We were fortunate to have gone on all three routes, which absolutely and unequivocally, boggled the mind. This opera, with more than 100 performers and dozens and dozens of behind-the-scenes’ workers, could only have been dreamed up – and performed – in L.A. We’re so grateful Sharon has been an Angeleno since founding The Industry here in 2010.

We’re also happy to report that Salon 3.0, co-hosted by the lovely and talented Joanna Cottrell, had five memorable events over the year, with a long list of artists participating. Included were Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, author/artist/actor Mary Woronov, Sussan Deyhim, percussionist/multi-media artist, Amy Knoles, painter/photographer Harry B. Chandler, Lili Haydn, muralist Andre Miripolsky and others. Indeed, our next Salon 3.0  is in February and promises to be equally spectacular, one dictum being, No Plastic Chairs!” (Photo, above left, by our cousin, Stephen Fisch)

A more recent performance caught us by surprise, and that was the not-to-be-believed concert featuring kids from Seven Arrows Elementary School and Sheenway School and Culture Center, performing Alvin Ailey’s Revelations for their Winter Festival. All hail Elsa Chahin and Alejandra Llorente for their brilliant choreographic adaptation. Shout-outs, as well, go to 7 Arrows’ head, Margarita Pagliai and Sheenway‘s, Dolores Sheen, aka “Aunt Dolores.” We’re still awestruck thinking about it, but, fortunately, have our reportage to remind us that hope, indeed, still exists.  We also want to give our heartfelt congratulations to our chum, the innovative choreographic genius, Matthew Bourne, who was knighted several days ago. Bravo, Sir Bourne, and hurry back to Los Angeles! (Photo below by Gary Leonard, 1997, taken after the first of many an interview we’ve done with our favorite terpsichorean Knight in shining – and tulle – armor!)

For brevity’s sake, we aren’t mentioning many of the fine books (save for those already touted above, our own among them), movies, symphonies, art exhibitions, TV shows (on Netflix and beyond, we have to admit that we loved Narcos and Making A Murderer, our Berkeley criminology degree finally coming into play, as well as Jill Soloway‘s Transparency), and/or museums that were also published, released, performed and opened in this strangely chaotic, but more often than not – beautiful year.

NB: We thank you for having gotten this far in our post!

But alas, the year did begin on a particularly sad note, when one of our closet friends, Renaissance Man, Taylor Negron, passed away. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of him and, in fact, were fortunate to be on the bill at The Comedy Store in February to help celebrate his vibrant and full life. We also dedicate Isn’t It Rich? to the memory of Tay, as well as to our mother, brother and nephew, Dylan Edwards, who passed away in May at age 19 – wty – way too young. Rachel Rosenthal, the Taj Mahal of performance artists, also passed in May. And just a few weeks ago, Holly Woodlawn died. She and Rachel were both on our TV show, The Looseleaf Report, so, in another digression, we are excited to say that actor/producer Kenneth Hughes, has been going great guns on the documentary he is producing on us and our TV show – Victoria Looseleaf: LA Provocatuer, Cultural Catalyst & International Arts Journalist, but more about that later! We’re also sending lots of love and light to one of the most beautiful people on the planet, Mr. RB, who has been undergoing a number of medical procedures. Here’s to you, dear friend!

In closing, then, we would like to dedicate this post to those friends and relatives who left us, and to all of the precious souls who lost their lives in senseless attacks, shootings and acts of terrorism.

 

It’s a scary world these days, for sure, but art, beauty and love help us carry on (left, Louise Lecavalier by André Cornellier). Here’s to another year gone, with 2016 having made a splendid entrance from the wings.

 

And speaking of wings, we were ecstatic to be one of 32 portraits in Gary Leonard‘s and Colette Miller‘s gorgeous exhibition, City of Angels, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

 

In short, have a beautiful and wondrous 2016, with all your dreams fulfilled, and that love is the main ingredient in this wild stew we call life…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on So Much Art, So Little Time…Hello, 2016!

Vissi D’Arte Vissi Valencia

By Victoria Looseleaf

Jonesing for anchovies in foam? How about attending Aida in a theater that’s been likened to a blend of seagoing vessel and spacecraft? Then there’s the spectacular Valencia Cathedral that not only houses Renaissance frescoes by El Greco and Goya, but is home to the Holy Grail (below), the chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper.

These are but some of the reasons to head to Valencia, the fabulous city on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Spain. And late January/early February are ideal months to traverse the town where Visigoths, Arabs and Romans also left their cultural imprint. Arrive by train at the beautiful Art Nouveau Estacion Del Norte, and you’re immediately catapulted into a bygone era. Wend your way to the Barrio del Carmen, an ancient quarter with twisting brick streets and medieval mansions that is now home to art galleries, bars and cafes, including Horchateria Santa Catalina. Named for Valencia’s signature sweet drink, horchata, this unique brew is made from local tiger nuts.

Don’t miss the Mercado Central, a complex of pristinely preserved Gothic buildings clustered around a walled courtyard. One of the world’s largest covered markets, this is where locals shop for jamon, eels and, yes, Valencian oranges. Across the street is the 15th century Silk Exchange, where the impressive Main Hall is adorned with lavish stonework, gargoyles and several bawdy carvings from the city’s golden age of trade.

The town’s most renown artistic achievement, however, is the 86-acre City of Arts and Sciences. The culmination of 14 years’ work, most by native son Santiago Calatrava, the swooping collection of white, organically contoured museums and theaters features an eye-shaped Planetarium and IMAX cinema, a Science Museum, botanical gardens and Europe’s biggest marine park.

Surrounded by turquoise reflecting pools and set in the former bed of the River Turia, the jewel in Valencia’s cultural crown is the Palau de les Artes Reina Sofia, aka, the Calatrava Opera House. Akin to a vast sculpture whose nautical forms suggest its closeness to the sea, the Palau is actually four acoustically splendid theaters that present opera, music, ballet and theater. The venues are of varying sizes, with the main hall seating about 1500.

 Last January, Davide Livermore succeeded Helga Schmidt as artistic director of the 325 million Euro Palau that opened in 2006, with Loren Maazel the opera company’s music director until 2011 (he died last year), and Zubin Mehta its orchestra director. The opera season opened in October with La Bohème, directed by Livermore, with December having featured productions of Verdi’s Macbeth, starring megatenor-turned-baritone Plácido Domingo, a long time friend/performer with the opera house, in the title role, and Ekaterina Semenchuk as Lady Macbeth (photo at right). Handel’s Silla was also performed in December, with singers from the Plácido Domingo Center.

(Photo below: Patrons leaving the “Moby Dick” of opera houses at night.)

 

January, 2016, kicks off the new year with Saint-SaënsSamson and Dalila, followed by the revival of David McVicar’s beloved Aida (photo below).  The opera season ends in April with another Livermore-directed production, this of Mozart’s Idomeneo.

 

 

 

 

 

Recitals, concerts, chamber music and ballet round out the exciting and innovative 2015-2016 season.

 

 

Actually, any time of the year is great to be in Valencia, but it’s especially wonderful at the start of the opera season, when Domingo is either singing, conducting or relaxing, as the photo at right shows.

 

Valencia is also known for its delectable cuisine. Valencian paella is the signature dish at La Pepica, a beachfront boite that was frequented by Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles. For tapas, try Sagardi or Casa Montana, the latter in the old fishermen’s quarter, where “little tastes” include mussels, calamari and sardines.

As for the Catalan-spawned molecular gastronomy movement, head to the Michelin-starred  RiFF, Bernd Knoller’s chic eatery, where powdered oysters titillate, and local fishes are transformed into mouth-watering treats, all accompanied by divine Spanish wines (photo left).

End your sojourn cruising under the moonlight in one of Mundo Marino’s spacious catamarans. Back on land, take in the sparkling lights of the Palau from a 10th floor room at Hotel Barceló. For those wanting a quieter hotel, one located directly on the water, Las Arenas (right), is the perfect choice. The good life just doesn’t get much better than this – vivo Valencia!

In the spirit of the season, we at The Looseleaf Report wish everyone a joyous, healthy & wonderful New Year. Cheers!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vissi D’Arte Vissi Valencia

‘Tis The Season…For Revelations

By Victoria Looseleaf

Choreographer and dancer, Alvin Ailey, who founded Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958 and created his masterpiece, Revelations, two years later, died in 1989. But his company – and the iconic work that has been seen by more than 23 million people in 71 countries across six continents – lives on. Indeed, even a postage stamp containing an image from the opening sequence, with dancers’ arms outstretched, was issued in 2004.

A dance evoking land and water, Revelations (photo below), is a journey through African-American spiritual music and, for dancers, an act of devotion for the generations that came before. It has rarely been performed outside of the Ailey companies (the younger, Ailey II, tours regularly, also ending most programs with Revelations).

But on a recent night in Santa Monica, 130 children from Seven Arrows Elementary School – yes, kids ranging in age from five to 12, in addition to four students from Sheenway School and Culture Center – performed one of the most popular modern dance pieces of all time.

The work is told in three sections —Pilgrim of Sorrow, Take Me to the Water and Move, Members, Move — and is considered to be Ailey’s exploration of sadness and joy. That these children were able to convey such emotions through their faces and bodies – and execute some nifty footwork in the process – was nothing less than astonishing.

The driving force behind staging Revelations for the school’s Winter Festival was Elsa Chahin, Director of Dance at Seven Arrows and a former professional dancer. Chahin invited master choreographer Alejandra Llorente, from Mexico City, to help with this unique and loving adaptation.

Explained Chahin (photo at right with two Sheenway students): “I want to expose kids to the reality of life and not just do a little ‘Nutcracker.’ I want this dance to stay with them and that the students be transformed. And because I have 18 students per grade, I wanted to incorporate all the students.”

Seven Arrows, in Pacific Palisades, is a small, private school founded in 1999 by Margarita Pagliai, Head of School (photo below). The core mission is to teach and promote passion for learning, academic excellence, and a commitment to local and global communities, with several of the school’s alumni currently in Ivy League colleges.

Explained Columbian-born Pagliai, who studied at UCLA and has been an Angeleno for more than three decades: “I founded the school because I wanted my children and the children we teach to make a better world, to really start from an anti-bias curriculum in which we all will experience a diverse community where we are a better people because we understand others and are more alike than different.

“Why would I like kids dancing?” asked Pagliai. “Because learning the movement and the music is all about sensory integration and through dance you learn about the choreography, about the costumes, about the stage, and then you’re part of a bigger world.”

It was also important for Chahin to incorporate students from Sheenway School, as Seven Arrows and the Watts-based school have a partnership. Founded in 1971 by Dr. Herbert A. Sheen several years after the Watts riots, the school is headed by the late doctor’s daughter, Dolores Sheen, affectionately known as “Aunt Dolores.”

Chahin, who has volunteered at Sheenway for a decade, also wanted the Revelations performance to have a personal connection to Alvin Ailey (right). Because it was at Sheenway that Ailey, whenever he was in town, or what Sheen refers to as the ‘hood,’ taught both beginning and master classes to community youth.

A recent rehearsal, which was the students’ fifth and final week several days before the concert, was held on a small, concrete area in front of the outdoor amphitheater at Seven Arrows, framed by a basketball hoop and colorfully-painted wall. It was a windy and brisk day, with the students practicing their moves in the opening segment, I Been Buked, their bodies lunging, their faces intent, heads looking up.

An ebullient Sheen, swathed in layers of clothing and a knit cap, beamed. “I’ve seen Revelations at least a dozen times over the years, and I noticed a few of the boys mouthing the lyrics. They were feeling the music. All of the children were focused and all of them were interested, which made them interesting and a joy to watch. Alvin would have been proud.”

“It gives you hope,” added Sheen (right, with two Sheenway students) “because you know there’s another generation coming up that can absorb, that can feel, that can know. To see the boys and to see the integration – it’s just so natural to them. I’m enthralled.”

The excerpt known as Sinner Man, normally a fast-paced trio for men featuring dazzling leaps and pirouettes, was, in Chahin’s able hands, a rush of excitement with 20 children crossing paths, jumping and ending with a kind of break-dance flourish for the boys.

The kids also rehearsed Rocka My Soul (derived from Ailey’s memories of going to church on a hot summer day; photo below), the finale that virtually dares one to sit still, with the sixth grade girls sporting fans and the boys strutting their stuff while preening in vests.

After working out this section’s kinks, one of the students, Danielle, explained her thoughts: “I like dancing to this music because it represents African-American culture and the hope they have. I think throughout the recital it’s all about the slavery and all kinds of depressing things, but this song is about finally having hope after everything they’ve gone through.”

The evening of the performance, Revelations came to life once again, this time with a vigorous display of determination and unabashed jubilation, 130 children proudly executing steps with bravado. The mood was also evident in the popular and instantly recognizable excerpt, Wade In the Water, which represents a woman preparing for baptism, and is both sacred and rapturous. Here were the children rippling sheets of fabric across the stage while others revealed surprisingly lovely arabesques. Musicality, determination and a sense of fun also made for a tangible feeling of accomplishment.

After the final bows were taken, the audience of about 400 – gushing parents, friends and family members – let out a thunderous roar of applause, proving that hope not only coursed throughout the 30-minute dance, but was also very much alive and well in a truly wondrous and miraculous show of spirit.

Our future, in other words, is in very good hands – and feet!

(All photos, except Alvin Ailey and AADT‘s Revelations by Roy Sadakane.)

                                     Happy holidays and a joyous 2016 to all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Tis The Season…For Revelations

Naughty And Nice

By Victoria Looseleaf

Greetings, dear readers! To say that it’s been a while is an understatement, but we thought we’d get back into the blogosphere by blabbing about, well, us. Ending the year on a high, we’re ecstatic to announce the publication of Isn’t It Rich? A Novella In Verse, our debut book of poetry published by the eminent Gordy Grundy.

It’s available now on Amazonin paperback and on Kindle, and we would appreciate it if each and every one of you would buy a copy – or two or three, as they make great stocking stuffers – and then write a review. Puhleeze! After all, we’ve been writing about many of you over the years – with 2015 seeing us on a journalistic jag (click here, here and here for our most recent stories) – that has earned us the title of most prolific freelancer on the planet.

Ergo: We’d like a little love in return!

In any case, the history of IIR is nearly as interesting as the book, but we’ll save that for the onslaught of media coverage we expect to receive. We would like to note, however, that we’ve dedicated the book to our father, FAW, and the memories of our mother Bernice, nephew Dylan Edwards and our favorite Renaissance man, Taylor Negron. Our acknowledgments are also seemingly endless, but you’ll have to purchase the tome to see if you’re one of them.

Seriously, we would like to mention just a few names, including the gifted Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, Kate Johnson, Carey Peck, his wife, the fabulous artist Lita Albuquerque, and her daughter Jasmine Albuquerque Croissant, who, with her husband Rodrigo Amarante, hooked us up with our cover artist, the magnificent Katrien DeBlauwer (image below).

 

 

 

 

Gratitude also goes to our Salon 3.0 co-host, the inimitable Joanna Cottrell, postmodern choreographer Rudy Perez and dear friends, artist Russ Butler and the incomparable actor/performance artist John Fleck.

 

 

 

We also have a new website, www.victorialooseleaf.com, where you’ll learn more about the book, our erstwhile cable access TV show, The Looseleaf Report – about which Kenneth Hughes is making a feature-length documentary – and various and other sundry things about our, er, brilliant career.

So, Happy Chanukah, and you’ll be hearing from us again soon, as we’ll be writing our annual Best Of 2015 column. In the interim, cheers to you, loyal readers, and let us know what you think of Isn’t It Rich? A Novella In Verse (photo below and on back cover, Mark Hanauer)

A sad note: The one-of-a-kind trailblazing actress, Holly Woodlawn, has passed away. She became a friend after appearing on The Looseleaf Report in 2000, when we dished on politics – gender and otherwise – and her wondrous life. RIP…

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Naughty And Nice

Remembering Taylor Negron*

By Victoria Looseleaf

Hello, my name is Victoria and I’m suffering from PTSD – post-Taylor stress disorder.”

That’s because Taylor was like the latest Tesla – on insane mode. He could go from 0 to 70 in less than 3 seconds. Taylor was like a Mouton Rothschild, Premier Cru – unspeakably divine and in a class by himself. Taylor was like Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony – once you heard him you could never forget him.

He was also like the finest bespoke Brioni suit – the apotheosis of taste – although on occasion, one could see his ass crack when he bent down, especially at the gym, where he’d make me laugh so hard during our workouts that I couldn’t get through my reps. Who needed B-boys, Krumpers or Flexers in their low-riding pants when we had Taylor Negron in his?

I met Taylor shortly after I moved to L.A. in the late 80’s, through another friend, serendipitously called, Neal Taylor. Taylor Negron and I, both being somewhat, well, quirky, immediately connected.

In 1994, I asked Taylor to read from my then-unpublished – and still unpublished – book, Whorehouse of the Mind: A Novel of Sex, Drugs and the Space Program. It was a series of readings that Beth Lapides hosted at Luna Park, then a new club, where different actors read different chapters each week. Since the protagonist of Whorehouse, written in the first person present tense, was a young woman floating through the fog of the 1970’s, Taylor felt he needed a way into the character. (Click here to listen to Taylor read a passage…)

Yes, Taylor as Southern Belle.

Taylor also knew absolutely everybody – from Beck and Benazir Bhutto to Babs – as in Streisand, claiming he met her when he had a speaking part in The Main Event. But, as we all know, Taylor was prone to hyperbole. It’s not that he conflated the truth à la Brian Williams – Taylor wasn’t our trusted news anchor, but a source of his own, well, anchored Taylorness.

However, when he told a few of us that he’d actually had dinner with the late Prime Minister of Pakistan – the afore-mentioned Benazir Bhutto – and I can still hear his mellifluous voice, the one taking extreme delight in such almighty alliteration – we were, to say the least, highly suspicious. So, when I saw the picture of him with Benazir Bhutto – and this was before Photoshop and Selfies – I was somewhat flabbergasted. But I should have known better, because, as it happens, most of Taylor’s hyperbolic tales were actually true.

Well, there was that oft-told tale, the one in which he described himself as being part Jewish

When I interviewed Taylor for the LA Times in 2001 – at that point he was playing an Hispanic nanny in the Olsen Twins’ series, So Little Time – he told me he was of Puerto Rican and Jewish descent, which I duly wrote in this town’s paper of record.

And again last year, when I interviewed him for his one-man exhibition, Snow Paintings, at the Laemmle Royal – I wrote that Taylor was of Puerto Rican and Jewish descent…because that’s what he told me and I believed him. How could I not, as that phrase had been printed in our paper of record.

It was only on the day that Taylor passed, and some of us were in his apartment, trying to cobble together an obituary from a variety of sources, when I suggested we write that he was of Puerto Rican and Jewish descent. Since his mother, Lucy, was there – we decided to go right to the source.

Lucy said, and I quote, “Both Rod and I were born in this country – making us Americans – but our parents were born in Puerto Rico. So we were of Puerto Rican descent…but,” she paused in true Taylor-style, “there was no way Brad had Jewish blood.”

Oy, I thought, I believed him all these years. But then – a mere few minutes later – Lucy stood up and blurted out, “I don’t want to make my son out to be a liar. Write that he was of Puerto Rican and Jewish descent.”

For a while, Taylor lived on Lloyd Place – in the so-called Norma Triangle – which was up the street from me, so I was a frequent visitor. It was only natural then, that on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I would go to Taylor’s house – a house, by the way that he had told me and thus had I written, again, in the paper of record, was once owned by Nina Foch, which, incidentally, I recently learned was NOT true (this courtesy of Frances Diaz, who was Taylor’s next door neighbor and owner of the Foch finca).

In any case, several people had already congregated there – one being a Mob kind of guy named Carlo from the Bronx, who was covered in tattoos and cooking spaghetti at 10 AM – not the sauce, mind you, but the noodles. Taylor put on a Frank Sinatra record – he had an actual turntable – and we danced around in a haze to Strangers in the Night – thinking it was the end of the world.

Taylor then put on my album, Harpnosis – this music was, for all intensive purpose, healing, although it didn’t work on O.J. Simpson, who’d been my neighbor when I lived in Laguna Beach – and we were all crying, laughing, eating, drinking, watching the television, holding each other, telling stories, as if it were really the end times. In fact, it was that day that Taylor began writing a song, My Taliban Lover. I’m not sure exactly what became of that ditty, but as the day wore on – and limp noodles just wouldn’t do – we decided to take a walk – to, of all places, the Abbey.

There we wound up drinking, crying and holding each other even tighter, because, after all, if the world were going to end, it had to end, Taylor figured, at the Abbey!

In closing I want to say that Taylor Negron – great actor, fabulous writer, incredible artist, performer, songwriter, raconteur and, most of all, my friend – was so much more than a pizza delivery boy. For one thing – he could actually bake his own pizzas, which he did for me, Melissa Carrey and Mr. Pete not that long ago.

And speaking of cuisine, Taylor, I treasure your last email to me. You were out of town and had written, “I love you. When I return I’ll cook again.”

Oh, I’m sure you’re cooking something, somewhere, right now, Taylor, telling a group of adoring fans how you once cooked dinner for…Benazir Bhutto.

Well, I don’t cook, Taylor, but I love you, too.

*This text is what I read at the Comedy Store Memorial Tribute to Taylor Negron on Sunday, February 15, 2015.

(Cover photo: Aaron Boldt, bottom photo: Christopher Turner)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Remembering Taylor Negron*

Bring It On…

By Victoria Looseleaf

Dear readers: We know it’s been a while since we’ve written anything…here. Of course, we did crank out 10,000 words for various outlets in three weeks before we were struck down with a heinous throat infection on Thanksgiving.

Indeed, we actually lost our voice for 15 days/nights, literally. A critic without her voice – not a good thing. But we did manage to get to Valencia, Spain two weeks ago for the opening of that city’s opera season. Thanks, then, to intendant, Ms. Helga Schmidt, who is the director of the gorgeous Calatrava-designed Palau de les Artes Reina Sofia.

It was a thrill to hear Plácido Domingo sing in the zarzeula, Luisa Fernanda, one night, and conduct Manon Lescaut the next. In between that pair of musical nuggets, we did a wonderful interview with the megatenor/cum/baritone, who turns – gasp – 74 next month. (Above, Lawrence K. Ho photo, from L.A. Opera’s Thaïs.)

It was certainly a great way to end the year, and what a year for the arts it was. We’re not limiting ourselves to any Top 10, but are going to rattle off some of the most fascinating performances we attended in 2014.

We made it to Wolfsburg, Germany, for the Movimentos Festival, where Diavolo: Architecture in Motion performed its world premiere trilogy, L’Espace du Temps (cover photo from Fearful Symmetries by Lawrence K. Ho). Click here for our Fjord review of that, which was, btw, spectacular, in every sense of the word. We also did a travel story on Berlin, where we caught one of Vladimir Malakhov’s last performances as director of Staatsballett Berlin before he decamped for Tokyo Ballet. He danced the role of Caravaggio in the work of the same name – at age 46 – then continued to take curtain calls until every last person had left the theater. Wow!

Back in the States we showed more love for Diavolo at the Greek Theatre in September, when they performed a pair of classics, Trajectoire and Transit Space. Earlier in 2014, we went wild for In C at the Hammer Museum, a performance installation with Yuval Sharon’s opera company The Industry, Ate9 Dance Company and Terry Riley’s iconic work. We also wrote about Ate9 for the L.A. Times as prelude to Danielle Agami’s world premiere, mouth to mouth. (Agami is one of Dance Magazine’s 25 To Watch in the January issue, courtesy of, well, us.)

Backtrack to March and Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo’s Lac at Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts (photo, right, by Laurent Philippe). We wrote the preview on Jean-Christophe Maillot for the LAT, having traveled to Monaco last December to cover that troupe’s new Nutcracker. (Click here for our Fjord review.) Ballet topped our June list when Los Angeles Ballet, now going very strong in its 10th season, performed an endearing, enduring La Sylphide along with Balanchine’s magnificent Serenade, choreographed in 1934 and still fresh. (Click here for our LAT review.)

June also brought Ballet Preljocaj to the Music Center, where we did all three pre-concert talks and wrote the preview piece on Angelin Preljocaj for LAT. (We’d been to Aix-en-Provence last year for the world premiere of Les Nuits, photo below; click here for our Dance Magazine coverage – which was given its West Coast premiere here.)

Barak Ballet also performed at the Broad Stage in June, the evening including two world premieres, Melissa Barak’s Aether and Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Voice of Six.

August featured American Contemporary Ballet’s first evening-length work by artistic director Lincoln Jones (click here for our LAT review), with live music always integral to the growing troupe’s repertory.

Also: As part of REDCAT‘s NOW Festival (New Original Works), Ate9 shared a bill with one of our favorite performance artists, the one and only John Fleck, who was superb in his one-person show, Blacktop Highway. Calling all theaters – this show should be booked around the globe. Fleck also performed at the 25-year anniversary of Highways Performance Space, along with a host of others, curated by the amazing Dark Bob, last May.

September proved equally fruitful, with Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre presenting Dancing at Dunbar, (photo, below by Adam Davila), in South Central L.A. The Goddess of Site Specific Dance (we elevated her from queen), is celebrating the 30th anniversary of her company throughout 2015, and we’ll be filling you in on all of the troupe’s upcoming activities.

In addition, the unstoppable Ms. Duckler hosted an 85th birthday party for postmodern guru Rudy Perez, where many members of the dance community lovingly recalled working with this movement pioneer. In our case, we’ve been writing about and really getting to know him over the last 20 or so years. Brava Rudy!

October had the incomparable Garth Fagan Dance performing four shows at the Nate Holden Theater under Ebony Repertory Theatre’s auspices. We were so honored to have written about the troupe for LAT on its last visit 10 years ago (click here for that), and again this year (click here). Fagan, who choreographed Broadway’s The Lion King, is a master and a mensch, and it’s no wonder his dancers stay with him for eons. The company is 40 years old and several members are still performing with Fagan in their 50’s and 60’s. We were truly blown away by the troupe’s vivacity, stamina and emotional heft. (Photo from Lighthouse/Lightning Rod, with sets by Alison Saar)

In October we were also interviewed by the wonderful Amanda Slingerland of Studio Vox/LA Talk Radio. Her show Get Famous Friday! is a blast. Amanda had us tell some of our best stories, she also played a track from our album Harpnosis, we read a poem from A Looseleaf Notebook: Volume I, and then ended the show with a bang, dispensing words of wisdom to aspiring journalists: “Don’t use SpellCheck!”  Click here for that brilliant blabfest.

Lighthouse/Lightning Rod

November was again filled with beautiful dance, including our being tapped as one of  seven judges at the McCallum Theatre’s 17th Annual Choreography Festival. (It was no surprise that ate9, photo below, took the grand prize…). There was also a weekend of performances at the Alternate Currents festival at the Electric Lodge.

Thanks to Joel Shapiro, artistic director and founder of this space, and to Butoh artist Oguri, who, with several of his dancers, performed Verb-Ing. We’ve been writing about Oguri for eons and are always in awe of his singular vocabulary, style and execution of ideas, which are nothing less than astonishing. Also part of the festival: Sarah Elgart’s seductive film, Follow, was projected on the outside of the Lodge. Elgart, whose company Arrogant Elbow did a site specific work commissioned by MOCA Santa Barbara in September, choreographed and directed the film, while Caitlin O’Rorke offered up beautiful camera work and editing.

Josie Walsh’s Ballet Red (left), stormed the Broad Stage in November with its program Urban Angels. We’ve been writing about Walsh since 2002 (click here for that LAT story), and have watched this talented director/choreographer evolve into a terpsichorean force of nature. We’re so proud of her!

We’re also thrilled that our colleague Kate Johnson, who, after an arduous 10-year process, premiered her documentary, Mia, A Dancer’s Journey, on PBS, which airs again on January 29. Co-directed with Mia Slavenska’s daughter, Maria Ramos (Slavenska danced with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, among other troupes, before taking up residence and teaching in L.A. for years), will be screened at Lincoln Center at the end of January at its annual Dance on Camera Festival. We hope Johnson snags an Emmy for this heartfelt and beautifully rendered film.

There were also some major performances at CAP UCLA’s Royce Hall this year, including those by Philip Glass in May and Batsheva Dance Company performing Sadeh21 in November (one of our LAT top Fall Dance Picks, photo right by Gadi Dagon). Two weeks later Kristy Edmunds brought us Robert Wilson’s brilliant staging of The Old Woman, with none other than Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe a kind of post-postmodern vaudeville duo. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. We also bumped into our old pal Ryan Heffington at the after-party and are happy for his pair of Grammy nominations. Check out his choreography for Sia‘s Chandelier and Arcade Fire‘s We Exist. You rock, Sir Ryan!

We loved L.A. Opera’s presentation of Dido/Bluebeard’s Castle, directed by maverick, Barrie Kosky. (We also wrote a profile of LAO’s President and CEO, Christopher Koelsch, a visionary for the 21st century. Click here for that KCET Artbound story.)

In addition, last month we covered the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Mama – the organ – at Walt Disney Concert Hall, where a series of concerts showed off the Frank Gehry/Manuel Rosales-designed instrument. (Click here for another one of our KCET stories, and be prepared for some detailed verbiage on the most gorgeous organ in the world!)

Whew! No wonder we collapsed last month, since we also produced six gatherings of Salon 2.0 in 2014. We presented a who’s who of musicians, artists and performance artists and poets. Our roster included the legendary Barbara T. Smith, artist Andre Miripolsky, cellist Robert Een, who played while realist Chaz Guest painted, tubaist William Roper, vocalist Anna Homler performing with trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, composer/vibraphonist Jodie Landau and friends, and  poets Linda J. Albertano and Laurel Ann Bogen.

Cue trumpets: We’re now thrilled to announce Pop-Up Salon 3.0, the first of which will be held at a beautiful home in Venice, with sculptor Robert Heller talking about his work and where Mary Woronov, actor/author/painter/Warhol superstar, will dish on her long and storied career.

And yet more big plans for 2015: Cue trumpets redux, as we’ll be unveiling the Looseleaf Performance Space at Linda Valentino’s Downtown Dance and Movement (photo below). The studios, in the booming South Park section of downtown Los Angeles, are currently under construction, and we’ll be producing and curating the monthly series, Sundays on Hope.

Several of the artists slated to perform include ate9, members of Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, Arrogant Elbow and Josie Walsh’s Ballet Red. There will also be a tribute to Rudy Perez and musical afternoons featuring some of our favorite composers, vocalists and instrumentalists. And, since we came out this year as a writer of satiric fiction, reading from the Gordy Grundy-edited anthology, Gen F (below), at venues including Shulamit Gallery and Stories Bookstore in Echo Park (and also at Susan Hayden‘s fabulous series, Library Girl, in which we read along with a coterie of wonderful actors, authors and poets), LPS will feature Scott & Zelda: A Literary Afternoon with various peeps reading from their works. Who knows, we might reprise Corpus Criticus or even read from our latest tome, Men and Other Natural Disasters. And speaking of Gen F, we’ll be reading our story, The Oudist again, and also hosting, four writers – Andrew Berardini, James Hayward, Buffy Visick and the fabulous Ms. Woronov. Where you ask? We’ll be at the famed Book Soup on January 18 at 4 pm, so be sure and mark your calendars.

For now, though, we’d like to kiss December goodbye (and this dastardly throat infection, as we’re still not 100%), and wish everyone a happy, healthy, prosperous, peace-filled 2015. Break out the Veuve, s’il vous plait!

P.S. This post is dedicated to the memories of but a few of the wonderful people who left this planet too soon, including Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elaine Stritch, Mike Nichols, Lauren Bacall, Maximilan Schell, Lorin Maazel, Marian Seldes, Claudio Abbado, Geoffrey Holder, Gerard Mortier, Richard Duardo, Maya Angelou, Sid Caesar, Harold Ramis, Pete Seeger, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Tasha Martel. RIP…

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bring It On…

Remembering Ms. Rivers & Happy 5775!

 

By Victoria Looseleaf

We lost another comedy legend when Joan Rivers, whom the New York Times called a ‘comic stiletto quick to skewer,’ suffered cardiac arrest while undergoing a routine throat endoscopy, though how any procedure could be routine on an 81-year old is a mystery to us. After being in an induced medical coma for a week, Rivers was taken off life support by orders from her daughter Melissa. The acid-tongued gal died on September 4, and we have been mourning her loss ever since.

Paired with Robin Williams’ passing, this has been a difficult time for many of us needing/craving the outrageous sense of humor those two geniuses had. Rivers shattered ceilings, be they glass, stucco or whatever, and blazed through them all like a five-alarm fire. We absolutely adored her, as did the Comedy Central Rivers’ Roasters, who used the word ‘vagina’ more times than David Mamet spewed obscenities in his 1984 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross. We’re still kvelling over Gilbert Gottfried’s monolithic harangue.

We actually had several encounters with the Goddess of Comedy over the decades, including a life-altering event at Vegas’ MGM Grand after she performed a 1 am set, a story that is featured in our still-being-written memoirs. And though we weren’t too keen on her 2008 play at the Geffen, we were glad we got to see her so very up-close and, well, over-plasticized.

Indeed, Rivers had a face that had been stretched, plumped and rearranged to the point of making a Picasso cubist portrait look like a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover, meaning this seems a good enough transition to talk a bit about the City of Angels art scene.

Hah! There are more L.A. gallery openings in September than Pink’s has hot dogs. We made it to the grand opening of Daniel Rolnik Gallery on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, where it was wall-to-wall peeps. This young artrepreneur has been called “the world’s most adorable art critic,” by none other than Bill Clinton. How’s that for a moniker!

We also made it to the Dresden Room, where our fellow Clevelander, Ms. Jane Cantillon, regularly holds court with her Dick and Jane Family Orchestra (below).

This is art of another stripe, a combination of music, performance art, autobiographical musings (the Dick in the Orchestra is Richard Ross, Ms. C’s husband), and life in, if not exactly the fast lane, then some other kind of lane, because Janie sings it like she sees it. And wow, does she ever see it!

Cantillon and friends also showed up at another one of our Gen F readings. This was at Stories Bookstore in Echo Park, and had been organized by the in abstentia jack-of-all arts, Gordy Grundy, editor of the short story anthology that is now ranked 792,079th on amazon. Whoo hoo! What we need is the Colbert bump, sir!

Former Factory girl, Mary Woronov (right, portrait by Don Bachardy),who has written five books, been in numerous films, and whose paintings can be seen at Laemmle NoHo through December (curated by Josh Elias), also read that night. Sponsored by Artillery Magazine, and MC’d by that mag’s editor, Tulsa Kinney, the reading was well-attended, including by our colleague from CNN, Matt Carey. Anther notable: author and Artillery Mag’s publisher, Charlie Rappleye. He and Woronov were laughing so hard during our reading of The Oudist that we finally broke character and, well, cracked up, too.

A bunch of us then traipsed over to Taix, including Cantillon and Ross (not to be confused with Martini and Rossi,unless you’ve had too many), as well as the Artillery folks.

We were thrilled that Andre Miripolsky, who will be showing some of his art at our next Salon 2.0, made it to the reading, as well as producer Larry Gilbert, Mudperson Mike M. Mollett (left), and Hollywood Foreign Press correspondent (and Gen F contributor/reader), Luca Celada, among others. We stuck to Scotch that night, while Daiquiris were decidedly in high demand at this long-time haunt.

On a thespian note, we cranked out a story about AeschylusPersians for KCET Artbound, interviewing SITI Company director Anne Bogart, as well as actor Ellen Lauren. We also attended the world premiere of Marjorie Prime at the Taper, but were not overly impressed with the play’s general blandness. Lois Smith, 83, is a major presence, but this was a minor role, and playwright Jordan Harrison made a gaff when he alluded to Christo’s The Gates from February, 2005 (we were there, natch!), when describing an event that had happened decades ago to Marjorie. Still, this quasi-futuristic offering about memory really didn’t work for us, and now we’re having a hard time remembering why. Seriously, Prime felt undeveloped and underwritten.

We’re heading to San Francisco soon for more art, friends, parties and culture, after which we return to do a story on the fantastic Garth Fagan Dance (Fagan, btw, choreographed The Lion King, the world’s most successful entertainment in any medium). We wrote the last LAT feature on this troupe 10 years ago and are thrilled that they’re finally returning, Oct. 3-5, when they’ll be at the Nate Holden Center for the Performing Arts. We’re back from the city and here’s our LAT story on Fagan, a real inspiration. We’ll also be covering the concert for FJORD Review. In the interim,  check out our LAT Fall Dance Preview for more terpsichorean listings, although our picks seem to have been slashed in the edit room by Freddy Krueger. To that end, please note the following upcoming dance concerts: Danielle Agami’s ate9 Company at the Moss Theatre Oct. 11-12.

And before that, Los Angeles Ballet begins a run of its Swan Lake (in early October), which we  reviewed for the LAT in 2012 (left, Matthew Bourne‘s Swan Lake), and the Australian Ballet will do its version of the avian tale with a live orchestra at the Music Center Oct. 9-12.

We’re also working on a profile of visual artist and co-Salon host/producer, Linda Kunik, so please stay tuned. In the interim, L’shana tovah.’ Happy new year. It’s 5775. After all these years, we think this calls for a drink!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Remembering Ms. Rivers & Happy 5775!

Fall Forward…

By Victoria Looseleaf

After the hottest summer on record, the City of Angels is still heating up – culturally, that is. Traditionally, the fall season begins after Labor Day (we must admit, we miss Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Telethon), and have continued to wear white against our better Cleveland upbringing.

But we digress. We kicked off September with a bang, once again joining forces with visual artist Linda Kunik to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our Salon 2.0, fashioned after Gertrude Stein’s famous 20th Century salons. Cuban drummer Luca Brandoli and friends, including dancer Kati Hernandez, performed outside on Kunik’s deck, the cool night air complementing an overflow crowd drinking, dancing and noshing – or were we moshing – with an emphasis on drinking.

By the time we went upstairs to Kunik’s studio for performance poets Laurel Ann Bogen and Linda J. Albertano (below, photo by Alexis Fancher), we’d run out of booze. Kunik saved the day, though, with bottles of Jack Daniels, Jose Cuervo and a few carafes of red vino. Bogen, whose collected works will be published by Red Hen Press in 2016, wowed the guests, including composer/actor O-Lan Jones, her British cousin, Carol Barnes, producer/longtime Salonista, Larry Gilbert, Library Girl’s Susan Hayden and friend, therapist Sandra Fenster.

Writer Melissa Carrey and choreographer Heidi Duckler, who is currently in Brisbane doing three site-specific shows a day – that girl is an inspiration – were also in attendance. The poetry – and African bolon music – continued with Albertano (she recently dubbed us L.A.’s leading impresaria and arts reviewer – we’ll take it), who blew the roof off the atelier.

Poet/sculptor/Mudman Mike M. Mollett and wife Dee Balson Mollett were also in attendance, along with first-timers, Joanna Cottrell and husband, sculptor Robert Heller, as well as scribe Deborah Behrens and singer-songwriter Loree Gold.

Another Salon newbie: Andre Miripolsky (right, the artist’s rendering of an Absolut Vodka bottle), who will be presenting some of his fabulous work at our next 2.0 event on October 24. That line-up will be equally special, with pop artist Scott Grieger and Jodi Landau and friends rounding out the bill. Landau, et al, are part of contemporary music ensemble, Wild Up, and will perform some of their evocative tunes. As always, special thanks to shooters Tricia Noble, Larry Gassan and Ms. Fancher, who have been doing a splendid job chronicling our bi-monthly gatherings.

There was no rest for this wicked gal as the next night we forayed down to the Hotel Dunbar, an erstwhile gathering spot for the world’s preeminent jazz musicians, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday and…you name ’em…they were there in the hotel’s heyday, albeit having to enter through the service door and not even being allowed to book a room during their run: a blight on our past.

Happily, we now have Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre (and have had for 30 years), who performed Dancing at the Dunbar (left, photo of Wilfrid Souly and Teresa ‘Toogie’ Barcelo by Francis Chee), which has recently been converted to 82 affordable housing units. We were there with pals Charlotte Spiegelman and vocal artist Anna Homler, and were privy – along with the packed house – to sharing the dance with some of the Dunbar residents. Councilperson Jan Perry, who helped spearhead the conversion was there, as was L.A.’s newest cultural affairs manager, Danielle Brazell, whom we’ve known since she was director at Highways back in the day. We’re excited to see what this exuberant arts advocate brings to her new post.

After five long years, Diavolo: Architecture in Motion, returned to the Greek Theatre to a rapturous audience. That there was much drinking at both pre and post parties (and during intermission!), also contributed to the swoony time (cover photo, Fluid Infinities). Hey – it’s no secret that we love this troupe founded by Jacques Heim in 1992, and have written countless stories, profiles, reviews and odes about the company. (Click here for our recent German coverage for Fjord Review.)

Speaking of drinking, L.A. Opera opened its 28th season the next night with Marta Domingo’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata (tickets are available for two more performances), and we were there with good chum Mark Schwartz. Set in the Gatsby Jazz Age, with choreography by our colleague Kitty McNamee of Hysterica Dance Co., this mounting (as do all), begins with one of our favorites, the drinking song, Libiamo, ne’ lieti calici (we sense a liquid thread running through this post…)…

The opera yielded a few stellar voices, namely that of the phenomenal Plácido Domingo (right, photo by Lawrence K. Ho), who, still singing at the age of 73 and now a baritone, made an indelible impression in the role of Giorgio Germont (Domingo used to tackle the role of the son, Alfredo), while Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze assayed Violetta with much gusto. Alas, not much can be said, for tenor Arturo Chacón-Cru’s Alfredo. Indeed, we were tempted to Tweet, #tenorwaning, but our better judgment, for once, held us back.

We tried to hold back, in any case. And since most peeps have attention spans of a tse tse fly, we’re ending this here, to be continued…after we have a drink! Bottoms up!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Fall Forward…