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!

About Victoria Looseleaf

Victoria Looseleaf is an award winning arts journalist and regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times, KUSC-FM radio, Dance Magazine, Performances Magazine and other outlets. She roams the world covering dance, music, theater, film, food and architecture. Have pen - and iPad - will travel! Her latest book, "Isn't It Rich? A Novella In Verse" is now available on Amazon. Thank you for reading! Cheers...
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