February Flip-Outs, Offs & Ups

By Victoria Looseleaf

During our international arts journalism career, we’ve done thousands of interviews (perhaps it could even be in the tens of thousands), but quantity is not the point. It’s about quality: From chatting with Plácido Domingo and the world’s greatest musical superstars (hello, pianist Lang Lang and glorious fiddlers, Gil Shaham and Joshua Bell), to bona fide movie peeps, including Jane Fonda, Javier Bardem and – gasp – Leonardo DiCaprio (we’ve even written a book, Leonardo: Up Close and Personal, about the superstar that came out in the, er, wake of Titanicget yours here for the unheard of price of one penny…), we’ve kept up our end of the conversation with the best of ’em.

But try and get a few words with the so-called ‘curator’ of the new Theatre at the Ace Hotel (the L.A. franchise opened last month; the Theatre a few weeks ago), and we were insulted with, not just one, but two emails, the first asking us to, “Please share your questions and deadline for feedback so we can look into it further” (what is there to look into?); the second, which left us equally flummoxed and angry, as we couldn’t even discern what gender the alleged curator was/is: “Our programming director is just now joining the brand so is not yet available for interviews, however, we can look to have an Ace brand representative provide feedback to your questions.”

Excuse us, but what the f**k is ‘branding feedback?’ Ace, to us, conjures up a bandage or part of a poker or Black Jack hand.

In any case, were/are they joking? Apparently not, as other reporters managed to get a quote from a real person (New York Times, L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine), whereas we at KCET Artbound (and, in turn, The Looseleaf Report), had to make do on our own – without pictures, to boot. At that point we didn’t want to pursue the story, as there were too many publicists involved with too little information, but professionals that we are, we, of course, did. Yes, we went  so far with our ‘slow’ journalism that we actually cranked out 2,000 words. Here, then is our Artbound feature (a special shout-0ut to editor Drew Tewksbury), on L.A. Dance Project making its debut as resident (?) company at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel.

Then there was the concert, itself, which was riddled with administrative glitches (picking up tickets involved long lines, parking was not as advertised, costing a hefty twenty bucks), not to mention the the business of the ‘Meet and Greet.’ Okay, so we were disinvited to the pre-concert party – with the monsieur himself, Benjamin Millepied, allegedly doing the gladhanding – which evidently went to those ticket holders paying an extra grand. But we were invited to the after-party, where Mr. M. was a no-show and tiny flutes of mediocre Champagne were served – no water, no pate – kidding – no bits of anything, edible or otherwise. What would Mary, Charlie, Dougie and D.W. have thought of these goings-on? That would be Pickford, Chaplin, Fairbanks, and Griffith, respectively, who opened the theater in 1927.

Whatever, or, at least not much. Yes, the members of L.A. Dance Project are wonderful movers (we adore Charlie Hodges and Nathan Makolandra), but we had to call it like we saw it, meaning check out our Fjord Review. It’s been generating a lot of response, especially since it was announced last week that L.A.D.P. would be collaborating with Colburn School on the Colburn Dance Academy, with Mr. Millepied, who takes the helm of Paris Opera Ballet next Fall, as artistic advisor. Hmm…at this rate, we wouldn’t be surprised if Millepied turns out to be the next head of Cultural Affairs. Hah! (Photo below by Laurent Phillipe: Reflections, Morgan Lugo and Julia Eichten)

On the more positive side: This month we were asked to write a 1,000-word essay for Nederlands Dans Theater’s 2014-2015 season brochure, which we happily obliged. (We’d done the pre-concert talks when they were at the Music Center last October), so when we get our link to that, we shall certainly share it with all of you. Then there was the matter of our Los Angeles Times story on Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, which had been assigned to us last November. (We actually had the good fortune to see the troupe in Monaco over Christmas; cover photo by Angela Sterling, featuring Anjara Ballesteros from Lac.)

Alas! Our editor left the Times at the end of the year, so it took some doing before we finally learned that we did, in fact, have a deadline for the story that prints this Sunday (we had about 10 days to finish our reporting, etc.; click here for the real-life fairy tale). But we love the company and will certainly be at Segerstrom Hall on opening night, March 7, for the U.S. premiere of Lac. Photo above right, also by Sterling, featuring Bernice Coppieters.

In the interim, there was Linda Kunik’s fabulous solo show, You Say Tomato…at 1650 Gallery, where we held court with the artist and a coterie of cool people several times this month. We also went on Mystic Pete‘s radio show, Sacred Mondays, yakking about tomatoes and Holy Minimalism (click here for the one-hour interview).

We managed, as well, to get to American Contemporary Ballet’s Dance + Design series on Balanchine and Chaconne, (click here for our NYT story on ACB and Los Angeles Ballet). ACB photos below: Lauren Ward

Of course, we’ll be in the audience when LAB (currently in their eighth season), performs at Royce Hall March 22, presenting a quartet of great works, including Mr. B’s Stars and Stripes Forever. We also zoomed down to the Mark Taper Forum to catch opening night of Chris Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. We love Chris (he was on our television show in its early days), but had a problem with the big monologue in the second act, as did the indelible performance artist/actor John Fleck, with whom we went.

Also high on our radar is Ate9, Danielle Agami‘s gorgeous troupe. They’ll perform at Celebrate Dance on March 8 (produced by the indefatigable Jamie Nichols), at the Alex in Glendale (we’re there), and will premiere the company’s newest work, Mouth to Mouth, above, at L.A.T.C. April 26 and May 3.

In addition, we went to L.A. Opera‘s Billy Budd, a production we’d seen before and were happy to see again. Catch it while you can at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (various dates through March 16; for tickets, click here). And did we mention that we also co-hosted our third Salon 2.0 at Kunik’s studio – one that lived up to its digital name by being live streamed. The night featured fabulous cellist/composer/singer Robert Een, with portrait artist Chaz Guest painting live (photo below, by our cousin, the amazing Stephen Fisch). Author/poet Nicelle Davis completed the trilogy of performers and an incredible time was had by all.

Seriously. Invites will soon be going out for the March gathering, which features another stellar line-up: the iconic performance artist, Barbara T. Smith, tubaist William Roper and visual artist Mei Xian Qiu.

Help! Where are our B-12 shots when we need them, as we also took time to remember the beautiful Jacqueline Pavlich, former ballerina, USC teacher extraordinaire and incredible human being, at a February memorial for the dancer who passed away last November. Speaking of USC, we’ve also been enlightening curious minds with our class, Historical Approaches to Dance, this semester, and can’t believe it’s already time to turn in our mid-term assessments.

This weekend, too, is Patricia Ward Kelly‘s show, Gene Kelly: The Legacy at the magnificent Pasadena Playhouse.

In addition and just for fun: We’ve been bingeing on House of Cards and the final eight eps of Breaking Bad (we’d never watched the series when it was on and now we’re hooked on Cranston et al; better late than never). And finally, it’s Oscar Day on Sunday, and much as we loathe Ellen DeGeneres, we’ll be glued to any number of TV sets, iPads, iPhones, etc., from which we’ll be voicing our, er, opinions. But let’s just say, ‘May the best man/woman/picture win,‘ though it is rarely thus. We’ll venture our picks anon, as this needs to get posted already! But here’s a hint to some of our thinking…

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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