Jamming in January

By Victoria Looseleaf

The year got off to a bang – literally – in San Francisco, where we ate, danced and made merry with friends and strangers at the Waterbar. We not only had a ringside view of the fireworks, but of the Bay Bridge, which is currently sporting an artist installation by Leo Villareal. Called Bay Lights, it’s the world’s largest LED light sculpture, 1.8 miles wide and 500 feet high and was inspired by the Bay Bridge’s 75th Anniversary. We used to live in Oakland, so we traversed the bridge on many an occasion. Taking a gander at the 25,000 white LED lights – individually programmed by Villareal himself – it was hard to concentrate on food – flights of oysters aside.

We were also a bit jet-lagged, having just flown in from Monaco, where we were supposed to celebrate X-Mas (not that we do), but had gotten stuck at Paris CDG, as the Nice airport had been shut down due to flooding. (We know: It’s a tough life, but somebody’s gotta live it.) Arriving, instead, on Boxing Day, when it was still raining, we checked out the stellar harbor/seaside view before having to indulge in some fois gras for lunch. (Since Foiemageddon was imposed on California a few years ago, we try to eat the stuff every chance we get.)

We then barely had time to change for that evening’s performance: the world premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Casse-Noisette Compagnie for his stellar troupe, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. It was quite the scene at the Grimaldi Forum, where, after the performance (click here for our Fjord review), more foie gras – this time sandwiched between macarons, OMG – was passed around and we were honored to meet Princess Caroline, daughter of the late Princess Grace. And what an honor it was.

Too bad we don’t smoke, as we would have joined her in a puff or deux. We loved hanging with the dancers, especially Bernice Coppieters, Maillot’s wife and muse (right, photo by Angela Sterling). The troupe is coming to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in March and we’re writing the L.A. Times preview story.

The next day we had a terrific guide to squire us around this insanely small, wealthy principality, where there is absolutely no crime (save for the white collar kind, or so we were told). Touring the Casino de Monte-Carlo was a trip, and since it was closed, there was no chance of us losing all of our Euros to Vingt-et-Une. Dinner was spent with friends – more fish, more oysters, more foie gras, and Saturday we toured the ballet’s atelier, where they were preparing for a huge New Year’s Eve party.

Finally getting back to our little burg by the Pacific, we continued partying, with Heidi Duckler Dance Company and Jacques Heim’s Diavolo (the troupe performed all three parts of its LA Phil-commissioned trilogy, L’Espace du Temps – read our LAT story here).

Then we made our way back to the Wallis to cover more dance for Fjord, this time Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (photo, Gregory Batardon, from Barak Marshall‘s sublime, Harry). We’d written the Times feature on Martha Graham when it first opened in November and absolutely adore the venue that’s in our very own hood.

We also love theater and caught the opening night of Barry McGovern’s one-man ode to Samuel Beckett, I’ll Go On, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. We’d interviewed Barry nearly two years ago for KUSC when he was in Waiting for Godot. He is sensational and his performance should not be missed.

We also got a sneak peek at Danielle Agami’s newest work for her Ate9 Dance Company. (Agami choreographed The Industry’s fabulous headphone opera, Invisible Cities, at Union Station, directed by Yuval Sharon, with music by Christopher Cerrone and danced by L.A. Dance Project.)

In any case, Agami’s latest opus, Mouth to Mouth, will bow in April and feature live music by the incomparable avant-garde ensemble Wild Up, under the artistic direction of conductor Christopher Rountree. The ensemble, btw, will be performing at Art Share on February 16, sans dance, but that’s cool. As for seeing dance, we dig it whenever and wherever we can – this occasion was in a private home (some attendees of note: actor/writer Dina Morrone, her editor husband, Stephen Rivkin and composers Jodie Landau – percussionist with Wild Up who also played in The Industry’s train station opera – and Ellen Reid, whom we’d written about for KCET Artbound when she composed music for Prometheus, along with jazz icon Vinny Golia. And while there may not have been any foie gras, there was plenty of wine, sushi and extraordinary talent. We’re so happy that Ate9 has moved to L.A. from Seattle, cuz, our motto is: The more dance, the better!

Also coming up this month: Christopher Plummer’s one-person show, A Word or Two, at the Ahmanson Theatre, Wayne McGregor Random Dance at CAP UCLA this weekend (cover photo from Far), and the Royal New Zealand Ballet brings its new Giselle. It’s choreographed by the dynamic duo of Ethan Stiefel, RNZB’s artistic director, and Johann Kobborg, who will soon helm National Romanian Ballet.

Giselle lands at the Dorothy Chandler at the end of the month – with a live orchestra. (Unlike the mediocre music of Minkus, this Romantic ballet has a score by Adolphe Adam, which we actually like.) There’s also Salon 2.0, which we co-host and co-produce with visual artist Linda Kunik. We’re live streaming this one, so more on that anon…although it’s gonna be hot: Award-winning cellist/composer/vocalist Robert Een will perform while Chaz Guest paints – live. Author Nicelle Davis will also be reading from her latest works.

If we thought it was a busy fall, it’s an equally busy winter. We only wish it would rain. Hey, maybe there’s an app for that!

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Again With the (End-of-Year) Lists

By Victoria Looseleaf

It’s become a tradition (of sorts, as we haven’t listed in several years), so here’s ours for the Best Dance of 2013, fashioned after our, er, beloved Los Angeles Times Tweet-centric style. And why the hell not, as we realize our last few postings could have rivaled War and Peace in length. The following, btw, is in no particular order…

Nederlands Dans Theater. The world’s greatest troupe graced the stage of the Pavilion for three days in October. Our tw0-word review? #fu*****brilliant. All hail Paul Lightfoot, Sol León & Medhi Walerski. We also loved doing the 3 pre-concert talks; merci #RenaeWilliamsNiles #MichaelSolomon #MsGloryaKaufman

Diavolo: Architects of Motion, L.A.’s most traveled troupe completed its commissioned L.A. Phil at the Bowl trilogy w/Fluid Infinities: #exquisite #profound #daring! Shame on Mark Swed for saying the company, directed by Jacques Heim, “played it safe.” Read our LAT article to bone up on the little troupe that could – and does. Diavolo, btw, is at Germany’s Movimentos Festival in May, performing the world premiere of said trilogy, L’Espace du Temps. #keepontrucking

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty: A dazzler w/vampires, a recalcitrant princess who looks like she dozed for a century courtesy of #propofol, & Bourne’s  always fascinating steps & staging at the Ahmanson. #wewantmore

Wim VandekeybusUltima Vez #blewminds at CAP UCLA. Reviving its 25-year old masterpiece, What The Body Does Not Remember (below), made this body pine for time spent w/Wim in Venice (our LAT story is here).





Diana Vishneva: On the Edge #anotherworldpremiere at Segerstrom, & it was #nothingshortofmarvelous. That it also led to our latest foray – Monaco, ici nous venons – didn’t hurt, either. Brava #LaDivinaDiana. (Read our LAT review here; our Fjord Review here.)

Einstein on the Beach (at the Pavilion), rates musically and dance-wise, as Lucinda ChildsField Dances #astonished. Elated this work finally made it here courtesy of #LAOpera & #KristyEdmunds of CAP UCLA. (Click here for our KCET Artbound story.)

Another dancey opera: Yuval Sharon’s thrilling Invisible Cities. Staged at #UnionStation, the first #headphoneopera w/music by Chris Cerrone & choreography by Danielle Agami (Ate9), performed by L.A. Dance Project was #technologyandtalentsquared. Click here for our KCET Artbound story.

Martha Graham (left) at the new Wallis: #informative  #relevant #perfectfit with this gorgeous space in our very own hood, Beverly Hills. Kudos to Lou Moore and MGDC‘s Janet Eilber! (Click here for our LAT story.)

Sarah Elgart’s site-specific Everywhere Nowhere, at LAX’s outdoor courtyard on #ArrivalsLevel between Terminals 1 and 2. #YuvalRonScore  #StephenGlassman visuals & Elgart’s #ebullientdancing & #intriguingchoreography proved #addictive.

Susan Marshall’s Play/Pause at CAP-UCLA (cover photo): #wittymashup of unconstrained movement, David Lang‘s live music and #clubdancegestures. Hello #Twerking #rockedthehouse (click here for our Fjord review).

Heidi Duckler Dance Theater’s The Groundskeepers: #sweptusoffourfeet. The site-specific queen made use of an abandoned hospital. We’re only glad we weren’t locked in #thepsychward. Also loved the #creepyandcunning Boiler Room scene. (Our LAT review is here.)

Josie Walsh’s Texture of Time, w/Jealous Angel‘s radical score performed by husband Paul Rivera. Festival Ballet dancers #workedtheirbuttsoff in Walsh’s #cuttingedgechoreography. Look for the debut of the pair’s troupe, #BalletRED in 2014. And check out their latest YouTube video #boundtogoviral.

American Contemporary Ballet‘s entire season! Choreographed by artistic director Lincoln Jones, it featured ten dancers, including #primaballerinaassoluta & associate director Theresa Farrell (photos below by Lauren Ward). Works were #gorgeous #fastidious #exciting. (Click here for our NYT story, also spotlighting Los Angeles Ballet, another best-of contender. LAB‘s 7th season, a #BalanchineFestival shone w/the little-seen La Somnambula and a breathtaking La Valse, which were but a few of  Mr. B‘s gems presented. (Yours truly also gave several pre-concert talks.) We love #Colleen Neary & #Thordal Christensen #YES

Barak Ballet had an #auspiciousdebut, w/Melissa Barak showing #mettle in Danielle Agami’s #barefootonthefloorsolo. The concert also featured a revival of Pascal Rioult’s Wien, #gritandgrace & 2 works by the erstwhile City Ballet dancer. Our LAT story is here.

This year being the centennial of the ground-breaking Rite of Spring, we also loved the Joffrey Ballet performances of the Nijinsky/Stravinsky #riotinducer. Ergo, in closing, it’s been a swell year for dance (and we’re not even counting our quick April jaunt to Aix-en-Provence for Ballet Preljocaj‘s world premiere, Les Nuits, which the troupe brings to the Music Center in June (and for which we’ll also be doing the pre-concert talks). And: a special shout out to David Roussève, whose work, Stardust, we reviewed for the LA Times, calling it a ‘revelation.’ Roussève’s troupe launched the piece at REDCAT, one of our favorite venues, and we’re really glad he’s making dances here!

In essence: Dance is good for the soul and even better for the heart, so thanks to all you #terpsichores #dancemakers #presenters #audiences #dancelovers & #fabulouspeeps who kept the art form alive in 2013. Here’s to even more great dance in 2014!

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Painting the Town With Our Beaver (Coat), That Is…

By Victoria Looseleaf

We were doing some much-needed fall cleaning, when we came across this portrait of our grandmother, Ms. Lillian. As you can see, she’s ultra-stylish and clad in fur, and since we inherited many of her coats, jackets and stoles, we wear them when we see fit, i.e., when the temperature hovers below, er, 50 degrees in L.A. So go ahead and shoot us, PETA…


But back to Ms. Lillian, an ace golfer, who, at one point was Cleveland’s All-City Champ, and even shot a hole-in-one at age 75. She was also a wonderful artist. Indeed, when we were interviewing NDT’s Paul Lightfoot and partner, Sol León, on Skype at some ungodly L.A. hour (sans make-up, etc.), we didn’t realize the brilliant artistic director/choreographer could see much of our living room, until he commented on one of Grams’ impressionistic ballerina paintings, saying, in his lilting, English-born manner, that it was beautiful.



We think so, too, Paul, thanks. And we miss her a lot, ergo wearing The Beaver actually helps bring back many of the joyous memories we shared with her.

But we digress: Since we did all three of the pre-concert talks last month for NDT (and will be doing the same for Ballet Preljocaj at the Music Center next June 20-22), we have been on a writing/going-out/working/wearing-our-Beaver/jag. Indeed, when someone recently asked us, ‘What do you do when you stay home?’ we weren’t at a loss for words. (But when are we, hahaha…)

In between bouts of reading (on our bookshelf these days, which is getting weighed down by so many tomes, are Elizabeth Kendall‘s Balanchine & the Lost Muse, Claudia Pierpont Roth’s Roth Unbound, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, Wendy Perron’s Through the Eyes of a Dancer – she was editor-in-chief of Dance Magazine and edited many of our stories – and Evgenia CitkowitzEther), we are finally watching – drum roll – Breaking Bad. Yes, we arrived late to the party, so don’t tell us anything about the final season, puhleeze.

Ten days ago we co-hosted our second Salon 2Point0 with conceptual photographer Linda Kunik, where many boldfaced names, in addition to being presenters, were also in attendance: Reading from her marvelous body of poetry (much of it sensual, all of it stellar), was Red Hen Press’s managing editor, Kate Gale. Her new book, Goldilocks Zone (University of New Mexico Press) comes out in January; be sure and pick up a copy.

Jazz legend, composer/performer Vinny Golia (click here to read our piece on him performing at the Getty Villa in Travis Preston’s Prometheus Bound), brought some of his singing bowls and a few wind instruments. His own label, Nine Winds, was founded in the 70’s, with Vinny releasing a new CD every year.

Visual artist Shizuko Greenblatt also displayed a fabulous sense of humor while discussing her vibrant works, some rooted, literally, in ikebana, or Japanese flower-arranging. We had taken a course on that subject when we were in Japan, as well as a koto lesson, wanting to augment our harp-playing. Full disclosure: Our fingers/hands were actually a tad large for that difficult instrument, while not speaking Japanese also proved an insurmountable barrier!

More great folks digging the art included performance artist/actor John Fleck (photo right, from Mad Women), and The Dark Bob (also an incredible performer/artist), both of whom made appearances on our final Looseleaf Report cable TV show in  December, 2008, as well as Ms. Glorya Kaufman and Vice Dean Jodie Gates, both of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. (We teach Dance History at USC and when asked if we danced growing up, we now have the perfect retort: We studied at Cleveland’s renowned Florence Shapiro’s School of the Dance.) Also adding to the lively chatter were painter/sculptor Chaz Guest, composer/cellist/singer Robert Een, choreographer/dancer Sarah Elgart and her husband, visual artist Stephen Glassman, arts maven Carolyn Campbell, handbag designer Claudia Rossini, and the immensely talented video artist Jon 9. (More about him – and us – in a future post!)

Sushi, wine, Bombay Sapphire, courtesy of The Dark Bob, which probably resulted in our trying to get into some Rockettes-like pose, cheeses, chips and conversation flowed. Tricia Noble, graphic designer for the Directors Guild, was also on hand to photograph (including the indelible image at left), so a special thanks to her and hubby, Andrew Overtoom, whose 1650 Gallery will host Kunik’s solo show, You Say Tomato…February 8.

We also covered an array of performances recently, kicking off with Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre‘s The Groundskeepers (click here for our LAT review). Then there was Yuval Sharon’s astonishing headphone opera, Invisible Cities. (Click here to read our Artbound story on the dance element, choreographed by Danielle Agami of Ate9). We also made a beeline for Martha Graham Dance Company, who opened the Wallis (what a fantastic new venue; click here to read our LAT story), covered Susan Marshall & Company at CAP UCLA, and also trekked to Orange County to cover the world’s reigning prima, Diana Vishneva. (Cover photo from Carolyn Carlson‘s Woman In a Room, by Gene Schiavone). We reviewed both Marshall and Vishneva for our newest outlet, Fjord Review, from Down Under (click here and here for those), with Vishneva expanded upon from our LAT review (click here for that; we also did the first LAT story in February, 2008, on Vishneva commissioning works).

But back to OC: Diana Vishneva: On the Edge featured Carlson’s work and Switch,  by Jean-Christophe Maillot, artistic director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. In this number, Vishneva also danced with Bernice Coppieters, Maillot’s wife, and Gaëtan Morlotti, both from his troupe (photo by Schiavone). We were honored to interview Maillot for his company’s upcoming Segerstrom Hall performance of Lac (March 7-9, we’ll be writing the LAT story). As we like to say, we can never get enough Tchaikovsky or Swan Lake, depending on who’s dancing/choreographing it.

Which brings us to this: The Beaver recently made an appearance at opening night of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty (below), at the Ahmanson. We love Matt Bourne and his troupe, New Adventures, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary – congrats! We first interviewed him in 1996 for his Swan Lake (this was for the Downtown News, meaning that we cannot find an online version; photo of Bourne & us by Gary Leonard).  We then wrote the LAT story in 2004 for his Nutcracker at Royce Hall.

And let’s not forget that Bourne’s Swan Lake returned to the Ahmanson in 2006, when we also did the LAT story on lead swan, Alan Vincent. But we digress: Sleeping Beauty‘s after-toast (which actually did not include a toast, as a patron, literally, passed out, bringing the party to a kind of premature halt), was nevertheless a chance to chat with Matt, who will be here for the show’s run, through December 1. Tix, we hear, are going fast, though, so get yours today!

The night of Beauty we were with ballerina Theresa Farrell (click here for our NYT story on American Contemporary Ballet and Los Angeles Ballet), while we also chatted up Patricia Ward Kelly (Gene Kelly: The Legacy will be at American Jewish University’s Gindi Auditorium January 26), Ms. Kaufman (redux, again with Ms. Gates, they’re quite the item around town these days), choreographer Josie Walsh and Gordon Davidson, the erstwhile godfather of L.A. Theater.

It was Davidson, after all, who first introduced Bourne to the States by bringing his Swan Lake to L.A. Champagne in hand, we also spoke that night with Richard Sherman, half of the songwriting team, the Sherman Brothers, they of such iconic scores as Mary Poppins (which Matt choreographed and co-directed with Richard Eyre). Btw: Did we mention that we told Matt we’d like to sleep for 100 years (it looked as if Hannah Vassallo’s Princess Aurora was on propofol, waking up more exquisite than ever)? Well, we did, and why not! With Matthew Bourne as director, anything’s possible!

We also love magic, sideshows and carnies, so were thrilled to interview Todd Robbins  and Teller (of Penn and Teller illusionist fame), the latter directing Robbins in the bloody screamfest, Play Dead, at the Geffen Playhouse through December 22 (click here for our KCET Artbound story, for whom we were, well, ‘Columnist of the Week‘ last week). To round things out, we invited dear friend Charlotte Spiegelman to the opening of LA Opera’s The Magic Flute, a production of Berlin’s Komische Oper, but new to L.A. Wow! Also in attendance: LAT theater critic, the fabulous Charlie McNulty, with freelance scribe Margaret Gray.

The animation by Paul Barritt (with Suzanne Andrade, they are theater troupe, 1927), is a mix of Disney’s Fantasia and Edward Gorey, with Rube Goldbergian touches. Its non-stop visuals include the Queen of the Night (right, sung by Erika Miklósa, and basically resembling  a kinetic Louise Bourgeois spider sculpture), nearly nailing her high Fs. Barritt and Andrade, along with Barrie Kosky, who also co-directed, were all making their LA Opera debuts. Among the illustrious attendees was art superstar David Hockney, whose newest, techno-driven work is on display at San Francisco’s de Young Museum through January.

And at some point (it’s getting difficult to recall exact dates), we even made an appearance at iPalpiti’s 11th Annual Tribute to Leo Frankel at the Nathan Frankel Residence. Frankel, who plays violin by night and runs a scrap metal factory by day, performed in Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57 (1940), with Ellen Jung, second violin, Juan-Miguel Hernandez, viola, Evgeny Tonkha, cello, and Steven Vanhauwaert, piano. The hall was packed and the music divine, as was the Russian vodka, cuisine and company, courtesy of Yana Shukman and Laura Schmieder.

Okay, we’re probably leaving stuff out, so please let us know if you’ve spotted The Beaver at any outing we may not yet have mentioned. Oh, yes, we did manage to get to a screening of Ralph FiennesThe Invisible Woman (a terrible title), who also starred as Charles Dickens, with Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Ternan and Felicity Jones as Nelly Ternan. It’s a beautiful film that reminded us of Jane Campion’s Bright Star, about poet John Keats, featuring Ben Whishaw before his career really took off. (Click here for our Looseleaf Report coverage of that Brit.) We fear, however, that Woman will go the way of the Campion flick, which means nobody will see it. A pity, really. And besides, The Beaver didn’t make an appearance at the erstwhile Clarity Screening Room, cuz it was in the morning and was much too warm for full-length animal pelts.

Finally: On a sad note, we would like to dedicate this post to the memory of Wanda Coleman, one of L.A.’s own, our unofficial poet laureate, if you will, who died at age 67 on November 22. Wanda appeared on one of our very first Looseleaf Report shows, and we have always been a huge fan of, not only her writing, but of her as a beautiful soul. Unstinting, raw, emotional, her poems burned themselves onto our brains with fierce grace. Our deepest sympathies go to her family, especially husband Austin Straus, and though this literary light has gone out, it will shine on, gloriously, brightly, in her many books. RIP dear Wanda…

One last thought, dear readers: If we don’t speak to you before Thanksgiving, have a lovely, food/family/and friend-filled holiday. Peace!

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Why We Can’t Stay Home and Knit

By Victoria Looseleaf

Our mother was a master knitter – and master bridge player. We do neither. Well, we did know how to knit once upon a time, although a scarf we, er, made, looked more like a bowling pin, so we gave that up. (Perhaps Merce Cunningham might have used the ungainly garment in his classic work, Antic Meet – belowbut, truth be told, in 1958 we weren’t exactly aware of Postmoderism…)

We digress: As we’ve mentioned, this has been a spectacular fall for culture in Los Angeles. We were particularly ecstatic about the four-and-a-half hour opera, Einstein on the Beach (click here for our KCET Artbound story on the opera that is not really an opera, nor is it about Einstein and there is no beach), and its attendant hoopla.

Meaning, we were at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for opening night, October 11, with video artist extraordinaire, Jon 9, and then at the after-party, where we semi-hung with creators, Bob Wilson, Lucinda Childs and Philip Glass. Frank Gehry was also there and we made sure to thank him again for Walt Disney Concert Hall, whose 10th anniversary is currently being celebrated.

Indeed, we were at the Hall for the premiere of 200 Motels, and again four days later, for Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting his brilliant violin concerto that premiered in 2009, with Leila Josefowicz in astonishing form.

We also went nuts for Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question, performed in the upper reaches of the Hall (Balanchine made a ballet to the haunting work, Ivesiana), and which E-P also conducted on opening night 10 years ago.

But back to Einstein: The next day we forayed to Royce Hall where the three masterminds engaged in an on-stage discussion with CAP UCLA’s artistic director, Kristy Edmunds (she helped bring the work to L.A., at long last). We also snuck in a trip to the Barclay Theatre to catch Josie Walsh’s wonderful new ballet, Texture of Time, with music performed onstage by her husband, Paul Rivera, Jr., aka, Jealous Angel, and danced by members of Festival Ballet.

Accompanying us on many of these edifying jaunts has been  the marvelously witty and inventive visual artist, conceptual photographer Linda Kunik.  A special shout-out, then, to Ms. Kunik, who’s got a solo show coming up in February, You Say Tomato…at Echo Park’s 1650 Gallery. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.

And the culture never abated: The next day we were at a screening of 12 Years A Slave, a harrowing, beautifully acted, directed and photographed, must-see film, before heading out that night to catch the first rehearsal of Yuval Sharon’s Invisible Cities, the so-called headphone opera, with music by Christopher Cerrone and choreography by Danielle Agami, she of Ate9 Dance Company. The next evening we landed at Royce yet again for Bob Wilson’s performance of John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing. (“I’ve got nothing to say and I’m saying it.”)

These goings-on were mere prelude to a huge weekend of Nederlands Dans Theater (cover photo), the troupe that performed at the Pavilion after Einstein decamped. We also did all three pre-concert talks, and wrote a piece for Performances Magazine (go to page five and six of the PDF), so we’re pretty hip to the Den Hague-based company.

Choreographer Paul Lightfoot is in his third season as NDT artistic director, and with his partner, Sol León, choreographed two fantastic works on the bill that also included Medhi Walerski’s Chamber, a Music Center co-commission, with an original score by Joby Talbot. (He wrote the music for Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; click here for our 2012 KUSC review.) Chamber was a response to the Stravinsky/Nijinsky Rite of Spring, now 100 years old, and if it wasn’t quite as shocking as what went down that night in Paris on May 29, 1913, well, we ask you, what is!

Leaving no moss growing under our feet, we also managed to get to the Geffen Playhouse for opening night of Wait Until Dark, which was a terrific 1967 flick starring Audrey Hepburn, Richard Crenna and Alan Arkin. However, Frederick Knott’s play (he also penned Dial M for Murder, one of our favorites), did not hold up in this creaky, unscary mounting. As for Alison Pill, well, she’s no Audrey Hepburn!

Another night of theater – and on an altogether different plane – was Julian Sands‘ one-man show, A Celebration of Harold Pinter, which he brought to the Broad Stage. We’d seen it last year at the Odyssey, but it was shortly after our mother had suddenly passed away, so that was a bit difficult for us. Mr. Sands gave a deeply moving, highly resonant performance, bringing Pinter, who died in 2008, to life. In remembrance, then, here is a poem the Nobel Prize-winning playwright wrote in 1975, one that Sands recited several times over the course of the hour and forty-five minute performance: “I know the place. It is true. Everything we do Corrects the space Between death and me And you.”

That about brings us up to date (click here and here for two other recent posts to get the Full Looseleaf). And speaking of death, we’d like to take a moment to remember Lou Reed, who died at 71 yesterday; a singular voice, silenced. He was married to Laurie Anderson, whom we also revere (click here for our KUSC review of her 2012 Royce Hall performance of Dirtday!) Oy!


We’re actually a tad surprised that we’ve got enough energy to crank this stuff out. But it sure beats knitting! So…until next time, as a personal favor to us, have a great life.

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Dancing With Tweets: And Other Terpsichorean News

By Victoria Looseleaf

We were thrilled to review David Roussève’s latest work, Stardust, for the LA Times last month at REDCAT (click here for our coverage, which makes use of texts and tweets to help tell a story). Stardust kicked off the second edition of RADAR L.A. festival, which was city-wide and also included Complicite’s astonishing performance of Shun-kin at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse.

The London-based troupe (right), led by Simon McBurney, in turn, kicked off CAP UCLA’s season, which looks to be stellar, courtesy of its artistic director, Kristy Edmunds. Hats off to her, then, for her brilliant taste, dedication and unrelenting enthusiasm for the performing arts in this town.

But back to Roussève and his company, Reality. We loved the performance (and had written about it for Dance Magazine last year as it began germinating in UCLA’s First Hand program). We’d also been assigned by that same publication to do an upcoming news story on Roussève.

The story was skedded to be published in January, when Stardust hits the road. Several days after the REDCAT show, we interviewed Roussève for the story, wrote it up and filed it. We were then informed that the editor who had assigned the piece (someone we’d worked with on numerous occasions), had left the publication and, that, in fact, Dance Magazine was going in a different direction and…couldn’t use the story as written.

We were unhappy, to say the least. And then we learned that Wendy Perron, editor-in-chief was no longer EIC, but is now editor-at-large (just what does that mean?), and that the publication whose first issue appeared in June, 1927, was no longer going to be running any reviews…at all. It made sense that Dance Mag stopped running print reviews last year (it’s got a long lead time, which made the reviews seem out of touch), and was only running online reviews. But to stop reviewing dance altogether?

We know times are tough for newspapers and magazines, but this is bizarre and, actually, very sad. Perhaps we’ll still be able to guest blog, filing our letters from such destinations as Venice and Lyon (click here and here for those epistles. From Venezia, at right, Konstanze Mello of Teatro Castro Alves; photo by Ramonah Gayã, Courtesy Biennale).

In the interim, we found a new outlet, and that is Australia’s Fjord Review. Stay tuned for our upcoming reviews on Susan Marshall at Royce Hall (11/9) and superstar ballerina, Diana Vishneva, in On the Edge at Segerstrom Center for the Arts (11/6-10). We first wrote about Vishneva for the LA Times in 2008, when she debuted her program, Beauty in Motion.

That ’08 concert, all world premieres, included one choreographed by Complexions Contemporary Ballet co-director, Dwight Rhoden. A duet, it was danced with one of our favorites, Desmond Richardson (below), the other half of Complexions. (This fabulous company was at the Ford Amphitheatre a few months ago; click here for our LAT story).

And while there may be fewer outlets covering dance, there are, thank God, still a slew of companies forming, performing, and creating new works. We wrote the LAT story on Barak Ballet and also checked out its debut performance at the Broad Stage recently. Upcoming: We’ll be covering Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre for the LAT, with the queen of site-specific dance mounting a new work, Groundskeepers, at Linda Vista Hospital in Boyle Heights (two weekends, beginning 11/1). We’re also looking forward to seeing Martha Graham Dance Company on November 8, when the troupe inaugurates the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (aka the Wallis, below – one of its theaters used to be our post office, how cool is that!). Our LAT story prints November 3. Congrats, also, to executive director, Lou Moore, for what not only looks to be a fabulous new venue, but one that will also regularly present, among other performing arts, dance.

In the interim, tweet if you #LoveDance! (Cover photo: Maurizio Nardi, Lloyd Knight, and Blakeley White-McGuire in Martha Graham’s Maple Leaf Rag, photo by Costas)

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Happy 10th Anniversary, Walt Disney Concert Hall

By Victoria Looseleaf

Talk about culture vultures! We have been on a roll for the last month or so, but did want to check in on our homegalz site. Where to begin. Well, the 10th Anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall seems like a great place to start. We had an absolute blast (and have loved just about every single concert/event we’ve been to since the Hall’s opening on October 23, 2003).

But back to the evening of September 30, which began with The Dude conducting John Cage’s notorious 4’33” – without a score (hahaha…) – and continued with Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach and Tchaikovsky. The LA Phil sounded incredible in These Premises Are Alarmed, by the always edgy British composer Thomas Adès. We also loved Mahler’s Rondo from his Symphony No. 9 and the Maestoso from Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, aka, The Organ, with the Hall’s magnificent instrument sounding mighty, fersure.


But the night was really a tribute to Frank Gehry (below), with his quotes sprinkled liberally throughout the hall and his voice heard during several of Netia Jones’ fabulous video installations.



On the actual date, October 23, conductor laureate, Esa-Pekka Salonen (below), led the Phil, the L.A. Master Chorale and a cast of actors and singers in the world premiere of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels.

It was absolutely raucous, raunchy and rich. Indeed if Dali, Arp and others of the Surrealism/Dada movements had composed music, it might have sounded like Zappa’s.


To read all about how the Hall came to be, click here for our KCET Artbound story and let us know what you think.

And re the story: We tried to get photos from our erstwhile colleague, Gary Leonard (we worked together for eight years at the Downtown News – this before much was happening down there), and wrote the forward to his book, Symphony in Steel: Walt Disney Concert Hall Goes Up. But Gary, the Weegee of Los Angeles, true to form, said he couldn’t possibly find any of those shots in his enormous archives.

Apologies, then, to Mr. Leonard, as we then turned to erstwhile D.A. Gil Garcetti, who began a second career as a photographer after losing the O.J. trial, etc. Thus, at some point after 2000, when he was out of office and the Hall was finally rising, Garcetti was granted access to the Gehry edifice. Our story features an interview with Gil and some of his now iconic pictures (one such photo at right), especially of the fabulous men otherwise known as Ironworkers (not to be confused with Robert Downey Jr.’s cinematic persona, not that we ever saw any one of those, er, films…).

To keep this short, then, we’re just gonna say, enjoy the story and – to quote one of our favorite operatic heroines, the doomed Tosca, Vissi d’arte.

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Fired Up and Ready To Go

By Victoria Looseleaf

We don’t know how time managed to slip away, but, please forgive us, dear readers, for not having checked in on our very own blog for the entire summer! Would you believe  when we say we’ve been swamped – in a good way.

Well, we have. So, as we await doing our third interview of the day, in this case with the fabulous Kristy Edmunds, artistic director of Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP-UCLA), for a story on the upcoming, long-awaited arrival of Einstein on the Beach (a joint effort between UCLA and Los Angeles Opera),we thought we would at least jot down a few words – and post some of our more recent articles.

In July we began our third season writing the KUSC broadcast scripts and program notes for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, where we spent many an afternoon and evening for the last two months. Winding down now, the last three broadcasts, including Gustavo Dudamel conducting Verdi’s Requiem, can be heard on KUSC Sundays at 7 pm through October 6. We also wrote a few LA Times pieces about the Ford Amphitheater (for our Viver Brasil review, click here; for our story on Lula Washington Dance Theatre and Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company, click here). Complexions is co-directed by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, the latter also a phenomenal dancer, who gifted the audience with a solo (below), making the night even more magical. Truly, folks, there are no more fantastic places to be in the summer in L.A.  than at the Bowl and the Ford.

In August, we celebrated our birthday in Palm Springs, where the thermometer hit 108 degrees, which did not hamper a lovely visit with our long-time friend, artist Russ Butler, and also included a happy hour visit to Wang’s, where we knocked back 2buck Scotches. Back in the City of Angels once again, we took in the final program of American Contemporary Ballet’s second season, one that featured (as always) live music, including Debussy’s Danses Sacrée et Profane.

We are particularly fond of that work, as it was a mainstay of our harp repertory. Cheers, then, to artistic director Lincoln Jones, for his astute and beautiful sense of programming – and to his vibrant, visceral choreography that, apart from being supremely musical, is thought-provoking and wonderfully satisfying. A shout out, as well, to several of the dancers, notably Theresa Farrell (left, photo by Lauren Ward), Zsolt Banki, the only male in a company of 10, Crystal Serrano and Lydia Relle,  the other terpsichores, equally gorgeous, graceful and awe-inspiring, notwithstanding.

Throughout the summer months we also made a series of visits to the Diavolo studio, where Jacques Heim, artistic director and architect of motion for the troupe he founded in 1992, was working on the final part of its Los Angeles Philharmonic trilogy, collectively known as L’Espace du Temps (right). We then wrote a story for the Los Angeles Times that printed before the company’s triumphant September 5 appearance at the Bowl (click here for that). We can’t say enough about the work, Fluid Infinities, set to the music of Philip Glass (cover photo, featuring the brilliant Chisa Yamaguchi).

And for those who love their dance with music by Glass, Nederlands Dans Theater will be at the Music Center next month, with two of the works set to this titan of minimalism’s transfixing scores. Plus: Rounding out the evening is the West Coast premiere of Mehdi Walerski’s Chamber (left), a response to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, with original music by Joby Talbot, on the occasion of this, the 100-year anniversary of the Stravinsky game-changer. Oh, and yours truly will be doing the pre-concert talks at all three performances, as well as having written the article in the October issue of Performances Magazine.

But we digress: We also penned a handful of KCET Artbound stories, including one about the incredibly talented portrait photographer, Christofer Dierdorff (click here for that), and two articles covering Prometheus Bound. Directed by the visionary Travis Preston and starring the indefatigable Ron Cephas Jones (click here for that), Prometheus is set on a 23-foot revolving wheel (below), and it features music by Los Angeles’ very own Vinny Golia (we love this dude!), as well as a chorale score by up-and-comer, Ellen Reid. Click here for our interviews with the musicians, then hurry down to the Getty Villa, where the production runs through September 28.

Still to come: our story on the 10th anniversary of Walt Disney Concert Hall and a think piece on Einstein on the Beach – both for Artbound. We’ll also be at the Hall on September 30 for the gala concert, then you’ll find us at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for Einstein (October 11-13), which comes to Los Angeles some 37 years after its groundbreaking premiere. Yes, we did see it in Brooklyn in 1992, which makes us that much more excited to check it out again. It’ll also be cool to hear Glass, Robert Wilson and Lucinda Childs talking about the historic work at Royce Hall on October 11, in converstation with the arts activist, the amazing Ms. Edmunds.


If we’ve left anything out (and we’re sure we have), we promise to be more diligent in our blogging this season. Finally, with tomorrow the first day of fall, we’re fired up and ready to go. We hope you are, too.

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Sundays With Rudy

By Victoria Looseleaf

We can’t believe it’s the last day of June and have hardly written a word – for The Looseleaf Report, that is. We have, however, been quite busy cranking out “long-form journalism” for KCET’s Artbound.

Yes, our first piece on American Contemporary Ballet went live on May 29, 2013, the 100-year anniversary of the Stravinsky/Nijinsky Rite of Spring. We planned it that way and still hope that ACB artistic director Lincoln Jones tackles Stravinsky’s two-piano reduction of the score with his fabulous troupe of dancers. (Photo below by Lauren Ward)

Wouldn’t his muse and associate director, Theresa Farrell make an absolutely delicious Chosen One? We’d also like to see Jones choreograph to Bach’s Goldberg Variations (and have told him so), but only time will tell (and money, musicians and whatever else it takes to make a dance set to this piano masterpiece), as Jones, like the great George Balanchine (about whom we wrote for the New York Times), is never bereft of ideas. See for yourselves at their August concerts, when two new ballets are performed to live music.

Our second Artbound story was about the magnificent painter Kenton Nelson (left). It’s no secret that ballerina Farrell modeled for him for his large oil painting, Interval, and that ACB used the work for its second season brochure. Ergo, if you want to see how the Pasadena born-and-bred artist developed into one of today’s highly acclaimed narrative realists, check out our feature, and please ‘like’ our Artbound stories on FB, so they have a shot at being made into mini-docs.

Btw, after writing about Nelson, we covered Bodytraffic and L.A. Dance Project for the Los Angeles Times (check out our review here). And while we were working on our last Artbound feature on choreographer Rudy Perez (referred to in this blog posting’s title; cover phot0, Countdown, by Steve Sbarge, 1965), we were gobsmacked with the news of James Gandolfini’s death.

Too stunned to write about him ourselves, we went into high Sopranos mode, reading others’ remembrances of him, YouTubing favorite eps and talking to friends about this gentle giant with the sad, sad eyes. We were also grateful that we actually had the privilege of seeing Gandolfini act on stage (God of Carnage), and also met him at the opening night party.

Oy! Whadda guy. He was also one of the most brilliant actors of all time (so sayeth Sopranos creator David Chase, and he would know). And so we quote Tony Soprano, who, so often after one of his associates ‘died,’ would say, ‘Whadda ya gonna do!’

Well, what we did was we kept on writing, in this case about Perez, a Los Angeles treasure. Still leading his weekly performance lab, Sundays With Rudy, at age 83, Perez is the living embodiment of postmodern dance. After all, he studied with Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham and was also part of Judson Dance Theater. But you’ll learn all about him when you read our story here.

And while Perez has received well-deserved recognition since moving to the City of Angels in 1978, we feel justified in quoting Arthur Miller’s Linda Loman in the playwright’s classic work, Death of A Salesman, when she says of her husband, the tragic Willy Loman, “Attention must be paid!”

Rudy, if we can help generate said attention – in the only way we know how – through the written word, this makes us happy. We love you and, if we could, we would not only spend Sundays with you, but every day of the week. You are our guru, our guide, our inspiration. To quote another, er, iconic male, Billy Joel, “Don’t go changing…”

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To Live and Dance In L.A.

By Victoria Looseleaf

It’s no secret that we cover all the arts, but we do have a particular fondness for dance. And we’ve had quite the spring season.

One weekend in May we did a pre-concert talk with the fabulous Colleen Neary, co-artistic director of Los Angeles Ballet (above photo by Lawrence K. Ho), before taking our seats to watch the troupe perform three glorious Balanchine works as part of its Balanchine Festival (click here for our New York Times story on the great choreographer’s time in L.A.).

The next day we found ourselves at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s wondrous production of The Marriage of Figaro, conducted by our favorite maestro, Gustavo Dudamel, with costumes by Azzedine Alaïa. (Click here for our review of Ballet Preljocaj’s Les Nuits, the connection being Alaïa also did the costumes for Angelin’s latest work that bowed in Aix-en-Provence.)

We then rushed out of Disney Hall to make it to the El Portal Theatre in time to live tweet the red carpet arrivals for Shaping Sound Dance Company before taking in the concert. Click here for our Dance Magazine review of the surprisingly good work, with choreography by Travis Wall, et al. (Left: Teddy Forance and Jaimie Goodwin, photo by Charley Gallay)

We then did two more pre-concert talks with Ms. Neary and also wrote our first story for KCET’s ARTBOUND about the brilliant young troupe, American Contemporary Ballet (also part of our NYT story), that posted May 29, the 100-year anniversary of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. (Below: ACB’s Theresa Farrell; photo by Lauren Ward)

And though we love nothing more than being in the studio watching rehearsals (we’ve been making forays to the Brewery to check up on Jacques Heim and Diavolo, whose Fluid Infinities debuts at the Hollywood Bowl with the L.A. Phil in September), we gotta admit, we’re really looking forward to ACB’s concerts this weekend, June 14 and 15. We’ll also be reviewing Bodytraffic for the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, so stay tuned…

Also: In between going to all of these great dance (and music) events, we saw two terrific plays at the Music Center – Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and The Scottsboro Boys – and caught L.A. Opera’s riveting production of Tosca (also at the Center), our favorite PMS opera (don’t ask, just trust us).

And trust us when we say it’s going to be a great summer in L.A., where the arts are very much alive and well!

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Balanchine’s Palm-Fringed Muse

By Victoria Looseleaf

“Wow, I really like that headline,” our father said to us after reading our recent New York Times story on the great choreographer George Balanchine’s time spent in L.A.

So do I, but we don’t write the headlines. The paper actually has writers who crank those out.”

Talk about a niche job.

Ah, needless to say, we were thrilled with the story whose headline has given a new moniker to the City of Angels. In any case, we are the Deadline Queen, so having done our reportage, including observing rehearsals at both Los Angeles Ballet (the troupe is in the middle of its Balanchine Festival, below) and American Contemporary Ballet (the company has four performances in June, below right), as well as writing the piece while somewhat jet-lagged (we’d recently been on a whirlwind trip to Aix-en-Provence to cover Ballet Preljocaj’s world premiere – we know it’s a tough life but someone’s gotta live it), we’re happy to share the story, which posted online May 17 and published May 19, with those of you who may have missed it.

Ergo, here it is…our New York Times story on Balanchine in Los Angeles – just because we’re so pleased – and not only for us, but for the brilliant companies we are privileged to have introduced to a national audience. (Full disclosure: We had written about LAB for Dance Magazine in 2010, but the more stories, we feel, the better.)



Some of the tidbits in the NYT story have to do with Balanchine loving films and choreographing five of them. Below is a scene from his first, The Goldwyn Follies (1938), which starred his then-wife, the fabulous Vera Zorina. At left, Mr. B is rehearsing with Maria Tallchief, his third wife, whom we also mention in the story.

While writing about dance is fabulous, it’s even more exciting to watch our local ballet troupes grow and thrive.

In short, thank you, dear readers, for sharing this written journey with us, and please make sure to check out these wonderful companies!

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