We’ve Got You Covered

By Victoria Looseleaf

We’re writing as fast as we can, but it seems like there’s never enough time to meet deadlines, cross the pond, be at the Music Center multiple times in a week, read actual books, get to performances and art events, co-host and produce Gertrude Stein-inspired salons and, well, check in on our very own blog.

We thought this 21st century technology thing was going to make life simpler. Not exactly…

Since we last wrote, we’ve been in a cultural eddy, i.e., spinning from one amazing event to another. In our so-called ‘down time’ (a misnomer, for sure), we discovered that an interview we did with Ray Bradbury some 22 years ago, has been edited (over-edited, is more like it), and made available for all the world to see…without our consent.

We were also informed by Google Alerts that one of our cuts from Harpnosis, Debussy’s Clair de Lune, had been downloaded and is available on an MP3 file. Hello, peeps, the album is a collector’s item and is not even available on iTunes, so thanks for sharing (not!).

But before we discovered all that, we made a much-needed foray to Europe – Wolfsburg and Berlin, to be more precise. As most of our readers know, we’ve been covering Jacques Heim and Diavolo: Architecture in Motion for nearly 20 years, and, of course were honored to have written about the troupe for the Movimentos Festival. We were even more privileged to travel to Wolfsburg to cover the world premiere of Diavolo’s L.A. Phil-commissioned trilogy, L’Espace du Temps. (Click here and here for our two major L.A. Times stories on the first and final parts of the trilogy.)

Mounted in a converted power plant, the performances (we were there for all four), were spectacular (click here for our Fjord Review). The Germans really dug the work, as well. To have Heim’s dancers manipulating giant structures (there are mucho metaphors re machines and the like – click here for our New York Times story on Fearful Symmetries), was nothing short of mind-blowing. (Cover photo and below, courtesy of Ammerpohl.)

We also met a lot of wonderful folks (whenever someone asks us, “What is the most favorite place you’ve been to?” We reply, “Wherever we’re at!”), including the former mayor of Wolfsburg, Prof. Dr. Gerd Schwandner. He’s the dude who came up with the idea of the Autostadt – the inner core of Wolfsburg and capital of Volkswagen that is a bizarre, wildly amazing city dedicated to cars, specifically those owned, designed and manufactured by VW. We also met the former CEO of the company, Carl H. Hahn, still going strong at 87, as well as a slew of dance devotees, presenters, agents, performers and the like. In any case, we’ll be writing a travel story anon on the burg that the Beetle built.

Then there’s Berlin, where we were, indeed, wilkommened. Aside from the fact that there’s more construction going on there than in Dubai, we loved the place. We took in the incredible history and several must-see tourist spots, including the Daniel Libeskind-designed Jewish Museum (right), and the 7,011 slabs that comprise the Holocaust Memorial behind the Brandenburg Gate. We also powered through numerous galleries, museums, markets, theaters (hello, Volksbühne, where we took in Frank Castorf’s production of Ibsen’s The Master Builder – all in German, meaning we only lasted some two hours), food (white asparagus was in season – they boil it with potatoes), music, more art and dance.

Happily, we caught one of Vladimir Malakhov’s last performances as director of Staatsballett Berlin in Mauro Bigonzetti‘s Caravaggio (below), which originally premiered in 2008. We’ve written about Vlad for years (click here for our LAT story on him and Bud Cort – it’s about Vlad’s Harold and Maude ballet, which, btw, never happened), and were worried he would be out of a job once Nacho Duato takes the helm at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season.

Well, Malakhov is a huge  f**ing star, with the curtain call(s) to prove it. The dancer, now 46, took solo bows until every last musician and person had left Schiller Theater. (The opera house is being refurbished, with the troupe currently in this intimate, 900-seat venue.) When we were finally brought onstage to say ‘hello’ to the demi-diety, we expressed our concern about his future. Hah! Mr. Malakhov takes over Tokyo Ballet in August, which eased our troubled mind, fersure, fersure. In any case, our Berlin stay was all too brief at five nights and we do hope to return there soon. In the interim, you can read more about the German capital in our upcoming travel story for Performances Magazine.

Back in Los Angeles we hit the ground running: attending opening night of Dance Camera West with artist/sculptor/poet/Mudperson Mike Mollett, and where Victor Quijada (we wrote the first LAT story on the Montreal-based leader of Rubberbandance Group), had choreographed a short work for Bodytraffic on a Gustavo Godoy jungle gym-like sculpture.

We were jet-lagged, but could appreciate the mini-doc on Sergei Polunin (right), the genius dancer who left the Royal Ballet to become a tattoo artist before he agreed to perform in the world premiere of Peter Schaufuss’ balletic take on Midnight Express (the author of the true story, Billy Hayes, was on The Looseleaf Report back in the day, we’re just sayin’), until Polunin decided not to…dance, that is, leaving many in the terpsichorean lurch. We feel for Sergei, truly.

We also reviewed Los Angeles Ballet again for the LAT (click here), in its Sylphide/Serenade program (next season brings a Tchaikovsky feast, including several Nutcrackers at the Dolby).

We then made a beeline to the Central Library and its Aloud series, where Wendy Perron, Simone Forti and Victoria Marks combined forces for spoken word, dance and discussion. Of course, we made it to the Ahmanson for The Last Confession (we confess: it wasn’t the greatest),with accessory maven Claudia Rossini, before the June honeymoon was upon us and with it, the return of our bi-monthly Salon 2.0.

Together with visual artist Linda Kunik, we once again opened her atelier for an evening of art and conversation. Visual artist Julienne Johnson, vocalist Anna Homler and musician Michael Vlatkovich helped make the night a study in fabulousness. The SRO crowd of 40 was fascinated with Sonata for Toys and Trombone (our title), the Homler/Vlatkovich performance, while Johnson offered a mini-retrospective of her work. (Some of Homler’s toys/instruments, below.)

Guests included art critic extraordinaire Peter Frank, art chronicler Marlene Picard, curator/artist Joshua Elias (he mounted the Taylor Negron exhibition at the Laemmle Royalclick here for our KCET Artbound story), in addition to Jim Farber (co-curator of the wondrous Route 66 exhibition at the Autry Museum), sublime shooters Larry Gassan and Tricia Noble, and site specific dance queen Heidi Duckler, among others.

Fanfare for the divine Ballet Preljocaj at the Music Center. We went to Aix last year to cover the world premiere of Les Nuits (click here for our Dance Magazine review), and recently did the LAT story (click here), the angle being Angelin Preljocaj’s dark side. The story got picked up by artsjournal.com and the crowds at the Chandler went wild. We also did all three pre-concert talks (the first with Angelin himself), and were glad to see the sumptuous, sexy work again.

From darkness to light, we landed at American Contemporary Ballet’s Music + Dance: L.A., this particular series featuring an homage to Fred Astaire, as well as a new work by Lincoln Jones set to Bohuslav Martinů (with live music, courtesy of Kelly Garrison and Da Camera Society).

Oy, we’re trying to keep this short, but keep being hurled into a maelstrom of culture: One afternoon there was a screening of Begin Again (terrible title, we suggest Deja You), starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, and that night, a performance of Barak Ballet at the Broad. Finally, we tipped into Jack Rutberg Fine Arts to catch up with the gallerist and go gaga at the monumental show by the Witkin twins, painter Jerome and staged photographer, Joel-Peter, brought together for the first time by the indefatigable Rutberg. A flu bug/headache thing took us down for a few days and we were sorry to have missed Josie Walsh’s Ballet Red event at 11:11 Collective Art Gallery (Kunik has two works there), but heard it was a smash. In between these doings there were plenty of catch-up lunches, dinners and drinks with people we love and admire.



What, we wonder, will July bring? Hint: We’re coming out as a fiction writer, and are reading our short story, The Oudist, from the newly published anthology, Gen F, at a number of venues in July. Included are a downtown pop-up bookstore bar, Shulamit Gallery and at Susan Hayden‘s Library Girl series. Stay tuned…

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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