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Incoming! Travis Preston Gives It To Us Straight

Prometheus Bound, World Premiere, A new translation by Joel Agee, Directed by Travis Preston CalArts Center for New Performance, Presented by the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa — Pinned high on a gigantic metal wheel, Aeschylus’ ragged Prometheus has, for the past eighty minutes, been spitting out toxic denunciations of all-mighty Zeus and his dictates. Hermes himself just arrived with the Big Chief's final ultimatum, only to be met with more curses and maledictions from the unrepentant Giver-of-Fire. Finally, Prometheus pauses and looks out, seeing in the far distance the glow of Zeus’ destructive bolt on its way toward him like a heat-seeking missile. Lower down on the steel armature, the flock of women who have gathered in … [Read more...]

Mr. B …and the A.B.T.

ABT, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center, Los Angeles, July 11-14, 2013 Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times The American Ballet Theatre, based in New York City, mounts an eight-week season of dance performances each spring at Lincoln Center. The balance of the company’s year is largely spent touring the U.S. and the world.  Los Angeles was one of their stop-overs recently—July 11-14, 2013, at the Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center. Four of ABT’s five performances featured one of the very first ballets—“Le Corsaire." This 3-act extravaganza is replete with pirates and slave girls, poisoned roses, Turkish pashas, music by Adolphe Adam, Leo Delibes and three more composers and a ship that sinks in a violent … [Read more...]

“Rites” of Passage

Celebrating A 100 Years of Le Sacre du Printemps The Joffrey Ballet "Rite of Spring", Dance at the Music Center, February 2013 4handsLA, Le Sacre du Printemps, Jacaranda: Thresholds, February 2013 — While other sixteen year olds sought summer employment behind a McDonald's counter or bagging at the local Safeway, I got lucky and was hired as a backstage "runner" at the Hollywood Bowl, the world famous outdoor amphitheater in the foothills of Los Angeles, where music concerts—classical, pop, jazz and rock—have brightened the night sky above since 1922.  As a “runner” and on stand-by for every show, I was assigned to the backstage area.  My close access to the dressing rooms allowed me the chance to meet some … [Read more...]

A Sign of Life from the Post-Dramatic

Wooster Group & New York City Players, Early Plays, directed by Richard Maxwell, REDCAT, February 21-24, 2013 — I’m in 7-11 – the one on Silver Lake Boulevard. I’m buying ice for a field trip my daughter’s 6th grade class is taking later in the day. There’s nothing unusual about the errand, but something about the way the sunlight slants across the surfaces of the Salt Snack displays and the Slurpee counter, or maybe it’s the warmth in the smile of the woman at the register as she hands me my change – she’s from the Indian subcontinent and seems so happy to be here I imagine she’s a new arrival still in the honeymoon phase of the American dream - or perhaps it’s the small courtesy shown me by the young woman who holds the door … [Read more...]

Repairs are Being Attempted

GATZ by Elevator Repair Service, Directed by John Collins  at REDCAT, Nov. 28-Dec. 9, 2012 — We reach a point in dreams sometimes of sudden precarious flight, the unfolding of an odd, slow-motion knowledge that we have become untethered, the way participants in car accidents are sometimes launched through windshields, and we can imagine ourselves filled with a kind of instant nostalgia for the firm ground just left behind, and for the time before our weightless freefall. Even before we make impact with whatever surface approaches — hard, or if we are very lucky in our dreaming, soft and giving, a warm embrace perhaps, the arms of a wise and trusted elder perhaps, wearing a soft cardigan with leather patches at the elbows possibly, and … [Read more...]

A Larger Hunger

And God Created Great Whales, Rinde Eckert, REDCAT, January 2012 – Rinde Eckert takes to the stage, house lights on, sits at a piano-cum-surrogate-captain's-table strewn with post-its and and tinkers endlessly with what appears to be sheet music. The stage lights dim to black and then rise again, and Eckert appears now as Nathan, a hapless piano tuner, who, along with his imaginary muse Olivia, trace, tack and travail the last vestiges of Nathan’s memory in order to piece together his magna opera “Moby Dick”. Strapped around his waist and hung around his neck are color-coded tape recordings. These are Nathan's memory devices; they supply him with directives on how to complete his musical masterpiece, if only he could recall long enough … [Read more...]

In from the Cold: Winter Dancing at REDCAT

CalArts Winter Dance, The Sharon Disney Lund Dance Series, REDCAT, Los Angeles, California, 16 December 2011 – Four works were presented at the CalArts Winter Dance event for this year: first-performances of works by two CalArts choreographer-professors, followed by the renown Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. The evening revealed stark differences in approach, the first two works incorporating traditional and modern movements within a larger context, while the Naharin works used no conventional movement. Contemporary dance comprises a very broad range of styles, even at a school such as CalArts, known worldwide as a haven of experimental and avant-garde creativity. One of the two premieres of the evening, Los Angeles … [Read more...]

The Brokered Heart

Tim Crouch’s England, Skirball Cultural Center, November 9, 2011 – We’re in the atrium of the Skirball Cultural Center atop the Sepulveda pass in Los Angeles when the tall Englishman begins speaking to us. His voice is clear, his diction flawless, sharpened by the cheerfully aggressive precision of high British elocution. An Englishwoman is with him, and she speaks to us also, her voice equally clear and certain. The two of them describe their love of art. They both have a boyfriend who is an art dealer, and they talk about him too. After a few lines volleyed in this fashion, we realize they are two performers inhabiting the same character, and, listening as closely as we can, it remains impossible to know which of them is the “real” … [Read more...]

Three to Get Ready

New Original Works Festival, REDCAT, 22, 23, 24 September 2011 – An enthusiastic sold-out crowd saw a triple bill last week of two new dance works and an elaborate puppet/human operetta in the annual NOWFest at REDCAT, a three-week series that showcases new works by Los Angeles-based dance, theater, music, and multimedia performance artists. Michel Kouakou began the evening with his pseudo-solo Sack, in which he was the primary moving object. A large sack suspended from the ceiling functioned as the only prop — unless one also counts the several stationary dancers who also occupied the stage, all of whom had their shirts pulled over their faces for the duration of the 20-minute performance. Kouakou's movement cerainly contrasted … [Read more...]

Working Woman

Sandra Bernhard, REDCAT, Los Angeles, August 12, 2011 – Performances run through August 21. www.redcat.org Sandra Bernhard is back in L.A. for a two-week run at REDCAT to promote her recent album, I Love Being Me, Don’t You? Or perhaps the album promotes the tour--it’s hard to say since she included hardly any of the recorded material in her 100-minute performance Friday night. If you know Bernhard only through YouTube videos or guest appearances on talk shows, or even from her albums, you don’t know her vast range until you’ve seen her live. The show was a balanced blend of standup, stories, and music. Bernhard’s an assured, emotional singer, and the audience responded to the risk inherent in the intermixing of music and … [Read more...]