Georgeous & Rita-licious

Dance · Fashion · Featured · Film

As Oscar Sunday approaches, we turn to the year when two beautiful young singer/dancers both won Academy Awards for West Side Story.

George Chakiris and Rita Moreno, respective winners for Best Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role, appeared stunningly beautiful at the ceremony 
April 9, 1962 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

This is Oscar fashion.

As Chakiris, a friend of arts·meme, points out, “We had to wear tails.” Young people: that means white tie and tuxedo tails.

The following year, the duo returned to the ceremony as award presenters. Moreno donned an Indian sari. How cool is that?

Class~! They look like silent movie stars — Valentino and his consort, Natasha Rambova.

Good fashion keeps you going!

Chakiris is set to share WSS tales with the young cast of Valley Performing Arts Center‘s West Side Story production, opening on March 10.

Moreno brings her one-woman show to the Musco Center for the Arts March 11.

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Choreographer Cherice Barton spreads happiness at VPAC

Dance · Featured

She’s part of a tribe of young dance makers who hop fluidly between entertainment hot-spots—Las Vegas, L.A.’s Staple Center, Broadway, and Hollywood. Clients include Katy Perry (at the Grammy Awards); George Lucas (in a Disney film); Spider-Man (vaulting above Broadway); and two darling daughters ages three and four. Relishing her return to the ballet world (now a leading commercial choreographer, she danced with the Alberta Ballet at 17), Cherice Barton joins an elite club—choreographers creating new works for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. For a theme, she’s been cogitating on a commodity both rare and elusive.

“What is happiness?” queries Barton in Eudaemonia, her first serious choreographic foray onto the concert stage. She addresses this essentially spiritual question with the tools of her trade, the human body. The eldest of three dancing sisters (Aszure and Charissa complete the trio), the Ontario-born, Edmonton-raised choreographer spoke by phone during her recent Aspen residency.

“Happiness is huge as a concept—and the universal search for happiness provides infinite layers to be explored,” she said with a tinge of solemnity.

is a co-commission by ASFB and the esteemed Valley Performing Arts Center, located in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley. VPAC executive director, Thor Steingraber, put ASFB directors Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty under tight constraints in selecting a choreographer. First, the work would have its world premiere Friday March 3, at VPAC, the frothy multi-arts theater located at Cal State, Northridge, where ASFB is dance company-in-residence. (This showcase represents the second of the residency’s three performances.)

Mossbrucker picked up the gauntlet with glee. “Thor asked us to select a Los Angeles-based choreographer.” he explained. “He also wanted someone working in commercial dance. We were delighted to discover Cherice, with her strong choreographic voice. She fits the bill on all counts.”

Steingraber, an impresario known for his eclectic taste, agreed. “There is something uniquely Hollywood about Cherice’s aesthetic and her approach to dance and performance,” he says. “It’s very much rooted in storytelling, embracing humor, and while unpacking a complex concept—the quest for happiness—it is also openly embracing of a kind of entertainment value.”

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Judy Garland’s admiration for Gwen Verdon’s husband


Recently researching dance history at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, I came across this nugget from Gwen Verdon. In an interview, Gwen recounted a story with droll wit,

Judy Garland once said to me, “Oh your husband has done such a marvelous job!”

And I said who???

Because I really did not know what she meant. The show was “Redhead.” And he directed and choreographed that show. And she referred to him as my husband. It didn’t even ring a bell.

He was the director. He was the choreographer. And our relationship started that way. So it always stayed that way when we were working.

photo credit: The Verdon Fosse Legacy
source: Spotlight! Gwen Verdon. Produced by Rian Keating, Pierrot Productions. New York 1983

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Audience nods off at performance

In a brilliant illustration of a New York Times story, “Inside the Brutal World of Comedy Open Mikes,” photographer Christian Hansen captures a less-than-scintillated audience of three. The occasion was an ‘open mike’ session at a comedy club. Guys, we know the feeling!

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Featured · Visual arts
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Docu-worthy: Yvonne Rainer in ‘Feelings Are Facts’

Dance · Film
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Visual arts
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Oprah Winfrey tires of Klimt masterpiece, sells to China

Visual arts
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Pasadena Museum of California Art goes to the beach

Visual arts
Our winter is unusually wet and cold at the moment, making visits to our beaches prohibitive. The evocative exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, “In the Land of Sunshine: Imaging the California Coast Culture” (through February 19), will punch the emotional buttons of anyone who has sand in the shoes of their psyche. ...