Walking with Trane and Urban Bush Women … at the Ford

Dance · Featured

The “dance voices” of strong women will make a clarion call Saturday evening at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in a double pairing of dance companies offering not just glitzy surface but real content, story, mythology in a thoughtful program of contemporary dance.

John_Coltrane_1963The evening’s main offering is the 30-year-old Urban Bush Women, straight outta Brooklyn, a seven-member tribe of fierce female dancers under the direction of ‘chief visioning officer’ Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

UBW brings to the beautiful terrain of the recently refurbished Ford, the West Coast premiere of their newest work, Walking with ‘Trane, a nonlinear story-based dance inspired by the musical life and spiritual journey of John Coltrane. In this work, Urban Bush Women explore the dynamics of Coltrane’s music through experimental movement and an original soundscape inspired by his musical legacy.

Opening Saturday’s program is CONTRA-TIEMPO, the Los Angeles-based Latin dance theater company presenting SHE WHO: Frida, Mami & Me, concerning Mexican visual artist Frida Kahlo and Nigerian deity Mami Wata. A neat tie-in to Urban Bush Women has African-American choreographer and former UBW member Marjani Forté-Saunders, as the dance maker behind “She Who.”


Ford Signature Series: Urban Bush Women and CONTRA-TIEMPO | John Anson Ford Amphitheatre | Saturday Aug 27, 8 pm

Leave a Reply

A glowing time for Sergei Polunin in Southern California

Dance · Featured · Film

We all seek our place in the sun don’t we? Sergei Polunin, the balletic wunderkind who has been much viewed on youtube, will soon seize his moment in southern California’s extended summer. A true exemplar of gorgeous classical technique, Polunin will be among us on screen and on stage stretching into September.

First, the movie. Polunin’s life story, pretty jam-packed for a 26-year-old, is grippingly told in a highly anticipated documentary, DANCER, opening September 9 at Laemmle Theaters. It will be my privilege to interview ballet’s tattooed prince, alongside his director Steven Cantor, at Laemmle’s Monica Film Center on Friday September 9, and then again in a private screening in Beverly Hills on Sunday September 11.

Then comes breaking news from the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa concerning this weekend’s performance of Tour de Force III:

Edward Watson, scheduled to dance with Natalia Osipova in Alastair Marriott’s Zeitgeist is unable to perform due to visa complications. In its place, Osipova will dance in Russell Maliphant’s Silent Echo, partnered with dance phenomenon Sergei Polunin, who will be making his unexpected and long-awaited West Coast debut.


Polunin and Osipova’s turn in Silent Echo constitutes a selection from a complete compete program entitled Natalia Osipova & Artists, which will premiere at New York City Center in November

The pairing with Osipova augurs greatness … it’s a “silent echo” of Nureyev and Fonteyn!

Polunin recently stated his desire to only dance with Natalia.

One senses a natural progression for the highly sensitive and hugely gifted Polunin, who strikes us as a seeker. He began life in a small, dark town in the Ukraine. By dint of pure drive and talent he landed in foggy London, speaking not a word of English. There he quickly climbed the ranks to become a superstar with the Royal Ballet.

His exceptional youtube video, “Take Me to Church,” viewed by fifteen million mouse-clickers, was shot in the healing climes of Hawaii. He’s always moving toward the light.

Well, we got light here! Welcome, Sergei Polunin, to our California shores.

Photo credit: Svetlana Postenko, courtesy of Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Tour de Force III | Segerstrom Center for the Arts | Saturday Aug 27
DANCER |  Laemmle Theatres, Monica Film Center/Playhouse Seven | opens Friday Sept 9

Leave a Reply

George Chakiris recalls filming of ‘West Side Story’ … and Jerry Robbins

Dance · Featured · Film

“All of Jerry’s choreography in this film is dialogue. It’s feeling. It’s not just dance steps.” So said George Chakiris during “A Conversation with George Chakiris” at The Ellen Theater in Bozeman, Montana, in 2015.

Robbins personally cast Chakiris as Bernardo, leader of the Sharks gang, for West Side Story, the movie. Prior to that George appeared for 18 months as Jets gang leader Riff in the London production of the groundbreaking musical.


Thank you, The Ellen Theatre.

Leave a Reply

Maxing out on Jerry Lewis @ the Aero

The king of comedy will appear in person following a screening of his film, “Max Rose” hosted by the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre. Professional pianist Max Rose (Jerry Lewis) takes pride in his long career but even greater joy in his marriage to Eva (Claire Bloom). He is devastated when she dies – ...

Love for Ethel Martin

Dance · Film
The Jolson Story
Yes, love for Ethel Martin, the career-long Jack Cole dancer whose consistent, forthright and outspoken advocacy for Cole is nourishing my research. I agree with Ethel’s assessment whole-heartedly; she saw in Cole a great Unsung Genius. She devoted her career and all of her feisty spirit to him. In turn, I am doing my best ...

Let’s go to the drive-in.

Architecture & Design · Featured · Film · Visual arts
Projection for Two Stations a looping video will transform the parking lot of Bergamot Station Arts Center into a nightly pop-up drive-in movie. The clever creator of this best possible use of a Santa Monica evening is artist Alia Malley (b.1973, California). Malley received her BA in Critical Studies from USC School of Cinematic Arts ...

Movie machinations by Vincente Minnelli

Featured · Film
Left to right:  Kirk Douglas, Claire Trevor and Edward G. Robinson in TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN (1962), directed by Vincente Minnelli.
A crazy-good pairing of movies, both which pull the audience behind the camera and into the world of film creativity, will close UCLA’s Kirk Douglas: A Centennial Celebration. Both flicks are biting fun, tongue-in-cheek. Both are directed by Vincente Minnelli. Both star Kirk Douglas. TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN (1962) concerns the wild-and-crazy scene filming ...

Eden Ahbez: the wild, the innocent & the Vine Street shuffle

[ed. note: author Kirk Silsbee’s story was originally published, in slightly different form, in the L.A.Weekly] Some people only have one hit record in them. History’s one-hit wonders make up a long, sometimes colorful and often tragic legion. Eden Ahbez was lucky. He had a compelling song, with an unusual melody and a gentle message ...

Rebecca Bruno’s walk around time at the Norton Simon Museum

Dance · Fashion · Visual arts
I like costumes and coifed hair on dancers. Big thumbs up. That’s only one reason I so enjoyed dancer/choreographer Rebecca Bruno’s solo outing, “Unfinished” at the Norton Simon Museum last Saturday afternoon. The intriguing hour-long work set to cool music by Sam Widaman and atmospheric scenic design and lighting by Yann Novak also came equipped with ...

Michael Vlatkovich’s unpredictable musical universe @ the Hammer

Michael Vlatkovich’s idiosyncratic music balances the meticulous writer with the laissez faire bandleader. The trombonist/composer has the uncommon luxury of convening seven pieces at the Hammer Museum’s free JazzPOP series this coming Thursday night. Drummer Chris Garcia, who has played with Vlatkovich since 1991, recalls a tour. “We had a new bass player,” Garcia says. ...