Maurice Ravel, meet Billy Childs

Music · Reviews
One of better-kept secrets of Los Angeles cultural life is Pacific Serenades, the chamber music series now 23 years in existence, but who knew? I was the privileged guests of artistic director Mark Carlson at an utterly civilized outing that combined a ripping string quartet, well-chilled chardonnay, and little fruit tarts. What could be better on ...

Thelonious Monk’s piano 4

Music
Amidst the brouhaha over Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman’s anti-U.S. protest during a recital at Disney Hall, arts•meme was struck by this information nugget in Mark Swed’s L.A. Times story: Zimerman is a magnificent obsessive.  He travels with his own Steinway, is his own piano technician, and even his own truck driver.  He typically spends half a year ...

A very cool cat: Burt Bacharach 3

Music · Reviews
We got a lot of joy from “Back to Bacharach and David,” the retrospective of the songs of composer Burt Bacharach and his lyricist Hal David dating from 1960-70. Originally produced off-Broadway in 1992, the revue had its first Los Angeles showing at the Music Box, an old vaudeville house located on a tough stretch of Hollywood Boulevard.  ...

Theodore Kosloff, ballet instructor 3

Dance · Film
The photo above (click on it for detail) shows the talented and charismatic Russian actor-dancer Theodore Kosloff coaching a barre-ful of Paramount Studio chorus girls circa 1922. The ballet master is giving hands-on instruction to silent film star Betty Compson with whom he co-starred in The Green Temptation that same year. Kosloff’s ballet training of Compson led to this ...

Wolf men and other men 2

Film
"It’s rare to truly see a film anymore," said Robert Boyle, opening a conversation at the Art Directors Society tribute at the Egyptian Theater Sunday night. The legendary art director followed that enigmatic statement by noting how television technique has infiltrated feature film production — in a bad way. According to Boyle, today’s movies are "all ...

Ailey guys fly 3

Dance
Doing the math is a bit frightening, but I’ve been viewing Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for about 30 years. So going to an Ailey concert feels a lot like visiting an old friend. This proud dance company, with its sensational dancers, puts on a show like no other. The male corps de ballets, led ...

The devilish Madam Satan 6

Dance · Film
This is the amazing “electricity” dance sequence from Cecil B. DeMille’s early talkie Madam Satan (1930). A socialite costume ball is taking place — where else? — in a moored zeppelin. The floor show, pictured above, features the fearsome dancing of Theodore Kosloff, a former Ballets Russes star who lived in Los Angeles and acted in many DeMille silent ...

Ohad’s story 3

Dance
This photograph is from a dance work called Shalosh (Hebrew for “three”) by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. I love the photo. I like the skinny, long-legged girls. I like the nervous tension, the skewed angles, and the extreme tilt of the head. Here is a choreographer who has found new ways of moving. He has reinvented the ...

Jerome Robbins in your living room 3

Dance · Film
The buzz on the PBS American Masters documentary about our brilliant American choreographer Jerome Robbins is very positive. I’m looking forward to it so much. Air time: Wednesday evening, February 18 @ 9 pm. Apropos Robbins, while in Paris in 2002, I encountered, totally by accident, a dance-film festival taking place in the downstairs screening room ...

Nijinsky danced in Pittsburgh 5

Dance
Santonio Holmes’s game-winning Super Bowl pass reception for the Pittsburgh Steelers reminds me of ballet! It’s a very dancerly moment. He’s reaching up with all his might to catch the football. He’s reaching down with all his might to keep his toes in-bound. Santonio’s outstanding litheness is unsurprising in view of my recent discovery that brilliant Ballets Russes dancer-choreographer, ...