The great Graham’s California roots

Dance
In my “pre-talk” prior to Martha Graham Dance Company‘s performance at Valley Performing Arts Center this Saturday night, I make the case that the impact and duration of Graham’s career start-up in Los Angeles has gone woefully under reported. Here Graham poses with her first partner, Ted Shawn, in “Malaguena” (1921) — in a California ...

How now, Shirley MacLaine @ TCM Fest 2015

Film
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Shirley MacLaine made a few appearances at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, and she enthralled audiences with her candor. She revealed that when she first received the script for the Oscar-winning film, The Apartment, it was only 29 pages long. Director Billy Wilder and his longtime writing partner, I.A.L. Diamond, continued writing as filming ...

Billie Holiday in Los Angeles: the blues were brewing 2

Music
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Billie Holiday and her dog Mister, New York, c. June 1946, William P. Gottleib One of the greatest jazz singers who ever lived had a small voice, never more than 15 notes at her disposal, and recorded many throwaway tunes. But Billie Holiday (1915-1959) was great by virtue of her sure-footed musical gifts: behind-the-beat phrasing, ...

Ann Miller, in KISS ME KATE 3-D, too darn hot! 1

Dance · Film
It was awfully fun, during TCM Fest 2015, to run into Jon Olivan who heads up the TCM Classic Movie Fan Club in Los Angeles. We mixed and mingled in Club TCM, sipping (complementary) Humphrey Bogart gin surrounded by Mike Kaplan’s great dance-movie posters exhibited in that lounge. Olivan shared a special memory of “Kiss ...

Lizabeth Scott a ‘Tigresse’ to die for

Film
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A take-no-prisoners film noir, “Too Late for Tears” is saddled with a title that has all the clout of an unused tissue. Its alternate title, “Killer Bait,” is marginally less flimsy. But it was under the far more fitting French handle, “La Tigresse,” that a duplicate negative of the 1949 low-budget picture, which had badly ...

What a woman! Josephine Baker struts her stuff in “Bananas”

Dance · Theater
Just in time to celebrate Women’s History Month, the great Josephine Baker, as channeled by vivacious actress Sloan Robinson — whose pet project this is — will again rule the roost in “Bananas.” The award-winning production (it garnered the NAACP Theatre Awards in 2009) recounts La Baker’s rise from the slums of East St. Louis ...

REVIEW: Ballerina Wendy Whelan, restless for a reason 2

Dance · Reviews
At left, an iconic photograph of George Balanchine partnering Suzanne Farrell in “Don Quixote” for New York City Ballet. Wendy Whelan/Restless Creature, which we enjoyed Saturday evening in Long Beach, brought to mind this historic pairing — a great choreographer dancing with his muse. The four-ballet program, premiered in 2013 at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, ...

Mae I entertain you, asks Ms. West

Film
Actress, singer, comedienne, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol — no, we’re not describing  arts∙meme. Rather, it’s the inimitable movie star Mae West. Movieland’s most provocative purveyor of dirty double-entendres did her job while strapped into an hour-glass figure. West made a name for herself in vaudeville and on the New York stage before moving to ...

Glorya Kaufman joins Bernardo for the dance at the gym

Dance · Film
It was mambo-mania Saturday night at the elegant Dorothy Chandler Pavilion when Los Angeles dance “angel,” Glorya Kaufman, posed with pleasure with George Chakiris, the Academy Award-winning star of “West Side Story.” Chakiris engaged in newsy dance conversation prior to a screening of the movie-musical masterpiece before a  very full house of big-screen movie fans. ...

Tuesday is Wendy-day

Dance
It’s always nice to have a special visitor from New York, in this case our good friend, the longtime editor of “Dance” Magazine, Wendy Perron. Next Tuesday evening, Wendy will join forces with a stellar line up of dance thinkers and dance talkers: the great dancer/dance maker Simone Forti and choreographer/educator Victoria Marks. It all ...