Gloria Cheng’s solo flight @ Piano Spheres

Music
photo credit: Los Angeles Times We’ve cruised through many chamber-music concerts spellbound by the exceptional artistry of pianist Gloria Cheng whose nearly demonic devotion to contemporary classical music invariably ramps up the entire evening … and she only plays with the best. But we’ve never enjoyed the pleasure of the Great Gloria in solo concert. ...

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 ...

Billie Holiday in Los Angeles: the blues were brewing 2

Music
by 
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 ...

USC’s Ruth Weisberg honored with esteemed printmaking award

Visual arts
Very pleased to share news that Ruth Weisberg, who is professor of Fine Arts and former Dean at the University of Southern California Roski School, and currently the Director of the USC Initiative for Israeli Arts and Humanities, is 2015 recipient of the SGC International Printmaker Emeritus Award. The SGC International is the largest print ...

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, ...

Killing us softly: Roberta Flack in concert @ Pepperdine

Music
Songstress Roberta Flack, who forged such a striking presence in seventies pop music as a songwriter/performer, will grace the cozy Smothers Theatre stage at Pepperdine University next month in an evening of concert music. She is the first artist to win Grammy Awards in two consecutive years, for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your ...

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 ...

Opening Fridita’s closet

Visual arts
I loved learning about the opening of the closet of Frida Kahlo at Casa Azul, the great Mexican painter’s home in Mexico City. Fridita died six months, to the day, before I was born! So I (like to) think, well, wish that a little of her transferred over to me. Like this? Read more: In ...