Lewitzky doc to open Dance Camera West at Barnsdall Art Park

Dance · Film

I was delighted to learn that the annual DANCE CAMERA WEST festival will take place this year, the weekend of January 19, in the cozy underground theater of Barnsdall Art Park, one of the truly happy places of our fair city. The urban-rustic setting fits well with the California theme of the Festival’s opening film, the documentary BELLA, concerning Los Angeles dancer/choreographer Bella Lewitzky, pictured above.

Philanthropist, artist, art collector, and activist Aline Barnsdall donated the stunning hilltop site to the people of Los Angeles in 1927 as a public destination for the appreciation of art and architecture. The complex comprises Ms. Barnsdall’s own Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House, the venerable Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the Barnsdall Art Center and Junior Arts Center, and the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, where the Festival will spool over three days.

Aerial view of Olive Hill and Hollyhock House in the 1920s. Security Pacific National Bank Photo Collection / Los Angeles Public Library

The festival opening night begins at five pm with “free outdoor sunset screenings overlooking the Hollywood Hills.” That’s appealing. A tour of Hollyhock House is also on offer in the course of the Festival. These are wonderful Los Angeles-only things to do, and my hat is off to DCW co-founder and director Kelly Hargraves for organizing them. .

The screening of BELLA, a feature-length film by director Bridget Murnane comes at 7:30 pm. Lewitzky was a dynamo dancer, a spectacular and underappreciated one; she was nearly peerless as an outspoken leftist citizen/artist; and as a choreographer, she long ran a dance company the artistic legacy of which, to my mind, is ambiguous. I’m curious to see if the film gives me cause for reassessment, a process begun in 2019, when Luminario Ballet restaged a two impressive Lewitzky works at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.


BELLA is also on the docket for Dance on Camera Festival in New York in February.

Dance Camera West opening night | Barnsdall Gallery Theatre | Jan 19 – 21 | tickets

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