Michael Jackson rehearses “Billie Jean,” “Human Nature,” from “This is It”

Dance · Film · Music
Two years plus after Michael Jackson died, I finally had the heart to rent this film.  This is only a portion of “Billie Jean” and he’s just sketching, but good god what an original mover. The clip below just heartbreaking. What a waste.   Like this? Read more: Death of a Great Dancer

Alluring mix of mid-century jazz & photography comes to Northridge

Music · Visual arts
October 23 is as good a day as any, no better, to trek to the deep San Fernando Valley. On that Sunday, the campus of Cal State University, Northridge, will be super alive in an extraordinary double-bill highlighting the best of African-American art. Featured photographers: Roland Charles, Willie Middlebrook, Jack Davis, Calvin Hick At 2 ...

Bad boys of Lula’s China tour: Marcus Miller & Freedom Jazz Movement

Dance · Music
Marcus Miller – Drums Kamasi Washington – Tenor Sax Ardom Belton – Upright Bass Mahesh Balasooriya – Piano Last June, I had the unspeakable joy of being the writer on the bus of Lula Washington Dance Theater’s three-week tour of China, primarily in Henan Province. It was a spectacular, gargantuan life experience. What added art ...

Balanchine’s “Symphony in Three Movements,” from 1972, to Stravinsky

Dance · Music
Alastair Macaulay, in the New York Times, reviews the work in 2008, performed by NYCB, Macaulay at his most inspired: I marvel in particular to watch and hear the many strangenesses with which Balanchine answers Stravinsky’s “Symphony in Three Movements.” He makes you hear the music better, and yet he often does so by springing ...

Why composer David Lang didn’t call Shostakovich, or Arvo Part, in 1975

A few Mondays back, on September 19, in the dark days BPST (before Pacific Standard Time) … [when we only had 100 nightly arts events to attend in Los Angeles  — and now we have 1,000] … one of our favorite musical societies, Jacaranda, threw a swell do at the Skirball Center. The idea was ...

Line-up of geniuses: West Side Story’s Broadway creative/production team

Dance · Music · Theater
The West Side Story Broadway production team in 1957: (l. to r.) lyricist Stephen Sondheim, scriptwriter Arthur Laurents, producers Hal Prince and Robert Griffith (seated), composer Leonard Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins. (click for detail) Thank you, songbook1, for posting this photo. Like this? Read more: Not a Jet, but still the swingingest thing: George ...

The Juilliard School tells you everything you always wanted to know about Swan Lake but were afraid to ask

Dance · Language & ideas · Music
The survival, let alone the mystique, of the ballet, Swan Lake, is a phenomenon few would have predicted at its premiere in Moscow in 1877 — which was a flop. Wikipedia notes [with added commentary]: The premiere of Swan Lake on March 4, 1877, was given as a benefit performance for the ballerina Pelageya Karpakova ...

Don’t ask Terrance McKnight to dance. He won’t. Even though he’s throwing a radio dance party. 4

To the waning notes of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” overture, WQXR disc jockey Terrance McKnight tugs gently on a control panel lever. He segues into a romp by Luigi Boccherini, noting that the 18th century cellist/composer was an “insubordinate employee”; a typical McKnightian factoid drop-in. The former Morehouse music professor’s dark velvet voice paves the ...

Talk about sibling rivalry! “Mozart’s Sister” at NYC’s Cinema Village 3

Film · Music
Just suppose that you’re young and gifted; hey, you’re a freaking musical prodigy. Not only that, you are extremely beautiful. You play the harpsichord like an demon, fiddle with the best of them, sing angelically, and “hear notes in your head” even though you’re not quite sure how to “write them down.” You’re well on ...

Jacaranda’s lovely musical edge

It was one of those heaven-sent Sunday afternoons in Los Angeles — the ambient temperature so idyllic that you floated freely without a modicum of pushback from Mother Nature. And in this effortless environment, we very much enjoyed an afternoon of plein air classical music, courtesy of Jacaranda, Music at the Edge. In a garden ...