Panorama-kan at Velaslavasay 1

Architecture & Design · Visual arts
The ever-charming Velaslavasay Panorama, located in L.A.’s Pico-Union neighborhood, was the site of media art scholar Machiko Kusahara’s talk, “Panorama-kan of Meiji Japan,” on a recent scholarly Saturday night. Dr. Kusahara discussed the  popular entertainment halls — called panorama-kan in Japanese. They were a “craze,” to borrow the lecturer’s expression, from 1890-1910.  Dozens of the rotundas sprang up all ...

Moira Shearer in Ashton’s Cinderella 1

Dance
I’ve been researching “Cinderella,” Frederick Ashton’s fairy tale ballet for adults choreographed for Sadlers Wells Ballet (precursor to the Royal Ballet) based on Prokofiev’s score. The Joffrey Ballet is bringing its production of this gem to Los Angeles at the end of January. “Cinderella” was the first full-evening ballet Ashton, or any British-born dance maker, created. He made the work ...

Hitler’s emigres & exiles in Southern California 1

Language & ideas · Music
Prominently marked in my calendar for February 16 is a book talk at the L.A. Central Library’s ALOUD series by my friend Dorothy Lamb Crawford. Dorothy, a musicologist whom I met at the Ballets Russes centenial celebration in Boston last year, writes about the brilliant gathering of composers, conductors, and other musicians who fled Nazi Germany to ...

Twenty-ten

Dance
Happy New Year from arts•meme!

Rambova’s Aztec costume for Kosloff 2

Dance · Fashion · Film
Ballets Russes dancer Theodore Kosloff and his protegee Natacha Rambova pose at left, costumed for their Aztec dance number on the Keith Orpheum vaudeville circuit. Kosloff brought to the stage the role in which he made his cinematic debut  — Guatemoco, the Aztec prince, in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Woman God Forgot” in 1917. Here’s a ...

Life is good …

Film
… now that there's a new Pedro Almodovar film, "Broken Embraces." Highly recommended. The maestro strikes again. Vive Almodovar! Read A.O. Scott's inspired film review.    

Say a dance prayer for Gene Kelly in Pittsburgh 2

Dance · Film
Come on, home town! What’s this I hear about twenty years of fruitless effort to erect a statue of dancer Gene Kelly  — in a city where bridges, steel mills, skyscrapers, and sports stadia get built with ease? In a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, retired entertainment columnist Barbara Cloud gripes that she’s grown despondent waiting ...

Now that Macheath’s back in town …

Music
Reading Terry Teachout’s biography of Louis Armstrong and loving it.  

Not the Nutcracker 1

Dance
By now many of you will have seen the film from which this marvelous image is plucked — a mash-up of mesdemoiselles pounding the floorboards in Frederick Wiseman’s ballet documentary “LA DANSE.” They’re Paris Opera Ballet dancers hoofing it in Rudolph Nureyev’s version of Tchaikowsky’s “Casse-Noisette” or “The Nutcracker.” It’s my favorite scene in the movie. You gotta see these ...

“Noises Off” at A Noise Within

Reviews · Theater
You cannot be too hard pressed for Christmas gifts now that Glendale’s long-time theater group, A Noise Within, just extended its spendid staging of Michael Freyn’s comedy/farce from 1982 "Noises Off."  A huge hit on both sides of the pond, the play tracks the backstage shenanigans of a mediocre sex comedy called "Nothing On." The ...