Category: Cirque du Soleil

Eiko Ishioka, designer for 'Spider-Man' and Cirque, dies at 73

January 26, 2012 | 12:24 pm



Eiko Ishioka, the celebrated Japanese designer whose fantastical and dreamlike creations spanned the fields of graphic arts, costume design and more, has died at 73. She died Saturday from pancreatic cancer in Tokyo.

Ishioka became famous for her strange, otherworldly designs that drew from various cultures. In the U.S., she was best-known for her costume design, creating the colorful outfits for Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," Cirque du Soleil's "Varekai" and the 1992 movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula," directed by Francis Ford Coppola, for which she won an Oscar.

In 2003, Ishioka spoke to The Times about her work on "Varekai." As a designer, "my perspective comes not just from knowledge of what happens behind the scenes or backstage but also from the perspective of the audience," she said. "That dual perspective led me to the idea: 'Why don't I design costumes that look dangerous but are actually safe?'"

Ishioka also designed the costumes and sets for the 1988 Broadway production of "M. Butterfly" by David Henry Hwang. More recently, she designed the outlandish costumes for singer Grace Jones for her 2009 "Hurricane" tour.

Producers of Broadway's "Spider-Man" announced that they will dedicate Thursday's performance to Ishioka.

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Theater review: 'Ovo' by Cirque du Soleil at Santa Monica Pier

January 21, 2012 |  3:12 pm


 Is there such a thing as Cirque saturation? If so, L.A. has come down with a serious case of it.

"Ovo," the new insect-themed traveling show from Cirque du Soleil, set up camp Friday at the Santa Monica Pier for a two-month stay. Just 15 miles east in Hollywood, "Iris" continues its open run at the Kodak Theatre, with a break for the Oscars. Later this week, Cirque's "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" is scheduled to land at the Honda Center in Anaheim and then Staples Center in downtown for a limited engagement.

Having three Cirque shows in town at more or less the same time feels a bit like overkill. Is local demand for double-jointed acrobatics and psychedelic spandex so insatiable? L.A. isn't Vegas, after all. But complaining about the abundance can come off as humbug, like saying you hate Christmas and puppies.

PHOTOS: Cirque du Soleil's 'Ovo'

"Ovo," which is Portuguese for "egg," is set in an imagined Brazilian rain forest teeming with critters of all sizes. Ants, beetles and arachnids mingle in a kind of entomological utopia. In the Cirque scheme of things, the show isn't terribly imaginative or even memorable. But it features a handful of set pieces that deliver nicely on Cirque's global brand of gravity-defying stunts.

Visually, "Ovo" is a colorful, garish, joyous mess -- think of it as "A Bug's Life" meets Ziggy Stardust. Two of the best acts come early on. A sextet of red ants juggles jumbo slices of kiwi with their feet; they then take turns juggling each other in perfectly timed synchronicity.

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Pop choreographer with a busy schedule Jamie King

January 21, 2012 |  7:30 am

In the 1980s, a Wisconsin teenager named Jamie King papered his walls with posters of MTV heroes Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince and re-created and rearranged their videos, move by move, in his mom’s basement. Within a decade, this mostly self-taught dancer landed the single open spot for a male dancer on Jackson’s 1992-93 “Dangerous” world tour; within two decades, he’d become a director of multimillion-dollar tours, conceiving arena shows for such passionate and exacting artists as Madonna, Prince, Rhianna, Celine Dion, Christine Aguilera, Britney Spears and Ricky Martin.

"He knows what I like," said Madonna in an interview last week. "We can finish each other’s sentences." 

During an afternoon conversation at the Polo Lounge, tour director extraordinaire Jamie King, 39, laughed at his trajectory from basement-to-arena with these music superstars. “That is irony for you,” he said. “Or maybe manifestation is a better word.” 

Content to be a behind-the-scenes force until now, King is in for a huge bump in exposure. His current chores include his work as director-writer of the Cirque du Soleil/Michael Jackson tribute world tour, “The Immortal” (next week at the Honda Center and then at Staples Center), as well as his stint directing Madonna’s lavish Super Bowl performance (Feb. 5), and last but not least his on-screen role in the new Latin-"American Idol"-esque TV series with Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony called “Q’Viva!,” (airing this month on Univision and later in spring on Fox). 

 Here's the Arts & Books profile of Jamie King.

And watch him in action back in the day, in rehearsal with Michael Jackson (King has a sweatshirt around his waist).

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Chat with Danny Elfman, film and 'Iris' composer, on Dec. 16

December 9, 2011 |  3:30 pm

Danny elfman

Danny Elfman, one of Hollywood's most successful and prolific film composers, will take part in a live Web chat, hosted by Culture Monster, at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 16.

Elfman, former frontman and guiding force of the alt-rock band Oingo Boingo, will be chatting and taking questions for one hour. You can expect him to offer more insights about the score he composed for Cirque du Soleil's "Iris," its movie-themed show running at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

So line up the questions you've been dying to ask Elfman about what it's like to work with Tim Burton, and the real inspiration behind "Dead Man's Party." Sign up below for a reminder.



Creative minds behind Cirque du Soleil's 'Iris'

Cirque du Soleil loves movies more than it loves Hollywood

Cirque du Soleil's 'Iris' begins previews at the Kodak Theatre

-- Reed Johnson

Photo: Danny Elfman in his L.A. studio. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Monster Mash: A starry night at Kennedy Center Honors

December 5, 2011 |  7:47 am

Kennedy Center Honors
Cultural ritual: President Obama spoke at the annual Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday and presented medals to Sonny Rollins, Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Meryl Streep and Yo-Yo Ma. (Los Angeles Times)

Masterpiece: Art experts have reclassified a painting that was believed to have been made by one of Rembrandt's students as having come from the Dutch master himself. (Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle)

Madge-ical: Cirque du Soleil will collaborate with Madonna on the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. (Entertainment Weekly)

Canceled: Chinese officials canceled a post-play discussion of L.A. Theatre Works' traveling production of "Top Secret: Battle for the Pentagon Papers." (Los Angeles Times)

On the record: James Cuno, the new head of the Getty Trust, speaks with columnist Patt Morrison. (Los Angeles Times)

Odd pairing: An exhibition of Islamic art is coming to Brigham Young University, which is affiliated with the Mormon Church. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Alleged fraud: A European hedge-fund executive is suing a New York art gallery that he says closed its doors one day after he accused it of selling him a phony Jackson Pollock painting for $17 million. (New York Post)

Not a fan: A principal dancer with the Royal Ballet has criticized the movie "Black Swan" as "horrific." (Bloomberg)

Busted: In Miami, a South Beach hotel owner has been arrested for operating an art fair without the proper permits. (Miami Herald)

Brush with fate: Two paintings that were supposed to have sailed on the Titanic but were delayed and thus saved from destruction have sold at auction. (Daily Mail)

Agreement: Musicians with the Utah Symphony have agreed to a three-year contract extension. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Also in the L.A. Times: Pop-music critic Randall Roberts reviews Cirque du Soleil's "Immortal," a tribute to Michael Jackson.

-- David Ng

Photo: Kennedy Center Honors recipients, from left, saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins, singer Barbara Cook, singer and songwriter Neil Diamond, actress Meryl Streep, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, listen to the national anthem with First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama. Credit:: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Monster Mash: Ai Weiwei's wife detained; Klan robes in museum

November 29, 2011 |  7:45 am

Ai Weiwei and Lu Quing

Her turn: Lu Qing, who's married to Ai Weiwei, was taken from the Chinese artist's studio by police and later released after being questioned for three hours. (CNN)

Racial history: The National Museum of African American History and Culture has accepted a gift of two authentic robes of the Ku Klux Klan. (Washington Post)

Arrested: Police in Miami say they have caught a man who is believed to have defrauded art collectors out of more than $1.2 million. (NBC Miami)

Holiday spirit: Broadway saw box-office revenue rise over the Thanksgiving holiday compared with last year. (Los Angeles Times)

The King is dead: Aria Resort is pulling the plug on "Viva Elvis," Cirque du Soliel’s tribute to Elvis Presley, at the end of 2012. (Las Vegas Review and Journal)

Inspirational: An early look at the new stage musical "Rocky," based on the Oscar-winning movie. (Broadway World)

Top of the heap: Eli Broad, Ai Weiwei and Larry Gagosian are among the art-world names to be recognized in the annual power ranking from Art + Auction magazine. (Bloomberg)

Dancing about architecture, literally: A dance choreographer is using the architecture of Frank Gehry as backdrops for her creations. (BBC News)

Honored: Playwright Tony Kushner is the recipient of the 2011 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. (Playbill)

Be prepared: The Istanbul Archaeology Museums are preparing their facilities for a possible earthquake. (Hurriyet Daily News)

Passing: Margie Petersen, a philanthropist and co-founder of the Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A., has died at age 76. (Los Angeles Times)

Also in the L.A. Times: Looking at the acrobatics in the musical "Bring It On" and behind the scenes at the Joffrey's "Nutcracker" coming to L.A.

— David Ng

Photo: November photo of Ai Weiwei, center, with his wife Lu Qing, left, and his company lawyer Du Yanlin. Credit: Andy Wong / Associated Press

Arts on TV: Preservation Hall Jazz Band; Sign Language Poetry

November 3, 2011 |  6:00 am

Independent Lens: Deaf Jam

“Austin City Limits” 9 p.m., Friday KLCS: Steve Miller Band performs; the Preservation Hall Jazz Band presents classic New Orleans jazz with special guests the Del McCoury Band and Jim James of My Morning Jacket.

“Independent Lens” 11 p.m., Sunday KOCE: "Deaf Jam": Deaf teens from New York discuss American Sign Language Poetry.

“The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” 11:35 p.m., Monday NBC: A performance from Cirque du Soleil's “Iris.”

“The Graham Norton Show” 6 a.m., Tuesday BBC America: Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber; actress Minnie Driver; actress Ruth Jones; singer Katie Melua.

“Movie: The Universe of Keith Haring” (2008) 3 a.m., Mon/Tue  LOGO: The work of New York artist Keith Haring.

“Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” 9 p.m., Wednesday Bravo: Ripped From the Headlines : A challenge to create a piece of art that illustrates a news story.

-- Compiled by Ed Stockly

Photo: 'Independent Lens: Deaf Jam' Aneta Brodski, right, and classmates perform at Lexington School for the Deaf. Credit Martha Cooper

Cirque du Soleil loves L.A. but does a balancing act with Hollywood

October 9, 2011 |  8:18 am



Guy Laliberté, the owner-founder of the whimsical Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil circus troupe, likes to say that he and Cirque have had "a love affair with L.A." After all, Los Angeles hosted one of Cirque's shows back in the late 1980s, when the company still was trying to establish a presence outside Montreal, preferably in a warm-weather city where it could perform year-round.

Ever since then, Southern California has been one of Cirque's strongest markets, and Cirque's familiar blue-and-gold striped big top tent has been pitched many times here, from Santa Monica to Orange County. Its newest show, "Iris," a love letter to the movies, recently opened at the Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland complex, where hopes are that it could run for years.

But if Cirque loves L.A., it has been more cautious in its dealings with the business that symbolizes the city for many: Hollywood. Although it has collaborated selectively with some of the major film studios in the past, Cirque has spurned other advances from Hollywood suitors, mainly out of concern about maintaining creative control and also due to philosophical differences with the Hollywood artistic status quo.

Read the full story.


Theatre review: "Iris"

Cirque du Soleil sends up Oscars in 'Iris' 

Stars align for Cirque du Soleil creator Guy Laliberté

-- Reed Johnson

Photo: Cirque du Soleil's new made-for-L.A. show "Iris" recently opened at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland. Credit: Matt Beard / Cirque du Soleil

Vanessa Hudgens, Joe Manganiello hit Cirque du Soleil 'Iris' debut

September 26, 2011 |  2:07 pm

Writer/director Philippe Decoufle (in sunglasses) with "Iris" performers outside the Kodak Theatre.
Sunday's world premiere of Cirque du Soleil's new movie-themed production, "Iris," created especially for its home in Hollywood, called for a gala celebration. So the partying began before the show and then picked up again full speed after the finale.

Vanessa Hudgens Both shindigs were star-studded affairs, with an opening-night audience that included Vanessa Hudgens of "High School Musical," Joe Manganiello of "True Blood," Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, Kate Beckinsale, Matthew McConaughey, James Gandolfini, Anne Heche, director James Cameron, Christina Hendricks of "Mad Men," Geoffrey Arend of "Body of Proof," Kevin Dillon of "Entourage," Chloe Moretz of "Let Me In," George Kotsiopoulos of "Fashion Police," and Cherry Jones of "24."

Given that the centerpiece was a circus, albeit of a glamorous and sophisticated sort, many celebrities, such as director Jon Favreau, Patrick Dempsey of "Grey's Anatomy," Iqbal Theba of "Glee," Kim Raver of "24" and Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber, had their families in tow.

Before the show, on exiting the arrivals red carpet, guests joined the party on Hollywood Boulevard, which was closed off and carpeted for the evening -- the usual traffic replaced by food stands offering sushi, tacos, desserts and other goodies. Models dressed as old-fashioned cigarette girls threaded their way through the crowd, carrying trays of hors d'oeuvres, candy cigarettes and iced wine.

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Theater review: 'Iris' by Cirque du Soleil at the Kodak Theatre

September 26, 2011 | 12:17 pm

Cirque 1 

If the flights from Los Angeles to Las Vegas seem slightly less crowded these days, don’t take it as a sign that we’re in a double-dip recession. Cirque du Soleil, the alt-circus company out of Quebec that has grown into a global entertainment phenomenon so lucrative it may be asked to bail out Greece, has set up shop at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, making the trip to see Mystère, Viva Elvis or one of the other Cirque attractions nestled in a casino a little less necessary.   

Fittingly, “Iris,” the new $100-million extravaganza that opened Sunday after a summer run of previews, is a love letter to the art and science of cinema. Unfolding at the venue that hosts the Academy Awards, the show is subtitled “A Journey Through the World of Cinema.” But please don’t misread this as “A Stroll Through Classic Hollywood.” This is a celebration of the imagination of filmmaking through a circus sensibility, which similarly wants to escape the mundane through the fantasy of limitless possibility.

Before we tackle the aesthetics of the production (cunningly packaged with just enough daredevil razzmatazz to keep audiences from minding some of the goofy dead spots), let’s acknowledge the economic effect of what amounts to a glitzy private-sector stimulus for local businesses. The show, bound to be a major tourist magnet, has already been persuading middle-class hordes to throw credit card caution to the wind. Although the $253 price of VIP tickets is enough to make you queasy, there’s something agreeable about having this movie-themed colossus, kinetically scored by composer Danny Elfman, permanently installed in the heart of Hollywood.

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