Category: Ford Amphitheatre

Theater review: 'The Romance of Magno Rubio' at [Inside] the Ford

November 10, 2011 | 11:14 am

"The Romance of Magno Rubio"
Pure theatricality enlivens "The Romance of Magno Rubio" at [Inside] the Ford. This arresting take on Carlos Bulosan's celebrated short story about a migrant Filipino farm worker in Depression-era California conveys inspired kinetic craft.

A double-cast production by PAE Live!, "Magno" alternates Lonnie Carter's 2002 Obie-winning adaptation with director Bernardo Bernardo's new Tagalog translation. Bernardo's staging negotiates designer Akeime Mitterlehner's purposely bare-bones set like a campfire tale come to eloquent life.

Tireless, illiterate Magno (the memorable Jon Jon Briones), though short in stature, has enormous American dreams. For example, Clarabelle (Elizabeth Rainey), the Arkansas Amazon that Magno sees in a lonely-hearts magazine.  College-educated Nick (Giovanni Ortega), who replaces caustic Claro (Erick Esteban) as scribe of the letters that accompany Magno's gifts of jewelry and cash, suspects that the workers' mascot is in thrall to a gold-digging floozy, but Magno is naively undeterred.

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KCET-TV to present new 'Live @ the Ford' series

August 17, 2011 |  5:12 pm

Ford Amphitheatre

L.A.'s KCET-TV Channel 28, which broke away from the PBS mothership in January, has been busy in recent months lining up a new roster of local programming. One of its new series, announced Wednesday, will be dedicated to the performing arts and will be titled "Live @ the Ford."

The new four-part series is expected to air in the fall and will feature performances taped at the Ford Amphitheatre.  The performances include the Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company; a double bill of Korean groups Last for One and Haegum Plus; the fourth Annual J.U.i.C.E Hip Hop Dance Festival; and the Angel City Jazz Festival.

KCET said each of the four shows will be edited to a one-hour program, with concert footage interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. No air dates have been announced yet.

"Live @ the Ford" is a collaboration between KCET and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. The Ford is owned by the county of L.A. and is operated in part by the L.A. County Arts Commission.

On Tuesday, KCET announced a new programming deal with Eyetronics Media & Studios that is estimated to be worth as much as $50 million. A spokesman for KCET said the "Live @ the Ford" series is separate from the Eyetronics deal.

In July, KCET said it is planning to launch a new arts series called "ARC" that will exist as a half-hour television show and as an online portal. The station received a county grant of $206,300 to produce the show.


KCET-TV in $50-million deal for new local shows

KCET-TV lands county grant to launch new arts program, 'ARC'

-- David Ng

Photo: Ford Amphitheatre. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

KCET-TV lands county grant to launch new arts program, 'ARC'

July 6, 2011 |  6:06 am

KCETJuanDevis Trying to build an audience and forge an identity after breaking with PBS, L.A.’s nonprofit KCET-TV Channel 28 is gearing up for a new arts series called “ARC” that will exist as a half-hour television show and as an online portal that aims to offer new content daily.

The effort received a boost Tuesday from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which approved a $206,300 grant to help produce the show. The money, to be paid over two years, is the second-largest amount awarded in this year’s $4.1 million competitive arts grant program funded through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Los Angeles Opera topped the list with a $208,600 grant for its education and audience-building programs.

Juan Devis (pictured), KCET’s director of production and program development, said the county grant is “a tremendous nod of approval” that the station will try to parlay into additional donations from other sources. He declined to disclose the overall budget of "ARC," which he described as a multi-pronged initiative rather than a single program.

“We still need to raise more money to really go for it, but I think sometime in the fall you’ll see 'ARC’ coming alive,” he said.

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Dancing with wheelchairs

July 2, 2011 | 10:00 am

When she created her dance “Dust” with members of Axis Dance Company, choreographer Victoria Marks immediately noticed “how comfortable the dancers were with each other and how comfortable I felt with them. I never encountered any limitations as a choreographer because I didn’t have a set vision of what the dance should be. The dancers and I built a world together,” she says.

Founded in 1987 as a company dedicated to physically integrated dance, which is performed by dancers with and without disabilities, Axis found a winning formula in inviting Marks and other accomplished modern dance choreographers to create works for its repertory. As its website duly notes, Axis’ list of collaborators, which includes Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk and Stephen Petronio, reads like a “Who’s Who of Contemporary Dance.” Its transformation into a respected repertory ensemble “completely changed what we were doing and how we thought of ourselves,” says Judith Smith, Axis’ artistic director, who pushed for the company to work with outside choreographers in 1997.

As a result, Axis, which will perform excerpts of its repertory at the Ford Amphitheater in Los Angeles on July 9, gained substantially more attention from critics “who had a way in to our work that they didn’t have before. They could say that they liked some of our pieces and not others instead of just writing about how inspiring we are or approaching our work only from a human interest angle,” says Smith.

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[Inside] the Ford announces three productions for 2010-11 season

September 8, 2010 |  2:15 pm


The organizers of the Ford Theatres have selected three Los Angeles theater companies to present plays during the 2010-11 season of the [Inside] the Ford play series. Among the productions will be a world premiere drama plus the local premieres of plays by Neil LaBute and Barbara Lindsay.

Rogue Artists Ensemble will present "HYPERBOLE: origins" (Oct. 30 to Dec. 12), a new show featuring puppetry, masks and multimedia that explores the roots of storytelling. The company specializes in unconventional stage dramas that bring together various forms of performance art in an effort to push the boundaries of theater.

Neo Ensemble Theatre will present the L.A. premiere of Lindsay's "Free" (Jan. 22 to Feb. 27), the playwright's 1989 magical realist drama about a man who must contend with the limitations of gravity and his own need for acceptance.

LaBute's "The Mercy Seat" (March 19 to April 24) will receive its local debut in a production by the Vs. Theatre Company. The drama, which debuted at New York's MCC Theatre in 2002, tells the story of an office worker and his mistress who find a new lease on life following the 9/11 attacks.

[Inside] the Ford chose the three companies from a competitive process involving small L.A. theater companies that don't have a permanent venue. The indoor theater facility, tucked underneath the Ford Amphitheatre, is an intimate space with 87 seats.

Last season, also featuring three productions, encompassed dramas by Julie Hebert, Charles Mee and Sheila Callaghan. The Ford is run by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

-- David Ng

Photo: The entrance to the Ford Theatres complex in Hollywood. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


Ford2 L.A. County spending $350,000 to plan a higher-profile future for John Anson Ford Theatres

Dance review: Viver Brasil at the Ford Amphitheatre

Theater review: 'Tree' at [Inside] the Ford

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Theater review: 'bobrauschenbergamerica' at [Inside] the Ford

Review: 'Home Siege Home' at Inside the Ford

Dance review: Viver Brasil at the Ford Amphitheatre

August 1, 2010 | 11:29 am

Chelsea Clinton wasn't the only woman glowing in white on Saturday. Members of the locally based award-winning dance troupe Viver Brasil opened their eighth appearance at the Ford Amphitheatre also clad in the cloth that traditionally represents purity. The stage was awash in snowy hues as eight female dancers swathed in flowing skirts and manipulating squares of the fabric swirled ebulliently in the premiere of "Alaafia/Harmony.”

The title of the program, a 30-minute suite choreographed by Rosangela Silvestre, was a plea for peace, Bahian style. Under the direction of the husband-and-wife team of percussionist Luiz Badaró and Linda Yudin, Viver Brasil continues to evolve aesthetically in both dance and music since its founding in 1997.

Viver Brasil Enlivening the world of ancient deities (orixas), in intoxicating ways, including exploring the white-magic religion of Candomblé, this year the troupe brought even more of Bahia -- home to the region's large Afro-Brazilian population on Brazil's northeastern coast -- to L.A.

Featured were six Bahian artists: dancers Nildinha Fonseca and Vera Passos (the latter also choreographed the program's finale, "Suingue Carnavalesco/Carnival Swing"); composer and percussionist Jose Ricardo Sousa (he and Silvestre wrote and arranged much of the music); singer Vania Amaral; and a pair of esteemed elders, who, despite their advanced years and slow gaits, could shake their booties, albeit briefly, with the best of them.

And what booty-shaking there was: Undulating to native polyrhythms, the beaming dancers proved indefatigable, their moves embodying the lush percussive sounds of cow bells and gourds, triangles, timbaus and surdos. The call-and-response atmosphere showcased the dancers in deep pliés, with arms upraised and often in prayer position, Dervish-style whirling and endlessly enthusiastic leaps.

At 2 1/2 hours, however, the program could benefit from editing. “Three Waters” (from 2008) and “Orixas” (2007), though festive and powerfully performed, took on similar patinas, save for the orgy of costume changes. Adding testosterone to the terpsichorean mix might have helped too.

The concert also suffered from odd pacing, with an extended musical interlude coming near evening's end. A pity, really, as the six players and two singers (including a soulful Katia Moraes) rocked, with guests Derf Reklaw (aka Fred Walker) killing on flute, saxophone and African drums, and cellist Joyce Rooks, who, though fighting the evening's cold to stay in tune, added a lyrical quality to the otherwise sizzling scores.

That said, the night held particular joys, including a riveting Laila Abdullah, whose effervescent solos compelled; the exotic Passos, strong but sylphlike in kicks and elbow stands in the neo-capoeira number, “In Motion (2007/2010)”; and Katiana Rush, whose back-bending prowess was a study in stamina.

-- Victoria Looseleaf

Photo: Viver Brasil performs  "In Motion (2007/2010)." Credit: Jorge Vismara

Dance the summer days away in L.A.

June 26, 2010 | 11:00 am

Lux Summer becomes eclectic when some 20 dance troupes – mostly local – take to the stages of the Ford Amphitheatre and the Hollywood Bowl from now through October.  The range of styles is akin to a terpsichorean tasting menu:  folklorico, Brazilian and Israeli dance to tango, contemporary and hip-hop.

And though concerts under the stars may hold abundant pleasures for audiences, they occasionally present challenges for performers.  The Ford, for example, has terraced steps, lush trees and vegetation, and a bi-level performance area that includes a raked stage.

Jacob “Kujo” Lyons is artistic director of Lux Aeterna, a local troupe that fuses break dancing and contemporary dance.  Together with Antics’ Amy “Catfox” Campion, they’re on a bill of 10 troupes appearing in J.U.I.C.E., the third annual hip-hop dance festival at the Ford, on Oct. 2.

Says Lyons:  “The slanted stage has made it near impossible for our b-boys or b-girls to successfully pull off a decent head-spin without falling, but the oddly-shaped upper stage has offered all kinds of creative possibilities.  Every piece I’ve done at the Ford has been tailored to that stage.”

Adds Campion:  “Both Kujo and I fell off the stage doing a back spin.  The physics of the raked stage means there is less of you in contact with the ground.  But,” says Campion, “we love the Ford and I will forever be grateful to them for putting us on that first year, 2007.  I was fresh out of grad school and had never done anything on that scale before.  They took a chance on us, and we got a standing ovation.”

For a closer look at summer dancing in the area, click here for the Arts & Books section story. And here's a list of summer dance in L.A..

-- Victoria Looseleaf

Photo: Jacob "Kujo" Lyons of Lux Aeterna

Credit: Yuri Hasegawa

Performance review: Gregorio Luke’s 'Frida, a New Look' at Ford Ampitheatre

June 12, 2010 |  2:32 pm

Kahlo Beguiling Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is easy to love, and further, to fetishize. Her distinctive color-drenched canvases, crammed with autobiographical lore from her tragedy-strewn life, tug the eye and the heart. This well-seasoned mix has spawned Kahlo cult-figure status.

We depend on experts like Gregorio Luke, former director of Long Beach’s Museum of Latin American Art, to provide dispassionate insight to temper the hype, and distinguish the artist from the myth.

Viewers had no such benefit from the art historian’s illustrated lecture, “Frida, a New Look,” at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Friday night. (The program repeats on Saturday.) Designed as a “living memory of Frida Kahlo, to bring her alive,” Luke’s latest edition of his giant-screened revamps of the stodgy art talk canonizes the woman he admiringly calls “that most Mexican of artists” who “in spite of her suffering, built an art that was authentic and came from the hearts of the Mexican people.”

“There are art historians who never consider the artist’s life. I cannot separate her life from her work,” says Luke, somewhat defiantly, and these words guide his ambitious presentation to its detriment. Luke’s hybrid form of entertainment – neither annotated art lecture nor cathartic evening of fun – suffers from over zeal for his subject.

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L.A. County spending $350,000 to plan a higher-profile future for John Anson Ford Theatres

May 6, 2010 |  4:20 pm

Ford theater Los Angeles County will spend $350,000 to take a detailed look at possible upgrades for the John Anson Ford Theatres near the Hollywood Bowl.

The key issues to be addressed in a new master plan, officials say, are improving cramped parking and designing an entrance that would command attention for the easy-to-miss venue on Cahuenga Boulevard.

As for the 1931-vintage amphitheater itself, designed to evoke the gates of ancient Jerusalem, the plan will address possibilities for future upgrades and methods of preserving their historic features. The amphitheater seats 1,250 and an 87-seat indoor theater is housed within the building.

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission, which runs the Ford, announced Thursday that it has picked the firm of architect Brenda Levin, an expert in restoring historic buildings, to develop the master plan. Her job includes considering where new buildings, such as a rehearsal hall, administration building and restaurant, could be placed on the 45-acre site.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes the Ford, will fund the study out of discretionary funds he controls.

The county has put $6.1 million into the Ford since 1993, when the arts commission started running the venues instead of leasing them to an outside operator. The improvements have included a new electrical system, modernized production capabilities, a picnic area for patrons and installing proper access pathways for the disabled.

But, Yaroslavsky said Thursday, the approach has been “piecemeal,” and it’s time for a comprehensive strategy.
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Viver Brasil seeks new heights, with caution

June 28, 2009 |  1:30 pm


L.A. can be a tough town for dance companies. Just ask Viver Brasil, which has struggled to survive -- and has mostly succeeded -- for the last 12 years. Friday marks the company's seventh consecutive summer at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, and with it comes a renewed ambition to take the troupe to a new artistic level.

For the first time, the company is incorporating digital video technology into its performances, projecting abstract imagery as well as supertitle text to make the narrative numbers more accessible to audiences. The company is also mixing more modern dance into its folk Afro-Brazilian choreography in a bid to ratchet up the company's athleticism and physical pyrotechnics.

Viver Brasil is in the midst of launching itself on the national stage -- over the next few months, the company will take its bow in a new partnership with the Hollywood Bowl and also perform in its first significant foreign engagement in Mexico.

But climbing the evolutionary ladder in the dance world can be a difficult maneuver, one that requires flexibility, stamina and the acceptance that you might end up falling flat on your face. "It's not going to be easy," said Linda Yudin, the company's artistic director. "But I still think that the next few years look promising to us, and we have not let the recession stop us."

Read the story in today's Sunday Calendar.

-- David Ng

Photo: Members of Viver Brasil perform "Avanhia." Credit: RGB Photography


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