Category: Valley Performing Arts Center

Influences: Dancer Savion Glover

March 21, 2012 |  9:00 am

Savion Glover

For Savion Glover, tap dancing is about rhythm, about taking the beat of the drum and bass -– originally, African instruments -– into the body. He’s had plenty of time to think about his take on the tradition: Now 38, Glover was already appearing on Broadway as a child, making his debut with “The Tap Dance Kid” and following it with “Black and Blue,” “Jelly’s Last Jam” and “Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk,” which he helped create and which landed his choreography a Tony Award.

Much of his work as dancer, choreographer and teacher –- he runs the HooFeRzCLuB School for Tap in Newark, N.J. -– has involved taking some of the showbiz and Hollywood out of tap and and reconnecting it with black history going back to the earliest days of slavery, when slaves were forbidden to play drums.

Glover’s California tour, which brings him to the Valley Performing Arts Center on Saturday, is called “Bare Soundz” and will involve two other dancers as well as elements of flamenco. He says his goal for this show is “to give people a chance to hear the music in dance.”

Here Glover talks about his influences, including his teacher, the late Gregory Hines, who once said that Glover might be the finest tap dancer who’d ever lived, and the dancer Jimmy Slyde, who became one of the most visible exemplars of the jazz side tradition in the '80s through performances in “The Cotton Club” and “Round Midnight.” But, says Glover: “It goes beyond what their profession is: It’s people who’ve brought awareness to the world.”

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Valley Arts Center's 2012-13 season: Mark Morris; Bebe Neuwirth

March 2, 2012 |  3:00 pm

The Valley Performing Arts Center at Cal State Northridge.

The Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge has lined up a roster of prominent names for its 2012-13 season. The highlights will include appearances by opera singer Deborah Voigt, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, Broadway actor Raul Esparza and the Mark Morris Dance Group.

The center, on the campus of Cal State Northridge, is the one of the newest performing arts centers in Southern California. The 2012-13 schedule will be the center's second full season. 

The Asphalt Orchestra will have its local debut for the first show of the season on Sept. 13. The New York ensemble, which bills itself as a street band specializing in processional music, has gained a cult following since launching in 2009.

Audiences can get their fill of theatrical personalities in four recitals -- Broadway singer Kelli O’Hara is teaming with operatic barihunk Nathan Gunn for an evening (Oct. 22) of musical numbers; Esparza will perform songs by Stephen Sondheim (Nov. 17); Bebe Neuwirth will perform a show titled "Stories With Piano" (Feb. 23, 2013); and Michael Feinstein will perform numbers from the Great American Songbook (May 11, 2013).

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Spring dance preview: Ballet Preljocaj, Savion Glover

March 2, 2012 | 12:15 pm

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève performs “Les Sylphides"

The dance season picks up steam with some tantalizing "firsts": Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève makes its debut appearance and introduces Los Angeles to works by Benjamin Millepied of "Black Swan" fame, who is artistic director at L.A. Dance Project. In addition, American Ballet Theatre premieres a new production of "The Firebird" by one of the world's most exciting choreographers, Alexei Ratmansky. 

Here's a look ahead at these and other notable dance engagements this spring:

Ballet Preljocaj

 French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj answers to an eclectic -- some might even say fickle -- muse. Since establishing Ballet Preljocaj in 1984, he has given audiences a dystopian “Romeo and Juliet” on the one hand, and an abstract “Helikopter,” with Karlheinz Stockhausen’s noisy quartet for helicopters as a score, on the other hand. The company’s upcoming Los Angeles performances highlight a well-known story in “Snow White” (2008). But this being Preljocaj, and with costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier and a score culled from Mahler, don’t expect Disney. (For ages 12 and older.)

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. 7:30 p.m. March 23-24, 2 p.m. March 25. $28-$110.

Savion Glover

The boy wonder of Broadway’s “The Tap Dance Kid” and “Black and Blue” has matured into Savion the inscrutable artist, often dancing with head bowed. His unquenchable thirst to explore tap dancing as percussive sound goes on. In “Bare Soundz,” he explores flamenco rhythms. Glover is always mindful of tap dancing’s roots and the hoofers who came before him, and he pays tribute in this show to the late Gregory Hines.

Valley Performing Arts Center, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. 8 p.m. March 24. $25-$70.

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Dance review: Diavolo's 'Fearful Symmetries' at the Valley Arts Center

February 3, 2012 | 11:49 am

DiavoloAfter its alfresco launch with live orchestration in 2010 at the Hollywood Bowl, Diavolo Dance Theater’s “Fearful Symmetries” was surely going to take a hit when it moved indoors. Yet it's hard to imagine a kinder transition for Jacques Heim’s exalted explorations of manhandling-architecture than to alight within the glowing glass-paneled grandeur of the year-old Valley Performing Arts Center’s Great Hall. 

Kara Hill’s ceremonious multi-story lobby -- with a soaring staircase that bisects the levels, creating framed containers for the moving pedestrians -- coolly ushered in Heim’s feverish explorations of bodies and art in motion Thursday evening, part of Diavolo's national tour, which will return to Southern California in March. 

PHOTOS: Diavolo Dance Theater at Hollywood Bowl

A full-tilt bill of ensemble fare, the tour (with recorded music) pairs the ever-shifting right-angled industrial landscape of “Fearful Symmetries” (2010) with the plunging, keeling galleon from “Trajectoire” (1999/2001), the troupe’s daredevil signature work set to Nathan Wang’s score. Shauna Martinez plays the heraldic figure in both works, which -- when paired -- make for a journey from the subtle (relative subtlety, of course; Heim is all about whipping energy into a frenzy) to the sublime.

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Music review: Susan Graham at the Valley Performing Arts Center

January 19, 2012 | 12:15 pm

Kent Nagano Susan Graham Montreal Concert Review

Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham inhabited many fascinating women, from the Virgin Mary to Lady Macbeth, in her splendid recital Wednesday at the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge. She drew all vividly and credibly, singing with vocal poise and silvery tone, and interpreting the texts with detailed, knowing emphasis.

But Graham got most personal in Ben Moore’s “Sexy Lady.” Composed for her, this jazzy song, with witty wordplay and musical quotations, bemoans the cross-dressing roles that mezzos such as Graham often take on. (Who would have expected anyone to rhyme “David Daniels” with “cocker spaniel”?) Even the role Jake Heggie wrote for her, she joked from the stage, Sister Helen Prejean in the opera “Dead Man Walking,” was “a sexless nun.”

Well, she wants the world to know that there’s lots of fire within.

But first came the “good girls” — the Virgin, Ophelia and Goethe’s Mignon in settings by six different composers, all presented in a svelte white gown. She sang Purcell’s “The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation” with restrained grace. Berlioz’s delicate “La Mort d’Ophélie” was poignant. The settings of Mignon by Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Duparc and Wolf grew increasingly dramatic and expansive.

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Music review: Gergiev in Orange County and the Valley

October 19, 2011 |  3:01 pm

Valery Gergiev
Valery Gergiev does not exhibit the traits of a patient man. But he is an extraordinarily patient artist, as his restlessly urgent but also relentlessly probing recent concerts with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra in Costa Mesa and Northridge certainly proved.

The miraculous Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, which Gergiev has headed since 1988, obviously hasn’t become Russia’s most thriving cultural institution by standing still. He tours with his company, and fund-raises for it, compulsively. He recently built a celebrated new concert hall in St. Petersburg and has a second opera house for the opera and ballet company under construction. He has made the Mariinsky the centerpiece of one of the world’s great music festivals, White Nights.

Compulsive, indeed. Gergiev also heads festivals in Finland, the Netherlands and Israel. He is music director of the London Symphony. He has begun record labels at the LSO and the Mariinsky. This summer he added the Tchaikovsky International Competition to his portfolio, bringing a new luster to Russia's fabled but faded contests in piano, violin and voice.

Yet what his concerts here proved — and especially his performances of four Tchaikovsky symphonies at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall on Thursday and Monday — is that Gergiev has slowly, unwaveringly and, yes, patiently, built an orchestra with a uniquely powerful and soulful sound. Through tireless repetition, he has just as patiently explored new depths in Russian classics.

Monday’s Segerstrom program of Tchaikovsky’s Third and Fourth symphonies had all the greatness of Gergiev’s performances of the Second and Fifth the previous week (ever on the go, the Mariinsky ran through all six symphonies in between). At the Valley Performing Arts Center, the Mariinsky focused on youthful works by Russian composers written in the early 20th century — Stravinsky’s “Firebird” Suite, Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto and Shostakovich’s First Symphony.

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Dance review: New York City Ballet Moves in Santa Barbara

October 19, 2011 |  2:30 pm

Gonzalo Garcia, left, and Tiler Peck in "Dances at a Gathering" Tuesday at the Grenada Theatre in Santa Barbara
This post has been corrected. See note below for details.

Can an appetizer-size portion of New York City Ballet be as gratifying as the entire multi-course company?

That was the question Wednesday, as New York City Ballet Moves made its Southern California debut at the historic Grenada Theatre (with an annoyingly creaking stage), presented by UC Santa Barbara’s Arts & Lectures. With no more than 20 principals, soloists and corps de ballet members, this ensemble is nimble, created to tour. Even better, it brings along its own musicians.

The downside is Moves’ restricted repertory; on this occasion, no works by co-founder George Balanchine, the artistic foundation of City Ballet. That was a disappointment. 

PHOTOS: New York City Ballet

Some masterpieces do fit Moves, and quite nicely. “Dances at a Gathering” (1969), Jerome Robbins' work for five couples, celebrates love, playfulness and Chopin’s piano pieces. Pianist Susan Walters began, and Gonzalo Garcia ambled on, dreamily applying gentle assurance to a slow mazurka.

Just that fast, we were reminded that certain dance qualities remain sacrosanct at NYCB. It is embedded in its genetic code that in any size of ensemble the dancers will fully shape and make physical a score’s tonal colors and pulse. Most everyone revealed themselves through exquisite timing and clarity.

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New York City Ballet group to perform at Valley Performing Arts Center

May 23, 2011 | 11:43 am


The newly formed touring group of the New York City Ballet will make a stop at the Valley Performing Arts Center this fall. The group, called New York City Ballet Moves, is scheduled to perform in Northridge on Oct. 22.

In January, the New York City Ballet announced the launch of the group, which will consist of a small set of artists from the full company that will perform at smaller venues, such as university auditoriums. The company said it may send multiple groups on the road at the same time.

Shortly after the announcement of the new traveling group, the union representing New York City Ballet dancers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, stating that they had not been consulted about the creation of the new group.

The dispute was resolved earlier this month as part of the company's larger contract negotiations with its dancers.

New York City Ballet Moves is scheduled to give its first performances on July 31 and Aug. 1 as part of the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado. The ballets programmed by the group will come mostly from the company's existing repertory.

The Valley Performing Arts Center features 1,700 seats in its main hall, and is the largest space of its kind in the San Fernando Valley. The center, located on the campus of Cal State Northridge, officially opened in January.


Nycb New York City Ballet and its dancers resolve contract dispute

A star-studded opening for the Valley Performing Arts Center

Music review: China Philharmonic performs at the new Valley Performing Arts Center


-- David Ng

Upper photo: The Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Peter Martins' "Swan Lake" by the New York City Ballet in 2006. Credit: Paul Kolnik

Music review: China Philharmonic performs at the new Valley Performing Arts Center

April 17, 2011 |  2:51 pm

The San Fernando Valley has an important new concert hall: the Valley Performing Arts Center on the campus of Cal State Northridge. Finally the Valley has a comfortable hall with clean, well-defined sound and easy parking to call its own.

Beijing has an important newish orchestra: The China Philharmonic is 10 years old, which makes it a symphonic toddler still. As part of a sunny Southern California tour (Santa Barbara, Palm Desert, Costa Mesa, San Diego), the orchestra bypassed downtown L.A. for the new Northridge hall.

The orchestra -- which operates under the Radio, Film and Television Bureau of the People’s Republic of China -- also, of course, conveniently bypassed art world demonstrations downtown against the Chinese government’s crackdown on the controversial artist Ai Wei Wei. But China’s orchestra, with its clean, well-defined sound, suited the venue ideally, even if the fit between an orchestra and a state university was also troubling. Both outfits seem inclined (for fear of Beijing politicians or Sacramento ones?) to stick with the safe and bland.

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Valentine's Day countdown: Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa's favorite love song

February 12, 2011 |  1:30 pm

From now through Valentine's Day we're sharing the favorite love song from eight musicians who are about to perform in the Los Angeles area. Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa is a sucker for “Danny Boy.”  Watch the opera star from New Zealand sing the sentimental Irish folk song in this video.

"When you want a love song it can be one that is very happy but I suppose it was happy but then it had an unhappy ending. There’s always a question mark of the love that has been lost. The tragic love, really.

"I think love is a sad thing but sometimes we like to be sad. It’s a nice emotion. Not tragic sad, but just sad. I think we like to find a little hurt sometimes because then the happiness is more extreme."

Te Kanawa performs a recital March 12 at the Valley Performing Arts Center, Cal State Northridge.


Nathan Gunn's favorite love song

Betty Buckley's favorite love song

Constantine Maroulis' favorite love song

Wynton Marsalis' favorite love song

Keely Smith's favorite love song

Check back with Culture Monster every day through Feb. 14 for a new selection.

— Marcia Adair


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