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FREQUENT SF BALLET COLLABORATOR AND TONY AWARD WINNING DESIGNER MARTIN PAKLEDINAZ HAS DIED

Frequent SF Ballet collaborator and celebrated costume designer Martin Pakledinaz died on Sunday, July 8, at the age of 58, after a long illness. Pakledinaz, known for his work on Tony Award winning musicals such as Kiss Me, Kate; Thoroughly Modern Millie; and Anything Goes; collaborated frequently with SF Ballet, beginning in the early 1990s.For SF Ballet, he designed for choreographers such as Mark Morris, SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, and Christopher Wheeldon.

“Martin was not only a wonderful collaborator but also a good friend. For over fifteen years, I’ve had the privilege of working with him and seeing his extraordinary designs come to life on stage,” said Tomasson. “For San Francisco Ballet, his diverse body of work included notable ballets, both short and full-length, such as my most recent productions of Nutcracker and Don Quixote, Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour, and Mark Morris’ Sylvia, to name a few. Martin was incredibly talented and original and he will be greatly missed.”

As a costume and scenic designer, Pakledinaz worked in theatre, dance, opera, and film. His work has been seen in New York, the United States, and all over the world. He was nominated 10 times for the Tony Award, winning twice in the Best Costume Design category for the 1999 revival of Kiss Me, Kate and in 2002, for the original production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. His designs for opera include “Rodelinda” for the Met; Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” for Seattle Opera; “L’Amour De Loin” (directed by Peter Sellars) for Opera Salzburg and the Chatelet; as well as productions at New York City Opera, Lyric Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company. Memorial donations may be made to: The Martin Pakledinaz Scholarship, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, 721 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10003.

About San Francisco Ballet

As America’s oldest professional ballet company, San Francisco Ballet has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts” since its founding in 1933, including performing the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th-century American Coppélia. San Francisco Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States. Guided in its early years by American dance pioneers and brothers Lew, Willam and Harold Christensen, San Francisco Ballet currently presents more than 100 performances annually, both locally and internationally. Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson for more than two decades, the Company has achieved an international reputation as one of the preeminent ballet companies in the world. In 2005, San Francisco Ballet won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Dance” and in 2006, it was the first non-European company elected “Company of the Year” in Dance Europe magazine’s annual readers’ poll. In 2008, the Company marked its 75th anniversary with a host of initiatives including an ambitious New Works Festival. Recent highlights include a tour to the People’s Republic of China, the celebration of Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s 25th anniversary with the Company, and the United States premiere of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid, which was broadcast internationally, as well as nationally on PBS’s Great Performances “Dance in America” in December 2011. In 2012, SF Ballet embarked on an ambitious tour schedule that includes engagements in London and Washington, D.C., as well as first time visits to Hamburg, Moscow, and Sun Valley, Idaho. * * *

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LORENZO PISONI’S HUMOR ABUSE RETURNS TO A.C.T. FOR AN EXCLUSIVE LIMITED ENGAGEMENT!

The celebrated actor and clown’s critically acclaimed one-man show tells the

incredible true story of growing up in San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus

SAN FRANCISCO (June 26, 2012)— After receiving ecstatic reviews and audience ovations last winter, Lorenzo Pisoni’s celebrated one-man show, Humor Abuse, returns to American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) for an exclusive limited engagement. Created by Pisoni and director Erica Schmidt, Humor Abuse takes us under the big top with Pisoni’s incredible true story of growing up as the youngest member of San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus. Celebrating the complicated, no-holds-barred life of a performer, Pisoni shows off the tricks of the trade he learned from his father, Pickle cofounder Larry Pisoni. A hilarious and heartfelt event that will delight audiences of all ages, Humor Abuse dazzles with unforgettable stories and mesmerizing routines. The show has been critically acclaimed throughout its runs around the country: the New York Times called Pisoni “a performer of charisma and charm with the split-second timing and aplomb of Buster Keaton;” Variety praised the show as “surprising, funny, and entirely theatrical;” and during the show’s sold-out run in January, the San Francisco Chronicle awarded the show its highest rating, hailing it as “90 minutes of nonstop hilarity . . . a tour de force of physical comedy and a gift to the Bay Area.” Humor Abuse performs August 3–19, 2012 at the American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco). Press night is Friday, August 3, 2012, at 8 p.m. Tickets (starting at $25) are available by calling the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or at act-sf.org.

About returning to the Bay Area, Pisoni—who previously appeared on the A.C.T. stage in 2005’s hugely popular The Gamester and also recently performed in Broadway’s Equus alongside Daniel Radcliffe—says: “When I was asked if I was interested in doing Humor Abuse again at A.C.T., there was no question. Being able to share the story of my father and the Pickle Family Circus with Bay Area audiences was an absolute dream come true and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to share it all again.”

Pisoni was born into the Pickle Family Circus shortly after his parents, Larry Pisoni and Peggy Snider, founded the alternative big top in 1974 with their juggling partner, Cecil MacKinnon. After Bill Irwin and Geoff Hoyle joined their ranks—creating the incomparable clown trio of Lorenzo Pickle (Pisoni), Willy the Clown (Irwin), and Mr. Sniff (Hoyle)—the Pickles became a venerable and beloved Bay Area institution. They toured the West Coast (and beyond) through the 1980s and ’ 90s and led the charge in the renewal of the American circus, exchanging animal acts, pyrotechnics, and the supersized three-ring format with daring acrobatics and its famous show-stopping group juggle, all presented on one intimate stage so audiences would not miss a single moment. Lorenzo Pisoni grew up in this hotbed of creativity, first appearing onstage at the age of two. He became his father’s clown partner not long after, and he continued to perform with the troupe during his teens. Pisoni, a natural storyteller, gives the audience a unique take on the familiar coming-of-age story and creates a moving and hilarious portrait of a father-and-son relationship. His recollections are centered around physically demanding tricks (both newly created acts as well as and reenactments of his father’s famous Pickle performances) that show off his skills as a juggler, acrobatic, clown, and physical comedian.

The creative team for Humor Abuse includes lighting designer Ben Stanton (Seminar on Broadway,  Angels in America at the Signature Theatre), sound designer Bart Fasbender (over 100 productions, including work at The Public Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Atlantic Theater Company), and composer Randy Craig (who is an original Pickle Family Circus member and recently composed and performed the music for A.C.T.’s production of Scapin). Humor Abuse is stage-managed by Hannah Cohen.

A.C.T.’s production of Humor Abuse is made possible by producer Marilee K. Gardner. A.C.T. would also like to acknowledge its 2012–13 season company sponsors Ray and Dagmar Dolby, Frannie Fleishhacker, Ambassador James C. Hormel and Michael P. Nguyen, Koret Foundation, Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Mary and Steven Swig, Doug Tilden, and Jeff and Laurie Ubben.

A.C.T.’ s 2012–13 season continues with many other incredible productions. Next up is the West Coast premiere of George C. Wolfe’s Tony Award–winning production of The Normal Heart (September 13–October 7, 2012), followed by Carey Perloff’s sweeping production of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Elektra (October 25–November 18, 2012), featuring core acting company member René Augesen in the title role and associate artist (and Academy Award winner) Olympia Dukakis as the fiercely partisan Chorus Leader. December brings A.C.T.’s celebrated production of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol (November 29–December 24, 2012), now in its 36th year. This version of A Christmas Carol,, adapted by Paul Walsh and Carey Perloff, stays true to the heart of Dickens’s timeless story of redemption and brings a playful sensibility to his rich language. Widely considered one of the most influential plays of the 20th century, Tennessee Williams’ sultry classic, A Streetcar Named Desire (January 17–February 10, 2013) takes the stage in a sumptuous new production. Next A.C.T will present the world premiere of George F. Walker’s Dead Metaphor—a hilarious dark comedy about the hypocrisies of postwar living (February 28–March 24, 2013).  In the spirit of the beloved hit The Black Rider, A.C.T. is thrilled to continue the tradition of introducing eclectic, unforgettable musical projects to the stage with the world premiere of Stuck Elevator (April 4–28, 2013). A powerful and poignant hip-hop opera, Stuck Elevator is based on the true story of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman who was trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. As the event of the season, A.C.T. is thrilled to present the Bay Area premiere of The National Theatre of Scotland’s internationally acclaimed production of Black Watch (May 3–June 9, 2013). Written by Gregory Burke and directed by John Tiffany (who recently won a Tony Award for his inventive work on the acclaimed Broadway musical Once), Black Watch is based on interviews Burke conducted with soldiers of the legendary Scottish regiment who served in Iraq. The 2012–13 season culminates with a new production of Tom Stoppard’s masterwork Arcadia (May 16–June 9, 2013). Hailed as one of the best plays of the 20th century, Arcadia unfolds in a beautiful English country house and moves between the 19th century and the present through a series of love stories, as characters from both eras discover connections, unearth mysteries, and unravel hidden truths about the nature of heat and desire. To subscribe or to receive a season brochure, please call 415.749.2250 or visit act-sf.org.
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Stern Grove 2012!

San Francisco’s original music festival, Stern Grove Festival, announced  its 75th Season of admission-free concerts, Sundays at 2:00 p.m. from June 24 through through August 26, 2012 at Sigmund Stern Grove, located at 19 Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco.

This landmark summer season features a mix of performers as diverse as the city it calls home. This summer’s 10-week concerts series features an array of pop and jazz music greats, including ANITA BAKER, SHEILA E, AL JARREAU, OK GO, OZOMATLI, PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND, MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO as well as the City’s three classical institutions—the SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY, BALLET AND OPERA. Stern Grove Festival is the only venue in the world where all three of these renowned cultural institutions perform every summer, completely admission-free.

June 24 – The Big Picnic Benefit and Concert

Starring Anita Baker The Family Stone and Glide Ensemble

Stern Grove Festival will inaugurate a new tradition–The Big Picnic, An Opening Day Benefit and Concert to launch the summer season. This special event begins with a benefit party followed by the admission-free concert featuring Anita Baker, The Family Stone, and Glide Ensemble. These three acts, well known for getting the audience out of their seats, will set the tone for a dynamic summer at Stern Grove Festival.

Glide Ensemble, a San Francisco institution, opens the concert with an inspiring blend of gospel, jazz, blues, pop, and soul. The Family Stone, featuring Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees and original founding members of Sly & The Family Stone, Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini, and Greg Errico, continues the soul-stirring music with their funk-infused sound. And to close the day, Stern Grove Festival is proud to present ANITA BAKER—multiple GRAMMY winner, composer, producer, and all-around superstar, this R&B legend is known for her hit-making sound and smooth vocals.

The performance is dedicated to the memory of Rosalie M. Stern, donor of Stern Grove to San Francisco and founder of the Stern Grove Festival Association. The Big Picnic is presented by Wells Fargo. Concert Sponsors are Sutter Health, Parkmerced, PG&E, Bvlgari, Northern Trust, AT&T, Recology, and Sonoma County Visitors Center. Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Vitale.

July 1 – Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Stone Foxes

It is particularly fitting to have the acclaimed Preservation Hall Jazz Band return to Stern Grove Festival with the sounds of the Big Easy. Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been a significant part of Stern Grove Festival throughout the years and generations of San Franciscans have fond memories of their concerts. This summer’s performance will feature a special commissioned piece celebrating Stern Grove Festival’s 75th year.

Continuing the Bay Area connection for this concert, local San Francisco band The Stone Foxes open the afternoon with their roadhouse-ready blues and rock sound. Founded in 2005, the band’s gritty sound has won them fans throughout the Bay Area.

Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Rex.

July 8 – San Francisco Symphony with Music Director and Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas

and Members of the SFS Chorus

Stern Grove Festival is proud to present what promises to be an extraordinary performance with the San Francisco Symphony. For the first time in over ten years, SFS Music Director and Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct a concert in the Grove, also featuring members of the SFS Chorus. The histories of Stern Grove Festival and the San Francisco Symphony have been linked since June 1932 when the Symphony performed the first-ever concert at the Grove. This summer’s program, part of the Symphony’s centennial season and marking Stern Grove’s 75th anniversary, will feature Beethoven’s timeless masterpiece, Symphony No. 9, among other works. To mark this milestone, KDFC Radio, 90.3 FM will broadcast this July 8 concert live, further underscoring how performances at Stern Grove Festival are accessible to everyone.

Today’s performance is dedicated to the memory of Rhoda H. Goldman, Festival Chair from 1968 to 1996. Concert sponsored by Sutter Health, Sonoma County Visitors Center, Galleria Park Hotel, and Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Rex.

July 15 – Nitin Sawhney and Meshell Ndegeocello

A producer, composer, DJ, multi-instrumentalist and all-around Renaissance man Nitin Sawhney brings cross-cultural cool to the Grove. One of the most talented and recognized producers and songwriters within the British electronic and fusion music scene, Nitin Sawhney is also a respected actor, writer, and scriptwriter.

Also performing is singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello with her eclectic blend of folk, jazz, hip-hop, funk, and rock. Since hitting the Billboard charts with a cover of “Wild Night” with John Mellencamp, Meshell has received ten GRAMMY nominations, performed around the world, and collaborated with artists ranging from Madonna and Basement Jaxx to The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Hotel Sponsor is Kabuki Springs and Spa.

July 22 – The E Family Featuring Pete, Sheila E, Juan and Peter Michael Escovedo

Featuring the first family of Bay Area Latin music, The E Family brings the beat in this one-of- a-kind performance featuring the Pete Escovedo Orchestra, The E Family Band with Pete, Juan, Peter Michael, and Sheila E, and a special performance by Sheila E.

Concert Sponsor is Parkmerced and Hotel Sponsor is Kabuki Springs and Spa.

July 29 – San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Ballet returns to Stern Grove Festival with artists of the Company performing a selection of works from their current repertory. Renowned for its incomparable level of innovation and exuberance, San Francisco Ballet is one of the premier ballet companies in America.

Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Tomo and Kabuki Springs and Spa.

August 5 – Ozomatli and SMOD

Latin alternative rockers Ozomatli return to Stern Grove Festival with their high-energy, danceable blend of hip-hop, rock, and modern Latin sounds. A Festival favorite, the group will also present a kid-friendly performance at KidStage at noon before the concert.

From Mali, the trio SMOD opens the afternoon with a hip-hop hybrid of West African vocal styles, old school rapping, and modern beats. Their debut album, produced and recorded with international star Manu Chao, was released in 2010 in France.

Concert Sponsor is AT&T and Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Carlton. Media sponsor is SF Weekly.

August 12 – Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio and Mara Hruby

Re-creating a legendary San Francisco recording session, Al Jarreau and The George Duke Trio reunite for an afternoon of jazz classics.

Jarreau’s career started in San Francisco, where he performed with the George Duke Trio as the house band at the Half/Note jazz club, leading to the 1965 album, Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio- Live At The Half/Note. Since then, with fans worldwide, Jarreau has racked up seven GRAMMY nominations and scores of international music awards for his signature vocal stylings.

Born in San Rafael, George Duke was a mainstay on the 1960’s San Francisco jazz scene and studied at the Conservatory of Music. A respected musician, song-writer, music director, and producer, Duke has worked with greats like Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, and Dizzy Gillespie and contemporary R&B artists like Jeffrey Osbourne, Gladys Knight, and Anita Baker.

Opening the afternoon and rounding out the Bay Area focus of this concert is Oakland-based neo- soul singer Mara Hruby, a fast-rising star with a smooth, jazzy vocal sound and a singular style. After performing as a dancer and singer backing other Bay Area artists, she recently released her debut EP, From Her Eyes.

Concert Sponsor is Parkmerced and Hotel Sponsor is Galleria Park Hotel.

August 19 – San Francisco Opera

Stern Grove Festival is proud to welcome back the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. The afternoon’s program features soprano Leah Crocetto, tenor Michael Fabiano, and more soloists performing a selection of operatic favorites.

Today’s performance is dedicated to the memory of Elise S. Haas, Festival Chair from 1956 to 1968. Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Vitale.

August 26 – OK Go and The Family Crest

Known for their viral videos and quirky sound, alternative rockers OK Go close the 75th Season

in celebratory style. At the forefront of an emerging class of creative entrepreneurs making art in both digital and physical spaces, the GRAMMY-nominated group’s self-directed videos have been viewed over 150 million times on YouTube. Their most recent video, which debuted during the Super Bowl, received 200 million hits in less than 24 hours the next day.

San Francisco indie orchestral collective, The Family Crest, opens the afternoon with their fusion of rock, classical, folk, and jazz. Their debut LP, The Village, was pre-released at SXSW this year and will be released nationally this summer.

Concert Sponsor is Parkmerced, AT&T, and Sonoma County Visitors Center. Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Tomo.

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Asian Art Museum Appoints Dr. Laura Allen as Curator of Japanese Art

Dr Laura Allen has been appointed Curator of Japanese Art

SAN FRANCISCO, June 11, 2012 — After an extensive search, the Asian Art Museum today announced the appointment of Dr. Laura Allen as the museum’s new curator of Japanese art, beginning June 11, 2012. Serving as head of the museum’s Japanese art department, Dr. Allen will join associate curator of Japanese art Melissa Rinne in executing advanced curatorial work, organizing special exhibitions, and overseeing the care and academic interpretation of Japanese art objects belonging or lent to the museum.

“Laura Allen’s unique combination of teaching skills, scholarly publication, and curatorial experiences have provided her the kind of intellectual innovation needed to fulfill the museum’s vision to engage and inspire new and broader audiences,” said Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum. “She brings an intellectual acumen that complements her personal warmth and lively thinking. We are thrilled to welcome her aboard.”

Dr. Allen has worked for over twenty years in the field of Japanese art history. After receiving her B.A. in Art History and Asian Studies at Oberlin College, she completed an M.A. in Art History under Alexander Soper at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Following a year as a Japanese art curatorial intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied Chinese and Japanese art as well as classical Japanese literature under James Cahill, Maribeth Graybill, and Helen Craig McCullough. A Fulbright scholarship supported Dr. Allen’s doctoral research on medieval narrative painting at Gakushûin University, Tokyo. Her Ph.D. dissertation was a study of the thirteenth century picture scroll Illustrated Life of Saigyô (Saigyô monogatari emaki).

In 1992, after four years as assistant professor of Japanese art at U.C. Irvine, Dr. Allen embarked on a freelance career focused on research, teaching and writing in her field. Her broad-ranging interests have resulted in publications for scholarly and general audiences, on topics including early narrative painting, Tosa school paintings of The Tale of Genji, the printmaking tradition, and Western-style painting (yôga). She has taught the history of Japanese art to students at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University and most recently has served as adjunct professor of Asian art at the University of San Francisco. In 2006, she initiated a close affiliation with the Asian Art Museum with a yearlong term as Instructor of Record for the Arts of Asia lecture series.

Since 2009, Dr. Allen has worked closely with Ms. Rinne in the museum’s Japanese department as guest co-curator for recent and upcoming exhibitions, and as an advisor to the Society for Asian Art’s board of directors.

ABOUT THE ASIAN ART MUSEUM
The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco’s premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian Art treasures spanning 6000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life, while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.

Information: 415.581.3500 or www.asianart.org

Location: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

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“SLIPPING” – Now at New Conservatory Theatre Center

Sean Martinfield, Arts Contributor

Playwright Daniel Talbot’s Slipping makes its Bay Area premiere at New Conservatory Theatre Center now through July 1st. The story is about “Eli” – a really out and reticent Gay high school student long-accustomed to the physical taunts and verbal jabs that simply go with the territory. The play combines two time frames – that was then, this is now. Eli and Jan (his mother) used to live in San Francisco. Now they’re in Des Moines. Not much going on in Des Moines for an angry skinny boy with punkish blue hair, a camera around his neck, who smokes too much, and has taken to cutting himself again. Since her husband’s death – and the relocation to Iowa to become an English teacher and start all over – Jan has jumped into an affair with a younger man, not one of her students. No mistaking the variety of moaning coming from her bedroom. But Eli has plenty of noise going on his head to block it, some of it about missing an abusive relationship with Chris – a wild kid back in the City who would threaten to kill him should he open his mouth about their big secret. But now, Eli has outed Jake – the gawky guy in Art Class who is into sports and, since their experimental encounters, believes he and Eli may have a future together. Eli and his mother reach the overdue boiling point, firing the F-word back and forth. He cuts his wrist. Jake crawls into bed with him at the hospital. No secrets now. Perhaps Eli will learn to accept love.

Evan Johnson (Lois Tema Photography)

Whatever may be missing in Talbott’s script is made-up for in the intense and compelling performances by its cast and the fine direction of Andrew Nance. The situations are topical and the characters are familiar. New Conservatory Theatre’s production of Slipping is a positive move in its continuous effort to bring complex issues to the stage and to encourage new playwrights who challenge the status quo with the benefits of excellent production values and an increasingly loyal subscription audience.

“To me,” says Daniel Talbott, “the play is about reaching out. I had this really intense relationship for a long time, and that relationship—having someone love me and be there for me—was what sent me over the edge and really kind of crashed me out. The play is about that and the need to break that open in order to start to become healthy.”

Benjamin Ismail (Jake), Fernando Navales (Chris), Evan Johnson (Eli), and Stacy Thunes (Jan) (Lois Tema Photography)

Click here to purchase tickets on-line: SLIPPING

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Cross-Pollination: The Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti June 23–September 23, 2012, at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

29 May 2012 – Sonoma, CA: This summer, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (www.svma.org) honors the creative life of Lawrence Ferlinghetti with the exhibition Cross-Pollination: The Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s work, in both literature and art, is a drive for liberation, transformation, and union—through love, literature, political struggle, nature, humor, art. Again and again, in paint and in words, he ponders themes of “Her”/woman, the Sea, man adrift, war and pacifism, and engages in direct dialogue with other artists and writers, including Homer and Joyce, Ginsberg and Van Gogh, Picasso and Pound. The exhibition, on view June 23 through September 23, 2012, focuses on key themes that have occupied the artist and poet throughout his creative life, in both word and image.

“We are thrilled to be presenting this exhibition of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s works, of which I am personally a big fan,” says the museum’s Executive Director Kate Eilertsen. “This exhibition takes a unique approach in looking at thematic parallels that have been consistent in his work, in whatever medium he chooses.” Long celebrated as a poet and publisher, Ferlinghetti, now 93, was first a painter, pursuing his craft at the Sorbonne in Paris shortly after his naval service in World War II. For more than sixty years, he has continued his passion for image-making in paintings, drawings, prints, and mixed media works that have been widely exhibited, including a major survey exhibition in 2010 in Rome and Calabria.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born March 24, 1919) is acclaimed as a poet, painter, liberal activist, and co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in San Francisco. As early as his 1955 book A Coney Island of the Mind (published in 1958 by New Directions)—a collection of poems that has been translated into nine languages, with sales of over 1 million copies—he wrote about himself as a painter and the challenges of the visual artist. The first poem in the bestselling book addresses the work of Goya; and further along, in poem 12, he writes: “‘One of those paintings that would not die’ / its warring image / once conceived / would not leave / the leaded ground / no matter how many times / he hounded it / into oblivion…”

Cross-Pollination: The Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti is guest curated by Diane Roby, an artist and curator who for several years has catalogued Ferlinghetti’s visual art at his Hunter’s Point studio in San Francisco. For this exhibition, she looks especially at the overlap of word and image as Ferlinghetti addresses recurring thematic material. “In Ferlinghetti’s art,” says Roby, “words give rise to image-making, and word and image meld in paint. The poet and painter, with pen and brush, turns his attention to his world of words and paint as he ponders questions of human existence and aspirations.”

Cross-Pollination: The Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti tracks these themes through selected paintings, drawings, prints, and notebooks. Several works on loan from the artist will be exhibited for the first time, including notebooks of writings with pictures in the margins, and sketchbooks with text, as the artist forms his thoughts in line and verse. A viewing room will present video and audio clips of the artist reading and at work in his studio. Among these clips is the 1957 Allen Willis film “Have You Sold Your Dozen Roses?,” with a voiceover by Ferlinghetti (presented courtesy of the East Bay Media Center).

Cross-Pollination: The Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti is generously supported by Cherie and Keith Hughes.

Cross-Pollination: The Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti will be on view at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, 551 Broadway in Sonoma, June 23 through September 23, 2012. The Museum hours are Wednesdays through Sundays 11am– 5pm. Museum admission is $5 general; free for students in grades K-12. Admission is free for all visitors every Wednesday. More information about the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is available at www.svma.org or by calling (707) 939-7862.

 

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The Gold Dust Lounge in San Francisco is History: Tourist Bar to Move to Fisherman’s Wharf

 

The Gold Dust Lounge will shut its doors Wednesday, May 23, and move into a new location at Fisherman’s Wharf sometime in the next four months, according to a source close to the bar.

A press conference will be held at 2:30 Wednesday at the bar, 247 Powell St., to announce that the bar and lounge will fold its tent and move to an undisclosed location at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Recently, the bar was sued by its landlord, the Handlery family, which owns the building where the bar is situated for failing to abide by the terms of its lease and staying beyond the term of its lease.  The bar and its owners, the Bovis brothers, lost a series of legal rulings this past week that sealed its fate.

The Gold Dust tried to use public relations tactics to overcome the fact that the bar didn’t have a lease.  One of its previous attempts to remain on Powell Street was to seek historic status from the City of San Francisco, but the bar suffered a setback when the Historic Preservation Commission decided against granting it landmark status.

Supporters of the 47-year-old bar near Union Square hoped the designation would help save the business from being evicted by the building’s owners, the Handlery family. Next, the bar’s supporters sought help from Supervisor Christina Olague, who said she planned to introduce legislation that would override the agency, whose members said the bar had cultural significance but did not meet criteria for historic landmark designation.

But the supervisor changed her mind. She told the board she’d “respect the process” and stay out of the fight.

The day after the Historic Preservation Commission’s ruling, attorneys for the Handlery family filed a lawsuit against Jim and Tasios Bovis, who run the bar, accusing them of intentionally breaching their contract. The Bovises, in turn, sued their landlords, saying they were intimidated into signing their contract.

The battle over the watering hole started in December last year, when the Handlery family, who wants to put an Express store in the Gold Dust’s space, exercised a clause in its lease and gave the Bovises three months to clear out. The Bovises refused to leave.

At that time, Lee Houskeeper, a spokesman for the Bovises, said bar supporters would appeal the Historic Preservation Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors within a month. But the bar never did.

At that time, Houskeeper bragged: “We’re going to keep pouring,” he added. “We’re not going anywhere soon.”

But the Bovises and Houskeeper changed their tune this week after the bar lost a series of three important legal decisions this past week to the Handlery family.

Now the tourist bar is moving to a tourist location, Fisherman’s Wharf, where it can continue to pour drinks like it has since 1966, when the Bovises first started the lounge in the Handlery building on Powell Street.

The biggest question is why the Bovises (and their mouthpiece Houskeeper) didn’t move in the first place, except that they would have lost the publicity and income that comes from flogging a dying bar.  And, of course, who in San Francisco doesn’t like a good ‘ol tenant landlord dispute? It only makes everyone drink more. Just ask the Bovis’ attorney Joe Cotchett who got his hat handed to him by the court and led to the bar finally giving up the ghost and moving to Fisherman’s Wharf.  He will most likely be drowning his loss with a few drinks at the Gold Dust Bar in its final hours, courtesy of the Bovis brothers, no doubt.

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PHANTOMS OF ASIA – At the Asian Art Museum, through 9/2

Asian Art Museum organizes its first large-scale exhibition of contemporary art,

offering unique insight into Asian mythologies and belief systems

Sean Martinfield, Arts Contributor

The Asian Art Museum debuts Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past, an ambitious exhibition exploring the complex, diverse, cross-cultural perspectives of Asian cosmology and spirituality through a compelling interplay of 140 artworks from the past and present.

Phantoms of Asia – the first large-scale exhibition of contemporary art organized by the Asian Art Museum – fills its special exhibition galleries with artworks by living artists and integrates new works throughout the museum’s renowned pan-Asian collections. Providing visitors with immersive experiences, the exhibition offers rare insights into a range of belief systems and mythologies that have shaped Asian cultures over the ages.

On view May 18–September 2, 2012, and featuring more than 60 works by 31 contemporary artists, including Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japan/USA), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand), Adeela Suleman (Pakistan), Raqib Shaw (India), and Choi Jeong Hwa (Korea), alongside 90 objects from the museum’s collections—some dating back 2,000 years—Phantoms of Asia challenges visitors to view traditional objects not as relics of the past, but as vibrant connections to the present.
Click here for ticket information: Asian Art Museum

RAQIB SHAW. Absence of God VII, 2008

RAQIB SHAW. Absence of God VII, 2008

“The concept of phantoms—or ‘spirits’—is elusive, yet it’s felt and shared across cultures and time periods,” said Jay Xu, museum director. “Through its emphasis on interconnectivity, this exhibition provides a rare opportunity to experience those ‘invisible forces’ in a tangible, accessible, and provocative way, with Asian art at the center.”

Curated by Mami Kataoka, chief curator of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, in collaboration with Allison Harding, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Asian Art Museum, Phantoms of Asia is organized around four themes: (1) Asian Cosmologies: Envisioning the Invisible; (2) World, Afterworld: Living Beyond Living; (3) Myth, Ritual, Meditation: Communing with Deities; and (4) Sacred Mountains: Encountering the Gods.

The exhibition includes artworks by contemporary artists hailing from Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Tibet, and the U.S. Many of the contemporary installations are new or site-specific commissions. When combined with objects from the museum’s collections, these artworks represent a vast array of materials, forms and media, including works of stone, metal, fabric, wood, and modern materials; and masks, textiles, sculptures, ceramics, film and video, photographs, and paintings.

Expressing the museum’s new aspiration to “awaken the past and inspire the next,” the building itself will undergo a transformation to meet the full-scale challenges of the exhibition, starting with a 24-foot installation outside the museum, moving into the building’s public courtyards, and finally throughout the special exhibition and collection galleries.

CHOI JEONG HWA. Breathing Flower

CHOI JEONG HWA. Breathing Flower

Asian Cosmologies: Envisioning the Invisible
The exhibition begins with Choi Jeong Hwa’s (Korea) 24-foot red lotus (titled Breathing Flower) in Civic Center Plaza, across the street from the museum. With motorized bright red fabric leaves opening and closing, simulating the movement of a live lotus flower, the installation creates a link between the modern world and one of the most important cosmological symbols in Asia.

Inside the museum, Sun K. Kwak’s (Korea/USA) site-specific drawing made with masking tape dramatically transforms the museum’s North Court, manifesting invisible energies in the space. Kwak’s installation relies on the artist’s process of “lyrical meditation” to detect the subtle energies in the room, and serves to shift visitors’ consciousness from the mundane concerns of daily life to the spiritual/cosmological themes of Phantoms of Asia.

The exhibition then takes a look at the future, with Heman Chong’s (Singapore) installation, Calendars (2020–2096). One thousand and one calendar pages, each showing one of Chong’s photographs of public and domestic spaces, transfigure the installation space. Repetition, an imagined future time, and haunting stillness encourage meditation on being and absence, mortality and eternity.

Moving into Lee Gallery, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s (Japan/USA) Five-Elements series stands as a shrine to the origins of existence. Seven crystal pagodas resting on wooden plinths form a single, stark line across the gallery. Using geometric symbols from thirteenth-century Buddhism, Sugimoto encases a single image from his iconic Seascape series in each glass structure. The sea and air, origins of all life, are seen through a prism of ancient Buddhist views of the universe.

PALDEN WEINREB. Astral Invert, 2011

PALDEN WEINREB. Astral Invert, 2011

In Hambrecht Gallery, several objects from the museum’s collections present traditional Asian cosmographic symbols. In one area, Chinese bronze mirrors (some dating back to 480 BCE) depict the cosmos on their nonreflecting sides even as they reflect the real, earthly world on their polished surfaces. The mirrors orient viewers to Poklong Anading’s (Philippines) Anonymity series, where subjects hold mirrors to their faces to reflect flashes of light into the camera. With people’s faces obscured, Anading’s photographs ask viewers to consider how they construct personal and collective identity. In another section, Guo Fengyi’s (China) drawings map the flow of energy through the artist’s own nervous system. Influenced by her study of qigong, the drawings illustrate the experience of artistic practice as spiritual practice. Palden Weinreb’s (USA/Tibet) minimalist works (including paintings and light boxes) are meditations on existence and the universe: “Abstraction,” Weinreb suggests, “parallels the sublime emptiness of Buddhism.”

World, Afterworld: Living Beyond Living
Works in the next phase of the exhibition explore the connection between this life and the afterworld. The theme begins in Hambrecht Gallery with Araya Radsjarmrearnsook’s (Thailand) video installation, The Class, in which the artist gives a seminar on death to several shrouded corpses. Her lecture prompts our own contemplation: How do we speak about death? What do we envision in the afterworld?

Between Hambrecht and Osher Galleries, Jakkai Siributr’s (Thailand) Karma Cash & Carry depicts a spirit house similar to those found in the artist’s native country. Siributr’s work shows the intersection of modern-day animism, Buddhist practice, and material culture. Jompet’s (Indonesia) Anno Domini, an arrangement of colonial military uniforms hanging bodiless, reenacts traditional mythologies, symbolizing protection from the exigencies of modernization and colonization.

Also just outside Osher Gallery, Takayuki Yamamoto’s (Japan) San Francisco version of his ongoing video project, What Kind of Hell Will We Go To, documents the artist’s workshop with elementary school children from the Bayview area. After showing students the Kumano Kanjin Jikkai Mandala, a collection of traditional Japanese paintings depicting Buddhist notions of vice, virtue, and punishment, Yamamoto then encourages them to create and talk about cardboard dioramas representing their own ideas of hell. These dioramas are presented along with the video.

Myth, Ritual, Meditation: Communing with Deities
Marking the transition to the third theme, seventeen traditional masks greet visitors at the entrance of Osher Gallery. Masks play an integral role in ceremonies and rituals across many Asian cultures, and provide the context for Motohiko Odani’s (Japan) carvings. Odani’s SP Extra: Malformed Noh Mask Series: San Yujo transforms the surface of Noh masks to depict the sinew and flesh of the human face, exposing the vulnerable underside of the masks’ spiritual beauty.

JAGANNATH PANDA. The Cult of Survival II, 2011

JAGANNATH PANDA. The Cult of Survival II, 2011

Communication between humans, plants, and animals plays a part in the mythologies of many cultures. Several artists take up this theme in Osher Gallery. In Jagannath Panda’s (India) The Cult of Survival II, the artist symbolizes endless cycles of consumption and production in the form of a snake crafted from pipes. Adeela Suleman (Pakistan) uses stainless steel reliefs of natural objects—birds, flowers, trees—to act as storytellers. Interrupting these traditional motifs are contemporary images of death (including suicide vests), prompting awareness of the ever-present threat of violence and extinction and the transitory nature of all things.

Within the gallery, Adrian Wong (USA/Hong Kong) constructs two rooms following the precepts of feng shui (a system of geomancy that attempts to incorporate laws of heaven and earth), one auspicious and the other inauspicious. Using Korean ceremonial objects from the museum’s collection, Wong experiments with the space between spaces and challenges visitors to tune into nearly imperceptible harmonies and disharmonies.

Sacred Mountains: Encountering the Gods
Sacred mountains have a place of prominence in Hinduism and Buddhism, among other religions, and several artists working with this theme are featured in the second-floor Tateuchi Gallery. Lin Xue (China/Hong Kong) connects to a spiritual past through his paintings of imagined mountains, rendered with a sharpened bamboo twig. His Untitled 2010-9 takes experiences from mountainous landscapes to create newly imagined landscapes, such as an island floating among an ocean replete with marine life. Aki Kondo’s (Japan) newest work, which depicts mountain deities, was motivated by the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

AKI KONDO. Detail, Mountain Gods, 201

AKI KONDO. Detail, Mountain Gods, 201

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Exploring the same theme, but located in the Korean gallery on the second floor, Bae Young-whan’s (Korea) depictions of nature demonstrate a view of the body as a microcosm of the universe; for example, his installation of tiny ceramic mountain ranges echo the shape of his brain waves.

ASIAN ART MUSEUM’S NEW VISION: INTERCONNECTIVITY WITHIN ASIA AND WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD

Partnering curator Kataoka suggests, “Asia is not a timeless construct,” but rather an ever-evolving concept that can “awaken a new awareness of our existence in this world.” Harding considers how the collection at the Asian Art Museum connects to art of today’s Asia and “how these traditional and contemporary objects can reveal new aspects of each other.”

To express these points of view, regional artists’ works are situated among traditional objects in the museum’s region-specific galleries, including Raqib Shaw’s (India/UK) hedonistic, dreamlike canvases in the South Asian galleries. The Kashmiri artist fuses influences as diverse as Japanese screens, Mughal miniatures, and Hieronymus Bosch paintings. Shaw’s style is both opulent and fastidious: his materials include glitter, rhinestones, and industrial paint, all applied painstakingly with a porcupine quill.

In the Chinese Buddhist sculpture gallery, Charwei Tsai’s (Taiwan) minimalist works evoke meditations on the ephemeral. Tsai’s calligraphy of the Chinese characters of the Heart Sutra on organic, transitory materials—tofu, mushrooms, lotus leaves—are exercises in the Buddhist precept of nonattachment.

“We hope visitors will connect with the essence of creative activity in Asia, a region that is rapidly changing on the surface, but where ancient phantoms still linger and spread their spells,” said Kataoka.

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A CONVERSATION WITH GENNADI NEDVIGIN – Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet

Sean Martinfield, Arts Contributor

For Gennadi Nedvigin, a Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet, the 2012 season has been rich with opportunity. He delivered a stunning performance as “Lensky” in the Opening Night production of John Cranko’s Onegin. In Program 2 he was featured in the world premiere of Mark Morris’ all-male ballet, Beaux, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Number Nine. In Program 3 he appeared in Helgi Tomasson’s Trio which was set to music by Tchaikovsky. Even in the largest of ensembles Nedvigin’s electric energy is easily spotted and in an intimate pas de deux with such partners as Maria Kochetkova – he radiates crystalline strength and transcendent joy. When those qualities are channeled into the popular story ballets, he has mastered an array of determinate Royals – “Albrecht” in Swan Lake, “Desiré” in Sleeping Beauty, the “Nutcracker Prince” – and shines as the boy-next-door, “Franz” in Coppélia. In March he delivered a captivating interpretation of “Mercutio” in Romeo and Juliet. The role is notorious in the canon of Shakespeare’s plays, requiring first an actor of unconventional vitality followed by a long list of endowments that run from attractive to zany, all of which spin about in a character who has the soul of a poet, the endurance of a ladies’ man, the tenacity of a best friend, and a solid reputation for being the village inebriate. Tomasson’s choreography captures these attributes and Gennadi Nedvigin conveyed them with ease. This week, in the final production of Don Quixote, he is scheduled to dance the leading role of “Basilio” on Friday, May 4th, and the closing performance on Sunday afternoon, May 6th. Click here to purchase tickets on-line: DON QUIXOTE  GENNADI NEDVIGIN and MARIA KOCHETKOVA. Tomasson's "Trio".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN and MARIA KOCHETKOVA. Tomasson’s “Trio”. Photo, Erik Tomasson

The City’s golden gates were opened for ballet star Gennadi Nedvigin in March 1997 when Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet, handed him the opportunity of a lifetime – the kind served-up on the proverbial silver platter. From the time he was ten years old the young Russian-born dancer had trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School. Now he was on tour with Le Jeune Ballet de France and San Francisco was in its sights. The company would stay about two weeks, take classes with San Francisco Ballet, and collaborate on a number of pieces to be performed at the Palace of Fine Arts. After that, who knew? Gennadi needed a job and the curtain was coming down on this gig with the French company. A few years later, it completely folded.


“They always had young dancers,” he said, “not more than 20 years old. With Jeune Ballet de France you usually stayed for a year and then moved on. It was like a transitional company that helped young dancers get some practice, become stronger, learn new things and then head into a bigger company. Right after our last performance, Helgi was standing in the wings and asked if he could have a word with me. He said, “I have a contract to offer you – as a Soloist. Give it some thought and get back to me within two weeks.” I didn’t have to wait two weeks. I had never been in America before and the City was so beautiful. The weather was great, we were performing at the Palace of Fine Arts which is so romantic, and everything that surrounded me at the time was so enjoyable. So, I changed and went back to the reception. A lot of dancers from San Francisco Ballet were there, a lot of students – I didn’t realize everyone was watching me. I signed the contract right there and all of a sudden the champagne bottles started popping.”

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 3, "Coppelia".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 3, "Coppelia". Photo, Erik Tomasson

Three years later Gennadi was promoted to Principal Dancer. Since then, his continued openness to all things new and commitment to excellence has turned him into the consummate artist/dancer. But it was in this season’s opening production of John Cranko’s “Onegin” that Gennadi’s dramatic abilities took on a new dimension. Based on the classic novel by Alexander Pushkin and set to a collection of various works by Tchaikovsky, Gennadi portrayed “Lensky”, friend to the dashing and arrogant “Eugene Onegin” danced by Vitor Luiz. The second Act involves a party scene where the dazzling Onegin decides to alleviate his boredom by inviting Lensky’s fiancée Olga to dance. Onegin’s deeper motivation is to provoke Lensky by aggressively flirting with her. Olga is naïve and unaccustomed to such overt sexual energy, especially coming from someone who is obviously way out of her league. As they continue to dance, it is apparent to everyone that she is foolishly responding to Onegin and creating an atmosphere that has gone beyond inappropriate. Lensky fails to stop their dance and responds by challenging Onegin to a duel. By this point, not only had the dramatic tension risen to its highest point but so had the hot-blooded magnetism of the very-appealing Mr. Nedvigin. Like never before.

GENNADI NEDVIGIN and CLARA BLANCO in John Cranko's "Onegin".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN and CLARA BLANCO in John Cranko's "Onegin". Photo, Erik Tomasson

“Lensky has purer feelings,” he said. “He is sincere and genuinely mad. It’s basically a black and white situation, with Olga in-between them as “red” – the kind of woman that goes with one man and then with another. Audiences always have better feelings towards Lensky. I re-read the story before we started rehearsing. It is so dear to me. The hardest part for me was to find Lensky’s fragility and innocence and to actually bring those emotions to the stage. You don’t want to fake it or overplay it and then look ridiculous, because Lensky is a sincere soul. There are not many characters like this in ballet.”

“Sincerity must be the food of love then,” I responded, “because I’m sitting out there glaring at Olga (Clara Blanco) and thinking, “Fool! Why would you be throwing yourself at Onegin when you’ve got a lover like Lensky?”

Gennadi laughed. “Well, you know, as my girl says – ‘Girls always like the bad boys.’”

SARAH VAN PATTEN and GENNADI NEDVIGIN in Mark Morris’ "Joyride".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

SARAH VAN PATTEN and GENNADI NEDVIGIN in Mark Morris’ "Joyride". Photo, Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet has an international roster of world class dancers with varying gifts who can step-in for each other at a moment’s notice. Compared to European companies which may favor taller dancers in lead romantic roles, at San Francisco Ballet the look is about balance and perspective. It is not unusual within a course of nine performances of certain programs for there to be as many as five casting combinations. All of them are “star-studded”, each ensemble delivering an artistically remarkable product. Gennadi acknowledged my observation that artists here have the opportunity to flourish.

“In Europe, it’s usually the taller people who do principal parts,” he said. “I know if I were in Europe, I probably wouldn’t have been as fortunate to have danced as many of the leading roles in Classical ballets as I have here. It’s true. Here we are given the chance to do it. And I am so grateful.”

“With that leeway in mind,” I asked, “that everything is possible for you – what leading Classical role do you still dream about doing?”

“I would like to do a production of Sheherezade. Something like that. Not what our Company has ever done or maybe thought of doing. These ballets are very different – very different style, different color, and ethnicity. The roles are very different. It has a more Eastern style and approach. The character of the “Golden Slave” is not a prince, but more like the pirate in Le Corsaire. That’s what interests me – the opportunity to explore different types of characters. That’s why I enjoy the roles of Albrecht, Franz, and Lensky. They are all different. A Prince is a Prince. You’re doing different steps, but your character is pretty much the same everywhere.”

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 3, "Swan Lake".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 3, "Swan Lake". Photo, Erik Tomasson

Along the way, I have missed seeing Gennadi as “Prince Albrecht” in Giselle. He recounted his adventure with a last-minute call to replace Joan Boada who’d had an injury and could not finish the rehearsal of Act II. Gennadi had not been scheduled into the role that season. Like riding a bike, does the choreography just stay in your body?

“I wasn’t upset. I’ve done the role. There were lots of casts. But I had to jump in because of his injury. We would be doing this Giselle in two days. I danced with Masha (Maria Kochetkova). I had been rehearsing something else at the time. They called me and said, “Can you come on stage, please?” It was during their first run-through. They were in the first Act and Joan was already starting to hurt, but they weren’t sure. I did the second Act – with only my memory of the performances from about three years before. It went pretty smooth. We had another rehearsal the following day and the day after that we did the performance. It was one of those really good performances! Sometimes when you just jump in, without a lot of planning, you have a kind-of freedom. You think, ‘OK, if I do something wrong, well, I’m sorry. I really didn’t have that much time to prepare.’ You don’t feel the same kind of pressure as when you’ve been rehearsing for a month and then go on stage and do something wrong. Then you feel really horrible! But when you jump in like this, you have to work within that limited time frame. Whatever happens, happens. Yes, it was running through my head for two days. But you go on stage with more freedom. And sometimes it turns out that it’s one of the best performances you’ve done. Actually, when I was in school, Albrecht was one of those roles I did dream about doing.”

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 4, "Swan Lake"  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 4, "Swan Lake" Photo, Erik Tomasson

I asked Gennadi how he comes down from a role such as Albrecht – one that is so physically demanding and, emotionally speaking, so high-strung. The plot and dramatic style of Giselle sits on a very high plane. After all, not every Prince gets to have one last dance with the ghost of his sweetheart. “Do you still feel the choreography running through your body? How do you end the day, go home and turn off?”

“I’m still looking for an answer,” he replied. “It’s pretty much impossible. Your mind is running, somehow your body is still running. I may not be able to fall asleep until two or three o’clock in the morning. I may wake-up at five or six and not be able to fall asleep again. It’s horrible. I can be sitting still and thinking of how I did it or will do it the next time and all of a sudden my leg gets very tight or the whole body becomes very tense because I’m going through the steps again. And then I think, “OK! Just relax, just relax.” It’s really challenging, just to be able to relax afterwards. I don’t think anyone has the answer. It just takes time.”

Casts are subject to change. Click here to purchase tickets on-line: DON QUIXOTE

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KILLING MY LOBSTER – A One-Night-Only Appearance at A.C.T., 5/24

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) announced two special events associated with their upcoming production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and Play, opening May 9th at the American Conservatory Theater. San Francisco’s premiere sketch comedy troupe – Killing My Lobsterwill perform Beckett-inspired sketches during a one-night-only appearance at the American Conservatory Theater on Thursday, May 24th following the 8:00 performance of Endgame and Play. A.C.T. also invites all graphic artists, illustrators, and comic enthusiasts to submit their Beckett-inspired original art to a special Beckett Design Contest. All entrants will receive discounts to the production, and selected submissions will be displayed online and as part of a special gallery in the theater during the run of Endgame and Play, where they will be eligible for audience voting and additional prizes.

Using the unique style and characters of Samuel Beckett as their inspiration for a wholly original evening of sketches, Killing My Lobster will perform in Fred’s Columbia Room, the lower-level lounge at the American Conservatory Theater. Says Killing My Lobster producer Andy Alabran: “We were thrilled to be invited by A.C.T. to perform in the American Conservatory Theater. The Killing My Lobster writers are working to create a hilarious evening of sketch comedy using Beckett’s more well-known plays such as Endgame, Happy Days, and Waiting for Godot as fodder for parody. Possible sketches include ‘Hunger End Games,’ a cooking show called ‘Cooking with Clov,’ and a speed-dating sketch featuring Beckett characters. This will be a one-night-only Killing My Lobster event not to be missed!” Admission is free, but seating is limited. Click here for ticket information: BECKETT

 BILL IRWIN and SAMUEL BECKETT

BILL IRWIN and SAMUEL BECKETT

A.C.T. also invites all illustrators, graphic designers, and comic fans to submit a comic or drawing inspired by master playwright Samuel Beckett to a special Beckett Design Contest. Comics should illustrate one of three provided topics: 1) Single-Frame Comic: a one-panel comic inspired by Samuel Beckett (e.g., Beckett history, the themes of his plays/prose, etc); 2) Multi-Frame Comic: a depiction of one of two Beckett scenes from Endgame or Play as a page from a graphic novel; or 3) A Portrait of Samuel Beckett. Widely regarded as one of the great writers of the 20th century, and a master of absurdist fiction, Samuel Beckett has had an influence on many visual artists through the years, inspiring illustrations of his plays and portraits (or caricatures) of his distinctive visage. His plays are full of comic routines (slapstick behavior, clown-like characters, and ridiculous conversations), even as they employ dark humor, post-apocalyptic settings, and vivid imagery to explore heavy themes of despair and existential uncertainty.

Comics will be viewed and judged by members of A.C.T.’s artistic and graphic design staff. All appropriate pieces will be featured in a gallery at the American Conservatory Theater during the run of Endgame and Play, as well as on a special page of A.C.T.’s website. Audience members will be given the chance to vote for their favorite. A grand prize will be awarded and will include four VIP tickets to an upcoming A.C.T. production, a private backstage tour of the historic American Conservatory Theater, and a signed cast poster from Endgame and Play. Other winners, including an audience favorite, will win a pair of tickets to an A.C.T. production of their choice. Winners will be notified by Friday, May 25. All entrants will receive discounted tickets to Beckett’s Endgame and Play. Deadline for entry is May 18, 2012. Submissions can be sent via email or post. All submissions must include a completed copy of the submission form. Print copies must be postmarked by May 14, 2012. Click here for full details: DESIGN CONTEST

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Company C Contemporary Ballet – Spring program opens tonight at the Cowell Theater

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

Continuing its exciting 10th Anniversary season, Company C Contemporary Ballet presents a Spring Program full of fun, energy and romance. Performances run from April 27—May 27 in San Francisco and Walnut Creek. The Company will also return to New York to share its exciting choreography. Works by Gregory Dawson, Peter Anastos – founder of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and frequent collaborator with Mikhail Baryshnikov—and Company C’s own Artistic Director Charles Anderson, take center stage in nine performances: Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m. at the Fort Mason Center’s Cowell Theater in San Francisco; Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 20, at 2 p.m. at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University in New York; and Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 27, at 3 p.m. at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

Gregory Dawson’s Which Light in the Sky Is Us? Photo, Rosalie O’Connor

Gregory Dawson’s Which Light in the Sky Is Us? Photo, Rosalie O’Connor

Founder and Artistic Director Charles Anderson says: “I am so proud to present the Company C Contemporary Ballet’s 2012 Season – a synthesis of all that the Company has accomplished over the past ten years and a window onto the future yet to come. It is a season, ten years in the making, full of extraordinary choreography and joyous, uninhibited dancing.”

THE PROGRAM

IN THE MOMENT – Documentary film excerpt
THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME (suite) – Choreography by Charles Anderson; Bluegrass arrangements of music from Led Zeppelin
KEY TO SONGS – Choreography by Charles Anderson; music by Morton Subotnik.
LATE – Choreography by James Sewel; music by Paul Schoenfield,
FOOTAGE – Choreography by Peter Anastos; music by Jack Hylton and His Orchestra
WHICH LIGHT IN THE SKY IS US? – Choreography by Gregory Dawson; music by Ben Juodvalkis and Moses Sedler

Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Company C

About Company C Contemporary Ballet

Beauty, passion, wit, and drama converge in the stunning performances of California’s Company C Contemporary Ballet. Dynamic, adventurous, contemporary choreography is the hallmark of the Company led by founder and Artistic Director Charles Anderson, a former member of the New York City Ballet. The twelve-member ensemble of classically trained dancers from across the country performs a diverse repertoire of moving, provocative, sensual, and entertaining contemporary choreography. This repertoire includes master works by some of the most accomplished contemporary choreographers of today, including Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, Antony Tudor, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, David Parsons, Michael Smuin, and Val Caniparoli. The Company commissions original works each year from talented choreographers such as former New York City Ballet Soloist Alexandre Proia, former Paul Taylor Dancer Patrick Corbin, and Gregory Dawson, formerly of Alonzo King LINES Ballet.

In 2008, the Company premiered Twyla Tharp’s Armenia at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and in 2010 was the first company given the honor of performing Ms. Tharp’s Surfer at the River Styx. In the fall of 2009, the Company collaborated with the Diablo Theater Company and appeared in their production of On the Town. For the 2010 season, the Company commissioned a new ballet from emerging Bay Area choreographer Amy Seiwert and performed Lar Lubovitch’s seminal work, Cavalcade and Charles Moulton’s engaging Nine Person Precision Ball Passing.

Since its inception in late 2002, the Company has performed regularly throughout Northern California and made its New York City debut in 2006. In addition to its regular season throughout the Bay Area, the Company has toured to Temecula, California, Mendocino, California and Akron, Ohio, where they were the featured performers in the multi-week Heinz Poll Dance Festival.

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KEITH HARING – “Three Dancing Figures”, sculpture removed from Moscone Center for restoration

San Francisco Arts Commission has temporarily removed the colorful, three-figure sculpture by famed pop artist Keith Haring located on the corner of 3rd and Howard streets at Moscone Center. The sculpture was removed for a comprehensive restoration that will include: cleaning, removing vandalism such as tagging, addressing any corrosion issues, and a complete repainting. In addition to the conservation work, the sculpture’s pedestal will be updated with new light fixtures to illuminate the artwork at night. The restoration project is being generously funded with a $65,000 grant from the Keith Haring Foundation along with approximately $10,000 in private donations to ArtCare, the city’s fund dedicated to the care and maintenance of the Civic Art Collection. The sculpture will be re-installed in the summer of 2012.

KEITH HARING. Three Dancing Figures. 1989

KEITH HARING. Three Dancing Figures. 1989

“We are so grateful to the Keith Haring Foundation and to our ArtCare donors for making this restoration possible,” said Director of Cultural Affairs Ton DeCaigny. “San Francisco is home to one of the most prestigious public art collections in the country. However, in recent years, we’ve had to find creative ways to raise the funds we need to provide a high level of care to a collection that is aging and vulnerable to the elements. I hope this recent success inspires people to share the responsibility of caring for this collection so that it can be enjoyed for years to come.”

Keith Haring’s “Three Dancing Figures”, 1989 was purchased and installed by the city in 2001 with art enrichment funds generated by the expansion of the Moscone Convention Center. The purchase came on the heels of a wildly successful temporary exhibition of the artist’s sculptural works throughout the city.

Click here to learn more about this amazing artist: Keith Haring

About ArtCare

San Francisco is home to a world-renowned Civic Art Collection consisting of some 4,000 artworks valued in excess of $90 million. This collection helps distinguish San Francisco as an important cultural destination. Unfortunately, due to limitations set upon the funding sources used to commission new artwork and the city’s budget crises, the Arts Commission has received inadequate funding to restore many of the works in the collection. Established in 2010 in partnership with the San Francisco Art Dealers Association, ArtCare is a fund dedicated to the conservation and maintenance of the Civic Art Collection. ArtCare provides a vehicle for the private sector to become involved with preserving the city’s public monuments and artworks so that future generations can enjoy these works for many years to come.

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LAURA BENANTI – At the Venetian Room, One Night Only, 5/12

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

Bay Area Cabaret closes its 2011-2012 season with Tony Award winning actress/singer Laura Benanti at the Venetian Room, Saturday, May 12th at 8:00 pm. Also her San Francisco cabaret debut, Benanti’s show showcases her wide musical and comedic repertoire. Opening the evening and making his Bay Area Cabaret debut is the 2011 Bay Area Teen Idol winner Robert Conte Thornton. Click here to order tickets on-line:Bay Area Cabaret

Laura Benanti

Laura Benanti

Called “glorious” by the New York Times and “exquisite” by the New York Daily News, Benanti’s performance showcases her extensive repertoire, swinging from Sondheim and other Broadway standards to Bob Dylan and Vanilla Ice (among others).  In 2008, Benanti took the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her role as “Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee” in the Broadway revival of Gypsy starring Patti LuPone as “Mama Rose.” Other Broadway credits include Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, Tony and Drama League nominations), Into The Woods (Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and LA Ovation nominations), Nine (opposite Antonio Banderas, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League nominations) and Swing! (Tony nomination). Ms. Benanti has appeared in film, TV, and numerous concerts around the country. Bay Area fans saw her last summer in an all-Gershwin concert with the San Francisco Symphony. She recently appeared and received rave reviews for her recent performances at Feinstein’s and Lincoln Center in New York.  She is next set to star in the NBC TV pilot Go On, opposite Matthew Perry.

Laura Benanti sings “I Know Things Now” from INTO THE WOODS

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SFMOMA Receives $375,000 from the Getty Foundation to establish comprehensive web resource for study of Robert Rauschenberg

Sean Martinfield, Arts Contributor

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has been awarded a $375,000 grant from the Getty Foundation for the implementation of its first online collection catalogue, featuring works by Robert Rauschenberg in the museum’s permanent collection. The grant supports further work on the Rauschenberg Research Project, the digital publication SFMOMA is developing for the Getty’s Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI), an effort dedicated to bringing museum collection catalogues into the digital age. Scheduled for launch in mid-2013, SFMOMA’s catalogue promises to be the largest and most comprehensive repository of Rauschenberg research available online, and will serve as a vital and highly accessible resource for the field.

Robert Rauschenberg. Collection, 1954–55. Oil, paper, fabric, wood, and metal on canvas

Robert Rauschenberg. Collection, 1954–55. Oil, paper, fabric, wood, and metal on canvas

“We are very grateful to the Getty Foundation for their generous support of SFMOMA’s Rauschenberg Research Project,” says Sarah Roberts, SFMOMA associate curator of collections and research. “Our online Rauschenberg catalogue will serve as a testing ground for the museum’s ambitious digital publishing objectives and will have global reach, both as a resource for future scholarship and as a dynamic, new model for museum collection catalogues in the digital era.”

While printed versions of scholarly collection catalogues have long been a critical part of museum publishing programs and a key resource for researchers, their high production costs and small print runs have hindered accessibility and made revised editions extremely difficult to realize. The OSCI project aims to transform how museums disseminate scholarly information about their collections, exploring the potential for catalogues to be more current, interactive, and widely available in an online environment. Three years ago, the Getty Foundation invited nine institutions, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, to work together to investigate this new frontier in scholarly publishing with the support of planning grants. SFMOMA received $240,000 to participate in the planning stage and now has been awarded $375,000 to bring its online catalogue to completion.

SFMOMA’s publication will present a seamless blend of rigorous scholarship and multimedia resources, encompassing nearly 90 Rauschenberg sculptures, paintings, works on paper, photographs, and “combines” (hybrid works of painting and sculpture). The catalogue will bring together existing materials drawn from the archives of SFMOMA and other institutions, as well as new content from ongoing research initiatives, such as visual documentation done with highly specialized technology (e.g., infrared or custom digital processing) that capture the exceptionally nuanced imagery of the artist’s works.

The publication will include 20 essays dedicated to individual artworks or series; bibliographies, provenance, exhibition histories, and conservation research for all objects; as well as artist interviews, interactive educational features, comparative images, and links to related resources. SFMOMA has commissioned leading experts on Rauschenberg as authors for the catalogue, including:

· Nicholas Cullinan, curator of international modern art at Tate Modern, who has written a book on the artist’s photographs
· Susan Davidson, senior curator of collections and exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, who sits on the board of the Rauschenberg Foundation and has produced numerous exhibitions and publications on the artist, including the 1997–98 retrospective that she organized with Walter Hopps
· Roni Feinstein, who produced a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s silkscreen paintings for the 1991 Whitney Museum exhibition
· And many others who have researched, written, or organized exhibitions on Rauschenberg

In addition to presenting deeper and richer content, the online catalogue will employ various technological solutions stemming from the OSCI project. New systems for documentation and digital publishing are redefining how information related to the collection is generated, collected, and published. These processes will allow for the publication to be integrated into a variety of digital platforms, and established templates will easily accommodate future research projects around other areas of modern and contemporary art. Ultimately, the Getty Foundation grant will make possible a new model for collection publishing that will disseminate scholarly material in innovative and accessible ways.

Technology at SFMOMA

The development of the online catalogue furthers SFMOMA’s commitment to online culture and technological advancement, and to fostering meaningful dialogue with audiences. Reflecting the Bay Area’s renown for pioneering new technologies and ways of thinking, SFMOMA is widely acknowledged as a leader among museums worldwide for using technology to engage visitors, both onsite and online, through such projects as its award-winning website, innovative podcasts, multimedia gallery tours, and more recent mobile apps. SFMOMA has consistently forged new models of museum education by developing in-house expertise in rich-media tools that enhance public understanding of modern and contemporary art.
Click here for additional information: “>Getty Foundation

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Rita Moreno to Host Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s ONSTAGE Gala

By Bethany Rickwald, TheaterMania
Award-winning actress Rita Moreno will host Berkeley Rep‘s ONSTAGE Gala, beginning at 5:30pm on April 28 at the Four Seasons San Francisco.

The evening will feature a gourmet dinner prepared by Mark Richardson, wines and spirits, and bidding led by Fritz Hatton on getaways and culinary adventures.

The honorary committee for the event includes Gerson and Barbara Bakar, Rena Bransten, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Maria Carson, Narsai and Venus David, State Senator Loni Hancock and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown, Doug Housley, David Henry Hwang, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, Michael Mayer, Mandy Patinkin, State Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, Garen and Shari Staglin, and Michael Tilson Thomas and Joshua Robison.

Moreno won an Academy Award for West Side Story and received a Tony Award for her performance inThe Ritz. She has also won two Emmys for her work on The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files. Her performance on The Electric Company Album earned her the Grammy Award in 1972.

For more information and tickets to Berkeley Rep’s ONSTAGE Gala, click here.

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THE TOM JUDSON SHOW – Coming to New Conservatory Theatre Center May 2nd

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

New Conservatory Theatre Center presents the San Francisco Premiere of The Tom Judson Show by Tom Judson. The show will run at 8:00 Wednesdays through Saturdays from May 2–12. All performances will take place at The New Conservatory Theatre Center (Walker Theatre), located at 25 Van Ness Avenue, near Market Street, San Francisco. Tickets are $28–$41 each, and are available at the NCTC Box Office (415) 861-8972, or online at: NCTC.org.

TOM JUDSON

TOM JUDSON

Tom Judson has performed his new cabaret show on both coasts. It was standing room only for a recent gig at The Metropolitan Room in New York City. This leg of The Tom Judson Show has been retooled specifically for the New Conservatory Theatre Center and will include a program of songs to celebrate spring. Getting back to his musician roots, Tom’s new show is reminiscent of the sparkling entertainments that were once found at every smart supper club in Manhattan. Utilizing the skills that landed him on Broadway, Tom croons at the piano in a vintage tuxedo and sings an eclectic selection of songs ranging from well-known standards to some surprising obscure gems. With material ranging from Harold Arlen to Alan Cumming to Victor Herbert, Tom peppers the musical selections with anecdotes and stories about some of the celebrities he’s crossed paths with during his career. Directed by Michael Schiralli, The Tom Judson Show is an evening of song and story so entrancing that Michael Musto writing in the Village Voice insisted, “Let’s get this man a show at the Carlyle or the Algonquin. I’m serious!”

the-tom-judson-show

Tom Judson has appeared onstage as a singer, musician, actor, and as an object of lust and adoration: “Gus Mattox”, GayVN Award-Winning adult film star. He has composed music for the off-Broadway production of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, the film Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan, and for TV’s Sesame Street. Tom has written songs for actress/singer Ann Magnuson, playwright and actress Lisa Kron and many more. On occasion he has been accompanist and second banana to drag chanteuse Varla Jean Merman. Tom appeared in the Broadway show Cabaret, the National Tour of 42nd Street, and many off-Broadway and regional productions including the world premiere of Terrence McNally’s Some Men. His one-man show Canned Ham has been touring the country for the past two years. Also an author and columnist, Tom recently published Laid Bare, a collection of his essays and magazine columns.

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DANIEL CURRAN and ADAM LAU – Schwabacher Debut Recitals, April 22nd

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor


San Francisco Opera Center presents the 30th season of the Schwabacher Debut Recitals on Sunday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El’s Martin Meyer Sanctuary (Two Lake Street, at Arguello, in San Francisco). The series begins with Merola Opera Program alumni tenor Daniel Curran and bass Adam Lau performing an eclectic program of works by Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, William Bolcom, Henri Duparc, Carl Loewe, Paolo Tosti and Modest Mussorgsky. Curran and Lau will be accompanied by San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow pianist Robert Mollicone.

A 2011 Merola alumnus, tenor Daniel Curran’s performance selection will include Schubert’s Nacht und Träume, Schumann’s Mondnacht, Duparc’s Phidylé and Tosti’s Ideale. While in the Merola Opera Program, Curran performed the role of “Count Almaviva” in Merola’s production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. His recent engagements include a collaboration with the Juilliard Historical Performance Program and the role of “Don Ottavio” (Don Giovanni) with Opera North in New Hampshire.

Daniel Curran

Daniel Curran

A 2011 Merola alumnus, bass Adam Lau’s Schwabacher program will include Bolcom’s At the Last Lousy Moments of Love, Fur (Murray the Furrier), Song of Black Max; Loewe’s Herr Oluf, Tom der Reimer, Erlkönig; and Mussorgsky’s Song of the Flea. Lau made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2008 as a Baobab/Hunter in Portman’s The Little Prince. Recent accomplishments include winning the Portland District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions along with the audience favorite award.

Adam Lau

Adam Lau

The Schwabacher Debut Recitals continue on Sunday, April 29th with San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Nadine Sierra. Sierra will present a program of works by Bernstein, Grieg, Rachmaninoff and Villa-Lobos with accompaniment by former Adler Fellow and pianist Tamara Sanikidze.

The Schwabacher Debut Recitals have been endowed in perpetuity by the generosity of the late James Schwabacher. A celebrated Bay Area singer, recitalist, scholar and teacher, James Schwabacher was a co-founder of the Merola Opera Program. The Schwabacher Debut Recitals have introduced the artistry of world-renowned opera singers, including Susan Graham, Anna Netrebko, Deborah Voigt, Brian Asawa and Thomas Hampson. The recitals provide an opportunity to hear a wealth of song literature ranging from Baroque masterpieces and Romantic-era classics to newly commissioned works.

MEET THE ARTISTS

Idaho native DANIEL CURRAN is an alumnus of the 2011 Merola Opera Program, where he performed the role of Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Curran performed the role of the Good Samaritan in Benjamin Britten’s Cantata Misericordium at the Florida National Convention with the University Choir and chamber orchestra. He has also had the opportunity to record for film composer John Williams along with members of the Chapman University Choir. A graduate of Chapman University, the tenor’s roles there include Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), the title role of Albert Herring, and Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi). Curran also holds a master’s degree from the Juilliard School, where he performed the Hunter in Conrad Susa’s Transformations and First Commissioner in Poulenc’s Les Dialogues des Carmélites. Other recent engagements include a collaboration with the Juilliard Historical Performance Program and William Christie in Alice Tully Hall and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) with Opera North in New Hampshire.

Bass ADAM LAU was a 2011 participant of the Merola Opera Program, where he performed the role of Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Other recent credits include Timur (Turandot) at West Bay Opera; Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) at the Symphony and Opera Academy of the Pacific; the Bartender (Bolcom’s A Wedding) at Music Academy of the West; Masetto (Don Giovanni) at Rice University; and Dr. Bartolo (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Leporello (Don Giovanni), and King Louis XVI (Corigliano’s The Ghost of Versailles) with the Aspen Opera Theater Center. In 2008, he made his San Francisco Opera debut as a Baobab/Hunter in Portman’s The Little Prince. Lau placed second in the Western Regional finals of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In 2008, he won an Encouragement Award from the Marilyn Horne Foundation and was the recipient of the 2008 California Federation of Music Clubs Full Fellowship in Voice. In the spring of 2009, he was invited to sing in the Martin Katz master class at Carnegie Hall in the Song Continues Festival, sponsored by the Marilyn Horne Foundation. In 2010, he won first place in the Henry & Maria Holt West Bay Opera Competition and won the Portland District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions along with the audience favorite award.

Coach and pianist ROBERT MOLLICONE is a first-year Adler Fellow. He was a member of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, where he served on music staff for the Young Artist productions of Le Nozze di Figaro and Madama Butterfly, as well as for Don Pasquale, Tosca, and Lucia di Lammermoor on the main stage. He completed his master’s degree in collaborative piano at Boston University as a student of Shiela Kibbe. He has also studied with Maria Clodes, Robert Merfeld, Linda Jiorle-Nagy, and Bertica Cramer. His performance credits include solo engagements, as well as opera, art song, chamber music, orchestral keyboard, musical theatre, and community outreach projects. Mollicone has also performed in master classes for Martin Katz, Margo Garrett, Patrick Summers, Warren Jones, Stephanie Blythe, Phyllis Curtin and Simon Estes, and he has worked with composers Daniel Pinkham, Yehudi Wyner, Michael Friedman, Tobias Picker and Jason Robert Brown. Mollicone has served as a vocal coach and pianist for Boston Lyric Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Boston Opera Collaborative, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and Opera North. He was a Spectrum Resident Artist at Virginia Opera in 2009 and a participant in the Merola Opera Program in 2010. Robert Mollicone will be working on San Francisco Opera’s productions of The Magic Flute and Moby Dick in 2012.

TICKETS & INFORMATION:

Single tickets for the Schwabacher Debut Recitals are $25; a two-recital subscription is $50. Tickets may be purchased by calling the San Francisco Opera Box Office (Mon. 10 am-5 pm, Tues.-Fri. 10 am-6 pm) at (415) 864-3330. Student Rush tickets are available for $15 at Temple Emanu-El 30 minutes prior to each recital (limit of two tickets per person; valid ID is required), subject to availability. Casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change.

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MAPLE AND VINE – Now at the American Conservatory Theater

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) continues its 2011–12 season with the West Coast premiere of Maple and Vine, written by Jordan Harrison and directed by A.C.T. Associate Artistic Director Mark Rucker. Fresh from a successful run at Playwrights Horizons in New York City, Maple and Vine tells the story of married couple, Katha and Ryu, a pair of stressed-out urban professionals who feel unfulfilled by the impersonal gadgets and fast-paced lifestyle of the modern world. After meeting a charismatic man from a community of 1950s reenactors, they decide to swap cell phones and sushi for phone trees and fish sticks by joining a community where life is slower, passion is risqué, and a cocktail is a daily accessory. In this meticulously recreated world, where retro attitudes about gender, race, and sexuality stir up powerful questions, Katha and Ryu must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice for happiness and whether the “good old days” were really that good. Maple and Vine performs a limited run March 29–April 22, 2012, at the American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco).
Click here to order tickets on-line: Maple&Vine

The Society of Dynamic Obsolescence

The Society of Dynamic Obsolescence (SDO) member Ellen (Julia Coffey) visits new SDO recruit Katha (Emily Donahoe)

A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff was immediately taken by how the play stirred up conversation. “When we first read Jordan’s play last year,” she says, “we were struck by not only the prescient humor he brought to this wildly entertaining notion that conveniences and evolved lifestyles have made life more complicated, but also with the lingering emotions we all felt days after we read the play! Jordan has captured a very modern world and transplanted it to a seemingly easier time, and of course we learn that, for some, modern complications turn out to be preferable for their way of life. Mark Rucker’s uncanny ability to explore American comedy and this kind of period setting makes him the ideal director for this incredible new work. In the spirit of our breakout hit from last season, Clybourne Park, and last fall’s production of David Mamet’s Race, Maple and Vine asks outrageous and provocative questions about how we live our lives today, using wicked humor to skewer our contemporary perceptions.”

A.C.T. will offer numerous InterACT events—many of which are presented free of charge—in association with Maple and Vine that will give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while making a whole night out of their evening at the theater:
• Audience Prologue Featuring Director Mark Rucker: Tuesday, Apr. 3, at 5:30 pm. Get inside the artistic process at this lively preshow discussion with director Mark Rucker.
• Bring What You Can/Pay What You Wish: Thursday, Apr. 5, at 8:00 pm. Pay any amount for your tickets when you bring nonperishable food donations for the San Francisco Food Bank. Patrons are limited to two tickets per donated item, two tickets per person. Tickets go on sale at 6 p.m. the day of the performance.
• Theater on the Couch: Friday, Apr. 6, following the 8 pm performance
Led by Mason Turner, chief of psychiatry at San Francisco’s Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, this exciting postshow discussion series explores the minds, motives, and behaviors of the characters and addresses audience questions.
• Audience Exchanges: Tue., Apr. 10, at 7 p.m. | Sun., Apr. 15, at 2 p.m. | Wed., Apr. 18, at 2 p.m.
After the show, stick around for a lively Q&A session with the actors and artists who create the work onstage.
OUT with A.C.T.: Wednesday, Apr. 11, following the 8 pm performance. The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular afterparty. Click here for information about how to subscribe to OUT nights throughout the season:
OUT
• A.C.T. Family Series Workshop: Saturday, Apr. 21, at 1 pm. A new theater experience for young adults and their families! Come before the 2:00 matinee for a lively, interactive workshop. Note: due to sexual situations and partial nudity, Maple and Vine is recommended for audiences ages 14 and up.

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THE MET LIVE IN HD: “Der Ring des Nibelungen” – At SF Bay Area Theatres

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

The Metropolitan Opera will present worldwide movie theater screenings of Robert Lepage’s new production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, as well as Wagner’s Dream, a new documentary chronicling the creation of this ambitious new staging. The series begins on Monday, May 7th with a screening of the documentary, directed by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke, and continues on May 9th with Das Rheingold, the first opera in the cycle. Participating theaters in San Francisco include Cinearts Empire 3 (85 West Portal Avenue) and (845 Market Street, 5th floor of Westfield Shopping Centre). The entire four-part Ring cycle and documentary will be screened in many countries this spring and summer, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Click here to find other Bay Area locations: THE MET Live in HD

WAGNER’S DREAM – A documentary by Susan Froemke
Monday, May 7 at 6:30 pm. 1 hour, 52 minutes
Cinearts Empire 3
Century 9
The stakes could not be higher as one of the theater’s finest stage directors teams up with one of the world’s leading opera companies to tackle opera’s most monumental challenge: a new production of Wagner’s Ring cycle—the four-part, 16-hour work that the composer first presented in 1876. Wagner’s Dream takes you deep into the artistic and musical challenges of the epic work. Visionary director Robert Lepage begins a five-year journey to create the most ambitious staging in Metropolitan Opera history, featuring a 90,000-pound set (“The Machine”) designed to realize all of Wagner’s scenic instructions. The film follows heroic singers from rehearsals to performance as they take on many of the most daunting roles in opera. An intimate look at the challenges of live theater and the risks that must be taken, the documentary chronicles the tremendous creativity and unflagging determination behind this daring attempt to realize Wagner’s dream of a perfect Ring.

das-rheingold-e28093-the-met-live-in-hd

DAS RHEINGOLD – The Met Live in HD. Photo, Ken Howard

DAS RHEINGOLD (The Rhine Gold)
Wednesday, May 9 at 6:30 pm. 2 hours, 50 minutes, no intermission.

Cinearts Empire 3
Century 9
Conducted by James Levine. Starring Wendy Bryn Harmer (Freia), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), Patricia Bardon (Erda), Richard Croft (Loge), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Bryn Terfel (Wotan), Eric Owens (Alberich), Franz-Josef Selig (Fasolt), Hans-Peter König (Fafner)
In the first opera in the Ring cycle, the gods of Valhalla clash with underworld dwarves and brawny giants, with disastrous consequences. The evil Alberich steals gold from the Rhine and uses it to forge a ring of unimaginable power. Wotan, the king of the gods, uses magic to steal the Ring, but Alberich places a curse that guarantees misery for whoever wears it. Wotan’s unwillingness to part with the ring leads him to break a contract with the giants who have built the gods’ new castle in the sky, setting in motion a chain of events that will end in his own destruction.

Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)
Monday, May 14 at 6:30 pm. 259 minutes, including 1 intermission.

Cinearts Empire 3
Century 9
Conducted by James Levine. Starring Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund), Bryn Terfel (Wotan), Hans-Peter König (Hunding)
The mysterious hero Siegmund finds shelter in the strangely familiar arms of a lonely woman named Sieglinde. Their forbidden love leads Wotan’s daughter, the warrior maiden Brünnhilde, to defy morality and intervene on behalf of the hero. Brünnhilde’s transgression forces her father to choose between his love for his favorite daughter and his duty to his wife, the formidable goddess Fricka. Overcome with grief, Wotan takes away Brünnhilde’s godlike powers and puts her to sleep on a mountaintop, surrounded by a ring of magic fire that can only be crossed by the bravest of heroes.

stephanie-blythe-fricka-and-bryn-terfel-wotan

STEPHANIE BLYTHE (Fricka) and BRYN TERFEL (Wotan). Photo, Ken Howard

Siegfried
Wednesday, May 16 at 6:30 pm. 258 minutes, including one intermission.

Cinearts Empire 3
Century 9
Conducted by Fabio Luisi. Starring Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Patricia Bardon (Erda), Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Bryn Terfel (The Wanderer), Eric Owens (Alberich)
The young hero Siegfried grows up in the wilderness, raised by Alberich’s conniving brother Mime. He puts together the broken pieces of the sword Nothung, uses it to slay the fearsome dragon Fafner, and takes the Ring for himself. To fulfill his destiny, he must overcome one more opponent—Wotan, now disguised as the Wanderer, who knows the world of the gods is coming to an end—and cross through the magic fire to awaken his true love, Brünnhilde.

Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)
Saturday, May 19 at 12 pm. 287 minutes, including one intermission.

Cinearts Empire 3
Century 9
Conducted by Fabio Luisi. Starring Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde), Wendy Bryn Harmer (Gutrune), Waltraud Meier (Waltraute), Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried), Iain Paterson (Gunther), Eric Owens (Alberich), Hans-Peter König (Hagen).
Siegfried and Brünnhilde’s love is torn apart by the curse of the Ring. A trio of scheming humans separates the two heroes in a desperate attempt to steal the Ring for themselves. Their villainous plan fails, but they succeed in murdering Siegfried. Heartbroken, Brünnhilde takes the Ring and leaps into the hero’s funeral pyre, causing a global cataclysm and the twilight of the gods.

jonas-kaufman-siegmund-e28093-eva-maria-westbroek-sieglinde

JONAS KAUFMAN (Siegmund) – EVA-MARIA WESTBROEK (Sieglinde). Photo, Ken Howard

Click here to find other Bay Area locations: THE MET Live in HD

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Chinese Historical Society of America Museum Presents new exhibition Remnants: Artists Respond to the Chinese American Experience

This year, the Year of the Dragon 2012, the Chinese Historical Society of America revitalizes its museum with an infusion of art. CHSA has reached out to its artistic community to create works that interpret and respond to the themes presented in its history galleries. The first of these art installations, Remnants: Artists Respond to the Chinese American Experience, includes five artists whose works focus on personal narrative, memory and family – concepts that characterize Chinese America. The exhibition, on view April 12 through December 15, 2012, features works by Nancy Hom, Michael Jang, Lenora Lee, Cynthia Tom, and Flo Oy Wong. Remnants debuts with an opening reception on Thursday, April 12, 6pm to 9pm at the CHSA Museum, 965 Clay Street, San Francisco 94108. www.chsa.org

“The inauguration of the Remnants exhibition signals a new creative approach for our exhibition program,” says CHSA executive director Sue Lee. “We are always looking for ways to offer our visitors a deeper understanding of the Chinese American experience.”

The centerpiece of Remnants is a site-specific installation of the set from the performance “Passages” by Lenora Lee Dance. A powerful portrayal of the journey endured by Lee’s grandmother through Angel Island and into American life, “Passages” presents a memorable narrative through stunning visuals. Works by Nancy Hom, Cynthia Tom, and Flo Oy Wong further explore themes of family and remembrance using a range of artistic expression, bearing unique witness to Chinese American history.

On Saturday, April 14, at 1pm, the CHSA Second Saturday program provides a deeper look into the installation “Passages: For Lee Ping To” with a performance by Lenora Lee Dance, and discussion with artist Lenora Lee (Free with Museum admission.)

An Artists’ Q&A panel expanding on themes in the exhibition will be scheduled in June (TBA).

Founded in 1963, CHSA is the oldest and largest organization in the country dedicated to the documentation, study, and presentation of Chinese American history. In 2011, CHSA celebrates the 10th anniversary of its opening at the landmark Julia Morgan-designed Chinatown YWCA building in 2001. Through exhibitions, publications, and educational, public programming, CHSA promotes the contributions and legacy of Chinese America.

The Chinese Historical Society of America is located at 965 Clay Street, San Francisco, 94108. Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday 12-5pm, and Saturdays 11am to 4pm. (Closed Sunday, Monday, and Holidays.) Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $3 for students/seniors, $2 for children 6-17. The museum is free the first Thursday of the month. Further information on these and other programs at CHSA is available by calling (415) 391-1188 x101, or at www.chsa.org

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JONATHAN PRYCE – In Harold Pinter’s “The Caretaker”, opens 3/28 at the Curran

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

Jonathan Pryce, the two-time Tony Award-winning actor of stage and screen, stars in a new production of Harold Pinter’s acclaimed play, THE CARETAKER opening Wednesday, March 28th at the Curran Theatre and running through April 22nd. With this production, Pryce joins the pantheon of legendary actors who have played the part of the enigmatic drifter, “Davies”. Directed by Christopher Morahan, the play opened first at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre in October 2009 and then moved to London’s West End. It has been acclaimed as one of the finest versions ever produced.

jonathan-pryce-right-and-alex-hassell

Jonathan Pryce (right) and Alex Hassell. Photo, Shane Reid

Harold Pinter – described as an original, disturbing, and arresting talent – brings the play’s three characters to life in one of his greatest psychological dramas. An elderly tramp finds lodging in the derelict home of a mentally challenged younger man and his brother. Their interactions expose struggles and fears which alternate between terror and hilarity. The result: something close to the unbearable.

ABOUT JONATHAN PRYCE

Jonathan Pryce is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning actor, known for his outstanding performances on both stage and screen. Pryce was awarded an honorary doctorate from Liverpool University in 2006, and in 2009 he was awarded the C.B.E in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

His theatre work includes Comedians (Tony Award/Best Actor), Hamlet (Olivier Award/Best Actor), Miss Saigon (Tony, Drama Desk, Olivier and Outer Circle Critics Awards/Best Actor in a Musical), Oliver! My Fair Lady, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? Glengarry Glen Ross, Dimetos and his recent landmark performance as “Davies” in The Caretaker.

jonathan-pryce-and-harold-pinter

JONATHAN PRYCE and HAROLD PINTER

Pryce’s film credits include: Voyage of the Damned, Breaking Glass (Evening Standard Awards/Best Newcomer), Something Wicked This Way Comes, Barbarians at the Gate (Emmy and Golden Globe Nominations/Best Actor), The Age of Innocence, Glengarry Glen Ross, Carrington (Cannes Film Festival and Evening Standard Awards/Best Actor and BAFTA Award nomination), Evita, and three films directed by Terry Gilliam: Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and The Brothers Grimm. He also played James Bond villain “Elliot Carver” in Tomorrow Never Dies. More recent film credits include: Hysteria, Bedtime Stories, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, My Zinc Bed, Leatherheads, De-Lovely, What A Girl Wants and The Affair of the Necklace. Pryce is also recognized as “Governor Weatherby Swann” in the Pirates of the Caribbean productions: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. Jonathan recently filmed G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

Pryce’s television work includes: The Man from the Pru, Selling Hitler, Great Moments in Aviation, Baker Street Irregulars, Thicker Than Water and “Mr Buxton” in Cranford: Return to Cranford (Emmy Nomination /Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama).

Click here to order tickets on-line:

THE CARETAKER

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SF SYMPHONY – Summer line-up includes “The Wizard of Oz”

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

The San Francisco Symphony’s Summer & the Symphony concert line-up includes the world premiere of Pixar in Concert, with the Orchestra performing memorable scores to accompany visually stunning clips from each of Pixar’s films, and Natalie Merchant, salsa band Tiempo Libre and Classical Mystery Tour, featuring the music of The Beatles, all performing with the Orchestra. Michael Feinstein performs Sinatra classics with his Big Band, and the Orchestra accompanies screenings of The Wizard of Oz. The acrobats and circus performers of Cirque Musica perform to live orchestral accompaniment by the Symphony. The Orchestra also performs a summer classical concert series, and two free outdoor concerts, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Stern Grove Festival and with Tiempo Libre in Dolores Park. On the Fourth of July, the Orchestra plays inspiring folk, pop, and classical favorites at the annual Shoreline Amphitheatre Independence Day concert and fireworks extravaganza. Click here for ticket information: SFSymphony

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Michael Feinstein

The summer concerts begin June 18, when vocalist Natalie Merchant performs with the Symphony in a concert of her own hits and well-loved favorites, sharing with fans her new artistic path–songs composed for expanded musical ensembles and orchestras. A unique highlight of the summer series is the world premiere of Pixar in Concert on July 28 and 29. For the first time, audiences will experience watching visually stunning clips from Pixar’s beloved movies with the Orchestra performing selections from the memorable scores. On July 26 and 27, the Symphony presents The Wizard of Oz on the big screen, starring Judy Garland, with the Orchestra playing Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg’s lush score.

Michael Feinstein and his Big Band perform a tribute to Frank Sinatra on July 15, and on August 2 and 3, the Classical Mystery Tour performs over two dozen of The Beatles’ classic songs, in costume, with the Orchestra playing the original symphonic arrangements.

The classical concerts, led by conductor Michael Francis, kick off with a program of Spanish-inflected favorites on July 12, featuring guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas, followed by a night of Russian favorites featuring violinist Karen Gomyo on July 13. Pianist Gilles Vonsattel performs as the soloist on July 14 in an all-Beethoven program with the Orchestra. Francis leads an evening of all-American favorites on July 19, featuring pianist Charlie Albright , and the Orchestra performs an all-Dvořák program with cellist Alisa Weilerstein on July 20.

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Natalie Merchant. Photo, Mark Seliger

On June 18 at 8 p.m., Natalie Merchant will perform with the San Francisco Symphony in a concert of her own hits and well-loved favorites. Since she first gained fame as the lead singer of chart-topping ‘80s pop band 10,000 Maniacs, Merchant has earned a distinguished place among America’s most respected recording artists, with a reputation for being a prolific songwriter with a compelling artistic vision and a unique and captivating performance style. With her 2010 release Leave Your Sleep, which debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at number 17, Merchant embarked on a new artistic path–creating songs from literary inspiration for expanded musical ensembles and orchestra. James Bagwell conducts.

The San Francisco Symphony performs its annual Fourth of July concert and celebration at 8 p.m. on July 4 at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. The evening finishes with a spectacular fireworks show. Tickets go on sale through Live Nation at a later date.

Cirque Musica takes audiences on a journey to a faraway land of dazzling beauty and mystery on July 6 at 7:30 p.m. The show blends the grace and thrills of great circus performers with stunning symphonic music from classical and popular repertoire performed by the San Francisco Symphony. Sarah Hicks conducts.

This summer, Stern Grove Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary as the longest running admission-free outdoor music festival in the country. San Francisco Symphony – which gave the first performance in the Grove – celebrates this milestone on Sunday, July 8 at 2 p.m., when Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the Orchestra, SFS Chorus and soloists Katie Van Kooten, Jennifer Johnson-Cano, Russell Thomas and Nathan Berg in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. This free concert is presented in association with the Stern Grove Festival. No tickets are required. The concert will be broadcast live on KDFC 89.9/90.3 FM and at kdfc.com.

On Sunday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m., Michael Feinstein and his Big Band perform a tribute to Frank Sinatra, featuring classic Sinatra tunes and favorites from the American songbook. The multi-platinum-selling, five-time Grammy-nominated entertainer, dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” is considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 200-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace. In 2009, Feinstein earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination for The Sinatra Project, his Concord Records CD celebrating the music of “Ol’ Blue Eyes.”

Three-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group Tiempo Libre joins the San Francisco Symphony and conductor Michael Francis in concert on Saturday, July 21 at 7:30 pm. Celebrated for their incendiary, joyful performances of timba, an irresistible, dance-inducing mix of high-voltage Latin jazz, and the seductive rhythms of son, Tiempo Libre is one of the hottest young Latin bands of today, equally at home in concert halls, jazz clubs and dance venues. Following their performance with the Orchestra, Tiempo Libre takes over the Davies Symphony Hall stage in a rollicking jam session.

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 22, the Orchestra performs a free outdoor concert with Tiempo Libre in San Francisco’s Dolores Park, featuring conductor Michael Francis. Symphonic dances from West Side Story and selections from Rodeo set the tone for an afternoon of music in the sun. This concert is free; no tickets are required.

On Thursday, July 26 and Friday, July 27, the Orchestra, led by Michael Francis, performs the original score to a screening of the classic film The Wizard of Oz, accompanying the vocals of Judy Garland, Ray Bolger and the full cast of characters in song. Children and adults alike are encouraged to attend in costume and enter the costume raffle for a chance to win fun prizes.

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The Wizard of Oz

From the Toy Story trilogy to Wall•E, Ratatouille and many more, Pixar has forever impacted filmmaking and given audiences of all ages some of the most beloved characters in cinematic history. On Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 29 at 2 p.m., the Orchestra performs the world premiere of Pixar in Concert, as Sarah Hicks leads the Orchestra in a very special concert of memorable scores to accompany visually stunning clips from each of Pixar’s films.

The 2012 Summer & the Symphony series closes with two nights of Fab Four fun, as the Classical Mystery Tour performs the classic songs of The Beatles with the San Francisco Symphony led by Sarah Hicks on Thursday, August 2 and Friday, August 3. This extraordinary show features more than two dozen Beatles tunes performed exactly as they were written, including “Penny Lane” with a trumpet section, “Yesterday” with acoustic guitar and string quartet, and the rock/classical blend on the hard-edged “I Am the Walrus,” as well as full-band costume changes.

CLASSICAL CONCERTS

Conductor Michael Francis leads the Orchestra on Thursday, July 12, in a program of Spanish-inflected favorites, featuring guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas, who makes his SFS debut performing Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. The program also includes Chabrier’s Habanera, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, music from Bizet’s Carmen, and Ravel’s Boléro. Sainz Villegas quickly established himself as one of the world’s leading classical guitarists by winning the gold medal at the Christopher Parkening International Guitar Competition in 2006. His prize-winning performance with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra led to concerts in more than 30 countries, as well as his four-performance debut with the New York Philharmonic and two subsequent engagements with the orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall.

Francis conducts the Orchestra on Friday, July 13 in a night of Russian favorites, featuring violinist Karen Gomyo performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major. The program also includes Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, and Tchaikovsky’s Overture 1812. Recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2008, Gomyo has performed as a soloist in the United States with the San Francisco Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Tokyo Symphonies, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the National Symphony of Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, July 14, Francis and the Orchestra perform an all-Beethoven program, with pianist Gilles Vonsattel as the soloist in Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, and the Orchestra performing Symphony No. 5 and the Egmont Overture. A recipient of the 2008 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Vonsattel made his SFS debut performing in the 2011 Summer & the Symphony’s all-Mozart program.

Francis leads the Orchestra in an evening of all-American favorites on Thursday, July 19, featuring pianist Charlie Albright. The program includes Copland’s Appalachian Spring and four Dance Episodes from Rodeo, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Albright is the winner of the prestigious 2010 Gilmore Young Artist Award and the 2009 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and performed with the San Francisco Symphony with conductor Alondra de la Parra. He has also appeared with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra with Gerard Schwarz, and the Boston Pops with Keith Lockhart.

On Friday, July 20, Francis conducts an all-Dvořák program including Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Opus 95, From the New World and Alisa Weilerstein as soloist in the Cello Concerto in B minor. The program opens with Dvořák’s Carnival Overture. Weilerstein performed the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the SFS with pianist Jeremy Denk, violinist Chee Yun and conductor Marek Janowski during the 2010-11 season. In September 2011 she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and in 2010 she became an exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics, the first cellist to be signed by the label in over 30 years. Her 2010 performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Daniel Barenboim was televised live to a worldwide audience of millions and was released on DVD.

Click here for ticket information: SFSymphony

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The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk – opens at the de Young Museum, 3/24

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

Opening on March 24th and continuing its strong track record of exhibitions highlighting the work of the innovators and iconoclasts of the world of fashion, the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park presents, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, the first exhibition devoted to the celebrated French designer and his personal themes of “equality, diversity and perversity.” The de Young is the exclusive west coast venue for this critically acclaimed international exhibition after its premier at the organizing institution, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and its presentation at the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibition will be on view at the de Young in the Herbst Exhibition Galleries from March 24–August 19, 2012. Click here for ticket information: GAULTIER

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JEAN PAUL GAULTIER. Parisiennes collection, Les Particules élémentaires dress haute couture fall/winter 2010-2011. Photo, Patrice Stable/Jean Paul Gaultier

Dubbed fashion’s “enfant terrible” from the time of his first runway shows in the 1970s, Jean Paul Gaultier is indisputably one of the most important fashion designers of recent decades. Very early on, his avant-garde fashions reflected an understanding of a multicultural society’s issues and preoccupations, shaking up—with invariable good humor—established societal and aesthetic codes. More of a contemporary installation than a fashion retrospective, this major exhibition—which the couturier considers to be a creation in its own right—features approximately 140 ensembles spanning over 35 years from the designer’s couture and ready-to-wear collections, along with their accessories, and numerous archival documents. Many of these extraordinary pieces have never before been exhibited.

“Was there ever a more perfect match than Jean Paul Gaultier and San Francisco?” asked John E. Buchanan, Jr., the recently deceased director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “This exhibition fuses the energy of street culture with haute couture craftsmanship and presents it through the lens of cutting edge multimedia that is synonymous to the Bay Area. As the exclusive venue for previous exhibitions of the work of Vivienne Westwood, Yves Saint Laurent and Cristobal Balenciaga, we know the Bay Area is ready to explore the oeuvre of yet another master of design, Jean Paul Gaultier.

FAMSF curator of costume and textile arts Jill D’Alessandro expands, “Gaultier catapulted on to the fashion scene with his unconventional approach that drew inspiration from television, film, music and street culture. For the last four decades he has remained a catalyst for our times. This dynamic exhibition is a truly multi-media extravaganza complete with animated mannequins, runway clips and video excerpts from his extensive film and music collaborations, and succeeds in capturing the raw, sometimes chaotic energy that defines our contemporary lives and Gaultier’s world.”

“I wanted to create an exhibition on Jean Paul Gaultier more than any other couturier because of his great humanity,” explained Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “Beyond the technical virtuosity, an unbridled imagination, and ground-breaking artistic collaborations, Gaultier offers an open-minded vision of society, a crazy, sensitive, and sassy world in which everyone can assert his or her own identity through a unique ‘fusion couture.’”

Keenly interested in all the world’s cultures and countercultures, Gaultier has picked up on the current trends and proclaimed the right to be different, and in the process conceived a new kind of fashion in both the way it is made and worn. Through twists, transformations, transgressions and reinterpretations, he not only erases the boundaries between cultures but also the sexes, creating a new androgyny or playing with subverting established fashion codes.

A celebration of Gaultier’s daring inventiveness and humanist vision, this exhibition pays tribute to his cutting-edge fashion and explores the audaciously eclectic sources of his ideas. “Jean Paul Gaultier,” notes Thierry-Maxime Loriot, originating curator, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, “initiates trends rather than following them, which explains why he is still relevant after more than 35 years of creation. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is not simply reminiscent of the past, but rather a link to the present as seen through the eyes of the couturier. By paying tribute to different cultures, mixing pop culture and couture, breaking the codes of fashion and taboos of society, you realize how open-minded and generous Gaultier’s fashion is. This unique exhibition offers visitors access to the world of Jean Paul Gaultier and haute couture, as well as articulating the strong social message behind his work, which truly defines his very own distinctive aesthetic.”

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EMIL LARSSON. Body corset worn by Madonna. Blond Ambition World Tour, 1990. Dazed & Confused, April 2008. Photo, Emil Larsson

The multimedia installation is organized along six different thematic sections tracing the influences, from the streets of Paris to the world of science fiction, that have marked the couturier’s creative development:

  • The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier—begins the exhibition with an exploration of several signature Gaultier motifs – the blue and white striped sailor shirt in all its themes and variations, spectacular mermaids and virgins, and welcomes the visitor with singing mannequins and a special cameo by the designer himself.
  • The Boudoir—explores Gaultier’s fascination with lingerie and underpinnings culminating in his signature collaboration with Madonna for her Blonde Ambition tour.
  • Skin Deep—a risqué, provocative gallery featuring garments inspired by themes of bondage and body art.
  • Punk Cancan—features the dichotomy between the typical upscale French couture client and the street punks of London.
  • Urban Jungle—a multicultural clash of influences including Hussars, Mongolians, Hassidic Jews, Frida Kahlo and China. This gallery includes highlights of Gaultier’s haute couture detailing with unusual materials and techniques on view.
  • Metropolis—concludes the exhibition with a presentation of Gaultier’s work for film, performance pieces and his relationships with pop icons such as Kylie Minogue and Tina Turner.

Sketches, stage costumes, excerpts from films, runway shows, concerts, videos, dance performances and even television programs on view further explore how his avant-garde fashions challenged societal and aesthetic codes in unexpected, and often humorous ways. The many legendary artistic collaborations that have characterized Gaultier’s global vision are examined in film (Pedro Almodóvar, Peter Greenaway, Luc Besson, Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet); contemporary dance (Angelin Preljocaj, Régine Chopinot and Maurice Béjart); and within the realm of popular music through performers such as Madonna, whose friendship with Gaultier has led her to graciously lend two iconic corsets from her 1990 Blonde Ambition World Tour that launched the cone bra into fashion iconography.

Fashion photography is also a major focus of attention, thanks to loans of never-before-seen prints from contemporary photographers and renowned contemporary artists including Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Erwin Wurm, David LaChapelle, Richard Avedon, Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, Pierre et Gilles, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Paolo Roversi and Robert Doisneau.

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PAOLO ROVERSI. Tanel Bedrossiantz, 1992. Barbès collection. Women’s prêt-à-porter fall/winter 1984–1985. Photo, Paolo Roversi

An innovative exhibition design by the Paris-based architectural and stage design company Projectiles, showcases the couturier’s designs, as well as prints and video clips, illustrating many of Gaultier’s artistic collaborations. Throughout the galleries, thirty unique mannequins wearing remarkable wigs and headdresses by Odile Gilbert, founder of the Atelier 68 in Paris, come ‘alive’ with interactive faces created by technologically ingenious audiovisual projections, surprising visitors with their lifelike presence. Poetic and playful, the production, design and staging of this dynamic audiovisual element has been produced by Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin of UBU/Compagnie de création. A dozen celebrities, including Gaultier himself, have lent their faces—projected on to the mannequins—and often their voices to this project.

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THE CULT OF BEAUTY – Now At the Legion of Honor through June 17th

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900, now at the Legion of Honor through June 17th, is the first major exhibition to explore the unconventional creativity of the British Aesthetic Movement, tracing its evolution from a small circle of progressive artists and poets, through the achievements of innovative painters and architects, to its broad impact on fashion and the middle-class home. Over 180 superb artworks on view express the manifold ways that avant-garde attitudes permeated Victorian material culture: the traditional high art of painting, fashionable trends in architecture and interior decoration, handmade and manufactured furnishings for the “artistic” home, art photography, and new modes of dress. The exhibition was previously on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The Legion of Honor is the exclusive U.S. venue. Click here to purchase tickets on-line: The Cult of Beauty

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THE CULT OF BEAUTY. Photo, T.R. Crites

British Aestheticism radically radically redefined the relationships between the artist and society, between the “fine arts” and design, and between art and both ethics and criticism. The iconoclastic belief that art’s sole purpose is to be beautiful on its own formal terms stood in direct opposition to Victorian society’s commitment to art’s role as moral educator. Aestheticism is now recognized as the wellspring for both the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. The Cult of Beauty showcases the entirety of the Aesthetic Movement’s output, celebrating the startling beauty and variety of creations by such artists and designers as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James McNeill Whistler, Edward Burne-Jones, E. W. Godwin, William Morris and Christopher Dresser.

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Walter Crane, Design for part of ‘Swan, Rush and Iris’ wallpaper, 1875. William Morris, Bird fabric, 1878.

The first sections of the exhibition explore this search for a new beauty both in the design creations and paintings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris and their circle. The necessity of decorating their own homes led these bohemian characters to create furnishings of elegant and forthright form—furniture, wallpaper, textiles, and decorative objects of every type—utilizing traditional methods of construction and incorporating stylized motifs into their surface ornamentation. William Morris’s Fruit (or Pomegranate) wallpaper (1866) combines plant forms observed both first hand and those more stylized representations found in woodcuts, illuminated manuscripts and tapestries. Exhibition visitors will delight in Morris wallpapers and then wonder why exquisitely beautiful aesthetic paintings, such as Frederic Leighton’s sensual Pavonia (1858–1859) and the Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt’s Il Dolce Far Niente (1866), shocked the conventional Victorian public. The Cult of Beauty continues to unfold in sections exploring significant aspects of the Victorian avant-garde aesthetic and its movement from the artist’s studio to middle-class drawing rooms.

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William Holman Hunt. (Detail) Il Dolce Far Niente (1866)

An early highpoint underscores the Victorian avant-garde belief that art exists only to be beautiful, as suggested by their rallying cry “Art for Art’s Sake.” Featured is James McNeill Whistler’s 1862 Symphony in White No. 1: The White Girl (notorious for its inclusion in Paris’s famed Salon des Refusés of 1863), showing his paramour and muse, Jo Hiffernan. Architect and designer Edward William Godwin’s signature ebonized sideboard (1865–1875) reveals the deceptively “modern” result he achieved by mining historic sources. Showcased is the virtuoso collaboration between Godwin and Whistler: a glorious piece of furniture titled Harmony in Yellow and Gold: The Butterfly Cabinet (1877–1878). Inspiration from various disparate cultural and historic traditions is epitomized by William Eden Nesfield’s Anglo-Japanese screen (1867).

The importance of the 1877 opening of the Grosvenor Gallery (London’s progressive gallery space) for the public reception of Aestheticism is the underlying narrative in a gallery devoted to Grosvenor exhibits. Edward Burne-Jones’s monumental ode to Laus Veneris (1873–1878) sings with rich orange and red tones corresponding to Algernon Charles Swinburne’s heady and sensual poem of the same name. John Roddam Spencer Stanhope’s ambitious Love and the Maiden (1877), which reintroduced the tempera medium to modern audiences, references mythology, classical art and the paintings of Botticelli.

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John Spencer Stanhope. Love and the Maiden, 1877

“Aesthetic Houses for Beautiful People, 1870s–1880s” speaks to the “artistic” lifestyle and domestic environment crafted by followers of the Cult of Beauty. Architectural and interior designs for these Aesthetes’ cultivated patrons show visitors the sophisticated color schemes that created the House Beautiful. As the wider public adopted an aesthetic veneer, commercial enterprises such as Liberty’s of London manufactured furnishing goods of all types to attract customers at every price point, from extensive redecorating to a single peacock feather for the mantelpiece. Morris & Co. continued to market signature wallpapers, fabrics and other decorator items, including the Flora and Pomona (1883–1885) tapestries designed and executed by the team of Edward Burne-Jones and John Henry Dearle.

Upstairs in Gallery 1 of the Legion, presented separately, are several Aesthetic costumes that parallel then contemporary calls of the Dress Reform Movement to liberate the Victorian woman from her corset. The dresses are set against handsome portraits of the men and women of the artistic set that adopted Aesthetic dress. James Jacques Joseph Tissot’s Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1870) depicts one of these beautiful people in his striking military uniform lounging in a well-appointed household. One can imagine Christopher Dresser’s tea service (1880) of silver plate with ebony handles just out of view.

Idiosyncratic architect and designer of eccentric home furnishings, Thomas Jeckyll, is featured in several sections of the exhibition. His Four Seasons Gates (c. 1867) demonstrates the remarkable combination of naturalistic scrollwork in wrought iron with motifs derived from Japanese prints. This monumental piece (shown at the Paris International Exposition of 1867) introduces the final section of The Cult of Beauty.

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti. (Detail) The Day Dream, 1880

“Late-Flowering Beauty: 1880s–1890s” delights the visitor with sumptuous paintings and emotive sculpture. A longstanding contributor to the Cult of Beauty, Dante Gabriel Rossetti helped foster a close relationship between Aesthetic painting and literature by composing poems to accompany his paintings. A sonnet on temporality featuring a sycamore tree accompanies one of his final works, The Day Dream (1880). Fine examples of book design underscore the fascination of innovative artists with the Book Beautiful, including Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris’s The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs (Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1898), and the cover designs of Le Morte Darthur by Sir Thomas Malory (1893–1894) and Salome by Oscar Wilde (1920). The installation culminates with Frederic Leighton’s life-sized bronze The Sluggard (1882–1885), which represents The New Sculpture by communicating abstract emotions. Albert Moore’s masterpiece Midsummer (1887) beautifully anticipates the Symbolist’s fascination with sleep and dreams.

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Catalogue

The essays in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900, edited by Dr. Lynn Federle Orr and Stephen Calloway, examine the Cult of Beauty as a cultural phenomenon, looking at the Aesthetic Movement both broadly and in highly focused detail from a wide variety of perspectives and treating the material both historically and thematically. The catalogue is available in the Museum Store and online (295 pages; hardcover $65/softcover $35.95).  To purchase the catalog online:  The Cult of Beauty

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CRAZY HORSE – Ultra Chic Documentary on Parisian Nightclub

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Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Arts Contributor
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

CRAZY HORSE, the latest from documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, is the ultimate expression in backstage reality. It concerns the world renowned Parisian nightclub which is set to open a new show in about ten weeks – “Désirs”. Crazy Horse, the club, is the very last word in Nude Chic. As a legendary Parisian must-see, Crazy Horse is rivaled only by the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. An Opening Night at Crazy Horse represents the single hottest ticket in town. Wiseman and his camera crew arrive just in time to chronicle the rehearsal process and the artistic realization of “Désirs”. He will follow the show’s choreographer, world renowned Philippe Decouflé, and capture the crazy energies and frustrations that go with birthing a vision into three-dimensional marketable reality. It soon becomes clear to the choreographer – especially from the ten semi-naked perfectly matched always bare-breasted girls who would rather not have a lot of touchy-feely going on in any of the show’s many routines – that, somewhere between now and the opening, somebody or something’s gotta give.

The world of Crazy Horse is all about the enticing mystery of female eroticism. Everything is uncovered in this 2-hour documentary about arriving to and narrowing down the visual and musical expression of that essence and then exploiting it as great performance art – like nowhere else in the world. The Artistic Director at Crazy Horse, who admits to being totally obsessed with the club’s reputation for artistic perfection, describes the end product this way. “It’s a supreme achievement of beauty under various forms. I have to pinch myself to make sure I belong to this place of ultimate refinement, beauty and desire.”

zula-zazouZula Zazou. Photo, Francois Mori

Throughout his ten weeks of filming, Wiseman makes us the eye witness to the intense drama of actualizing these illusions of desire. A recurring stumbling block for choreographer Decouflé is the club’s dysfunctional system of communication between him and its technical staff, the lighting and sound designers, the costume and wig makers, and the expectations of the club’s financial backers. He suggests that Crazy Horse should close for a while, totally shut the door on its sold-out fifteen performances-a-week money maker and just start over. That doesn’t work for the club’s investors. “We claim to have the best nude dancing show in the world,” Decouflé complains to the manager, “and that we’re renewing this type of show. So give me the means to achieve it! If we want a dazzling premiere that will impress the intellectuals and all, let’s make it happen.”

Decouflé’s choreography is an amalgamation of the ultra refined and the super-erotic. Each of his separate acts is a completely realized statement about the female form divine. “You can’t do as you please with the girls,” complains the costume designer to Decouflé. “They do the splits, facing the audience or whatever. You don’t take chances with a naked girl!” The exquisite showgirls are caressed by the very latest of fine and inventive theatrical fabrics. They are bathed in projections of glittering showers, kaleidoscopic colors, polka dots and leopard spots which tease and fondle their nearly-identical and perfect bodies. The imagination is frequently stirred with the use of back-lit silhouettes. At Crazy Horse, the performer must be versed in ballet, nouveau cirque, yoga, and the raw energies of pole dancing. Allowing for a shimmer of wiggle room, the “Crazy Horse Girl” is in a category that is ultimately rare, narrowly defined, and supremely charismatic.

frederick-wisemans-crazy-horseFrederick Wiseman’s “Crazy Horse”

Towards the end of the documentary, Director Wiseman includes the audition held for replacements. By now, we recognize the candidates who are not going to make it through to the first cut. Backstage, the assistant choreographer says to the group of hopefuls, “Don’t stress out. You’ll go on stage with just a G-string and your shoes if you want. This audition is meant to see your body proportions and physical aspect. It’s not about your dancing or performing capacities. Be pretty, classy, relaxed, and push your buttocks out. We’ll see who’s a dancer and who’s not anyway.” A flat-chested transexual was the first to get bumped.

Frederick Wiseman has made 37 documentaries and 2 fiction films. Among his documentaries are Titicut Follies, Welfare, Public Housing, Near Death, La Comédie Française ou l’Amour Joué, and La Danse—Le Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris. His documentaries are dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray the joy, sadness, comedy and tragedy of ordinary experience. He has won numerous awards including four Emmys, a MacArthur Prize Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

CRAZY HORSE is now playing at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinemas in San Francisco, Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley, and Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.

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