Israel’s dance superstar, cultural ambassador
Ido Tadmor is probably the closest any Israeli dancer and choreographer has come to achieving rock-star status in his home country.
He’s a former dancer with Israel’s Bat-Dor and Batsheva dance companies who earned the 2011 Landau Prize in Israel for lifetime achievement. He was also the main judge for four years of the popular TV reality competition “Nolad Lirkod” (“Born to Dance”), the Israeli version of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Now the Israeli legend is coming to Los Angeles to perform two duets with Elwira Piorun, a former soloist with the Polish Dance Theatre and the Polish National Ballet. They’ll perform “Engagé” and “Rust” on Sept. 26 at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at CSU Los Angeles.
Piorun is a choreographer, dance teacher and co-founder of the Zawirowania Dance Theatre in Warsaw. That’s where Tadmor and Piorun met — he taught master workshops at a dance festival, and she participated in them. After the classes, he proposed that they try collaborating.
“Elwira is a beautiful and mature artist who brings a lot of depth into the work. There was an immediate professional attraction between the two of us. I feel like it comes across on stage in a very positive way,” he recounted in a phone interview from Tel Aviv.
Tadmor, the artistic director of the prestigious Israel Ballet, invited Piorun to Israel for a dance residency, where they began working on “Rust” and “Engagé” with Rachel Erdos, a British choreographer based in Tel Aviv.
“Our collaborative process was based on Ido proposing fragments of choreography which I was learning, and adjusting it to my body and coordination,” Piorun wrote in an e-mail interview.
The two have much in common: Both are artistic directors of dance companies as well as artistic advisers to festivals. But their language barrier forced them to communicate with their hands to make themselves understood. That became the central theme of “Engagé.” The dancers play a couple that become romantically involved and even move into an apartment together, but they never physically interact.
“A certain barrier came into the creation, probably because it was, especially at the beginning, quite difficult to communicate,” Tadmor said. “But in the end of the day, we have a very special bond onstage and in rehearsals, and also in our private life, we became close friends.”
Tadmor regularly visits L.A. for performances and workshops, including at the Luckman in 2012. He was invited to perform these two pieces here after Luckman Executive Director Wendy Baker saw the premiere of “Engagé” at the 2013 Tel Aviv Dance Festival.
“I was so moved by the sincere expressiveness of the artists,” Baker wrote in an e-mail. “The performance was exceptional, and I knew I wanted this work danced by these artists in the Luckman season.”
Tadmor, 51, is in excellent physical condition because of a strict training regimen. He dances five to seven hours a day and works out at the gym five times a week. He became a principal dancer at 19, and his style combines classical ballet and contemporary dance. In recent years, he has also worked as an actor and fashion designer but said he wants to continue in dance. He’s currently preparing a new piece, “Episodes of Soldiers and Widows,” which will premiere at the annual Jerusalem International Dance Week in December.
Tadmor was one of Israel’s first public figures to speak openly about his sexuality and the challenges facing the country’s LGBT community. He came out in 1982 and has continued to advocate for gay rights and HIV awareness. In 1990, he choreographed his first work, “Seven Last Words,” as part of an event he produced for the Israel AIDS Task Force. In 2006, he played a son dying of AIDS in the movie “Tied Hands,” directed by Dan Wolman, alongside leading Israeli actress Gila Almagor. In 2007, he danced at a gala fundraiser supported by the Israeli Consulate in Mumbai, India, to raise funds for a shelter for HIV-affected children run by the Catholic Church.
The dancer made headlines in Israel in August, after a stranger began shouting homophobic slurs at him while he was sitting with friends at an outdoor cafe in Tel Aviv. The man, Shay Navian, blamed homosexuals for the decay of Israeli society and said they should all be forced to leave. The incident happened shortly after an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stabbed six people during a gay pride parade in Jerusalem; that attacker has been charged with fatally stabbing a teenage girl.
“It became more frightening and became more dangerous when he started saying that if the gay people continue having parades in Jerusalem, more people will be stabbed and that I will be stabbed. It was very aggressive and very extreme,” Tadmor said.
Tadmor filed a complaint with the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, and police arrested Navian the next day. He said he decided to report the incident to help bring visibility to the issue. As a TV personality and esteemed member of Tel Aviv’s cultural elite, he knew he could draw media attention to the event. Religious Jews in Israel have become more hostile to gay rights, Tadmor said, and gay people in Israel are feeling a backlash to their increased visibility.
“We are unfortunately in a very bad time, where more extreme people and extreme parts of the society are becoming more vocal and more physical in their deeds,” he said.
Tadmor has spent plenty of time outside Israel. He formed his own troupe in 1995, and toured with it to Tokyo, Madrid, Paris, Moscow and the U.S. He also lived in Spain and the Netherlands, but chose to return to Israel to live and create there. As he leads workshops and performances abroad, he said he’s called upon to explain Israel to those who view the country as aggressive and militant.
“In this country, we have, of course, a lot of problems. We have a war going on all the time, but there are also amazing things going on here. There is beautiful art developing here. The dance scene in Israel is getting stronger. Feature films are getting better and better, and being shown all over the world,” Tadmor said. “In that sense, I am kind of an ambassador of art and culture of Israel.”
Calendar Picks and Clicks: May 4-10, 2013
BIG SUNDAY WEEKEND
America’s largest community service festival, which started in 1999 as Temple Israel of Hollywood Mitzvah Day, attracts nearly 50,000 people from every neighborhood, race, religion, ethnicity and socioeconomic group to hundreds of projects in communities across Southern California. Volunteer projects include such activities as planting gardens at schools, fixing up homeless shelters and sprucing up dog parks. Big Sunday Weekend also features concerts, book fairs and blood drives. Fri. Through May 5. Various times. Free. Various locations. (323) 549-9944. bigsunday.org.
SAT MAY 4
Fueled by the artistic vision of choreographer-philosopher Boris Eifman, who told the Journal that he creates “Russian ballets with a Jewish soul,” this acclaimed dance company showcases “Rodin,” an expedition set at the crossroads of passion and insanity, based on the turbulent relationship between famed French sculptor Auguste Rodin and fellow artist Camille Claudel, his mistress and muse. Through May 5. Sat. 2 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Sun. 2 p.m. $29-$109. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. (714) 556-2787. scfta.org.
“I’M NOT RAPPAPORT”
West Coast Jewish Theatre presents the story of a friendship between two elderly men — Nat Moyer (Jack Axelrod), a feisty, eccentric Jewish leftist who weaves good-natured con games in order to get his way; and Midge Carter (Carl Crudup), a cantankerous African-American who is afraid that he is going to be put out to pasture as his age becomes an issue at his workplace. Through June 23. Sat. 8 p.m. $35. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 860-6620. westcoastjewishtheatre.org.
MON MAY 6
The Brooklyn-born Jewish composer, violinist and improviser delivers a solo performance during “VLN & VLA,” an epic concert of music for violin and viola. Other guest performers include Andrew Tholl, CalArts violin faculty Lorenz Gamma and CalArts alum Andrew McIntosh. Mon. 7 p.m. $10 (CalArts students/faculty/staff), $16 (students), $20 (general). Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, 631 W. Second St., downtown. (213) 237-2800. redcat.org.
TUE MAY 7
DUO DEL SOL
Israeli native Javier Orgman, who was raised in Uruguay, received violin training in El Sistema, the same place where Gustavo Dudamel learned to play. He and guitarist Tom Farrell make up this musical duo. Specializing in global post-rock, Duo del Sol performs tonight in Los Feliz. Tue. 8 p.m. $12. Rockwell: Table and Stage, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 661-6163. rockwell-la.com.
WED MAY 8
Chef and restaurateur Judy Zeidler teaches the “Italian” way to prepare pastas of all shapes and sizes during her monthly live cooking demonstration, “Cooking ‘Around the World.’ ” Zeidler, a Journal contributor, author of “Italy Cooks” and an instructor at American Jewish University’s Whizin Center for Continuing Education, will be joined by a surprise guest Italian chef. The meal concludes with dessert. Wed. 10 a.m-1 p.m. $64. Location provided upon RSVP (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). (310) 440-1246. wcce.ajul.edu.
Pro-Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs presents an evening of comedy at the Hollywood Improv with stand-up comedians Avi Liberman, a regular on E!; Mark Schiff, who has opened for the likes of Jerry Seinfeld; Chris Spencer (“Vibe”); and Michael Loftus, a writer on the FX sitcom “Anger Management.” Proceeds benefit The Koby Mandell Foundation, which provides support to Israeli families affected by terrorism. Wed. 7:30 p.m. $80 (advance purchase), $90 (door), $100 (VIP). Improv, 8162 Melrose Ave., Hollywood. (310) 836-6140. standwithus.com.
“PEOPLE OF THE BOOK”
A new collection of essays, “On Sacred Ground: Jewish and Christian Clergy Reflect on Transformative Passages From the Five Books of Moses,” features more than 100 clergy sharing the passages from the Torah that have brought meaning to their lives. Tonight, a diverse panel of local contributors — including Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector and professor of philosophy at American Jewish University; the Rev. Janet Bregar of Village Lutheran Church of Westwood; the Rev. Thomas Eggebeen, interim pastor at Calvary Presbyterian Church; and the Rev. Sylvia Sweeney, dean and president of the Bloy House/Episcopal Theological School of Claremont — read from their reflections, answer questions and engage in an interfaith dialogue. The book’s editor and publisher, Jeff Bernhardt, appears as well. Wed. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Free. Temple Beth Am, 1039. S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 652-7354, ext. 215. jewishla.org.
THU MAY 9
“CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS IN CRISIS”
L.A. Unified School Board member Steve Zimmer; Marqueece Harris-Dawson, president and CEO of Community Coalition; Nancy Ramirez, western regional counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); and John Rogers, UCLA associate professor and director of the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, discuss “California Schools in Crisis: Closing the Achievement Gap.” Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry moderates the panel, which is co-sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles; the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, MALDEF, the Los Angeles Urban League and the Anti-Defamation League. Thu. Noon. Free. NCJW/LA Council House, 543 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 852-8503. ncjwla.org.
At an airy dance studio in the San Fernando Valley, couples dressed in black moodily tango across the floor, stopping in frustration now and then. Hadas Fisher stands out: She’s wearing a bright coral dress, dangly gold earrings and a brilliant smile. Her dance partner, an elderly gentleman, is 3 inches shorter than she is. Fisher guides him through the cha-cha with a gentle patience.
“Turn me, and keep this up,” she says. Fisher adjusts her partner’s arms, demonstrating how to hold them perpendicular to his body. They do a swift turn toward the mirror, but the partner botches a leg movement. Fisher corrects him with a sweet but scolding grin that suggests they had discussed this before.
Fisher, like many others in the entertainment field, came to Los Angeles with a drive to succeed in the big leagues, but far fewer have a level of kindness that equals that drive. Her smile stayed put long after the lesson finished, as she humbly described her list of accomplishments: In January, she won Israel’s “Dancing With the Stars” competition with Israeli actor and comedian Shlomi Koriat; she received the best instructor award out of 300 Arthur Murray studios in 2007; she placed first in the national American Rhythm Competitions in 2006 and 2008; and she has a solid roster of 15 students, many of whom have been with her for many years.
Fisher, 29, was born in Haifa. She danced ballet and jazz starting at age 5 but never considered it a career possibility. Instead, she did her mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces, then studied business management at the College of Management in Rishon LeZion. But throughout college, she found she couldn’t get dancing off her mind. So she joined two dance groups — Arthur Murray and Bat-Dor — and in 2005, after completing her degree, she left Israel for Los Angeles to compete professionally.
Hadas Fisher on Israel’s “Dancing with the Stars” – story continues after the jump. More videos below.
Professional dancers compete — on local, national and international circuits — for several reasons, other than the obvious monetary incentive: The competitions add structure to an often nebulous career path; the pressure pushes dancers to work hard and constantly improve; and winning — especially in the States — helps get them noticed.
Career benefits aside, Fisher says the move to Los Angeles was one of the most difficult things she’s ever done. She has a tight-knit family — three younger siblings are still in Israel — but leaving has created a pressure that she uses to her advantage: “If I sacrificed and left everybody behind in Israel, I have to be the best,” she says.
Fisher has pursued excellence in two areas: competing and teaching. She started out as a full-time instructor at the prestigious Arthur Murray studios and competed on her own time. In the process, she built up a following of committed students. “I can’t take money from people if they don’t think I deserve it,” Fisher says. “This is my merchandise, my private lessons.”
Not all professional dancers are natural teachers, but Fisher is. “It’s who I am. I like to give information to people and see how it makes them react.”
The student from earlier that day has been particularly responsive to Fisher’s teaching: “Every time he learns something and is able to do it, his mind is going crazy,” she said. “He’s becoming like a baby. He’s 65 years old, and when he comes here, it’s like he’s 15.”
She prides herself on maintaining a balance in her approach to students — she’s tough but kind at the same time. Her affinity for it may be one of the reasons she won “Rokdim Im Kochavim” this past January — and had such a good time doing it. She and partner Koriat prepared for the show for two months before starting to tape. Being on a reality show required a whole new skill set because of the dramatic plotlines among the characters, and teaching the dances week to week was tough at times.
But Koriat kept things lighthearted. “Since he’s a comedian, he was making me laugh the whole time.”
So, is Fisher a celebrity on the streets of Israel today? She giggles: “I don’t know. I’m not a celebrity type of person. But yes, I guess.”
Fisher says she’ll always teach, but her big win whet her appetite for competition, and she doesn’t have much time to fulfill that drive — most dancers retire at age 35, 40 at the latest. She is considering going back to Israel for the next season of “Rokdim Im Kochavim.” She is hoping it may lead to a stint on the U.S. version of “Dancing With the Stars.” “I think that if I really, really want to be on ‘DWTS,’ I can do it.”
But Fisher’s strong family ties may be catching up with her ambition right as she enters the final stretch of professional dancing. Her American boyfriend, whose mother is Israeli, might be popping the question in the near future. And, Fisher wants children — something that is clearly incongruent with a dancer’s demands.
Where to build that family home also remains a dilemma. Despite being part of a solid community here, she has never accepted the idea that she’ll never return to Israel. “My soul is still there,” she says. “I think it’s something only Israelis can feel … you’re always drawn to a certain place on the map.”
The dancing star has some tough decisions ahead of her. Her intense drive and equally compassionate personality have carried her this far in life; it seems those qualities will also help her glide gracefully through those challenges.
Natalie Portman and the psychology behind ‘Black Swan’
Sculpture? It’s a Klapper! Ballet in Bel Air
On the Town
Dr. Robert Klapper is one amazing guy. He’s a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon whose patients include Dustin Hoffman, Sasha Baron Cohen and Brett Ratner. He holds numerous patents for surgical tools. He is an avid surfer. He sculpts pietas out of imported Italian marble from the same quarry that Michelangelo used. And, at the opening of his exhibit at his own art gallery this past Saturday night, we overheard someone saying that he is always upbeat and cheerful. Always.True to form, Klapper was charming the socks off of his patients (Elliot Gould was the only recognizable face), friends and supporters at the Klapper Gallery on Beverly Boulevard in the shadow of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he is the Clinical Chief of Orthopedic Surgery. Raised in New York, educated at Columbia and Cornell and now living in several homes in the southland, the good doctor is a Jewish mother’s dream come true.
Sadly, Klapper’s own mother was not there to bear witness to what he appears to consider his greatest accomplishment: a gallery full of gleaming white half-finished Michelangelo-inspired marble statues. His mother-in-law was there and she’s a huge fan of The Jewish Journal.
The exhibit, titled “Michelangelo’s Slaves,” pays homage to the great artist’s unfinished slaves lining the walkway leading up to the monumental David. Klapper was particularly taken by the slaves’ struggle to break free from the stone surrounding them and has mimicked that style in every one of his sculptures.
The subjects he decided to chisel out of the incredibly heavy slabs of stone shipped to Los Angeles from Carrara in large boxes, called coffins, reflect the doctor’s scattered interests: Abraham, “The Sixth Sense,” The Surfer, “Ghost,” Noah, Mary, Pieta…
It seemed odd that a Jewish man would be moved to lovingly recreate a pivotal moment in Christian iconography, but then the artist explained that a mother losing her son is a universally touching subject.
And Klapper is all about touching: touching people’s lives as a healer and touching people’s hearts with his art. This man may not be the next Michelangelo, but he sure is enjoying life a great deal more than the notoriously melancholy and dissatisfied Renaissance man.
— Dikla Kadosh, from The Calendar Girls blog
Scene and Heard …
When Daniel Pearl visited Mumbai, India for the first time, he was elated to discover a local jazz club, where he was invited to share his musical talent by playing alongside the regulars. The late journalist’s father, Judea Pearl, shared this anecdote at a sumptuous Indian feast of sag paneer and curry at the home of Dr. B.K. and Mrs. Veena Mod in Beverly Hills, where Judea and his wife, Ruth Pearl, were honored. Indian dignitaries, the Hon. Vilasrao Deshmukh, chief minister of Maharashtra, and the Hon. Ashok Chavan, cabinet minister of industries and culture paid tribute to the Pearls’ work through the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which promotes cross-cultural understanding through journalism and music-Daniel Pearl’s favorite pursuits.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) was honored with the California Distinguished Advocacy Award for his public policy work on behalf of cancer prevention. Allan and Dorothy Jonas and Helene Brown hosted the American Cancer Society benefit Aug. 8 at the Regency Club. Waxman is known, among other things, for sponsoring a controversial bill banning federal funding for the Red Line subway in response to a methane gas explosion in the Fairfax district in 1985. When underground tunneling was deemed safe again, he introduced a bill lifting the ban, which passed unanimously in September 2006. He is also widely recognized for his hard-hitting approach to fighting the tobacco industry.
After my fellow Calendar Girl Dikla Kadosh wrote a critical review of a June 28 Sababa party in Hollywood, the disgruntled organizer bombarded her with angry e-mails disputing her report that attendance was low. An acquaintance of ours attended the most recent Sababa bash on Aug. 9 and informed us that once again the party suffered from slim attendance. Coincidence, or catastrophe?
Bel Air met the ballet, Chanel and Wolfgang Puck on July 24 when Robin and Elliott Broidy hosted 360 guests at an American Ballet Theatre (ABT) fundraiser dinner. Co-chaired by Avery and Andy Barth, Lori and Michael Milken and Laura and Jamie Rosenwald, the event raised eyebrows and $325 grand. Four-thousand red and white roses bloomed toward the stars while lilies and gardenias floated in the pool. ABT’s principal dancers performed scenes from “Sleeping Beauty,” “Gopak” and “Don Quixote” atop a stage covered in cascading ivy and flanked by phalaenopsis orchids. Wolfgang Puck Catering nourished guests Sheriff Lee Baca, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Florence and Harry Sloan and designer Monique Lhuillier with sweet corn risotto and miso-glazed salmon, while ladies in designer drapery were careful not to spill.
From left, hosts Elliott and Robin Broidy with co-chairs Lori and Michael Milken
Fri., March 16
“Irish Writers Entertain: An Evening in the Company of Irish Writers.” One-man show starring Neil O’Shea. Part of the annual Irish Cultural Festival. Loyola Marymount University (LMU). 7:30 p.m. Free. LMU, Barnelle Black Box, Foley Building, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 338-3051.
Sat., March 17
“Cult of Childhood.” Multiple artists explore the menace and charm of childhood. Opening reception 7-10:30 p.m. Through April 15. Black Maria Gallery, 3137 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 660-9393. www.blackmariagallery.com.
Thu., March 22
Joffrey Ballet Performances. Two dance programs, one featuring live orchestra accompaniment, and the other featuring contemporary music by The Beach Boys, Prince and Motown artists. Choreography by Twyla Tharp, George Ballanchine and four others. Through March 24. $25-$115. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 972-0711. www.musiccenter.org/dance.
Werner Herzog Tribute and Film Retrospective. Screenings of “Heart of Glass,” “Fitzcarraldo,” “Grizzly Man,” and other films by the German director. Herzog will be discussing his work at some of the programs. American Cinematheque. Through March 25. $7-$10. Max Palevsky Theatre at the Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (323) 466-3456. www.aerotheatre.com.
Ventura County Jewish Film Festival. Film subjects include the fate of European art during the Third Reich, a French butcher who saves the lives of three Jewish children, the journey of musician Debbie Friedman and a romantic tale of unrequited love. Through March 25. $36 (festival pass), $10-$12 (individual screenings). Regency Theatre Buenaventura 6, 1440 Eastman Ave.; and Temple Beth Torah, 7620 Foothill Blvd., Ventura. (805) 647-4181. www.vcjff.org.
Sun., March 25
“Projectile Poetry.” Hosted by Theresa Antonia, Eric Howard and Carmen Vega, the program features readings by published poets as well as an open mic for newcomers. 3 p.m. Dutton’s Brentwood Books, 11975 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 476-6263. www.duttonsbrentwood.com.
“Requiem.” World premiere of Christopher Rouse’s musical piece, performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus and baritone Sanford Sylvan. Conducted by Grant Gershon. 7 p.m. $19-$109. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (800) 787-5262. www.lamc.org.
“Distracted.” Lisa Loomer’s comedy about an 8-year-old boy diagnosed with ADD and the fast paced, overly wired environment that may have caused it. Directed by Leonard Foglia and starring Rita Wilson and Bronson Pinchot. Center Theatre Group. Through April 29. $20-$55. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 628-2772. www.centertheatregroup.org.
Tue., March 27
“Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life.” Tony Award-winning dancer stars in a musical production celebrating her 50-year career. Directed and choreographed by Graciela Daniele. Through April 1. $25-$75. Wilshire Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (323) 655-4900. www.wilshiretheatrebeverlyhills.com.
Fri., March 30
Roy Zimmerman’s “Faulty Intelligence.” Singing political satirist takes aim at Saddam, Dick Cheney, creation science and more. 8 p.m. $25. Steinway Hall at Fields Pianos, 12121 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 471-3979.
“California Style: Art and Fashion From the California Historical Society.” Exhibit includes Victorian-era paintings, ball gowns and a re-created private parlor from the 1880s. Through May 27. $3-$9. Autry National Center, Museum of the American West, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles. (323) 667-2000. www.autrynationalcenter.org.
Thu., April 5
“The Art of Vintage Israeli Travel Posters.” Commemorating Israeli Independence Day, the exhibit displays posters produced by Israeli government tourism agencies as well as national and private transportation companies during the 1950s and 1960s. Through July 8. Free. Skirball Cultural Center, Ruby and Hurd Galleries, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.
Fri., April 6
John Legend Concert. Special guest Corinne Bailey Rae. 8:15 p.m. $30-$75. Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. (818) 622-4440.
Sat., April 7
“Sleeping Beauty Wakes.” Musical adaptation incorporating deaf and hearing actors signing and singing to the book by Rachel Sheinkin. Also features GrooveLily .Center Theatre Group/Deaf West Theatre. Through May 13. $20-$40. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. (213) 628-2772. www.centertheatregroup.org.
Wed., April 11
“The Elixir of Love.” Gaetano Donizetti’s light-hearted romantic opera is set in a West Texas diner in the 1950s. Opera Pacific. Through April 22. $27-$200. Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. (800) 346-7372. www.operapacific.org.
Thu., April 12
“KCLU Presents Terry Gross.” The host of National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” will speak about her experiences interviewing renowned writers, actors, musicians and political figures. Book signing will follow discussion. California Lutheran University. 8 p.m. $15-$50. Fred Kavli Theatre, Countrywide Performing Arts Center, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. (805) 449-2787.
Malibu International Film Festival. Competition festival premiering films from around the world. Opening night party at The Penthouse and awards night at Geoffrey’s Malibu. Through April 16. $10-$100. Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 452-6688. www.malibufilmfestival.com.
Jane Austen Book Club. Series of six book club luncheons discussing Jane Austen novels with UCLA Professor of English Charles Lynn Batten. Novels included. Literary Affairs. 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. May 10, June 14, July 12, Sept. 27, Oct. 25. $375. Beverly Hills Country Club, 3084 Motor Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 553-4265. www.literaryaffairs.net.
Fri., April 13
“The Diary of Anne Frank.” Selections from the book performed as an opera and staged in specially prepared areas of parking garages. Featuring Laura Hillman, Schindler’s List survivor. Composed by Grigori Frid. Long Beach Opera. Through April 19. $15-$70. Lincoln Park parking garage, Ocean Boulevard and Pacific Avenue, Long Beach; Sinai Temple parking garage, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (562) 432-5934. www.longbeachopera.org.
Sat., April 14
“Preschool Poetry Jam.” David Prather hosts interactive children’s program with jump rope jingles, Shel Silverstein’s poetry, tumbling boxes, scooters and more. Part of Pillow Theatre Series for 3-6 year olds. Music Center. 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Free. BP Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 972-3379. www.musiccenter.org.
Tue., April 17
7 Days In Arts
Hip hop hooray. All the young Jews find cause forcelebration today as Latino-Jewish rappers, the Hip Hop Hoodios, grant a freeconcert at downtown’s California Plaza. Blazers and East L.A. Sabor round outthe eclectic Latin music show titled “Tres Sabores Latinos.” 7 p.m. CaliforniaPlaza, Watercourt, 350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 687-2159.
Inspiring stories of faith are highlighted in JohnSheinfeld’s new documentary, “In the Name of Heaven,” which airs tonight on theNational Geographic Channel. Among the tales: The Mountain Jews of Azerbaijancling to their traditions and live peacefully with their Muslim neighbors; theRev. Gregory Boyle rescues East L.A. gang members by employing them; TurkishSufis preach tolerance and look inward to reach heaven; Dr. ChatsumarnKabilsingh lives life as Thailand’s first female Buddhist monk in more than1,000 years; and Dr. Veer Bhadra Mishra works to clean up the Ganges River,sacred to his Hindu religion. 9 p.m. National Geographic Channel.
Like buttah, Babs’ new four-DVD gift set melts its wayinto a Jewish mother’s heart. The set includes “What’s Up Doc?” “The MainEvent,” “Up the Sandbox” and “Nuts.” Personal commentary by Barbra Streisand, aswell as vintage documentaries, trailers and production galleries are offered onthe discs. The “What’s Up Doc?” and “Up the Sandbox” DVDs also each contain afeature-length director’s commentary. $69.92.
Rarely seen works of art by Chagall, Degas, Ingres,Matisse, Picasso and others are now on display in LACMA’s “Classic to Modern:French Works on Paper, 1800-1950, from the Permanent Collection” exhibit.Included are drawings, watercolors and pastels from the neoclassicist to thepostimpressionist periods, as well as the modern movements of the early 20thcentury. Noon-8 p.m. (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday), noon-9 p.m. (Friday), 11a.m.-8 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday). Runs through Sept. 7. 5905 Wilshire Blvd.,Los Angeles. (323) 857-6000. www.lacma.org
Jewish husband and wife documentary producing team JaimeHellman and Barbara Leibovitz focus their cameras on the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation in the National Geographic special, “The FBI,” airing on PBS. Fromthe bureau’s crisis center to a closed-door profiling session, the team receivesunparalleled access behind the scenes of the war on terror. 8 p.m.
For those who like a Gershwin tune, “Crazy For You” plays through Sunday at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. The romantic score includes some of George and Ira’s best: “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Got Rhythm,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “Embraceable You.” Weaving them together is an equally sweet story, and — adding kick — plenty of tap dancing.8 p.m. (Thursday-Saturday), 2 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday). $10-$45. (Box office is not located at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.) 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach (on the Cal State Long Beach campus). (562) 856-1999.
Expect to be surprised at the Ford Amphitheatre tonight. Naomi Goldberg’s L.A. Modern Dance and Ballet company doesn’t do “Nutcracker.” Rather, they take their inspiration from the eclecticism of Los Angeles, as in tonight’s performance, “Immediate States,” which fuses Mozart and hip hop, and where a dancer in a wheelchair does the tango. Goldberg also premieres a solo titled “Possessed,” with music by The Klezmatics and lyrics by Tony Kushner, inspired by the team’s 1998 collaboration on “The Dybbuk.”8:30 p.m. $12-$20. 2580 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 461-3673.
When Boris Eifman’s ballet, “Tchaikovsky: The Mystery of Life and Death,” premiered in Moscow in 1993, angry picketers surrounded the concert hall.
“They stood with a banner that read, ‘Stay away from our Tchaikovsky,'” said Eifman, whose ballet debuts at the Orange County Performing Arts Center May 16-18.
The provocative phantasmagoric piece explores the beloved Russian composer’s tortured psyche, especially his repressed homosexuality. His inner split is portrayed literally, with one dancer representing the closeted, anguished Tchaikovsky, and another his sexy, uninhibited alter ego. Homoerotic playing cards cavort in one sequence, while another depicts Tchaikovsky kissing a sleeping prince, rather than a princess, in an allusion to his ballet, “Sleeping Beauty.” The piece is as explicit, if less sensationalistic, as Ken Russell’s 1970 film “The Music Lovers.”
The audaciously flamboyant work is what audiences have come to expect of Eifman, whose ballets include “My Jerusalem,” an ode to the Israeli capital, and “Red Giselle,” about a Soviet ballerina gone mad.
While noting that Eifman’s company has received far more attention in the West than others in Russia’s vibrant, contemporary dance scene, Los Angeles Times dance critic Lewis Segal nevertheless praises his “talent for grand-scale pictorial splendor” and for creating “very gutsy work within that society.”
“Homosexuality was only legalized in Russia in 1997, and here he has a seminaked Tchaikovsky and his boyfriend doing male duets,” Segal told The Journal. “His ‘Red Giselle’ has a communist [official] virtually raping the heroine. Eifman managed to stage dances about religion, and he is a Jewish artist who managed to stand up to the communists and not back down. So I give him amazing points for courage.”
The renegade choreographer took his first dance classes at age 6 in Siberia, where his father, an engineer, had been ordered to work in a tank factory during World War II. In 1953, his family relocated to Kishinev, Moldavia, where Eifman began choreographing at 13 — to his parents’ chagrin.
“A musician in a Russian Jewish family, it’s normal, but a dancer is abnormal,” he said through a translator.
The authorities also regarded him as abnormal when, after graduating from the Leningrad Conservatory, he founded his own company in 1977 to create “absolutely nontraditional work that broke the canon of Soviet ballet.”
While audiences cheered his unorthodox mix of contemporary movement and Freudian drama, the cultural commissars disapproved. They nixed his funding and forbade him from touring outside the U.S.S.R, forcing Eifman, now 58, to scrape by on ticket sales in the provinces. They also pressured him to leave the country: “They said, ‘You’re not a Soviet choreographer; better you should go to Israel,'” Eifman recalled.
The harassment included anti-Semitism, even though the choreographer felt “this is my culture; it’s just like a difficult relationship in a family.”
So he chose to remain in the U.S.S.R., although he took the first opportunity to visit Israel, when Perestroika hit in 1989.
Walking around the capital, Eifman said, spurred “My Jerusalem,” in which three soloists personify Judaism, Christianity and Islam co-existing in one place.
“I wanted to show that God created this city to show a model of love,” he said.
Four years later, Eifman focused on Russian culture when he holed up in the St. Petersburg library to research a piece on his favorite composer, Tchaikovsky. He pored over diaries and letters in which the musician described his unhappy marriage and a suicide attempt.
“My whole life I wondered why he composed such tragic music, and I learned it was because he lived a double life,” Eifman said. “He was a religious man, and he thought his sexuality was his personal tragedy. I decided two dancers could show the conflict between his soul and his body.”
When “Tchaikovsky” premiered in New York during the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg’s triumphant 1998 United States debut, not a single picketer surrounded the concert hall. Instead, excited Russian immigrants lined up to see their favorite company, along with expectant dance critics.
After the first performance, The New York Times’ Anna Kisselgoff wrote that “you won’t find such daring actor-dancers anywhere else, not even in other Russian companies.”
Eifman traces his success to his dual cultural roots. “I make Russian ballets with a Jewish soul,” he said.
Tickets, $20-$65, are available at (714) 556-2787, ext.6677; online at www.ocpac.org ; and through Ticketmaster, (714) 740-7878 or (213) 365-3500.
7 Days in the Arts
Monique Schwartz has people talkin’ about our mommas. No need to organize a posse though. This is actually kind of Schwartz’s way of doing that herself — to analyze and combat stereotypical depictions of Jewish mothers in film. Her documentary “Mamadrama: The Jewish Mother in Cinema” screens today as part of the Laemmle’s “Bagels and Docs: A Jewish Documentary Series.”
10 a.m. Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. For more information, including other screening dates and times, call (323) 848-3500 or visit www.laemmle.com.
The wacky duo is at it again, only this time they’re being sponsored by Muslims. Thanks to the Iranian Muslim Association of North America (IMAN), the comedy duo of Rabbi Bob Alper and Egyptian-born Ahmed Ahmed continue their goal of “building bridges in troubled times through laughter,” tonight at IMAN Cultural Center.
7:30 p.m. $18 (in advance), $20 (at the door). IMAN Cultural Center, 3376 Motor Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 202-8181.
It’s been 10 years since “The Quarrel” hit theaters, and this morning, the Sunset 5 hosts a special screening of the film about two old friends reunited after the Holocaust and the differences and disagreements that still separate them. Following the screening, the film’s writer-producer David Brandes moderates a discussion on “Good and Evil in Islam and Judaism” between Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and Dr. Khaled M. Abou Fadl. Proceeds benefit The Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity.
10 a.m. $12 (general), $118 (sponsors). Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 556-5639.
Panic grips your heart as you realize you only have only 27 days left till Chanukah. We know, that lunar calendar’ll get ya every time. But fret not, dear readers. For today is the Contemporary Crafts Market. Jewish trinkets and tchochkes are yours for the buying at this gift extravaganza. So quit the kvetching and head on down.
Nov. 1-3, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. $6 (adults), free (children 12 and under). Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica. (310) 285-3655.
We know there’s a pole-vaulting joke in here somewhere, but we’re pretty sure the folks involved in the two one-act plays that make up “Folk and Race” have got that covered. So instead, here are the basics: Act One is the dramatic interpretation. It’s a play about a Jewish pole vaulter who hides his religion to gain a spot on the 1936 American Olympic team after his better is kicked off for being Jewish. And Act Two is a parody of Act One, a la Mel Brooks. Take the leap and check it out.
8 p.m. Nov. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19. $12. The Theatre District at the Cast, 804 N. El Centro Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 651-5862.
Bursting with fruit flavor is Jewish artist Rebecca Newman’s latest exhibition “Between the Branches.” The 17 new drawings continue her study of Southern California tropical tree species, everything from bananas to bougainvillea. They’re on display now at TAG, The Artists’ Gallery.
11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Tuesday-Friday), through Nov. 9. TAG, The Artists’ Gallery, 2903 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 829-9556.
Things we can learn from (818), a non-profit “dedicated to furthering the education, production and distribution of filmmaking in the San Fernando Valley”: 1. “Valley film” is not a euphemism for porn. 2. The Valley has already made important contributions to the world of film. 3. It’s a worthwhile trip over the hill this week for the Valley Film Festival, screening 16 films, including four from Valley residents and one from Israel, called “Raging Dove.”
Nov. 1-7. El Portal Theatre, 5267 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. For information call, (818) 754-8222 or visit www.valleyfilmfest.com.
The UJ’s series “In Their Own Words: Conversations With Writers” continues tonight when Journal arts and entertainment editor Naomi Pfefferman interviews author Dara Horn. Horn will discuss her first novel “In the Image,” a story that examines the nature of good and evil, and the presence of God.
7 p.m. $15. University of Judaism, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1546.
So you think the ballet “The Nutcracker” just conjures up Christmasy images of Sugar Plum Fairies. Not if Akiva Talmi, the kibbutz-bred producer of the esteemed Moscow Ballet, has his way. He pushed his ballet to informally dedicate its 2002 season to” celebrating the contributions of Jewish cultural heroes of the former Soviet Union,” who had to downplay their heritage to succeed back in the U.S.S.R.
Nov. 7-9, 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee. Terrace Theater, Long Beach Convention Center, 300 East Ocean Blvd.,Long Beach. (213) 480-3232.