Last Friday night, my friend Debra Levine invited me to a winter dance concert by students of CalArts (California Institute of the Arts, a prestigious arts college here), at the RedCat in downtown L.A. For New Yorkers, the RedCat reminded me a lot of the BAM’s smaller Harvey theater. It was about the same size, very low-key, and had a very similar, comfy cafe / bar off to the side.
There were four pieces on the program, all of them modern: Yes Is Not Passive, by Stephanie Nugent; The Sea, the Sea, by Colin Connor; and two by Ohad Naharin – Humus and Echad Mi Yodea. I’d never seen Echad Mi Yodea before – and it’s one of the pieces Naharin’s most known for. I don’t know how I’ve missed it, but I do think I’ve seen excerpts. Anyway, it was by far my favorite piece on the program. Here’s a version, performed by Israeli dancers. In the version I saw, everyone was dressed in full black suits, black shoes, and hats. They all stripped down to their underwear by the end, except for the dancer in the front right-side chair, who kept falling at the end of each line. I really loved this piece. So much energy and layered with meaning.
I also liked Yes Is Not Passive, the first piece. There were many different parts, but my favorite was a solo where one man – Jose Luis Trujillo – simply stood in front of the audience and shouted “Yes” so many times his voice became distorted and his contorted face nearly began to melt with sweat. It reminded me of William Forsythe or Pina Bausch. Captivating.
I was also captivated by the architecture of downtown L.A. This was the first time I’d been to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (an opera house where ballet and other kinds of dance performances take place), and the gorgeous Walt Disney Concert Hall (pictures below). So so so stunning!
All of the buildings together were very much like Lincoln Center, except with that breathtaking architecture, far more magical. I was really truly blown away. I was also blown away by how dead it was. It really broke my heart that there were so few people out and about down there on a Friday night during holiday season when you’d expect there to be concerts and performing arts events galore. (Bill T. Jones’ Fela! is playing in one of the buildings.) L.A. is definitely a very different town from N.Y. in so many respects.
Afterward, we went to a small, popular hole in the wall in Little Tokyo (also in downtown) where I had the best meal (salmon teriyaki) I’ve had since I moved here. And after that Debra drove me down the east side of Sunset (the only stretch of Sunset I hadn’t been on) to the trendy neighborhoods on that side of town: Los Feliz, Echo Park, and Silver Lake. Echo Park looked pretty happening and like a place I wouldn’t mind living. And it’s very close to Dodger Stadium