Joffrey Ballet

Joffrey Ballet, "Mammatus, photo by Cheryl Mann.

Joffrey Ballet, “Mammatus, photo by Cheryl Mann.

The world-renowned Joffrey Ballet comes to the Granada Theatre for two nights of incredible dance performances of works by George Balanchine and other acclaimed choreographers, presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures on Tuesday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 6 at 8 p.m.

“The Joffrey dancers, costumed and lit and shockingly talented, are like a rock concert for the eyes,” reports Huffington Post.  

Among the repertoire included in on the Santa Barbara stage is one of Balanchine’s earliest experimental works, two pieces by modern ballet master Nicolas Blanc, the unique cinematic vision of Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman, contemporary ballet darling Justin Peck with a work set to a score by Philip Glass and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa‘s stunning depiction of a turbulent cloud formation. These wide-ranging programs display the inestimable skill of the Joffrey Ballet’s dancers, classically trained to the highest standards, and the company’s unique, inclusive perspective on dance. 

Tue, Mar 5 (Program A)

George Balanchine: The Four Temperaments
Nicolas Blanc: Beyond the Shore
Alexander Ekman: Joy

Wed, Mar 6 (Program B)

Justin Peck: In Creases
Nicolas Blanc: Encounter
Alexander Ekman: Joy
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa: Mammatus 

The Joffrey is a world-class, Chicago-based ballet company and dance education organization committed to artistic excellence and innovation. Classically trained to the highest standards, the Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences and repertoire, which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works.

Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron.

Joffrey Ballet, Beyond the Shore, photo by Cheryl Mann.

Joffrey Ballet, Beyond the Shore, photo by Cheryl Mann.

RELATED EVENT

Community Dance Class with The Joffrey Ballet 

Mon., Mar. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Gustafson Dance, 2285 Las Positas Rd., Santa Barbara

Reservations: 805/563-3262 ext. 1

Co-presented by Gustafson Dance

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.eduTickets are also available through The Granada Theatre at  805/899-2222 or granadasb.org.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 2, 2019.

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz, courtesy photo.

Annie Leibovitz, courtesy photo.

Legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz is coming to Santa Barbara on February 28, in what’s sure to be a fascinating evening presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Annie Leibovitz delivers an hour-long illustrated lecture followed by a Q&A with Pico Iyer. A “Library of Congress Living Legend,” Leibovitz’s body of work encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time, with subjects including actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes and political and business figures, as well as fashion photographs and more.

Brooke Shields "Got Milk" campaign photo by Annie Leibovitz.

Brooke Shields “Got Milk” campaign photo by Annie Leibovitz.

“Whether she’s photographing the famous and powerful—or simply the woman next door—Annie always captures something unexpected and deeply personal,” says Oprah Winfrey.  

This event takes place on Thurs., Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 26, 2019.

New York Polyphony

New York Polyphony, photo by Chris Owyoung.

New York Polyphony, photo by Chris Owyoung.

The New Yorker calls them, “Singers of superb musicianship and vocal allure.” National Public Radio praises New York Polyphony for a “rich, natural sound that’s larger and more complex than the sum of its parts.”

Hear them for yourself when UCSB Arts & Lectures presents the two-time Grammy Award-nominated vocal chamber ensemble New York Polyphony in its Santa Barbara debut on Wednesday, February 20 at 7 p.m. at Music Academy of the West’s Hahn Hall (1070 Fairway Rd., Santa Barbara).

The provocative program Faith and Reason includes Thomas Tallis’ Mass for Four Voices and Gregory Brown’s Missa Charles Darwin—the inspiration behind his brother Dan Brown’s latest Da Vinci Code novel—which honors the conventions of its musical antecedents but replaces sacred texts with excerpts from Darwin’s writings. Of special note, this performance marks the return of Music Academy of the West alumnus Christopher Dylan Herbert, the group’s baritone, to his alma mater.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 19, 2019.

Danish String Quartet

Danish String Quartet, photo by Caroline Bittencourt.

Danish String Quartet, photo by Caroline Bittencourt.

The Danish String Quartet returns to Santa Barbara this week for two beautiful nights of music presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures.

First up, a salon-style program of Nordic folk on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at Rockwood. Then on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. they will perform a classical program of Haydn, Abrahamsen and Nielsen at UCSB Campbell Hall.

Nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award, the Danish String Quartet—Frederik Øland (Violin); Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (Violin); Asbjørn Nørgaard (Viola); Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin (Cello)—is an internationally acclaimed chamber music group. As the Boston Globe reports, “Do not lose track of this group. Even by today’s high standards, it offers something very special.” 

Danish String Quartet, photo by Caroline Bittencourt.

Danish String Quartet, photo by Caroline Bittencourt.

“The quartet’s crystalline sound conjures a magical atmosphere and nods to the strident tone of Nordic fiddle playing,” writes The Strad (U.K.).  

These four Nordic lads have played together since childhood and possess “warmth, wit, a beautiful tone and technical prowess second to none” (NPR).

Violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørenson and Viola player Asbjorn Norgaard met as children at a music summer camp where they played soccer and made music together. As teenagers, they began the study of classical chamber music and were mentored by Tim Frederiksen of Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Music. In 2008, the three Danes were joined by Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 11, 2019.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, photo by Zoran Jelen.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, photo by Zoran Jelen.

Dancing the very fine line between high art and high camp, the internationally-beloved Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo bring their brilliant pointe work and vibrant drag costumes to the Granada Theatre (1214 State St., Santa Barbara) on Sunday, January 27 at 7 p.m.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, photo by Zoran Jelen.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, photo by Zoran Jelen.

Presented by UCSB Arts & LecturesLes Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was founded in 1974 in New York City on the heels of the Stonewall riots, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (also affectionately called “The Trocks”)  is a company of professional male dancers performing the full range of the ballet and modern dance repertoire, including classical and original works in faithful renditions of the manners and conceits of those dance styles. The comedy is achieved by incorporating and exaggerating the foibles, accidents and underlying incongruities of serious dance. The fact that men dance all the parts—heavy bodies delicately balancing on toes as swans, sylphs, water sprites, romantic princesses, or angst-ridden Victorian ladies—enhances, rather than mocks, the spirit of dance as an art form, delighting and amusing the most knowledgeable, as well as novices, in the audiences.

“The funniest night you will ever have at the ballet,” writes The Sunday Times (U.K). 

The Trocks’ numerous tours have been both popular and critical successes—the company’s annual schedules have included six tours to Australia and New Zealand, 25 to Japan (where annual visits have created a nation-wide cult following and a fan club), 10 to South America, three to South Africa and 55 tours of Europe. In the United States, the company has become a regular part of the college and university circuit, in addition to frequent presentations in all of the 50 states. The company has appeared in more than 35 countries and more than 500 cities worldwide since its founding.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, photo by Zoran Jelen.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, photo by Zoran Jelen.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.eduTickets are also available through The Granada Theatre at 805/899-2222 or granadasb.org.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 24, 2019.

Jon Batiste

Jon Batiste, photo by Ambo Elliot.

Jon Batiste, photo by Ambo Elliot.

Jazz musician Jon Batiste, bandleader on The Late Show with Steven Colbert, makes his Santa Barbara debut on Friday, January 11 at 8 p.m. at UCSB Campbell Hall, in a UCSB Arts & Lectures presentation.

Wynton Marsalis describes him as “an elegant and electric performer with an unbelievably rich palette of techniques and styles rooted in New Orleans soul.”

Batiste is seen by millions on television five nights a week on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “The energy and the excitement, the love of the audience, the humanism that he brings to his music is everything that I want,” says Colbert.

With his soulful brand of high-energy pop mixed with New Orleans funk and American jazz standards, his 2013 album Social Music with his band Stay Human topped the charts as the No. 1 jazz album in the world. His new album was recorded in a church in native city of New Orleans and produced by T Bone Burnett. Batiste’s major label debut, Hollywood Africans, is a stunning showcase of the brilliant pianist and vocalist. Primarily just Batiste and his piano, it includes standards, unexpected covers and original songs. This release displays Batiste’s dynamic talents and highlights his musicality and virtuosity on his instrument.

The Forbes 30 under 30 honoree balances a demanding performance schedule—which often includes his signature, impromptu ‘love riot’ street parades—with his role as bandleader on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Artistic Director At Large of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, public speaking engagements, master classes and occasional acting gigs. He played himself on the HBO series Treme and most recently appeared in director Spike Lee‘s Red Hook Summer.

Batiste is also a coveted artist brand ambassador– currently featured in ad campaigns for Chase Bank, the Apple Watch, Lincoln Continental and numerous fashion brands including Polo Ralph Lauren Black Label, Frye, Kate Spade, Jack Spade Barneys, Nordstrom and H&M.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 9, 2019.

Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra

Jeff Goldblum, photo by Universal Music Paridukovic, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Jeff Goldblum, photo by Universal Music Paridukovic, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Jeff Goldblum is a man of many talents. The Academy Award-nominated actor reveals his jazz piano skills with his longtime jazz quintet The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures  on Sat., Nov. 3,  at 8 p.m. at UCSB Campbell Hall.

“The bass, sax and drums complement Goldblum’s piano prowess and electric personality for a high-energy traditional jazz music performance that brings the audience to its feet, while Goldblum’s quirky, intelligent and suave humor makes for a hilarious and captivating evening. Goldblum’s fans will delight in his banter, games and selfies as he works the room,” according to A&L.

“You haven’t truly heard your name until you’ve heard Jeff Goldblum say it,” Los Angeles Magazine says. “The 65-year-old actor loves savoring–and sometimes butchering–names when he works the room at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz. Goldblum’s signature, oft-imitated speaking style has a bebop quality: a swingin’ rhythm and distinct musicality, punctuated with those jazzy ‘uh’s and ‘um’s.”

While Goldblum and his jazz band have been making weekly appearances at Rockwell for years, only recently has he decided share this insiders’ club experience with those of us a bit father afoot. On his first-ever formal tour with The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, Jeff Goldblum will bring that intimate jazz club experience to Santa Barbara. The music is first-rate jazz, but if part of the appeal is to get some of that Jeff Goldblum charm, we suggest that you don’t stray too far during intermission.

For Tickets/Info call 805/893-3535,  or visit ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 1, 2018.

Legacies: The Lasting Impact of Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain addresses UCSB Arts & Lectures supporters at the sold out benefit event at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. Photo by Kathryn Grace.

Anthony Bourdain addresses UCSB Arts & Lectures supporters at the sold out benefit event at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. Photo by Kathryn Grace.

The tragic death of Anthony Bourdain hit fans around the world like a shockwave, and particularly those in Santa Barbara, where just one month earlier he made one of his last public appearances at a sold-out benefit for UCSB Arts & Lectures to raise funds for core programs and educational outreach.

Without an inkling of how special the night would become in retrospect, I was honored to enjoy Bourdain’s raw and unfiltered presentation offering entertaining life lessons and anecdotes from the kitchen and on the road. The renowned food personality, award-winning journalist and internationally-acclaimed raconteur delighted all of us with a colorful discussion of his unlikely rise from being “42 years old, completely broke-ass, standing in a kitchen dunking French fries,” to doing what he considers the greatest job in the world, where “life does not suck.” 

 

Anthony Bourdain, photos by Kathryn Grace.

Anthony Bourdain, photos by Kathryn Grace.

The irony of his suicide was not lost on those who attended, but the legacy of his generosity, way with words and openness to new experiences also lives on. He inspired us to travel with passion, eat with gusto, drink with strangers and connect with our fellow human beings. In death, as in life, Anthony Bourdain brought us closer together.

 

Event Planner Tamara Jensen, Anthony Bourdain and A&L Ambassador Sherry Villanueva. Photo by David Bazemore, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Event Planner Tamara Jensen, Anthony Bourdain and A&L Ambassador Sherry Villanueva. Photo by David Bazemore, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you … You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” —Anthony Bourdain

 

A&L supporters Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin and Sara Miller McCune with Anthony Bourdain. Photo by David Bazemore, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

A&L supporters Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin and Sara Miller McCune with Anthony Bourdain. Photo by David Bazemore, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

“Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.” —Anthony Bourdain

Participating local chefs with Anthony Bourdain. Photo by David Bazemore, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Participating local chefs with Anthony Bourdain. Photo by David Bazemore, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom … is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” —Anthony Bourdain

 

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott, photo by Sam Lamott.

Anne Lamott, photo by Sam Lamott.

Beloved author Anne Lamott is known for addressing complex subjects like addiction, motherhood, and faith with humor and uncompromising honesty. Her wise perspective has turned her books like Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird into well-worn handbooks for millions of readers who revel in her joyously messy take on life.

As the New York Times described Lamott, she is, “a writer who has perfected the art of saying the unsayable.” She doesn’t try to sugarcoat the sadness, frustration and disappointment, but tells her stories with honesty, compassion and a pureness of voice.

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents an evening with Anne Lamott on Tuesday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m. at The Granada Theatre, 1214 State St., Santa Barbara.

An inductee of the California Hall of Fame, a Guggenheim Fellow and the subject of a documentary by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Mock, Lamott ventures to explore where to find meaning in life. Her latest book Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, will be available (with others) for purchase and signing.

For tickets and information, call 805/893-3535, www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu or The Granada Theatre at 805/ 899-2222 or granadasb.org.

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 20, 2018.

Compañía Nacional de Danza

Compañía Nacional de Danza, photo by Jesús Vallinas.

Compañía Nacional de Danza, photo by Jesús Vallinas.

The illustrious Compañía Nacional de Danza (CND), Spain’s national dance company, returns to Santa Barbara with a work that is a statement of its compelling artistic direction. Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures for two nights—March 6-7, both at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre (1214 State St.)—Johan Inger’s Carmen is a visionary retelling of mythic and universal elements of passion and violence.

This contemporary presentation of Carmen, a classic opera first performed in 1875, had its debut in 2015 and won the coveted Benois de la Danse prize for choreography in 2016. It tells the tale through the eyes of a child, with its heroine a courageous and modern woman, the mountains of Ronda reimagined as poor suburbs, the military now senior executives and the bullfighter recast as a movie star.

This Santa Barbara premiere marks one of only three cities in the U.S. presenting this magnificent story ballet.

Compañía Nacional de Danza, photo by Jesús Vallinas.

Compañía Nacional de Danza, photo by Jesús Vallinas.

When Inger was asked to create a new version of Carmen, himself being Swedish and Carmen a piece with a strong Spanish nature, he faced a challenge. But it was also a great opportunity. He strips tale to its most fundamental themes, introducing the perspective of a child to reveal the universal appeal of the story.

“There is a certain mystery within this character,” explains Inger. “It could be any kid; it could be Don José when he was a boy, and it could be a young Michaela or Carmen and José’s unborn child. It could even be ourselves, with our very first goodness wounded due to a violent experience that, though brief, has had a negative impact in our lives and our ability to interact with others forever.”

For tickets and more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or visit ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu, or contact The Granada Theatre at 805/899-2222 or granadasb.org.

In addition to the performances on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the company also presents, in collaboration with Gustafson Dance, a Community Dance Class with Compañía Nacional de Danza on Monday, March 5, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Gustafson Dance, 2285 Las Positas Rd. Observers are welcome. Call 805/563-3262 to register. 

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 2, 2018.