All the Right Moves: Stanford Live's Upcoming Season



Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin Photo by Brigitte LacombeFrench choreographer Jérôme Bel brings his sometimes irreverent, frequently controversial, but always passionate work to the San Francisco Bay Area in November as part of Stanford Live’s stellar lineup for its 2013–2014 season.

Festival Jérôme Bel will be part of Stanford Live Executive Director Wiley Hausam’s first full year since he joined the organization in January 2012. Hausam, a veteran arts producer and administrator, has help select a roster of performers who reflect his taste and interests in multimedia and creative collaboration.

From Bel and Broadway legends Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin (who can forget his Ché to her Evita?) to Portuguese fado singer Mariza and the reigning prince of qawwali sufi music Asif Ali Khan to superstar violinist Joshua Bell, Hausam offers up a cabinet of creative wonders.

“My focus is meant to be very eclectic, serving multiple audiences with the best artists you can find,” said Hausam in a telephone interview from the Palo Alto campus.

His inaugural season, building on work that Stanford Live has become known for, features performances in the Bing Concert Hall, which opened in January 2013, and in other campus venues. The choices reflect Hausam’s signature style and philosophy. There are more multimedia works to come, he said, adding: “You’re also going to see a much wider range of music and dance because I want to embrace as many kinds of communities as I can.”“My focus is meant to be very eclectic, serving multiple audiences with the best artists you can find.” –Wiley Hausam

The season features long-planned collaborations with Stanford University’s dance and music departments, respectively the Bel festival, and Stanford Live’s commission of the concerto-length multidisciplinary work Linked Verse by Stanford composer Jaroslaw Kapuscinski. Premiering Dec. 7, Linked Verse will feature OpenEnded Group, a digital-media collective, with music by sho player Ko Ishikawa and cellist Maya Beiser. No need to bring 3-D specs to watch the stereoscopic videos — glasses will be provided.

Jérôme Bel Stanford Live will also offer up two simultaneous broadcasts over the year. On Oct. 11 there will be a free, live simulcast of the San Francisco Opera production of Falstaff (in Frost Amphitheatre). Then, on Feb. 16, the Southwestern premiere of the Dallas Opera’s production of cutting-edge composer and MIT Media Lab legend Tod Machover’s newest work, Death & The Powers: The Robot’s Opera, will be simulcast at the Bing Concert Hall (Stanford Live will announce further details later this year).

While 80 percent of Stanford Live’s tickets are already committed to subscribers, there will be a new process of obtaining tickets for sold but unoccupied seats for a performance; it will involve signing up on a notification list, according to Hausam. More details will be forthcoming on the Stanford Live website as it gets closer to the opening of the new season, he said.

Unlike many directors of performing arts series, Hausam does not believe in thematic programming. “It’s difficult enough to get the finest artists out there without boxing them into preconceived ideas,” said Hausam, who worked at New York’s Public Theatre with director George C. Wolfe for nearly a decade.

There may not be a theme to the upcoming year, yet it does feature four noted string ensembles, including the Kronos Quartet and the Takács Quartet (playing the complete Bartók string quartets). Itzhak Perlman kicks off the season in the Bing Concert Hall, an intimate 844-seat theater in the round. Pianist Richard Goode ends the year on May 16 with an all-Beethoven program.

When asked “Why a Jérôme Bel Dance Festival?” Hausam replied simply: “Because I love his work.”

Jérôme Bel’s pieces raise bigger questions and implications about virtuosity, artifice, and the nature of dance.

The Bel festival will offer the Bay Area a closer look at the work (and wit) of the Paris-based, 49-year-old choreographer whose last San Francisco visit was in 2009. Bel, who trained and performed with classical and contemporary dance troupes in Europe, is known for choreography that breaks down barriers between audiences and performers. His notoriety includes his refusal (on artistic grounds) for giving money back to disappointed audience members who request it. His pieces raise bigger questions and implications about virtuosity, artifice, and the nature of dance.

A thought-provoking artist, Bel calls himself a réaliser, as in the French term for a film director, réalisateur, rather than a choreographer. Whatever his moniker of choice, the very cool conceptual dance maker will bring three signature works to Stanford in the late fall: Cédric Andrieux (2009), a solo that Andrieux, a lanky, former Merce Cunningham Dance Company member, performs through movement and narration, reflecting on a dancer’s life and tackling the question of what drives him as an artist.

The Show Must Go On (2001) has been set on a mix of trained and nontrained dancers around the world. For this performance, Bel will use professional Bay Area dancers and draw, as well, on Stanford students, staff, and faculty, plus civilians from Silicon Valley. The work examines the perceived clash between fine art and entertainment, and it challenges audience expectations. An onstage DJ provides the score, playing clips of pop songs both old and new while dancers wear headsets and dutifully follow the instructions of the song lyrics.

On Dec. 2, Bel will be present at a screening of Pichet Klunchun and Myself, a film version of the work that has been staged in numerous locales since its premiere at the 2004 Bangkok Fringe Festival. In the film, Bel and classical Thai dance master Pichet Klunchun exchange movement and ideas, and Bel explains why he believes disappointed audiences should never get a refund.

Journalist Molly Colin writes about the arts and cultural trends.

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