Cal Performances

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Cal Celebrate 50 Years Together

When the Alvin Ailey dancers are in the house, Zellerbach can feel more like a church than a theater. When the doors open, the audience members file in like parishioners. Some are regulars, while others are first timers, but when the curtain comes up it doesn’t matter. Young, old, student, professional, black, white, devout, secular, right, left; the differences between them disappear during the rapturous gospel of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Imago Theater Makes Magic with ‘La Belle’

As co-artistic directors and founders of Portland-based Imago Theater, Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad had a motto: If it’s too complex, don’t do it. That motto had to go out of the window when they began creating La Belle: Life in the world of the Automaton.

The Longest-Running Friendship in Comics

Comics writers aren’t generally household names these days, but Matt Groening is close. For those who can’t quite place the name, say, “The guy who made The Simpsons,” and they’ll usually respond, “Oh, yeah!”

Vijay Iyer Jazzes Up the Ojai at Berkeley Music Festival

A couples counselor could have warned Vijay Iyer that the relationship was doomed, but he needed to figure it out for himself. When he arrived at UC Berkeley in the summer of 1992 to start a graduate program in physics, Iyer was also nursing a simmering passion for jazz. The pianist quickly started connecting with some of the Bay Area’s leading improvisers, and after two years, he found himself in something of a crisis—uninspired by his academic courses while increasingly drawn to intensive jazz sessions.

WATCH: The Music Keeper

Cal Performances will stage the first ever modern-day performance of the original The Temple of Glory, a gem of the music library’s collection, this weekend at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. 

Lemony Snicket is Helping Cal Build the Audience of the Future

Last week Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, author of the children’s novels A Series of Unfortunate Events , now a Netflix series that was largely written in Handler’s San Francisco dining room, lead an eclectic assortment of guests—singer/songwriter Thao Nguyen, record producer John Vanderslice, perfumer Yosh Han, poet Matthew Zapruder, and, in a powerful closing discussion, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood—through an evening of music and conversation.

Crazy Love: Cal Performances Brings Arabia’s Iconic Love Story to the West

The epic poem Layla and Majnun is arguably the most famous love story in the Middle East, and yet many Westerners have never heard of it. It is the tale of two teenagers who fall deeply in love but are tragically kept apart, even until death. After Layla’s father rejects Qays’s request for her hand in marriage, Qays wanders the desert expressing his undying love through poetry.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Creation, Preservation, Destruction: Chitresh Das Dance Presents “Shiva”

In the weeks after the sudden death of legendary kathak dancer, choreographer and guru Pandit Chitresh Das last January, the Bay Area company that bears his name seemed determined to forge ahead. Das was in the midst of completing a major new work, “Shiva,” which was scheduled to premiere for Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall last March. But as his disciples started to come to terms with his loss, moving forward so soon after his passing at 70 seemed unthinkable.

Preludes and Fugues: Choreographer Twyla Tharp Still Laying Down Her Legacy

“I had to become the greatest choreographer of my time,” Twyla Tharp has declared. “That was my mission, and that’s what I set out to do.”

With a reputation as a workaholic and perfectionist, Tharp has indeed become a world-renowned choreographer and is currently marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of her dance company with a 10-week, 17-city tour. But this is no mere retrospective—at age 74, Tharpis determined to keep expanding her oeuvre and laying down her legacy.

Totally Radical: A New Initiative from Cal Performances Aims to Gather New Audiences.

Venezuela’s Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of two international orchestras at just 34 years old, is often called the poster child for how early exposure to music and the arts can nourish and lift one toward a better life. Growing up with musician parents likely helped shape his career path, but Dudamel credits much of his success to El Sistema, a Venezuelan program started in 1975 that offers musical access to all.

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Arlo Guthrie Brings His Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour to Berkeley

It’s been 50 years since that memorable Thanksgiving Day in 1965 when Arlo Guthrie was busted for littering in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, an event that seemed trivial at the time but eventually led to his being rejected for military service by his draft board—to his great relief—because of that “criminal record.”

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