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Author Archives: WSS News

Afro-Brazilian Dance Group DanceBrazil Debuts Gueto and Buzios Performances in Los Angeles


Artistic Director Jelon Vieira infuses Afro-Brazilian movement, contemporary dance and Capoiera

Three performances only!  February 6-7, 2015

BEVERLY HILLS, CA- Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (“The Wallis”) will bring DanceBrazil (Jelon Vieira, Artistic Director), an Afro-Brazilian dance group, to the Greater Los Angeles Area for three performances only, February 6-7, 2015, in the Bram Goldsmith Theater. The program includes the West Coast premieres of Gueto, choreographed by Vieira to music of Marcos Carvalho, and Búzios, choreographed by Guilherme Durarte to music of Leo Jesus.  The program also features Viera’s 2013 Fé do Sertão, also set to music by Carvalho.  The company will also conduct masterclasses in Afro-Brazilian movement (February 5) and Capoeira (February 7).

For over 30 years, New York City-based DanceBrazil has thrilled audiences across the United States and throughout the world with its dazzling artistry, which is inspired by the cultural tapestry of Brazil. Whether in the streets or on stage in the most prestigious theaters, the dancers of DanceBrazil never fail to enthrall audiences with the company’s unique fusion of Afro-Brazilian movement, contemporary dance and Capoeira, the traditional dance form that had its origins from African slaves from Angola and Mozambique and evolved in colonial Brazil. Afro-Brazilians represent the largest ethnic group in Brazil, approximately 49.6%, and are the largest Black population outside of Africa.

DanceBrazil will premiere two pieces new to Los Angeles audiences: Gueto (“Ghetto”), a testimony to the abiding vitality and humanity that sustain the people living in the many marginalized, disenfranchised communities in Brazil and around the world, and Búzios, which explores the role that “jogo de búzios,” an enigmatic and mystical game of divination, plays in everyday life in Brazil.

The company will round out its program with its 2013 dance Fé do Sertão. Sertão, a largely rural area of Northeastern Brazil is known for its extremely arid climate and brief growing season, which has also helped foster its strong faith and the close-knit communities that support one another through many lean months of the year. Viera’s piece honors that community with a dance that fetes the esteemed Festival of São João, which celebrates the end of the rainy season and the annual corn harvest.

Artistic Director Jelon Vieira – one of the staunchest proponents of Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music – founded DanceBrazil in 1977. Initially formed from grassroots workshops at the Clark Center for the Arts in New York City, Vieira and Loremil Machado were among the first artists to bring traditional Afro-Brazilian dance to the United States. Alvin Ailey, who would join his board of directors in 1980, was the one who suggested the name and in its early days helped focus the objectives of the company.

For 38 years, Vieira has led the company in breathtaking performances for audiences in Europe, Asia and the United States, as well as in his home country of Brazil. In 2008, he was awarded one of 11 National Heritage Fellowships, the United States’ highest honor for those in the folk and traditional arts.

The New York Times said, “the performers of DanceBrazil exist in a ravishing, hard-working paradise … what matters here above all is the gorgeously full physicality of movement, allied to music.  The beauty and style of these dancers is already a treat to the senses.  Legs maintain powerful extensions like searchlights.  The pliancy of those torsos is often breathtaking — not just in the way backs tip so powerfully and freely this way and that, but also in the ways that shoulders or stomach muscles contract and pulsate rhythmically.  The dancers glow enthusiastically as they let rip at highest energy.”

DanceBrazil is also offering student masterclasses with a limited number of places held for the public.   On February 5 at 6pm, an Afro-Brazilian Class (all ages welcome) is based on the traditional and contemporary dances developed in the northeastern state of Bahia. The movements are based on the gesture of the Orixás dance, the energetic Maculele and the beautiful samba de roda and other influences from the folkloric dances in the region of Bahia. The class will be accompanied by live drumming.

On February 7 at 11 am, a Capoeira class (all ages welcome) will concentrate on the Afro-Brazilian art form which combines fight, dance, rhythm and movement.  Capoeira was originally developed by Africans brought to Brazil as slaves in the 1500s. The class will introduce basic movements (ginga) with emphasis on the roda (circular formation) – where the dialogue between players takes place and becomes a conversation through movement which can take on many shades of meaning.  Students will be introduced to the instruments used in Capoeira (berimbaus, pandeiros and atabaque) and songs that are sung in the roda. For more information that celebrates the Afro-Brazilian culture, visit afro-brazilian.com.

Tickets are available at www.thewallis.org or by calling 310-746-4000 or in person at The Wallis Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

Clive Davis to Receive Vanguard Award at the 46th NAACP Image Awards


Clive Davis (Photo Source: Google Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA- Award-winning record producer and renowned music business executive Clive Davis will be honored with the prestigious Vanguard Award at THE 46th NAACP IMAGE AWARDS, broadcast live from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Friday, Feb. 6 (9:00-11:00 p.m. ET live/PT tape-delayed) on TV ONE.

The NAACP Vanguard Award is presented to a person whose groundbreaking work increases understanding and awareness of racial and social issues. Previous honorees include Wyclef Jean, Tyler Perry, Russell Simmons, Aretha Franklin, Stanley Kramer, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas.

“The NAACP is proud to honor Clive Davis this year’s Vanguard Award for his continued contributions of exceptional work to the music industry,” said NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks. “His meticulous work ethic, extraordinary vision, and tireless dedication have built a prolific career that sets a remarkable example for so many who dream of following in his footsteps.”

Clive Davis’s devotion to the music industry has resulted in working closely with a large list of landmark artists through his tenures at Columbia, Arista and J Records. From early signings with Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Aerosmith, Billy Joel and Earth, Wind & Fire, to Patti Smith, The Grateful Dead, Santana, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, and many others, Davis has made a profound impact on popular culture. Clive Davis, is currently the Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment. He has won five GRAMMYS and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer. Davis’s autobiography “The Soundtrack Of My Life,” published by Simon & Shuster in 2013, became a New York Times bestseller. The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU is continuing to extend his legacy and looking to the future of the music business.

The NAACP Image Awards celebrates the accomplishment of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors. Winners will be voted upon by NAACP members and announced when the envelopes are opened on Thursday, February 5 during the Awards Ceremony for non-televised categories. The remaining categories will be announced LIVE on stage during the two-hour star-studded TV One telecast on Friday, February 6 (9:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET/PT tape-delated). The telecast will also include a one-hour pre-show airing live from the red carpet (8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET/PT tape-delayed).

The 46TH NAACP Image Awards are sponsored by: AT&T, Bank of America, FedEx, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Gilead Sciences, Hyundai Motor America, Southwest Airlines and Wells Fargo.

For all information and latest news, please visit the official NAACP Image Awards website at http://www.naacpimageawards.net.

San Bernardino Symphony honors Musical Genius in America

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- February is going to be a busy month for local music lovers in the Inland Empire as the San Bernardino Symphony will be offering three consecutive days of uniquely American fare as part of their current season themes, “By Request: The Music You Want to Hear.”

The first notes will sound less than four weeks away on the evening of February 5 at a special event to honor local arts and education supporters, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown and Mr. Hardy Brown, Sr.  Attendees will sample local restaurant fare and enjoy the smooth sounds of the Cal State San Bernardino Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Symphony Board Member Dr. Bob Knop.

“The Browns have actively supported the region for many years, setting the consummate example of selfless and focused community service,” said Symphony conductor Frank Fetta. “To be able to set aside an evening to say thank you to these pillars of the community is a true privilege.”

The following morning, Maestro Fetta will lift his baton for back-to-back student concerts as the Symphony performs “Musical Genius in America” including Ragtime selections from Scott Joplin, a medley of tunes from Duke Ellington, and William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony. This free student concert came out of a series of conversations with the San Bernardino City Unified School District as the two organizations sought to build an academically meaningful musical experience for the annual school event.

Said Symphony Executive Director Dr. Anne Viricel, “We felt this set of selections would both support and broaden the multi-cultural emphasis in the classroom during Black History Month.” As in years past, the schools will also be provided with corresponding teaching materials developed in line with California’s new Common Core standards. Students will learn about the composers, the historical context of each piece, and the contributions of American musicians to the various genres of orchestral music, as well as the historical venue.

Then, the evening of Saturday, February 7, the community will once again return to the California Theatre for the full presentation of Musical Genius in America, which will also include Gershwin’s iconic Rhapsody in Blue interpreted by gifted pianist Yana Reznik.

The young Russian-born classical pianist has performed as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Toyota Concert Series at Disney Hall, was the winner of the 2010 Artists International Competition, and gave a sold-out recital at her Carnegie Hall Debut in New York in 2004. As the only classically endorsed pianist for Roland Corporation US, Reznik has presented the World Premier concert of V-Piano Grand at Zipper Hall (Los Angeles) and Lincoln Center (New York). In addition to her solo appearances with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, San Bernardino Symphony, Redlands Bowl Orchestra, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, University of Southern California Symphony Orchestra and Concert Symphony Orchestra, the Torrance Symphony Orchestra and the Stanford Wind Ensemble, she has performed at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Santiago’s Gabriela Mistral and the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, the Zipper, Thayer and Steinway Halls in Los Angeles, and has as well been presented by the Jacaranda, Los Angeles Bach Festival, the Maestro Foundation, Laguna Beach Live, Sundays Live at Four (KUSC), the Sunset Series in Los Gatos, Classical Underground, the Colburn Chamber Music Series, the Huntington Arts Festival in New York, Classical Music Encounters of Orange County and the Western Society of Chamber Music. In 2008, as a Founder and Artistic Director of the Southern California Brahms Festival, Reznik performed the complete piano chamber works of Johannes Brahms. An active collaborator, she is a regular guest artist with the Gold Coast Chamber Players in San Francisco, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony, Opera and Ballet.

The presenting sponsor for these concerts is the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

“This wonderful organization never fails to support activities that benefit the vitality of our community and we are so thankful to have them as part of our Symphony family,” added Viricel.

Up-coming Concerts

April 11, two Symphony musicians – Concert Master Todor Pelev and First Chair Cellist Ana Maria Maldonado – will team up to play Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Violincello. The evening’s concert, “Beethoven, Brahms & Bartholdy” will also include Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Symphony No. 3, The Scottish Symphony. This event will also include an exhibition of artwork by gifted local students based upon their interpretations of the pieces to be played.

Wrapping an amazing season will be the “Triumphant Season Finale” on May 23.  The concert will include Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, and Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1 featuring Icelandic horn soloist Joseph Ognibene. An internationally-known recording artist, Ognibene originally hails from Claremont and has been principal horn of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra since 1981.

“We are thrilled to provide this outstanding season full of beautiful music and exciting surprises,” added Maestro Fetta, “and we invite the community to come and enjoy all their San Bernardino Symphony has to offer.”

Tickets and Venue Information

All regular season concerts will be performed at the historic California Theatre, 562 W. 4th Street, San Bernardino.  Both season and individual tickets may be purchased by calling (909) 381-5388 or visiting the Symphony box office at 198 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino. General admission tickets are also securely available on line at www.sanbernardinosymphony.org, and with limited availability at the theater box office the evening of each event. (Students: $11; General: $20, $35, $45, $55.)