It can be delicate to decipher the intent behind a piece of dance. And choreographers, like other artists, sometimes get skittish about telling you, “My dance is about —” and then some literal description.

They’re trying to make dance, after all — a combination of music and movements that usually doesn’t have words. And they want you to see the work and experience it for yourself.

But we know that learning a little about the person making the art and about how it’s made can augment that experience. We’re embedding this week in rehearsals with a few local choreographers to learn more about their backgrounds and inspirations for the dances they’ll bring to a competition this Sunday — the Young Choreographers Showcase.

Read our first two posts about the showcase, started by Jean Isaacs as a way to foster new dance-making. And discover how choreographers are using surprising and odd inspirations — the bathroom and rigor mortis among them — to create works for the competition.



You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.

Gifts and Kisses

• Members of the Unified Port of San Diego’s public art committee resigned Thursday, upset that the Port rejected their advice to lose the “Unconditional Surrender” or “kiss” statue on the waterfront. (KPBS)

It’s not the first time this battle has flared up between the Port and the arts professionals asked to advise it. Hugh Davies, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, used to sit on the committee. From the U-T:

“The history is that the port for 25 years has been unable to work effectively with the committee to acquire what those of us who dedicate our lives to this — contemporary art by living artists — find to be acceptable public art,” Davies said.

• Unexpected gifts came this week for two local museums. One-time San Diego arts patrons Vance Kondon and Liesbeth Giesberger left their art collection, valued around $45 million, to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Art. MCASD will unveil 30 pieces by artists including Richard Serra, Christo, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly and Craig Kauffman, while the Museum of Art received 48 works on paper, mostly Expressionist from before 1950. Here’s a gallery of some of the pieces. (U-T)

• Local arts and literature magazine Manor House Quarterly announced four recipients of $500 grants, including a documentary, a tea-farming effort, a community arts event and a website for a public reading series for writers. The magazine received a $10,000 grant from Pepsi last year and decided with $2,000 of it to “pay it forward” to other local groups and artists.

• Actor George Takei raised more than $150,000 using a crowd-funding website for The Old Globe’s upcoming production of “Allegiance,” a new musical about Japanese-American internment during World War II. (U-T)

• A great line-up of local symphony players and other musicians will perform a benefit concert next week for the Interfaith Shelter Network of San Diego, a nonprofit that coordinates services for people who are homeless.

• In honor of a weeklong focus around the county on science and technology, the U-T’s graphics team enlisted skateboarder Tony Hawk and a UC San Diego mechanical engineer to explore the physics behind a frontside air.

‘Relentless, Unstoppable Ability to Make Do’

• The La Jolla Playhouse announced it’ll stage a world premiere musical based on the music of the Flaming Lips later this year. The Playhouse’s director emeritus Des McAnuff is behind the piece. Context from the U-T:

McAnuff, who served two tenures as the Playhouse’s artistic director, has a lengthy list of Broadway credits and a pair of Tony Awards as a director. And two of his biggest successes, “The Who’s Tommy” (1993) and “Jersey Boys” (2005), were created, like “Yoshimi,” around existing rock and pop music. (Both also were born at the Playhouse and went on to win Tonys as best musical.)

• The biggest musical to ever hit Cygnet Theatre’s stage is “Parade,” a Tony-winning 1998 piece centered on a difficult event in U.S. history when a pencil factory manager was convicted in a controversial trial of murdering a 13-year-old girl who worked there.

North County Times critic Pam Kragen said the musical betters Cygnet’s place in the local scene. She says:

With its latest production of “Parade” — a regional theater-quality staging on par with shows at its much-bigger cross-town rival, The Old Globe — Cygnet has reached maturity… I recommend you not let this “Parade” pass you by.

And reviewing for the U-T San Diego, Anne Marie Welsh said Cygnet has “taken a dark, challenging musical about bigotry and not only made it sing, but made it scarily relevant.”

“Parade” runs through April 29. I’ll be speaking on a panel about media responsibility at the April 25th performance.

• Artists are reinterpreting My Little Pony toys in a show this weekend to benefit the effort to review the historical importance of the decades-old Caliente Racetrack mural on the side of downtown’s California Theatre. (CityBeat) They’re hoping to keep it from being painted over. (U-T)

• The annual busking festival this weekend features contortionists and sword-swallowers at Seaport Village. (NCT)

• This year’s San Diego Art Prize winners are sculptor Jeffery Laudenslager and jewelry artist Arline Fisch. (CityBeat)

• The U-T’s collection of performances and concerts to watch for this spring includes La Jolla Playhouse’s “Hands on a Hardbody” and “Scottsboro Boys” at the Globe, concerts from hometown favorites Sara Watkins and Anoushka Shankar and an intergenerational dance performance that Jean Isaacs has been dreaming up.

• Local artist Lydia Velarde often sketches local neighborhoods and landmarks, and was recently included in a book called “The Art of Urban Sketching.

• The city library system put together a guide to local authors.

• The Mingei Museum is sending 500 items from its permanent collection south of the border for an exhibition opening at Tijuana’s Cultural Center, CECUT. Some objects are Mexican, but most are from all over the world.

• Blogging for the U-T, Susan Myrland recaps a recent Saturday spent touring a few artsy spots in Tijuana. An old drug-smuggling tunnel-turned-gallery, La Casa del Tunel, is symbolic of a quality in both San Diego’s and Tijuana’s emerging art scenes, she writes: “the relentless, unstoppable ability to make do with what’s available, transforming it into something beautiful.”

If that converted tunnel sounds familiar, you may be remembering when restaurateur Jay Porter talked about it and his other favorite spots in that Tijuana neighborhood at our first Meeting of the Minds last June.

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Kelly Bennett is the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach her directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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