“BREATHLESS” features two great Luminario Ballet revivals, two new work-in-progress, and -just in time for Passover and Easter- “The Last Supper.”
Luminario Ballet brings “Breathless” to NoHo’s El Portal Theatre March 9-11. “Breathless” features four ballets: from 2009, Jamal Story’s “If the Walls Could Scream,” an epic battle of the sexes; “TRAILS” 2014, a ballet about climate change with images from NASA, with live music from Philip Glass; “Listen To My Heart,” a ballet about LOVE by Luminario Ballet’s artistic director Judith FLEX Helle to electronica jazz by Floating Points; and, back by popular demand, Easter 2017’s dance theatre piece, “The Last Supper,” about when those three fun Jewish club kids -Jesus, Judas and Mary- went to Coachella Music Festival 2017! Music by Radiohead, Nirvana, Weezer, and more! A sing-a-long rock/ballet experience!
Special guest superstar aerialist /aerial choreographer (PINK, CHER, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Teatro ZinZanni) Dreya Weber will perform a mysterious work-in-progress piece about the Dark Ages from her German ancestry.
Spoken Word poet Jonathan Rios will open “TRAILS” and “The Last Supper” with his rhythmic rhyming hip hop cadence, allowing us a fresh look into our world through his eyes.
The Luminario Ballet cast includes special guest Jamal Story, Amber Porter, Adrian Hoffman, Damien Diaz, Evan Swenson, Isaac Huerta, Kelly Vittetoe, Sadie Black, Shannon Beach, Sheila Joy Burford, Stephanie Kim and Windu Sayles !
Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10 @ 8 PM
Sunday, March 11 @ 3 PM
El Portal Theatre
5269 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
https://ci.ovationtix.com/371/production/979752 or at the El Portal Box Office 818-508-4200
$5.00 off BEFORE March 2 with code: BREATHLESS
www.luminarioballet.org Instagram @LuminarioBallet
We chatted with artistic director Judith FLEX Helle about “Breathless”
Why did you choose Jamal’s story “If the Walls Could Scream” and “Trails”?
Luminario Ballet’s “Breathless” looks at quite a few of today’s topics- and Jamal Story’s “If the Walls Could Scream,” a battle of the sexes; and “TRAILS,” a ballet about climate change, are two of these important topics.
First, “If the Walls Could Scream”:
~ When Jamal Story choreographed this ballet for Luminario Ballet in 2019/10, we were all well aware of domestic violence and the complex physicality of male/female relationships- but it took until now to really view this ballet through a very clear lens of what it takes for a woman to be in a relationship. Each of the 3 couples is battling- who knows the various reasons. The 2nd section is most poignant, as Nina Simone sings: “He Needs Me” while a girl begs her guy to stay with her and its pretty clear he’s on the way out. But, things do actually resolve in the third section to Mumadji’s fado “Mon Amor” and we feel ok about that.
“TRAILS” ~ climate change and the pressure on California’s environment couldn’t be a more important topic for us all to discuss and ponder solutions. This ballet came out in 2014 in a environmentally friendly administration- but now we are in a polluter industry friendly administration, so it is even more important for us Californians to simply continue moving this discussion forward with our own solutions. Its not just the right thing to do for a cleaner world, but will help us economically too as we lead in this area. Through the beauty of the dancers, Paul Ackerman’s NASA and California landscape media, we can both admire its beauty and be shocked by the devastation of this year’s climate change salvos- the twin devils of fire and flood. Let’s all talk about it and definitely get comfortable with our great California ingenuity here to move to a cleaner, greener world.
Can you give us more of the story behind “Listen to My Heart?”
As a choreographer, I often have very complex thoughts running through my mind and the biggest question is- how to get this feeling across without words? “Listen To My Heart” is a ballet about LOVE. It was inspired by being invited to five weddings in 2016! FIVE! I attended three. Each one was wonderful, magnificent, attended by literally hundreds of loving family and friends. But, as one scratched the surface of these gatherings, the complexities of familial love appears. In addition to the “breathless” feeling of meeting “THAT PERSON!” and hardly being presentable in public, there are a myriad of feelings that one senses at these weddings- the gay cousin who can’t bring his/her partner- the new couple who wonder if they will get married next- the couples who are not solid anymore but are trying to be- the singletons who can’t decide what they are doing in today’s smartphone hookup app world… is it better to just be single, and not even deal with all this? Hmm. Let’s all think about this for a second and try to decide what’s best for us. Let’s “Listen To Our Hearts!”
What’s the show synopsis of “The Last Supper?”
“The Last Supper” is about when those fun Jewish club kids, Jesus, Judas, and Mary went to Coachella over Easter/Passover weekend last year, 2017!
Jesus is Black, Judas a gay druggie, and Mary a hustlin’ Burlesque Queen who sells her BFFs on the side! What could possibly go wrong at Coachella with these three!
This piece deals with some of today’s social problems: friendship/innocence/loyalty/drugs/betrayal/sex/choice/forgiveness/sharing/caring/community- and grabs onto a couple of topics- Black Lives Matter/Incarceration, pot smoking- that are always interesting to examine together with one’s friends and family. (haha) “What would Jesus do?” He’s a sport, he forgives!
“The Last Supper” romps through some of our favorite 90s grunge rock songs which tell the “Greatest Story Ever Told” surprisingly accurately! Who would have thought that the Violent Femmes, Nirvana, Weezer or Radiohead would illustrate the New Testament so succinctly!
Is there something you’d like your audiences to know about “Breathless?”
We have several guest stars in “Breathless”: Jonathan Rios, our spoken word poet will lead into both “TRAILS,”with his thoughts on what we can do about climate change based on what he saw implemented in Europe last summer and, “The Last Supper,” where he holds up the Old Testament’s story of wandering in the desert for 40 years as a homeless child being raised with his sister on the streets of LA growing up. The soft, rhythmic hip hop cadence of this Master storyteller belies his sharp points, and we are lucky to have him speak for our dancers, who do not!
Dreya Weber, aerial star and aerial choreographer (PINK, CHER, Madonna, Michael Jackson) is presenting a new work-in-progress- “Witch Piece”, about her ancestors in Europe’s Dark Ages.
One wonders about the persecution of witches, especially in light of today’s #metoo movement shining a bright light on how powerful men have persecuted women for trying to step up- as Grammy president admonished the women artists at the Grammys-since the beginning.
Jamal Story, Broadway star (The Color Purple, Motown the Musical), rock tour star (Madonna, CHER), dance star (Dance Theatre of Harlem, Complexions dance NYC), and, generally high level human (book author, composer, pianist, choreographer, gymnast, aerial acrobat, the list goes on).
Sheila Joy Burford, dancer and aerialist- who performed with Cris Angel Believe, Michael Jackson, and is on the road these days with CHER.
AND last but certainly not least, our own North Hollywood dancer and aerial star, Shannon Beach joins Luminario Ballet for the first time in “Listen To My Heart” as the bride! Shannon lives just off Magnolia and has toured the world as a dancer and aerialist with CHER, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, and many more. She’s also a mother of two young girls, and currently enjoying her time raising the next generation of stars!
See you at the ballet!
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