The Shadow Knows – Dance Company Pilobolus returns to UCSB’s Arts & Lectures

John Kane Photo
John Kane Photo

Though the dance company Pilobolus counts over 100 works in its repertory, the majority of readers will know it from its shadow pieces. Featured in Hyundai ads and on the Oscars, the dancers assemble themselves into organic shapes, from animals to teapots, and the audience sees them only through a screen. But this intersection of “art and athletics,” as The New York Times once wrote, has many more levels, as their return to UCSB’s Arts & Lectures on Thursday demonstrates.

For Renée Jaworski, choreographer and former dancer with the company, Pilobolus is unlike any other organization, and this is from a former member of the equally wacky Momix.

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THE ORIGIN – UCSB A&L brings eight classic monster movies downtown

Alright, so Universal’s attempt to resuscitate its classic monster movie franchise hit a big, hairy speed bump with “The Wolf Man.” Its mixed reviews don’t bode well for the remake of “The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” coming next year. While Hollywood (in all its wisdom) tries to reinvent the wheel, why not take in the original wheel? This summer, Arts & Lectures presents all the classic Universal monster movies in one spooky fest.

Even if you haven’t seen these films, you’ve heard of the monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein (and his bride), Wolf Man, Invisible Man, Mummy, the aforementioned Black Lagoon chap and the Phantom of the Opera, who, by the way, isn’t some handsome guy in a mask.

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And speaking of A&L…UCSB Arts and Lectures announced its overflowing 2010-11 season this past week


Is it too early to be planning the fall and new year? Didn’t summer just start? If you’re Celesta Billeci and her longtime staff at UCSB Arts & Lectures, thinking years ahead is just part of the job. Long before this story, A&L signed off on a full calendar of events beginning in August and ending next May, with lots of room in between for surprises to happen. (And good surprises, too. This time last year, that surprise turned out to be Elvis Costello.)

“People always ask us, ‘What’s new?'” says Billeci. “But ‘what’s new’ is our modus operandi. We’re always adding new events. We want to keep it fresh and relevant. We don’t want to say this is it, and nothing more.”

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The call of history : Ken Burns delivers a classic speech at A&L’s anniversary event

UCSB’s Arts & Lectures capped off its 50th anniversary season with a special dinner, auction and lecture event at the Coral Casino on Monday night. With the Pacific Ocean rolling and crashing right up to the rocky berm not that far below the resort, the evening reminded the $350/plate guests how their support plays out in season after season of musicians at the top of their game, stellar dance and theater companies, humorists, intellectuals and the best in cinema. Part fund-raiser for next season, part thank-you, and part private party, the evening ended with a special appearance by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

In his 50s now, but still looking a boyish early-30s, Mr. Burns is coming off his most recent multi-part documentary for PBS: a history of the National Parks. In the style that he made famous through docs on the Civil War, baseball and jazz, this journey through our national treasures once again made centuries-old voices come alive, still photographs look like they were shot yesterday, and revealed the weird and wonderful fabric of America.

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We’re Gonna Need to See Some Identity – A master documentarian of American history, Ken Burns and his bottomless curiosity help UCSB Arts & Lectures cap its 50th Anniversary season

Ken Burns has been shaping the way we think about history for the past 30 years with his epic, sprawling narratives of America’s past. In his multi-part documentaries for PBS, he has taught us about the Civil War, baseball, jazz, World War II and, in last year’s 12-hour series, the history of our National Parks.

UCSB’s Arts & Lectures celebrates the end of its 50th anniversary season with a very special appearance by Ken Burns on Monday, May 24, at the Coral Casino. Paula Poundstone emcees the event, which includes dinner and a silent auction of such goodies as a guitar autographed by Elvis Costello.

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Werner Movie Classics : Werner Herzog’s 60-plus filmography continues to grow

Some would call film director Werner Herzog brave and bold. Others would call him crazy. Nobody would deny he is some kind of genius, whether making feature films about impossible, sometimes doomed missions, like “Aguirre, The Wrath of God,” or “Fitzcarraldo,” or documentaries about doomed people (“Grizzly Man”) or inhospitable worlds (“Encounters at the End of the World,” about Antarctica). On Wednesday night he will sit down with another well-traveled soul, Pico Iyer, and talk about ? well, nobody’s decided just yet.

We talked to the 67-year-old director, who continues to make films at least once a year, and now has started up his own “Rogue Film School” to foster a new generation of rebels.

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Moving on, Moving out — ’35 Shots of Rum’ demands a close watch

Mati Diop, left, and Alex Descas, right, star in Claire Denis' "35 Shots of Rum."
Mati Diop, left, and Alex Descas, right, star in Claire Denis’ “35 Shots of Rum.”
Claire Denis’ “35 Shots of Rum” is a movie of quiet, subtle gestures, of gazes, looks and glimpses. It’s also a movie about life slowly changing and the inevitability of people moving on. Set among the varied African communities of Paris, Denis presents a tale about a quartet of people who have known each other for a long time and about the period of time where everything has changed.

Viewers have to figure out a lot of these relationships themselves and become like the characters in the film, closely examining body language and eyes. Denis makes us work more than other filmmakers, and a lot of “35 Shots of Rum” is like being at a party for new friends and trying to figure out how everybody is related.

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Climb Every Mountain — Popular Banff documentary film festival returns to UCSB for two days

There are film festivals that you go to in the mountains, like Sundance and Telluride. And then there are film festivals that come from the mountains to you. That would be the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which swings past UCSB this Tuesday and Wednesday for two days of the best in mountain-themed documentaries, from climbing to gliding.

The festival has been coming to UCSB on tour since 1992. The festival originally started as a community event in Banff, Canada. It was a way, Fest coordinator Seana Strain says, of bridging the gap between the summer and winter recreational seasons. It gained such popularity that the festival was taken on the road. The first tour went across Canada only, but the word of mouth spread. Today, the tour hits 30 cities worldwide, and even includes a few shows in the Antarctic, making this viewable in all seven continents.

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