Monday, October 31, 2011

Where to Be Merry: Pacific Standard Time @ The Art & Design Center, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) (Part 2 of 2)

There’s a cultural phenomenon sweeping over the city. It’s a celebratory wave of the arts and more specifically, an appreciation of Southern California’s 1945-1980 art scenes. For the first time ever, more than 60 museums, art spaces, exhibitions and similar institutions are simultaneously showcasing artistic works by local artists and/or works that distinctly capture postwar life out here in the west. The mediums might vary from films, installations, sculptures, paintings, drawings and more, but the objective remains the same: to reveal what life was like in California throughout these four decades. Launched as a Getty initiative, it’s Pacific Standard Time, taking place now until April 2012.

I had my first Pacific Standard Time experience last Thursday, when I joined the Black Journalists Association of Southern California (BJASC) at CSUN’s Art & Design Center for an exclusive preview of the Identity & Affirmation, Post War African-American Photography exhibit, which officially opened to the public on Sunday, October 23rd. During the private reception that evening, about a dozen of us comprehensively discussed the exhibit’s photographs taken by 12 photographers and photojournalists with curator R. Kent Kirkton. We even received a welcomed surprise visit from one of the exhibitor’s photographers Willie Middlebrook (pictured below), who explained his "Selections from the Series, Watts Revisited Beyond the First Look" (1980). 

And of course, we eagerly looked at the 125 images on display.

Now between you and me, when I first entered the gallery, I thought to myself: “Hold on, this is it?” Just imagine walking into a nondescript, square room, bare, with nothing but framed photographs fastened to white walls. No eye-catching props or grand architectural statements – just black-and-white photos and walls, surrounded by a black floor and a black ceiling.

But first impressions can be deceiving.

Once I started to actually examine the photos, I found myself spellbound by the scenes that unraveled before me. Here were instances – little flickers in time – of the varied African-American experiences within Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. Some photos were funny, others solemn. Some had subjects confidently beaming towards the camera, others revealed only outlined silhouettes. Yet each photo had its own unique story, demanding us to stand still and watch, and wait for what it was going to tell us.

Some photos offered insight into what it must’ve been like to be a Black Angeleno in this era. There’s the bustling Dunbar Hotel in the 1940s…carefree schoolchildren from diverse backgrounds contently clinging to one other and laughing in the 1950s, as seen in Harry Adams' "Elementary school playground" (1958), pictured below…glimpses of poverty, struggle and stubborn hope in the 1970s, years after the notorious Watts riots. 

From working class mechanics to the first Black Rose Parade Queen, from Calvin Hicks' "Venice Beach" (1978) pictured below to Hollywood, it’s interesting to see how the social and physical landscapes have – and really haven’t – changed throughout the decades.

Other photos proudly proved that numerous prominent African-American figures did indeed visit Los Angeles quite often. Jack Davis' "Mahalia Jackson performing at the Los Angeles Coliseum"(1960) shown below highlights the gospel singer putting on what appeared to be a spellbinding concert right in our very own Coliseum. 

Learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in my youth, I had always read about him working in the South or on the East Coast. But lo and behold, several photos such as Harry Adams' "Dr. Martin Luther Kings, Jr." (1963) seen below prove that King advocated for equal rights in Los Angeles, basking in our sunny weather and protesting on our downtown streets, just as he would have in Alabama and Georgia.

And even more intriguing, other photos slyly shared private, vulnerable moments with our esteemed, iconic African-American figures, all with Los Angeles as the backdrop. In Charles Williams’ "Johnson Bath House" (1965), Dorothy Dandridge stands on a scale, enwrapped in nothing more than a mere towel, seemingly shocked by the scale’s readings. A young Muhammad Ali compassionately gazes at a young boy whom he holds; Duke Ellington, Nat “King” Cole, Marie Ellington, Jimmie Hamilton and Harry Carney share a laugh while sitting in the Shrine Auditorium.

It was fun to go through the gallery’s rooms and to recognize faces and places, yet to see them cast in a different time era and setting. I felt like I learned so much in the couple of hours that I spent there. So if you’re interested in photography or historical Los Angeles – if you grew up in the city or want to know what it was like when you weren’t here, I highly recommend paying this photography exhibit a visit. But don’t wait too long – these photos will only be on display until December. See you there soon!

Miss Wilson’s Tips (So You Know "What's Up" When You Go):

- Admission is Free!

- Running Date: October 23, 2011 – December 10, 2011

- Art & Design Center hours: Monday-Saturday, 12-4 p.m., except on Thursday, 12-8 p.m. Closed on Sunday.

- CSUN is massive. This exhibit is in The Art & Design Center’s Art Gallery, which is on the north side of the campus. Enter the campus from Halsted St. and park in Student Lot E6 (a Day Parking Pass is $6). Walk west on N. University Dr., and the Art Gallery will be to your right. On this CSUN mapyou’ll see Student Lot E6 in the top middle section and the Art Gallery immediately to the left of it.

- It’s not all on the walls! A small television in one of the rooms, pictured below, has rotating photographs from churches and religious events, and a room towards the entrance has a slideshow of about 200 additional images.

- Interesting Fact: CSUN’s Institute for Arts and Media holds 850,000 images from African-American photographers and photojournalists, making it one of the nation’s largest collections. 

- So much art, so little time! With more than 60 Pacific Standard Time participants, where do you even start? Answer: on the PST website: Not only is there a list of all exhibitions, but site tools help you find which exhibitions you might like and even makes recommendations on other exhibitions that might interest you, based on what you’ve already checked out. There’s even a section where you can save your preferences.
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330

Friday, October 28, 2011

Where to Be Merry: Posing Beauty in African American Culture @ The USC Fisher Museum of Art, University of Southern California (USC) (Part 1 of 2)

The Posing Beauty in African American Culture photography exhibit features select images from Curator Deborah Willis’ book POSING BEAUTY: African American Images From the 1890s to the Present.

The exhibit has been at the USC Fisher Museum of Art since September, and I’ve seriously been meaning to get there from the time it first opened!

I finally had the opportunity to visit it one recent Saturday. While en route, I mentioned to a longtime friend that I’d be going. Coolly, she replied that she had gone and wasn’t too impressed. She said that she hadn’t understood why the photos had been featured, saying that looking at the images was like flipping through a long lost family photo album – granted, a family photo album with a few famous kin folks. As we wrapped up our conversation, she hypothesized that I’d spend no more than 20 minutes at the museum and then bounce.

My excitement that had been building for over a month slightly waned, but I trudged forward. I was determined to see this exhibit.

As I approached the museum, my curiosity returned at full force. A larger-than-life rendition of Carrie Mae Weems’ “I Looked and Looked to See What so Terrified You” (2006) majestically adorned the museum's main doors. Talk about a statement! It looked so intriguing that I wanted to rush right in to see more.

I entered, pleasantly surprised to see the tiny museum bustling with many visitors: groups of friends, of international tourists, of college students, of families with children, and a few solo wanderers.

Now here’s where it gets a little tricky.

Although prior to my visit I had read that the exhibit examined “the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts through a diverse range of media including photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, and other forms of popular culture such as music and the Internet” and had also read several articles covering the exhibit, after spending a few minutes in two out of the three main rooms, I could relate to my friend’s point.

I had expected to see photos of glamorous or blatantly beautiful people. Instead, what stared back at me were photos of ordinary characters: a group of prom attendees in 2006, a couple from the 1990s, a man in a suit from the 1980s. True, there were several photos of icons like Michael Jackson and James Brown, and it was interesting to see the King of Pop solemnly sitting in a chair and the Godfather of Soul on bended knees, crooning on a stage. But did they look beautiful?

As if my doubtful question had somehow seeped out of my head and into the air, a random visitor approached me and announced that a museum assistant would give an impromptu tour since by now, many large groups had left and the museum was placidly quiet.

On the tour, the assistant stressed that the exhibit’s objective isn’t to explicitly define beauty; instead, it’s to examine how beauty has been reflected in the African-American experience, from a historical context and also from varied, diverse perspectives. She shared the back-stories, significances and subjects in some of the photographs. She also explained how each room covered one of the selected themes derived from Willis’ POSED Beauty book.

After the tour concluded, I had a better understanding of what Willis was attempting to portray through the exhibit. In a sense, I valued the photos even more – I respected them – I got them. Perhaps I wouldn't jump to say that the three young ladies pictured below in Bayeté Ross Smith’s "Prom Night- Here Comes the Girls. Pomp & Circumstance: First Time to be Adults Series” (2006) were the most gorgeous ladies I'd ever seen, but I could understand how their expressed perception of beauty had the right to be considered as a valid reflection of African-American beauty...

as much as Anthony Barboza’s photograph of "Toukie Smith" (1980), the strikingly stunning and first African-American model to have a mannequin designed in her likeness, pictured below, had that same right.

At the end of the day, it’s like this exhibit takes all of these diverse images that are reflections of the styles that have been popular in mainstream American culture and also Black subculture – from 1898 until present day – and puts them in one place, space and time for us to explore. We can ponder on what and who have been considered “beautiful,” and how this concept of “beauty” has morphed and transformed throughout the years.

After a little more than an hour – not twenty minutes – I walked out, satisfied. I had finally visited, and even seen something I hadn’t before. So whether it’s ten minutes or two hours, I say take a look for sure...and be sure to go on a tour as well. See you there soon!

Miss Wilson’s Tips (So You Know "What's Up" When You Go):

- Admission is FREE.

- The exhibit is up until December 3, 2011.

- USC Fisher Museum of Art hours: Tuesday-Friday, 12-5 p.m. and Saturday, 12-4 p.m. Closed on Sunday and Monday.

- I highly, highly recommend taking a tour of the exhibit. If you show up, one of the assistants at the front desk can conduct a brief tour, or you can give Vanessa a call at 213.740.4561 to arrange one in advance. You can call her Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

- Watch Lauren Woods’ short film clip, “The twenty of June, pt1
 (2006), found in the “Constructing a Pose” room.

- The museum is located off of Exposition Blvd., right behind the gates that enclose the USC campus. Here’s a map.

- For parking on the USC campus, enter Entrance 1 off of Exposition Blvd. You can buy an $8 day parking pass, or you can test your luck to see if you can find an open parking meter. Unfortunately, at the meters, there is a one-hour parking limit and there aren’t that many metered spaces. If you do find one, it’ll cost you $2 per hour.

- Make the most of it! Directly across the street from the Fisher Museum is Exposition Park, a historical and cultural Los Angeles landmark. It has a lot to explore, with more museums, an expansive rose garden and the Los Angeles Coliseum.

For more information:
USC Fisher Museum of Art
823 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where to Eat: The Meat 101 Series @ Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse

A long, long time ago, I had a colleague who was a vegetarian. He was obsessed with recruiting everyone over to the “green” side, emailing us articles with gruesome details about the meat industry and studies proving the benefits of going vegetarian.

Eventually, his propaganda wore me down, and I became a vegan for about a month. But about three weeks into it, visions of baby back ribs and chili cheese fries and turkey burgers began to infiltrate my dreams. One day I threw in the towel. I surrendered to these apparitions and crept back to the meatier side…but not without a concession:

I’d resume eating everything, except for beef (it’s a long, uninteresting story on why it was beef... If you really want to know the details, hit me up).

And while I haven’t touched it in four years, that doesn’t mean I can’t ogle over a sexy slab of beef when I see it…or at least understand that many Angelenos – and you blog readers – might enjoy a juicy cut of red meat every now and then.

That’s why when I heard that the award-winning Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse in downtown Los Angeles was introducing a new Fall class series entitled “Meat 101” on selected Thursdays, I immediately signed myself up for a sneak peak of what the series was all about at a media preview last week.

In an intimate group of around twelve other writers, bloggers and journalists, I headed to the private back area in Nick & Stef’s for the class, led by Executive Chef Megan Logan and General Manager Patrick Kirchen. Taking turns, Logan and Kirchen intellectually explored the nuances of steaks, so as to provide us with a general understanding and appreciation of steaks. In our “class” that Thursday night, we specifically talked about the differences between dry-aged and wet-aged New York and rib eye cuts. We sampled wines from France and Napa Valley throughout the presentation, and then towards end, the stars of the night were brought out for us to taste: four thick slices of dry-aged New York, dry-aged rib eye, wet-aged New York and wet-aged rib eye cuts (pictured below).

Since I wasn’t even slightly tempted to try so much as a bite, I relied on my acquaintance, journalist Yolanda Evans, to give me the skinny on the tastings:

She used phrases like "filled with loads of flavor" to describe the dry-aged New York cut;  proclaimed that she could actually “taste and see the juices” from the “tender, not tough” wet-aged New York;  she could also “taste the seasoning” on the dry-aged rib eye cut; and she thoroughly enjoyed the "juicy, tender and smooth" wet-aged rib eye.

So it seems like as anyone would expect from a top-notch steakhouse, the steaks were good. And even though I was content with my very fabulous Grilled Baby Romaine Salad and the side dishes of creamed spinach and potato gratin,  I still enjoyed learning more about the dry-aging and wet-aging processes.

As I left downtown that evening, I had an epiphany: just like with wineries, I think that steakhouses can be misunderstood and stereotyped as stuffy, inaccessible, rigid. But just as many diversified wine tasting rooms have emerged to bring the love of wines to us “common folks,” Nick & Stef’s Meat 101 classes bring a level of accessibility into the world of steakhouses to anyone who's curious to learn more. You don’t have to know a thing about what’s on your plate, yet after the 30-minute class, you’ll walk out with an abundance of useful information, from how to figure out more of what you like or don’t like to more about the origins of the beef that comes to your table.

So you might not catch me in Nick & Stef's bringing a fork full of rib eye to my mouth, but you’ll most certainly find me back there, especially since there’s also a 3-9:30pm weekday happy hour…which is for another “Where To” adventure. See you there soon!

Miss Wilson’s Tips:

- Meat 101 officially starts today, October 20th and takes place every Thursday from 7:30-8:30pm, until December 1st. There’s a total of four classes: “Which Rib-eye to Buy?” (10/20/2011); “New York, New York...and New York!” (11/3/2011); “A Well Aged Steak” (11/17/2011); and “U.S. vs. the World” (12/1/2011).

- Each class is $35, which includes the class admission, samples of the featured steak cuts of the evening and pairings of scotches, whiskeys or wines. Since the classes only offer small portions of cuts, you might want to grab dinner afterwards. If you do, definitely order the Grilled Baby Romaine Salad (pictured below). It comes with slightly charred lettuce and cauliflower, butternut squash, fiscallini cheddar, grapes and is topped with golden raisins, sunflower seeds and a balsamic-grape vinaigrette. It was divine!

- For all you dry-age steak fans out there, Kirchen told me that Nick & Stef’s is the only steakhouse with a dry-aging room on display on its premises where anyone can take a peak at the meats hanging in the climate-controlled room. Make sure you check it out – it was pretty impressive.

- Nick & Stef's meats only hail from corn-fed cows from Nebraska...not from Japan, Argentina or anywhere else in the States.

- Street parking is scarce, but after 5pm, you can park in the Wells Fargo Garage for up to 3 hours without charge.

For more information: 
Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse
330 S. Hope St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Friday, October 14, 2011

Where to Eat: Peruvian-Japanese Cuisine @ Osaka

Have you ever felt a connection to a restaurant (or bar or lounge or club) simply for all of the amazing times you had there?

When I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, my friends and I (pictured above) would constantly frequent this fabulous restaurant Osaka. We had started going because it had amazing dishes and cocktails. Yet what comes to mind now, is not any specific wine or appetizer; it’s only the memories; the feelings of drunken pleasure that would wash over us after a couple of hours of sitting in Osaka’s upstairs dining room, our stomachs filled with really good food and our minds inspired from our boisterous conversations.

So when I recently found out that this Peruvian-Japanese restaurant had arrived in Los Angeles after several years in the making, my heart leaped for joy. I’ll admit that it leaped more so from all of the fond college recollections that suddenly washed over me, but I eagerly attended a media dinner this past week at the restaurant with the hopes to find out if I could see myself making some new memories at this Hollywood location.

Once I finally found Osaka after driving up and down Hollywood Blvd. a few times (the entrance is set further back from the street in an all black building, with “Osaka” spelled out in black letters lit by a neon red glow), I did a double take. I sort of stopped in my tracks and then paused to take it all in.

To my left and right, water cascaded down two rock walls, surging into a small pond where several large smooth stones jutted out to form a pathway leading to Osaka’s entrance. Talk about a grand statement. And that was just the entrance. From there I walked into the front bar area, which was dark and refreshingly cool, with tea candles impishly twinkling amidst shadows. It reminded me of a cave, and I immediately made a mental note to grab drinks there with a hot, hot date in the future.

I wandered into the Pisco Garden (pictured below), an airy section that deceivingly seems to be outdoors, although it’s actually all enclosed. The garden felt like a place that would stimulate hearty conversation and good laughs, with its red accents and Japanese elms, scattered amongst tan wooden fixtures.

I eventually settled down into the main dining area, doused in warm, earthy tones. With its minimal sleek design and straight lines embedded its design, this room reminded me the most of the Buenos Aires Osaka.

In the main dining area, about two dozen of us experienced quite a few items off the menu through a four-course tasting: Osaka’s legendary ceviche and tiraditos, a few sushi rolls, appetizers, a handful of miniature entrees and dessert. Out of all of the courses, I was most impressed with the “Tiraditos and Ceviche” (pictured below) and the appetizers. With their own unique personalities and visually engaging presentations, they were fun (yes fun) to eat, beckoning us to examine them, talk about them, touch them.

The tiraditos, which is the Peruvian version of Japanese sashimi, included thin slices of raw fish topped with tangy spices and sauces. In the Halibut Nikkei Tiradito, the Halibut literally melted in my mouth and the spices didn’t overpower the flavor of the fish. The Tuna Nitai Tiradito had this amazing coconut milk sauce and Osaka’s special secret Chinese seven spices. Smack in the middle of our tiraditos was the Aji Amarillo Ceviche (pictured above, in the middle), which wasn’t your typical blend of raw fish, citrus juices and onions; there were these crunchy Peruvian corn nuts and crispy wontons, adding an unexpected yet pleasant texture.

I had a blast with the bite-sized samples of Osaka’s appetizers (pictured above). The Evil Scallops came doused in a secret sweet sauce, pompously resting in an oyster shell (if you order the regular small plate, there are six of them, with a flame in the middle of the plate.) They’re considered “evil” because they’re more on the fiery side, but if you’re used to spicy foods like me, they’re nothing that you can’t handle. I was a little too excited to try the Crab Causita, a twist on the traditional “Causa” Peruvian coastal dish, which has a potato and aji amarillo base, and a seafood topping. In Osaka’s case, the seafood was this delicious stone crab meat mixed with avocado and rocoto cream. The Tori Anticucho, or skewers of tender grilled chicken with ginger and a Japanese cream cheese sauce, was substantially filling, and the Kanitan, is similar to a square wonton filled with crab meat.

The two miniature entrées I tried were the Pulpo Panka Miso and the Shiromi Wrap, pictured above left to right, respectively (because I don’t eat beef, I didn’t take a bite out of the Truffle Kobe Skirt Steak that was also offered). A rich, flavorful miso paste that reminded me of tangy BBQ sauce covered the octopus in the Pulpo Panka Miso dish. A fellow writer Han, who has eaten octopus frequently, felt that Osaka had prepared the octopus more like meat than seafood. It was my first time eating octopus, so I had no idea what was going on, but I thought the Pulpo tasted quite lovely. The Shiromi Wrap came in a small bowl and reminded me of a hearty stew, with Halibut and a few asparagus stalks encased in banana leaves.

The TNT roll and Carpassion Salmon Sushi that I ate didn’t blow me away. But the way one of the servers ranted and raved about the Spicy Crunchy roll with quinoa-crusted shrimp and the Terimaki roll with salmon, lime and teriyaki sauce, I’m down to give Osaka’s sushi another shot one of these days for sure.

My night ended with Banana Spring Rolls accompanied by a fabulous ice cream made right on the premises.

I left Osaka pleasantly content. I liked the food and I loved the ambiance. It felt like a sophisticatedly urbane hideaway to have the perfect introduction to Peruvian-Japanese cuisine. It’s a classy place – for business, for pleasure – for cocktails, for dinner – as a destination for the evening, or as a precursor to an adventurous night in Hollywood.Would I go there again – and as much as I went to the Buenos Aires location? I can confidently say that I would. I mean, I’ve seriously already started recommending it to a ton of people in the past 50 hours since I’ve left it.

And there you have it. May we all make pleasant memories at the Los Angeles Osaka. See you there soon!

Miss Wilson’s Tips (So you know “What’s Up” When You Go): 

- Forget about gin and vodka; go for pisco! Pisco is the Peruvian version of brandy, and there’s a whole list of cocktails made with it. There’s also a wide variety of sake, wines and other drinks to choose.

- The insider’s tip: There’s a secret menu. Although one of the servers teasingly insisted that the ingredients of the delicious oyster sauce in the "Evil Scallop" appetizer was confidential information, she did offer that you can also order Parmesan scallops, which are not listed on the regular menu. She recommended ordering half of the original scallops and half of the Parmesan scallops.

- I have to give big props to the servers. They were incredible. They knew so much about each dish and were so friendly.

- Fun fact: Although the Osaka restaurant group hails from South America, Hollywood’s Osaka owner Adolfo Suaya isn’t new to the Los Angeles restaurant scene at all. He’s opened a ton of restaurants, including Gaucho Grill, Sushi Roku, Dolce and the former BoHo, to name a few.

For more information:
6327 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Where to be Merry: Cirque du Soleil’s Iris @ Kodak Theatre

Earlier this week, I was invited to attend Cirque du Soleil’s IRIS: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORLD OF CINEMA at the Kodak Theatre. Now I’ve seen a few Cirque du Soleil performances on DVDs, but IRIS (pronounced eeeeee-REES) was my first live show. It’s one thing to see the edited version of acrobats flying in the air while you’re sitting in the comforts of your own living room. But when you’re in a theater watching five men instantaneously create a human tower by balancing on one another’s shoulders, and then watching them wait for the right moment to launch the top person into a somersault, how can you not hold your breath and tensely clasp your armrests? It’s a lot of suspense, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I shrieked from fright and surprise – on multiple occasions.

IRIS audaciously pushes the envelope with 12 artistically complex scenes that highlight some of cinema’s most notable milestones. For about two hours, 72 performers daringly test limits: the limits of gravity, of their own bodies’ and their colleagues’ flexibility, of the strength of the ropes from which they nonchalantly dangle from with one hand, scores of feet in the air. I guarantee that even the most skeptical of spectators will shake their heads in disbelief, wondering, did they really just do that?!

And while there are obvious nods to the filmmaking process, by no means do you have to be a movie buff in order to appreciate IRIS. Yes, the show pays tribute to many aspects of the Hollywood industry, from the early black-and-white classics, the film noir genre and nostalgic gangster movies (pictured below), to cartoons and the evolution of computer graphics and special effects. But there are also acts than anyone can appreciate for – simply put – their indisputable beauty.

Take for example, one of my favorite scenes of the evening. It’s a simplistically serene moment, with a lone man sweeping the floor and an ethereal trapeze artist suspended on a swing above him. As a melancholy melody from the tinkling of a piano fills the air, your eyes rhythmically go side to side, left and right, watching her sway back and forth, her hair gently blowing past her. It’s a gorgeously executed routine, and you can’t help but to be enchanted, anticipating, anxiously for her next move.

And as captivating as the performers’ dances and ensembles are, I’d also say that the music is just as entrancing. The score, composed by the film composer superstar Danny Elfman, discreetly – almost subconsciously – heightens what you see onstage. The mix of live string instruments and track compositions that interweave the Carmen theme song are hauntingly exhilarating and poetic.

I could seriously go on and on, but I’ll sum it all up by saying that through the use of multiple art forms and candid audience interactions, IRIS creates a truly euphoric experience. Coyly toying with your emotions and expectations, the performers twist and bend and extend themselves in unimaginable ways, creating literal bodies of art, frozen in brief seconds of time.So if you’re looking to be thoroughly entertained, perhaps by a splendid story of how the camera has managed to weave itself into our lives for more than a century, I recommend catching a glimpse of IRIS.

See you there soon!

Miss Wilson's Tips (So you know "what's up" when you go):

- After the performance, I snagged a few interesting details from a Q&A with a few performers, the Artistic Director and the Company Manager. Here they are:
o IRIS is one of the only productions where Cirque du Soleil used a pre-existing building, the Kodak Theatre; the company usually builds its own entire edifices to house its showso IRIS production costs are around $100 million
o From concept to opening night took roughly three years in the making
o There are 200 costumes, which arose from 1,000 sketches

- The action isn’t just on the stage; it’s all around you, on the sides of the stage and in the air. Since the Kodak Theatre is somewhat intimate, sitting in the Mezzanine section near the balcony gets you close enough to the stage to see all minute details, and also everything that takes place overhead.

- IRIS will be in Hollywood for the next ten years!

- Another Cirque du Soleil classic will make Los Angeles its home soon; OVO comes to Santa Monica in January 2012. And, if you’re not in the LA area, not to fret – Cirque du Soleil is worldwide:

- Kodak Theatre does not give parking validations; go to the Visitor’s Center on the first floor by the Mac Store (closest to Hollywood Blvd.) to get validation.

For more information:
Cirque du Soleil
Kodak Theatre
6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

All Photo Credits: Mark Dulong and Matt Beard © 2011 Cirque du Soleil