Dancing With The South Bay Stars

Courtesy of TCAF

February 15, 2014 – The Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation to presented its annual Dancing with the South Bay Stars III on Saturday, February 15 at 8 p.m.

The event paired local ‘celebrities’ with professional dancers in a competition to raise funds for the Foundation and the participants’ favorite nonprofit organizations. This season, nine of the South Bay’s brightest stars slipped on their dancing shoes, took the stage and showed their skills!


For the third consecutive year, I was asked to dance in the Torrance Foundation fundraiser. This year, I was partnered with Amanda Toney, a lovely, energetic and talented young lady. We performed well and based on the judge’s marks (and audience voting) we scored a 3-way tie for First place. However, after a final “dance off” we garnered a final result of 3rd place (boo-boo!). All in all, it was good fun for a great cause.

Liliom Premieres at Segerstrom Center

Courtesy of SCFTA

February 7, 2014 – Following the tremendous success of The Little Mermaid, Segerstrom Center is proud to welcome the return of John Neumeier’s Hamburg Ballett with the American Premiere of Liliom. A superb storyteller, Neumeier applies his singular vision to Liliom, the 1909 play made famous by the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel. With an original score by Oscar® winner Michel Legrand, Neumeier’s adaptation is more poignant than ever.

The story is about Liliom, a carousel barker who falls in love with Julie. Liliom loses his job and begins mistreating Julie out of bitterness, though he loves her. Julie discovers she is pregnant and Liliom plans a robbery to help provide for their child. The robbery is botched and Liliom kills himself to avoid capture. Years later, he is allowed to return to Earth for one day to perform a good deed. The romance between Liliom and Julie is timeless.

The ballet is wonderfully choreographed. Neumeier has captured our hearts and imagination by incorporating large crowd scenes, around the carousel and beautiful backgrounds, as well as the quiet, romantic moments between the lead characters, who move with passion and energy throughout the story.

Royal New Zealand Ballet presents “Giselle”

Photograph: Ross Brown,
courtesy of The Music Center

February 1, 2014 – The North American Premiere of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Giselle was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Gillian Murphy, RNZB Principal Guest Artist and star of American Ballet Theatre, danced Giselle, one of the most dramatic roles in the classical ballet repertoire.

Disguise and revelation, love and jealousy combine in this tragic tale. A love story unfolds against the ghostly backdrop of a Rhineland forest haunted by the fearful presence of the “Wilis” – vengeful spirits of abandoned brides. The beautiful peasant girl, Giselle, falls for Albrecht who conceals his identity to win her. The discovery of her lover’s deception shatters Giselle’s innocence and causes her to die of a broken heart. Albrecht is thrown into the hands of the merciless Wilis, but Giselle cannot bear to watch him die and returns as a ghost to save him.

Artistic director Ethan Stiefel and principal dancer Johan Kobborg have teamed-up to create a New “Giselle”. The new production delighted audiences with its large pit orchestra delivering brighter music, costuming was true and realistic to the period and dancers moved across the stage with great skill and beauty. Though considered one of the most difficult classical ballets, the Royal New Zealand Ballet performed flawlessly and was well received by generous applause and a final ovation from the audience. A fine performance indeed!

photo L.A.

Jay Mark Johnson, Costantino Sott Acqua 2,
Cetona, Italia, 2007

January 19, 2014 – The city of Los Angeles continues to grow in importance in the international art market. photo l.a. held its 23rd edition in a new location: downtown at the L.A. Mart. photo l.a. 2014 debuted a rare coming together of the photography and arts communities under one roof, truly raising the bar for both the cultural and collecting experiences. This vast collection, along with a variety of outstanding programming and installations, proved to be an impressive 23rd edition of the fair.

After spending most of Friday and Saturday photographing a ballroom dance competition, I was anxious to attend photo l.a. and get inspired with an impressive collection of photography. I was excited to hear that the fair was honoring award-winning celebrity photographer Douglas Kirkland, who has photographed more than 600 major celebrities, from Marilyn Monroe to Angelina Jolie. This portion of the exhibit was amazing.

I enjoyed all the various types of photography on display. There was street photography, portraiture, urban art, surreal photos and photos of almost everything you could think of. In addition to the fantastic photos, the show had various vendors to exhibit printers, paper, lighting and cameras. This was a great event and will be a Must on next year’s calendar!!

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast
Photo by Joan Marcus

January 14, 2014 – Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the smash hit Broadway musical, made its debut at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Based on the Academy Award®-winning animated feature film, this eye-popping spectacle has won the hearts of over 35 million people worldwide.

Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

Belle and Gaston
Photo by Mark Mendez

The NETWorks presentation of Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST  is truly amazing. You’ll rediscover unforgettable characters, listen to dazzling musical numbers and be delighted by colorful sets and lavish costumes. The is an entertaining show for the entire family, young and old will be taken to a land filled with enchantment, romance and fun. Don’t miss Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Segerstrom Center for the Arts!

Welcome Everyone

It’s the start of a new year, January 2014, and with it comes a new beginning; new thoughts and ideas, new goals and now a new blog. The look and feel of the previous blog was a bit outdated and I thought Now is a great time to revamp the “old” blog.  Over the next few months I will continue to update the appearance of the blog until I get the look and feel I like.

As before, you’ll see blogs about dance related stories and information. However, the new blog will be covering a greater variety of topics, mostly related to the Arts and Stage. You’ll see stories about musicals, stage plays, hair & make-up, museums and art shows. Some of you know that I have begun a new interest the past few years – photography! Therefore, not only will I do my best to let you know whats happening but I hope to share some photos of exciting events around town.

Please feel free to email me and let me know of events near you and to share some feedback with me.

Mark Mendez