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Laguna groups seek art with a beat

Laguna groups seek art with a beat
A past performance by the Laguna Dance Festival at the Laguna Art Museum.
(Courtesy Laguna Art Museum / Coastline Pilot)

Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Dance Festival and Laguna Beach Live! are poised to concoct a creative cocktail — an original music and dance project pegged to artwork from the museum’s collection.

Malcolm Warner, the museum’s executive director, aptly labeled this endeavor “Ekphrasis,” which in Greek means “an interpretation of one work of art in another art form.”


Laguna Beach Live! has tapped Pasadena-based composer, conductor and pianist Alan Chan, while the Laguna Dance Festival will accept applications between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 from choreographers across California. There is no age requirement, and each entity is allowed to conduct competitions or consider nominations and recommendations.

“Once the composer and choreographer are selected, we’ll invite them to the museum to look through the collection for a suitable work of art that they can agree upon,” Warner said. “I’m looking forward to helping them. They may come with an ideal in mind, and we’ll work together to get as close as we can. Or maybe they’ll want to see the star items, one of which will inspire them on the spot. Either way, it’ll be fun.”


Although organizers, who jointly came up with this idea, are currently focused on the 2013-14 season, they are open to it evolving into a yearly event, said Laguna Beach Live! president Lucinda Prewitt. They hope it will spotlight how different art forms are not only inspirational but also complementary.

The composer will be tasked with scoring music for a string quartet and will receive guidance from Gabriel Kahane, the Laguna Beach Music Festival’s artist in residence, and the Linden String Quartet. Jodie Gates, choreographer and director of the Laguna Dance Festival, will mentor the choreographer with the assistance of a panel of dance professionals.

Both composer and choreographer will participate in a practice run of the draft score at the Laguna Beach Music Festival in February. The public is invited to observe the work in progress and offer feedback.

The seven- to 10-minute final product will initially be presented to the public as part of a Live! At the Museum concert at Laguna Art Museum on May 8. A simplified form will also be on display in the museum’s galleries on Aug. 28, followed by a discussion with the composer and choreographer.


The Laguna Dance Festival will host a fully produced, onstage performance at its 10th annual installment in September.

According to Gates, Laguna Beach, a powerful force in the arts known for its assortment of festivals and creative initiatives, will benefit from the convergence of three distinct institutions during “Ekphrasis.”

“I am looking to discover a unique choreographic voice, and to give that individual an opportunity to present their work in the public arena,” Gates said. “Cultivating artistic collaborations and forming partnerships is a wonderful model for the future, and I am hopeful that we are paving the way for many organizations as we move forward with this project.”

Choreographers are requested to email with a letter of intent, a CV and a Vimeo or YouTube link to a reel that is no longer than 10 minutes and maintains the original music used in each piece. Applicants can also mail in a DVD of their reel to Laguna Dance Festival, P.O. Box 897, Laguna Beach, CA 92652.