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the Long Center, from Inside the Ring

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Austin Dance India presents Bharata Natyam Solos and Duets at the Long Center Rollins Studio Theater, March 28-31. We asked Austin Dance India’s Artistic Director, Anuradha Naimpally  to give us some insight on this classical style of Southern Indian dance.

Often I step back mentally during the busiest moments of the day and always
find myself amazed at what I am doing. At times it is in a studio teaching a class. Other times it is performing in a school cafeteria to 500 kids and Journey-Sunday-041teachers. On occasion it is under the bright lights of a proscenium stage. But wherever I am, I am doing what I love most in this world — dance. And specifically, bharata natyam dance, a classical style from southern India.

I’ve always loved to dance and studied the usual ballet, tap, and jazz while growing up in a remote northern Ontario city. But when I saw bharata natyam for the first time when I was 12 years old,
I instantly knew this was the dance for me. There was just something so familiar about it that I was drawn to it like nothing I have ever felt before. With two of the most supportive parents, I had the opportunity to eventually travel to India and live there to study professionally with incredible masters in Mumbai. I haven’t looked back since.

I have traveled far and wide teaching and performing bharata natyam. I have received many honors which are wonderful but always seem like icing on the cake because I don’t ever feel like this is work. It is hard to fathom that this dance just keeps getting more beautiful and richer in depth as time goes on. An ancient text on bharata natyam states that the performer is doubly blessed because they themselves obtain such joy from this art and they can also share it with their audience through performances. How true.

What is incredulous is that this form, that dates back to ancient times the likes of the 3rd century B.C.E., still finds relevance in today’s modern world. This is what amazes me! Bharata Natyam portrays universal values, aesthetics, human emotions, and situations to which any person can relate. A jilted lover, longing for one’s beloved, playful pranks of a child, young love, spiritual joy are just a few experiences that are portrayed and explored in bharata natyam dance.

I am excited to be presenting an evening of new works with my daughter, Purna, now a lovely young dancer. She was born, and has grown up in Austin and studied bharata natyam with me since she was very young. Our performance, Two Generations, One Tradition: Bharata Natyam Solos and Duet, is a culmination of all that amazes me during those moments of stepping back; I am performing bharata natyam in Austin, TX in 2013; I am performing with my daughter; I am performing at The Long Center; I am performing for all of you! What a blessing indeed!

Anuradha Naimpally, Austin Dance India

For tickets and more information on Austin Dance India’s Bharata Natyam Solos and Duets at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, March 28-31. 

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amplify

The Long Center is taking part in Amplify Austina community-wide 24-hour giving festival. The goal was to raise $1,000,000 in 24 hours, and as of press time, the total stood at over $1.7 million, with more than 4 hours left to go. The money raised will  benefit over 300 Central Texas nonprofits.

We live in an incredible city. Very few places can boast of all that Austin offers its residents each day through culture, arts, entertainment, festivals, and that special brand of weird that can’t be found anywhere else. And yet, it wouldn’t be the place we love without the strong sense of community fostered in our city by the hundreds of non-profit organizations that call Austin home.

During this giving campaign, donations will be accepted through Amplify Austin’s secure website, AmplifyATX.org. Donors are allowed to choose whichever organization they wish to support, and may submit donations from $25 and up.

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Who knew that the Long Center is a non-profit organization?

The Long Center is one of a handful of non-profit live entertainment venues in Austin. Contrary to popular belief, the Long Center is funded by private citizens and corporations in Austin and receives limited city funding.  Community donations are the life-blood of our organization, illustrated by the $1 million in small donations the Long Center receives each year.

Thanks to the support received from the community, the Long Center has the opportunity to give back in many exciting ways. The Long Center not only sponsors community initiatives and educational programs to support local artists, local children, and charitable organizations, but also serves as a home for Austin community members to nurture and inspire creativity.

Donations received from Amplify Austin will allow the Long Center to go even further in sustaining and supporting our Austin community. A donation of only $25 makes it possible for another child to experience the wonder and magic of live performing arts in a state-of-the-art facility.

It is truly the community’s generosity and commitment to the arts that fuels the Long Center’s continued success. Check out the Amplify Austin website, and help us keep Central Texas the best place to live as we raise $1 million to support our community!

Donate to the Long Center through Amplify Austin.

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Words of Wisdom from Charlie Ross, Creator of One-Man Star Wars Trilogy


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Charles Ross, star of One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, is performing his one-man act of the entire original Star Wars Trilogy this weekend at the Long Center! We asked Charlie just how he came up with the idea for his original show, and this is what he told us:

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This is me, at the age of eight years old. Not much of an achiever, as you can see by my total lack of merit badges.

Okay, I lie. I did receive one badge for house keeping- there’s a vacuum on it. It’s about as prestigious as the “Breathes Oxygen”, “Carbon Based Life Form”, and “Takes Up 3 Dimensional Space” badge.

Now, if you look very closely at my face you’ll notice the glazed look of a boy who knows too much about Star Wars.  My head is somewhere off in space.

At this time, I lived on a farm, in a far, far away, remote-ish, part of Canada.The TV and radio reception at our farmhouse was even worse than my badge count. Our entertainment came from Winter sports, books, a record player and a VCR. The videos we had were the original Star Wars, the Blue Lagoon, and the eight part miniseries of James Clavell’s novel Shogun (except we were missing the last 20 minutes of the last episode).

Now- it doesn’t take Eagle Scout to figure out- that nine times out of ten, when I chose something to watch, it was Star Wars– sorry Brooke. After three years of watching the film an incredible amount of times, we moved away from the farm, to an artsy little mountain town called Nelson. It was there that I discovered Acting. Behavior that used to get me kicked out of class suddenly had some value- I wasn’t being a disruptive jerk- I was a budding Thespian.

Flash-forward fifteen years later, I was a University grad with a BFA in Acting. I was living the bohemian, poverty-line life of an actor, and I longed to gain some autonomy with my “career”. The question was how? The answer was a one-man show.

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It’s all very involved, but in not so many words I put together my One Man Star Wars with my best friend and colleague, TJ Dawe. TJ had already written, performed and toured a couple autobiographical solo shows- he was the only person I trusted to work with. Plus, he knew Star Wars.

Once my show felt ready, I toured it on the North American Fringe Festival circuit. At the end of my tour, I was invited to perform in Chicago, at the Noble Fool Comedy Theatre.

Suddenly, stuff started to get pretty serious. The media liked my show’s concept: one hour, one man, three films, no props, no costumes, and no set. Then “POOF!” Lucasfilm contacts me: what’s going on? I respond: please don’t kill me?

They didn’t. Instead, they invite me to come perform at Star Wars convention. The little Boy Scout who couldn’t earn a merit badge for anything, suddenly found himself as an adult, performing for 4000 hardcore Star Wars fans per show.Once my show felt ready, I toured it on the North American Fringe Festival circuit.

At the end of my tour, I was invited to perform in Chicago, at the Noble Fool Comedy Theatre. Suddenly, stuff started to get pretty serious. The media liked my show’s concept: one hour, one man, three films, no props, no costumes, and no set. Then “POOF!” Lucasfilm contacts me: what’s going on? I respond: please don’t kill me?

To hell with your badges! I keep this picture to remind myself that while it may be worth a thousand words, none of them would describe who I am on the inside. I turned one person’s idea of a “waste of time” into “career research”.

I was a definitely terrible scout, but I’m a kick ass dreamer.

Charles Ross, Creator and Performer of One-Man Star Wars Trilogy now at the Long Center. 

For Tickets and more information about One-Man Star Wars Trilogy at the Long Center. 

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Long Center Marketing Intern Mari Stoner plays the character “Elisabeth” in the upcoming University of Texas  opera production, LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES by Philip Glass.

Opera, like most things, has its stigmas in modern culture. Although some say opera is a dying art form, perhaps it is simply in the process of evolving to reflect the times. As opera continues to search for its place in our fast-paced, technology-based culture, it becomes necessary to make it accessible to future audiences.  For me, a masters student in opera at the University of Texas Butler Opera Center, one of my goals is to promote opera through my performing.

I have received a fantastic opportunity to do this via my portrayal of the character “Elisabeth” in UT’s winter opera opening this Friday – Les enfants terribles by Philip Glass. This opera is in no way your traditional Mozart or Puccini opera. It is a bit more avant-garde, a bit more bizarre, and has incredible potential to attract a diverse audience.

Les enfants terribles or “The Terrible Children” is adapted from a novel written in 1929 by Jean Cocteau. The story centers on Paul and Elisabeth, a brother and sister living essentially unsupervised in Paris in the early 20th century. Abandoned by their alcoholic father and uncared for by their invalid mother, they spend their time living in their shared bedroom and engaging in a game of hypnotism to escape their mundane reality. Two other characters enter the picture as the show goes on: Gerard, Paul’s school friend, and Agathe, an orphan that Elisabeth meets when she secures a job with a seamstress. Before the children realize what is happening, desire and jealousy creep in among them, and suddenly the harmless game becomes a reality from which there is no escape. Consumed by hate in her struggle for power, Elisabeth must find a way to maintain control, even if that means she and her brother must die.

Both the music and staging for Les enfants terribles are unconventional with regard to standard opera. Composer Philip Glass conceived of the piece to be a dance-opera, in which a singer and a dancer portray the emotions of each character on stage simultaneously. Stage Director David Toro manages this hybrid art form by establishing the dancer characters as manifestations of the singers’ subconscious thoughts. From a musical perspective, the work presents challenges not found in standard opera repertoire. Glass’ music tends to incorporate repetition and a level of unpredictability that make it surprisingly complicated despite fairly simple musical textures.  According to Maestro Kelly Kuo, each of the twenty scenes in the opera present a “tableau of emotion” musically and dramatically rather than driving forward an actual progression in time. This assessment seems to match Philip Glass’ own perspective on Les enfants terribles:

“Here, time stands still. There is only music, and the movement of children through space.”

Opera buff or not, expect the unexpected with the Butler School of Music production Les enfants terribles, playing this weekend at the University of Texas McCullough Theater on Friday, February 22nd and Sunday, February 24th at 7:30 pm.

-Mari Stoner
Long Center Marketing Intern
 
FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION.

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Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Beth Burns is the Master of Company and Theatrical Deviser for The Hidden Room Theater in Austin, Texas.

We all sat there, mouths agape, heads tilted.  I suspect I looked like I’d just tasted something I couldn’t describe.  Suddenly, actor Robert Matney started to laugh.  Then we all did, and with great appreciation.  We’d just learned our first magic trick.InvisibleInc18Web

Invisible, Inc. is a crackling play by Paul Menzer about feuding magicians in depression-era New York.  It’s absolutely filled with twists, turns, and lots of magic.  I fell instantly in love with the script, but was also a bit baffled by how we could make these illusions come to life.   Our magic consultant JD Stewart (http://jd-stewart.com) quickly got on the task, and began training our performers on how to make magic real.   Now almost a year later, our actors look like pros, and as I watch them, I still feel a sense of amazement. InvisibleInc15Web

How do we do it?  We’ll never tell.  We took a magician’s oath of secrecy with JD when we got started, and we simply can’t divulge.  But we urge you to join us January 11-20, and see if you find yourself in the same puzzled position the Invisible, Inc. team found ourselves in a year ago, as you enjoy this snappy, sexy noire mystery.  Come see us before we disappear into thin air.

PrintStarring Robert Matney, Liz Fisher, Joseph Garlock, Todd Kassens, Julia Lorenz-Olson, Laurence Pears.  Featuring an original score played almost-live nightly by Graham Reynolds.  Directed by Beth Burns, set by Ia Enstera, costumes by Jamie Urban, lights by Megan Reilly, and props by Justin Cox.  Livestream show closing night at www.hiddenroomtheatre.com.

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Guest Blogger Chuck Smith is an Austin native and Executive Director of Equality Texas.

So, we currently call it the Long Center; however, “Austin’s Creative Home” has been operating, in one form or another, for my entire life.Riverside_Palmer_web

I remember the smell of peanuts and elephants that filled the ‘Austin Municipal Coliseum’ when the circus came to town when I was a small child.

I remember seeing Richard Nixon on stage at the ‘Austin Municipal Auditorium’ in 1968 as he campaigned for the United States presidency. I was twelve years old at the time. Apparently, Nixon played the piano for those in attendance. I don’t remember the piano playing. I do remember that Nixon shared the stage with Paul Eggers, a Republican candidate for Texas governor. In those days, Republicans didn’t win statewide elections in Texas. But, what I most remember is that Eggers had cheerleaders! E-G-G ! E-R-S! Eggers! (At age 12, I hadn’t yet realized I was gay. In hindsight, it was all so clear!)Nixon

I remember addressing my classmates in May, 1974 from the stage of the Austin Municipal Auditorium as the city’s largest senior class was graduated from David Crockett High School. I also remember having the distinct honor of receiving my diploma from my father, who served as a trustee on the Austin ISD school board.

I remember May 1, 1975, when I served as a freshman member of Alpha Phi Omega and an usher for UT student events. The raucous crowd at a Beach Boys concert had the ‘Auditorium’ balcony heaving up and down so much that the plaster on the walls began to crack and fall to the ground. I snagged a chunk of the falling debris and kept it throughout my college years.beachboys

Since those days, I’ve enjoyed all kinds of amazing events at the Long Center. Things like Trailer Food Tuesdays, Tap Dogs, Ballet Austin’s Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project and many others. My most recent experience at the Long Center was over the 2012 holiday season. Two generations of my family filled a fabulous mezzanine box as we watched the Cirque Dreams Holidaze show…just like generations before had done and many more will continue to do, making memories at Austin’s creative home.

–Chuck Smith

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