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Review: Keeping an Audience on its Toes: “Framework” at MOCA- A Must See Production


Keeping an Audience on Its Toes:

“Framework” at MOCA

A Must-See Production

 by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Jean Cocteau once remarked, “The Louvre is a morgue. You go there to identify your friends.” Unlike Cocteau’s bleak categorization of museums, L.A Dance Project illustrated the vibrant possibilities of a living museum through their energetically innovative performance at MOCA on Thursday evening. 

FRAMEWORK at MOCA Grand Avenue, July 19, 2012, photo by Christina Edwards, courtesy of MOCA.


The poignant sounds of the violin emanated from the gallery walls. Benjamin Millepied, former principal dancer of the New York City Ballet and choreographer of the hit film “Black Swan,” danced with Amanda Wells as 17-year old Colburn violinist Mayumi Kanagawa performed movements from Bach’s B Minor Partita and A Minor Sonata.

The aptly named Millepied (his surname translates into “a thousand feet” in French) created a palpable sense of interaction with both the conceptual artwork and the audience. Millepied cleverly staged each movement in a different gallery so that the viewers had to reposition themselves to keep up with the dancers.

FRAMEWORK at MOCA Grand Avenue, July 19, 2012, photo by Christina Edwards, courtesy of MOCA.


The audience moved from an Andy Warhol backdrop to a Rudolf Stingel painting to the finale in front of Mark Bradford’s “Ghosts and Stooges.” Darting from gallery to gallery, the audience was indirectly swept up in the choreography like a modern chorus. The charismatic Millepied further broke down barriers by boldly directing the audience which way to move through the current exhibit (The Painting Factory: Abstraction After Warhol), often with a humorous wave.  The interplay resulted in a unique sensation: we’re all in this together. Thursday evening’s performance brought together teenagers, seniors, schoolchildren, people of all ethnicities, and everyone from John Baldessari to Paul Schimmel and Jeffrey Deitch.

Cultural Cocktail Hour caught up with the MOCA director at Framework. Deitch explained that the collaboration between dance and the visual arts is an endeavor with which he has personally been involved for a long time. He revealed that as soon as Millepied called up him with his vision for L.A Dance Project, the idea took off.

Also in the audience was artist Mark Bradford, whose paintings inspired the choreography. Like a musical brushstroke, a voiceover of Bradford accompanied the dancers, announcing: “Every artist has a tone to his work, just as a musician has a tone.” Moreover, the inherent structure of Bradford’s work, replete with layers and fluid form, wed itself perfectly to Millepied’s choreography as an ideal landscape for the ballet’s finale. A central theme of Bradford’s paintings revolves around the connection between diverse parts and their ever-changing relationship. Similarly, the concept of the Framework involved the dynamic connection between audience and artist. Was the Framework the ever-shifting border of the audience? Was it the classical architecture of Bach’s music or the unraveling, explosive energy of Bradford’s paintings? Was it the dancers themselves?

As L.A Dance Project has two upcoming performances, Angelenos will have the chance to step inside a literal mixed medium and decide for themselves what is the true Framework. 


August 2. August 9.



Photo Below: FRAMEWORK at MOCA Grand Avenue, July 19, 2012, photo by Christina Edwards, courtesy of MOCA.

Posted by on July 21st, 2012

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