Starting tonight through May 5, historic and iconic venues around L.A., including Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre, will play host to Dance Camera West’s 14th Annual Dance Media Festival.

The Crest Theatre in Westwood, the Downtown Palace Theatre and Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre are a few of the classic cinemas that will screen films and hold Dance-A-Longs and live performances, all to celebrate the art of dance on film.

Festival highlights include the West coast premiere of “Dancing is Living: Benjamin Millepied” and a Q&A with the filmmaker Louis Wallecan and LA Dance Project’s James Fayette; a program of Israeli dance films; films by winners of the CalArts Emerging Artists Competition; a celebration of Technicolor’s 100th Anniversary with the screening of the 1947 film “The Unfinished Dance,” starring Margaret O’Brien and Cyd Charisse and a Q&A with Technicolor’s Robert Hoffman; plus the West coast premiere of “Dancing for my Havana” at the Egyptian.

Founded in 1940 by aircraft pioneer Donald Douglas, the Aero Theatre has the distinction of being the longest-running single-screen theater in the community. On May 2, enjoy “I Hate Dancing” by choreographer and filmmaker Jo Roy, and “American Cheerleader,” a documentary that follows the National High School Cheerleading Championship competition, both at the Aero.

Tickets, times and event details can be found at www.DanceCameraWest.org.

WESTSIDE BALLET

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica, an organization that gives young dancers pre-professional training and presents showcase performances offering them the opportunity to shine, holds its 2015 Spring Performance at The Broad Stage on Saturday, May 9.

Among offerings on the program are David Lichine’s comedic one-act ballet, “Graduation Ball,” commemorating its 75th anniversary; “Spring Waters”, a pas-de-deux performed by visiting guest artist, and Westside Ballet graduate Lyrica Blankfein with resident guest artist Evan Swenson. Other works include excerpts from New York City Ballet founding choreographer George Balanchine’s “Who Cares” with music by George Gershwin, as well as his Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux to the music of Swan Lake, and Westside Ballet member Michele Bachar’s newly choreographed take on the movie musical “Hairspray.”

Westside Ballet’s youngest dancers take the stage in Associate Artistic Director Caprice Walker’s charming ballet, Capriccioso, with music by Faur√© and costumes inspired by Degas’ dancers. For more information, visit www.westsideballet.com.

SAMOHI ‘BIG VOICE’ FUNDRAISER

A feature documentary musical film, “Big Voice” chronicles a year in the life of Santa Monica High School choir teacher Jeffe Huls, who pushes his most advanced students to become “one big voice.”

Inspired by a Samohi Winter Concert, filmmaker Varda Bar-Kar says she realized that making a film about Huls and his students was an opportunity to demonstrate how a dedicated teacher can make a profound impact on students’ lives, and how important arts funding is to that goal. The film itself was crowd funded in 2011 by way of Kickstarter.

Huls’ passion for the choral arts and music literacy fuels his desire to exceed all standards and expectations. The results are hard won, yet exquisite. Following a series of competitive auditions, Huls compiles his dream ensemble – the most ideal combination of voices he’s ever had. He soon discovers that these thirty-two talented teenagers are also the most unwieldy group he has ever taught. Huls must convince his students to set aside their egos, conflicting styles, and teenage angst to achieve the artistry he knows they are capable of. “Big Voice” is a story brimming with musical performances as it interweaves slices of life, interviews, and multi-camera coverage of masterwork performances to engage and entertain.

Following a successful sneak peek at the Palm Springs Film Festival, this screening of “Big Voice” will take place on May 7 at Samohi’s historic Barnum Hall where the choir regularly performs, followed by a Q&A with film director Bar-Kar and Choir Director Huls. Funds raised will go toward completion of the film.

Watch the trailer here; to donate and attend, visit https://bigvoicemovie.wordpress.com.

THE FARM AS ART

Travel with me down the coast to Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach for an evening of conversation as part of the Aquarium’s Future of Food series on May 7.

Los Angeles Times food columnist Russ Parsons speaks with award-winning writer and organic farmer, David “Mas” Masumoto, author of seven books, including Four Seasons in Five Senses, Epitaph for a Peach, and Wisdom of the Last Farmer. I loved Epitaph for a Peach; his writing is nothing short of poetic.

A third-generation farmer, Masumoto grows peaches, nectarines, grapes and raisins on an organic 80-acre farm south of Fresno. He is a columnist for The Fresno Bee and a contributor to the Sacramento Bee. His writing awards include the Commonwealth Club Silver medal, Julia Child Cookbook award, and James Clavell Literacy Award. He was also a finalist in the prestigious James Beard Foundation awards.

They’ll be discussing organic farming, how writing plays into Masumoto’s work and how the farming influences the writing. Doors open at 6:30 to allow attendees to visit Aquarium exhibits, and the conversation begins at 7 p.m. For tickets and information about parking as well as future events, call (562) 590-3100 or visit www.aquariumofpacific.org/aquariumspeakers.

Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also reviewed theatre for LAOpeningNights.com.

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