Art is relevant in Fresno because this community needs it, the freedom to create is such a beautiful thing and sometimes it's all people have, I come from a community where training isn't likely because it's not practical to some people but passion I feel comes along way and a lot people I know have so much passion and heart to give to the arts, especially the younger generations. It's therapeutic for most of us.
A Fresno native may or may not realize the volume of art that is produced here, not to mention the artists who come out of Fresno and the surrounding areas. Some household names include Audra McDonald and Chris Colfer who have appeared onstage and onscreen, among several other talented individuals who call the Central Valley their home. Many artists start off young in capacities such as the Good Company Players Junior Company or at Bullard TALENT K-8 School. Some youth do theatre during high school and find a way to the community theatre stage. We see generations of artists come out of the valley in waves, going to schools known for their strength in the arts as well as artists who move to metropolitan areas to live their dream. Michael Flores, known as “Michael Christopher” as a choreographer, is a Madera native who has been a prolific part of theatre and the arts in the valley for the past few years, and is quickly growing a following through his artful and intellectual dance videos.
I have been involved in the arts in valley for only about 4 years, since I graduated high school in Madera. I had no idea what community theatre was because I only did the shows at my high school but when I graduated and discovered this community of people that loved the arts as much as I did I suddenly fell in love with the passion each person had toward theatre and performing. It wasn't until In The Heights at the Selma Arts Center where I had that chance to show what I can do creatively. I was trusted and I felt honored to put on a show so many people cared about.
While dance is Michael’s true passion, musical theatre and performance has given him a space to do and create what he loves. In addition to choreographing for the stage, Michael has also turned to the screen to market his work and share his art. A couple years ago, Michael began choreographing dances, then putting them into a short-film format to tell a story. Some videos are inspired by a piece of art, music, or pop culture, while others are modeled after politics and personal experience.
The choreography videos are a personal thing to me if I am going through something emotionally I get through it by visually creating what's happening in my mind, I am in love with not just Dance but makeup, costumes, and pretty much anything with production value and I really try to make them a production because that's what I do… My favorite project I've worked on would have to be the Pacify Her Movement Piece which a lot people refer to as the "blue boy video" so many people related to the video which is truly best part! When you touch someone else through your work makes it a little more worth it. Most people don't know that the video was about me and a situation I was in, so when other people relate to the story it kinda makes me feel not so alone. Of course the actors and dancers were amazing emoting all of this, I seriously have some talented friends that make this all possible.
Flores has created a style and nuance through his work. Many of his pieces feature brightly colored paint and technical yet pedestrian choreography. His work highlights local performers who are familiar to the Good Company Players, Stageworks Fresno, and Selma Arts Center stages, so the performers may be familiar to his audience as well. Michael’s pieces have not only created an extensive portfolio for his choreography projects, but also to highlight the talents of local performers and provide them with experience in the field. Despite the immense talent of himself and the performers that Michael works with, he constantly pushes his performers to improve and do better until his vision is achieved.
I feel like almost every choreographer and dancer should take an acting class. It's crucial in Dance, especially contemporary and lyrical where storytelling through the music is pivotal in the style. More depth needs to come out instead of having two emotions (happy and sad). A dancer is a story teller and acting is so important to me that I want to see the dancer go through all of the emotions the song, putting them in with honesty and coming from a real genuine place. I try every time for my choreography to come from that place, real moments so that the audience can truly connect with your work. My biggest fear is being in-genuine.
Michael’s work has heart. There is depth behind all his projects whether they be a musical-theatre inspired piece or a personal soliloquy through dance. Michael’s projects are anything but in-genuine, and the valley needs to see more true art such as his.
I would like to affect my community by promoting how we can be vulnerable and express our feelings through art, sometime being "strong" is touching when someone has overcome something and I think showing that struggle and making it empowering through art is beautiful.
Support the arts, love each other and be kind.
Keep up with Michael Christopher Flores on social media via Instagram @michaelchristopher17000 and on YouTube – Michael Christopher.
StageWorks Fresno's production of The Full Monty has a lot to offer: great music, terrific singing voices, cute choreography, and pelvic thrusts. But what is most important was a network of love that transcended the boundaries of gay, straight, male, female, performer, and audience member. Today I heard some very unfortunate news, that Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington had committed suicide. In my opinion he was one of the best male vocalists of my generation. I went into this show feeling a little down and out, and looking for something. I wasn't sure what. I was like one of those emotional shoppers at the department store who was upset and unpredictable and not sure if I wanted flat front or pleated slacks. Only it wasn't slacks I was looking for. It was a man. Yes, I was looking for love in all the right places.
They grabbed my attention right away with a Chippendale dancer with a winning smile. Thank you for the tasty hors d'oeuvres, I thought. But where's the main course? It came as a two act 14 song musical that addressed themes of masculinity, insecurity, and ironically suicide. The suicidal character, who happened to be gay, was rescued from his car, that had a tube from the exhaust pipe coming through the window, by two straight best friends, Jerry and Dave, that he worked with. The first type of love we saw was unconditional. These two men showed him a type of friendship that would help him regardless if he was going to kill himself or choose to live. Finally having friends in his life, he chooses life over death. This was the character I fell in love with, Malcolm McGregor, played by Dominic Grijalva. Not only was he the best dancer and had strong vocal and acting technique. He was by all means the most excited of an extremely excited group of actors.
Notable were the songs performed by Jams Schott as Jerry Lukowski. His artistic choices in the form of jazzy vocal riffs really impressed me. Horse's song was a fun and testosterone filled eclectic celebration that reminded me of many of the great black men that have been in my life. I try to leave my personal biases out of the shows I watch. However in this space, the Clovis North HS Dan Pessano Theater, and on this day July 20, 2017, it was impossible. With such an intimate show, The Full Monty, we are uplifted by the love we have between husband and wife, father and son, friends and lovers. And once again I renew myself by saying like Malcolm, I choose life! I hope you do too. So gay guys, grab your best straight, and head over to see the Full Monty.
One of the most-popular live-streamed TV series in history, Orange is the New Black, premieres its fifth season June 9, and it promises to be a roller-coaster ride. Taryn Manning (Pennsatucky) was rumored to be leaving the cast but then denied those rumors. Lori Petty's Whitehill is on her way to the psych ward though Petty has said she will be appearing. Orange is the New Black’s cast has grown exponentially since season one, from a story about Piper to a study on the diverse characters cooped up in Litchfield Penitentiary. The series stars Taylor Schilling, Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew, Laura Prepon, Laverne Cox, Dascha Polanco, Danielle Brooks, Selenis Leyva, Samira Wiley, Taryn Manning, Yael Stone, Jackie Cruz, Lea DeLaria, Adrienne C. Moore and Elizabeth Rodriguez.
Netflix has repeatedly said Orange is the New Black is its most-watched original series. The series has backed up that claimed with numerous awards over its first three seasons, including 12 Emmy nominations and three wins for season one alone. Season two earned four Emmy nominations, with Uzo Aduba winning for best supporting actress in a drama.
Season four of Orange is the New Black left things on a pretty brutal cliffhanger. The inmates of Litchfield are rioting and Daya has retrieved a guard's gun and is pointing it directly at Officer Humphrey. It's a good bet that season five begins exactly at that point since the cliffhanger between seasons one and two was resolved nearly immediately.
Attention Fresno Readers: take part in one of the largest community events of 2017! Join us for the annual Fresno Rainbow Pride event, scheduled for Saturday, June 3rd from 10AM to 3PM in Fresno’s historic Tower District. We encourage everyone to attend! Join community members from all over California’s Central Valley as they take part in the largest annual event in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) community. With a bounce house and kids’ area, and various food vendors, this is sure to be one of the most fun-filled events you will attend this year. All ages are welcome and we encourage you to invite all of your family and friends. This is a great way to personally show your support for all members of our community as we work to show inclusion in the Fresno area. Join us for this amazing community celebration as we honor our 27th anniversary. This is a beautiful testament to Fresno’s growing support for everyone in the community, and you can be part of it.
Fresno Rainbow Pride includes a parade, from 10AM to 11AM, through the heart of Fresno’s historic Tower District with various contingents who march in support of the LGBT+ culture and pride of the LGBT+ community. Among the organizations scheduled to march are Peace Fresno, Trans-E-Motion, the Fresno County Library, FAB, Bobby Salazar’s, the Fresno Democratic Women’s Club, and the St. Paul Catholic Newman Center. The festival portion, from 11AM to 3PM, will include food and merchandise vendors and informational booths along with a dynamic live entertainment tent. This is the perfect event for anyone looking for a good festival, safe space, and friendly people. Among the organizations scheduled to have a table during the festival are Positive Life, Fresno Stonewall Democrats, Wells Fargo, First Congregational Church of Fresno, Promesa Behavioral Health, Turning Point, Pink Panthers Movement Fresno, LGBT Fresno, and Planned Parenthood. Attendees can look forward to enjoying delicious food from our vendors including Erlinda’s Shaved Ice, and Jay’s Specialty Ice Cream.
Don’t forget to visit the entertainment booth to watch dynamic performances from local entertainers as well as visitors from out of town. Those expected to grace the stage are the Ray Moore Band, Priscilla McNamara, Camilla P. Davis, Sasha Allure and Deja Sky. Attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy both live bands, singers, and lip sync performances. At Pride, we like variety. Like with previous years, we will kick off the fun in the entertainment tent with a series of performances by the Raging Grannies, whose lyrics are as poignant as their personalities.
The theme this year is “One Step Starts A Movement” to show that we are a part of a movement and together we can be a powerful unified front. Your visible support during this special day helps us to build a stronger community in the Fresno area. More information can be found at fresnorainbowpride.com. We hope to see you there!
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA comes to the Saroyan Theatre May 16 - 17, 2017 Ticketmaster is the official ticketing source for Broadway In Fresno and the Saroyan Theatre.
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA is the Tony Award®- winning Broadway musical from the creators of The Sound of Music and South Pacific that’s delighting audiences with its contemporary take on the classic tale. This lush production features an incredible orchestra, jaw-dropping transformations and all the moments you love—the pumpkin, the glass slipper, the masked ball and more—plus some surprising new twists! Be transported back to your childhood as you rediscover some of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s most beloved songs, including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” in this hilarious and romantic Broadway experience for anyone who’s ever had a wish, a dream... or a really great pair of shoes.
Direct from Broadway, the world’s best selling magic show is coming to Fresno, CA! THE ILLUSIONISTS – LIVE FROM BROADWAY comes to the Saroyan Theatre April 26 - 27, 2017 Ticketmaster is the official ticketing source for Broadway In Fresno and the Saroyan Theatre.
This mind blowing spectacular showcases the jaw dropping talents of seven of the most incredible Illusionists on earth. THE ILLUSIONISTS – LIVE FROM BROADWAY has shattered box office records across the globe and dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts ever to be seen on stage. This non-stop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions.
By Lucas Hnath Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission
March 31 - April 9 Friday, March 31st @ 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1st @ 7:30 p.m. Sunday Matinee, April 2nd @ 2:00 p.m. Thursday, April 6th @ 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 7th @ 7:30 p.m. *POST SHOW CABARET-10:00 P.M. Saturday Matinee, April 8th @ 2:00 p.m. Saturday Evening, April 8th @ 7:30 p.m. Sunday Matinee, April 9th @ 2:00 p.m.
Ten years ago, Pastor Paul’s church was a modest storefront. Now it houses thousands, with a coffee shop in the lobby and a baptismal font as big as a swimming pool. But Paul is about to preach a sermon that will shake the foundation of his congregation’s beliefs. Backed by a live choir, THE CHRISTIANS is both epic and unexpectedly intimate, an unflinching look at faith in America — and its power to unite or divide. –A Fresno Premiere!
Stage Works Fresno The Fresno ART Museum-Bonner Auditorium 2233 North 1st Street, Fresno, CA 93703
There was no pony in there, no new car, not even a stuffed animal. The box was too small for all that, but it held so much more: dreams, ideas, happiness, congratulations! And if you’re lucky, your wise new fiance tucked “Before I Do” by Elizabeth F. Schwartz in the box with your beautiful engagement ring.
So you put a ring on it, made the proposal, and now you’ve got a wedding to plan. It’s all quite exciting, but slow down a minute. If you’ve grown up thinking that this day would never come, then you might not have thought about what marriage entails.
“LGBT people,” says Schwartz, “have not lived in a world with premarital guidance for LGBT couples. We have suffered systemic exclusion.”
Just because you can be married now is no reason that you should, she points out. Yes, you’re in love, and yes, you’ve been together forever but now’s the time to be sure you know exactly what you’re in for. That starts by asking yourselves a series of difficult but important questions.
Once you’ve gotten that (perhaps uncomfortable) part out of the way, be sure that any past relationships are completely and legally finished and “do not create confusion with multiple statuses with multiple people.” Know what paperwork you need in order to proceed, and what questions you’ll be asked as you’re filling it out.
This pre-wedding period is a good time to talk to a financial expert, a tax consultant, and a lawyer. Don’t trust word-of-mouth to protect your finances; the laws in your state may horrify you, if wedded bliss goes bust. Talk about debt: how much each of you has, and how you perceive it. Educate yourself on insurance coverage, asset protection, pre-nups, and estate planning.
And if all this preparation makes you start to think that maybe marriage isn’t such a good idea after all, Schwartz says it’s okay. There are valid reasons for not taking the plunge, and there are alternatives. One of them may be a much better fit for you.
Getting engaged is such an exciting time. Putting the brakes on everything isn’t the most romantic notion, but it’s maybe the most prudent. “Before I Do” explains why.
Though she says her advice in this book is appropriate for anyone, author Elizabeth F. Schwartz focuses more on gay and lesbian couples, as well as trans individuals and their prospective spouses. She does so, in part, because she feels that they’ve only seen marriage “on the fringes.”
That somewhat sets this book apart from the thousands of other wedding-planner books on bookshelves; what really makes it different, however, is that Schwartz admits her no-nonsense words may talk prospective brides and grooms out of having a wedding. Truth: Readers who might’ve somehow taken marriage lightly before will absolutely be convinced otherwise.
“Failure to plan has terrible consequences,” says Schwartz, and this book erases that omission. Read “Before I Do,” though, and rest assured that you can toast one another smarter.
Dirty Dancing really started off on the right foot with the amazing female vocals on "This Magic Moment," sang by Chante Carmel. Right away I thought Chante you stay. The male vocalist, Jordan Edwin Andre, as Billy wasn't lacking in any way either. His talent was featured well in his solo, "In The Still Of The Night." That guy had some major air flowing through his pipes.
The choreography was full of jazzy musical theater flair. Exciting lifts, dips, lay outside and splits were performed with a sense of ease through out the performance. The female dancers, especially Jennifer Mealani Jones, who played Penny had flexible backs and beautiful legs that sensually arched and extended. Even more exciting were the unison sections which included sexy hip movements, cha cha and merengue.
The standard I held them to was the performances in the movie. I really wanted them to dance as well as Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze. Understudy Angelica Bette Fellini, who played baby, did not fully transform from awkward virgin to passionate performer, as Jennifer Gray did in the film. The actor who played Johnny Castle looked good shirtless, and was an OK dancer. He moved his hips well while ballroom social dancing and while he lead the formation in unison. His solo lacked the power that Patrick Swayze had in his performance. His coupe jete was weak and low to the stage. He could not do a double pirouette into a double tour. His singles weren't all that great because his parallel retire was too low and he lacked a nice fifth position in the air. I would have preferred "Hungry Eyes" to be a dynamic vocal and dance solo rather than a video montage. Although the digital technology was impressive through out the show.
The highlight of the night was when Baby and Johnny went to bed together, much to the audience's delight. The acting was overall very good. However when it came to the moment of truth, the lift, they fell short. They did not do it very well. Neither did the couple pictures on the program. Lisa's Hula and Besame Mucho provided much necessary comic relief. These two performers maintained the integrity of Broadway performance art.
So in the end I was a little disappointed by their final performance of the night. I would suggest that, the two lead actors spend some time in a grassy field, and pool practicing that iconic lift, that is the high mark of difficulty in the history of dance on film and stage. I am happy I watched this performance because although placed in the height of the Civil Rights movement, it still remained relevant to today's audience.
There was a time when homosexuality wasn't as well accepted as it is today. During the Stonewall Riots of 1969, and the turbulent civil rights movement in the 1970s, families of the LGBT community had to come together, and accept themselves, in order to fight for what was right.
"When We Rise" is an eight part mini-series that will air on ABC beginning February 27 through Friday March 3. This important series chronicles the history of the LBGT community, and activists within that community who paved the way for the rights and liberties the LGBT community enjoys today. The series follows the life of Cleve Jones, who was a large contributor to the AIDS quilt, and Ken Jones, who was a Vietnam veteran who addressed the issue of racial bias in the gay community. The series also follows the life of Roma Guy, who founded the San Francisco Women's Building, and Diane, who worked as an HIV/AIDS nurse at the San Francisco General Hospital. The miniseries will take all who watch it, regardless of sexual orientation, through a journey of understanding of how the LGBT community struggled through the years, and inspire others to stand up against social injustices to make the world a better place.
Guy Pearce as Cleve Jones Micheal K. Williams as Ken Jones Mary-Louise Parker as Roma Guy Rachel Griffins as Diane Ivory Aquino as Cecilla Chung Carrie Preston as Sally Gearhart Rosie O'Donnell as Del Martin Whoopi Goldburg as Pat Norman
Earlier today I watched a facebook video of the London based company warming up slowly doing modern dance technique bartnieff fundamentals. I found that interesting because I expected them to be diligently perfecting their turn out at the barre like many other ballet companies. This is not your ordinary dance company. They have dancers who have no formal training, dancers who graduated from ballet schools, and everything in between.
The first piece "Rabbit" choreographed by Pontus Lindberg, started with a soloist who had his hair in a man bun doing slow movements, and a dancer on a wood and rope swing with a rabbit head. The contemporary choreography slowed down and sped up and had inversions, falls in fourth position, and low arabesque turns. The smoothness was juxtaposed with Nijinskyesque parallel stomping, skipping, and leaping. There were animal like gestures. The most exciting dancing was when the dancers came on stage without the rabbit heads and danced and partnered in unison and canon.
The second piece "Fiction" choreographed by Javier de Frutos was performed to recorded voices infused with a cover of Donna Summer's "Last Dance." The voices saying "Catholic homosexual," "Naked man," "biggest piece of crap we have ever seen," and "received death threats," stood out to me. The idea behind this piece was de Frutos had imagined his own death due to a plastic shard falling from a set piece killing him. There was a ballet barre on stage that the dancers did classical ballet warm ups like turn in, turn out battement second, and plies and contemporary rolls, falls, and partnering. The voices may have represented the choreographer's worst criticism that could have been heard after he died.
Life 2017 was an entertaining evening length show that had simple skipping and paddle turns, and difficult inversions and partnering. It ended with a post modern back fall. It left us with the paradox that sometimes in life we think about what happens after we die
DIRTY DANCING comes to the Saroyan Theatre February 21 - 22, 2017. Ticketmaster is the official ticketing source for Broadway In Fresno and the Saroyan Theatre.
DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE is an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance and sensational dancing.
February 21 & 22, 2017 * 7:30pm * William Saroyan Theatre
Seen by millions across the globe, this worldwide smash hit features the hit songs “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the heart-stopping “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.” London’s Sunday Express says, “This crowd-pleasing stage adaptation hits the jackpot!”
It’s the summer of 1963, and 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman is on vacation in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents. Baby discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles upon the staff quarters where an all-night dance party is in full swing. Mesmerized by the raunchy dance moves and the pounding rhythms, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle the resort dance instructor. Baby’s life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off with breathtaking consequences.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by American playwright Thornton Wilder, the opera is an intimate and touching look into everyday life in a small town.
Saturday, January 28, 2017 * 7:30pm & Sunday Matinee 3:00pm * William Saroyan Theatre
Written in 2006 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ned Rorem, the opera utilizes pleasant melodies and tonal harmonies to honor a time when our lives were simpler, and reminds us of the universality of being human and the necessity of companionship. A more intimate opera, this piece will be performed in the period-appropriate Veterans Memorial Auditorium as part of a daylong exhibition celebrating the history of Fresno. Music by Ned Rorem (b. 1923) Libretto by J.D. McClatchy (b. 1945) Based on the play by Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) Sung in English with English surtitles.
This company of 10 male dancers from London, founded by former Royal Ballet principal dancers, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, has been hailed as "viscerally thrilling" - The Telegraph and "a paradox of muscular impact and weightless flight" - The program Life features 2 new commissions by internationally-acclaimed choreographers Pontus Lidberg and Javier deFrutos which are inventitve, vivid and memorable.
Friday, February 3, 2017 * 7:30pm * William Saroyan Theatre
"Compelling...Potent...Funnier than any dance I've seen in ages" The Guardian
"Rowdy and intimate, clever, funny and affecting" The Times
"The look tremendous. They are tremendous... A daring, skilled creation" Financial Times
"A powerhouse double bill... So wonderfully precise, so cleverly comedic..." The Daily Telegraph
Buy your tickets today: Ticketmaster : onlineor 800-745-3000 Charge by phone: 877-608-5883
The producers of the world’s biggest magic show, The Illusionists have teamed up with the award winning puppeteers from War Horse to present a thrilling turn of the century circus spectacular.
Sensational puppetryputs Elephants back in the ring as never seen before along with a huge cast of the most unique, amazing and dangerous circus acts from all four corners of the world, from strong men to contortionists, acrobats to musicians, knife throwers, high wire and much more!
Discover the golden age of circus as CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus sets to captivate audiences of all ages.