Classroom in the Courtyard

Pre-Performance Lectures by Faculty & Staff

Upcoming Lectures

CANCELED - Los Angeles Guitar Quartet Speaker

The lecture previously scheduled before the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet has been canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Would Martha Approve? The Contemporization of the Martha Graham Dance Company
Debra Levine, Founder of arts•meme

Debra Levine

A Conversation with Janet Eilber, Artistic Director, Martha Graham Dance Company

Prior to performance by the Martha Graham Dance Company
Saturday, April
18th from 6:45 PM - 7:30 PM

Los Angeles dance writer Debra Levine celebrates 30 years of arts journalism in 2014. Debra’s criticism and feature articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, La Opinion, Huffington Post, Long Beach Press Telegram, South China Morning Post and Dance Magazine. Debra is editor/publisher of arts•meme, the fine arts blog she founded in 2008.

Read Debra's bio »

Music as a Weapon for Survival
Dr. Ric Alviso, Department of Music Chair, CSUN

Ric AlvisoPrior to the performance of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars
Saturday, May 9th from 6:30 PM - 7:15 PM
Kurland Hall (in the Valley Performing Arts Complex behind the Ticket Office)

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars are one of the latest in a long line of musicians and groups that have used music as a tool for social change, political expression and cultural survival. Out of the ashes of a bloody civil war the group emerged as a voice of hope and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.   

This pre-concert lecture will examine Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars music and message and draw parallels with artists who have influenced them, including Fela Kuti, James Brown, and Bob Marley. From the West African griots to today's rappers, we will explore how African music has spread over the past 500 years throughout the diaspora and then back again to Africa in this continual cycle of expression and innovation.

Read Ric's bio »

Past Lectures

From Buenos Aires to Blackpool: The Intrigue and Passion of the Tango
Professors Joanne DiVito and Jacqueline Eusanio, Department of Kinesiology, CSUN

Joanne DiVito

Jacqueline Eusanio

Prior to the performance of Tango Buenos Aires
Friday, January 23rd from 6:30 PM - 7:15 PM
VPAC lobby

Undeniably one of the most provocative and popular dances of today, few art forms share the historic exoticism of the dance once known as the baile con corté. Professors Joanne DiVito and Jacqueline Eusanio will take you on the enthralling journey of the tango from its risqué origins in the barrios of Argentina, through its shocking impact in Paris and the tangomania that swept across Europe and North America. Follow the composers, musicians, and dancers who were instrumental in igniting the tango flame and developing the tango into the dramatic and elegant dance it is today. Learn how the International Standard Ballroom tango evolved from the Argentine tango, and how to recognize the two different but equally dramatic and intriguing styles of dance. With its nostalgic songs of lament, melancholy cries of the bandonen, and flashing legwork, the tango claims one of the most infatuating rags-to-riches stories ever told.

Jacqueline Eusanio received both her B.S. and M.S degree in Kinesiology/Dance at CSUN. A professional dancer and choreographer for more than 40 years, she has performed with several dance companies including the AMAN International Folk Ensemble. Specializing in multi-cultural and ballroom dance, she currently teaches at CSUN, Los Angeles Pierce College, and Los Angeles Valley College.  

Joanne DiVito began her career at nine, training in many styles of dance in her hometown of Chicago. As a teenager she began performing as a demi soloist with the Illinois Ballet Company then moved to New York City where she studied at Ballet Russes and Ballet Theater and worked on Broadway with such greats as Richard Rodgers, Ethel Merman, Jack Cole, Onna White, and Alfred Drake in such classics as Kismet, Annie Get Your Gun, Finian’s Rainbow, West Side Story and many others. She continued her ten-year career as a professional dancer in New York, L.A and across the U.S. Joanne then embarked on a long successful career as a Director/Choreographer completing over 100 commercials as well as numerous Movies, TV and Broadway shows, being nominated for an Emmy and an American Video Award. Joanne then began producing, directing and writing Industry Shows for Mazda, Toyota, Apple Computers, and many others, under her own production company, and further becoming a consultant and choreography agent with Bobby Ball Agency. She eventually was chosen as the West Coast Director of Career Transition For Dancers where she educates and helps dancers at every phase of their career, along with her work at CSUN as adjunct professor of Ballet.  

New Orleans Jazz - Then and Now: A glance back to the birthplace of jazz, and its unique relationship with jazz from its origins to the present
Professor Gary Fukushima, Department of Music, CSUN

Prior to the performance of Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
Saturday, November 22nd at 6:30 PM
Kurland Hall (in the Valley Performing Arts Complex behind the Ticket Office)

As the historic economic hub of the South, coupled with the intersection of cultures and the unfortunate collision of racial politics, New Orleans was the only city capable of spawning a new creation that would forever change the direction of music.  How has this rich history affected the New Orleans of today?  We hope to examine the complicated dynamic between the city's past and present in its inseparable social and musical themes.

Read Gary's bio »

At the Height of Their Creativity - Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev
Professor John Roscigno, Department of Music, CSUN

Professor John RoscignoPrior to the performance of the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Friday, October 10th at 6:30 PM
Kurland Hall (in the Valley Performing Arts Complex behind the Ticket Office)

This presentation will touch on the innovative ways these composers use the symphony orchestra in the monumental works being performed by the London Philharmonic and the important place these compositions hold in the oeuvre of each man.  

Dr. John Roscigno is Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies at California State University, Northridge.  He also holds positions as Music Director and Conductor of the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic and CSUN Youth Orchestras.   Dr. Roscigno has conducted and performed throughout the world and specializes in working with young musicians.   He continues to actively perform as a pianist and percussionist and has performed and conducted many important premieres during his career.  He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Arizona.

Read John's bio »

Fab Four Forever
Sky Daniels, General Manager and Program Director, KCSN 88.5 FM and KCSN HD2 “The”

Sky DanielsPrior to the performance of The Fab Faux
Saturday, September 20th at 6:30 PM
Kurland Hall (in the Valley Performing Arts Complex behind the Ticket Office)

The Beatles are more than a music legend, they are a social phenomenon that has regenerated across several generations of pop culture enthusiast.  Their legend is so great, that it has spawned another phenomenon; that of the Beatles “cover bands." 

Movies, musicals, Cirque du Soleil, from Hollywood to Vegas to Broadway, nowhere, and no one, is impervious to the mania that still resonates around the Beatles 50 years on.  Sky Daniels will offer insights on why the public cannot get enough of The Beatles, real or reimagined…

Read Sky's bio »

Ballroom and Beyond: Breaking the Boundaries
Professors Joanne DiVito and Jacqueline Eusanio, Department of Kinesiology, CSUN

Joanne DiVito

Jacqueline Eusanio

Prior to the performance of Ballroom with a Twist

Saturday, May 17th at 6:30 PM
VPAC Courtyard

Come and join us for a pre-show peek at the sensational and exciting world of ballroom dance. Professors Joanne DiVito and Jacqueline Eusanio will guide you through the history and development of both ballroom dance and Broadway. They will show you how ballroom is different from, yet related to, other styles of dance. Discover how Louis van Amstel has brilliantly blended the best of ballroom, Broadway, ballet, jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop into a sizzling spectacle of dance, song, and glitz that electrifies and delights.

Nat King Cole: What Makes Him Music Royalty?
Professor Gary Fukushima, Department of Music, CSUN

Gary FukushimaPrior to the performance of Ramsey Lewis & John Pizzarelli
Saturday, April 26th at 6:30 PM
Kurland Hall (in the Valley Performing Arts Complex behind the Ticket Office)

In his pre-concert lecture (with piano demonstrations), Professor Gary Fukushima will discuss Nat Cole's "unforgettable" career that ran from  classical pianist, to jazz singer, to pop sensation and finally to easy listening master, with hits like "Straighten Up And Fly Right" for Capitol Records, which was inspired by one of his father's sermons.  A PBS special noted, "The story of his life is a study in success in the face of adversity and the triumph of talent over the ignorance of prejudice."  Join us to learn about his style, history, talent and why two of American’s best musicians, John Pizzarelli and Ramsey Lewis have selected Nat King Cole for their VPAC concert this evening.

Flamenco Dance: What Are the Dancers Actually Doing?
Professor Dan Glickman, Department of Dance, College of the Canyons

Dan GlickmanPrior to the performance of Gala Flamenca
Friday, March 14th at 6:30 PM
Kurland Hall (in the Valley Performing Arts Complex behind the Ticket Office)

Have you ever watched flamenco dance without really grasping what the dancers were doing and why? Or wondered what the difference is between traditional and modern flamenco? Flamenco dance instructor, Daniel Glickman, will present an informative and dynamic lecture and presentation of the techniques and rhythms of flamenco dance. Try a few flamenco moves yourself during an engaging discussion and demonstration of this inspiring dance form and bring your own "duende" (flamenco spirit) to the Gala Flamenca performance afterwards.

Professor Glickman is originally from San Francisco where he began studying flamenco from the Artistic Director of Theater Flamenco in San Francisco, Miguel Santos. He has also studied with Cruz Luna, La Tania, Carlos Rodriguez, Angel Rojas, and Eva Yerbabuena. He has taught flamenco dance at the University of San Francisco, Los Angeles City College, and College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.

Murray Perahia: 40 Glorious Years with 88 Keys
Professor Ed Francis, Department of Music, CSUN

Edward FrancisPrior to the performance of Murray Perahia
Thursday, February 27th at 6:00 PM
Valley Performing Arts Center – Loge Level

In the more than 40 years he has been performing on the concert stage, American pianist Murray Perahia has become one of the most sought-after and cherished pianists of our time, performing in all of the major international music centers and with every leading orchestra. Tonight, we will examine the reasons for his remarkable success as a conductor and Grammy-award winning musician. Audience members will learn about his history, unique style, and what to listen for as he plays his beautiful collection of Bach, Beethoven Schumann and Chopin.

Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life
Anthony Cantrell, Ph.D., Valley Performing Arts Center

Anthony CantrellPrior to the performance of Chita Rivera
Saturday, January 25th at 6:30 PM
Kurland Hall (in the Valley Performing Arts Complex behind the Ticket Office)

Join us for an engaging and retrospective pre-show discussion about the legendary career of Chita Rivera.  Ms. Rivera has won two Tony awards, the Kennedy Center Honors award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.  Her long and amazing career from a teenager at the American School of Ballet to Broadway icon exemplifies what it means to be an American artist.  Come and hear why Chita Rivera has been accurately described as "the electricity that lights up Broadway."

Dr. Cantrell is currently the Director of Arts Education at the Valley Performing Arts Center.  The Arts Education program endeavors to provide students with an arts education experience that will inspire the next generation of artists, patrons, and advocates.  Previously, Cantrell was the Co-Chair of the Drama Academy at CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts, a school he helped to found in 2005.  He has also taught university theatre classes at the University of Michigan where he received his doctoral degree in Theatre.  Surviving the winters of Ann Arbor, this Valley-native is honored to work at the VPAC and continue to serve the rich cultural life of the San Fernando Valley.

Magical Moments in Musical Theatre
Professor Janet Miller, Department of Theatre

Janet MillerPrior to the Performance of Brian Stokes Mitchell
Saturday, December 7th at 6:30 PM
Kurland Hall

Professor Janet Miller's pre-concert talk and tap will guide you through unforgettable musical theatre moments inspired by Brian Stokes Mitchell and his illustrious career on Broadway and beyond.


Modern Dance: What Moves the Movement?
Dr. Paula Thomson, Department of Kinesiology

Paula ThompsonPrior to the Performance of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company
Saturday, November 23rd at 6:30 PM
Kurland Hall

Dr. Paula Thomson, accompanied by a group of professional dancers, will explore some of the elements, themes and movement vocabulary of modern dance in an effort to enhance audience appreciation of the spectacular dancing Lar Lubovitch Dance Company will display.

New Orleans Jazz from the Roots to New Cross-Genre Sounds
Professor Gary Fukushima, Department of Music

Gary FukushimaPrior to the Performance of Jon Batiste and Stay Human
Friday, October 18th at 6:30 PM

Courtyard Theatre

Professor Gary Fukushima will take concert-goers on a trip to New Orleans, with stops in all the spots where this uniquely American music form developed, grew, flourished and continues to evolve.