The Soraya Presents DIAVOLO | Architecture In Motion, This Is Me: Letters From The Front Lines

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The Soraya Presents DIAVOLO | Architecture In Motion, This Is Me: Letters From The Front Lines

After celebrating its 25th Anniversary at The Soraya in 2017, DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion returns for its fourth engagement - this time with This Is Me: Letters from the Front Lines. From DIAVOLO artistic director Jacques Heim, This Is Me explores how the current climate of isolation has encouraged us to look within ourselves. It is The Soraya's fourth online performance.

This is Me, captures the resilience, determination and hope of the human spirit, following the paths of military veterans and first responders as they share what it means to be true warriors on the front lines - and fight the invisible enemy that all humanity is currently battling. At a time when most have been asked to halt and withdraw, others, like soldiers are charging forward.

This is Me: Letters from the Front Lines will premiere online, on Friday, June 31 at 4pm (PDT) during Fridays at 4 on The Soraya facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/
For more information please visit www.thesoraya.org

In 2016 DIAVOLO started The Veterans Project, which utilizes the company's unique style of movement as a tool to help restore veterans' physical, mental, and emotional strengths through workshops and public performances in communities all around the country. The chasm between veterans and civilians is so vast, socially, veterans are at a disadvantage in forming vital connections - connections that the company has explored continuously since. More than 500 Los Angeles area veterans have participated in this project.

Two dance works resulted - Ibuku and A Long Journey Home which was performed when on Veteran's Day 2017, when The Soraya hosted an extraordinary day long 25th anniversary DIAVOLO celebration featuring the performances of eleven the company's works.

The 25th celebration was held as the company was a national sensation when 90 million viewers were introduced to the company as one of the NBC's "America's Got Talent" Top 10 contenders. As Heim choreographed five new works of the series, The Soraya's audience had an astounding 16 works available to them.

in 2015 The Soraya held the United States premiere of the complete DIAVOLO full evening L'espace du Temps, which had previously only been seen here as individual pieces Foreign Bodies to music by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Fearful Symmetries to music by John Adams, and to Philip Glass' Symphony #3 , with music performed live by the New West Symphony conducted by Christopher Rountree.

This is Me is the fourth online offering from The Soraya following 2017-2018 following a Facebook Live Broadcast of Niv Ashkenazi: Violins of Hope Musical Selections from The Soraya Stage on April 17; partnering with Martha Graham Dance Company and Wild Up for the world premiere of Immediate Tragedy, choreographed by Janet Eilber and composed by Christopher Rountree on June 19; and partnering with LA Opera for Great Opera Choruses conducted by Grant Gerhson on June 28 at 3pm.

"During this extraordinary time, supporting artists continues to be our priority here at The Soraya," said Thor Steingraber, Executive Director. "And DIAVOLO's artistic director Jacques Heim is no ordinary artist - his work stands alone in its originality; he is a tireless citizen of the greater LA dance and arts community; and he is fearless in taking on new challenges especially in these most challenging of times. With the success of the recent Martha Graham Dance Company, Wild Up and The Soraya collaboration, we continue to grow our digital programming with DIAVOLO."

About This is Me: Letters from the Front Lines

DIAVOLO Artistic Director Jacque Heim, now in the fifth year of the company's The Veteran Project, is creating This is Me to help illustrate with the words of veterans and first responders, interwoven with DIAVOLO choreography expressive of their thoughts. At a time when most have been asked to halt and withdraw by sheltering in place, others, like soldiers, are heroically charging forward.

Jacques Heim said, "The Veterans Project has completely changed my life, changed my mission, changed my company," said Heim, whose organization is a longtime NEA grantee. "I realized this is what I'm meant to do: use my art to help others and to help those men and women that sacrifice themselves for a bigger cause. That's the mission of my performers and of DIAVOLO."

"Even though these men and women do not like to be called heroes, we consider them to be. They sacrificed their lives for a giant cause - their country and its people. Who can do that? I cannot do that. It is beyond courage, and the reason we're in the land of the free, because all those men and women gave their lives. Beyond thanking them for their service, we have to embrace them as our brothers and sisters, as part of our own family. The work and mission of DIAVOLO and this film, This is Me, is about celebrating humanity. Veterans and COVID 19 responders are beautiful humans. That has to be shown."

Christopher Loverro, an Army Iraq War veteran who has participated in past The Veterans Project works and This Is Me, said, "Working with Jacques Heim and DIAVOLO challenged me in different ways on my long journey to find myself in centeredness and peace since returning from war. I want to honor the brothers and sisters I served with, and I want them to know I am obliged to be the best person I can be, because of them. I know those who are fighting the pandemic - a different kind of battle - are also needing to express their feelings. Art is the most powerful form of catharsis for me, and the combination of a challenging movement and mental regime, with its community-building and trust-building aspects, builds the sense of tribe we had in the military and provides the tools for us to heal."

This is Me: Letters from the Front Lines is generously sponsored by Kathleen P. Martin.

Personnel for This is Me: Letters from the Front Lines

Jacques Heim Director; Jim Vincent Creative Director; France Nguyen-Vincent Dramaturg; Aaron Mendez Co-Director, Cinematographer, Editor; Jean-Yves Tessier Lighting Designer; Chris Mendez Assistant to Aaron Mendez; Noah Alexander Sound Operator; Simon Greenberg Sound Engineer; George Simian Photographer; Dusty Alvarado Producer; Amy Tuley Project Manager; Jose Hernandez General Manager.

Diavolo performer Majella Loughran, Kate Dougherty, Steven Jasso, Matt Wagner, Abraham Meisel, Derion Lohman. Daniel Jacob Glenn, Evan Turner, Kelsey Long, Lex Shimko, BethanyRose Boutwell

Shannon Corbeil, Air Force is an actor, writer, and filmmaker most recently known for her work on ABC's "The Rookie" and CBS's "SEAL Team." A U.S. Air Force veteran, she has extensive experience writing and producing military stories, including creating hundreds of history and trivia videos for the military community. Shannon joined the first Diavolo Veteran's Project 'Ibuki' Workshop in 2016 and recently performed alongside Diavolo and veteran dancers at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Anthony Keating, Paramedic (TK)

Mariella Keating, Nurse Practitioner. "I am an Intensive Care Unit Nurse at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California. I take care of the critically ill, of patients on life support, like on ventilators that help a person breathe or cardiac machines that alleviate the work of the heart...Devices to maintain the flow of life."

Tyler Grayson, Army (TK). "From United States Army Combat Medic to registered nursing student in my senior year, the pandemic forced us into an early preceptorship in clerkship, operating in almost the same capacity as a full-fledged registered nurse as the hospital diverted their staff to deal with the coronavirus. Treating soldiers is different than treating civilians in a lot of ways, but there is a personal component in the military with your patients, that you'd have to step away from in civilian medicine if ever encountering such a situation. From Warrior to Healer, I come home at the end of the day knowing this is my path, and I am proud to call myself a healthcare provider."

Christopher Loverro, Army is an Oakland native, a graduate of UC Berkeley's Peace and Conflict Studies program, a retired police officer, and an Army veteran. The journey with Diavolo has been a
life-changing event for him. Experiencing movement with Jacques Heim, his dancers and the other veterans has enabled him to find peace for the first time since returning from war. He is the founder of Warriors For Peace Theatre, a company that uses Shakespeare as a form of catharsis for returning veterans.

Sasan Najibi, MD, board certified general and vascular surgeon, received his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine. His general surgery internship was completed at SUNY Buffalo and his general surgery residency was completed at the University of Florida. In addition, Dr. Najibi completed his fellowship in vascular surgery and endovascular surgery at Emory University Hospital. Dr. Najibi's clinical areas of expertise include carotid revascularization; thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysms; lower extremity revascularization; and varicose veins. He is a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery and the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Najibi is committed to excellence in comprehensive health care for men and women, in a partnership that honors patient individuality and dignity. His approach involves understanding the patient's health care needs and implementing state-of-the-art techniques and compassionate care. Dr. Najibi is a member of the Providence Saint Joseph and Providence Tarzana Medical Staffs providing care in vascular and endovascular surgery.

Fracne Nguyen-Vince, Dramaturg

La'Vel Stacy, Navy

About DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion

DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion, the renowned Los Angeles-based dance company, was founded in 1992 by Artistic Director Jacques Heim, an inquisitive guy who combined his academic background in theater, film, and dance with a passion for architecture. Thanks to Heim and his talented crew of dancers, designers and engineers, the Company, for more than 25 years, has been applauded internationally for its ability to display surprising movement against a backdrop of elaborately designed space, all while entertaining audiences with what is, in fact, a new art form.

His skill in creating work that entertains is central to Heim's artistic vision, one that combines elements of contemporary dance with martial arts, acrobatics, gymnastics, and hip-hop. Throughout the years, the Company has captivated audiences in 250 cities and 14 countries and has performed to sold out audiences throughout the U.S. International touring has included stops in Germany, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Holland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia and Chile. DIAVOLO has also appeared at select corporate events and for special advertising and promotional engagements.

In 2017, DIAVOLO enjoyed an especially extraordinary season, highlighted by Heim's creation of five new pieces for Season 12 of NBC's hit series "America's Got Talent." One of the Top 10 contestants to reach the show's finale at Hollywood's Dolby Theater, the Company was seen by over 90 million television viewers.

Through The DIAVOLO Institute, the Company also provides educational and outreach programs for people of all ages and abilities as it seeks to share the power of dance as a means of social impact. Two such programs are T.R.U.S.T., an initiative tailored for schools that explores the necessity of teamwork; and The Veteran's Project, a four-month workshop using movement as medicine, that DIAVOLO has replicated in cities across the U.S.

Anticipating an exciting future of continuing to impact audiences throughout the globe, DIAVOLO looks forward to touring new work; expanding its Board; undertaking more corporate and customized commercial assignments; and reaching out to even more adventurous souls who want to join DIAVOLO on this marvelous journey.

Jacques Heim was born and raised in Paris, where his earliest artistic experience came from street performing. He attended Middlebury College (B.F.A. in Theater, Dance, and Film), the University of Surrey in England (Certificate for Analysis and Criticism of Dance), and the California Institute for the Arts (M.F.A. in Choreography). Not strictly a dancer or acrobat, Heim calls himself an "architect of motion." He is rather like a drill sergeant or a football coach who loves pushing dancers beyond their own physical and emotional limits to make them feel that they can conquer anything, to make them realize that they are heroes.

Heim is named after his grandfather, the late and revolutionary fashion designer who, in 1946, launched the first ever two piece bathing suit called Atome, later renamed The Bikini, and also invented le pret a porter, or Ready to Wear. Just as his grandfather broke ground in the fashion industry, Heim challenges and breaks the mold of conventional wisdom surrounding dance, developing the unique and incomparable aesthetic of Architecture in Motion.

In addition to founding DIAVOLO and serving as its Artistic Director, Heim has worked extensively in dance, theater, television and special events throughout the world. In 2017, he created five new performances based on DIAVOLO creations for NBC's "America's Got Talent, "which resulted in the Company becoming one of the top ten contestants in AGT's finale at Hollywood's Dolby Theater. Heim recently directed DIAVOLO's special appearance on Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde's New Year's Eve 2017, one of the most watched TV shows in France. DIAVOLO also appeared on Helene Fischer's 2017 Christmas Spectacular, where the German superstar sang while rigged atop one of the Company's massive structures.

In 2004, Heim choreographed KÀ for Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, a destination show featuring apparatus inspired by DIAVOLO structures. In 2010, he was invited to be a Creative Director for the Opening Ceremony of the 16th Asian Games, in Guangzhou, China. Mr. Heim also worked with Guy Caron and Michael Curry as a consulting choreographer on Ice Age Live!, a "mammoth" arena show, which made its world premiere at London's Wembley Stadium in November 2012 and is now touring throughout Europe.

Heim has received three USA Fellowship nominations and four Alpert Award nominations. He has also been the recipient of the Martha Hill Choreography Award of the American Dance Festival; the Special Prize of the Jury at the 6th Saitama International Dance Festival; a Brody Arts Fund fellowship; a James Irvine Foundation Fellowship; and he is the 2016 Barney Creative Prize recipient.

About The Veterans Project

2016 - DIAVOLO begins holding movement workshops for veterans in local veteran centric facilities as well as at the DIAVOLO studio; veterans sign up for a four-month intensive program that culminates in a fully produced final performance, leading to the first public performance of The Veterans Project entitled Ibuki at the American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, CA.

2017-2018 - The second iteration begins with 16 veterans and 10 civilians. The process lasts over six months, culminating in a performance entitled A Long Journey Home, which premiered at The Soraya on Veteran's Day in 2017, part of a 25th anniversary celebration of DIAVOLO. The piece continued to perform at Arcadia Performing Arts Center, The Barclay Theatre, and finally at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

2018-2019 Monthly movement workshops continue at the DIAVOLO studio for veterans and civilians. DIAVOLO holds its first out-of-state Veterans Project residency at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS.

2019 - DIAVOLO partners with Christopher Loverro's theater company, Warriors For Peace, for a community building event designed to have veterans support the local Muslim Community and make a stand against Islamophobia and hate. DIAVOLO also travelled to Tampa Bay, FL to hold its second out-of-state residency program. The culminating presentation was performed in October of 2019 during the Congressional Medal of Honor Convention.


The 2019-20 Season marks the ninth year for the award-winning Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts which has quickly become one of the cultural jewels of the greater Los Angeles region. Under the leadership of Executive Director Thor Steingraber, The Soraya continues to expand its programming and outstanding multidisciplinary performances. The Soraya presents a wide variety of performances that not only include new and original work from the Los Angeles region but also work from around the world appealing to all of LA's rich and diverse communities.

Located on the campus of California State University, Northridge, The Soraya's season offers a vibrant performance program of classical and popular music, dance, theater, family, and international events that have served to establish The Soraya as the intellectual and cultural heart of the San Fernando Valley, and further establish itself as one of the top arts companies in Southern California. The award-winning, 1,700-seat theatre was designed by HGA Architects and Engineers and was recently cited by the Los Angeles Times as "a growing hub for live music, dance, drama and other cultural events."


Thor Steingraber's artistic career spans more than 20 years, stage directing at major venues from Lincoln Center to theaters in Europe and Asia. Los Angeles has been his foremost artistic home. His work could be seen at Los Angeles Opera from 1994 to 2008. Steingraber has directed operatic repertoire spanning 400 years and five languages and has also worked on contemporary operas with American composers including John Adams, John Harbison, Michael Ching, and Anthony Davis. Steingraber also taught and directed at Yale School of Music, Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, and the Curtis Institute.

In 2008 Steingraber accepted Harvard Kennedy School's first Arts Fellowship, and embarked upon a Master's degree focused on non-profit management and public leadership.

Since his appointment in 2014 to The Soraya (formerly Valley Performing Arts Center), Steingraber has brought acclaim to the 1,700-seat venue. Located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, The Soraya is home to many Los Angeles artists and arts organizations, and Steingraber's lifetime experience as a producer has brought to The Soraya a range of original, innovative, and diverse programming. Previously, Steingraber was Vice President of two of the nation's largest performing arts centers - The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and The Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. In his capacity at The Music Center, Steingraber was responsible for opening Grand Park and establishing the vision that made the park vital to LA, as the home to its many celebrations and holidays.

For more information, please visit www.thesoraya.org.


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