Faces to Watch

Faces to watch in 2013

Movies | Comedy | Video Games | TV | Theater | Architecture | Books | Dance | Art | Pop | Jazz | Classical



Video Games










Jennifer Lee | Writer-Director

Jennifer Lee | Writer-Director Walt Disney Studios

In November, Walt Disney Animation Studios will release its 53rd feature — and its first directed by a woman — when Jennifer Lee shares directing credit with Chris Buck on the comedy-adventure “Frozen.”

As a screenwriter on this fall's animated hit “Wreck-It Ralph,” her first produced feature film, Lee helped add dimension to 8-bit video game characters and logic to an arcade-hopping story.

With “Frozen,” Lee, 41, is working in a different kind of fanciful world. “Frozen” follows a young girl named Anna as she attempts to break a spell cast by the Snow Queen.

Lee came to the craft as a screenwriter, rather than as art school graduate trained in character animation. Raised in Providence, R.I., Lee studied English as an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire and collected a master's in fine arts from Columbia University.

Lee also has an original screenplay in development with Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, Appian Way, and her original script “Lucid Dreams” was optioned by Wolfgang Petersen's Radiant Productions.

Nicholas Hoult | Actor

Nicholas Hoult | Actor Getty Images

When American moviegoers first met Nicholas Hoult, he was a 12-year-old with buck teeth and a bad bowl cut. But a decade after “About a Boy,” Hoult has a movie star girlfriend — Jennifer Lawrence — and no longer seems to share much in common with the awkward, bullied kid he played in the 2002 Hugh Grant film.

Hoult, 23, has popped up only in independent films like “A Single Man” or in supporting roles in blockbusters, including “X-Men: First Class.”

In 2013, Hoult will attempt to prove he can carry a film, first with February's zombie comedy “Warm Bodies” and then a month later in “Jack the Giant Slayer,” a fairy-tale adventure with a budget of more than $150 million.

“It's intimidating working on a film of that scale,” said Hoult, speaking via telephone from England. “There are reminders everywhere you look of the budget — the special effects and the big screens are all reminders of the scale of it. You want to do a good job.”

Hoult also just wrapped shooting the fourth installment in the “Mad Max” franchise with Tom Hardy.

Adam Driver | Actor

Adam Driver | Actor Getty Images

Audiences accustomed to watching Adam Driver on the HBO series “Girls” — as the shirt-forsaking bed partner of Lena Dunham's lead character — may have been surprised when the actor suddenly showed up in full Civil War regalia as a telegraph operator in Steven Spielberg's “Lincoln.”

That it's hard to imagine Driver playing anyone other than his crude-but-charming “Girls” alter ego is a testament to his fine work on the show. But audiences should get used to seeing Driver pop up on the big screen.

The 29-year-old actor has choice roles in films by Joel and Ethan Coen and Noah Baumbach. In the Coen brothers' “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Driver plays Al Cody, a musician trying to break into New York City's folk scene in the 1960s. In Baumbach's “Frances Ha,” which stars Greta Gerwig as a twentysomething modern dancer, Driver plays one of her rotating cast of roommates.

“I've been so spoiled by the people that I've got to work with so far,” Driver said by phone in Bloomington, Ind.

“I just try to stick with the basics. Know your lines, show up on time, and try to be as in the moment as possible.”

Moshe Kasher | Comedian-Memoirist

Moshe Kasher | Comedian-Memoirist MK West

This was a game-changing year for Moshe Kasher. He's already well-established on the stand-up scene, known for his slightly abrasive, fast-talking, sex-and-drug-infused bits that are often laced with self-deprecation and poignant punch lines. He's also made appearances on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” and “Chelsea Lately,” among other TV shows. And his 2009 debut album, “Everyone You Know Is Going to Die, and Then You Are!” was ranked a top 20 comedy album on iTunes.

This spring he elevated his profile with the cleverly titled coming-of-age memoir “Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy From Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16.” He also joined the writing staff of the NBC sitcom “The New Normal,” a fitting show, he says, given his upbringing with two deaf parents and his penchant for talking about gender ambiguity onstage.

Kasher, 33, released his debut comedy special, “Live in Oakland,” on Netflix in October. It was a move, he felt, that walked the line between the increasingly popular DIY method of distributing comedy and the more traditional route of comedians working with cable networks.

All of this has brought Kasher to the precipice of more mainstream success. “I'm a big-time heat generator,” he jokes.

Kasher plans to fan those flames in 2013. He'll not only continue to write for “The New Normal” but will appear in several episodes. He plays one of the writers on the show-within-the-show, the “Glee”-like “Sing!” He's also working on turning his memoir, which will be released in paperback in the new year, into a TV show.

“I see it as a prime-time, multi-camera show about teen sex and drug addiction on, like, Disney Family,” he jokes.

Spoken Reasons | 'King of the Internet'

Spoken Reasons | 'King of the Internet' Troy Huynh

YouTube sensation Spoken Reasons calls himself “King of the Internet,” which, despite the bravado, is not entirely unfounded. The 24-year-old's often crude, politically incorrect comedy skits — which he writes, directs and stars in — have earned him more than 170 million views and more than 800,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel. Outside that arena, though, Reasons is virtually unknown.

Not for long. He was recently cast in a featured role in the upcoming Paul Feig movie, “The Heat,” a buddy comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as law enforcement agents who take on the Russian mob. Skipping the bit parts that so many actors wade through first, Reasons plays Terrell Rojas, a high-energy street source for the agents. The movie is set for an early April release, at which point Reasons' career profile could change considerably.

It's a classic success story along the lines of Lana Turner at the soda fountain — if YouTube were the drugstore. Reasons, whose real name is John Baker and who grew up in Bradenton, Fla., had been gaining traction online for a few years when music executive Steve Rifkind discovered him.Rifkind introduced the comedian to producer Brian Robbins (“Smallville”), who collaborated with him on a skit for his YouTube-financed channel, AwesomenessTV. That landed him at UTA, and an audition for Feig soon followed.

Despite his turbo-charged ascension into Hollywood's inner circles, Reasons says fame isn't his main goal.

But he's ready for it. We caught up with him just after he pulled into Los Angeles from Orlando, Fla., and was moving into his Burbank apartment.

“I used to mentor kids in jail,” Reasons said amid the stacks of boxes. “I want to use poetry and comedy to encourage other people wherever I can.”

Gavin Moore | Designer

Gavin Moore | Designer SCEA

Moore isn't new to game design, but his approach to game architecture in recent years has completely changed.

“I have been pushing the technology with each new machine, trying to make things more realistic, trying to make believable worlds,” said Moore, a 14-year veteran of Sony Computer Entertainment who worked as an art director. “I came to realize that we as an industry have been moving in the wrong direction. It's not about the realism, it's about imagination.”

Next year Moore and Sony will release “Puppeteer” for the PS3, a moody Terry Gilliam-inspired fairy tale set entirely inside a magical theater. In the darkly surreal game, players become Kutaro, a young boy transformed into a puppet — a headless one. No matter though, since the benefit of being a puppet is the ability to swap heads for different abilities.

Tone-wise, Moore cites Tim Burton's “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” But don't think of it as childlike so much as experimentation. “Making ‘Puppeteer' was an exercise in freeing my imagination and creating a world where I could do anything I liked,” he says. “For example, if I wanted a 200-foot-high tiger in ‘Puppeteer,' it is not a problem. In fact, we have one. It made me realize that games should be less about realism and more about fun and wonderment.”

Telltale Games | Studio

Telltale Games | Studio Telltale Games

For gamers, it was a watershed moment when the top prize at the Spike Video Game Awards in December didn't go to a big budget title sold in a box. Instead it went to a downloadable game released in episodes by an independent studio in San Francisco called Telltale Games.

With its adaptation of the zombie comic “The Walking Dead” (also the source of the AMC series), Telltale and its about 125 employees have shot to the top of the industry despite operating without the support of a major publisher like Activision or Sony. Like Telltale's past games, its recent titles were based on licenses such as “Back to the Future,” “Law & Order” and “Wallace & Gromit.”

When Telltale's Chief Executive Dan Connors co-founded the company with Chief Technology Officer Kevin Bruner eight years ago, few knew what to make of it. Episodic games were considered bizarre, while their point-and-click-adventure style of gameplay seemed decidedly passé. But gamers, it turns out, love to be kept on the seat of their pants just as much as TV viewers.

2013 promises to be the first year in which Telltale doesn't have to fight for attention and respect. Gamers are salivating for a promised second season of “The Walking Dead” and there's sure to be plenty of heat for a planned adaptation of the comic book “Fables,” which offers reimagined and mature takes on classic fairy tales.

Carmen Ejogo | Actress

Carmen Ejogo | Actress ABC

Ejogo seems to have a knack for playing investigators who track down kidnap victims.

In ABC's new “Zero Hour,” Ejogo plays Becca Sunjata, a dogged FBI agent who is helping the editor of a skeptics magazine (Anthony Edwards) search for his kidnapped wife.

The terrain may seem familiar to the British-born actress. Six years ago, she portrayed an assistant to a former FBI agent tracking down the kidnapped son of an affluent couple in NBC's short-lived drama “Kidnapped.”

Ejogo comes to “Zero Hour” after being featured in two of 2012's high-profile films: ”Sparkle” with Whitney Houston and “Alex Cross” with Tyler Perry. She is perhaps best known for her portrayal of the title character in “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal,” the 2000 CBS film about the slave mistress of Thomas Jefferson.

Amy Schumer | Actress-Comic

Amy Schumer | Actress-Comic Invision / Associated Press

With her apple cheeks and blond hair, comedian Schumer could easily be mistaken for a long-lost Brady sister. But as soon as she opens her mouth on stage, cracking jokes about her occasionally messy sex life, the illusion of wholesomeness quickly disappears.

She'll bring the same outrageous candor to her new show, “Inside Amy Schumer,” premiering on Comedy Central in April, which she promises will be “intimate, honest and ridiculous.” The series will interweave stand-up material, street interviews inspired by HBO's long-running “Real Sex” series and single-camera vignettes in which Schumer will star as a version of herself, ranging from “a complete victim” to a “complete monster.”

Schumer's rapid ascent began on the NBC reality series “Last Comic Standing” in 2007. She gained a less welcome form of notoriety when she appeared on the “Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen” and unfavorably compared “Jackass” star Steve-O to his recently deceased friend Ryan Dunn.

She put the unpleasant experience behind her in 2012 with her own Comedy Central special, “Mostly Sex Stuff,” and roles in the films “Price Check” and “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.” Future projects include a book scheduled for release sometime next year and — fingers crossed — a collaboration with Judd Apatow.

“I'm just going to keep on doing what I'm doing and not apologize for it,” she says.

Ed Speleers | Actor

Ed Speleers | Actor Matthew Lloyd / For the Times

Anyone worried that the upcoming third season of “Downton Abbey” would be short on either intrigue or pretty faces needn't have worried: New cast member Speleers will bring both in spades to the series when it returns to PBS on Jan. 6.

Speleers plays an ambitious and dashing young footman named Jimmy Kent, whose arrival at the Grantham family estate sets off a chain of jealousy among the downstairs staff. The part came with some unexpected difficulties: A week into filming, the 25-year-old actor dropped an entire tray of china.

While a student at a British boarding school, Speleers was cast in the title role in the big-budget fantasy film “Eragon,” starring opposite Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Irons — not bad for a teenager who had no professional acting experience.

More recently he starred in the comedy horror movie “Love Bite,” about a virgin-devouring werewolf set loose in a seaside town. With his brooding looks and charming accent, Speleers is already drawing comparisons to his fellow countryman Robert Pattinson. Cue the squeals.

Barry Edelstein | Artistic Director

Barry Edelstein | Artistic Director Doug Gates

Can anyone restore the lost luster of San Diego's Old Globe after the disastrous tenure of former Chief Executive and Executive Producer Louis Spisto? It won't be easy, but Barry Edelstein, the new artistic director, has the intellectual integrity to return the theater to its nonprofit roots.

Having served as the director of the Public Theater's Shakespeare Initiative during a period that saw “The Merchant of Venice” with Al Pacino move from Central Park to Broadway, Edelstein is well positioned to make the Old Globe's Shakespeare Festival the preeminent West Coast outlet for outdoor Shakespeare. But he'll have to raise the level of its acting ensemble and attract top talent.

Musicals have long been a mainstay of the theater's programming, and subscribers deserve an upgraded selection. There's also nothing wrong with box-office-friendly light entertainment, though this needn't entail having IQ points deducted.

Edelstein's appointment is a step toward correcting a balance that has swung too far in a frivolous direction.

Samuel D. Hunter | Playwright

Samuel D. Hunter | Playwright South Coast Repertory

Last year, Samuel D. Hunter had downtown New York theatergoers buzzing about “A Bright New Boise,” his drama about an ex-cult member trying to reunite with the son he gave up for adoption. The Obie Award-winning play is playing at Rogue Machine Theatre through Jan. 27.

Hunter's latest play, “The Whale,” will be staged at South Coast Repertory in March. Like “A Bright New Boise,” the drama focuses on a social pariah — a morbidly obese Idaho man whose weight has turned him into a shut-in.

The playwright, 31, who hails from the Potato State, brings affection to his downtrodden characters. “The Whale” should draw more attention to Hunter, who can find beauty and spirituality in unlikely places.

Jennifer Haley | Playwright

Jennifer Haley | Playwright Bing Putney / Center Theatre Group

It's not every year that Los Angeles plays host to the premiere production of the winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn prize in playwrighting, awarded to a female playwright for her work for the English-speaking theater. But roughly a year after it snagged the Blackburn, “The Nether” by Jennifer Haley will be presented at the Center Theatre Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre. The play opens March 19.

Set not too far in the future, the play follows a cyber detective investigating a digital site that blurs the distinctions between the real and the virtual. Neel Keller directs.

Haley also deals with themes drawn from the digital realm in “Froggy” and “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom.” Her work “Breadcrumbs” was presented at Theater 150 in Ojai in 2011.

Johnston Marklee | Firm

Johnston Marklee | Firm Monica Nouwens / Johnston Marklee

The Westside L.A. firm, already well known to art- and architecture-world insiders for the sleek, efficient complexity of its work, will gain broader recognition as plans advance for the new Drawing Institute at the Menil Collection in Houston. Founders Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, who met at Harvard's Graduate School of Design and married in 1998, won a competition for the single-story building in July, beating out a high-powered list of competitors that included David Chipperfield, Tokyo firm SANAA and Mexico City's Tatiana Bilbao.

Zoltan Pali | Architect

Zoltan Pali | Architect Studio Pali Fekete Architects

The founder and design principal of L.A.'s SPF:architects is poised for a banner 2013. His collaboration with Renzo Piano on a forthcoming film museum for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences at the old May Co. building, on the western edge of the LACMA campus, is picking up speed. And fall will bring the opening of the firm's Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, an extension and re-imagining of a 1933 post office in Beverly Hills.

Emily Rapp | Memoirist

Emily Rapp | Memoirist Anne Staveley / Penguin

Remember that furor over tiger mothers — the idea that a mom who was ambitious and strict could create superachieving children? Rapp responded with an impassioned essay for being a different kind of parent; it sparked a memoir, “The Still Point of the Turning World.”

In the book, which will be published in March, Rapp explains that she learned to stop imagining her son's future and instead live with him in the moment. This was a hard lesson: When Ronan was 9 months old, he was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, a rare genetic disorder. Children with Tay-Sachs lose sight, mobility and brain function, and they rarely live to age 4. The premature loss of a child seems unbearable, but of course, some people must bear it. Rapp learns from the parents who have done so before her, and finds them, above all, fierce: in the way they honor their children's short lives, how they manage awful tasks, in their ability to live on.

Rapp has an emotional accessibility reminiscent of “Wild” author Cheryl Strayed; her unique experiences have a touch of the universal. She comes across as open, midthought. In her book, she wrestles with the ideas of luck and sentimentality and life and love and often circles back, unresolved. Despite being a former divinity student, she bypasses religion for literature, seeking meaning in poetry, myth and, especially, “Frankenstein” and its author, Mary Shelley.

Rapp was born with a birth defect that led to the amputation of her left foot (her memoir “Poster Child” tells of being part of the March of Dimes campaign), and after examining pity from every angle, she's having none of it. Not for her, not for her son. Her kind of parent? The dragon mother: powerful, sometimes terrifying, full of fire and magic.

Jim Gavin | Short-story Writer

Jim Gavin | Short-story Writer Fred Schroeder / Simon & Schuster

When Gavin's first collection of short fiction, “Middle Men,” comes out via Simon & Schuster in February, it will offer a vision of Southern California marked by what the essayist D.J. Waldie has called the region's “sacred ordinariness.”

That's because Gavin, a former Stegner fellow whose work has appeared in the Paris Review and Zyzzyva, writes about real people — men of various ages — living in a landscape that is not so much mythic as mundane. “There will never be a shortage of great movies and books that deal with crime and corruption and the depravity of Hollywood,” Gavin told the New Yorker after the magazine published his story “Costello.” “Most of them are written by people who didn't grow up there, which means that you rarely get beyond what is lurid and grotesque. However, there is a certain percentage of the local population, who, in theory, at least, have never been involved in a cult murder, or the greenlighting of a Ryan Reynolds vehicle, and I guess these people interest me as much as anything.”

“Costello” is the final story in “Middle Men.” The saga of a plumbing sales rep unmoored by the death of his wife, it finds its consolations in the details, the minor movements and unnoticed obligations of the every day.

This, of course, is what life in Los Angeles (as anywhere) is all about — as anyone who makes his or her home here knows. And yet it bears repeating all the same. In that sense, “Middle Men” aspires to do what ambitious fiction has always done: show the world (especially the world we think we know) in a way that's recognizable and revealing, while telling us something fundamental about where and how we live.

Michelle Meyering |Events

Michelle Meyering | Programs and Events Director

Meyering is a lynch pin of PEN Center USA and a vibrant, creative force on Los Angeles' literary landscape.

Casey Curry

Now director of programs and events at PEN, she came to the organization five years ago and has leapt from one position to another. At every juncture — managing a program for emerging writers, overseeing a Beverly Hills fundraising gala, setting up readings around the city — she has raised PEN's profile and injected its programs with new life.

Meyering, 31, has a genius for events, finding new venues and combinations of voices; they're usually packed to capacity. The week that Molly Ringwald was incorrectly rumored to be bringing her Hollywood wattage to the National Book Awards in New York, she was actually in the audience at one of Meyering's events at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

That was the launch of Issue No. 3 of the Rattling Wall, a new print literary journal that includes writers at the start of their careers — Marytza K. Rubio and Ringwald's husband, Panio Gianopoulos — alongside perennial bestseller Joyce Carol Oates. Meyering, the Rattling Wall's founder and editor, selects a single artist to create the cover and all illustrations for each issue, giving each one a visual coherence uncommon in literary magazines.

A writer herself, Meyering plans to carve out time in the coming year for her own poetry, in addition to her ever-expanding repertoire of PEN projects. “I still think that writing poems is the hardest thing I've ever done — and also the most rewarding,” she says.

Lisa Hanawalt | Graphic Novelist

Lisa Hanawalt | Graphic Novelist Lisa Hanawalt

Brooklyn-based cartoonist and visual artist Hanawalt has, in the six years since graduating from UCLA, done comics and illustration work for Vanity Fair, Vice, the New York Times and the Believer, among others. She also published two issues of a “floppy” comic in 2009 called “I Want You,” starring furry animals dressed as people, through the Oakland-based indie press Buenaventura.

Now, Hanawalt's debut graphic novel, “My Dirty Dumb Eyes,” comes out in May through Montreal-based press Drawn and Quarterly — her “dream publisher,” she says. The book is a compilation of the very different things Hanawalt, 29, has been drawing for the last two years. It includes journalistic works, such as her popular, illustrated TV reviews (her recap of “The Bachelor” ran on New York Magazine's Vulture blog in March), as well as a first-person humor essay, in comics form, from the 2012 New York Toy Fair. There are also short fictional take-downs of Martha Stewart and Anna Wintour.

Though she cites Phoebe Gloeckner, Tony Millionaire and Daniel Clowes as early influences, it's Hanawalt's Brooklyn peers, she says, who have had the greatest hand in shaping her sensibility. Hanawalt was part of the all-female cartooning collective Pizza Island, consisting of six women who shared a studio. Among them: Kate Beaton, Sarah Glidden and Julia Wertz — all of whom have taken untraditional, digital or cross-genre approaches to comics.

So is Hanawalt a cartoonist, critic, illustrator or painter? She balks at the labels. “When people ask, I usually just say I'm an artist.”

Valla Vakili | Website Founder

Valla Vakili | Website Founder Small Demons

Valla Vakili founded Small Demons after being so entranced by a book that he wanted to experience its textures in real life. What did the main character's favorite drink taste like? Could he trace his footsteps through Marseille?

A former Yahoo executive, Vakili had the resources to go to Marseille and explore for himself. But for everyone else, he created Small Demons, an interactive website of books and the people, places and things they contain.

On the site, you can find every song in Nick Hornby's “High Fidelity.” All 181 cultural icons mentioned in “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace. Every location in Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series: Philippe's sandwiches, the city of Tustin, Hollywood Park. Each item is connected to every other book in which it appears.

Follow the trails from book to book to book, or look up something specific. Bob Dylan, not surprisingly, appears in 619 books (and counting). The numbers are growing as Small Demons adds more books to its database; it has agreements with five of the six major publishers. Using books to enter an interconnected world: Vakili calls it the Storyverse.

And just as with the universe, the storyverse is expanding outward so users can share their Small Demons world beyond the site itself. A new feature makes it possible to create and share collections, which look a lot like Pinterest boards and can be shared via social media sites.

“As a start-up, whenever you're compared to a runaway hit like Pinterest, it's flattering,” Vakili says. “We do, though, like to think of ourselves as the ultimate place to explore the world of books.”

Melissa Barak | Choreographer

Melissa Barak | Choreographer Joshua Spencer

Award-winning choreographer Melissa Barak is starting a ballet company in Los Angeles, and she has no illusions about the obstacles and difficulties she faces. This is her hometown after all. But after nine years at New York City Ballet, then several more with Los Angeles Ballet and Morphoses, she will forge ahead in 2013, fulfilling a long-standing dream: for a chamber troupe devoted to contemporary ballets. Written into the mission statement is a commitment to a company supportive of its dancers' creative potential.

An inaugural “pre-launch” performance for Barak Ballet is scheduled March 31 in Santa Monica. The program of four duets will include a piece by her friend Christopher Wheeldon and a new work by Barak; it's intended to pique interest. If she meets her funding goal, Barak plans to hire between 15 and 20 dancers and launch the group in the fall.

Barak started choreographing in her late teens. An early piece for students at the School of American Ballet caught the attention of New York City Ballet master in chief Peter Martins. Three commissions from Martins followed, a rare show of support for any dance-maker, particularly a woman. Barak's ballets are rooted in a neoclassical vocabulary, with a strong marriage between musical and movement sensibilities. Indeed, music is a main source of inspiration for her and it is what determines the look of each piece, she said last summer at the National Choreographers Initiative in Irvine.

“I would hope the style and the look of my dances are [each] different because each has a different piece of music. Some choreographers, I see the same steps to very different music, and it looks like it could be the same ballet.”

Barak Marshall | Choreographer

Barak Marshall | Choreographer Daniel Tchetchik

To catch up with independent choreographer Barak Marshall means having to call him in Montreal one day, New York City the next, Vancouver a week later, and Tel Aviv after that. Marshall does eventually return to Los Angeles, his birthplace and part-time home. As the year drew to a close he was on the road rehearsing “Harry,” his first piece for BJM Danse, and also planning to return to his second home in Israel to work on a new dance-theater piece underwritten by the Suzanne Dellal Centre, a producing and presenting organization in Tel Aviv. Not bad for a guy who 10 years ago thought he was done with dance, knocked down by a severely broken leg. His performing career was indeed finished. But his life as a choreographer has kicked into high gear.

During 2013, Marshall will be working with London's Rambert Dance Theatre. His most recent piece for the L.A. repertory company BodyTraffic might be on the program when the group performs at the Broad Stage in October. Marshall will continue a residency at UCLA and is participating in a yearlong mentorship program with emerging choreographer Rebecca Pappas.

The Harvard graduate said he thinks about having his own company of dancers in Los Angeles, but he's been down that road before in Israel, and it was “devastating economically,” he said.

“Unless you have a [philanthropist] Glorya Kaufman, you're looking at economic suicide. If I was lucky enough to get support, absolutely. L.A. is really a great place to create dance.”

Mark Morris | Choreographer

Mark Morris | Choreographer Jennifer S. Altman / For the Times

One of our most celebrated artists, choreographer Mark Morris has become an important force within the music world. He is a respected conductor as well as an opera director, having partnered with the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden and New York City Opera. For 2013, Morris has stepped into another role, as music director of the 67th Ojai Music Festival, June 6 through 9, a first for a choreographer.

Morris has put his distinctive stamp on programming, and the coming festival will focus on American composers and ensembles, some rarely heard at Ojai: Lou Harrison, John Cage, Henry Cowell, jazz artist Ethan Iverson, the Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble, American String Quartet, and the UC Berkeley Gamelan Sari Raras. The Mark Morris Dance Group will perform, as well. This being his party, there will be a live-band, late-night karaoke event, with the puckish Morris leading the fun.

If you can't wait, Mark Morris Dance Group will be at Northridge's Valley Performing Arts Center on April 27 with works spanning 30 years: “Canonic 3/4 Studies” (1982, piano waltzes, various composers), “Festival Dance” (2011, Johann Hummel) and “Grand Duo” (1993, Lou Harrison). As always with MMDG, no recorded music is allowed.

'Problem Painting' | Artwork

'Problem Painting' (Jimmy Stewart) | Artwork Detail from Museum of Contemporary Art

In a 1964 self-portrait, René Magritte famously floated a green apple in front of his face while dressed as a typical businessman in a bowler hat. The fruit obscures the tightly wound bourgeois gentleman with an unripe symbol that ricochets between a still life by Cézanne, father of Modern art, and a troublesome episode in the Garden of Eden.

Swiss-born New York artist Urs Fischer, 39, recently executed a series of “Problem Paintings,” fruit-on-face silk-screen portraits that play with the Magritte by adding a pointed element of modern celebrity. In one, a publicity photo of Jimmy Stewart is obscured by a big yellow banana — a phallic joke that suggests a pratfall in the well-oiled machinery of Hollywood desire.

A midcareer survey of Fischer's work, organized by curator Jessica Morgan from Tate Modern, London, opens April 21 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Both the main building on Grand Avenue and the Little Tokyo warehouse will be filled with paintings, sculptures and installations.

Luba Mask | Sculpture

Luba Mask | Sculpture Los Angeles County Museum of Art

In mid-2013, the palatial Royal Museum for Central Africa in a suburb of Brussels will close for major renovation. Established a century ago from the aggressive colonial aspirations of King Leopold II, the museum surveys both art and science, especially from what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Parts of the vast collection will go into storage during the renovation; other objects will go on the road in several traveling exhibitions.

From those remarkable holdings, Mary Nooter Roberts, consulting curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has organized “Shaping Power,” an exhibition of Luba masterworks that opens July 13. (A specialty of Roberts' research, the art was the subject of her 2007 book, “Luba: Visions of Africa.”) Sculpture that surveys the utilitarian production of Luba society will include thrones, scepters, stools, ancestral figures, bowls, headrests and ceremonial masks — among the latter, an authoritative bearded face with oval eyes and framed by curling, ram-like horns. Now that's power.

Philippe De Croy | Portrait

Philippe De Croy | Portrait Detail from Huntington Library

Chamberlain to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, Philippe de Croy was about 25 when Rogier van der Weyden painted his pious portrait, hands clasped in prayer around a rosary and eyes lost in devotional concentration.

On Sept. 28, the Boone Gallery at the Huntington Library will reunite Van Der Weyden's portrait of De Croy, now in the collection of a royal museum in Antwerp, Belgium, with its other half — a marvelous Madonna and Child that has been in the Huntington's collection since 1926.

The reunited diptych will be a centerpiece of “Face to Face: Flanders, Florence and Renaissance Painting,” co-curated by Catherine Hess and Paula Nuttall. Roughly 30 paintings and 10 illuminated manuscripts from the 1400s will examine the profound impact of Northern European on Southern European art.

Haim | Band of Sisters

Haim | Band of Sisters Getty Images

Come April, when most in the L.A. music scene are getting ready for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., the three Haim sisters will likely be busy fussing over Sherman Oaks' St. Francis de Sales Festival. Often performing at the community event is Rockin' Haim, the family cover band that siblings Este, Alana and Danielle share with their mother and father. “My dad had heard stories that kids who grow up in L.A. are crazy and can get mixed up in a bunch of bad things,” said Este, the eldest sister at 25. “My dad started the band because he wanted a way to keep us out of trouble.”

Now it's become a lifestyle. The primary musical focus for the Studio City-raised siblings these days is their own band. As Haim, Este, Alana and Danielle conjure a more fashionable and contemporary sound, one that mixes SoCal harmonies with low-key grooves and the sparkle of early '90s R&B. Songs such as “Forever” and “Don't Save Me” are rooted in folk-pop, but they bust the genre wide open with a mix of synthetic and organic beats and hand claps.

Este, who studied Brazilian percussion at UCLA, speaks in equal reverence of the Spice Girls and Van Morrison, and the band works Fleetwood Mac numbers into live sets. Whatever the influences, it's working, as Haim has played gigs with Mumford & Sons, has been name-checked by Katy Perry and recently signed a deal with Columbia Records. A long-in-the-works debut should be released this spring. “Maybe May,” said Este. “Maybe June. Best-laid plans.”

Earl Sweatshirt | L.A. Rapper

Earl Sweatshirt | L.A. Rapper Odd Future

Since Earl Sweatshirt's breakout in 2010 from L.A's hip-hop collective Odd Future, the 18-year-old rapper and lyricist has shown a promise beyond his years. His story took a turn, though, when he was sent halfway across the world to a school for at-risk youth. While he was away, a story developed without him, filled with myths and misreporting.

What turned out to be true was nearly unbelievable. Sweatshirt's lyricism is genetic: He's the son of former South African poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile, whose work inspired one of the first rap collectives, the Last Poets. Sweatshirt's dad moved away when he was 6, and he was then raised by his mother, a law professor at UCLA.

Since Earl returned from his Samoan boarding school in February, his work (he guests on Frank Ocean's “Super Rich Kids”) has been incredible. The first tease off his studio debut, “Doris” (due sometime in 2013), has none of the immature bluster of Sweatshirt's first work. The track, “Chum,” is an introspective, autobiographical piece that directly addresses his youth. “Too black for the white kids too white for the blacks/From honor roll to cracking locks up off them bicycle racks/ I'm indecisive, I'm scatterbrained, and I'm frightened, it's evident/And them eyes, where's he hiding them icicles at?”

Ashley Monroe | County Singer

Ashley Monroe | County Singer Getty Images for ACM

She's already tasted success as a member of Miranda Lambert's Pistol Annies, whose rollicking debut, “Hell on Heels,” topped the country chart in 2011. But next year, Ashley Monroe is set to make a splash of her own with “Like a Rose,” an assured solo disc (due out in March) that spikes old-fashioned tears-in-your-beer balladry with a sly sense of irreverence. Telling song titles include “Two Weeks Late” and “Weed Instead of Roses,” in which she proposes a freshening-up of her and her man's bedroom routine: “Let's put up the teddy bears and get out the whips and chains.”

Produced with characteristic warmth by Vince Gill, “Like a Rose” isn't Monroe's first crack at a solo career. In 2007, she made a fine disc called “Satisfied” that fell prey to a record-label merger; it eventually came out with little fanfare on iTunes. And she's worked since then with roots-music heavyweights including Guy Clark and Jack White, who drafted Monroe to sing on a bluegrass version of the Raconteurs' “Old Enough.”

Still, the Lambert boost seems likely to turn that insider cred into mainstream renown. If you've been searching for a real-life version of Hayden Panettiere's character on “Nashville,” your hunt might be over.

Daniel Rosenboom | Trumpeter, Composer and more

Daniel Rosenboom | Trumpeter, Composer and more Johnny Buzzerio

Daniel Rosenboom has been a welcome and eclectic commodity around the local scene with his nimble band or his Balkan-accented group, Plotz. Though a backing saxophonist for Vinnie Golia as well as vocalist Josh Groban, the trumpeter-composer firmly established himself as an artist deserving of larger recognition with 2011's “Fallen Angeles,” a bracing mix of swing and off-centered craft from his septet.

Rosenboom, who's a product of the fertile graduate program in music at the California Institute of the Arts, sets the controls even further out with the ambitious, genre-mashing “Book of Omens,” (slated for release this spring). The album is inspired by a myth about the end of time and rebirth of the universe, resulting in songs that range from ominously abstract to explorations of the scorched middle ground between free-blowing experimental jazz and dark metal. It may not always sound like “jazz” per se, but it does sound like the work of a musician dedicated to exploration and expression, regardless of anyone's imagined boundaries.

Whether hearing Rosenboom in the context of this recording or another of his musical guises, odds are L.A. jazz fans are going to hear more from him in the year ahead, and that's a promising omen in its own right.

Latonia Moore | Soprano

Latonia Moore | Soprano Dallas Kilponen

The powerhouse soprano from Houston went by LaTonia Moore when she appeared as a promising 20-year-old opera singer at the Beverly Hills Public Library in 1999. A year later Latonia Moore was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions with what New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini described as “a distinctive poignant sound that makes an audience sit up.”

But voices don't ripen overnight. Moore slowly started to get noticed either in smaller roles in better houses or better roles in smaller houses. Then the first Saturday in March, she was asked with a day's notice to substitute in the title role of Verdi's “Aida” at the Met for a matinee that was broadcast around the world.

Her creamily rich and now impressively ripe soprano reportedly filled a thrilled house, and she certainly sounded sensational over the airwaves. She repeats that role in San Diego Opera's “Aida” in April. If any singer can overcome the dry acoustics of the city's all-purpose Civic Auditorium, Moore should be the one.

Ray Chen | Violinist

Ray Chen | Violinist Uwe Ahrens

The booklet biography that comes with a new Sony recording of the Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky violin concertos ticks off all the media-savvy boxes expected of a young player. Ray Chen chills out on Deadmau5, Skrillex and Daft Punk. He's a gym rat and addicted to sushi. “Naturally he has website,” the notes enthuse. “Of course he is on Facebook and Twitter.” Naturally and, of course, we are expected to believe, that this 23-year-old virtuoso — Taiwanese-born, Australian-raised and trained at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia — is just like every other 23-year-old.

Well, he's not. With fleet accompaniment by the Swedish Radio Symphony under Daniel Harding, Chen plays the concertos with a sleek, silky lyricism. It's a refreshingly sophisticated sound, unlike many of the today's young violinists who love to lay their tone on thick, add wavering heaps of vibrato and place as much emotion on their sleeves as well-toned arms can hold. Chen offers rarer pleasures, such as those of understatement. With all the effortless-sounding technique in the world and ultra-quick reflexes, he doesn't need to show off.

He isn't, naturally, and, of course, all that daft or punk in his musical tastes either. He'll be sticking to old chestnuts for his Orange County Philharmonic Society recital program at Irvine Barclay Theater in April. But he is likely to make them sound still hot, just off the fire.

Horszowski Trio | Ensemble

Horszowski Trio | Ensemble Lisa-Marie Mazzucco / Horszowski Trio

Piano trios can have a hard time making a go of it. Unlike with string quartets, the most successful trios have consisted of famous soloists (Stern-Istomin-Rose or the incomparable Heifetz-Piatigorsky-Rubinstein). The Horszowki has been together for only a year and will have to see how it pans out. But violinist Jesse Mills, cellist Raman Ramakrishnan and pianist Rieko Aizawa already have an admirably busy international schedule.

That includes three Southern California dates. They will be in Fullerton and La Jolla in early March. Then, after a tour to India, the ensemble makes its Los Angeles debut courtesy of the Da Camera Society, and exactly where you would want to hear it — in the acoustically intimate, domed Doheny Mansion on the Mount St. Mary's campus.

The trio takes its name from the great Polish pianist who died at 101 in 1993 and went on performing up to the end with captivating grace and depth. Aizawa was his last pupil.


Readers: What’s your take? Share it here.