A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

"Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands" / Photo by Michael Tulberg

Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands, an interdisciplinary opera playing for two weekends in Culver City, is the culmination of seven years of creative development and community workshops. If seven years sounds impressive, consider these equally spectacular numbers — and respected names — affiliated with the project: Director O-Lan Jones of the nonprofit Overtone Industries developed the opera in collaboration with 21 librettists, 11 composers, costume and scenic designer Snezana Petrovic, musical director David O, instrument inventor Bart Hopkin, choreographer Nina Winthrop, 20 performers, a nine-piece live orchestra, dozens of crew members, scores of community volunteers, and many others.

Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands integrates art installations, dance, voice, live and recorded music, projected video, costume, theater, and community participation in a story of a couple traveling to 21 imaginary lands to reclaim their identities. To that end, this massive creative undertaking incorporates a plethora of sets and costumes, song compositions and choreographed dances. The audience travels with the performers throughout a 25,000-square-foot former car dealership space via various modes of transportation, from a simple chair to “train cars” designed by product designer, engineer, artist, entrepreneur, and performer Gregg Emmel. The nine-piece orchestra performs live at most “lands.”

O-Lan Jones is an award-winning actress, composer, sound designer, and writer who has won Emmy and Dramalogue awards for her nonprofit Overtone Industries creations, and you might recognize her from her multiple roles in Tim Burton films and television appearances on Seinfeld, X-Files, and more.

The 28 songs in Songs and Dances incorporate electronic, traditional acoustic, and invented instruments in an array of recorded and live music performed by an orchestra under the direction of musical director David O, an award-winning composer whose work has been featured at Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Mark Taper Forum and the Hollywood Bowl.  The live nine-piece orchestra features keyboards, violin, cello, upright and electric bass, electric and acoustic guitar, drums, percussion, clarinet, baritone sax, and instruments made by Bart Hopkin from found materials (including slide whistle, lyre, hurdy gurdy).

Performances started Thursday, July 8, and continue through Sunday, July 18, (Thursdays through Sundays, 8 p.m. nightly, with 2 p.m. matinees on Sundays). Ticket prices range from $25 to $50 and can be purchased at www.overtoneindustries.org/sdtickets.php.  Performances are suitable for mature teen and adult audiences. The warehouse is located at 8840 Washington St., Culver City, 90232; free parking.