This is Me: Letters from the Front Lines | Diavolo at The Soraya

The Soraya presents Fridays at 4 | DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion's "This is Me: Letters From The Front Lines", Premieres Friday, July 31 at 4:00 pm on The Soraya Facebook page

PHOTO: George Simian | South Pasadena News | France Nguyen-Vincent and dancers in Diavolo's "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.

PHOTO: George Simian | South Pasadena News | Majella Loughran in Diavolo’s “This is Me: Letters From The Front Lines”

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.

PHOTO: George Simian | South Pasadena News | Derion Loman in Diavolo’s “This is Me: Letters From The Front Lines”

This is Me: Letters from the Front Lines will premiere online, on Friday, July 31 at 4pm (PT) during Fridays at 4 on The Soraya facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/

The piece will thereafter be available on demand at The Soraya Facebook page as well as at Diavolo.org

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.

PHOTO: George Simian | South Pasadena News | Aaron & Dr. Najibi in Diavolo’s “This is Me: Letters From The Front Lines”

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.

PHOTO: George Simian | South Pasadena News | France and Aaron filming “This is Me: Letters From The Front Lines”

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.

PHOTO: George Simian | South Pasadena News | France Nguyen-Vincent

“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.

Heim, who is the Director and Choreographer of This Is Me, 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.”

PHOTO: George Simian | South Pasadena News | Matt Transit

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.