For The Love Of L.A.
Jeri Gaile, Director, The Music Center's Spotlight
I grew up in Los Angeles and have a deep connection to this beautiful and complicated city. I remember being young, and every time I would leave and fly back, I would start clapping as soon the plane touched down on the runway of home. I also grew up going to performances at The Music Center and always thought of it as a magical place, much like others think of Disneyland. I never dreamt I would be working here or having the opportunity to work with young artists through The Music Center Spotlight program.
In my 20 years as director of Spotlight, I have been honored to witness the artistic, emotional and spiritual growth of thousands of young artists. I am continually learning from them and getting to see Los Angeles through their eyes. It's a constantly shifting landscape. When the world changed because of the pandemic, the arts changed. There was a monumental shift in the way we tell our stories. How do we engage without being in someone’s presence? We miss our connection to each other and because of that, there is a void. The artists I chose to represent The Music Center’s For the Love of L.A. are striving to fill that void through creative expression. The arts always remain in times of deepest sorrow. For many of the young students I interact with, this is a time of upheaval, depression and fear. In my discussions with them, we talk about how the arts are a catalyst for social and civic change. They get this! Maya Alvarez-Coyne and Teira Lockhart Church show Los Angeles to be a city that is resilient, enduring, intense, fluid and evolving.
I first met Maya when she was 14. Multi-talented with a strong sense of self, Maya has never let anything stop her from doing what she loves. She’s relentless in her love and devotion to friends, family and dancing. Her piece is a love letter to the places she holds dear to her heart. She chose to dance to a song called “Home.” As she describes it, home doesn’t feel like home right now. I’m always in awe of her deep well of understanding into the human condition; at such a young age.
I’ve also known Teira since she was very young. I remember hearing her sing at 14 and holding my breath for fear of missing one single note. That voice has only become more soulful as she has grown. Teira has the elegance and grace of an old soul. She finds ways of expressing her powerful and raw emotions as though they were prayers. Her piece for For the Love of L.A. reminds us all of the palpable loss of life in the era of COVID-19 and the social justice movement. It also touches upon the sacredness of life as we move through loss, pain and rebirth. It’s deeply layered and open to many interpretations, which is what art is all about. I want to thank Maya and Teira for going on this journey with me. I love them and am so excited for you to see their many gifts of expression.
A native of Los Angeles, Jeri Gaile has worked in the arts for 40 years and has been the director of The Music Center's Spotlight program for the past 20 years. She began dancing professionally following graduation from the School of American Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. She was a principal dancer with the Los Angeles Ballet and has performed with the San Francisco Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet. Gaile worked as an actress, dancer and singer on stage, films, television and commercials. She starred as "Rose McKay" on the hit TV series "Dallas", and made numerous guest star appearances in episodic television.
Since 1995, she has produced a variety of arts events including The Music Center's Spotlight at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dorothy B. Chandler Children's Festival and invitational dress rehearsals for students at The Music Center. Jeri has co-produced master classes for Performing Arts L.A., and has served as a pre and post-performance moderator for Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center.
Through Spotlight, Gaile produces numerous student events focusing on careers in the arts, on stage and off, in order to help students develop skills to prepare for college and professional life. In addition, she has been a guest lecturer for Screen Actors Guild's Dancers in Transition, American Ballet Theatre summer sessions as well as numerous high schools and art studios throughout Southern California. She serves on the advisory boards of the Festival of New American Musicals and the August Wilson Monologue Competition for Center Theatre Group. In addition to her work in the arts, she has also served on the board of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services as well as Home Safe Early Head Start programs.