University of Southern California

USC Event Calendar

Visions and Voices

  • Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host: Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass

    A Visions and Voices Signature Event


    Ira Glass, host of This American Life and creator of Serial, and dancers Monica Bill Barnes and  Anna Bass have placed the odd couple of dance and radio together in a funny, lively and very talky evening of movement and stories. Join us for an exciting event of entertaining and unexpected convergences.

    Ira Glass, host of This American Life and creator of Serial, has been working with Monica Bill Barnes & Company to invent a show that combines two art forms that—as Glass puts it—“have no business being together: dance and radio.” One is all words and no visuals. One is all visuals and no words. The result is a funny, lively and very talky evening of dance and stories that brought down the house in its first test run at Carnegie Hall.   

    Glass and choreographer Monica Bill Barnes thought their work shared a sensibility. Glass found Barnes’s dances “funny and intensely personal.” Barnes, in turn, says, “Ira has a way of telling stories that makes me . . . empathize, which is what I want an audience to do when we are dancing.”

    In May 2012 Barnes and Glass collaborated on three short dances that were part of a This American Life variety show that was beamed into movie theatres nationwide. It was such a success that they decided to do a full show that combines stories and dance.

    Join us for an exciting evening of entertaining and unexpected convergences.  

    About the Artists:

    Ira Glass is the host and creator of WBEZ Chicago’s public-radio program This American Life, which is distributed by Public Radio International and heard on over 500 public radio stations, with another million downloading the podcast. For years, the podcast of This American Life was the most popular podcast on iTunes, until the show started its first spin-off program Serial, which quickly became the most popular podcast in the world.

    Glass’s career in radio has spanned over 35 years at National Public Radio, where he worked on nearly every NPR network news program and held virtually every production job in NPR’s Washington headquarters. He has also filled in as host of Talk of the Nation and Weekend All Things Considered.

    Under Glass’s editorial direction, This American Life has won the highest honors for broadcasting and journalistic excellence, including five Peabody awards. The American Journalism Review declared that the show is “at the vanguard of a journalistic revolution.” A television adaptation of This American Life ran on the Showtime network for two seasons in 2007 and 2008, winning three Emmy awards including Outstanding Nonfiction Series. (This American Life official website, Twitter)

    Monica Bill Barnes (director/choreographer) is the artistic director of Monica Bill Barnes & Company, a New York City–based contemporary dance company founded in 1997. The company has performed in more than 50 U.S. cities; been commissioned and presented by the American Dance Festival, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival; and performed all over New York City in venues ranging from Upright Citizens Brigade to Lincoln Center. Barnes has been an invited guest artist at many universities, has choreographed for various theatre productions and has been commissioned by Parsons Dance and The Juilliard School. Since 2006, Barnes has been making duets for herself and Anna Bass with the goal of reaching audiences beyond dance venues. They have performed in comedy festivals and films and at literary events. Barnes began working with Ira Glass in 2012 when she created a solo for David Rakoff, and performed with Monica Bill Barnes & Company as part of This American Life Live! This is the first show where she has let anyone speak on stage. (Official website, Facebook)

    Anna Bass (dancer) has been a member of Monica Bill Barnes & Company since 2003. She has worked with choreographers and companies including Shannon Hummel/Cora Dance, Alexandra Beller/Dances, Steeledance, Christian Canciani, Donna Costello and Aviva Geismar.

    Photo: David Bazemore

    Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative.

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)
    University Park Campus

    Admission is free. Reservations required. RSVP at the links below beginning Tuesday, January 6, at 9 a.m.

    USC Students, Staff and Faculty: To RSVP, click here.
    USC Alumni: To RSVP, click here.
    General Public: To RSVP, click here.