The Failure of Sir Launcelot to enter the Chapel of the Holy Grail, Number 3 of the Holy Grail tapestries woven by Morris & Co. 1891-94 for Stanmore Hall. Wool and silk on cotton warp, c. 1890 | Public Domain


10 Questions: What is Failure?

"10 Questions" is a collaboration with UCLA and is an interdisciplinary course/public event series featuring conversations with leading scholars that provides both students and the public a special opportunity to experience the conversations that drive innovation at the university. 

Every Tuesday for ten weeks UCLA faculty members from disciplines as diverse as dance, medicine, photography, astrophysics, athletics, Chicana and Chicano studies, law, philosophy and religious studies will join UCLA Arts Dean Brett Steele to explore a fundamental question such as: What is space? What is failure? and What is freedom? The goal is to stimulate dialogue and exchange, and to seed a greater understanding of the profoundly interdisciplinary nature of knowledge production in the 21st century. We present a discussion primer for each week's session to get the conversation started.

Art&Arc100: 10 Questions sessions will be held on Tuesdays through December 4 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Glorya Kaufman Hall theater (room 200). Free and open to the public (RSVP required). Pay by space parking available on campus adjacent to Kaufman Hall (Structure 4).



This week, David Gere, Valorie Kondos Field, Janet O'Shea and Lorrie Frasure-Yokley will join Brett Steele, dean of the UCLA School of the Arts & Architecture to explore the question, "What is Failure?"



Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Bill T. Jones' "D-Man in the Waters (PartI)." | Photo: Paul Kolnik
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Bill T. Jones' "D-Man in the Waters (PartI)" | Photo: Paul Kolnik

David Gere, arts activist

Professor in the Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance

David Gere, Ph.D., serves as director of the UCLA Art & Global Health Center and is a professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, where he teaches courses in arts activism. His book, "How to Make Dances in an Epidemic: Tracking Choreography in the Age of AIDS" (University of Wisconsin Press) received the award for outstanding book publication from the Congress on Research in Dance. Gere has co-authored numerous public health journal articles addressing arts-based health interventions. And he has co-curated a trilogy of AIDS exhibitions: MAKE ART/STOP AIDS (2008), The A.R.T. Show (2011) and Through Positive Eyes (2016), set to tour the United States starting in 2019.

Related content:

Recommended Reading: "Letting Them Die" from the book "Why HIV/AIDS Prevention Programmes Fail," by Catherine Campbell

Why is it that people knowingly engage in sexual behaviour that could lead to a slow and painful premature death? Why do the best-intentioned attempts to stem the tide of the HIV epidemic often have so little impact? (Note: This is a PDF document.) Read more.


Preserving the Legacy of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater

"There's a moment when the dancers are running and then sliding on their stomachs. It has a childlike innocence to it, but it's about Bill Jones' response to the AIDS epidemic. He created it in 1989, which is the year we lost Alvin Ailey to the disease. 'D-Man' is what he would call one of his dancers Demian Acquavella who died of AIDS so it's a tribute to him and he inspired the dance. It really has to do with the tenacity of the human spirit." Read more.


Patrick Quan's Accidents, Failures and Fantastical Landscapes

Failure and accidents are important concepts in Patrick Quan's working method. Both notions, embodied in the show's title, can lead to a "success" which can then become its own failure, too. It is a feedback loop that allows the artist to explore in his work the nature of observing and understanding objects, and then providing the same investigative experience for the viewer. Read more.



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The art of boxing, swimming and gymnastics made easy, c. 1883 | Flickr's The Commons
The art of boxing, swimming and gymnastics made easy, c. 1883 | Flickr's The Commons

Valorie Kondos Field, gymnastics coach

Head coach of UCLA gymnastics

UCLA alumna Valorie Kondos Field is the head coach of the UCLA Gymnastics Team, which she has positioned as one of the premier programs in collegiate gymnastics with seven NCAA championships. Not only has she consistently recruited and coached some of the top talent in the world, but she has produced the results, totaling over 500 career regular season victories in her 28-year career.

Related content:

Recommended Reading: Why I Hate the F Word (Valorie Kondos Field's website)

Failure. I don’t know what mean-spirited person thought up the word Failure, but I simply don’t believe it exists. It is a grouping of letters with absolutely no meaning for me. Read more.


Recommended Reading: Valorie Kondos Field's new book is a good read on many levels (Los Angeles Times)

The coach of UCLA’s women’s gymnastics team built her extraordinarily successful career on encouraging self-direction and being 1% better each day at a form of expression that feeds your soul. The “dance” in the title can mean actually dancing but also is a touching reference to late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, an avid supporter of the women’s gymnastics team and a mentor to Kondos Field. Read more.


Dancing Over 50: Documenting Aging Performers

If you ascribe to today's cultural mores of a dancer's career; it's fleeting, and predominantly defined by external presentation of movement — the grand leaps, endless pirouettes and high extensions. After all, aging dancers are at the mercy of their bodies' diminishing capacity to perform dazzling physical feats to a rapt audience. Or are they? With her new project: "Dancing Over 50," Emmaly Wiederholt, a 29-year-old dancer and journalist, rejects the notion that dancers have an expiration date and that the acme of their careers only occurs when their technique is at its finest. Read more.




Kayamanan ng Lahi performs Singkil | Jorge Vismara
Kayamanan ng Lahi performs Singkil | Jorge Vismara

Janet O'Shea, author and martial artist

Assistant Professor in the Department of Art

Janet O’Shea is author of "Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training" (2018, Oxford University Press) and "At Home in the World: Bharata Natyam on the Global Stage" (2007, Wesleyan University Press). Recipient ofa UCLA Transdisciplinary Seed Grant to study the cognitive benefits of Filipino Martial Arts training, she gave a TEDx Talkon competitive play and has offered keynote presentations at the Martial Arts Studies conference and Dance/Performance in Interdisciplinary Perspective Symposium. Her essays have been published in five languages and seven countries. She is professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA.

Related content:

TEDx Talk: Beyond Winning, by Janet O'Shea

Wouldn’t it be great if there were something we could do that could teach us how to work together? Kinetic play, sports, physical games, and other activities where interacting with each is central to the experience, can unite us and can show us how to disagree with respect. But there’s a catch: too much attention to winning turns sports from play into work; too much attention to winning can be stressful and can promoted deception and even violence. Watch the TEDx talk.


Recommended Reading: Arresting the Carceral State, by Mariame Kaba and Erica R. Meiners (Jacobin Magazine)

Increasing numbers of policy makers, advocates, academics, educators, parents, students, and organizers are focusing explicitly on the relationships between education and imprisonment, also known as the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP). Less a pipeline than a nexus or a swamp, the STPP is generally used to refer to interlocking sets of structural and individual relationships in which youth, primarily of color, are funneled from schools and neighborhoods into under- or unemployment and prisons. Read more.


Recommended Reading: On Campus, Failure Is on the Syllabus, by Jessica Bennett (New York Times)

“What we’re trying to teach is that failure is not a bug of learning, it’s the feature,” said Rachel Simmons, a leadership development specialist in Smith’s Wurtele Center for Work and Life and a kind of unofficial “failure czar” on campus. “It’s not something that should be locked out of the learning experience. For many of our students — those who have had to be almost perfect to get accepted into a school like Smith — failure can be an unfamiliar experience. So when it happens, it can be crippling.” Read more.


Dances with Scarves, Swords and Coconut Shells: Kayamanan Ng Lahi Keeps Filipino Folk Traditions Vibrant in L.A.

As expected, many Filipino Americans are here, but numerous other backgrounds are represented as well: Mexican American, African American, Japanese American, Chinese American, Hawaiian, and more. “We are a reflection of the community,” notes co-founder and programming director Joel Jacinto, “we’re inclusive.” This extraordinary mix of performers — which in several cases includes generations of family members — will spend the next six hours here, as they have for the last few months, perfecting their routines. Read more.




Rajagriha, Bombay, February 1934. From left to right: Yashwant, B.R. Ambedkar, Ramabai, Laxmibai, Mukundrao and Tobby. | Wikimedia Commons
Rajagriha, Bombay, February 1934. From left to right: Yashwant, B.R. Ambedkar, Ramabai, Laxmibai, Mukundrao and Tobby. | Wikimedia Commons

Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, scholar of racial and ethnic politics

Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science

Political Science Associate Professor Lorrie Frasure-Yokely is a scholar of racial and ethnic politics. In 2015, she became the first woman of color to earn tenure and promotion in the Political Science Department at UCLA. Her research interests include racial and ethnic political behavior, immigrant political incorporation, African American politics, women and politics, and state and local politics. 

Related content:

Recommended Viewing: How Faculty Mentors Can Help First-Generation Students Succeed (PBS News Hour)

A new initiative by the University of California system uses first-generation faculty to guide first-generation students, with the goal of decreasing dropout rates. As part of our series Rethinking College, Hari Sreenivasan visits UCLA to see how the program is working. Watch the feature.


The Grape Whisperer: Ruben Solorzano’s Journey From Migrant Farm Worker to Wine Aficionado

That America is the land of opportunity is an ideal that perhaps no group understands more than immigrants. To adopt a new country — its language, its people, its customs — is no easy task. But for a chance at a better life, whether the goal is to make more money in order to provide for one’s family, or just the possibility of getting a leg up in life — the struggle is worthwhile. “I couldn’t have imagined when I came here at 19 that I would become a partner in a company,” says Solorzano. “At that time, I didn’t even know what I was coming over for. I just kept working all the time. But when I stop to think about it, this has been so great for me and for my family. I know I’m so lucky.” Read more.


Lessons on Community Organizing in Chicana/o-Latina/o Communities: Educate, Agitate and Organize

While electoral changes are necessary to ensure basic human rights, such as the right to affordable housing, grassroots organizing in working class-communities is foundational to creating transformative social change, as these constituencies have solutions for these issues based on real-life experiences. Originally categorized by the late Indian jurist and politician, B.R. Ambedkar, of the early to mid-1900s, movement building can manifest in the following typologies: (1) Educate; (2) Agitate; and (3) Organize. Read more.


Top Image: The Failure of Sir Launcelot to enter the Chapel of the Holy Grail, Number 3 of the Holy Grail tapestries woven by Morris & Co. 1891-94 for Stanmore Hall. Wool and silk on cotton warp, c. 1890 | Public Domain


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