The New Orleans Ballet Association theme for the season is “American Moves,” and its debut for the 2012-’13 season is the whimsical “Pilobolus” on Oct. 20 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Named for a sun-loving fungus, the ensemble of gravity-defying dancers, led by artistic directors Robby Barnett and Michael Tracy, incorporates elements of nature, humor and athleticism in a visually astounding show that began in 1971 as a Dartmouth College dance class experiment.
An Experience to Remember
Amidst the majestic oaks of City Park, Voodoo Experience, one of the city’s most anticipated music and arts festival, will take place on Oct. 26-28 with a star-studded lineup that includes international acts Jack White, Green Day, Avett Brothers, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, as well as local favorites such as the Bingo! Show, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Anders Osborne and dozens of others. This year the festival will offer campsites, along with food, art and drinks.
The film industry in New Orleans has exponentially increased over the past few years; fittingly the New Orleans Film Festival has mirrored its growth with dozens of new productions and filmmakers flocking to the area. (Last year attendance was more than 13,000). This weeklong event, which starts Oct. 11, will present an eclectic program of panels, films and parties while offering unique networking opportunities for those who are aspiring to break into the industry.
A Haunting Experience
One of the city’s Halloween rites of passages is experiencing the House of Shock. This scarefest features perhaps more monsters than even Stephen King could imagine, and this year founder Ross Karpelman brings it above and beyond. House of Shock has experienced renovations and offers new elements, such as the Moss Maze, the new post-apocalyptic-themed Chainsaw Cage Maze (shiver), a “psychotic meat processing plant” and other entertainment, such as live music and actors who perform stunts. The House will be open Fridays and Saturdays and Oct. 26-28 and 30-31.
What were the early days like? We started The House of Shock as most things start in New Orleans: to have a party. We were kids, 22 or 23 years old, reflecting on our youth. Growing up, Halloween meant so much more to us as children. It was something we were excited about all month. As soon as that calendar changed to October it was all we thought about! All of us (although not together) shared the same experience of throwing our own haunted houses in our backyards. My partner Jay Gracianette’s grandpa used to run the haunted house for NORD. After having a few more haunted seasons with Jay, we decided we wanted to do our own version, so we dug some graves in his backyard on Kent Street in Metairie and threw it together in a week. That was the seed that started yet another NOLA tradition.
How has the House evolved over the years? From a backyard to the most infamous haunted attraction in the world. From 20 friends to a volunteer membership of close to 400 cast members. From black plastic walls on “yard sticks” to some of the most detailed sets in the business. We shoot more pyrotechnics in a five-minute stage show than KISS does in a full concert. We can say that as a fact because our other partner, Steven Joseph, owns the pyro company that does KISS along with Motley Crue, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and Guns ‘n’ Roses, to name a few. To say our pyrotechnics is overkill is to understate what we do. When those 70-foot foot flames go off, the pressure hits you first – then the heat. It’s as close to Hell on Earth as you can get!
What are some of the highlights of it this year? I think being the most intense haunted attraction has kind of put us in a box that a lot of people don’t want to open. If you’ve always been too freaked out to go into The House of Shock, it’s OK because we have so much going on outside in our Halloween Festival that you never have to go in to have a great time – and it’s free! We got great party bands. The Chee Weez are playing opening weekend … You can see the stage show with the pyrotechnics I was talking about. We got a thing called “Shot in the Dark” where we plant an infrared camera somewhere in the haunted house and run the video outside where you can push a button and scare the crap out of people inside!
Puppet shows … Fire eaters … The Reverend B. Dangerous Side Show … The Atone Pain Tribe Piercing Troupe! All of that is for free! You can ride a giant spider on The Aracniride (think a mechanical bull with eight legs), not to mention great food … A full bar … And the best place to people-watch besides the French Quarter on Mardi Gras Day.
Oct. 4. Red Hot Chili Peppers and Santigold in concert; New Orleans Arena. Information, NewOrleansArena.com
Oct. 5-7. Gretna Heritage Festival; Historic Downtown Gretna. Information, GretnaFest.com
Oct. 5- 7, 11-14, 18-21, 24-31. Haunted house tours; Haunted Mortuary. Information, TheMortuary.net
Oct. 6. Art for Art’s Sake; citywide galleries. Information, cacno.org
Oct. 7, 28. New Orleans Saints home games; Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Information, NewOrleansSaints.com
Oct. 10. Gotye, Givers and Jonti in concert; UNO Lakefront Arena. Information, arena.uno.edu
Oct. 12. New Orleans Opera Association presents Plácido Domingo Gala; Mahalia Jackson Theater. Information, NewOrleansOpera.org.
Oct. 12. Steve Earle & the Dukes plus the Mastersons; House of Blues. Information, HouseOfBlues.com
Oct. 13. O What a Night (benefit for The Ogden Museum of Southern Art); Ogden Museum. Information, OgdenMuseum.org
Oct. 19-20, 26-27. Boo at the Zoo; Audubon Zoo. Information, AudubonInstitute.org
Oct. 19. Movies in the Garden: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds; NOMA (Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden). Information, noma.org
Oct. 25-28. Halloween New Orleans presents MonsterBrawl; various venues. Information, HalloweenNewOrleans.com
Oct. 27. Madonna in concert; New Orleans Arena. Information, NewOrleansArena.com
Oct. 27-28. Halloween Tea; Le Salon at Windsor Court Hotel. Information, WindsorCourtHotel.com
Oct. 30-Nov. 4. Les Misérables; Mahalia Jackson Theater. Information, MahaliaJacksonTheater.com