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Entries in dance (6)


Kidd Pivot | Crystal Pite: Dark Matters

A different take on dark matter, and its metaphoric corollary, dark matters. Crystal Pite and Kidd Pivot take the sense that dark matter, the 95% of everything that exerts force and gravity but cannot be seen or even measured, pushes us around in ways we often do not understand.  As do dark matters, those pulls and pushes of irrationality that have our rational selves, our known world, bouncing around in a kind of Brownian motion.  

Here dark matter is not visualised in an act of control, instead its own controlling force field is explored.  Dancers are particles busy, busy, folding and stretching, pulling and falling, seemingly random, in the end using dark matter as an analogy of free and unfree will.

Pite explains it thus: Dark Matters is structured into two distinct acts: Act One portrays the tension between creation and destruction through a decidedly theatrical fable; the players are manipulated by anonymous puppeteers who drive the narrative yet subvert its artifice. Act Two is pure dance, with choreography that aspires to the impossible purity and grace of a marionette, while grappling with the essential question of free will, and the conflict inherent in manipulation. The revelations of Act One inform the way we view the dancing in Act Two.

Max Wyman has written, Dark Matters does what great art always does: encourages conjecture, invites reflection on what it means to be human.  Thank you Max. 


paralympic beauty

Supposedly the big bang, but so often whatever was going on looked like drawings, in this case a smudged Boullée. London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening. AP PhotographThe opening for the 2012 Paralympics, staged by Jenny Sealy, the artistic director of Graeae, was astounding.  Unlike the paean to seemingly eternal but tired British pop culture that dominated the regular Olympics' opening and closing, the Paralympic opening was narrated, alternatively, by Stephen Hawking and Ian McKellan as Prospero: books flew, people flew, apples fell: one realised that paralympians live in the world of science and technology in a way that non-paralympians do not.  Meanwhile, atoms collided, dark matter surged, Handel was sung, and it was beautiful.  

Not least, perhaps most, beautiful was David Toole, who dances like water down a river to his very fingertips.


David Borden: tribute to Ruth St Denis and Ted Shawn

from the YouTube blurb'The Dawns.01 with Ted Shawn and his Male Dancers. This is a live performance by Mother Mallard in Ithaca, New York, September 2007.  Video by Noni Korf Vidal and Franck Vidal.  Shown are David Borden, kbd and Conrad Alexander, MalletKat. Out of camera view are keyboardists Blaise Bryski and David Yearsley. Everyone is playing sounds stored on Apple Laptops and triggered by USB connections.'



Ruth St Denis on the beach, 1916. NYPL digital gallery Image ID: DEN_0543V

This is Ruth St Denis dancing on the beach in 1916.  Unlike classical ballet where energy flows off the body in smooth waves, St Denis, who changed dance radically with Ted Shawn in the 1920s, flings off energy from her body but then snaps it back with a tweak of her wrists.  

It is similar to what one sees in some of the drawings of Patkau Architects in the 90s: a retaining wall shoots across the plan and then, when normally it would subside with a sigh into the ground where the topography finally meets the level, the Patkaus would crank the end and all the energy of the weight behind that retaining wall would jerk back toward the house.

It is a powerful ploy, no less in dance than in architecture, to embody resistance.  What was Ohm's Law?  resistance = voltage/current?  This is the problem with going with the flow, no voltage, no resistance, no energy.  Things change when energy is interrupted.


how to do the Diski Dance

by the wonderful iSchoolAfrica World Cup Press Team:


love lies bleeding


Stuart Gordon, Calgary Herald. Love Lies Bleeding dress rehearsal, May 5 2010

Love Lies Bleeding, Alberta Ballet. Jean Gand-Maitre, choreographer.

Ballet lite this isn't.  It is dark, dark, dark, in the way that Berlin cabaret had its dark eroticism.  By comparison it is the old Frederick Ashton-type ballets, all romantic with tutus, that seem very light.  The themes of Elton John's life are large and powerful: identity, addiction, AIDS and celebrity: ubiquitous as these themes might seem, they are not normal little narratives.  They are disturbing and operatic.
The recorded soundtrack belts out at rock concert volumes; many of the cuts were live versions so there is additional crowd frenzy. As no doubt in John's life itself, there is no respite: scenes, songs, costumes and crises are relentless. There is a large video screen as backdrop commenting and contextualising, and sometimes amplifying, what is being danced below it.  

From the first step this ballet does not pretend, as ballet has for so long, to be about heterosexuality: it is overtly homoerotic.  Along with the classic entrechats and bourrées are several Tom of Finland moments; along with dancers on point there are just as many in stiletto boots; the outstandingly revealing but traditional tights and leotards of classical male dancers are sent over the top with huge striped codpieces worn by all, male and female.  Flesh glistens, buttocks are thonged, S & M clichés pound on, the audience popularity prize went to three dancers in drag.

Our wee hero, supposedly an Elton fan, but clearly Elton John as a fan of his own narrative, is mostly seen as small and nekkid, and who dresses up sometimes, but is always left on his own at the end of some dramatic event, coping alone.  or not coping.  The scale shift between the larger than life corps de ballet and this small person is exploited throughout: one gets the sense, that despite the sensational leaps and bounds of Yukichi Hattori (who was dancing the lead the night I saw this), there was an absolute vulnerability to the lead dancer, usually assigned to the prima ballerina in conventional ballets.  The two pas de deux between men were so much more moving, and sexual, than the gender and power imbalance in the traditional pas de deux where the male is the often wooden support and armature for the fluttering, tragic female heroine.

One can see that Love Lies Bleeding has the potential to develop audiences that turn out in star-shaped glasses, platform boots and feather boas in the way that fans who go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Sound of Music do.  It is perhaps inevitable, but unfortunate.  Is part of John's celebrity, in this age of celebrity, that the public refuses to look past the costuming?  The rose-coloured glasses, the Liberace excess, the gay hilarity of performance: they are all in this ballet, but they sit on a bedrock of terrible personal confusion and loss, also all in this ballet.´╗┐