_1928,_by_Frans_van_RielThis post is dedicated to all my friends in the dance world.

In 1905 Mikhail Fokine, choreographer for the Ballets Russes, created the choreography for Le Cynge, composed by Camille Saint-Saens for cello and two pianos, specifically for the great Russian dancer Anna Pavlova, also of the Ballet Russes.  It depicts a swan’s struggle with death, inspired by the Greek myth of the Mute Swan (an actual species) who could not utter a sound until just before it died (the myth, but like all myths tells an archetypal story; this one a parable about what is inside).

The work of Fokine, Pavlova, and the Ballets Russes marks historically and artistically one of the greatest turning points in dance (also for art and music), but that’s an interesting topic for another moment.  What I want to write about today is how my appreciation for the art of dance has been tutored by watching how great dancers interpret a work.
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07. March 2014 · Comments Off on Harry Belafonte – 87 and Still Making a Difference · Categories: Music Video

Many thanks and much gratitude to our friend David Mash for getting us tickets to the Harry Belafonte tribute concert last night at the Berklee Performance Center. Belafonte, now 87, in addition to his auspicious music career, is a political activist and philanthropist. As a confidante of Martin Luther King, Jr. he was a power in the civil rights movement – the Birmingham campaign was planned in his NYC apartment, he played a major role in the March on Washington, and much more. He co-produced with Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, and Quincy Jones the powerful “We Are the World” which raised $50 million for addressing hunger in Africa. His speech last night conveyed a sharp mind and wit as he told stories from his life and the story of what it means to be African American in this country. His outspokenness was refreshing. But there was no bitterness – just honesty and compassion. A truly great and inspiring man.

And, God bless Africa, everyday I think of the immense suffering on that continent and wish for better times for the African people.

18. July 2013 · Comments Off on Pina Bausch “Full Moon” · Categories: Dance Video, Random Thoughts

“I’m young. My ears hear promise, my eyes see dreams …”

Another Pina Bausch masterpiece. This excerpt from Vollmond (Full Moon) is a “procession of scenes of ritualized courtship and conflict depicting the subtle ways we control and are controlled” (Claudia La Rocco, New York Times; Judith Mackrell, The Guardian).

What a gift to have it on film.

22. June 2013 · Comments Off on Citizen Koch – a film about money and power · Categories: Politics, Random Thoughts

It should be no surprise PBS decided not to air Citizen Koch for fear of shutting off the cash flow from the Koch brothers.  PBS sold out long ago, as chronicled in Jane Mayer’s excellent article for the May 27, 2013 New Yorker, “A Word from Our Sponsor” :

“When Koch joined the boards of WGBH and WNET, it seemed to mark an ideological inroad, enabling him to exert influence over a network with a prominent news operation. Meanwhile, the member stations, by having Koch as a trustee, were inoculating themselves against charges of liberal bias, and positioning themselves to receive substantial new donations.”


26. May 2013 · Comments Off on Monsanto: The Face of Evil · Categories: Politics, Random Thoughts

Canada and Europe disallowed Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone after reviewing safety research.  The FDA paid no attention.  And Monsanto wants to make sure we don’t know anything about it.

There are two issues here – a person’s right to choose what they eat, and the ability in this country of big money to dictate what we know or don’t know about the food that’s available.

In addition to the dubious bovine growth hormone, Monsanto sells seeds for round-up resistant plants.  The genetically modified food that comes from these plants contains pesticide residue after being sprayed with round-up.  “Now Monsanto is violating individual rights by controlling our food supply by producing GMOs and forcing lawmakers to pass laws that protect them where citizens don’t have a right to know where it is going despite independent research showing how deadly GMOs are.”

Just as in the case of bovine growth hormone, Monsanto doesn’t want you to know anything about it, or have any choice about ingesting it.  “In Europe, March Against Monsanto Is Latest Rejection of the GMO Giant”

Who’s your daddy? In the U.S. it’s Monsanto, apparently.

07. February 2013 · Comments Off on A Love Note to Sonny · Categories: Music Video, Random Thoughts · Tags:

Sonny Rollins is 80 years old. So glad he’s still thriving and playing.

No one sings with a saxophone like Sonny Rollins. His sound is infinite and rich. His musical language is a Shakespeare soliloquy. When I was a student in Boston I would go to the Jazz Workshop on Boylston Street whenever one of the jazz greats came to town. One night, one ticket, one drink I’d self-consciously sip hoping the wait staff wouldn’t bug me to buy more. But when Sonny came to town, I went every single night. I got there early and sat right next to the stage and just basked in that sound and those solos. He was playing with Matsuo on guitar and I’m sorry to say I don’t remember the other musicians’ names. He played St. Thomas and Doxy and so many beautiful ballads – A Nightingale Sang in Barkley Square, his own version of Debussy’s Reverie.

Those days are gone for good. Today I can’t imagine hearing him in a big theater. It just wouldn’t be the same.

A lot of people really like the PBS series Downton Abbey so  I’ve been curious to know what all the fuss is about.  Tonight we watched the first season on DVD.  I was sorely disappointed when the rat poison didn’t make it to the dining room table in the first episode. They missed a great plot opportunity there. I’m also sorry to say I find the characters too well starched. And, I don’t buy the benevolent, all-wise Earl of Grantham bit – history shows the lord is more lech than liege.
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