There's enough dance out there this weekend to make even a ballerina's head spin... and yet not a single nutcracker in site.
Interested in trying out a dance concert, but haven't figured out yet which kind you prefer? Choreographers in Accord (CIA) present 8 @ 8, a smorgasbord of dance by eight different companies, including modern, ballet, belly dancing and flamenco.
Meanwhile, Ananya Dance Theatre presents the third and final concert in a trilogy exploring the effects of global warming and pollution on the planet. "Ashesh Barsha, Unending Monsoon," is a danced response to the overconsumption of electricity, energy, and natural resources. (Tip: check back here later today for a more in-depth report on this concert)
Local troupe Hijack joins forces with choreographer Scotty Heron to present SmithsonianSmith, the dancers' latest attempt at being even more "radical." In describing their work, they write:
We bounce to the bouncy music. We smash beer cans on our foreheads and bellies like frat boys. We glue-gun these cans into a Mardi Gras-worthy headdress. We are insects, drunk on nectar and having sex with plastic flowers. We are cleaning up after an oil spill on the Mississippi using absorbent pompoms and wearing cardboard boxes on our heads as sun shields.
Finally, British choreographer Wayne McGregor brings his dancers to Northrup Auditorium Friday night to perform "Entity." Based on collaborative research with psychologists, neuroscientists, and software engineers, "Entity" attempts to convey the complex relationship between the brain and the moving body.
Dance just not doing it for you? How about a music festival in downtown St. Paul? How about a festival celebrating the food and culture of Greece? Or India? Maybe pottery is more your thing? Or an art sale where nothing costs more than $99? How about spoken word?
Still not finding what you're looking for? (geez, you're picky) Check out what these art hounds are doing this weekend.
Of course we can always use a few more hounds to sniff out some great art. Join the pack!
Posted at 4:32 PM on September 10, 2009
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Dance
Tonight through Sunday, Ananya Dance Theatre presents the third and final concert in its three part attack on climate change, environmental justice and human rights. The piece is called "Ashesh Barsha" or "Unending Monsoon" and it takes a sobering look at the consequences of global warming, while offering no hope or answers.
I sat in on a preview performance last night, along with a group of students from Perpich High School. The piece began lyrically enough, as women in deep blue costumes (i.e. water) moved gracefully together, using stylized hand and foot movements typical of Ananya Chatterjee's choreography.
As time progressed, however, the movement and the music sped up, becoming hard and percussive, like a thunderstorm dumping itself onto the road. The relentless, driving rhythms break up the harmony between dancers, creating a visually distressing scene as women contort and convulse, eyes wide open, arms and legs akimbo.
The scene transforms from pounding rain to intolerable heat, to images of a glacier building and receding. Meanwhile symbols and gestures underscore environmental questions. The dancers' often grab their feet, which are traced with a black line, and stare at them. I didn't catch the allusion at first, but once Chatterjee explained, it became painfully clear. "They're considering their carbon footprint," she said.
Of Chatterjee's three performances on the environment spanning the last three years, Ashesh Barsha is the least theatrical in its storyline. "Dance is abstract," Chatterjee said. "Be through metaphor we can open up a realm where we can ask ourselves important questions." Questions about our role in the environment, and how to act on certain social justice issues.
Chatterjee herself has no answers to those questions. She said while in past performances she tried to end on a note of hope, she no longer feels that's appropriate. She said the world's natural resources are too far gone for hope to be realistic. Instead it's time for action.
Here's a video clip from the preview: fyi there's no sound in the clip, but I think it still gives a good sense of the movement and style of the piece. (Thanks to videographer Tim Quinlan for the clip!)
I'm feeling a little immersed in the Coen brothers at the moment. Anticipation abounds for their latest film "A Serious Man," which is set in their home town of St. Louis Park and features some great local actors, including Ari Hoptman and Claudia Wilkins. The film opens on October 2.
But if that seems like forever-and-a-day away, not to worry - in the weeks leading up to the premiere, the Walker Art Center is hosting a Coen brothers retrospective, called "Raising Cain." That begins September 18th.
This weekend, fans of the Coen brothers' movie "The Big Lebowski" are dressing up as their favorite characters and heading out to "Lebowski Fest." Friday night features a movie party at First Avenue, while Saturday night is all about bowling at Memory Lanes.
But wait, there's more! Tomorrow I'll be filling in on Midmorning, and at 10am I'll be interviewing the author of "The Dude Abides," an exploration of religious and moral themes in the Coen brothers' canon. Author Cathleen Falsani is an ordained priest of "Dudeism" (as well as the religion columnist for the Chicago Sun Times).(1 Comments)
The other night when I went to see "9." I spent a few minutes talking with a couple of fine gentlemen from Canada about getting the shakes in a movie house.
The Canadians were Philippe Roy ands Guy Marcoux, who both work with D-Box, a company which makes chairs designed to make movie watching, and video-game playing, what Philippe calls an immersive experience.
I was at the Theaters at the Mall of America, one of only seven multiplexes nationwide to feature D-Box seats.
Basically what happens is when something shakes, rumbles, or even explodes on the screen you feel it through your D-Box. Philippe says after the introduction of Surround Sound in theaters, making your seat part of the action was the next step.
The idea is to link a mechanical system in the chair to what is happening on screen. Guy says this is done through a code created by a motion designer.
"A what?" I asked.
"It's like a sound designer, except it's for motion," he said with a smile. They described how the motion designer watches a move frame by frame to create the code which is fed into the chairs as the film rolls. It's only been done with a few titles: "The Fast and the Furious," "Terminator Salvation" "Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince," and "The Final Destination." Now "9" becomes the first animated film to get the D-Box treatment.
Being of that age, I brought up how I had seen "Earthquake" back in 1974. I was convinced that this had been a similar mechanical system all those years ago.
Philippe looked mildly pained as he explained that system depended on banks of sub woofer speakers mounted at the front of a theater, pumping out low frequency sounds. I remember even now how the sensation was quite frightening. Every time a shock hit in the film, your knees started shaking.
The D-Box is much more sophisticated. Watching "9" it was quite remarkable how small movements on screen caused your chair to react. They were actually much more effective than the moments when the action on-screen became very violent. Good sense and insurance companies mean a seat can only whip around so much when while the characters were being thrown across the landscape. So the immersive experience didn't match the visual and the magic dimmed a little.
You'll pay a premium to sit in a D-Box. At the MOA Theater they are $16.50 as opposed to the $9.50 for the plain old stationary seats. However you can buy a D-Box seat for home use, either with your DVD or game system. There are even ways of converting certain existing seats to the immersive experience.
Actually, you can try it out for free. There's a demo chair outside the theater at the MOA.
I must admit I was intrigued by the D-Box, but I think I'd want to carefully select the next movie I see with it, to maximize the effect.
Has anyone else tried them? Let us know your reactions.