“Nobody is talking about some government takeover of health care, I’m tired of hearing that.” President Obama told a wildly supportive crowd in Durham, NC. The President fired back at critics who just will say anything to obstruct health care reform. “I’ve been as clear as I can be; under the reform I’ve proposed, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,…If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. These folks need to stop scaring everybody.” Obama said.
Philadelphia’s famed heat and humidity was the perfect clime as prima diva Angela Brown sang ’Summertime’ from ’Porgy & Bess’ an encore that was accompanied by an on cue breeze. Brown, stunning in a tight turquoise opera gown was center stage at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park. Last month the Fabulous Philadelphians were in Vail, Colorado, next month they are in Saratoga NY, but this week they are in the final week of their summer season in Philly.
Rossen Milanov, musical director of the summer series, conducted Brown in a program of Verdi arias including the overture to La forza del destino, Ritorna vincitor” from Aida and “Tu, che le vanità” from Don Carlo. As thrilling as it was to hear Angela, the orchestra was just as thrilling in its powerful reading of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no. 2. This is a lengthy piece, with a lot of symphonic undertow and vaulting progressions. Highlights in this performance were the understated decrescendos, the overlapping tremolo runs and the concussive pre-codas. Milanov is a specialist of Russian, Slavic and Eastern European music. This was a brilliantly balanced interpretation of Rachmaninoff.
While at the Dancewriting Institute I was inspired to make quick meals for the fellow fellows who were dropping. My roommate Christopher Blank, a fab young journalist and willing scullery, kept the galley kitchen ready. Bent over the sink, he would mumble asides as I tried to work on an electric stove. He wants me to do a tv version in Memphis called Gay Saute with him cleaning up and mumbling asides while I cook and interview celebs hanging out in the kitchen. I’m meant to distract them with dishes as I grill them. Well..anyway…meanwhile I’ll offer my first gay saute recipe for success-
Use high heat on top of the stove!
Biking back from the Kelly Pool along West River Drive in stifling sun today. the Philly skyline rushing the eye in brilliant color saturation like a Hitchcock film from the 50s. My mind’s ear provided the Bernard Hermann soundtrack.
The New York Times is reporting that American Dance pioneer Merce Cunningham has died. Cunningham brought his company back to Philadelphia last year.
The return of Merce Cunningham Dance Company in the middle of Dance Celebration’s ’Innovators and Pioneers’ series is perfect placement. It is so remarkable in a work like Biped, premiering in Philadelphia, that Cunningham, at 89, continues to define his own dance universe.
Not to be outdone by hidef film effects, the current trend in dancearts Cunningham instead conjures a dance black hole on the Annenberg stage that we get sucked into.
Although somewhat dwarfed here from its full expansion on the BAM stage, the dance arena is nonetheless stunning. Cunningham’s sketchpad of dimensional skeletal danceforms he pioneered with ’motion capture’ computer imaging float in and out along with worm graphics, scribbles, and drafting bars.
His troupe of 13 bipeds, dressed in metallic acid burn organza danskins appear and vanish. This spatial reality frames Cunningham’s spectral choreographic progression. As avant garde as Cunningham remains a work like “BiPed” does not sidestep stellar modern technique delivered by these dancers.
“Biped’s” choreographic base is a study in tendu and relevé transitional foundations that bloom with dazzling arabesque variations and innovative body lines. There is a uniquely steeled suppleness in the backbends and formitable athletic prowess in Olympic jump sequences from static positions.
Not to be outdone by hi-def film effects, the current trend in dancearts the Cunningham instead conjures a dance black hole on the Annenberg stage that we get sucked into.A dancer vaults and is caught by four men by her limbs, without hand support on her torso. The dancer is lifted, falls low to the ground in a lift sequence that keeps evolving until it moves offstage. Such kinetic elements give any non-representational movement amplitude. Something for those who don’t like abstraction, to grab onto.
Asymmetrical group fragments are as cohesive as contrasting duets and unison work. As the motion capture projections fill out into more charcoal sketches, dancers put on sheer garments and flying into epileptic aerials, then they assemble in pairs. Whether suggesting evolution or deevolution, Cunningham is fascinatingly enigmatic.
The companion piece EyeSpace is accompanied by Mikel Rouse’s soundscape and ambient live music incorporating seepage from the collective Ipods, distributed to the audience like 3-d glasses, makes this a per performance happening. Onstage, a pastel construction paper galaxy with confetti funnels hover over the dancers in turquoise unitards.
Cunningham keeps returning to expressive and playful trios, one a quicksilver display of free leg battlement in alternate body positions. The finishing duet is synergistic between the dancers without any body contact and without the need to imply any emotional intimacy.
A concert from a choreographic master who may have to choreograph on computer more, but whose work is as exploratory and as polished as ever. Maestro Cunningham made a surprise appearance taking a bow from his wheelchair at the curtain and pierced his own parallel universe with a starburst.
Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA, 8th district) is an Iraq war veteran and leading the fight in congress this month to pass legislation repealing the military’s discriminatory DADT policies. 13,000 military personnel have been kicked out, and countless others have been affected by DADT, not because of conduct unbecoming but because of sexual identity.
“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ clearly isn’t working for our military, and it hinders national security and military readiness at a time when America is fighting in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy. “My time in Iraq taught me that our military needs and deserves the best and the brightest who are willing to serve- and that means all Americans, regardless of their orientation.”
Sunday in the park with everybody yesterday in Rittenhouse Square with the heavy air and blasts of rays coming through the clouds making everybody look seered to the grass. When a scant breeze came through, no one blinked.
“Equality is equality is equality,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman told the crowd at the Camp Camp nightclub on the occassion of recognizing ‘domestic partnerships.’ Always trust the sainted cities to do the right thing.