Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Fall for Dance!

I went to another Fall for Dance program at City Center tonight! It was awesome.

Although I usually am blown away by flamenco, the first company performed flamenco and I wasn't quite captivated by it. Company Rafaela Carrasco featured a singer with a strained, raspy voice that kind of made me nervous. During the first part of the dance, the female dancer worked with a scarf which was very distracting and annoying. Then, the last three sections of the performance was mainly a tap routine -- it just wasn't as sexy and soulful and moving as flamenco usually is for me.

My absolute favorite part of the evening was New York City Ballet's Red Angels, with a guest artist playing violin. This dance featured two women and two men, and their movements were so cool and intense and quirky and amazing. I was completely transported.

I was very excited to see the Bill T. Jone/Arnie Zane Dance Company. They performed Duet, which was choreographed to strange music and spoken word -- excerpts from a radio interview with John Cage. Although the dancers' movements were beautiful, I felt that the piece was a bit difficult for me. Eventually, however, I got into it, and by the end I was moved emotionally by the piece.

The last company was fucking awesome. The Brazilian Companhia Urbana De Danca performed an dark and aggressive piece set to haunting urban music (ID: ENTIDADES). All the dancers were male, and their movements were so lithe and agile. I was also transported by this piece, fell into its world, and enjoyed it immensely.

Fall For Dance!

Last night I got to see a wonderful program at the Fall for Dance festival at City Center. I think this is the fourth year in a row I've gone. Definitely at least the third year.
The program included:
1. Merce Cunningham Dance Company. I had never seen them before and was particularly excited for this opportunity. They performed XOVER, Cunningham's last collaboration with Rauschenberg. The music was Jonh Cage's Aria and Fontana Mix. I have to say, I've always had trouble with Cage. Because of this, XOVER was difficult for me, and it took me a while to really enter the piece. Once I was there I was transfixed, but the experience seemed rather cerebral to me.
2. Gallim Dance. I had never heard of this company before, but they were FANTASTIC. Really acrobatic and exuberant and joyous and funky. The dance they performed was I Can See Myself in Your Pupil and the music was by an Israeli band called Balkan Beat Box (I'm going to download a CD tonight!). They are the company pictured here.
3. Madhavi Mudgal performing Vistaar. This was Indian dance with live musicians (our seats were so sucky we couldn't see them at all). The dance was beautiful, but kind of monotonous and less interesting than the other pieces in the program.
4. Miami City Ballet performaing "The Golden Section" choreographed by Twyla Tharpe to music by David Byrne. I LOVE Twyla Tharpe and found this dance so dynamic and fun. It was on par with the Gallim piece. It was aggressive and sexy and tight at the same time that it was complex and vast. If that makes any sense. It really uplifted me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Angelina Gualdoni at Asya Geisberg Gallery

Last night I saw an exhibition of Angelina Gualdoni's haunting, subtle, and enigmatic paintings at Asya Geisberg Gallery in Chelsea.
I was smart enough to arrive at the opening early, because within minutes it was packed.
The paintings are beautiful. Soft and strong at the same time. Rich yet simple. You can spend a lot of time looking at each one. In fact, I'd like to go back and see it again

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just Kids

I came to Patti Smith early, but also slowly.

In 8th grade something drew me to a copy of her poems, Babel. I think it was at Colliseum Books. There was a picture of her on the cover that seemed empirically cool. I just felt something. I loved the poems and did an English class project on the book. I also bought a copy of the album Horses. Unfortunately, I found it weird and difficult to listen to. In high school I would listen to it occasionally, but could really only deal with "Redondo Beach" and "Kimberly".

Then when I was a sophomore in college a friend made me listen to Wave, saying that it reminded her of me.

I was transported. Elevated. Hooked. Patti Smith forever. The more I exposed myself to her, the more amazed I was with the brilliance of her art. As I blogged here, Dream of Life is one of the most beautiful "documentaries" ever made.

So I've been meaning to read Just Kids since it came out at the beginning of this year to rave reviews.

I gobbled it up on my Kindle. I have to say, between my adoration and the amazing things I had heard about it, I was slightly disappointed. Just Kids isn't as artistically beautiful or successful as I had hoped. It's a very, very good memoir of a unique and historically important friendship. A portrait of two young artists in the midst of an historic and wonderful cultural moment. The downtown music and art scene in NY in the late 60s and 70s. It's especially interesting in the way it chronicles the development of Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith as young artists. It's a good read. In a way kind of an important read.

But for the most part the prose is kind of flat. A memoir of her intense, romantic and artistic friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, the two brilliant youths at the heart of the story always seemed somewhat remote to me. Something was missing.

Still, in spite of not loving it, I loved it. I was bawling as I read the last few pages chronicling Mapplethorpe's illness and death.

She ends:
"Why can't I write something that would awake the dead?That pursuit is what burns me most deeply. I got over the loss of his desk and chair, but never the desire to produce a string of words more precious than the emeralds of Cortes. Yet I have a lock of his hair, a handful of his ashes, a box of his letters, a goatskin tambourine. And in the folds of the faded violet tissue a necklace, two violet plaques etched in Arabic, strung with black and silver threads, given to me by the boy who loved Michelangelo."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Engaged Observers

I saw a really wonderful exhibit at the Getty, Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography Since the 60s.

Unfortunately, by the time I got to this exhibit I was so wiped out from walking around the Center, taking in the views, appreciating the architecture, and going through the Gerome exhibit, that I was too tired to see the whole the show.

It provided a fairly in-depth look at the projects of several iconic photographers, including Mary Ellen Mark's documenting of homeless teenagers, Larry Towel's investigation of Amish culture, Leonard Freed's work on race relations in the US during the civil rights era, and Lauren Greefield's more recent exploration of the production of femininity and beauty.

I hope this show comes to New York, as I would really have liked to have given it more time.

Gerome at the Getty

While I was in LA I checked out the Getty museum. One of the exhibitions presented the work of 19th Century French painter, Jean-Leon Gerome. I had never heard of him, but his paintings are beautiful and lush and sensuous.

I'm ashamed to admit I don't really know how to look at pre-20th century art, actually. I just don't have a background in art history. So when I look at older art, I just respond in a basic way to what's obviously pretty, obviously intense, etc. So I was most drawn to his nudes of women, and the exotic images of the "Orient".