Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Nutcracker at BAM

Last night I saw The Nutcracker at BAM. The company was The American Ballet Theater, and the choreographer was Ratmansky, and it was rather different than the production I saw at Lincoln Center as a child.

An exuberant, silly, cotton candy ballet, it was thoroughly delightful. I got impatient for real dancing during all the kitschy set up in the first act, but was rewarded in the second act.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

War Horse

I guess I enjoyed Steven Spielberg's War Horse. It opened today, Christmas, and I saw it with my mom.

It's ruggedly sentimental, predictably schmaltzy. An epic story of a horse and the boy who loves him. The horse ends up in battle in WWI, and there is a lot of violence and drama. But somehow I felt one step ahead of the story, easily sensing what would be coming next. In spite of this, the narrative and cinematic tricks all worked on me: I cried.

I like it when a movie makes me cry. And I guess I liked this movie, even though I didn't really think much of it one way or the other.

Friday, December 23, 2011

MOMIX Botanica

I saw MOMIX perform Botanica tonight at the Joyce. It was such an incredibly beautiful, awe inspiring, exuberant piece!

Based on the seasons and an exploration of natural processes, Botanica is made of many very short dances, each which inventively -- extremely inventively -- use light, props, and illusion to create stunning visual effects. The dances were humorous, erotic, joyful, and sorrowful, and the dancing was graceful, athletic and energetic. I was so thrilled by each piece. My favorites were the marigold flower dance, the dance with the trees, the horses, and this piece pictured here, where a dancer moves against a mirrored surface -- so sensuous and confounding and complex.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rent Girl

Rent Girl, Michelle Tea's illustrated memoir about being a young hooker in Boston, is totally engaging.

The writing has a light, conversational style that sucks you in. Vignettes are presented in an offhand fashion. Yet the voice deepens and grows on you and I began to feel invested in the narrator. The tales of hooking are gritty and sad, filled with mundane and sometimes humorous details.

Laurenn McCubbin's illustrations add a tremendous amount to the story, really breathing life into aspects of it.

Rent Girl chronicles Tea's relationships and struggles to find a way to get by financially without compromising self or aesthetics, and in this way it's sort of a coming of age story.

I really enjoyed it!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Righteous Dopefiend

I am so glad I read Bourgois & Schonberg's Righteous Dopefiend, an ethnography of homeless injection drug users in San Fransisco.

I had been concerned that this photo-ethnography would be voyeuristic poverty porn, but instead it painted a complex, nuanced, in-depth portrait of human suffering, contextualizing individual lives within a socio-economic and political history. Righteous Dopefiend takes the reader into a "Community of Addicted Bodies", exploring the nature of community, habitual drug use, and biopower. The photographs are disturbing and beautiful, and provide detail, texture, and humanity to the work. In addition to being an excellent ethnographic work, Righteous Dopefiend includes journalistic portraits of unique individuals and relationships, and chronicles violence and abuse. Finally, it includes a thoughtful and realistic analysis of policies affecting homeless and indigent drug users.