Archive for April, 2010

Amanda Miller (left) and Viji Rao in “How Am I Not Myself,” a new work by Miller’s Miro Dance Theatre that had its U.S. premiere over the weekend at the Painted Bride.
Posted on Mon, Feb. 1, 2010

Blending East and West styles of dance

By Merilyn Jackson

For The Inquirer

Globally, there have to be as many forms of dance as there are varieties of flowers. In India, for example, two classics are Kathak and Bharatanatyam; in the West, ballet and modern. Viji Rao, who dances classical Bharatanatyam, and Amanda Miller, a former ballerina who incorporates modern dance into the choreography of her Miro Dance Theater, recently collaborated on a performance piece. After touring India last month, How Am I Not Myself had its American premiere over the weekend at the Painted Bride.


Posted on Sat, Jan. 16, 2010

Chicago dancers, Philly ties

By Merilyn Jackson

For The Inquirer

There are reasons the 20-year-old River North Chicago Dance Company has a large Philadelphia following and draws appreciative audiences whenever it appears here, as it did Thursday at the Annenberg Center. Several members have local ties: Artistic director Frank Chaves trained and danced here in the ’80s in the jazz-dance company Waves; Monique Haley, who performs this weekend in several pieces, including a work of her own, is a Philly native and University of the Arts grad; and well-known UArts teacher Jae Hoon Lim, a principal dancer with Koresh Dance Company, formerly danced with River North.


Posted on Sat, Apr. 17, 2010

By Merilyn Jackson

For The Inquirer

We often speak of Philadelphia treasures, and Joan Myers Brown has been one of the city’s most valuable assets for the last 40 years. Forty years!

As founder and artistic director of Philadanco – the Philadelphia Dance Company – her reach here and around the world has won her fond acclaim, including this year’s Philadelphia Award. Thursday’s 40th-anniversary opening performance at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater portended nothing but more smooth sailing for this helmswoman and her brilliant company.

Read Full Story

Dancing death and life


As she endured treatment for breast cancer 13 years ago, dancer/choreographer Jeanne Ruddy read T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. But as she recovered, it was his Four Quartets that gave her solace, particularly the end of the third section, “The Dry Salvages”: We, content at the last/ If our temporal reversion nourish/ (Not too far from the yew-tree)/ The life of significant soil.

Jeanne Ruddy Dance now consists of 10 dancers, and Ruddy has entrusted Soil to two of her most accomplished dancers, Janet Pilla and Christine Taylor (who dance on alternate nights), and has added a second section for five women.

A decade ago I found the dance mawkish, and wondered whether the coil Ruddy used as a prop symbolized an umbilical cord or an IV tube. Now I see that it is really both lifeline and mortal coil. Pilla danced the role convincingly on Thursday evening, but had just as much trouble shuffling out of the ungainly coil as Ruddy had had. But then, a threat like cancer is not easily conquered.

In the second section, the dancers, in Jeffrey Wirsing’s flowing white costumes, raced across the stage, flying bolts of red chiffon behind them, painting a picture of life redoubled in intensity and joy. Ruddy joins them, as if bestowing courage and grace.

Not life but death is the subject of Breathless, the dance that followed. Ruddy based Breathless, which premiered in 2005, on tabloid headlines of sensational murders. In it, Ian Dodge, Rick Callender, and Hershel Deondre Horner III variously seduce, control, and ultimately murder three women, Gabrielle Revlock, Meredith Riley Stewart, and Pilla. I first saw it in 2008, and it is much tighter now in story line and choreography, and so all the more riveting.

Dodge connects with his inner murderer early on, while Callender and Horner are more like accidental tourists, finding theirs circumstantially. Once again the pole dancer who ensnares the men, is scandalizing. I do wish the dance could better match the fluidity of Jorge Cousineau’s video projections, but enjoyed hearing Ellen Fishman-Johnson’s noir score again.

Although watching Dodge switch from villain in Breathless to lighthearted swain in Lark was fascinating, the decorous quintet from last year is Callender’s realm. His striking port de bras would be envied by any ballet danseur and brought the right touch of courtliness to this work.

Thayne Alexandra Dibble was the piece’s spring flower, joined by Pilla and Taylor flitting and flirting about with the men. This Lark sings of new love. O April.


Spellbinding ‘Vested Souls’

Once in a while a dance leaves you breathless the instant it begins. That happened Friday night at the Community Education Center (CEC) with dancer/choreographer Nora Gibson’s work for four dancers, Vested Souls. From the first sweep of Michael Reiley McDermott’s electronic score to the last sweep of Eiren Shuman’s arm, and from the first pose of Jeffrey Gunshol in third position to the last of Gibson’s small ronde de jambes, this dance held me in its thrall. I don’t think I took a full breath until about 50 minutes later.



This is a story of mice and chocolate.
The Brits claim they did it — built a better mousetrap that is. With the construction going on all over town, they did it just in time. As my exterminator, Dom, explained, Philly houses are overrun with mice driven from one habitat to another by the construction vibrations. He says he’s never been busier. Yours may be the next stop on the rodents’ and Dom’s citywide tour.
I returned from a two-week trip to find my South Philly home invaded and would have put it on the market immediately had Dom not told me that no matter how clean you are, if there is something they smell and some teensey opening no larger than a dime, they’ll be your unwelcome house sitters. The only hope is to keep everything in glass or heavy plastic containers.
Opening my pantry shortly after my return, I saw one scurrying away in broad daylight. My shriek brought my neighbor to my door and we commiserated. She had them for the first time in her 60-year residency.
I put on plastic gloves and started throwing away about a $100 worth of damaged goods. As a former pastry chef and baker, I keep many costly ingredients — candied ginger, coconut, chocolate, dried cherries. Until now, I just left them in their original bags. What skeived me most was picking up the expensive, cellophane-wrapped blocks of partially eaten sweetened to unsweetened chocolates. Chocolate? Mice eat chocolate?
Yes, according to Dom, who laid out chocolate-scented glue traps along the perimeters of my basement and first floor. The secret has been out for some time. Mice love it. Most creatures like things that are bad for us, might even kill us. For mice, it won’t be the food but what it’s on.
Fornicating Mice
My more humane friend, Malgosia, begged me not to use glue traps. “It is a terrible way to die,” she said, “and it may only be the one mouse anyway.”
“Are you kidding?” I cried. “These are biblical multipliers. They have nieces, nephews, ex-husbands, mistresses, bastard children, even foster kids. If they’re not eating, they’re fornicating. I’ll be inundated.”
Dom disposed of one that had expired at the scene of one of their gruesome parties — a carefully sealed bag of cheese curls eaten through leaving bits of cheese curls which, mixed with their droppings looked like Halloween-colored confetti.
Chocolate Mice
I poked around online for the effects of chocolate on mice. There are many people who actually like rodents and raise them, not for research, but as pets. I suppose if kept in a cage, it’s not so bad as if they have the run of your foodstuffs.
The Rat and Mouse Club of America is not your Mickey Mouse Club. They actually breed the critters, and seem to prize something called chocolate mice that they breed for their natural chocolatey color, and what I swear I saw in my pantry. One article concluded that despite the possibly toxic the bromines found in chocolate, feeding your pet rats a chocolate chip or two a day would not kill them, “especially when you see how much they enjoy it.”
A 2003 scientific abstract from Poland, however, cites a study in which chocolate-fed mice produced offspring with shortened limbs. On a chat room I found a toxic recipe for Chocolate and Plaster of Paris using a dry mix of the plaster with cocoa which, when ingested, will send the mice out of your home to seek water and die out of sight. Right.
Nebraskan writer Marilyn Pokorney asserts that chocolate is poisonous to mice and chocolate covered peanut candy will kill them without introducing poisons to your home, pets and children.
The British mousetrap is not necessarily a better one. Looks something like the old spring-loaded trap, but they manufacture chocolate right into the plastic putting the highest concentration on the spring. Problem is the scent disappears after about six months and then has to be used conventionally with chocolate or cheese. But the UK scientists are working on a chocolate scented spray that may give the traps a longer shelf life. Sounds like the mice will have a longer shelf life too.
So, if you love your mice give them just a little chocolate. If you hate them, give them a lot. There is no such thing as a humane death, but there may be a sweet one.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: