Archive for September, 2010

Just read your Druid article and had a good laugh and see your point, of course. But the Inquisition, Crusades et al were far longer ago than nine years— not that that makes them any less heinous. In this case I have yet to hear the American Muslim community decry Jihad or religious Fatwahs. Did one prominent Muslim ever speak out on behalf of Salmon Rushdie? I would even suggest they build and use the community center as a place of asylum for those abused in the name of Islam. That includes women and girls under threat of clitoredectomy. That would be a fitting memorial to the Muslims murdered on 9/11.

Practice: Type I (commonly referred to as clitoridectomy), Type II (commonly referred to as excision) and Type III (commonly referred to as infibulation) are the most common forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) or female genital cutting (FGC) practiced in Nigeria. Type IV is practiced to a much lesser extent. The form practiced varies by ethnic group and geographical location. It crosses the numerous population groups and is a part of the many cultures, traditions and customs that exist in Nigeria . It crosses the lines of various religious groups. It is found among Christians, Muslims and Animists alike.

NOTE: although this cites the use of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) as practiced by Christians (not a group I would normally defend) I can cite Catholic apologetics and religious teachings which condemn the practice as a sin or crime.

an estimated 97 percent of Egyptian women have undergone the harmful practice of female genital mutilation (“circumcision”), which was banned by the Minister of Health in 1996. Egyptian and international institutions are now mobilising to reduce its spread.

“Every disgusting Islamic custom is not only coming to the West, it’s on the rise. Like honor killings — they are skyrocketing in the west. To the credit of the UK, at least they are talking about it. It’s happening here but to speak of it would insult CAIR….In the case of clitorectomies, if they insist upon such torturous mutilation, we should insist upon reciprocity. For every clit, a johnson.” Pamela Geller on Atlas Shrugs

I second that motion.

Over the last 14 years many Philadelphians have come to partake of what is now called the Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe, but started out as the Philly Fringe and is still affectionately so-called, just as the Philadelphia Dance Company can’t escape being called Philadanco. Nicknames stick. Some audience buy tickets for multiple shows in an evening, swanning around town with stops at outdoor cafes, many of which have proliferated and prospered with the Fringe and First Friday events. With the festival spread out over wider parts of the city each year, it’s become more difficult for me to get to as many sites as I had in the past.

As a dance critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I limit my review nights to just one show. Still, I have been out at some festival event or other for the last 17 nights and will head out this evening for the one I held out for my own Grande Finale, Brian Sanders’ Sanctuary. Sanders is a near perennial Fringe favorite and I’ll include Sanctuary in an omnibus review for Broad Street Review next week.  I most look forward to seeing Sanders work, not just because it is great dance, but because of his exuberance as an artist. He’s been living with HIV for many years, yet his devilish joie de vivre never fails to amaze and delight me. So this is just a little homage to one of the most imaginatively brilliant artists I know.

In the week before his show opened, Brian whooped my butt in a Facebook Scrabble game — 341 – 320 – my first game online and I’m hooked. I am calling him out for a rematch next week and look forward to many more years of his shows and Scrabble games.

MEATY: [Definitions] rich, especially in matter for thought : substantial <actors looking for meaty roles> Full of substance or interest, satisfying: The ballet has stayed the course because of the meaty roles it offers.

I like to say that the interests and experiences I’ve listed in this blog will all come together when I write a novel about an anorexic Polish ballerina who leaves the stage to write a cookbook. But I can begin to give them a good gloss here on Prime Glib.

So why call this blog “PrimeGlib” and why use an image that will surely turn off many who are not carnivores? Because I am an animal that, like other animals, eats other animals and I enjoy the occasional joint. The beef says juicy, raw and sanguine – in both the cheerfully optimistic sense and the bloody – and I have never been anything if not meaty. I therefore let a standing rib roast stand for me.

So I loved seeing Lady Gaga’s skirt steak. It got my attention. Gaga is good – she reveals her pathos and shallowness. People miss the pun: she is full of gags and she makes you gag and she is neither gogo nor gew-gew and certainly not gigi. But I largely agree with Camille Paglia’s grilling of her in the Sunday Times of London. The Lady may be meaty on the outside, but there’s little if any substance inside. She made a good metaphor but doesn’t show us any meaning other than shock value.

Factor T

Posted Sat., Sept 6, 2008

By Merilyn Jackson

The Gdansk dance company Dada von Bzdülöw presents its second Live Arts Festival show inspired by a Polish writer. Last year it was Witold Gombrowicz; this year, the dancers make witty observations on another prankster author little-known here – Stefan Themerson, who first published the pataphysical works of Alfred Jarry in English under a press with a Latinized name for the Jabberwock. It helps to hear jabberwocky and Jarry clanging in your head to see where this show is going.

The wickedly playful intent of the piece kicked in with laborious lifts, and with company founder and dancer extraordinaire Leszek Bzdyl smiling. For the last year, Philly dancer Bethany Formica worked with the group for her role as a jaded ingenue in multiple, gorgeous costume changes. (Hiroshi Iwasaki designed the 1930s period costumes and Mikolaj Traska the jazzy music.) Katarzyna Chmielewska, also a founding Dada member, danced with reckless elegance in her schoolmarm-prim garb.

Mumpitz is German vernacular for “profound nonsense,” and Rafal Dziemidok solemnly brings things to that level. A big guy prancing bare-chested in suspendered pinstripe pants, he ends the piece baring his all, a perfect Live Arts/Fringe experience – if you know where it’s coming from.

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Way Up High

Posted Wed., Sep. 3 2008

By Merilyn Jackson

Way Up High. Loose Screws is a wonderful name for a tap-dance company, referring as it does to the screws on tap shoes that must be loose enough to let the taps jiggle and click. Would that it also applied to the sensibility of the company’s artistic director, Jenn Rose, composer and associate director Dan Kazemi, and associate artistic director Megan Nicole O’Brien. Their show at First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia on Tuesday was sweet, girly, even new-agey in its attempt to portray the story of the dancer who represented the color black and deconstruct it into the colors of the rainbow. Hence, the title Way Up High, an allusion to “Over the Rainbow.”

The directors also hyped their 50-minute show as “uninhibited, risk-taking and new” and said that it fused contemporary dance with tap. In fact, the first 20 minutes consisted of outdated noodling around with flung-out arms and distressed facial expressions before the tap shoes even came out. And when they did, they disappointed in this missed opportunity to take the floor by storm. The shoes kept coming on and off, the arms kept flinging out as the seven girls turned and leapt. The music droned on without the rhythms that inspire great tap. There was little jiggle, and no click.

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Posted Tues, May 25,2010

By Merilyn Jackson

For The Inquirer

Megan Mazarick danced her “Untitled Duet.” Susan Hess’ two signature projects will move to a new venue.

After 30 years at 2030 Sansom St., Susan Hess Modern Dance Studios presented its final concert there Sunday night. But instead of a wake, it was a celebration of the far-reaching dance legacy shaped in that space. Former Philly dancer Steve Krieckhaus came in from St. Louis to honor Hess, and so – surprise! – did famed global choreographer Lucinda Childs, whose spectacular 1979 Dance will have its Philadelphia premiere at this fall’s LiveArts Festival.Krieckhaus was one of many who went on to success through Hess’ 26-year-old Choreographers Project (others include Rennie Harris and Eric Schoefer). And Childs participated in Hess’ Masters Exchange series, also begun in 1984, which brought in dance icons including Deborah Hay and Daniel Nagrin…

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Pichet Klunchun and Myself

Posted Fri, Sept.5,2008

By Merilyn Jackson

At Thursday’s opening at the Arts Bank, Thai dancer/choreographer Pichet Klunchen and French dancer/choreographer Jérôme Bel faced each other across the stage. Klunchun, an adept of Khon – traditional Thai dance – lobbed answers to Bel’s incessant questions sincerely and succinctly, establishing an ever-more-ludicrous dialogue.

Bel assumed the role of a French nerd, droll and earnest, yet elegant and intelligent in this combination interview and lecture-demonstration, urging Klunchun to show the Khon technique. Klunchun performed what dancing there was, ultimately explaining that the movements represented architecture.

The architectural space between them represents the cultural gulf between their two cultures and dance philosophies. For despite Bel’s engagé protestations that there is no representation in contemporary art, (that would be, to paraphrase Bel, not “ici et maintenant” – here and now), everything represents something in this semi-farcical, semioticist wetdream.

At Klunchun’s behest, Bel demonstrates a section of his dance from The show must go on (next weekend at the Kimmel), standing almost perfectly still for several minutes à la John Cage’s 1952 4′ 33, in which the pianist simply sits for that length of time. Klunchun says he gets it. By the end of this cagey and Cagean show, you too get indeterminacy, phenomenology, structuralism and many other French “isms” you’ve been struggling with all these years.

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Two worthy new dances made locally

Posted on Sat, Sep. 11, 2010

8: Olive Prince and Shavon Norris. Olive Prince, a delightful dancer, choreographed quite a good piece Thursday evening with I Desire, one of eight new works by local choreographers for the Live Arts Festival. The pieces are being presented in four sets of two.

Marie Brown, Lindsay Browning, and Nora Gibson joined Prince onstage for I Desire, while Christopher B. Farrell’s compelling score moved them through with conviction. The dancers entwined themselves by turns in root-brown vines that hung from above. Prince repeated a motif using one vine for a support for deep back-bends and later did a little aerial work with it. This was not your girly maypole dance; all four attacked the meaty choreography with gusto. While Gibson brought her purposeful presence to the piece, Prince gave it its grace.

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Posted on Wed, Sep. 15, 2010
By Merilyn Jackson
Inquirer Dance Critic
Cédric Andrieux. The French have good words for many things in life. Amuse-bouche, for instance, means a small bite a chef offers to titillate your lingual receptors. The French director/choreographer Jérôme Bel knows very well how to translate minimal sound bites and movement into a substantial feast. In 2008 the Live Arts Festival presented Bel’s Pichet Klunchun and Myself, a brilliantly deconstructed conversational duet. Since, Bel has directed dancer Cédric Andrieux in a one-man lecture/demonstration constructed over a two-year discourse about Andrieux’s 20-year dance career. Now 33, he danced in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1999 to 2007.

Fall forecast: Dance

Posted on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010

Merilyn Jackson

Inquirer dance critic

It may seem odd in this economy, but here comes the richest, most varied fall dance season in a few years.

With music by Philip Glass and film overlay by Sol LeWitt, Lucinda Childs’ black-and-white modern classic Dance powered through town over the weekend as part of the Live Arts Festival, but two of her reconstructed works will be here next month. A seismic shift from Childs’ minimalist work in concept, color, music, and choreography, David Parsons’ exhilarating Remember Me comes in December. And Paul Taylor brings us his new Phantasmagoria in October.

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