Monday, May 10, 2010

Mothers Day and the History of Dance

My daughter gave me a set of gift certificates as her gift, and I pulled the one where I get to force them to watch any movie I want.  We had just seen a live company class at the Joffrey Ballet, and I had a copy of the documentary about the Ballet Russe on DVD .  If you know anything about dance history (and most people don't) you know that this particular ballet company in the early 20th century was to profoundly affect everything about dance in the western world even until now.  The influence of the various incarnations of the Ballet Russe affected painting, theater, Broadway musicals, film and television and of course, the art of ballet and the birth of modern dance.   The thing about dance history, though, is that it is so much a history that lives in the bodies of the people that create it.  And film came into being at exactly the right time to capture and hold that history.  This documentary was made at exactly the right moment--many of the original performers were still alive and vibrant.  Well into their 80's, some in their 90's, we got the stories straight from their mouths.  I am a part of that history, having studied with some of the pillars of American Modern Dance, from Hanya Holm and Alwin Nikolais to Robert Ellis Dunne, the composition teacher who also taught the Judson Church choreographers.   I am not entirely certain my kids "got" the idea of oral history, or really enjoyed the film.  After seeing the generation on stage with the Joffrey Company class, I felt thrillingly a part of dance history.  I am hoping more documentary film makers capture the stories of dancers as we move into the future. My kids hope I don't have too many of those coupons!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The British have come

This week, Mama's media night kinda morphed into Mama Media Weekend as we did a British marathon--starting with Harry Potter and ending a day later with Dr. Who. We are all speaking with accents now, and if I see another CGI enhanced version of a bridge over the Thames again, I will scream. Yes, after seeing the same bridge in Sherlock Holmes, Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Life on Mars AND Dr. Who, we all were like, isn't there any other kind of bridge in London?
But enough of bridges (maybe its a universal metaphor trying to get through to our addlepated brains?). My kids wanted to know why so many American actors were playing Brits. I glibly stated that its payback time for all the Brits who come over here and take our best film roles (of course that lead to a big discussion on the training you get across the pond) My kids already love to play actor spotting--the star of Life on Mars is also the Master on Dr. Who. Its like there are about 20 actors in all of London and they are in every productions ever made. The conversation sort of backfired when one of my kids announced they were going to be a British Actor.

The older crowd also watched A Serious Man which is a strange little movie, and still has me thinking. And digging out my Torah......