Kafkaworld's Blog

June 17, 2012

On The Uproar in Row C

Filed under: dance,life — kafkaworld @ 12:17 pm
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It’s a common problem and becoming worse every day.  Elderly people, on the rampage, roaming free, wandering about with their baby boomer sense of entitlement, and generally doing precisely whatever they please.  Damn troublemakers, the lot of them.

So picture this.  Last night, in the very plush and  swanky State Theatre, five minutes before curtain up on the latest Australian Ballet production of ‘Let’s Dance’, a minor kerfuffle broke out in Row C.  We were seated comfortably when two interlopers squeezed in and tried to take our seats.  They were smartly admonished and told they were in the wrong spot.  “This is row B” we sneered and waited for them to scuttle off.  “Oh no it isn’t” they and several of their pimply faced friends shouted back, and they were right dammit.  Just before security arrived, we vacated the disputed seats with as little grace as possible and sulked off to the next row where we sat behind three young women with giant heads who obviously had no consideration for the people seated behind them.

To be fair, the extremely polite young woman at the door had directed us to the second front row when we arrived but as we are both deaf and chronically disinclined to follow instructions, we had ignored her.  I suspect life is going to become more, not less chaotic over the coming years.  I’m quite looking forward to the challenge.

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July 9, 2010

Addendum – Bangarra

Filed under: dance,domestic bliss,family — kafkaworld @ 7:59 am
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I just received this email and could not resist putting up the beautiful photo from ‘Riley’.  Watch the doco on Sunday if you’re interested.  I’ll be recording it as I will be interstate this weekend – again.  What a good time I’ve had, tripping around the country, popping in and out of art galleries and theatres.

Many many thanks to James and Debbie, who have been dog and cat sitting for us for no reward apart from the occasional punnet of strawberries and a lot of unsightly dog hair.

July 8, 2010

Bangarra Dance Theatre

Superb, unique, stunning, rivetting –  too many superlatives are barely enough for this company.  I went along last night to see their new production ‘of earth & sky’ and left two and a half hours later, wondering what had happened to the time.  It felt as though I had been in the theatre for barely five minutes when all the lights came on and I was being shooed out into the Brisbane winter night.

There is nothing else like Bangarra.  The dancers are exquisite, powerful and passionate.  Artistic director Stephen Page has choreographed many works for them over the last twenty years, and, with this new programme, is nurturing new choreographic talent in Daniel Riley McKinley and Frances Rings.  The music for  ‘Riley’ and ‘Artifact’  was composed by David Page,  and is an integral part of the works, unimaginable without him.  Yes I did buy the cd if it’s any of your business.

In fact everything is so original, you won’t see anything like it anywhere else.  Costumes, sets and lighting are all integral parts of the whole.

The audience, full of people under 30, got up and cheered at the end and most, like me, were most reluctant to leave.  I so regret not having visited Bangarra up until 2009, when I was dragged along by a good friend, but you can bet I will never miss an opportunity to see them again.  I suggest you do likewise.

February 28, 2010

Yes It’s Ballet, But Is It Funny?

Filed under: dance — kafkaworld @ 6:32 am
Tags: , , ,

Humour in ballet has always been problematic for me.  In the past, I have seen pantomime horses, a chicken on a stick and men dressed in women’s clothes.  All very Footy Show,  very laboured and very predictable.  Choreographers who are able to convey emotions such as love, loneliness and loss with the lightest and most sensitive touch, cannot seem to avoid laying on the comedy with heavy hands.

Why is this?  Could it be that ballet, like opera, usually deals with the big issues, life, love and death.  Perhaps the choreographers feel that if the comedy is too small and nuanced, it will be lost altogether.  Certainly, I have seen smaller dance works which are genuinely funny; it’s the big showy productions where it all goes wrong.

So, to ‘The Silver Rose’, premiered in Brisbane by the Australian Ballet last Friday night.  My admiration and enthusiasm for the work of Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon is boundless and virtually unextinguishable.  Murphy’s choreography, particularly for trios and couples, is sublime; Janet Vernon’s understanding of character and how to portray it onstage is uncanny, so my expectations were high.  Then I read the programme and learned that the ballet is based on an opera by Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier.  Thus, I knew the plot would be very complicated requiring a flowsheet to keep up with who was in love with whom and why.  I can deal with that – it will be good exercise for my fast evaporating network of neuronal pathways.  However, when I read Murphy’s comment that

“Much of The Silver Rose verges on slapstick. It’s a great opportunity to introduce comedy, a much maligned and often unused aspect of dance”

my heart sank.  But then again, maybe, just maybe, Murphy could pull it off.  Wrong …

Act 1 featured  the Three Camp Brothers: hairdresser, makeup artist and couturier all arrived wearing tight breeches, fluttering lace handkerchieves and minced their way around the stage in a swirl of fussily twitchy mannerisms which left the audience underwhelmed.  Meanwhile, the heroine’s young lover,Octavian,  forced to hide behind a screen to avoid discovery, eventually reappears wearing his lover’s clothes, complete with a pair of lacy knickers on his head.  Don’t tell me that doesn’t get funnier every time you see it.  Does the villainous Baron Ochs fall in lust with the hideous transvestite?  Of course he does.  Laugh?  I thought I’d kill myself.

Act 2, gloriously costumed and choreographed, happily passes with only one brief appearance from the aforesaid “maid”, but Act 3 makes up for that.  Tell me, what do you think when the curtain rises to reveal a large bed with three huge stuffed and mounted stag’s heads on the wall?  I’ll tell you.  In the words of the great musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, you think “comedy tonight”!  And sure enough, a feast of slapstick is required as evil Baron Ochs is firmly put in his place by Octavian and his merry band of pranksters.  Turkeys are worn on heads, arms and legs appear mysteriously from the bed and go the grope and the stag’s heads – well you really should go and see it for yourself.

The Australian Ballet, under the artistic direction of David McAllister is in a sweet spot these days.  The dancers are strong, expressive and brilliant, costumes and sets magnificent, and Murphy and Vernon are at the peak of their powers.  I must also mention the music, by Australian composer Carl Vine which is fabulous.  Despite my nitpicking about the comedy turns, I enjoyed The Silver Rose immensely, and will be going twice more.  Once to see Madeleine Eastoe, my favorite dancer, back on stage after a year away, and then to see Lucinda Dunn again, dancing the part of the aging heroine with supreme confidence and a beautifully conveyed sense of loss and aging.

My name is Lindy and I am a balletoholic, and I have no intention whatsoever of recovering from this addiction.  You are more than welcome to join me.

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