Kafkaworld's Blog

February 16, 2011

On Good Days

Having started the week splendidly, the good times have continued.  I can’t believe it.

Wedding Shoes

I ordered these a few weeks ago from brandsexclusive. I’d been searching around Brisbane in vain to find something casual but not sloppy, small heels but easy to walk in and not fiendishly expensive.  Originally I wanted Festive Pink, but as the dress, bolero and nose are already Very Pink, I thought pink shoes could be overdoing the whole fluffy cupid ambience.

Having paid online, I naturally assumed I’d been the victim of a scam and I would see neither money nor shoes again.  But here they are.

My next good moment was the arrival of another online purchase, which took even longer to arrive.  Marieke Hardy, on the final First Tuesday Bookclub, had suggested a subscription to McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern would be an appropriate present for people with an interest in new/quirky/odd bits and pieces of writing.  Fearing none of my nearest and dearest cared about what Ms Hardy thought, I was forced to give it to myself.  That was last year and, again, I had given up hope.  Yesterday this arrived.

"A Headful of New and Unseen Work"

And it is exactly what it says it is.  Honestly, it’s like having a party in a box, unique, diverting and thought provoking.  This is Issue 36 and I can’t wait for number 37.

Here is the description of the contents of The Box.

“I’d love nothing more than a chance to crack your forehead open along a tidy seam and give the contents of your mind a nice gore-free sift.  This McSweeney’s issue was conceived as an approximation of what that experience might feel like for the sifter (without, admittedly, any regard at all for the feelings or rights of our mustachioed siftee).  What would your head look like inside?  Mine, I think, would look like a disorganized yellow filing cabinet”. I stopped reading there to ponder about the inside of my head, scared myself shitless and went straight to bed.  I suggest you don’t worry about the inside of your head.  Life is difficult enough.

Helpful advice to improve the sifting experience

I’ve read 3 of the items so far and have been hugely entertained.

Okay – so far, too much consumerism.  The next is more an experience.  Madam Butterfly is the first work of the Australian Ballet this year.   There are 13 performances with almost as many casts.  The divine Ms Eastoe is doing 3 performances.  We are going once.  WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!  Yes indeedy, there has been a happy confluence of karma and we are all going on March 5.  I can hardly believe my luck.  The boy couldn’t care less.  He’ll sleep/snore through Act 1 as usual, then come to life in time for *spoiler alert* the heroine’s ritual suicide at the end when he will burst into tears and be inconsolable until I take him down the road for dinner.  I swear, one night he won’t be able to restrain himself from leaping on stage to rescue the chicky in distress, and we’ll all be arrested.  I’m looking forward to that.

And for my final submission ladies and gentlemen, I bring you news of Radiohead’s forthcoming album.  If you go here, and look under Thank you for waiting, you will discover ‘King of Limbs’ and how to pre-order it if you are so inclined.  Thank you for waiting indeed.  Some of us had given up hope, life had lost its meaning, Thom has DESERTED me, you know how I get.

So, considering all that, I just may be in a slightly better mood next time you have to have dealings with me.  Live in hope, that’s all you can do.

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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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