Posts Tagged 'dance'

Ben Brown: Improvising His Way to Clarity

Photo by Harley Spade

Photo by Harley Spade

Ben Brown is a Vancouver treasure.  He is the brilliant drummer of JUNO award winning Pugs and Crows.  He is an in-demand session player who has played with fabulous emerging artists as well as illustrious established musicians.  He is Composer-in-Residence at the Western Front.  He is the mastermind and instigator of Music and Movement Mondays, a boundary-crossing improvisational exploration of music and dance.  He’s also a lovely guy.

And one more thing: he’s the subject of my recent interview on VANDOCUMENT. Check it out.

The Challenges and Opportunities of Improvisational Dance

Image

I have a new review up on VANDOCUMENT.  This one covers a program of largely improvisational dance performances, “inside the lines | the lines inside”, that was on offer at the Edam Dance Theatre in October.

Check it out.

Skins and Steel: a First-Person-Plural History of Calypso Culture in Vancouver

Skins and Steel

All the important stuff on this blog seems to happen in the comments, rather than in my original posts, which anyway have been few-and-far-between of late; and it was in a comment that I mentioned Vanessa Richards’s brilliant show Skins and Steel, which premiered for a two-evening run in November. It is being reprised for a special one-night performance at the Vancity Theatre tomorrow, Thursday, 23 February, as part of Black History Month programming. I urge you to see it.

When I wrote about Skins and Steel, the focus of my discussion was a brief film that plays midway through the show — a “remix” done by Vanessa of a 1960’s era CBC documentary about her parents’ interracial marriage — that fit into a theme of mixed-racedness I had been exploring. I mentioned the stage performance itself only in passing, promising to write a more complete review. Sloth being what it is, that fuller assessment never happened.

The show is no longer fresh-enough in my mind to present a review, per se; but here’s a thumbnail sketch. It traces the introduction of Afro-Caribbean dance and music to Vancouver. The Afro Caribs were a drum-and-dance calypso ensemble, founded in Vancouver when Rudy Richards (Vanessa’s father — and the guy soaring in the photo above), Felix Assoon, Clyde Griffith, and Ron Rogers came from the West Indies in the mid-1950’s to study at UBC. They are now approaching their 80’s, but they perform with a sassy verve that gives a nice sense of how the exoticism and expressiveness of calypso rhythm may have caused an stir, as the staid, monocultural 1950’s had only just begun to give way to a new era of cross-polinated art. The audience is also treated to performances by the great singer and dancer, Thelma Gibson, whose presence exudes that rare mix of elegance and joyfulness that has somehow evaded recent generations, and by steel pan virtuoso Kendrick Headley. Vanessa smartly pulls the melange together with narrative and film clips, including a fascinating segment in which she connects the dots between Vancouver’s dance scene and the seminal New York choreographer, educator, and company director Katherine Dunham, in large part via Ms. Gibson’s brother Len. The show is both personal and fascinatingly revealing of an aspect of Vancouver’s cultural history that is neither well-known nor broadly celebrated.

Go see Skins and Steel — and report-back here to give your impressions. You can offer the review I failed to write.

Could India Host an Impressive Olympics?

India and China. China and India.

Whenever discussion turns to the New World Order, these neighboring giants are always mentioned in the same breath as the up-and-comers. I understand the arguments, but remain deeply skeptical about the prospects for both countries, though for vastly different reasons.

With the Beijing 2008 Olympics drawing to a close, one must concede that China has managed to pull off a fabulously successful advertisement for itself, even though its ugly authoritarianism and environmental shamefulness remained on plain view throughout. So the question nags: Could India hold an Olympics that would flatter, rather than embarrass the nation? I, for one, seriously doubt it.

Continue reading ‘Could India Host an Impressive Olympics?’

Mad About Madhuri

Madhuri Dixit and MBJ spend a little quiet time together.

I admit it. I love Hindi films. Not everything about them, mind you; nor all of them. I love the music, the dancing, and the silliness. If those elements are well taken care of, I can easily forgive what tends to pass for plot, dialogue, and acting.

Since the dance and music makes-or-breaks a Bollywood film for me, it can come as no surprise that I’m a big Madhuri Dixit fan. No one dances like Madhuri. She evokes classical discipline and idiom, while projecting a hip, sexually explosive athleticism. Her movement is always effortless-seeming, balanced, grounded, and flowing. This utter lack of strain permits her to remain engaged with the camera as an actor, even while in the midst of the most intricate, rapid, demanding dance sequences. And she has the most naturally expressive hands since Margo Fonteyn.

Continue reading ‘Mad About Madhuri’

Dance Critic

MBJ on OTV

Two weeks of holiday in Orissa, and our first stop is Konark, site of the enormous (though largely destroyed) Sun Temple. We have bustled north to catch the fifth and final day of the annual Konark Dance Festival, which uses the illuminated temple structure as its dramatic backdrop.

We were the special guests of the Chairman of the Orissa Tourism Development Corporation, who was a student in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram School in Pondicherry with our companions Puru and Maya. This guaranteed us VIP treatment and second row center seating, immediately behind his highness, the Governor of Orissa, and his entourage.

Continue reading ‘Dance Critic’

Odissi under a Spreading Bhodi Tree

Sutra Dance Theatre

Last night we were treated to a radiant Odissi performance by Sutra Dance Theatre, the fabulous Indian classical dance ensemble of master danceur Ramli Ibrahim, beneath a gorgeous wisdom tree on a lovely estate just outside Pondicherry. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Continue reading ‘Odissi under a Spreading Bhodi Tree’


Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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