The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

February 17, 2010

Cabaret Comes to Trustus Wednesday night with Marjorie Barnes & Wideman/Davis Dance

If you can tear yourself away from the Olympics on Wednesday night, (did somebody say Tivo?), race on down to TRUSTUS Theatre on Lady Street for a taste of New York City, Columbia Style.  The brain child of former Broadway star – now Columbia arts supporter, Gillian Albrecht, TRUSTUS Theatre presents an innovative series of monthly cabaret events starting Wednesday night with Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis of Wideman/Davis Dance Company and featuring the huge voice of the beautiful Marjorie Barnes.

Marjorie Barnes may be best known for her work with the musical group The Fifth Dimension (can you suuuuuurry, can you picnic? wo-o-o-ah) — Marjorie replaced Marilyn McCoo in the mid-seventies — but she has also enjoyed a stellar career as a jazz vocalist both on Broadway and throughout Europe.  Among the shows she has starred in are Hair, Dream Girls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, and Pal Joey.

The fund raising event starts at 7:30 and tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, with student rush tickets available at 7 pm at the door. But don’t dally — there were just a few seats left by Tuesday night — and seating is general admission. For tickets call 254-9732.

Watch this space for more info on the upcoming shows.

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January 24, 2010

Looking at LifeChance

It was so nice to see such a great crowd at LifeChance Saturday night — and not just folks who got trucked in, but just a whole lot of people from the community. Here are a few observations:

  • The show was great — I love it that the show even exists and that Radenko Pavlovich brings in such fine talent from the far corners for us to see.  The talent and choreography should help to inspire local companies and dancers, especially the contemporary pieces performed by Lia Cirio, her brother Jeffrey Cirio, and Sabi Varga and James Whiteside.  Lia, who literally just got word that she was promoted to Principal dancer at Boston Ballet, is a force to be reckoned with.  Her exhibition of controlled energy is a tutorial for aspiring dancers — every inch of her body  was expressive and beautiful — not a wasted second or movement in her performance.  Total commitment to the dance — amazing.
  • Brooklyn Mack rocked.  I am completely biased because I love the boy so, but he was totally on — ON, and it was glorious to watch him take in all the love from the audience.  You have to know how humble he is to understand this.  He continues to see himself as a student, as a struggler, as someone who is working so hard to get where he wants to be — no fears about resting on one’s laurels here.  Not all the stars and wannabes from Columbia are this way, so it’s very refreshing to see.
  • That said, who was the chick he was dancing with and where did she come from?  This is a rhetorical question because I know the answer to both of them.  But what I want to know is why she was dancing with Brooklyn.  I’m not going to criticize her and say that she had a bad show — I’m not even going to say the child’s name — I think she just wasn’t up to the part.  Le Corsaire, the pas that she and Brooklyn danced, is all about lightness — we expect our dancers to skitter across the stage — to take flight.  That just wasn’t happening with her last night.
  • OK, and while I’m pretending not to be critical, (should I add a “bless her heart” here?), here’s my take on classical variations.  I ONLY want to see them if they are excellent — not just good.  Because any student of ballet who has been at it a while and has some hope of ever having a career even at a fourth or fifth tier company knows how to execute these classical variations.  They may not be excellent or even very good — but they can get ’em done.  If I want to see a future star of tomorrow, I’ll go watch a class or sit in on a YAGP competition.  For $30 — I want to see a pro.  Like  Meaghan Hinkis out of ABT II who we only got to see dance Don Q. This chick took a part that I’ve seen done way too many times and added her own energy to it to such a degree that I actually liked it.  So many dancers, when they do these tried and true (read dull and boring, imho) classical variations, work so hard to be precise that they suck the very soul from the dance.  This is why I shudder a little bit every time I hear music by Minkus, Asafiev, or Adolphe Adam.  Here’s to being so good that you add your own interpretation to ancient choreography. Go Meaghan Hinkis.
  • I’ve never seen the Trey McIntyre Project perform before, but after watching two of their dancers last night — I’m going to put it on my to-do list effective immediately.  Dylan G-Bowley and Chanel DaSilva brought synergy to the stage last night in a way you don’t always see in modern dance.  Loved it.
  • Can we talk height for a minute?  Little DeeDee Weatherly-Rosner, who went to NCSA with Annie and Bonnie, is s0 short — she’s like a tyke, right?  Well looking at Radenko’s corps last night, DeeDee was, well, she was mid-sized.  For some reason the Columbia Classical Ballet company this year appears to be made up of very talented kinder-gardeners.  This isn’t a criticism — it’s just an observation.  Wee dancers.  Tiny.
  • And speaking of DeeDee — good show, Child.  You stood out on the stage and, as an NCSA mom, I was proud of you.
  • OK, another observation — are we dressing up again?  I say this because, back in the day, LifeChance was the night that we put on the ritz — tuxes and sequins and faux fur (yeah, I know this is magical thinking on my part — I have to pretend that all fur is fake to suppress my compelling desire to drench it in a gooey red substance).  I’m thinking that we started dressing down after 9/11 — is that right?  At the risk of sounding like my friend The Shop Tart, who is clearly the authority on finery, I couldn’t help but notice a bit more bling last night.  And black velvet — which I was even wearing myself — and I loved it –ain’t nothing that feels any better on the bod that black velvet.  I’m OK if we are dressing up again — I was telling Jeffrey that since we don’t go to the Phil anymore that I rarely get to do it up.  To which he replied, Come to the Phil, then.  Probably not.  I’m betting that next year we’ll see more tuxes — which is good for me.   The Beer Doc looks especially fine in his tux.
  • Finally, I just want to give a shout out to Lee Lumpkin — who may be the most generous woman in town.  Her devotion to Radenko and Columbia Classical Ballet is the sole reason that company is alive, especially in the recent economic malaise.  I’m sure Radenko knows this.  Her support has allowed him to realize his dream — and it has allowed us to attend some quite excellent after-parties year after year.  Thanks to Lee and Mike for their hospitality and generosity.  You both rock.

January 14, 2010

Be true to your school, I do, they dance, no day but today, & Beer! Beer! Beer! — + strings & jeans

It seems that life is getting back to normal these days — the parties are over, the garland is down (most of it, anyway), and the routine is starting to set in — if you believe in routines, that is.  I’ve never been one to dig into the rut — too claustrophobic for me.  I can see why some folks find the rut functional –it’s safe and can be comforting, I guess.  But if the rut gets too deep, it becomes harder and harder to see out of it and the next thing you know, it becomes a maze — and then — you’re trapped.

I’ve always been a fan of second and third careers, changing majors mid-stream, and letting the flow take you where it may.  Life never gets dull — it’s a sin to be boring.  That said, this is what we’re doing this weekend, starting tonight.

On Thursday at 7, my eldest and her beloved are going with me to see the Women Gamecocks play some mighty bball at the Colonial Center.  The Beer Doc drags me to as many of his little sporty events as he can, but never seems to be going in the direction of the arena when the Big Girls play.  Yesterday, after mentioning that the guys were playing LSU last night and that we should all Go Cocks and the like, one of my new students, the amazing Ms. Ebony Wilson who happens to play guard for the Women Gamecocks — and no, don’t give me any of that “lady” Gamecock crap until you’re ready to call the boys the “Gentlemen” Gamecocks when they play ball — asked me if I was going to their game tonight.  Zap!  What kind of Women’s Studies instructor am I if I don’t go out and support some of the toughest and most talented women of the university?  So, I’ll be there waving the garnet foam finger that Annie gave me for Christmas — Gamecock women are #1, in my book now, and Ms. Ebony Wilson happens to wear a #1 on her jersey.  Tonight’s game will be preceded by the best chee-boogie & brew in town at my beloved Hunter Gatherer.

And then there’s Friday night.  If you read my last blog & review of the film, you know that I’ll be attending the 5:30 showing of La Danse at the Nick, which will be preceded by some used-to-be surprise nuptials of two dear friends.  For all intents and purposes, the I dos are still a surprise if you haven’t been formally invited to the wedding or if you aren’t friends with the folks — of friends with their friends — on Facebook.  So, everything that I wrote yesterday still stands if you find yourself still in the dark — and I hope to see you there. In the light, before the film starts.

But for me and the Beer Doc, we’ll be darting out the back door of the theatre about half way through so we can grab some snacks and libation before we head down to TRUSTUS to see Rent.  This will only be like my umpteenth time of seeing this play, all other times on Broadway, but I am just so excited about seeing Kevin Bush play Mark — a role that both he and Doogie Howser were made for.  It only runs through next weekend and tickets are slim pickin’s, so if you have your heart set on going, as well you should, call the theatre at 254-9732, and beg Joe for a ticket.

After Rent we hope to make it down to CMFA at 914 Pulaski Street to take part in my friend Aaron Pelzek et. al.’s artist-driven extravaganza, Playing After Dark #4 — Free Form.  Aaron and buddies have brought together an awesome group of artists who will bring you everything from art-in-the-making via my friend Karen Storay, to Sherry Warren’s choreography (also my bud), a local band called The Noise, puppetry, poetry by Charlene Spearen (yes, a bud), scenes from Jaques Brel is Alive and Well — a play I was just writing about in the Beer Book, oddly enough, and, hell, I don’t remember — a bunch of stuff.  My friend Jeffrey wrote a nice little ditty on this event on his blog at http://carolinaculturebyjeffreyday.blogspot.com/.  The shenanigans start at 7:30 — which is why we’ll be coming in at the tail end, but never fail — the whole shebang is going to crank itself back up again Saturday night at the same time, same station.  Tickets are like $5, so seriously, head out to this event and show some love to local artist driven arts.  It’s the way it should be.

Which brings me to Saturday — the day of the second annual Columbia hosting of the World Beer Festival at the Columbia Convention Center.  There are two sessions, afternoon and evening.  Having made the mistake of attending as many sessions of beer events as offered before (read about this in Bob, Beer, and Me, coming out this spring/summer, by god!), we will only be attending the afternoon session — after which we will promptly crawl to our hotel room in the Vista and snooze until the evening festivities commence with yet another freaking basketball game — the Gentlemen Cocks, this time.  Is it possible to OD on sports?  Is that something that happens to the hard-core — read Beer Doc — or has he developed an immunity or a tolerance — built it up in his system, as it were, leaving him protected while his neophyte woman remains susceptible to sports poisoning and may just have to sneak out at half time, already clad in her blue jeans, to the Koger Center for some strings?  It is time for the Philharmonic’s Beethoven and Blue Jeans, after all.

After running in and dropping off a coat closet of old coats at the Art Bar last night — thanks to Chris Bickel for his generous offer of collecting a scad or two of coats for the cold during karaoke — I felt the yearning for the good Art Bar people in my soul, so the night should finish us up, just a few blocks from our hotel, at the best place to be in the city after 1 am.  We are so lucky to have that place.  Really, take a minute and thank your maker for the Art Bar.

Whatever your drug of choice, get drunk on the goodies going on in our beloved city this weekend.  I’ll see you around town.

Cheers, Y’all.

January 12, 2010

Review — La Danse at The Nick — (Don’t miss this beautiful film)+ Surprise Romance Columbia Style

Don’t be surprised if you feel oddly out of place when viewing Frederick Wiseman’s film, La Danse, opening at the Nickelodeon Theatre on Wednesday night.  The sensations evoked when watching a Wiseman film must be akin to something one might experience in a limited time travel situation.  Limited in that the subject matter and singular grouping of locations never change – think the various wings and wards of a hospital, the corridors and classrooms of a high school – but approximating time travel in that the viewer may find herself plopped down at any point in a controlled period of time – yesterday, next Thursday, earlier today at lunch – and witness to any variety of the mundane and the exotic – in this case, dying silk in a pot over a gas flame, vacuuming the loge in Paris’s Palais Garnier, or peeking into the sweaty rehearsal of Swedish choreographer Mats Ek’s La Maison de Bernada by the étoiles of the Paris Opera Ballet.

Transforming the viewer into the voyeur is, to a great degree, the point of documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s films.  And he has made almost forty of them, with objects of study ranging from a hospital, high school, racetrack, or zoo, to welfare, meat, the deaf, and domestic violence.  In every case, Wiseman settles himself for four to six weeks at the particular institution under observation, with very little preparation, and simply begins filming.  When he accumulates a hundred or so feet of film, he stops.  Then the real work of cutting and editing and arranging begins.  The result:  a brilliant amalgam of recorded experience, often poignant and beautiful, yet completely lacking in contextual information, exposition, or any kind of narrative arc.

La Danse (2009) is Wiseman’s latest effort in the observational mode of film-making, sometimes called direct cinema, and it may be his most beautiful.  His subject matter this time is the day-to-day activity under the roof of the neo-Baroque architectural masterpiece that is Paris’s Palais Garnier, the home of the famous Paris Opera Ballet.

Wiseman drops us in to the commotion of the ballet company as it prepares for six upcoming performances : the afore-mentioned Mats Ek project from the Cullberg Ballet, based on the Spanish play, La Casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernard Alba) by Federico Garcia Lorca; Orphée et Eurydice (Orpheus and Eurydice) by the recently deceased Pina Bausch, famous for, among other things, her influence in the development of the Tanztheatre (dance theatre) style; Pierre Lacotte’s  restored classic Paquita; Angelin Preljočaj’s contemporary ballet, Le Songe de Mérdée; the German choreographer Sasha Waltz’s abstract setting of Romeo and Juliet to a Berlioz symphonic score rather than the traditional Prokofiev; and, the sleek 1967 version of Casse-Noisette (The Nutcracker) by Rudolf Nureyev, rather than Petipa, which most Americans are accustomed to seeing.

In French with English subtitles, Wiseman brings a heavily-detailed intimacy to this project, often shooting from the vantage of just outside the door to the activity he wants us to see.   We are literally peeking in – spying on what’s going on.  What we get to see is not the always perfect presentation the Paris Opera Ballet puts on stage.  We are privy to the imperfect rehearsals, dancers actually learning the choreography, complaining about their corrections, becoming frustrated with themselves, their partners, and their ballet masters.

But there is far more than dance to Wiseman’s film, as his camera plays homage to almost every brick in the building of an arts institution:  the custodians, the costumers, the painters, the Director of Dance, Brigitte Lefévre, whose stylish red coiffure shows up in frame after frame – even the beekeeper on the roof.  One scene takes us meticulously through the mid-day meal as dancers approach the cafeteria and we are shown shots of their various entrée choices, the boredom on the cashier’s face as she collects money, the dancers leaving full and fresh and ready to rehearse again.

And then there are the dancers.

The Paris Opera Ballet company is divided into five ascending tiers for dancers, beginning with the quadrilles and rising to the etoiles – the stars, or principal dancers of the company.  Wiseman makes use throughout the film of a camera angle which shoots down one or another exceedingly long hallway and forever up exhausting stairways, perhaps as a metaphorical commentary on the inordinate work which goes into becoming a member of this prestigious company.  As viewers we get to see the likes of such luminaries as étoiles Marie-Agnés Gillot, Laëtitia Pujol, Aurélie DuPond, Agnés Letestu, Delphine Moussin, and more.  And ultimately, we get to see these amazing talents present the product of their labors under Marc Chagall’s glorious opera house ceiling.

I have had the good fortune to sit under the largest piece of work of my favorite artist, Marc Chagall, before and witness the Paris Opera Ballet in person.  I remember the massive six-ton chandelier that drops from the Chagall ceiling’s center – not literally, mind you, though the 1896 accidental crash of one of the Opera House’s chandeliers did inspire Gaston Leroux to pen the classic Phantom of the Opera. And I remember the gilded Grand Staircase, the Grand Foyer, and all the gold and velvet and overwhelming sumptuousness.  I remember seeing for the first time, Le Jeune Homme et la Mort (The Young Man and Death). But with dance, it’s difficult to remember more than the sensations you experience as you watch it.  Sure, your mind captures images and freezes them in time – the height of a grand jeté, the pristine stillness when, en pointe, a dancer exquisitely pauses between phrases – no movement, time stands still.

Watching La Danse brought this all together for me – it connected the dots in my memory, gave me context and background and a renewed appreciation for what makes the best of the best – the best.  It made my heart swell.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be a voyeur and see the Paris opera Ballet backstage and on-stage in La Danse, showing at our Nickelodeon for the next week.  For tickets, contact the Nick at www.nickelodeon.org.

~~~

And if you love dance in Columbia like I do – if you love the people who dance it and the ones who do the work that allow them to – then make your reservation for the 5:30 show on Friday evening, January 15th.  Larry is doing a pre-talk and there is an absolutely beautiful surprise which I promise you will warm your heart until the day you die.  It’s a secret – I can’t say more.  But I can say, don’t miss this film and please do try to make it on Friday at 5:30.  You won’t be disappointed.

November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving realities and The Wideman/Davis Dance PROJECT

I write to you today, several pounds heavier, with a house half decorated and a heart full of Thanksgiving and Holiday joy.  Yes, joy.

Like many of you, we spent Thanksgiving Day (although Boiter-Jolley Thanksgiving happens on Wednesday rather than Thursday, allowing the Beer Doc to tend to turkey injuries and domestic disputes in the ER on the sacred Thursday) embroiled in the preparation of far more food than any one family should ever sit down to eat.  It takes us so long to cook our Thanksgiving meal that we start early in the morning (BJT*), everyone pitching in with several toasts to our blessings throughout the day, and finally get around to eating around 9 or 10 pm, listening to Handel’s Messiah and slipping goodies to the kittens beneath the table.  It’s a good and happy day.

Afterward, we clear the table only to find that we could feed many more families many more meals with our leftovers alone.  Several microwaved plates, turkey sandwiches, and turkey nachos later (seriously, nachos = the best way to use that leftover bird), the green beans get a little too soggy, the stuffing a little too scary, and we begin to clear the fridge of the leftovers left too long.  A few things can go into the compost, but most have too much cream or butter or some other kind of indulgence, and these food items just go into the trash.  The trash.  We waste creamy cole slaw, sautéed mushrooms, and precious pecans.  We throw the dark meat, which none of us favor, to the cats.  The cats — the same ones who think skinks taste pretty yummy.

My point?  You’ve already figured it out on your own. Your family is probably not very different from mine.  We live in a land of pretend abundance — at least those of us communicating via the Internet, for sure.  Thanksgiving is just like Christmas — we have so much that we celebrate by having more.

No, I have no interest in being the blogosphere’s version of a Sarah McLachlan neglected dog commercial.  You’re all adults — many of you with better human kindness records than me.  But for those of you who either daily or seasonally hitch your wagons to the do-good train — and for those of you who sometimes come to this cyber-space curious as to what kind of arts nonsense I might be blubbering on about — I do offer an elixir to slightly abate the  over-indulgent miasma that those on our side of the monitor may be feeling this time of year.  The Wideman/Davis Dance Project.

I promised you this information in my November 19th post, and here it is.  There are no donors or patrons for the Wideman/Davis Dance Company — but there are partners.  This is what the company is about; this is what you can be about, too.

Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you or direct you to people who know the answers better than I.  There’s excitement in the air in the Columbia arts community — the Wideman/Davis Dance Company and the Wideman/Davis Dance Project is part of it.  You can be a part of it, too.

Read on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Interested in being a part of an arts endeavor that also places a priority on making the world a better place?

Join the Wideman/Davis Dance Project.

Joining as a Charter Project Member before the December 4th final performance of Balance – Influenced by the Testimonials of the Homeless of Columbia, South Carolina, will guarantee you a free ticket to the performance of your choice December 1st – 4th; admit you to a post-performance reception on Friday, December 4th, during which you can chat with the company and other project members; record your name as a Charter WDDP Member; and designate that 10% of your contribution be donated directly to the needs of the homeless in Columbia, South Carolina.

Joining is easy.

Go to www.thefield.org

Select “Contribute to a Sponsored Artist”

Select Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis: Wideman/Davis Dance

Enter an amount of $50 or more then click “Contribute”

Select “Checkout Now” at the bottom of the next page

Enter your name as you would like it to appear on our records, then select “Continue” and fill in the requested information before selecting “Continue Checkout”

Upon completing your contribution you will immediately be issued a personalized thank you letter which you may print out for your records.  (WDDC is a not-for-profit arts group.)

Now here’s the important part – FORWARD a copy of your letter to me at CindiBoiter@aol.com and I will have your ticket waiting for you at the performance of your choice.

Thank you for becoming a Charter Member of the Wideman/Davis Dance Project.

Thank you for putting your passion for art into action.

Cheers,

Cindi

Cynthia Boiter

Acting President, Wideman/Davis Brain Trust

 

 

*Boiter-Jolley Time

November 19, 2009

In Memory of Serge Lavoie

Filed under: writing — cynthiaboiter @ 14:29
Tags: , ,

I think the world of Kerrie Anne Dunn Sparks, as well as her new father-in-law, Barry Sparks, so I’m so pleased to share with you the following information about Kerrie Anne’s labour of love in honor of the late artist and educator, Serge Lavoie.

Both Annie and Bonnie took classes from Serge when they were students at Columbia Conservatory of Dance, and Bonnie took private lessons with Serge and danced in the Nutcracker as Clara when he and Mariclare were the fairytale couple of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.  I’ll never forget how thrilled she was when, during the curtain call, Serge lifted her into the air like a tiny doll.  “Point your toes!” Mariclare quickly whispered.  We all loved watching the romance between Serge and Mariclare rise and rage and flow — It was like watching a fairytale come true for all of us.  They were a beautiful couple.

Kudos to Kerrie Anne Dunn Sparks for creating such a special event Friday night.  Please read her press release below.  And here’s to Serge!

The Columbia Conservatory of Dance will present the Serge Lavoie Dance Showcase on November 20 at 7:30 pm at Drayton Hall.

The performance will raise money for the American Heart Association and will feature students of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance, as well as dancers from Columbia City Ballet.

The showcase will honor the memory of Serge Lavoie, principle instructor for the school and principle dancer and ballet master for Columbia City Ballet. Lavoie, who died in 2004 of a heart condition, trained several of the dancers who will perform in the showcase.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to honor their beloved teacher,” said Mariclare Miranda, co-director of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance and widow of Lavoie. “I have been so touched by the students’ excitement.”

The professional dancers of Columbia City Ballet are also excited about the show, said Regina Willoughby, principle dancer of Columbia City Ballet and colleague of Lavoie.

“Serge was such a profound artist,” said Willoughby. “He shared his talents on the stage and by passing his insight to future generations of dancers. I am thrilled to be part of this showcase honoring his life.”

Tickets for the Serge Lavoie Dance Showcase are $10 in advance, $12 at the door and $8 for students. Cash or check will be accepted. Please make all checks payable to American Heart Association. All of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go directly to the American Heart Association. Tickets may be purchased at the Columbia Conservatory of Dance at 1545 Main St., or by calling 252-0555.

The Columbia Conservatory of Dance strives to provide the highest quality dance training to young dancers, while fostering a love of dance and promoting artistic development in an environment of passion, dedication and excitement.

For more information, contact Kerrie-Anne Sparks at kerrieanne22@aol.com, or call 803-760-2925.

Wideman/Davis Dance Company at City Art, 7:30 during Vista Lights TONIGHT

The buzz in the Columbia dance world is definitely about the new professional company that has chosen our increasingly arts-friendly city as their new home.  Wideman/Davis Dance Company isn’t really new though.  They’ve been around for several years, forming after Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis got tired of living married life in different cities while Tanya danced as principal dancer at the illustrious Alonzo King Lines Ballet in San Francisco, and Thaddeus, heavily in demand as a dancer and choreographer, flitted from city to city creating his own personal style of Thaddeus-magic.  In fact, Thaddeus and Tanya aren’t really new to Columbia anymore, having been here throughout the year teaching at USC’s sky-rocketing-to-fame dance program, with their full company in residence for the month of November.  From their performances at 701 to Drayton Hall to the Koger Center to Mark Plessinger’s FOM series last month, more and more people are getting a glimpse of the blend of exacting technique with soul-stirring emotion, coated with a lovely layer of social consciousness, that these people bring to the stage — wherever they choose their stage to be.   And tonight, you can get a glimpse of the glory that is the Wideman/Davis Dance Company during Vista Lights.  As their early holiday gift to the city, the full company will be performing (for free, no less) at City Art at 7:30.  And from what I hear, darlin’s they will be rocking it out, treating you to excerpts from Rock and My Soul — yes, rock and roll music like you have never witnessed it before.  Personally, I’m pretty psyched.

And while we’re talking Wideman/Davis, mark your calendars for the nights of December 1st through 4th, when the full company will be premiering their new work at Drayton Hall on the campus of USC.  The new piece, entitled Balance, was created in response to the couples’ experiences working with the homeless here in Columbia.  Wednesday night, the 2nd, they will be hosting a group of the same homeless individuals and families — actually their students whom they have been teaching at one of the local shelters — as their guests for the performance.  This beautiful gesture of respect and appreciation will be preceded by a complementary dinner from Pasta Fresca, arranged by USC senior, the sweetheart, Margey Bolen.

Then, on Friday night, December 4th, it is your chance to get involved.  And I mean that literally.  Because WDDC is not your typical performing arts organization, they have chosen to forego the usual method of growing their supporters, (asking for donations at different levels of commitment, with different levels of rewards), by inviting any and all to become Partners in the Wideman/Davis Dance Project at a single level of $50 per person.  The smart cookies who join the Wideman/Davis Dance Project early, (prior to the beginning of the performance on Dec. 4th), will also be offered a free ticket to the Friday night show, as well as an invitation to a reception in their honor Friday evening, and future dancebill listing as charter Wideman/Davis Dance Project members.

I’ll have complete information on how you can become a part of this amalgam of socially conscious art supporters soon, but feel free to leave your contact info in the comments section below, or email me at caboit@aol.com, if you’d like me to follow-up on getting that info into your hard-working hands post haste.  In the meantime, come and see the Wideman/Davis Dance Company perform tonight at 7:30 at City Art during Vista Lights. I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

November 6, 2009

Feedback on Frame of Mind

You guys know I don’t usually do reviews, but I do want to give a little report, if you will, on the Frame of Mind series tonight on  Main Street.  There was a wonderful turn out, and with a free showing from Miriam Barbosa and Serguei Chtyrkov from the SC Contemporary Dance Company, Erin Jaffe Bolshakov from Vista Ballroom, Mimi Worrell and John Whitehead’s Carolina Ballet, Dale Lam’s Columbia City Jazz Company, and the beautiful Ashley Bennett and Sherry Warren — not to mention Evelyn Wong’s visual arts — why wouldn’t it have been?

Sure, there were a few glitches and things started a little later than expected.  But you know what?  They started, and that is the only thing that matters. Thanks to the artists who put themselves out there and performed under significantly less than ideal circumstances.  Their muscles were cold, the stage was raked — they were dancing in the street, for god’s sake.  But the gift that each of the performers gave us cannot be underestimated — they let us get a glimpse of what it looks like when someone fulfills their heart’s desire.  I often find the intimacy of this exchange overwhelming in the best of circumstances — but to see people who love their work so much that they will take the risk of letting complete strangers witness them perform it under less than ideal circumstances — in the freaking street, for example — it just blows me away.  I don’t care what anybody says — that is art.

Big fat kudos to Mark Plessinger for taking a chance and putting this stuff out there.  Thanks to the industrious and kind hearted Robert Michalski for helping Mark make it happen, as well as to the tech guy from White Mule, whose name I admit I just don’t know, for doing his quite significant part, too.  And thanks to all of you who came out to support local art — in the community and on the street.

November 5, 2009

Main Street has taken over my brain — FOM, Anastasia, CCJC, Miriam, Good Time Chuck, Ashley, Vista Ballroom — plus more

It’s the first Thursday of the month and that can only mean one thing — Main Street will be rockin’ the arts tonight.  Big time.

Big goings on this month, too, because the happening trifecta traditionally provided by Mark, Chuck and Travis — aka Frame of Mind, Gotham Nights and White Mule –– is getting a major boost just a bit down the street at the Sheraton where Anastasia Chernoff is opening her show cleverly titled ex true sions.  Given that I will fight you for the title of Anastasia’s biggest fan, I couldn’t be more thrilled.  Anastasia has subtitled her show as — deep emotions squeezed or forced out and reformed through a medium — because she created these works while under hypnosis.  See?  Hypnosis doesn’t necessarily make one bark like a dog or speak like Rush Limbaugh when she goes under.  (Although I’d much prefer the first to the latter.)  Even if you aren’t an arts geek like me, do let your curiosity get the best of you and stop by Posh at the Sheraton at 1400 Main Street between 5 and 10 tonight to have a drink at the bar and check this show out.

And the big news up the street (or is it down?  I admit that sometimes I am directionally challenged — but I always know where the wine is, which is a life saver) is that Mark Plessinger has put together way more performing artists than any one Main Street deserves to complement his FOM (Frame of Mind) Series, which this month features the local artist Evelyn Wong.  Evelyn is both a performer and a mixed media artist so you never know what she will come up with, and I’m excited to see what she has going on with this showing.  Her work will continue to be on display at FOM throughout the month of November.  Performance-wise though, Mark has seriously got you covered, with short features presented by Miriam Barbosa of the SC Contemporary Dance Company, solos by the lovlies Sherry Warren and Ashley Bennett, and ensemble presentations by Columbia City Jazz Company, Vista Ballroom, and Carolina Ballet.  Whew!   We’ll be kicking off this delicious dose of arts immersion at 5 and running it until 9 at Frame of Mind — 1520 Main Street, directly across the street from the art museum.

At the risk of completely overwhelming you I also have to share that both of Mark ‘s neighbors — The White Mule and Gotham Nights — have stuff going on that you are absolutely going to have to stop into as well.  White Mule has a free wine tasting and a happy bar that is always ready to pour/mix/splash you a cold one, plus some of the coolest, edgiest art in town hanging on its walls — though I hear someone has her eye on one of Mike Krajewski’s pieces, but I’ll not divulge which one lest she get beaten to the punch and I have to suffer the consequences of my big mouth.  And Good time Chuck over at Gotham Nights (Gotham Bagel, by day) will be partying down with Tim McLendon, schwing dancing, plus a fridge full of fine beer and wine by the glass.

But please be forewarned — do not stay out too late tonight as Friday and Saturday nights have a glorious show in store for you at the Koger Center.  The USC Dance Company is on the stage again, so not only will my baby girl be dancing, but Thaddeus Davis has choreographed a new piece on former Boston Ballet principal/now USC instructor, Kyra Strasburg, to the music of Andre Previn.  That plus Balanchine plus more new choreography —  more info to come tomorrow, but rest assured, you dance & music lovers don’t want to miss this show.

See you tonight on Main!

 

 

 

October 30, 2009

Dracula — revamping is always good

I went to see Columbia City Ballet’s new and improved Dracula last night — actually, the whole family came along.  It’s always fun to ooh and ahh at the parts that Annie and Bonnie used to dance when they were members of William’s and Mariclare’s flock.  Annie got to blow bubbles, while Bonnie’s job was to scamper around the stage — the casting was perfect, and it was a long time ago.

A lot of people have asked me what I thought about the additions and omissions this production includes, and I have to say, my feelings are mixed. (Personally, I’d rather see fewer people on the stage as long as those dancers have excellent skills, than an abundance of dancers on the stage, some of whom don’t measure up to the better dancers. But CCB has always brought a big show and a full stage — this production of Dracula is consistent with that culture.)

But, there are parts from the old Dracula that I miss — I’ve always thought that William makes for the best Dracula, with Robert Michalski coming in a close second; and parts that I’m glad to see gone — blood spurting into the first few rows like gushers of Gallagher’s watermelon juice a few years back, was a bit over the top even for CCB.

There are additions to the new Dracula that I love — kudos on the new costumes and the extended Undead dance in Act III; and other add-ons, like the lengthy Act I seduction scene, that I hope will be edited after a few runs before a live audience.

And I think many people will feel the same way, but probably about different things.  We get attached to tunes and costumes and sequences just as we can also get annoyed by them.  It’s called taste and it varies from person to person — something important to remember when you’re reading reviews.  (Two or more expert critics can see the same show in diametrically different ways.  Don’t get me started on what happens when non-experts offer official reviews.)

So while my feelings may be mixed on the results of the new and improved part of Dracula this year, my sense of satisfaction and optimism that the scene has been shaken up a bit, is fully formed.  I love it that CCB has the audacity to tinker with what was a proven and effective formula for them.  To me, this demonstrates a willingness to grow and evolve, rather than stay stagnant with the tried and true.  It’s been almost fifteen years since my little girls were blowing bubbles and skipping around the stage.  They’ve changed a lot since then — it would be sad to think that nothing else had.

Since my role is not to critique, I will not labor on what I didn’t like.  My role is to support, so here’s my shout out for my favorite parts of the show.  Top of the list — Regina Willoughby and Jose Serrano are consistently good dancers with strong technique who always bring their A games — Katie Smoak has the energy of a tiny yip-yip dog and she brings it to the stage — Katie Massey, who danced the role of Victoria, looked like a seasoned performer & I was surprised to find that she is just in CCBII —  Barry Sparks rocks on lighting, as usual — and Thomas Semanski’s score is still bouncing around in my head and will be until Tchaikovsky sets in — which will be sooner than any of us think.

So, Happy Halloween, Everybody.  Go see Dracula at the Koger Center tonight or tomorrow at 7:30 — and let me know what you think.

 

PS — Someone really should consider doing a Dragula production next year — wouldn’t it make an excellent fund raiser?

 

 

 

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