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

August 19, 2009

Miriam Barbosa and The South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company

I had the opportunity to spend an hour this afternoon watching a rehearsal by Miriam Barbosa’s new group, the South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company.  Miriam gathers her dancers into a small but nicely sprung space that is just by her Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis studio down an alley off Lady Street. 

The company is rehearsing a program they have scheduled for next month at the Koger Center.  They’ll be performing two exciting pieces.  The first one on the docket is the Maple Leaf Rag — the last piece Martha Graham choreographed  before her death — and the piece that was inspired by her 1989 visit to South Carolina.  Miriam dances the principal part to music by Scott Joplin, but her other dancers are amply used in this whimsical number that is fun and upbeat and not nearly as somber as many of Graham’s other choreographic works.  It makes me happy to think that this was the music and these were the movements last on Ms. Graham’s mind before she shuffled off to the next realm.  Happy, peaceful and fun.

The second number the company will be performing is a re-do of one of Miriam’s pieces, Catharsis, on which she collaborated with local visual artist Marcelo Novo.  I saw a lot of what I’ve come to recognize as classic Barbosa choreography in this piece — fullness, strangeness, lyricism, and athleticism.  It’s almost as if the limited dimensions of the dance floor aren’t enough for Barbosa, so she takes her dancers into the air and actually suspends a few of them them in flight above the stage.  This dance was harder to visualize in the studio but Miriam let me watch the video of a previous performance done in 2006.  She’s changing up her costumes a bit and has Barry Sparks, Columbia’s great thaumaturge of all things light and sound, doing her lighting, so there’s even more to look forward to from this performance.

But probably the most exciting thing about my experience this afternoon was seeing a number of familiar faces from other local dance troupes working together on the floor.  There was Maurice and Misha and Eddie from William’s house; and Sergei and Julia from down at John’s; English from up at the university — just to name a few.  It was a cooperative dance in a city that is full of outstanding dancers, but hasn’t always been known for letting them share their talents with one another — or with us, their audience.

Kudos to Miriam Barbosa for bringing these artists together and making this company happen.  And kudos, too, to Marvin Chernoff and Chuck LeMark who are standing behind her as she does so.  I look forward to seeing the performance on the night of September 17th at the Koger Center — and I look forward to seeing what else this company can bring to our city’s stages.

I’ll be writing more on the South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company in the next issue of Stir Magazine — in the meantime, for more info take a look at their website at www.scdanceco.com.

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April 15, 2009

Stir’s new column — Brett Flashnick and some Grey Egg, too

Despite an economic environment that all but crucifies the arts as trivial and unnecessary, there are at least a few good publishers and editors who are willing to put it on the line and keep discourse on the arts and arts related activities aloft.  Mark Pointer, of Stir, is one of them.

Check out the new issue of Stir online at http://issuu.com/stirmagazine/docs/stirvol5web?mode=embed&documentId=090414211529-95e5a254ad28451699c5f002c1971174&layout=grey

And please be sure to turn to page 14 to check out my new Art Scene column — this month entitled, Owning Our Own.  To those of you who have read my previous posts on the Hootie ballet & earlier on the arts community as a family, you’ll recognize a common thread here.  And those of you who have suffered my ranting on how every single freak and curmudgeon (and freaks and curmudgeons, you all know who you are) has a place in our community, then (sigh) here we go again — but this time I’m talking about a new guy.

Actually, Brett Flashnick isn’t new.  He’s always been a part of Columbia even though his work is more likely to be seen on the pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post.  Brett is a freelance photojournalist who is in the process of recognizing the artist in his soul — and is doing so via a solo exhibition as part of the Edge of the Vista event, sponsored by the Columbia Music Festival Association during Artista Vista next week.   You can also check out Brett’s work at his website http://www.brettflashnick.com/

I’d also like to direct your attention to another piece in the new Stir that I wrote about one of the oddest and most talented musical groups I’ve seen — and I got to see them in Columbia at the Hunter Gatherer.  Grey Egg is a funky and cerebral troupe of musicians who both confuse and mesmerize their listeners. Read my article about them on page 12 in Stir

And please give our Stir advertisers a bit of your appreciation for their sponsorship of such an art-forward publication.  Everyone has a part to play in keeping the arts, and consequently our culture, alive and well in difficult times.  Visit a gallery or shop whose owners are willing to put it on the line for the arts, too.  Then we’ll all be doing our parts.

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