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Tag: Performing Arts

February 12: Mikhail Baryshnikov & Gregory Hines ~ White Nights

We’re on the run up to the Academy Awards, and we’re in Russia right now for the Olympics. What better reason (aside from watching these two gifted dancers) do I need to feature this clip from White Nights? Why, none at all.

They made it look easy. I know better. 

Celebrating the return of my internet, thanks to that “other” monopoly that made the news last week. Enjoy the first of five posts in the same day.

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January 29: Choreography by Balanchine. Prodigal Son (Parts 1-4)

Today’s highlight, a 1979 performance of George Balanchine’s ballet, “Prodigal Son” in four parts, features Mikhail Baryshnikov in the title role.

My first exposure to his work, in the 1977 film The Turning Point, made me a lifelong fan. I was privileged to see his work live in 2003, when he performed at the Festival of the Arts in Columbia, MD.

I believe this is the first time I’m featuring Baryshnikov’s work, but I guarantee it won’t be the last. His diversity of style, classical and modern, and his on-screen presence places him at the top for his generation of ballet dancers, and in my opinion one of the best ever. Watch for future career highlights throughout the year.

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October 8: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

Yes! This, folks, is THE RSC (that is, the Reduced Shakespeare Company, an in-joke you get best when you’ve had ANY exposure to the London theatre scene). Not to be confused with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Really.)

I attempted to see this show when I was there in 1992, but by the time I found the darkened corner of the West End, we were halfway through the show and I hate walking in late. Fortunately, they’ve been to the Kennedy Center multiple times, and now I have the (autographed – HAH!) script of the show. Of course, it’s not as zany (or as wet, if you sit near the front of the stage) but I’ll take it anyway.

Another compilation of Shakespeare’s complete catalog, warts and all.

I’d suggest watching this quick, before someone figures it out that the show’s posted on YouTube. And, well, because it’s funny as hell, too.

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October 6: Shakespeare: Original pronunciation

Leaving Star Trek behind (for now, at least), we move on to…Shakespeare. How’s that for a little whiplash.

See, the trick to accumulating material from YouTube is to allow your mind to drift into a complete free-association blur of reality. With this freedom, you can switch between high concept science fiction (Wagon Train in the Stars) to the foundations of drama.

This piece made the rounds on my Facebook and seems a nice kick-off point for a week’s worth of videos on the subject.

From documentary to humor, animation, live action and mind-bending modern fiction, Shakespeare represents a combination of the classical and the modern. (See, for example, 10 Things I Hate About You.)

The first time I visited England, they were just breaking ground on the Globe. I still haven’t seen the inside of the theatre, but I intend to, someday.

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September 13: MUMMENSCHANZ 4

I wish this segment of highlights could go on longer, but alas, the available material on YouTube is limited to what I’ve already included here, and this last piece.

I found these clips originally because I was looking to see if MUMMENSCHANZ was still performing here in the US. Apparently I just missed them, but I don’t think they travel to where I am. I suppose I’m lucky that I saw their work (twice, I think) while I was still in Rochester, in addition to the Broadway show.

I recall my grandfather being mystified by their performance. He liked the musical Peter Pan much more, because (as I recall) there was a story associated with the show. There are stories associated with MUMMENSCHANZ’s vignettes, too. They’re just a whole lot more abstract.

At any rate, enjoy.

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September 12: MUMMENSCHANZ 3

Returning to the world of MUMMENSCHANZ today and tomorrow,

These vignettes work best because they reach in and touch our deepest human emotions, even though they only hint at or mimic the human form. The messages stick – happiness, triumph, surprise and sadness. You don’t need words to express these feelings.  In a lot of ways, mime is the purest form of storytelling because without words, it becomes a universal communication tool; language that is capable of crossing borders and cultures.

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September 10: MUMMENSCHANZ 2

You can sort of understand the magic of MUMMENSCHANZ when you see the performances on a small screen, but they don’t convey the audience participation. I’ve seen Blue Man Group live and they also include the audience, but their performances are far louder and much less subtle. Still, they and Pilobolus are the only groups I can think of who come close.

So what’s the appeal?

By taking inanimate objects or unfamiliar abstract shapes and breathing life into them, they manage to convey human emotions without words. You don’t need words to understand sadness, joy, pride or confusion.

I wish I could find part 1 of this series. You haven’t missed it – it’s not on YouTube.

Note that I’ll be interrupting the stream tomorrow, because of Patriot Day, but there are two more parts after the 11th, and all three are equally long (around 15 minutes per segment).

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September 8: The Muppet Show Season 1, Episode 24 ~ MUMMENSCHANZ

I know you probably think this is about The Muppet Show, since I feature them often enough, but no. This week’s featured performers, MUMMENSCHANZ, just celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2012.

The Swiss mime group caught my attention in the mid ’70s and early ’80s. Their work, featured on The Muppet Show and elsewhere, so surprising and out of the ordinary, reminds me of a living abstract animated film. You can’t believe there’s a human inside some of their creations.

In a lot of ways, they’re doing what Jim Henson did with some of his more experimental Muppet work,

I’ve seen their shows at least twice, on tour in Rochester and in Manhattan on Broadway.  Glad to find them online and shareable in this medium.

(Note that this was the link to the full episode, which is on the Muppet Show Season One DVD set. It appears Disney figured it out. Sigh.)

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