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More Flash Reviews
Review, 1-11: And Chagall Wept
The Seduction of Trisha Brown
Copyright 2006 The Dance Insider
PARIS -- Gaze up at
the interior of the cupola of the Palais Garnier, one of the homes
of the Paris Opera and Ballet, and you'll behold a spectacle as
marvelous (if not more so, these dry days) as any show that unrolls
before you on the stage: A panoramic mural
on which Marc Chagall has depicted all the arts featured there,
and even thrown in the Eiffel Tower -- also an artistic pinnacle,
after all -- for good measure. Chagall descended from the ceiling
from time to time to design for the stage, notably Ballet Theatre's
"Aleko" and "The Firebird." In fact, back in the day -- so the invaluable,
lavishly illustrated "Dictionaire du Ballet Moderne" (Paris, Fernand
Hazan, 1957) reminds us -- choreographers frequently called on their
equals in the visual arts to set the stage. Buffet, Derain, Picasso,
Dali, Fini, Clave, Gontcharova, Benois, Bakst, Laurencin, Leger,
Berard, Gris and others all gave their talents to dance and other
How the Jean Cocteau
did we get from this accomplished pantheon of not just artists,
but artistic legends, to the non-artist computer dweebs Shelly Eshkar
and Paul Kaiser, whose latest doodling, this time with the assistance
of Marc Downie, was on display at the Garnier last night in the
Trisha Brown company's performance of Brown's 2005 "How long does
the subject linger on the edge of the volume..."?
I can see an argument
for pairing Eshkar and Kaiser with Merce Cunningham, as was the
case for Merce's 1999 "Biped."
Even though it still annoyed me because it partially obscured his
eloquent dancers and lyrical choreography, in Merce's mode pairing
the live performers with their giant, expanded animated virtual
counterparts projected on a transparent scrim in front of them kinda
works, because Cunningham dancers, as virtually programmed by Merce,
often have the aspect of randomly engineered neutrons whose motor
functions are not entirely organic. As well, when he began working
with the dweebs, Merce was already one himself, having experimented
with Life Forms software-assisted choreography. There is no such
symmetry with the more organic Brown and ironically, the red, white,
and blue cartoon giants produced by Eshkar/Kaiser here are even
less lifelike than those in "Biped," with the result that the dance
merely appears scribbled on.
took place under the auspices of Arizona State University's Arts,
Media, & Engineering program, a joint venture of its arts and engineering
schools, and (not to take away from the vervacious dancers) in the
cold, lifeless, and incredibly unimaginative (I've seen better on
my iTunes visual effects) images Eshkar-Kaiser-Downie produce this
time, the engineers appear to have won the day.
Last night's program,
presented by the Paris Opera Ballet, also included Brown's "Geometry
of Quiet" and "Present Tense."