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October 19, 1977 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-10-19

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Louis dancers combine
movement with humor
Murray Louis Dance Company
Power Center
The barrier was broken between audience and artist through an evening
of movement jokes, surprises, and parodies, all marked by an abundance of
energy. On Monday night, the Murray Dance Company gave us an evening
of virtuoso dancing done with a sense of humor. The humor comes from
Louis' ability to surprise and catch the audience off guard. A beautiful,
breathtaking movement is stopped short or taken so far that it topples over
into another surprise. The choreography plays off our expectations.
The first piece, Shubert, was choreographed by Louis to Shubert's Quin-
tet in A major. Colorfully costumed in unitards, the dancers are super-
imposed against a deep hued, metallic looking backdrop. The combination of
subtle but often bright side lighting and bright colored dancers, weaving and
flashing against the exquisite backdrop made the piece a study of light and.
The use of space in ghubert is ingenious. The dancers seem to devour thet
space as they divide it amongst themselves. At times, the entire area is oc-
cupied with couples and solo figures working with different qualities. A sud-
den off balanc spin is contrasted to slow sustained leg work, while another
dancer divide' the space further with quick darting leaps..
The couples in Schubert also try to discover more about the possibilities
of movement language. Dancers weave in and out in intricate patterns.
meeting one another fleetingly, trying to fit individual movement together.
The effect is almost like a moving jigsaw puzzle; pieces fall in and out of
place sometimes fitting perfectly and other times jamming discordantly.
Deja Vu is a solo dance, choreographed and performed by Murray
Louis. The piece is divided into five sections, each begins informally with
Louis nodding to the wings to cue music or lighting. The piece seems to be
about familiar movements being arranged and transformed by Louis. This
piece displays Louis' never ending movement range and remarkable
technical skills. Deja Vu does not function as a crowd pleasing dazzler, it
seimply lets the dancer manipulate movement to its fullest.
The final work is entitled Glances, performed to music of Dave Brubeck.
This group piece, choreographed in 1976 by Louis, makes use of frenetic
energy with intricate rhythmic patterns. Each section begins with the dan-
cers arranging and rearranging themselves in simple geometric forms..
With characteristic surprise, each section stops abruptly and the final action
is projected on a slide above the stage. Glances is a work of fleeting images
bound by complex rhythms.
Louis' choreography is a blend of time, space, and energy. His dances
celebrate the beauty of pure abstract movement but he draws the audience
into his world through wit and humor.

Ferguson rocks

Jay Ferguson, former "Spirit" and
Jo-Jo Gunne member, tries again with
another solo album, "Thunder Island."
This album sounds like an extremely
careful attemipt to rocket Ferguson to
solo stardom: Unfortunately, mass ap-
peal is mistaken for lack of energy, and
the album suffers from repetition, over-
popness and just plain boredom.
The first track on side one is the title
track. "Thunder Island" is a fantasy'
song that was molded for the singles
market. Sexual references, in the Lady
of the Island tradition, are combined
with bouncing instrumentation and an
inaudible slide guitar by Joe Walsh.
The result is overly A.M., bland and ab-
solutely pop.
The second track, Soulin', is a more
lyrical attempt. Commercialism ap-
pears in the instrumentation, though,
The result is a confused one. In the pro-
cess, both art and mass appeal are lost.
The third track, Happy Birthday, Baby
might have been good were there some
adrenalin present. Joe Walsh's lead
guitar doesn't help much, either. Track
four, Losing Control almost sparks in-
terest. Once again, lead guitar work by

Joe Walsh is obscured, but slightly
brighter singing, imaginative melody
line and okay lyrics make it not a bad
song. Track five, Cozumel is the first
non-original piece. This latino song is
very good. Well-written, well-sung,
well-performed and thoroughly enter-
taining, Cozumel is a bright spot on side
Side two starts with Night Shift.
Something about the lyrics, maybe the
lightness of them, makes you believe
that Ferguson never worked a night
shift, or at least not very long. The in-
strumentation is like Thunder Island,
revisited. Song two is the album's best.
Babylon is an innovative piece com-
plete with a key change, use of echo
vocals and personality. Reggae-ish lyr-
ics and music make the song great.
Happy, Too," track four, and the
second non-original, is far and away the
album's worst. It is silly, torturously
repetitive and absolutely adolescent.
The bass on it, which is good, is not
enough to carry it. The last track,
Magic Moment, isn't a bad song. The
opening, acoustic piano and electric
guitar, is particularly good. The song,
is co-authored by Ferguson and Bill
Szymczyk. The end of the song is poor,
though. It fades out with a chorus chirp-
ing monosylables in unison.
Ferguson appeared at "Second.
Chance" Sunday night with heavy
metal band, Mugsy, who've been known
to sterilize chickens at thirty yards. I
spoke with Jay briefly before his set.
Ferguson, 30, was born and raised in
Burbank, Cal. He counts as his major
influences Bob Segar, Andy Pratt, and
on this album, Eagles (via his work
with Eagle Joe Walsh). Producer/song-
writer Bill Szymczyk produces both
Ferguson and Walsh and their collabor-
ation on Thunder Island is a result of his
urgings. Of his solo career, Ferguson.
says All Alone in the End Zone (his first

Sword and dance team appeals to audience

The bar becomes. quieter. The
customers sitting near the window
have stopped talking, and others
gather behind them, looking out into
the street.
Two Lines *of peolIe file past
outside. They wear white baker's
uniforms with top hats and red vests,
adorned with bells and ribbons. Some
begin playing mandolins, penny
whistles, guitars and recorders. they
lines divide into groups of six. They
Such spectacles have occurred.
regularly since the Ann Arbor Morris
and Sword dance team formed last
spring. The team has displayed its
peculiar English dance at Ann Ar-
bor's Crafts Fair and Medieval
Festival last August, at the Ethnic
Festival in September, and regularly
on the streets of Ann Arbor.
On October 22, the team is sched-
uled to demonstrate and teach the
Morris tradition at the Ten Pound
Fiddle coffeehouse in East Lansing.
To the gaping bystander, morris
dance steps look like a cross between
the Virginia Reel and a Native-
American rain dance.
Actually, many scholars think the
morris may have been the "rain
dance" of ancient England - a
pagan ritual meant to insure good
growing weather and fertility for'
Many think "morris" came from
"Moorish," said Mishka L.uft, a
former U-M student and "squire" (or
spokesperson) for the team.
'"Some scholars think the morris
came to England through the Moor
invasions of Europe, before 1000 A.D.
But English morris dancers were
known to blacken their faces, so
maybe they were called "Moorish"
only because they looked like Moors
to the audience."
Whatever its roots, morris dancing
is an ancient tradition. The village of
Bampton in Oxfordshire, England
has records of its annual morris
dance display from the past 400
years. Even Chaucer mentioned the
morris in the thirteenth century, and
his may not be the earliest written
reference to the dance.
"The morris was at the peak of its
popularity in about 1800," says Ms.
Luft. "I'he last major gathering of
the morris teams of England was in
the late 1850's."
by 1911, when Cecil Sharpe founded
the English Folk Dance Society, only
a few dozen teams danced the morris
in isolated villages of rural England.
In hundreds of towns, the local varia
tions of morris dancing and dance
tunes had been lost forever.

Cecil Sharp and Maude Karpulis
collected what was left of morris
dancing in the early twentieth cen-
tury, and the texts they compiled are
the instruction manuals for todays
teams. ,
"In the last decade or so, there's
been a revival of interest in the}
morris," said Ms. Luft. "Now there
are about. 400 teams in England and.
over 30 in the U.S."
The American morris revival now
has its own newsletter and a yearly
meeting at "Whitsuntide," the tradi-
tional English morris day that luck-
ily coincides with America's lVemr-
ial Day. ,
The morris a la 1970's isFsubstan-
tially different from its ancient
counterpart, however. -
When Cecil Sharp intervievwed the
late William Kimber, morris dancer
and musician from Heddington, Ox-

fordshire, Sharp asked if it was true
that the morris should be danced only
by. men. Kimber answered that
women could dance the morris.
"But," he growled, "not in public!"
Kimber had to qualify his remark
several times later in life, for the
recent revival of morris is largely
due to female interest.
"Morris seems to appeal more to
women than men in Ann Arbor,
anyway," said Ms. Luft. "Our team
is over two-thirds women."
Of course, all but a few of the Ann
Arbor team members are also stu-
dents or former s.tudents In old
England, the morris was the dance of
farmers, masons and mineworkers:"
Why do these mostly middle-class,
young Ann Arborites dress up and
prance about in public places?
"I like the different way of seeing
the world that I get," said Emily

Pena, a graduate student in psychol-
ogy. "Also, it's fun to be gaped at."
"As a morris dancer," said Ms.
Luft, "you can be a fool in public in
an acceptable manner. It's an ap-
proved way of dancing out your fan-
The Ann Arbor Morris and Sword
team meets Sunday nights in St.
Andrew's Church on State St. Gener-
ally, new members are accepted at
the beginning of each semester, but
anyone interested may watch at
Sunday practice .
N r


The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, October 19, 1977-pcrge
on (almost
solo album) was a personal statement. Lot on You and All Alone in the:En
I was not thinking career then. But Zone had the crowd on their feet, an
Thunder Island is a definite shot at top the rendition of the lesser songs anl th
40's. In fact, Thunder Island is probably new music kept them there. All old
coming out as a single, backed with Ferguson live is great. If he'd put hal
Magic Moment real soon." He will be as much energy into the album as h
touring until December. He tours with did into the show, it'd go platiizum.
the Jay Ferguson Band, a talented During the show, as a lead in, Ferguson
group of backers who come from 'very invited us to lose a little control. For his
diverse backgrounds. Ferguson views next album, my advice to him would be
his musical past with satisfaction. He to do just that.
pointed out that The Twelve Dreams of
Dr. Sardonicus, his last Spirit work, _ ___
went gold recently after six years.
"That album was ahead of its time. I'd
rather have the public grow into us then
have us be behind them."
The capacity crowd at "Second 7
Chance" was clearly there to see ,
Ferguson. His set consisted of ten songs
and two encores. FOur of the songs
were from the new album. These were
Soulin', Thunder Island, Happy Birth-
day, Baby, and Losing Control. The re-
maining eight were a fine collection of
old Jo-Jo Gunne and SPirit hits. The: f
most amazing thing about the show was .
the energy.,The songs from the album
were performed as they were meant to GET M Ov IN :
be. Ferguson's singing and stage antics
were animated, entertaining and good
old rock and roll. Mr. Skin, I've Got a
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N aI
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