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March 22, 1981 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-22

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Sunday, March 22, 1981

Page 5

Bad choreography trips dancers

By JULIE EDELSON
Modern dance has a simple and basic
format; there are no sets or elaborate
costumes and the dancer is allowed to
center solely on his body to express the
necessary mood of the piece. If modern
dance is performed skillfully, it can ap-
pear truly exquisite.
Unfortunately due to their less than
adequate choreography, the University
of Michigan Dance Company did no
justice to this fine art at their Friday
night performance at the Power Cen-
ter. They relied extensively on the same
types of routine movements until they
were able to display the expert
choreography of their resident guest
artist, Lucas Hoving, in the finale.
THERE WERE some inherently
refreshing aspects to the performance.
The music included an interesting
variety: there were space-like sounds
by Bulent Arel and Witold Lutoslawski
in "Voyageurs," the first piece, and
soprano Constance Barron sang in
"Chill Factor," the second piece. Her
remarkable voice was the highlight of
this dance. Classical music by Chopin
added a certain diversity to the
program.
There was also an absence of music
in certain sequences. This use of total
silence was an ingenious technique,
because it increased the audience's
concentration on the total image
created by the dancer.
IT IS disappointing that these
"images" tend to be so monotonous. In
"Voyageurs;" which choreographer
Vera Embree uses to illustrate people's
indecision and lack of direction, the

Daily Photo by TRACY CRAWFORD
Pete Seeger put in a prodigious performance at the Michigan Theatre
yesterday afternoon. Seeger sang in three languages, lamented several
political atrocities, led a perpetual nass sing-along, and even trained a choir
during intermission. Not bad.
Peeefet

By FRED SCHILL
Only Pete Seeger could make politics
so much fun. In a delightful performan-
ce before ,a sold-out Michigan Theatre
crowd Saturday afternoon, Seeger
mixed politics and folk music together
as naturally as yin and yang.
And the man absolutely emits en-
thusiasm. The concert was a sing-along
from the first chord of the opening
'Ballad of John Henry" to the last note
of Seeger's recorder at the end of the
encore.
CLAD IN BLUE jeans and a plain
green shirt, carting on a pile of musical
instruments, Seeger lent his voice and
witto a wealth of folk songs' that, often
as not, espoused a cause or lament of
one kind or another.
"If mankind survives," said Seeger
at the outset of the show, "it will be
because us human beings work out
some new old ways to live together in-
stead of the strict ways the modern
world makes us live together. My way
is to find songs folks can sing together."
Those songs often were innocuous but
irresistable little ditties like "The
Ballad of John Henry" and a calypso
song that Seeger wrote new words for
called "Maple Syrup Time." His husky,
enthusiastic vocals made each tune a
familiar classic, and the delighted
'crowd responded by singing along,.
9?clapping rhythmically, even acting like
marachas when Seeger asked them to.
THERE IS MORE entertainment per
square inch wrapped into that man than
in any two of his peers. "Old Time
Religion" was transformed into a wit-
tily scandalous ode to revelry, as
Seeger impishly sang "We will pray
with Aphrodite/We ,will pray with
Aphrodite/She wears that see-through
nightie/It's good enough for me."
Giminie that old time religion!
A. modern Christmas carol written in
Nicaragua and once banned by the
Somoza regime was sung in Spanish,
cutting the crowd out of the game until
Seeger decided to teach us the lyrics.
Deus ex machina! - down from the
ceiling rolls the words. Nothing to it.
The song was not without a bite,
though; it was banned because the boy
Jesus in it wants to grow up to be a
guerilla fighter.

During the intermission, Seeger in- initial response is that of awe. We love
vited anyone who could sightread
backstage. Voila! The first song of the
second part of the show was a round,,
featuring the newly-created choir Art and con!
sounding for all the world like
professionals as they sang a whimsical
tune about making money from selling The Boomtown Rats-'Mondo Bongo'
munitions. It brought thehouse down. (CBS) - The Boomtown Rats' fourth
THAT KIND OF marriage between album is a unique mix of intense in-
politics and good, clean fun is Seeger's tellectual statement and limpid,
crowning genius. A love song to the late meaningless garbage.
Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, I have no doubt that Bob Geldof is
who was assassinated three days after quite capable of propagating good
begging Jimmy Carter not to provide music; anyone who pens something like
his government with any more the classic "I Don't Like Mondays" has
weapons, became a spirited 'mass tas 'to h'ave a stroke of creative genius
the audience joined happily in. Take somewhere. The problem is that he
that, Ronald Rayguns. sometimes gets turned in the wrong
As Seeger himself said, "An old song direction, and as of yet has failed to
may bounce back new meanings to the realize it.
same person who has sung it a thousand
times before." Maybe that's why he IF YOU DECIDE to listen to Mondo
still sings the old ones fervently, Bongo, take my advice and listen to
poignantly leading the crowd in a ren- side two first. It'll make side one much
dition of his beloved standard "Guan- easier to cope with.
tanamera" and winsomely re-telling "Mood Mambo" is probably the most
"Abi Yoyo" as if it were still the bed- ridiculous thing I have ever heard The
time tale for his small children that it Rats do. Actually, none of the reggae
started out to be. "About that age (two tunes on the album work very well, but
or three), kids wake up to the reality this one is probably the worst, with
that a lullaby is a propaganda song," background jungle noises and lyrics
Seeger explained. , like "The fog horns scream and the
Mixed into the show were an Irish boys go 'Woo Woo'/ I don't mind 'cause
folk song, an "official" French labor I'm with You-oo."
song sung in French ("If there's one But The Rats really miss the boat
worse thing than banning a song, it's with "Under Their Thumb," the old
making it official," Seeger quipped), a Stones tune with lyrics rewritten by
beautiful, whispering recorder solo, Geldof. If I were Jaggar or Richards, I
and a "long meter style" rendition of a would sue for defamation of character.
very fervent "Amazing Grace."
He never missed a beat. While tuning
his guitar he commented, "This guitar
was in perfect tune out there (gestures
offstage). Just shows you what's right
in one place is wrong in another." In-
corrigible. He even ended his show with
"We Shall Not Be Moved" -and the - . . the sform ofapp
crowd shook the walls asking for more. brOke into a firSt-
-Atlantic

the space-like creatures' smooth, sup-
ple bodies and unconventional
movements. One soloist, Marjorie
Mann, was so expert in her creation
that she looked like one long hose.
But the favorable response only lasts
several seconds. The technique soon
becomes automatic, the dancers con-
tinue performing basically the same
movements and the audience is rapidly
bored. The dancers lack more than
direction; they need a new
choreographer.
This monotony is carried over in
Susan Matheke's piece, "Chill Factor."
The two dancers demonstrate their
emotional involvement effectively, but
their movements are not exciting
enough to sustain interest for the
duration of the piece. But ,the dance
goes on and on, the dancers dulling our
senses through their repetitive
movements.
IT IS incredible how similar the
choreography of the first number
resembles that of "Winter Ebb," the
third piece. We see basically the same
movements executed in a similar man-
ner by dancers in similar costumes,
making for a dull dance.
In "Winter Ebb," some dancers'
technique far surpassed their counter-
parts. This factor should not exist in
what is referred to as a "unified" com-
pany dance. Here the company was ob-
viously amateur.
The choreographer too, was amateur,
because she could not clearly demon-
strate her theme. We constantly won-
der what the choreographer intended us
to infer from the piece. This is not an in-
triguing mystery; rather it becomes a
usion in Rats
On side two things start looking up.
"Banana Republic" is an incredibly
listenable tune with its heavily sedated
mood, subtle tempo changes and ex-
cellent vocal harmonies.
If The Boomtown Rats would just
throw away the artsy stuff, they would
have the ability to make powerful social
statements-as they did with "Mon-
days." They did succeed 'in making
social commentary to a lesser extent bn
this album in "Another Piece of Red"
(about communism), and "The
Elephant's Graveyard" (even though it
sounds like Elvis Costello), about
corruption in the legal system in which
Geldof protests, "You're guilty until
proven guilty, isn't that the
law . . . Justice isn't blind, it just looks
the other way."
To add another twist to the Mongo
Bongo web, two songs on the album,
"Go Man Go" and "Up All Night," are
just plain musical fun.
With all the negative and positive
aspects of their music, I can't help but
wonder if the success of The Boomtown
Rats is much more than a fluke. One
thing is for sure: If they don't make up
their mind as to which direction to
head, they will soon fall flat on their
musical tails.
-Tammy Reiss
plause and cheering
class hurricane."f
City Press

DISNEY o
.goes to ..:w::
the
Devil! ; ;; :
SAT, SUN-1:20, 3:20, 5:20, 7:10, 9:00
MON-7:10, 9:00

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frustrating experience for the puzzled
observer.
IT IS obvious that Lucas Hoving was
the dancers' saving grace. Hoving's
dance credits include major roles with
Martha Graham, Agnes DeMille, and
Jose Limon. He has taught in his native
Netherlands and at the Juilliard School.
Consequently, it is not surprising that
his choreography was able to instill
spark in the performers. Hoving's
piece, "A Day in the Life of. . ." is a
delight. The dancers seem to think so
too, because they derive inspiration
from his direction.
The stage is completely open so the
"backstage" is exposed and this
greatly broadens the available space.
Dancers come toward the audience
from the back, making faces at us and
getting us involved with the perfor-
mers. This unique humor enlivens those
who had drifted off to sleep in the
previous numbers.
! ,
L i INDtVIDUAL THEATRESS
*,e o" .b~y 761'9700

I

There are also, finally, a variety of
movements: unified syncronization
among dancers, slow, beautiful duets
with graceful movements, fast leaps
and jumps, and clapping.
THIS IS THE key to creating the ex-
citing piece - Hoving has captured the
joy of the modern dance. When the
lights go out on his dance, we are
greatly relieved to discover that the
University Dance Company has the
ability to perform for us.
Unfortunately, they do not have the
high quality choreographers. Matheke
and Embree should take lessons from
Hoving and improve the calibre of their
dances so that they ' are truly
professional, and not just a potpourri of
redundant movements.
MANN THEATRE5
VtGLAGE 4
375 N MAPLE '
769-1300
Daily Discount Matinees
TUESDAY BUCK DAY

cg 'Y'a

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-BARGAIN MATINEES-
WED. SAT. SUN "$2.00 til 6:00

SALLY fELD TOMMY LEE JONES "BACK ROADS,
Also Start.iqDAVID KEITH wr,.tnbyGARY Oevc>RE
Mgsyc by HENRY MAN(.IN4.lyncsby JAN and MARI(YN RERGMAN
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As timely today
as the day it
was vwritten.
4:30
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STARTS APRIL 3
"LA CAGE AUX FOLLIES II"

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3rd FINAL WEEK

'' Notin' going to ..
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IRVING-

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The U-M Professional Theatre Program

Michigan Ensemble Theatre

Ann Arbor's Own
Professional Theatre Company

Resident

DEBUT PRODUCTION
Henrik !bsen's

PreservationHall Jaz and
Monday, March 23at 5'S
on a c a a
HillAuditorium
Tickets at: $8 All main floor, $7 All first balcony,
$6 2nd balcony, first 8 rows, $4 Remaining 2nd balcony.

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