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March 09, 1984 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ARTS

e Michigan Daily
NC
" By Ellen Rieser
'W EDNESDAY EVENING at
Power Center, the Oakland Ballet
, sparkled in an unusual version of Cen-
7 derella, Crystal Slipper. Set to the un-
deservedly neglected music of
"Bohuslav Martinu, Crystal Slipper
,retells the beloved fairy take in an
Aoriginal but classic manner; it has a
full assortment of divertisements,
frnime, and the traditional grand pas as
:,-finale.
Choreographer Carlos Carvajal does
acknowledge earlier Cinderellas with
some astute borrowings: the step-
mother is played by a man en pointe (a
drolly clumsy Douglas Hevenor); the
ugly sisters fight over a scarf,
ultimately tearing it into two; and the
spirits called forth by the fairy god-
mothef bring Cinderella her ball gown,
°'i'own, cape, and slippers. However;
beyond these familiar elements, most
of Carvajal's production is refreshingly
. new.
Dancing aside, Crystal Slipper also
For the 1984 Stanford Sur
iapp tion, mail this coupor
Building 10, Stanford Univ

Friday, March 9, 1984

?age6b

ilost step

4

deserves special commendation for its
gorgeous, glittery costumes, and effec-
tive scrim, props (including a crystal
chandelier) that appear out of nowhere.
and an enchanting transformation
scene in which Cinderella's wardrobe,
carriage, and an eerily glowing steed
float out over the heads of the dancers
and assemble themselves. Rarely has
Ann Arbor seen such clever and well-
executed stage magic.
Coming from the cultural melting pot,
of the Bay area, the Oakland Ballet is a
physically interesting company,
boasting dancers of quite different
builds and heights.
This diversity is exhibited in other
ways. In particular, the company's
Asian-American contingent is rather
large. Thus, it makes sense that Car-
vajal would use the oriental elements of
earth, water, fire, and air to work Cin-
derella's. transformation rather than
the traditional fairies of the seasons.
Ron Thiele as Earth (with Susan
Taylor) was a bit stiff; the other
elements, however, and Shirlee Reevie
as the bejewelled fairy godmother were

excellent. Abra Rudisill and Richard
Chen-See danced the quick "Fire"
variation particularly well.
The entire production of Crystal Slip-
per was nicely danced. Erin Leedom,
who was so effective two years ago in
the modernistic Rite of Spring, was a
radiant Cinderella. With its many
bravura solos and pas de deux for Cin-
derella, Crystal Slipper gave Leedom a
chance to show off her crisp turns and
excellent balance. Leedom's Prince
was Michal - Lowe, a considerate, if
rather stiff and unsmiling, partner.
Indeed, with the exception of the
jaunty Richard Chen-See as the Prin-
ce's brother and Mario Alonzo as the
lively Jester, most of Oakland's men
seemed to be weaker than its women.
And, unfortunately for casting pur-
poses, Oakland's strongest male dan-
cers seem to be its smallest dancers.
Nonetheless, the company continues
to grow and progress. Even when the
Oakland does find those talented six-
footers, I suspect that it will still have
choreographers making great dances
for Chinese-and Japanese- Americans
who happen to be small but who dance,
big.

miner Session Bulletin and
m to Stanford Summer Session,
versity, Stanford, CA 94305.

Erin Leedom as Cinderella and Michael Love as the prince dance in the Oakland Ballet's performance of
'Crystal Slipper.'

,e
' a

".-

STANFORD
SUMMER

Dressed for comic tragedy

By Joshua Bilmes

The Dresser is a fine film; the script,
the acting, and the direction are all in-
tense, and help us to understand the
characters and feel for them to an in-
credible extent. The acting, however,
stands out above all.
ADRIAN'S" ?_- T-SHIRT
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Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, and
Edward Fox are given credit before the
title. Finney plays Sir (that is his only
name during the film.). Sir is the star
and manager of a financially troubled
touring Shakespeare company in
England in the middle of World War II.
Most of the theaters have been bombed,
and most of the good young actors have
joined the fighting, leaving the old and
not-so-vigorous to do the performing.
Needless to say, it is difficult to get an
audience.
As the company has deteriorated, so
has Finney. His health, both mental and
physical, is on a downward spiral. Nur-
sing him through the period of turmoil
and decline is his dresser, played by
Tom Courtenay.

Edward. Fox hardly has any part at
all, and probably got credit above the
title only because his name is a box-
office draw amongst England's upper
class.
Most of the film, then, centers on the
interactions, of Sir and his dresser, and
their feelings about each other and
themselves. It is, in a way, a much
longer version of the ending of The Man
of La Mancha when Sancho tries to
coax quixote out of bed for one last
time. The Dresser centers on Cour-
tenay's efforts to get Finney up for
another performance of King Lear
which he has done over 220 times
before.
The evening is a heart-wrenching ex-
perience. The dresser fends off Sir's

visitors and tries to get him to don his
make-up and costume, while others in
the company think the performance
should be cancelled.
Thanks to the spectacular acting, you
cry out with Courtenay when he sees
Finney putting on make-up for a part in
Othello, and not King Lear. You under-
stand the anguish Finney feels whenhe
has trouble remembering the opening
line of a part which he has played so
many times before. The entire scene,
and it is a very long one, is one of the
most cathartic that I have ever seer.
Even after Finney is made up and in
costume, there is still the matter of the
performance, which seems as if it may
never begin. There is an air raid right
at the opening curtain, which serves to
sum up all that is wrong with the world.
And then there is a sceneso agonizing
that one has to laugh, in spite of thetin-
credible sadness of it all. It is time for
Finney to enter the stage to begin his
performance. Yet he does not. The ac-
tors try to ad-lib. "Me thought the King
was coming. I- must have been
mistook," while off-stage, everyone is
trying desperately to coax Finney onto
the stage.
The Dresser is not over yet. There is
still the performance, and then the con-
clusion, which has the sense of
inevitability that one expects from the
best of tragedies.
Peter Yates, responsible for films as
wildly variant in quality as Krull and
Breaking Away, was both the Producer
and Director for this film. I would haye
no qualms in calling it the Best Pictre
of 1983 (it has taken a while to reach
Ann Arbor), and I recommend that all
should see it. The Dresser is a gem.

JUNE 25 THROUGH AUGUST 18
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Sir (Albert Finney) takes advice from his dresser (Tom Courtenay) in
'The Dresser.'

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