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February 10, 1985 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-02-10

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The Michigan Daily Sunday, February 10, 1985 Page 5
'Gut Feelings' dominate the Feld Ballet


By Tracey Uselmann
N o ONE knows how Eliot Feld
creates his strange and wonderful
ballets from the music he chooses.
Sometimes Feld cannot even explain
them. himself. He has said he just
-creates ideas from gut feelings.
In the production of his ballets, Feld
combines these gut feelings with a
tremendous musical ability, for his
pieces are reknown for their special
music and dance formulas. He does not
get an idea for a dance and then find the
music; he first discovers his music,
then creates the dance steps from
there. It is unusual, but it is also why
every intricate detail in the music is
reflected in the movements of his
Feld's talents were especially clear
during Friday night's performance at
the Power Center. The first number,
entitled "The Grand Canyon," was a
harmonious dance set to music by Steve
Reich. The stage, incongruously set
with four triangular blocks on each
side, was in sharp contrast to the dan-
cers' costumes, colorful shorts and
§white tops, yet the dance itself was
well-balanced. Later in the piece, the
enigmatic triangular structures were
used. The dancers would push their feet
off the structures, with their movemen-

ts mirrored by the dancers at the op-
posite end of the stage. This continued
for over three minutes, but never
became monotonous because of
progressively complex variations. The
alternation of sequences and unisons
were obviously a favorite of Feld in the
particular piece.
In addition to technical unity, the
dance worked wonderfully with the
music, for every time a dancer leaped
onto a triangle, a tonal flourish or a
crescendo was heard.
The second dance of the evening,
"Adieu," was set to a different tune.
The curtain rose to a man in a black
cape standing in the center of the stage.
The music, by Hugo Wolf, was perfor-
med by pianist Peter Longiaru and
soprano Yvonne Frazier. As the music
unfolded, so did the cape. Slowly, two or
three dancers emerged from under-
neath this black sheet, which was
twirled and manipulated throughout
the ballet.
The most fascinating aspect of this
piece was the dancer's technique and
their incredible muscle control. While
one pair performed smooth lifts and ex-
tentions, the other pair performed a
series of barely perceptable movemen-
ts which required as much control as
the other pair's.
The final piece, entitled "The Jig is Up,"
was set to music by the Bothy Band and
John Cunningham. As one might gather

from the title, this ballet is similar to an
Irish folk dance of the same name. The
dancers resembled little leprechauns
skipping and leaping about the stage
like tiny little elves. A huge backdrop
on stage helped to carry this affect. The
costumes were more than appropriate,
and catching to the eye. Dressed in
scraps of dance clothes from shades of
green or grey, Feld's dancers were
transformed from the Power Center
stage to the lush highlands of bonny
This number served to highlight the
technique of the individual dancer.
Sharp movement and highstepping
prances performed in unison by the
company accented the liveliness of this
dance, and the addition of several fan-
tastic lifts transformed it from mere
performance into a celebration of dan-
ce as a whole.
This sense of celebration permeates
all of Feld's works. His approach to
stage design and costuming, music, and
even the dance itself is brilliantly non-
traditional, and serves to create new in-
terest and new excitement in the art
and expression of dance.
Last night's performance displayed
the wonderful expression that charac-
terizes Feld's work. Working well
together and obviously enjoying them-
selves a great deal, the dancers em-
bodied Feld's vision of the strange and

These dancers, part of the Feld Ballet, demonstrate their fine body control in this tangle of expression.

Vatzlav portrays injustice
with absurdist characters

School of Music flaunts Bruce

By Jeffrey Seller
NTERING the Performance
E Network for the first time can
be a confounding experience. A con-
verted warehouse, it is austere and
rustic, with a pole in the middle, a
noisy heater, and seats ranging from
modern plastic folding chairs to
those unforgettable Star Trek kit-
chen chairs of the 1960's-gold,
shiny, and vinyl. But consider these
superfluous drawbacks charming.
They are characteristic of this
young group striving to produce in-
novativp, meaningful theatre.
Similarly, coming face to face
with Vatzlav, the Polish play by
Slawomir Mrozek which opened
there Thursday night, can be con-
founding. Unlike the usual fare to
which we are usually exposed, Vat-
zlav is rustic and unreal, a fragmen-
ted caricature of our society. More
importantly, it is good theater,
prototypical of the intentions of the
Under the direction of Ron Miller,
the group has put together a thought
provoking, innovative production
that is charming, lewd, and frequen-
tly hysterical.
The play chronicles the experien-
ces of Vatzlav, a shipwrecked slave
who rises to the bourgeoisie, only to
fall back to peasant. Through this
character and the characters
surrounding him, the play manages,
importentuously, to rail on all the in-
stitutions-political, societal,
familial-which restrain us, shape
us, and inevitably seem to cheat us.
Immediately, one is reminded of
Marx's theorized stages of society,
from slave class to feudal
bourgeoisie, to capitalism, to com-
munism. The bourgeois, represen-
ted by Mr. and Mrs. Bat, literally
suck the blood of the people. The
American credo of capitalism is jux-

taposed against the absurdity of a
sleazy strip tease act, while com-
munism is personified by a sadistic
gang of perverts who seek to reform
society through violence and rape.
Miller's stylized rendition, fast-
paced like a cartoon, is a com-
bination of vaudeville, burlesque, and
Saturday Night Live. A. variety of
characters-really carica-
tures-come to and fro, bringing for-
th farcical, slapstick, and satirical
situations. Mrs. Bat quarrels with
her pet, and leaves the badly beaten,
three legged toy poodle (literally a
toy which moves via a remote con-
trolled skateboard) for a bear. A
flabby and stupid butterball of a boy
runs around in a bear's head attem-
pting to kill his father and commit
incest with his mother. Two neigh-
bors, once friends, once enemies,
fight to keep up with one another,
maintain equality, and find the
justice they deserve.
Miller's cast works well as an en-
semble, diving head first into a
challenging text, providing a diver-
sity of quick-witted characters.
Alison Maker, as Mrs. Bat, is out-
standing, realizing Miller's intended
style with expertise, as are David P.
Curtis as Bobby, the butterball boy
quickly tarnished by the evils of
society, and David Bernstein, as
Oedipus and The Genius, who shows
fine versatility in these differing
Performances of Vatzlav will con-
tinue through February 17. The Per-
formance Network is located at 408
W. Washington. Performance times
are 8 p.m., except for Sunday shows
which begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are
$6.00 (Fri. and Sat.) and $5.00
(Thurs. and Sun.) with student,
senior citizen, and group discounts.
Although reservations are recom-
mended (663-0681), tickets can be
obtained at the door.

By Neil Galanter
Alabama accent added much zest
to the already enlivening conversation I
had with visiting professor of music
Neely Bruce. 41 year-old Bruce is
teaching two courses in American
music this semester at the School of
Music by special invitation. He is
visiting us here from his home base in
Middletown, Connecticut where he is
the director of choral activities at
Wesleyan University.
Bruce, who is an accomplished com-
poser, pianist, and conductor all rolled
into one, will be featured in a recital of
his own works along with guests, wife
Phyllis Bruce, soprano; Stanley Cor-
nett, tenor; Deborah Kuick, flutist and
Charles Van Tassel, baritone of The
Netherlands Opera. The show is on
Monday evening Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. in
the Recital Hall of The School of Music.
The concert will consist of Bruce's
vocal music which is inspired by poetry
and the texts of Walt Whitman, Ger-
trude Stein, Sarah Kendall Bayles and
various 19th century Kentucky poets.
The "Blades of Bluegrass Songbook",
which will be performed at the show, is
a set of ten pieces for various voices
based on a volume of Kentucky poetry.
It is just one example of an ongoing
project that Bruce is currently working
on. He is presently in the process of
placing his entire collection of songs for
voice and piano into various songbooks
consisting of smaller groups of songs. A
gigantic project to be sure, however
very exciting and enjoyable, Bruce
The other works on the program are
also songs inspired by texts and poetry,
for Bruce truly enjoys setting his music
to literature. After intermission his
song cycle "Whitman Fragments" will
be performed by a very special guest:
Charles Van Tassel, who is currently
baritone of The Netherlands Opera in
Amsterdam. The composer himself will
be at the piano assisting Mr. Van
The "Whitman Fragments", Bruce

explained is music set to various por-
tions of text from poet Walt Whitman's
major epic poem "Song of Myself".
Bruce got his influence and inspiration
to set music to Whitman's poem from
American composer Charles Ives' song
"Walt Whitman". The difference bet-
ween Ives' musical transcription and
Bruce's is that Bruce's is a major work
consisting of over 35 vignette
pieces each capturing a different
vision from the original Whitman
poem. Among the thirty-five, there are
inflection of personal saga, a ship-
wreck, a naval battle and The Fall of
The Alamo as well as many others.
"Capturing each one of those visions
differently in written music was very
difficult but quite a challenge for me as
a composer," Bruce commented.
Bruce comes to composing very
naturally though, as he has been at
work as a composer since he was nine
years old. He received his degree in
composition at the University of Illinois
under the tutleage of Ben Johnston.
Said Bruce, "The great thing about Ben
Johnston was that he was extremely
demanding, but at the same time he
enabled his students to be non-
judgemental in terms of direction as an
artist. That enabled each one of his
students to be completely unique."
Bruce also studied piano extensively
and by getting both his undergraduate
and Masters degrees in piano perfor-
mance, he is equally at home at the
keyboard. He studied piano with Roy
McAllister at The University of
Alabama and while working on his
masters degree he was a student of
Soulima Stravinsky who is the son of
the well known Russian composer Igor
Stravinsky. But on Monday we will see
Bruce the composer, working away'
at full speed.
On and about composing Bruce
spoke, "In composing," says Bruce,
"you have a plan and an idea, and that
is exciting-then there is a moment at
which one is well on the way to making
that idea a reality, and that is the most
enjoyable moment...The rest ofter that
is just bookkeeping, so to speak."
Dull bookkeeping it is not, and will

not be. The remainder of the program
after the "Whitman Fragments" will
feature a composition entitled "Stanzas
for Three" based on the poetry of Ger-
trude Stein. The piece features
Soprano, Tenor and Baritone, with
piano accompaniment.
So, considering that Bruce is from

Alabama, what could be a more ap-
propriate way to close this article than
to say, "Please, y'all come by for the
concert." No charge for admission is
the house policy on School of Music
Concerts and Monday night, February
11 is no exception to that rule. See you
all there.

- O FFwith this entire
Admission. Good for 1 or 2 tickets. A
$2.00 features thru 2/14185 except Tuesda

Someone Spa
All on Valentines
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15,7:15,9:45 FRI. & SAT. AT11 30 P.M.


FR., MON. 5:15, 7:15, 9:45
SAT., SUN. 1:15, 3:15, 5:




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SAT., SUN. 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 9:35 FRI. & SAT. AT MIDNIGHT




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Saturday, Feb.16, 1:00
Anderson Rooms,
Michigan Union

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