The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 17, 1989 - Page 9
poetic, not partisan
BY MICHAEL P. FISCHER
BY GRETA SCHNURSTEIN
T HEY sit cross legged in a circle, munching on snack food. A sense of
quiet anticipation pervades the group. Suddenly a man appears, walking
briskly over to the circle.
"Where's the chief?" he asks, pausing for a moment. One of the members
of the circle nods her head towards the drapery hanging behind them.
"On the phone."
The latecomer nods and joins the circle.
The "chief" is Whitley Setrakian, and the group is People Dancing, a
modern dance troupe residing in Ann Arbor's Performance Network.
Setrakian turns up a few minutes later, clad in a short turquoise shirt and
black dance pants. She fills out some paperwork as the last of her dancers
wander into the studio. The "chief" begins to stretch as the circle chatters
"Well, shall we try it?"
Setrakian marks out an imaginary stage on the wood floor as the dancers
experiment with their costumes for the piece "So Two Now." The six per-
formers stand in place and Setrakian calls out, "Lights out!" The afternoon
sunshine streams in between the rafters as they begin.
Three singers on stage left stand motionless as their dancing counterparts
perform on stage right, requiring strong concentration on the part of the
dancers to single out the strain which they are performing to, and still blend
in harmony with the other performers. The choreography is repetitive, punc-
tuated, and overlapping, as is the song. The piece breathes rhythmically, but
somehow doesn't fit the judo-like costumes that the dancers are trying out.
By the end of the run, the costumes are modified to present cleaner lines, and
the piece is unified.
People Dancing will present a variety of works for this concert, including
the Ann Arbor premiere of "Handmaiden," a work set to the Balinese
"Ketjak" or "Ramayana Monkey Chant" recorded in a temple courtyard. Se-
trakian and David Salowich will perform "Of Rivers and Motion: Further
Dialogues on the Nature of Flux and Stasis," a structured improvisation in-
corporating effective props and original text. The outcome is a surprising and
delightful piece that you will want to see again.
Setrakian will perform two solo works in the program, including "Job," a
dance dialogue between man and God. She explains her own feelings about
the piece as being indirectly personal. "I am Armenian," she says. "My mo-
tivation for this piece is the earthquake."
Performing with People Dancing this weekend, The Detroit Dance Col-
lective is made up of four women and three men under the direction of Bar-
bara Selinger and Paula Kramer. For their Ann Arbor program, they will
present "In Time Of Solitude," choreographed by Kramer. It is set to music
by Joseph Lo Duca, and is based on One Hundred Years of Solitude, a novel
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Selinger will also present two solo works, on alternating nights.
"Unnatural Selection" makes use of extensive props, including a life-size
dummy, and is representative of Selinger's style of choreography - her
dances are very visual and fast-paced, spacially big and spectacular. Chore-
ographed by Anita Surma, Selinger's other solo, "Earth Dream," is set to
music by George Crumb.
In conjunction with Two Way Street, the groups will present Late Cur-
few, a production that will include adventurous improvisation and perfor-
mance art pieces by Setrakian, Salowich, Abigail Hornby, and dancers from
the Detroit Dance Collective.
Among the works in Late Curfew will be"Before the Chupah," a piece set
to Sephardic wedding songs. Of the improvisational work in "Before the
Chupah," David Salowich explains, "We know we sort of start off in unity
bit whatever we do, we do." Later, he exclaims, "Where do I go now? I just
need another image to work with..." The only way to find out what these
images will be is to stay up late at the Performance Network this weekend.
TWO WAY STREET will take place at the Performance Network, 408 W.
Washington, tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday. At 11
p.m. tonight and tomorrow, LATE CURFEW will be presented.
Harnick: A wonderful life
music: in the
church and in
Finals-for the UAC Battle of the Bands at 9:30 pm Saturday in the
U-Club will be the finale of the Michigras festivities. Saturday's show
will test the final four out of over 25 bands on originality,
showmanship, and audience participation. Casino gambling and an
ice cream eating contest will also be offered.
Extensions of the Tradition, a concert featuring the work of
University student composers William C. Banfield and Stephen
Michael Newby (right) will be featured Sunday at 4 p.m. at the First
Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, 608 E. William Street. The
pair's music runs from classical to gospel to modern.
IF you're like me, your first acquaintance with Bruce Cockburn was "If I
Had a Rocket Launcher," the out-of-nowhere 1984 MTV hit. Friends used to
poke fun at this guy who had to break up the neat-o party of all those Duran
Duran and Prince videos with this muddy-shoed carping about war and stuff
in El Salvador, of all places.
But by 1987, when I saw Cockburn's ingenious video for "And They
Call It Democracy," I suddenly appreciated the poeticstyle with which he
vented his liberal outrage - a style that transcends partisan B.S.
Cockburn packs in colorful images like few working the pop mainstream
these days: "If a Tree Falls," from Cockburn's 18th (!) album, Big Circum-
stance (1989), sounds an vivid alarm of environmental disaster: "teeming
green brain facing lobotomy/ climate control centre for the world/ ancient
cord of coexistence/ hacked by parasitic greedhead scam." A fellow Daily
critic, apparently too awestruck by the Toronto singer's lyrical genius to do
it justice on his own, previewed Cockburn's previous area concert by sim-
ply quoting songs.
But people don't buy rock albums in place of poetry books. On paper,
Cockburn's feverish verse actually comes across as a rather overwrought and
unpalatable mix of e.e. cummings' stream-of-awareness free verse and The
But a convincing musical talent saves Cockburn's texts from annoying
didacticism; the lyrics take flight on Big Circumstance, amid a nearly bril-
liant mix of musical styles and satisying melodies drawn together by an ap-
propriately organic sound.
"Where the Death Squad Lives" and "If A Tree Falls" engage some peppy
guitar rhythms and a solid beat a la rocker Richard Thompson; "Radium
Rain" is an expansive bluesy number, and "Shipwrecked at the Stable Door"
a hearty revival of Cockburn's folky Irish-style origins. And all are fleshed
out by his surprisingly adept and eclectic guitar playing, particularly
"Tibetan Side of Town" - a stunning atmospheric texturing of Michael
Hedges-style acoustic guitars, oblique pulses of minor-key piano, and
moody vocals - richly evocative of Joni Mitchell.
Although Big Circumstance 's elastic songwriting often outstretches its
welcome ("Radium Rain" al2ne sprawls to 9:22), it does allow Cockburn to
t elaborate on his themes beyond the obvious or predictable - he even pin-
points domestic animals in "If a Tree Falls" ("inject a billion burgers worth
of beef/ grain eaters - methane dispensers"). And far from the conscending
intellectualized atheism of so many liberal agitators, Cockburn's sense of
justice is informed by a panoramically wonderstruck, almost mystical pan-
theism; he sounds protective in "Gospel of Bondage" when he says that
"God won't be reduced to an ideology."
Neither, it seems, will the intriguing complexity of Bruce Cockburn's
musical message - however "socially correct" it may appear.
Continued from Page 8
ject excitement into the tunes. The
instruments serve as background
music, with occassional solos.
The group opened this school year
performing for an enthusiastic audi-
ence at the Capitol City Jazz Festival
in Washington, D.C. The ensemble
will tour the Midwest through March
So, even if you've got something
"more pressing" to do, you may wan
to see this unique and reknowned
group of talented women.
THE SPELMAN JAZZ ENSEMBLE
will perform tonight at 8 p.m. at the
Bronze Elegance gala in the Michi-
gan Union Ballroom. Admission is
$5 in advance, $6 at the door. To-
morrow, they perform at Bursley
West Cafd at 7 p.m.; admission is
BRUCE COCKBURN will play the Power Center at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $14.50 and $16.50.
ENG IN EERS
-wear a suit and tie
-shuffle papers and answer
-sit at a desk all day
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BY MARK SHAIMAN
"CIF I Were A Rich Man" is eter-
nally cited by grammar teachers as
the perfect example of the subjunc-
tive verb tense. However, it is better
known as a number from Fiddler On
The Roof. This catch-phrase/song is
the lyrical creation of the guest of
honor in An Evening With Sheldon
The show is being put on by the
University School of Music, in
conjunction with the Kerrytown
Concert House, and will present
music, dance, stories, and Harnick
himself. The past, present, and fu-
ture of Harnick will all be repre-
sented here; numbers from his clas-
sics Fiddler On The Roof, Fiorello!,
and She Loves Me, from his recent
University production A Wonderful
Life, and from his upcoming Uni-
versity production Dragons are all
Harnick started his close associa-
tion with the Musical Theater Pro-
gram through its director, Brent
Wagner. Wagner, then at Syracuse
University, had contacted Harnick to
see an performance of his music.
Harnick said he was "bowled over
because he did not have a great talent
pool, but it didn't matter. The kids...
had been directed with such taste and
with such skill that it was not em-
barrassing at all... I've been at
evenings where I could hardly watch
the performers because they were so
bad, but with this I marvelled."
The two artists struck up a
friendship, and Wagner offered Har-
nick the chance to try out any new
work at Syracuse, and later, here.
The first collaboration was A Won-
derful Life, a musical adaptation of
the classic Frank Capra film It's A
Wonderful Life. Because of copy-
right laws, this has been prevented
from reaching Broadway, but if it
depended solely on quality, it would
have been there soon after it left Ann
AN EVENING WITH SHELDON
HARNICK will be presented Sunday
at 7:30 p.m. at the Lydia
Mendelssohn Theater. Tickets are
$12.50 and $9; student tickets are
-live in foreign countries
-face many challenges
-bear heavy responsibility
-work long hours
-operate sophisticated elec-
-record information on oil and
-interpret that information
C,., o, , ,
.a3v ; ':
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r* - "£;Vi.
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-being their own boss
YOW? Zofr4s .Du
THE HOUSING DIVISION AND BURSLEY FAMILY
SPELMAN COLLEGE JAZZ ENSEMBLE
of Atlanta, Georgia
Saturday, March 18, 1989
Bursley Cafe West
*Also guest appearance at
THIS JOB IS NOT FOR
EVERYONE - BUT IT
COULD BE FOR YOU!
Schlumberger, the world leader
in Wireline Well Logging has
immediate career opportunities
Overseas for individuals with
an M.S. or B.S. degree in
E.E., M.E., Physics or the
scholastic record, hands-on
aptitude and 0-3 years work
U.S. or Canadian Citizenship preferred
Date: March 20, 1989
Time: 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Place: CONTACT SWE FOR FURTHER DETAILS
March 21, 1989