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January 19, 1993 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-01-19

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Page 8-The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 19, 1993
Urban Bush Women made us want to sing and dance

by Alexandra Beller
After seeing Urban Bush Women
perform, you don't want to write an
article about it or delineate the format or
analyse strengths and weaknesses. You
want to write a song or shout or stamp
the ground. You want to worship what-
ever gods or goddesses you believe in
(including yourself) and offer thanks to
nature and life and to the incredible gift
of communication.
Urban Bush Women
Hill Auditorium
January 16, 1993
It is fitting that they performed this
weekend, as we honored one of the
most inspirational and life-affinning.
African-Americans in our history, Mar-
tin Luther King Jr. Their raw, surging
energy, their commitment to honesty
and reality and their undeniably hopeful
spirit were the perfect addition to a
weekend of deep thought about race,
gender, religion, community and our
future.

Started in 1984 by Artistic Director
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, UBW incorpo-
rates the rhythms and rituals of Africa
and Haiti with contemporary dance,
text and drama. They apply primitive
and instinctual methods to modern day
problems and, in some inexplicable way,
find the answers that all of our sociolo-
gists and politicians are searching for.
They find humanity in the movement of
their bodies, the songs of their history
and the stories of their lives.
The performance began with
"Lifedance III ... The Empress (Womb
Wars)," a searingly painful and delving
expose of the trauma of fertility. It
plunged into the female body as if rec-
reating a rape and holding it up to the
audience forinspection. UBW dissected,
through a brilliant combination of text
and movement, the use and misuse of
woman as creator. But they went farther
than that. They made rape, abortion,
and fertility non-gendered issues by ap-
pealing to our most powerful instincts
and our deepest fears. As one woman
writhed across the stage, naked, scream-
ing, "Take me to the water! Take me to
the water," we no longer had the luxury

of distance. We were pulled into the
emotion, unprotected and exposed.
UBW also performed "Shelter," re-
cently premiered by Alvin Ailey in New
York City. A pulsing, pounding, kinetic
work, it too took a specific topic
(homelessness) and broadened it to a
statement about humankind. As de-
manding as the text was, it never be-
came didactic because the drama, rage
and anguish were echoed with no less
dimension in the dancing. They used
their bodies to wring out the pain of
indifference and inhumanity. At the same
time they asked for new life by ques-
tioning our existence. "We are experi-
encing the death of birth,"said JoZollar
at one point.
The last two pieces were lighter but
no less engaging. In "Working for Free,"
a structured improvisation based on ex-
ploringdifferent"spirits," JoZollarsaid,
"Sometimes when I'm moving, I feel
the spirit of music," and went on to
create a visual score of exciting, sensual
rhythms. She said, "Sometimes when
I'm moving, I feel the spirit of a mood
... of a rhythm ... I walk in that spirit, I
talk in that spirit, I do everything in that

spirit."
At this point she asked for help from
the audience and, in the post-modernist
tradition, broke the barriers, brought up
the houselights, and asked for spirits.
Someone shouted, "doubt," another,
"anger." She danced through the spirits,
letting them fly into and through her
body and throwing them into the audi-
ence. She ended by taking three: sex,
funk and bliss, and performing an ec-
static dance of heat. Hermagnetism and
charm were as fascinating as her delib-
erate and explosive movement.
The concert ended with acelebratory
and exalting piece that paid homage to
the roots of dance in, as Jo Zollar put it,
"cheerleaders, drill teams, double dutch
jumpers, and step dancers." The com-
pany sailed through "routines" derived
from the whole spectrum of movement
'sources. It was a highly charged and
hugely enjoyable dance of celebration.
It was a dance of dance, and it was all-
inclusive. The title, "IDon'tKnow, But
I've Been Told If You Keep On Dancin'
You'll Never Grow Old," summed up
the spirit of the evening: acceptance,
understanding, and joy.

01

The Urban Bush Women strut their energetic, exhuberant stuff.

All-American AASO

Capote comes to life in Allen's'Tru'

by Keren Schweitzer
The Ann Arbor Symphony, con-
ducted by Stanley Sussman, featuring
piano soloist William Albright, per-
formed an all-American music concert
this past Saturday night. The works of
Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland,
and J.P. Johnson were performed with
great energy and enthusiasm thatcom-
pensated for the occasional technical
problems of the night.
Ann Arbor
Symphony Orchestra
Michigan Theater
January 16, 1993
"Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs" by
Leonard Bernstein opened the concert
with a bang. Fred Ormand, Professor
of clarinet at the University School of
Music, performed the jazzy
improvizational solos superbly. The
accompaniment was equally strong,
particularly the trumpet section in the
upper octaves. Conductor Stanley
Sussman strongly contributed to the
energy of the piece with clear and
rhythmic direction.
The highlight of the evening was
the spectacular performance of.Will-
iam Albright, University Professor of
Music Composition. "Three Piano

Solos"and "Yamekraw,ANegroRhap-
sody," both written by J.P. Johnson,
filled the Michigan Theatre with the
sounds and rhythms of the spiritual
blues melodies from Savannah, Geor-
gia during the 1920s. Professor
Albright's congenial, warm personal-
ity combined with his technical, rhyth-
mic and expressive facility to create a
thrilling performance.
The problems of the evening were
heard in the Orchestra's performance
of "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron
Copland. This symphonic work, origi-
nally composed as a ballet,. depicts
scenes ofeveryday life during the early
19th century. It contains the familiar
Shaker melody, "The Gift To Be
Simple" in the concluding few mea-
sures.
Many of the tempos during this
eight-part version of "Appalachian
Spring" were too fast, and the winds
often rushed to keep in tempo. The
balance between the individual solo-
ists and the orchestra was not well
rehearsed, and the solo lines were of-
ten too forceful. The climax of the
piece was somewhat unfulfilling, for
there were no true fortissimos, par-
ticularly due to the lack of strength
from the percussion section. These
minor glitches detracted from the gen-
eral cohesiveness of the work.

by Michelle Weger
The problem with press kits is this:
although they are often filled with nice
nubbins of crucial information about a
given concert, show, or film, they only
tell you what the promoter wants you to
know. Now, this is understandable, be-
cause they're just trying to make sure
that an audience shows up; but a list of
the creators' past triumphs and a collec-
tion of uniformly glowing reviews
doesn't really tell the whole story. When
Jay Presson Allen's "Tru" goes up to-
nightattheMichigan Theater, you prob-
ably won't know in advance how Allen
or her star Robert Morse perceive the
legendary Truman Capote; then again,
maybe it's better that way.
The play is set in Capote's Manhat-
tan apartment at Christmas time, 1975,
just after Esquire published the first
episodes from his scandalous novel-in-
progress "Answered Prayers," which
featured unflattering and thinly-dis-
guisedportrayals of some of his closest,
wealthiest "friends." Best known for
her stage adaptation of "The Prime of
Miss Jean Brodie" and her screenplays
for "Cabaret" and "Funny Lady," Allen
has written a two-act monologue from
letters and private papers offered to her.
by the executor of Capote's estate.
Born in New Orleans in 1924, the
man who would come to be known as
"The Tiny Terror" was given the name
Truman Steckfus Persons. Although he
was Southern-born, Capote was edu-
cated in theNorth, most notably in New
York, where he landed his first job, at
ageseventeen, atTheNewYorker. Seven
years later, his firstnovel, "Other Voices,
OtherRooms," aboutayoung man deal-
ing with his homosexuality, was pub-

lished to much critical praise.
The 1950s and '60s also were also
successful times for Capote, with the
publication of "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
and the acclaimed and controversial
non-fiction novel "In Cold Blood,"
which used fiction style to portray the
real-life murder of a Kansas family. In
his review of the book, John Hollowell
wrote, "Capote wanted it both ways: the
impeccable accuracy of fact and the
emotional impact found only in fic-
tion."
That kind of dualism was typical of
Capote's life. His work was dismissed
as the product of hype by some, and by
others was sincerely and vociferously
praised as the model for a generation.
He was an author of "serious" novels,
plays, and poetry, but was probably
better known for the company he kept:
socialites and movie stars. And as much
as he apparently enjoyed the glamour
and affluence of his friends, "Answered
Prayers" proved that his loyalty ended
where the promise of royalties began.
Robert Morse has garnered excep-
tional critical acclaim (not to mention
another Tony) for his performances in
'T" since it opened on Broadwayjust
over three years ago. He makes a con-
vincing physical transformation to play
Capote with the aid of makeup designer
Kevin Haney; If you believe press kits,
"Tru" promises to be an evening of catty
gossip by and remarkable insight into
one of the most flamboyant personali-
ties of our time. In other words, you'll
just have to take your chances.
TRU will be performed January 19-
20 at 8p.m. at the Michigan Theater.
Tickets are $23.5O-$29.50; $ 10
student rush Call 668-88397 for info.

9

iI

Robert Morse won a Tony for his remarkable performance as "Tru."

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