The Michigan Daily -Monday, March 29, 1993- Page 9
Dance concert moves 'Upward'
by Jen Slajus
Let's just say that when I close my eyes, I can still see the
blotches from the fireworks. Gina Buntz andMaureenJanson' s
MFA Thesis Concert, aptly entitled "Upward Mobility,"
soared this weekend in the intimate Studio A Dance Theatre
and left the audience reeling with delight. While most damn
spectacular dance performances make me feel all nasty with
Director Amelio, in true neo-realist style, chose untrained actors to tell the story.
Broken images evoke emotion
March 26, 1993
regret for not taking dance classes as a child, this one pushed
further. Its intense artistic energy inspired radical creativity.
The evening began with Gina Buntz's choreographed
suite of dances, "African Chill." Overall, it was an amazing
and thorough exploration of personal pulses. Tucked in a
corner spot of light and dressed completely in black, a heady
narrator, Betsy Pugel, read the intellectual celestial season-
ings which wove the six dance movements together. Rather
like a Socratic mediator, she poignantly complemented their
individual, raw ritual rhythms.
Guest artist Denise H. Bey, an "uh-huh!" jovial West
African dancer from New York, opened and closed the suite
with colorful sparks. She served as a most gracious and
fascinating host. Beginning with her own post-colonial
adaptation of a folkloric mask dance, "Nia," Bey humor-
ously shattered the Wall of Propriety between dancer and
audience. Hidden under abright, multi-colored, striped cloak
with an attached cool-mannered mask, she wagged her
bootie, belly-whooped some spiritual thanks to the ancestors
and curiously inspected the audience by sticking her guised
face in, well, our faces. All to the rousing beat of two African
This oh-so happy, life-energy beat returned in the final
dance, "Lamban." Wearing a heavenly fluid, sheer, ivory-
firey gown, Bey played a brief duet of Share-The-Fuschia-
Scarves with featured dancer Linda Spriggs. Then she se-
duced the crowd, not to mention the drummers, with her
smiling, spinning rounds and her whimsical gestures of
Undergraduate Alexandra Beller jaw-dropping-wowed
this reviewer with her "Sweet Birth and Beautiful Dance."
Reciting a love poem, she eloquently provided her own
music and so her own bodily pulse to Buntz's sublime,
swallowing choreography. Lines like "Pieces of me float
down to look likeawoman" and "Yourmouth slides overmy
skin, and I think I will rain" underscored her graceful body
translations. In the mere act of rolling herself up from the
floor, she skillfully controlled every centimeter of her body
in order to articulate the fluid pulse of a blood beat.
Maureen Janson rocketed to a new dimension of modern
dance with her high impact solo, "All the Conversations."
Loosely based on a series of telephone conversations with
friends and family, it poignantly expressed Janson's frustra=
tion with a life fragmented by so much role-playing. Thi
dance was an intriguing collage of stark extremes, in terms
of both movement and sound. All of her movements, or lack
thereof, seemed to be fueled with angst. She often stood with,
her back to the audience. On one of these occasions, she
stripped away her veil of a top, tore flesh from her side and
mindlessly offered it to the heavens. She climbed the back
wall like an alien insect, struck sudden, porcelain angel
poses, arrowed out of the floor like an upside down bicycle,
and carefully squatted across the stage.
This awesome inner bleakness exploded in Janson's
choreographed group piece, a clever social commentary
called"800thLifetime."Ann Arbor actress HilarieRamsden,
garbed in a stunning red party dress, hilariously framed the
dance with absurd theatricality: an emotional breakdown,
seemingly over a piece of chocolate.
The dance was a poignant, humanist study of people.
Janson captured the reality of people as fake, bitter, narcissis-
tic self-worlds through a multitude of witty dance phrases.
Yet, Janson positively worked to get past traditional and
confining views. In one segment, a woman repeatedly tried
to run and jump onto the back of a man. Finally, she gave up
- and ran past him! (Yeehaw!)
Janson chose exceptionally strong dancers to carry out
her power moves. Men carried men, and women carried both .
men and women. (No. They wouldn't let men carry them!)
These dancers - three men and three women, including
Beller - were amazing, though, by the end, they did get out
of sync a bit, but only because the dance was so demanding,
in terms of both length and athleticism. The piece ended with
all the dancers repeatedly running full speed towards the
audience and then crashing into an invisible barrier and being
knocked backwards onto the floor - until one woman
discovers the chocolate trail set by Ramsden and picks it up,
looks at it and smiles at the audience.
by Camilo Fontecilla
It's good to be reminded that in the
real world there are children who are
poor and unwanted. How could one
forget? Maybe it's because every time a
kid appears on the silver screen, his
parents make atleast one thousand grand
a year. Hillary has got to love this film,
Directed by Gianni Amelio; written by
Gianni Amelio, Sandro Petraglia and
Stefano Rulli; with Enrico Lo Verso,
Valentina Scalici, Giuseppe Ieracitano.
although an American version certainly
doesn't seem possible any time soon.
Child prostitution is, undoubtedly, a
taboo subject in our (or any other, for
that matter) culture, and making a film
about it an even touchier issue.
That's why we haveForeign cinema
to turn the harsher realities of life into
art. Isn't it nice to have someone else do
the dirty work for you? Well, it pays off
because it probably turns out better in
the end anyway. Or try watching "Point
of no Return."
Gianni Amelio claims he steered his
film away from moral themes and that
he centered it completely on the indi-
viduality of the actors. The script was
forever evolving, depending on the
moods of the leading actors, as well as
those of the director himself. Maybe
that's why this film feels so intensely
personal. It burns right off the screen
because every character is acutely real,
intoxicatingly so at times.
Antonio (Enrico Lo Verso), a young
member of the Italian national guard, is
assigned the delivery of two children to
a foster home in another city. The chil-
dren are the hostile Rosetta (Valentina
Scalici), 11, and the sultry Luciano
(Giuseppe Ieracitano), 10, who are ren-
dered homeless after their mother is
imprisoned on charges of using Rosetta
as a child prostitute. The audience is left
with no doubt on the veracity of these
Continued from page 8
As with her previous Kurt Weill
work, the result is often dazzling. Her
stripped-down version of Dietrich's
"Falling in Love Again," for example,
genuinely lets you hear it again for the
frst time. Listening to Lemper trans-
form these songs, it's actually hard to
remember how Dietrich and Piaf did
them in the first place.
Occasionally, the personality does
overwhelm the music, as Lemper tries a
little too hard to come up with a com-
pletely fresh interpretation. The synth-
popped, WNIC-ready versionof"Want
to Buy Some Illusions" that closes the
disc is especially unwelcome. But for
the most part, Lemper's unsentimental,
immeasurably seductive performances
areworthy. Now ifwecouldonlyseeher
-Michael John Wilson
Combine the self-gratifying
...-n,,gI of i fl1 n' Rnse with
charges. The opening minutes of the
film show the nameless mother bribe
Luciano to go out and play justbefore a
middle aged man arrives at the doorstep
asking for Rosetta.
Antonio's patience with the chil-
dren crumbles as he discovers that their
quiet inaccessibility becomes magni-
fied by his attempts at friendliness. But
he must grin and bear it, for Rosetta will
not be accepted at the religious child
home due toherscandalous background.
The next step is to travel with them all
the way to Sicily, where they will be
taken in at a home for special children.
During their long journey, Antonio
slowly builds a relationship with the
children that soon exceeds the bounds
of his required professional detachment.
This plot cries out melodrama. But,
sentimentalism is almost painfully ab-
sent, and the relationships portrayed
here are extremely raw. Sure, there are
a few tender moments, but most of the
film relies on the glum conditions of the
characters to imbue it with a heavy-
heartedness strikingly reminiscent of
great Italian film in the forties and fif-
ties. It is almost documentary-like in its
flat realism, but has too much of a
personal style to be categorized as'such.
Amelio escapes emotional shallow-
ness by letting the character's actions,
and not their words, be what weaves
their bond. It would have been easy to
make the helpless Rosetta break down
because of her woes, and then have
Antonio emerge asa soft-hearted shoul-
der to cry on. But it is external factors
that precipitate their coming together:
the spontaneous visitto Antonio's sister
in the town he grew up in, or the day
spent at the beach teaching Luciano
how to swim. Without trying, they be-
come attached to each other more than
they ever really wanted to.
Following the example of his Italian
neo-realist predecessors, Amelio prac-
tically pulled his actors off the street.
Valentina Scalici demands so much at-
tention on screen, it is hard to believe
cliche instrumental bridges.
Any formularockbandcan getlucky.
With their screamy lead singer, kick
tom drummer, grungy guitar guy and
long hair the guys in Southgang have all
the elements needed to be the world's
next one hit wonders. However, to ask
for more out of them than grungy little
riffs and power ballads would be ex-
pecting too much.
Christoph von Dohnanyi,
Mahler: Symphony No. 6
"There is only one Sixth," com-
poser Alban Berg reputedly remarked,
"notwithstanding the 'Pastorale."'The
greatness of Mahler's "Tragic" sym-
phony is rarely disputed, but nonethe-
less it must be considered as one of the
most difficult of all symphonic works.
A piece of intense raw emotional
power, the sixth tempts conductors to
overemphasize the score's drama, of-
ten at the expense of the symphony's
structural unity. Leonard Bernstein's
cataclvmic Vienna recordin ishv far
she is merely a child. She has an air of;
precocious maturity, exuded through
steel eyes and tight lips, that makes the
part fit her like a glove. But Lo Verso's
attitude stands up to her own, and his
fascinatingly exotic looks give him a
huge range of expression that helps him
slide atease through the immense mood
swings he experiences in the film.
But one cannot forget Giuseppe
Ieracitano; his Luciano is trying so des-
perately to cling on to his childhood that
blocking out his surroundings seems to'
by letting the
character's actions, and
not their words, be
what weaves their
be the only solution. A blank look car-
ries him through the first half of the
film, but then he becomes so vivacious
it is almost surprising he could ever
have been quiet at all. Florence Darel,
last seen in Eric Rohmer's "Tale of
Springtime," also makes a short but
incisive appearance as one of the two
French tourists who briefly join Anto-
nio and the children in their travels.
Amelio's camera seems to be fond
roads and train stations, everything is
situated at a sharp angle. The same can
be said about the film in general. Apart
from a couple of soft points, "Stolen
Children" is hardly ever uplifting. Like
a Greek tragedy, destiny plays a stron-
ger part than will power, and for those
who expect will to overcome adversity,
this may come as quite a jolt. But one
cannot shun this film for it. The help-
lessness it wraps its audience inis, after
all, more than justified by the affecting
immediacy of its broken images.
STOLEN CHILDREN is playing at
the Michigan Theater.
piece can be a cohesive, musical sym-
phony rather than amaelstrom of seeth-
This is not to say that Dohnanyi
lacks emotional impact; His perfor-
mance of the heart-wrenching Adagio
is the most genuinely poignant I know,
and without any trace of the saccharine
aftertaste common in other recordings.
The interpretation allows the symphony
to speak naturally and truthfully, and
this recording's overall effectiveness is
second only to Klaus Tennstedt's tragi-
cally out-of-print EMI recording.
Conscience of the City
Atanas wants to be a social com-
mentator on the scale of Jackson
Browne. Thanks to a surprisingly slick
production, Atanas' music nestles com-
fortably between Michael Bolton and
Marc Coehn instead of Browne or Bob
Dylan. With the help of a savvy pro-
ducer, Atanas could record a pleasant,
accessible album, but "Conscience of
the City" isn't it. The smooth yet slight
single "Feels Like Love" shouldn't run
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