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October 15, 1993 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-15

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'Ballets Africains'
provide dynamic show
"They set out to blow away your cares and let you take part in the
celebration. All the dancers want to accomplish is to make you feel fine - to
heal the ailments of the heart and spirit," said Ricki Steen, manager of "Les
Ballets Africains", the national dance ensemble of the Republic of Guinea.
Steen said, "It's an extraordinary company. Most companies only do the
particular source of work of their tribe, whereas in this company they are
representatives of the hundreds of ethnic groups. Each [group] has its own
language, religion, customs and certainly music and dance; in this company we
do it all."
"When [the dancers] join the ballet they are expected to gain an equal
proficiency in the work of every tribe from each of the [four natural regions],
- Highlands, Coastal, Forest and FoutaDjallon. It is a long, arduous process,
one to which, as an artist, you have to be totally dedicated which has made them
very strong." Steen is particularly pleased that such a diverse gfoup can live
and dance together in peace and harmony. He said, "They are a very dynamic
They use stories as the vehicle for the dances to unfold. Steen said, "In the'
show there's dance, music, story-telling, acrobatics, comedy and drama. It's
a very complete show in the sense that the company has maintained a way of
presenting traditional African art forms in a way that remains faithful to the
work, but at the same time recognize that they are not being performed in the"
same way. Instead of a circular dance around a village fire with audience
participation, they are restricted to the confrontational proscenium stage. We
use other ways to create an atmosphere because we don't have children
running around, or a moon, and we can't build a fire on the stage so we use
theatrical techniques - lighting and sound equipment."
In this weekend's program they will be performing a dance called "Silo,"
which means the path of life. It deals with the subjects of respect and initiation.
Steen said, "In Africa it's not quite like it is here. It is very difficult for someone
in African society to allow delinquency. It is considered an affront to society
that one of its members has gone astray. In the West we allow anyone to be
what they want. I'm not saying there isn't delinquency, but there is less than
Western civilization ... There is a kind of discipline and respect in African
society that I think Western society has forgotten."
Steen said the constant travel of the tour is hard, "You've got to be mad to'
do the job I do -but on the road I'm recompensed by the energy they release.
I've seen hundreds of performances and I never grow tired of them. They make'
me feel replenished. I've never has the sensation as I do now as working fore
the entire country. It is a great satisfaction to [the country] that there culture
is being presented at large. I feel privileged to be a part of the company."
The former president Sekou Toure, although strongly criticized for his
governing, shared the vision of the founder of the company, Keita Fodeba, a
Guinean schoolteacher, to present traditional African music and dance to a-
western audience so as to reveal the beauty and richness of African culture.
As Toure said, "The National Troupe is our roving Ambassador, whose
mission is to encourage understanding of Africa with a view to creating the
most favorable conditions for a healthy and fruitful cooperation between
Africa and the rest of the world ... The troupe is a living image of African;*
culture. The foreign audiences that have seen the lives of our people presented
on stage have also seen the veil of false exoticism that envelops our continent
torn asunder and have learned better to understand our men, women and
children ..."
LES BALLETS AFRICAINS will give three performances at the Power
Center, on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 4:00 p.m., and an abbreviated
family matinee on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are available from the
UMS Box Office (764-2538)for $16-$25. $9 Rush Tickets are available at
the Michigan Union Ticket Office and North Campus Commons.

Anthony Giangrande (John Cricket) and Eric Black (Chico) are a hit in "The Rogue's Trial;" the first University production of the year.
A 00
A circus of fun with' ome'
'Come one, come all, hurry up, hurry up, or don't come at all'

Big smiles.
That was what the audience left
with. "The Rogues' Trial" was noth-
ing if not a lot of fun. Ariano
The Rogues' Trial
Trueblood Theater
October 14, 1993
comedy was all the critic's promised
and more.
Jerry Schwiebert's cast took con-
trol of the stage from the first trumpet
blast. In the close and personal atmo-
sphere of the Trueblood theater, the
characters jumped out at and de-
manded the full attention of the audi-

ence. Special mention has to be made
for the actors Anthony Giangrande
(John Cricket) and Eric Black (Chico).
Although the entire cast was remark-
able, these two tied the whole thing
together. They were dependable for a
laugh no matter what.
This is the way the play started,
with a bang. The audience was prom-
ised a circus. Well, that's definitely
what it was, and the actors were
clowns. It tore apart any and all ex-
pectations that one might have of a
Brazilian farce.
Now that brings up an important
point. To classify this production sim-
ply as a Brazilian farce would be a
mistake. Yes, it was a farce, and yes,
it was Brazilian but it was more than
that. Much more.
The play was an outrageous blend

of opposing images. This fact can
easily be attributed to the many dif-
ferent kinds of style that influenced
this playwright.,
Remember "Punch and Judy"
those lovably sadistic puppets that
you watched in your youth? Well, if
you don't, then here's a clue, "Punch
and Judy" are a lot like "The Itchy and
Scratchy Show" on the Simpsons.
Ariano Suassuna produced and di-
rected "Punch and Judy" puppet shows
early in his career. No he wasn't a
delinquent, he was also educated in
the classical forms of theater. These
forms included the English miracle
play, and the Italian commedia
Schweibert, whodirected this pro-
duction, portrayed these differing
styles in effective and entertainment

ways. The costumes, characters and
music were a great contribution in
this sense. So, perhaps you can imag-
ine the end-product of this stylistic
collage. It was a physical, fast-paced
and wildly unpredictable comedy. The
audience was constantly left wonder-
ing what was going to happen next.
And when it happened they were usu-
ally left gasping with laughter.
The playwright was shameless in
his satire, but not with an ounce of
bitterness. The comedy was enchant-
ing. It dealt with social issues that
anyone could follow and relate to. It's
focus on human frailties did not take
away from the humor, in fact it made
it that much more personal. This pro-
duction enabled the audience to have
a hearty laugh at itself and walk away
with a smile.

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Chamber Choir offers tr

Rarely does one have the opportu-
nity to hear the religious musings of a
schizophrenic poet set to the music of
one of the most renowned composers
of this century. Even less are the
chances of hearing 20th-century In-
dian classical music in it's original
Hindi tongue. And to hear both in one
night ? Well, does the saying "once in
a blue moon," mean anything to you?
But Saturday evening's skies may be
graced with such a phenomena, as the
stage of Hill Auditorium welcomes

the University Chamber Choir, for a
concert which promises all this, and
The group, which has 35 mem-
bers, is a much smaller ensemble than
most of the nine other choirs within
the University system, "specializes in
difficult repertoire mostly of the 19th
and 20th century," explained director
Theodore Morrison. As a result of
stringent auditions held at the year's
start, the choir boasts a membership
which is approximately 50 percent
graduate students - many of whom

ue diversity
are training for professional solo ca-
reers. This presents somewhat of a
challenge, blending 35 individually
trained voices, yet also provides an
end-product which is well worth the
The program opens with threefn
German pieces, the first and third, by,,
Brahms and Schumann respectively,
being of a more serious nature, but
Morrison assured that the middle piece
contrast. This second piece is also a
rare opportunity to hear the music of
the female composer, Fanny;
Mendelssohn Hensel, who is often
overshadowed by her famed sibling, 4
Felix. The concert's first half con-
cludes with an Indian piece in Hindi -
See CHAMBER, Page 9

- Pat Collins, WWOR-TV, NEW YORK
- Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE

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