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April 03, 1995 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-04-03

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Let's All Jam for RAM ...
RAM (RaInforest Aptoin Movement)'s annual Rainforest Benefit
once'again appears at the Blind Pig tonight, Not only is the "RAM
Jam" for an excellent caseyouu can't beat the bill: The down and
dirty funk of Ann Arbor's favorite, The Bucket, and the modem rock of
Pete. Moss and the Fingis. Save the rainforest and have a good time
doing it. Call 996-8555 for more information.

w om"No.

Page 5
Monday,
Anil A 1995r

.................

. _. _

April . 21 lFM
Philip Glass finds new beauty in the 'Beast' .

F

By Brian Wise
G aily Arts Writer
Opera and film are essentially two
sides of the same coin. In their classic
definitions, both are grand forms of
entertainment based on the talent and
resources of countless writers, actors,
directors, designers, technicians and
musicians. Provided the right formula,
these ingredients blend into a capti-
vating whole, drawing upon the nar-

composer most identified with
minimalism -- to accept this invita-
tion.
At the Michigan Theater tonight,
Glass will present his latest project,
which uses Jean Cocteau's classic
1946 film, "La Belle et la Bete" as
the basis for a complete opera. Audi-
ences witness the screenplay in its
original form, but with one excep-
tion -- the original dialogue and
soundtrack are replaced with newly
composed music by Glass. This is
performed live by his seven-piece
keyboard and wind ensemble along
with four vocalists and conductor
Michael Riesman. Consequently, the
fixed medium of film suddenly be-
comes interpretable.
"With my adaptations of the
Cocteau works, I've been able to
reinterpret them, which is something
previously unheard of," Glass ex-
plained. "For example, we always
reinterpret opera by staging old clas-
sics in new, daring and interesting
ways. Film has resisted that impulse,
because it is a mechanical medium
that doesn't admit to interpretation.
Now for the first time it does."
Interpretation, he said, exists pri-
marily in the aspects of characteriza-
tion.
"We've always talked about what
a beautiful film 'La Belle' is visu-

ally. Now we're looking at in a slightly
different way -in terms of the char-
acters in the film - so the emphasis
has shifted.
The story is an adaptation of the
familiar fairy tale of la Belle, who is
hated by her two homely sisters,
Felicie and Adelaide, and struggles to
garner love from her ineffectual fa-
ther. When Dad is taken prisoner by a
hideous beast, she offers herself as a
surrogate, then through the power of
love, she transfigures her captor into
a handsome prince.
In Glass's rendering, the multiple
roles in the film are played by the four
vocalists, who are situated on differ-
ent leveled platforms in front of the
screen. Their sung texts have to match
the lip movements of the actors on the
screen, and when combined with the
subtitles, synchronization becomes a
precise science. Herein lies some of
the novelty of "La Belle."
"In the past I've collaborated with
filmmakers, but this film was a given,"
said Glass, referring particularly to
his soundtracks to Geodfrey Reggio's
"Koyaanisqatsi" (1983) and
"Powaqqatsi" (1988).
Both of those films relied on a
close connection between visual im-
agery and music, but they did not
have the added complication of dia-
logue. Other works by Glass have

combined images, text, and music in
similar ways, including his 1975 epic
opera, "Einstein on the Beach", and
recent collaborations with Allen
Ginsberg ("Hydrogen Jukebox") and
David Henry Hwang, ("1000 Air-
planes on the Roof.")
"La Belle et la Bete" is the sec-
ond in a trilogy of films by Cocteau
that Glass is in the process of adapt-
ing. With last year's "Orphde," Glass
used the screenplay of the 1949 film
as a libretto for an opera with new
music, sets and staging. "Les Enfants
Terribles," the last of the trilogy
and due later this year, will be an
effort at incorporating dance, film
and opera.
This versatility between mediums
presents a striking (and not coinci-
dental) parallel between Glass and
Cocteau. Like Glass, Cocteau was
drawn to collaborations, beginning
with his 1917 ballet "Parade," which
featured music by Eric Satie and sets
by Pablo Picasso. He frequently stood
at the forefront of Parisian art circles,
as a novelist, artist, playwright and
filmmaker, favoring an experimen-
tal, fantastic approach to classic
themes, as demonstrated by "La
Belle."
Glass doesn't believe his version
contradicts Cocteau's sensibilities.
"With this trilogy," he explained, "I've

rative devices of the fiction novel or
short story and the prose of image and
music.
Despite their similarities, opera
and film have never proven to be
entirely compatible art forms, even in
an age of eclecticism, boundary blur-
ring and mixed media. So the pros-
pect for some grand alliance is invit-
ing, and leave it to Philip Glass - a

After conquering Einstein, Philip Glass has moved on to the Beast.

done something that wasn't done be-
fore and wasn't anticipated by him.
But because it wasn't anticipated

tion. Having performed the piece more
than 40 times now, (the ensemble) is
at another level of performance, where
we're really into interpretation."

doesn't mean that it's not a contribu-

'Showtime' offered a night of variety and laughter

By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
Prior to his company's, Black Folks
Productions, fifth and final presenta-
tion of the school year, University se-
nior Horace Sanders promised that this
show, unlike the previous four, would
Showtime at
Michigan
RC Auditorium
April 1, 1995
begin on time at the scheduled hour of
7:30 p.m. Since the event occurred on
April Fool's Day, Sanders must have
been getting early practice as it began
(as expected) an hour late.
But, good things come to those who
wait, right? In this case, half right. The
first annual "Showtime at Michigan,"
which was put on in the tight-fitting RC
Auditorium of East Quad, was a mix-

ture of the very good, the fairly bad and
every possibility in-between.
The night began with Sanders, serv-
ing as host, trying to lighten up what he
called more than once a "tough crowd."
The show also included two perfor-
mances by three members ofDa' Stable.
Rapper Harold Edwards was perhaps
the most notable onstage. His smooth-
flowing, academic style sported an
amazing quantity of verbal plays. Guest
singer Kenya Payne came out with the
group during their final performance;
her musical rapping, was da bomb.
Veteran comic and Detroit native,
Skeeter Murrie, was the true show
stealer. Murrie, whose routines have
been performed on BET's Comic View
Live and HBO's Def Comedy Jam, was
more than a match for this tough crowd.
He wanted everyone to understand his
personal philosophy about being Black
in America: "I love my people. I just
don't like our treatment."
As "Showtime at Michigan" was
structured after the famous "Showtime

at the Apollo" in Harlem, it comes as no
surprise that the night also featured an
amateurcontest, withl0contestants.A
tie was declared between the saxophone
duo of Rashod Welch and Richard Mack
and pianist/vocalist Kafi Karega.
These two acts were the winning
two, but they by far weren't the only
good ones.
Working his vocal skills to the Isley
Brothers' "Between the Sheets," rapper
Jaavon Kuykingdahl made a good im-
pression. The one downside of his per-
formance was its longevity. Competi-
torHenry Jackson avoided this pitfall in
his promise to "flow for'em." He deliv-
ered, his faster-paced lyrics flowing
consistently throughout. Deborah
Chenault's performance of "You Give
Good Love" drew praise in her favor.
Of course, not every act was to the
audience's liking. Fortunately,
"Showtime at Michigan" featured its
own "Sandman," William "Nook"
Dubose, decked out in an afro wig and
carrying the famous broom. His only

victim of the night was Adero
Fleming. Her attempt at performing
TLC's "Creep" alone was almost
bound to get booed, and it did.
"ShowtimeatMichigan" was agood
first-time production. Though there
were some dull moments, the show as a
whole was put together well. Sanders
has done a great job this entire school
year coordinating and appearing in a
plethora of student comedy produc-
tions. "Showtime at Michigan" was to
serve as a summit of those accomplish-
ments. Whether or not this production
was a "summit" is in the eye of the
beholder, but the amount of work that
went into producing this show must be
acknowledged and applauded. Whether
or not "Showtime at Michigan" lived
up to expectations is an individual deci-
sion, but it can be hoped that people will
be sympathetic and appreciative towards
Sanders', and all his associates', at-
tempts to bring moreBlack productions
to a campus that has been pitifully lack-
ing for some time.

Rapper Harold Edwards performed at 'Showtime at Michigan.'

Dance students make 'Opposing Forces' beautiful

__j

U. ~EI

.

By B. Tubbs
For the Daily
Saturday was the closing night for
"Opposing Forces," the MFA Dance
Thesis Concert in the Dance Building
studio. There were seven dances cho-
reographed by four University Gradu-
ate Students: David Genson, Ruth
Leney-Midkiff, Kristen Lightbody
Opposing
Forces
MFA Dance
Thesis Concert
Dance Building Studio
April 1, 1995
and Darby Wilde.
The first of the seven dances be-
gan with an unconventional rush of
narrative energy. The dances choreo-
phed by Darby Wilde and David
enson incorporated athleticism and
youthful exuberance. In "P.U.L.S.E."
and "Cross The Water" the dancers
also interjected vocal elements, which
enhanced the themes of sexual rela-
tionships and coming of age. At times,

the dances became too obvious, ap-
parently to make the concepts more
readable to the audience.
In a more traditional vein, Kristen
Louis Lightbody's solo, "Echo In My
Soul" was a very melodic piece set to
music by Yanni. Another dance she
created was "Logic of Fear," per-
formed by five dancers accompanied
by rhythmic drumming. The dynamic
energy between various teams of danc-
ers bolted diagonally down stage and
the angular patterns revealed a heavy
influence ofBill De Young, similar to
his awesome work the "Firebird
Suite."
With more originality, Ruth
Leney-Midkiff designed the last two
dances, "Ararat" and "Tributaries."
These two passionate performances
came off with professional bril-
liance. The solo "Ararat" was cho-
reographed to traditional Armenian
music and reflected both the plea-
sures and pains of a culture. The
expressionistic movements con-
veyed beautifully the emotional life
of an Armenian woman. With looser
interpretation, "Tributaries" was
composed of four pieces. The only
way to describe this dance was mag-
nificent. Leney-Midkiff deserves

every penny of the funding awarded
by the Horace H. Rackham Disser-
tation / Thesis Grant.
"Opposing Forces" was a defi-
nite refresher. The combination of

traditional dance and daring chore-
ography was an intriguing experi-
ence for those who witnessed it. For
those who missed it, I can only say,
"too bad."

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