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February 08, 1999 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-08

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earch for a missing bike
8 "The Bicycle Thief" appears at the Michigan Theater. Vittorio
De Sica's film of a man and boy's search for a bicycle will be
shown in Italian with English subtitles. 4:10 p.m.

ftawtiomowu
A1 TS

Tomorrow in Daily Arts:
Check out Breaking Records for a review of Sugar Ray's
new album.
Monday
February 8, 1999

Cunningham creates dynamic dance

By Anna Kovalszki
Fine and Performing Arts Editor
Merce Cunningham has been performing for 60 years. And still his
choreography, which has been invented for about 50 years, remains
dynamic. Through his dance company, he exhibits the always chang-
ing elements that make his pieces so sought in the world of dance.
e uses many forms of media in his creations. LifeForms, a com-
ter used to examine body in motion, gives him chance encounters
with the body viewed from many angles. Music becomes part of a
piece only by chance as well, since he does not begin to incorporate
it until the movements have been established. Art, and even cos-

14

''
*

Merce
Cunningham
*Dance Co.
Power Center
Feb. 12-13, 1999

tumes, are also developed in isolation, only
meeting with the other two after all aspects
have been carefully examined. How the differ-
ent parts of the overall piece somehow meld, is
art in itself
Merce Cunningham will bring his work to
Ann Arbor on Friday and Saturday night. It is
the Company's first appearance in Ann Arbor
since 1971. The excitement surrounding it, how-
ever, is not lacking by any means.
The extensive residency will feature lec-
tures, family workshops, dance master classes,
art classes, open rehearsals and exhibits. These
programs will invade and take over the Ann
Arbor Art Center, the Power Center Lobby, the
University Dance Building, the Institute for

Freebury explained that the computer program, LifeForms, has
allowed Cunningham to view the use of arms in a different way. He
conceives of the movements, with the aid of LifeForms, in a certain
order. "He writes the movements down specifically, examining the
legs and feet first, and adds the arms later," Freebury said. There is no
improvisation by the dancers, but a rather specific program is invent-
ed by Cunningham.
Of the use of art and costumes, Freebury stated they are an integral
part of the pieces, of course conceived separately. "Commes des
Garcons created costumes with protruberances, which change the
shape of the body. At first they seem unbelievable and clownlike, but
then the audience gets used to seeing it. This adds a lot to how you see
the piece, and music often has the atmosphere."
The music, whether soft and mellow, or loud and energetic, offers a
tone for the piece, Freebury said. Among the four events that have led
to large discoveries in his work, Merce Cunningham has identified
John Cage as one of them. In Cage's work with Cunningham, they sep-
arated the music from the dance. Using "rhythmic structure" time
lengths were agreed upon as beginning and ending structure points
between the two elements. This gave a greater feeling of freedom to
the dance, and the note-by-note procedure commonly used was
reformed.
The other three elements are chance, camera and computer.
Chance discovers the continuity between many phrases conceived
earlier, creating the piece. The camera assists with technical ele-
ments, especially in their reconsideration. The computer, as already
mentioned, allows shape and movement of form to be examined,
with many sequences of movements viewed from different angles to
aid in the choreography.
Aside from the technical, Cunningham's work is in effect an exer-
cise in freedom. By not seeking to control each element of his pieces
and not subordinating them, Cunningham allows the distinctiveness of
each part to effect the conception of the piece.
The reconciliation of this element seems most important to
Freebury's conception of her work with the Company. "It is challeng-
ing, interesting, and the people are wonderful to work with."

Related Events:
Lobby exhibit- Through Feb. 14, Power
Center Lobby. Art from the Ann Arbor
Public Schools, inspired by Merce
Cunningham.
Art lecture- Feb. 8, 7 p.m., Ann Arbor
Art Center. ~Costume and Image:
Form? Function? Funky?" 994-8004
x101.
Brownbag lunch- Feb. 9, 2 p.m., the
University's institute for the
Humanities. On John Cage's Cartridge
music
Master of arts interview- Feb. 11, 7
p.m.. University Dance Building, Betty.
Pease Studio. Choreographer erce
Cunningham interviewed by Roger
Copeland, with video clips.
Computers and choreography- Feb.
12, 9 a.m., U-M Media Union. Design
Lab 1. Discussion and demo of the
LifeForms computer software.
PREP- Feb.,12, 7 p.m., MLB Lec.1.
Company archivist David Vaughan
leads video discussion of
Cunningham's works.
Study day and open rehearsal- Feb. 13,
1 p.m., Power Center. Company
archivist leads discussions of
Cunningham and his collaborators'
works at an open rehearsal. 647-6712
PREP- Feb. 13, 7 p.m., Michigan
League Hussey Room. Company
archivist leads a video discussion of
Cunningham's works.

A

Humanities and lecture rooms across campus.
-Merce Cunningham's dance program includes a partnership

Courtesy of Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Dancers strike a pose in "Sounddance."

Wween the many facets of the audio-visual and performance arts. more interested in movement,' Freebury said. "It speaks for itself, the
This aspect also gives an element of surprise and anticipation to his music is separated from the dance, and the sets are designed separate-
repertoire, something which draws audiences from all disciplines. ly as well. In the end, it all comes together."
Jean Freebury, a Michigan native and dancer in the Company, said, Of rehearsals, Freebury stated that they are conducted in silence.
"Merce Cunningham is more interested in shapes and abstract forms "We get cued off of each other, and make the movements through syn-
than the drama of a piece." Of course, that becomes part of our inter- cronisity in timing."
pretation, but the narrative is not the starting point for a piece. "He is Technology has been a major aspect in Merce Cunningham's work.
Razzmatazz! dazzled withj

azz

'Book' hits the mark

By Jenni Glenn
Daily Arts Writer
The University Dance Company's
annual winter performance dazzled
its audience, making people consider
the meaning of the various dances.
"Razzmatazz!" showcased four mod-
ern dance pieces with a jazz focus,
ranging in tone from intense to easy-
*g.
Waves of color
and music char-
N. r acterized
"Aquarium,"
Evelyn Velez-
RaZZlmatazz- . Aguayo's contri-
bution on the
Power Center impact of the
Feb. 4-7, 1999 ocean on Latin
American cul-
ture. A shower
curtain placed
between the
audience and
many of the col-
orfully attired
dancers provided an aura of mys-
tique. Other aspects seemed very real
in contrast, such as when the shower
curtain was pulled back to reveal a
girl standing in a kiddie pool shower-
i? under a watering can.
Wquarium" dancers used a lot of
gymnastic tricks such as somersaults

with two people and gliding across
the stage like inchworms. They par-
ticularly impressed with their agile
trapeze tricks. While other dancers
performed right next to them, people
on the trapeze controlled every move-
ment perfectly while making it seem
spontaneous.
The music also contained the
impromptu mood, with jazzy synco-
pation and slow piano movements
intertwined. Music Prof. Edward
Sarath's eight-piece jazz ensemble
gave his score true class.
In the next dance, puppets and
maze backgrounds marked the indi-
viduality of "Passageways," choreo-
graphed by dance department Chair
Gay Delanghe. Using three-foot tall
silver and black puppets, the first
movement retold the story of Theseus
and the Minotaur, with an especially
dramatic death of Icarus.
The other two movements used the
idea of the maze in other ways. The
second movement featured a floor
mat maze that put images on a video
screen, while dancers clad in silver
togas formed the maze in the last
movement. The electronic score by
faculty composer Stephen Rush, par-
ticularly at the end, completely
absorbed the audience in the dance's
growing intensity.

Whoopi Goldberg
Book
Avon Books
Chris Rock did it. Tim Allen did it.
Jerry Seinfeld did it. Why can't
Whoopi Goldberg do it? The rash of
comedians who have published
books, hoping they would be as funny
and successful as their television
shows and stand-up acts has now
spread to Goldberg.
Goldberg's collection of hilarious
monologues, "Book," has hit the
mark where others' efforts have
failed. Goldberg has given her readers
a big piece of political fat on which to
chew. Rather than confining her writ-
ing to repetitions of her stand-up act,
Goldberg has turned her comic wit
and sharp tongue to observations on
politics, people and even herself.
Goldberg gives her chapters names
like "Fate," "Eggs;' "Need" and
"Flock," leaving each chapter open
for her intelligent segues into
Whoopi-world. In "Trust," Goldberg
humorously looks at Clinton's alleged
marital infidelities, concluding that,
"Just because a guy gets his tip wet
once in a while, it doesn't make him a
bad president."
Goldberg's flippancy, however, is
not constant. When discussing her
reasons for supporting the pro-choice
agenda, Goldberg relates the story of
her own 14-year-old pregnant daugh-
ter. Goldberg had initially assumed
her daughter would have an abortion,

and was surprised when she
announced her intentions to keep and
raise her child. "The first piece was a
shock" writes Goldberg, "and this
latest was off the fucking Richter
scale." Goldberg is forced to face her
own assumptions about the pro-
choice movement and uses her
comedic prose as a way to cope.
Goldberg also examines such
heady social issues as sex, AIDS,
drive-by shootings, racial stereotypes,
and her well-defended choice to
refuse to be labeled an "African-
American." She also knows her lim-
its; in the chapter entitled "Love" all
Goldberg decides to say is, "Ain't it
grand?" before moving onto more
social criticisms with "Race."
Ultimately, it is Goldberg's quirks
that endear her to the reader -a hard
task after statements like "Call me an
asshole, call me a blowhard, but don't
call me an African American."
Humility, apparently, is one of
Goldberg's stronger traits. Without
these glimpses into her personal life,
Goldberg's humor and opinions
could easily land as flat as her less-
successful predecessors. She doesn't
profess to be a writer, but her infec-
tious spirit and genuine sense of con-
nection to her audience push the
book further than the polish of a
ghost-writer could have done. With
her Book, Goldberg proves her
adherence to the African proverb that
opens it: "It's not what you call me,
but what I answer to."
-Amy D. Hayes

Dancers interpret "An American in Paris."
The tension-filled "Delirium
Waltz" indeed made the viewer dizzy
with its intensity. Recalling a young
man's life, the dance was based on a
poem by Mark Strand, former U.S.
Poet Laureate. As the narrator chant-
ed hypnotically, a ballroom full of
people in evening clothes twirled

through a meaningless, endless party.
In spite of the narrator's attempts
to break the cycle, in the end the
vapid partygoers still surround him.
As he sees the waiting couples
around him, his questioning, "Why?"
merely grows louder. This tension
proved to be an act impossible to fol-
low.
Although listed as the headlining
section of the show, dance master
Cliff Keuter's revamped version of
Gershwin's "An American in Paris"
offered too much change from the
pattern of the previous dances. The
carefree story about a love triangle
hardly challenged the intellect the
way the other pieces did. The story
left no room for individual interpreta-
tion and seemed trite following the
more abstract, profound dances.
In spite of this ending disappoint-
ment, however, the talent of the
dancers came across clearly.
Universally, the dancers reflected the
intensity of the first three dances.
They timed the synchronized move-
ments perfectly and drew out every
gesture. Each face portrayed
immense emotion.
The cast's ability and the imagina-
tion of the various choreographers
combined to make "Razzmatazz!" a
real success, one audiences will
return to year after year.

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The dance "Passageways" used a maze background and puppets to tell the story of Theseus and the Minotaur.

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