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October 31, 2003 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-31

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i

Friday
October 31, 2003
michigandaily.com
artseditor@mrichigandaily.com

iRTS

5

5

By Lynn Hasslbarth
Daily Arts Writer

Tonight the University Musical Society continues
the celebration of what would have been renowned
choreographer George Balanchine's 100th birthday.
A selection of four works performed by the Suzanne
Farrell Ballet highlights the unique range of musical-
ity and movement within Balan-
chine's choreography. Suzanne
In 1999, Suzanne Farrell Farrell
assembled a small company of Ballet
esteemed dancers to perform
works of the masters of 20th- Friday, October31
century ballet. Since that time, $10 Students
the ensemble has become a ftull- $13.42 Adults
fledged company complete with At the Power Center
24 dancers and a national tour.
Her long history with the New York City Ballet,
along with her intimate relationship with Balanchine,
make her an ideal candidate for the reconstruction of
his most beloved pieces. As company dancer Bonnie
Packard said, "Farrell passes on the etiquette of ballet
history yet respects the personal evolution of dance."
"Mozartiana" will open the per-
formance and introduce Balanchine's
lightheartedness and love of story bal-
lets. The lively score coupled with
delightful peasant costumes make this
piece playful and energetic. Choreo-
graphed for the 1981 Tchaikovsky
Festival in New York City,
"Mozartiana" was one of the last bal- FAR
lets Balanchine created before his
death in April 1983.
The performance continues with "Tempo di
Valse," an excerpt from Balanchine's distinctive por-
trayal of "The Nutcracker." More commonly known
as the "Waltz of the Flowers," the piece is filled with

of Balanchine's choreography is amazing. The logic
makes sense to the body. It's a great experience."
Balanchine's gravitation toward the masters of
classical music continues with "The Tschaikovsky
Pas de Deux." A compelling duet from Act III of
"Swan Lake," this piece highlights the choreograph-
er's affinity for risk and surprise. The two dancers
move in unexpected ways, through challenging lifts
and combinations that span the entire width of the
stage. Pickard notes, "To do these ballets is a gift. It
enriches your life."
Balanchine's constant search for the spectacular
was coupled with a spirit of spontaneity. This is evi-
dent in the performance's closing piece, "Serenade,"
a ballet that was drawn from an impromptu class on
stage technique held in 1934. Dancers begin in "first
position" with an outstretched arm. Their eyes proj-
ect outward and exude a confirmed and chilling pres-
ence. When an additional dancer suddenly enters the
stage, audience members often infer a dramatic sto-
ryline that fits the somber music and dramatic ice-
blue costumes. However, in reality, the single dancer
is a scatter-brained young girl who has arrived late to
Balanchine's 1934 staging rehearsal.
Balanchine relished in the unexpected, which
made life difficult on dancers as well as histori-
ans who have tried to explain the
intent behind his choreography.
However, one particular dancer,
Suzanne Farrell, has an in-depth
understanding of the man behind
the choreography.
A two-day Balanchine symposium
"From the Mariinksy to Manhattan:
HINE George Balanchine and the Transfor-
mation of American Dance" will be
held today from 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
and 2:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30
a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. at Rack-
ham Auditorium. For a complete schedule, visit
www.umichl.edu/~stpetersburg. Admission is free.

Courtesy of
a k fUMS
k. Do you
plan on
paying for
that shirt?
Seductive Russian
tragedy comes to 'U'

By Rachel Berry
For the Daily

More like Swan Fake! Oh yeah.

~ND THE MUS:.
)ANCED ON ..
RELL STAGES ODE TO BALANCI
billowing movement and bright costumes. Composed
of a large ensemble of female dancers, the excerpt
represents the grandeur of the corps de ballet. Com-
pany member Bonnie Pickard said, "The musicality

Re-enter 'The Matrix sequel

When Michael Kondziolka, program-
ming director of the University Musical
Society, witnessed Declan Donnelan's
20th-century-style
production of
Pushkin's "Boris Boris
Godunov" he dis- Godunov
covered what all Oct.29 - Nov.1 at 8
the hype had been p.m., Nov. 1- Nov. 2
about. In the at 2 p.m.
words of the Com- Tickets $35-40
mersant, Don- At the UM Sports
nelan had staged a Ciseum
"Boris Godunov" with "more theatrical-
ity, freedom, insight and vitality" than
ever before. Kondziolka became deter-
mined to bring to Ann Arbor "the most
important theater work by St. Peters-
burg 'Literary Grandfather' Alexander
Pushkin," in honor of the St. Petersburg-
themed semester and the city's 300th
birthday. "It tells the story of the politi-
cal struggles towards the founding of a
national identity for Russia ... a theme
that plays very well with Peter the
Great's similar political intentions for
the founding of St. Petersburg."
Bringing to Ann Arbor an interna-
tional production, set in Russia, with a
50-foot catwalk as a stage and seating
on either side is no small feat. The
simultaneous translation projections
operate very similarly to subtitles at a
foreign film. "Audiences will have
immediate understanding of the works
and actions" said Kondziolka, who

made sure to add that "anyone who is
concerned about seeing this production
because it is in Russian, should be rest
assured that they will have no difficulty
understanding what is happening."
Donnelan has become known for his
ability to create an ensemble. Because
actors constantly come and go and work
primarily in an ensemble, the audience
should focus on the experience and not
on specific individuals.
Inspired by Shakespearean history
plays, Pushkin wrote his only full-
length play, "Boris Godunov" in 1831.
In the years leading up to the opening
scene, Czar Ivan the Terrible dies and
the throne is passed to his son Feodor,
but his brother-in-law, Boris Godunov,
effectively reigns. Relative calm rules
until Dmitry, Ivan's son, turns up dead.
Godunov is quickly implicated.
"Boris" begins in 1598 with the Russ-
ian people imploring Boris Godunov to
take the crown. A few years later a fius-
trated and impatient monk (Grigory)
learns that he is about the same age as
Feodor would have been had he lived,
and determines that if Boris can seize
power, so can he. What ensues is a story
about power hand-over, with money,
corruption, sex, blood and betrayal.
Though traditionally treated as a
tragedy, Pushkin includes many comi-
cal elements that Donellan plays upon.
However, Donellan's direction is far
too insightful to get labeled into nar-
row djamre. He said, "I don't divide
plays into comic and tragic. Great
plays are both. In my 'Boris Godunov'
I tried to tell important things as easily
as possible."

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Writer
The Wachowski Brothers' second
installment in "The Matrix" trilogy
trounced box office records, but failed
to resonate as strongly as the initial
chapter. All of the major players from
the original film return in the epic fight
between man and machine.
Keanu Reeves plays the Superman-
esque Neo, the chosen one to fight for
the freedom of the humans. By having
an unstoppable hero, the action
sequences lose any real sense of danger,
especially the "burly brawl" between

Neo and 100 Agent Smiths. Further-
more, the rave scene in the human set-
tlement of Zion is laughable and idiotic.
The successful parts of the motion
picture stem from the fascinating char-
acters of the Oracle, the Merovingian
and the Architect. The infusion of phi-
losophy about the matrix itself and the
role of Neo enable these subdued roles
to become far more gripping than the
flat main characters.
The DVD captures all of the action in
a near-perfect transfer coupled with a
pristine Dolby-Digital soundtrack.
However, the two disc set lacks interest-
ing features. There is no commentary

track by the enigmatic creators and the
featurettes do little but explore the spe-
cial effects. Luckily, the inclusion of the
hilarious MTV Movie Awards parody is
a stroke of pure genius.
A bloated DVD exacerbates the fatal
flaw of the film, its reliance on plot as
simply a means to demonstrate more
special effects. With the imminent
release of the final act next Wednesday,
fans better hope that the final stand
between mankind and the machines is
something as instantly memorable and
revolutionary as "The Matrix," not as
pedestrian and run-of-the-mill as "The
Matrix Reloaded."

Movie: ***
Picture/Sound: *****
Features: **

I

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