February 11, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com
. .. ..........
School of Music
with unique vitality
By Amanda Andrade
Daily Arts Writer
Arguably the most famous and
beloved play of William Shake-
speare's monumental career,
a fresh retelling Romeo and
from the Uni- Juliet
ment of Theater Tonight and
and Drama. The Saturday
at 8 p.m. and
story of two star- Sunday at 2 p.m.
crossed lovers is $15-$20 Adults
playing through $9 Students
Sunday at the At the Lydia
Lydia Mendels- Mendelssohn Theater
sohn Theater in
the Michigan League. Just in time for
Valentine's Day, the classic tragedy
is being staged as both a love story
and as a reflection on the tempestu-
ous, unrestrained spirit of youth.
For those unfamiliar with the
play, "Romeo and Juliet" follows the
story of its titular characters, who
are descended from families sworn
to hate each other. Seeking to over-
come the feud, the couple plans to
elope. Fate, however, has other plans
for the lovers as coincidence and bad
timing ultimately leads the pair to
Directing the University pro-
duction is Music Prof. Philip Kerr.
Among the many difficult decisions
involved in staging such a well-
known and adored production was
deciding which parts of the lengthy
text to cut. Kerr wanted to maintain
the thematic weight of "Romeo and
Juliet" while shortening the perfor-
mance to two and a half hours. As
a result, the scenes move rapidly,
capturing the frenetic urgency of
the characters and highlighting the
vibrancy of the text.
Adding to that 400-years-strong
vitality are the elaborately choreo-
graphed fight and dance scenes.
"Romeo and Juliet" has one large
Courtesy of University Productions
Chris Allen as Romeo and Anika
Solveig as Juliet in William
Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet."
ball scene and at least two duels, but
these elements are often staged with
some reserve. Kerr promises that
these scenes will be fully rendered
and exciting for the audience in order
to capture the passion of youth.
In undertaking such an iconic pro-
duction - there have been over 20
film adaptations and countless the-
atrical stagings - there is a great
challenge to bring something unique
and surprising to the audience. "I
think any production creates its own
identity," Kerr said. Kerr decided to
focus on the conflict between the
youthful central characters and the
adult world that constrains them to
put his own spin on the work.
The play is staged in fascist
Italy to reinforce these themes of
the adult-centric societal rigidity
against which the young lovers rail.
It's a world in which love and the
independence necessary to declare
one's love without bound, is a revo-
contributed to this report.
Courtesy of UMS
Rennie Harris Puremovement uses hip-hop dance and other media in its productions.
MOVING IN 'MEKKA
DANCE TROUPE PRESENTS HIP-HOP-INSPIRED PROGRAM
By Lynn Hasselbarth
Daily Arts Writer
With his latest creation, "Facing Mekka," Ren-
nie Harris Puremovement doesn't want to impose
one interpretation of his work
on audiences - he wants view-
ers to take what they will from Facing
"Facing Mekka," an explora- Mekka
tion of spiritual and cultural Tonight and
contexts of hip hop that's play- Saturday
ing at the Power Center this at 8 p.m.
weekend. $18-$40 Adults
"Facing Mekka" emerg- $10 Students
es from hip hop's current At the Power Center
social and political environ-
ment of isolation and detachment. The genre
is far removed from its own origins, altered or
exploited by the current demands of the music
industry. Within this context, Harris chooses to
highlight the latent spiritual dimensions of street
hip hop. With a cast of 17 dancers, three vocalists
(including a live beat boxer), live percussion, a
partially recorded sound score and a DJ, "Facing
Mekka" is a highly collaborative collage com-
posed of film, dance and music.
Founded in 1992 by North Philadelphia native
Rennie Harris, the troupe was created as an effort
to preserve and develop the history of hip-hop
dance movement and culture. Through commu-
nity workshops, classes and mentoring programs,
Rennie Harris spread knowledge and appreciation
for this perpetually evolving form of dance.
"I have no specific motivation for this work
other than communication," Harris said. He pre-
fers not to provide a definitive message with his
work. Instead, he argues that to impart - or
worse, to impose - a certain message on audienc-
es is "arrogant." Therefore, Harris primarily draws
from his own experiences as a hip-hop artist.
In the closing solo "Lorenzo's Oil," Harris
reveals a narrative of personal triumph and trag-
edy. While viewers may be compelled to draw
complex conclusions from his striking movements
and kinesthetic vigor, Harris calls on audiences for
nothing more than honest connection and acknowl-
edgment, to recognize simply that "the work itself
is a healing process for me."
Harris is skeptical about the categorization of
dance forms. Most recently he has worked to draw
out a variety of levels within his own choreogra-
phy, consciously blending fluid movements with
the more aggressive gestures commonly associat-
ed with hip hop. When asked about the integration
of Japanese Butoh dance with the rigid contor-
tions of popping, Harris declared, "Combining
is not a truth. Instead, I make connections. I am
Harris's dissatisfaction with current codifica-
tions for dance is reflected in his dismissal of the
dance term "pop and lock," which originated dur-
ing the early 1980s breakdancing craze and has
been used recently by MTV pop artists. Harris
argues that no such dance style exists; instead,
he recognizes each entity separately. Popping is
connoted by contracting muscles while the term
"lock" can be traced to the 1970s, when a form of
this of social dance was developed by Don Camp-
bell and the "Lockers."
Rather than categorize his own dance forms,
Harris instead asks audiences to experience "ener-
gy, color, passion and craftsmanship ... It's about
just responding to your own needs."
humor with Mozart
Encompass show unites
By Jessica Koch
For the Daily
Last night on the Rackham stage
was a scene directly out of the 18th
century. A small
with a large
At Rackham Auditorium
raised their instruments and filled
the room with music beginning the
Netherlands Wind Ensemble's pro-
gram, "Mail from Mozart."
Throughout the month of Febru-
ary, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble
has toured America with their highly
successful "Mail from Mozart" pro-
gram. So far, the tour has brought
the group to many stops, includ-
ing Houston, Kansas City and Ann
Arbor, where they haven't played
The ensemble currently features
soloists from the Royal Concert-
gebouw Orchestra, the Rotterdam
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Philharmonic, the Netherlands
radio orchestras and the Residentie
Orchestra of The Hague.
Their performance in Rackham
featured the rare Mozart Serenade
No. 10, also known as the "Gran
Partita." Considered to be one of the
greatest pieces written for winds,
"Gran Partita" beautifully combines
the timbres of 13 instruments, includ-
ing four horns and double bass.
The ensemble played with a sur-
prisingly powerful sound, making
it hard to believe that only 13 musi-
cians were on stage. In contrast to
their full sound, the musicians kept
complete control over the deli-
cate melodies of the two Menuetto
movements. The group displayed a
complete mastery of Mozart's style
and technique while maintaining
a distinct communication with one
another during the performance.
With each phrase, the music ebbed
and flowed, filling the auditorium
with rich, resonant tones.
True to their adventurous style,
the Netherlands Winds added a
touch of theater to their perfor-
mance, with narrator and princi-
pal oboist Bart Schneeman reading
This Sunday, the Power Center will be
overtaken with multicultural rhythms.
Encompass, one of the University's
host its seventh
tion at 7:30 p.m.
As in past years,
will feature dance
$5 in advance at MUTO
$8 at the door
At the Power Center
Courtesy of UMS
The Netherlands Wind Ensemble brings together soloists from different
professional orchestras in the Netherlands.
By Christina Hildreth
Daily Arts Writer
ferent groups that it's nice to be able to
come together and bring all those differ-
ent cultures together."
Featured acts include poetry by
TheCypher, dance groups EnCore, Ara-
besque and Cornrows. The a capella
group 58 Greene will perform, along
with dance groups from Persian, Viet-
namese, Korean and Greek student cul-
Farokhrani said the two-hour show is
meant to be a casual, yet exciting celebra-
tion of cultural diversity and acceptance
"The idea behind (the show) is that we
are not trying to promote professionalism
as far as acting or dancing or singing on
stage. What we are promoting is that you
are coming to get a taste of the (various
cultures)," Farokhrani said.
He added that the unique emphasis of
Encompass in showcasing performance
groups that are in themselves diverse
allows for more cultural communication.
"(We are) giving and sharing each oth-
er's diversity and understanding and not
necessarily having to be affiliated blood-
wise to that culture," he said.
The majority of the proceeds from
this year's show will be donated to the
University's tsunami relief effort.
selections of Mozart's letters to his
father and sister. After the opening
movement, Largo-allegro molto,
Schneeman donned the famous wig,
sat at the small table and was trans-
figured into a young Mozart. Sch-
neeman's slight verbal alterations
to the letters created a spontane-
ous and amusing take on Mozart's
world. Schneeman's witty and
humorous narration, combined with
the delightful playing of the winds
gave the audience a lighthearted
view of the 18th century. As each
movement unfolded, the audi-
ence learned more of Mozart's life
through the letters written by the
great composer to his family. The
audience was presented with differ-
ent stages of Mozart's life, listening
as he transformed from a young boy
into an iconic musical figure.
With the combination of Schnee-
man's charm and the musical preci-
sion and talent of the Netherlands
Wind Ensemble created an enter-
taining performance and a worthy
tribute to Mozart.
groups, singing and spoken-word poetry
presentations from more than 16 groups.
Touted as one of the biggest and most
diverse multicultural shows on campus,
Encompass promises to be "festive, cul-
tural and entertaining," said Engineering
junior Amin Farokhrani, a member of the
planning committee for the event.
LSA senior Jeff Mutuc, who is per-
forming in two different sections of the
show, said, "(During) second semester,
everyone has their cultural show, but this
is the only opportunity to have so many
diverse groups. There's just so many dif-
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