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February 11, 2011 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2011-02-11

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8 - Friday, February 11, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Hardcore ski cinema

Polish pianist plays A2

Ski porn comes to
Michigan with 'The
Way I See It'
DailyArts Writer
Ann Arbor has always been
known as a supportive environ-
ment for off-the-grid films and
filmmakers. And
tomorrow, as a
fundraiser for the The Way
Projectorhead I See It
film series from
the University's Tomorrow
Department of at 8 p.m.
Screen Arts and MichiganTheater
Cultures, the $15
Michigan Theater
will play host to
the latest entry in the ever-grow-
ing genre of ski porn.
Wait a minute. Ski porn?
"People in the Midwest and East
don't know that term," said SAC
department chair Markus Nornes,
who organized Saturday's screen-
ing and will be handing out swag
to audience members beforehand.
"But in the West, where I come
from, that's what everybody calls
ski documentaries."
Nornes, an avid skier and native
of Fort Collins, Colo., specializes in
documentary study and bills him-
self as the only ski porn scholar in
the world. Of course, around here,
he has to make sure to clarify
himself when usingtheterm. 4-
"Everyone has their clothes
on, and in fact they
have so many clothes
that you usually can't
tell the girls from the
boys," Nornes said. But \
people in Michigan don't
understand his passion.
One Detroit ski club called
him to clarify there wasn'te
any unseemly material in the
movie before committing to ,
Films in the ski porn genre con-
sist almost entirely of professional

athletes skiing and performing
tricks in exotic locations. Its roots
go as far back as the '40s, when the
genre's godfather, Warren Miller,
started filming his friends turn-
ing tricks on the slopes so he could
study their technique. But he found
that his videos had an eager audi-
ence when screened in ski towns,
so Miller took his work on tour and
began churning out ski documen-
taries at an incredibly prolific rate,
camping out by the slopes when he
wasn't filming.
Though Miller was the original
ski pornographer, and his name-
sake production studio is still con-
sidered a name brand for extreme
ski videos, other companies have
risen to prominence in the last
decade. These include Matchstick
Productions, based in Crested
Butte, Colo., which is responsible
for tomorrow's film selection, "The
Way I See It."
So those looking for "Deep
Throat" in the snow will be disap-
pointed. But what makes the image
of people sailing through the air on
skis so compulsively watchable?
"If you ski, it's transfixing, you
know? You can't take your eyes off
it," Nornes said. "And if you go to
the theater, people are yelling and
screaming and shouting out. If
someone crashes, you hear every-
body going'Aah!"'
In Nornes's research, he's
found that certain pathways in
the brain - called "mirror neu-

rons" - light up when the subject
performs certain activities, acting
as pleasure centers. And for some-
one who finds, say, the act of skiing
pleasurable, even watching other
people ski will activate those same
"Just watching someone grace-
fully go down the mountain is
bliss," Nornes said.
Outfits like Matchstick Produc-
tions have the added benefit of
showingski action from all over the
world, including the most treach-
erous terrain from Japan, Swit-
zerland, British Columbia, Alaska
and the American West. So it's a
vicarious experience for those ski-
ers who will never have the chance
to hit those faraway slopes them-
selves. And the advent of YouTube,
with its multitudes of amateur ski
pornographers, has only increased
interest in the professionally made
During the year, Projectorhead
screens a wide variety of films
- everything from the "Lord of.
the Rings" movies to "West of the
Tracks," a nine-hour documentary
about Chinese industrial workers.
So a ski porn selection actually fits
right into the organization's mold.
And there's enough of a fanbase
for the genre in Ann Arbor to war-
rant the screening - it's a common
stop on the world tours of Warren
Miller films.
Though Nornes could go on dis-
secting the development of genre
aesthetics over ski porn's history-
includingthe mixtures of film and
hi-def video and Match-
stick's innovative use of
helicopters - on Sat-
urday, he'll be content
simply to kick back and
watch other people ski.
"I'm getting excited
just talking about it,"
he said.

eye i
an e
the c
the f
ish p
on Su

By JOE CADAGIN "Chopin is very close to me -
Daily Fine Arts Editor one of my favorite composers,"
Blechacz said. "Thanks to Cho-
late October 2005, every pinI can play all over the world,
n the classical music world especially since my winning.
turned toward Warsaw, the Chopin Competition five
nd as years ago. And, of course, his
15th IechaC music is very close to me - to
R-C my personality, I think. It's full
nal Tonight at 8 p.m. of emotions, a lot of interesting
in and Sunday at 4 p.m. technical aspects and a lot of
pe- colors and shades of sound."
n _ Hill Auditorium and Blechacz went on to say
vent Rackham Auditorium that being Chopin's compa-
has From $10 triot helped him interpret the
ched composer's Polish-influenced
areers of many young pia- works, especially the mazurkas
- declared its winner. For and polonaises. Yet Blechacz
irst time in 30 years, a Pol- also pointed out that non-Poles
ianist received first prize. have championed Chopin's
winner, then 20-year-old compositions.
I Blechacz, impressed the "I must say that there are alot

revitalize interest in lesser-
known Polish composer Karol
Szymanowski. Born in 1882,
Szymanowski found inspira-
tion in Polish folk music and
the works of Chopin. Before
his death in 1937, pzymanowski
produced a large body of work
that included four symphonies
and two violin concertos.
"Unfortunately, his pieces
are not so popular (worldwide)
and not so popular in Europe -
not even in Poland," Blechacz
said. "So I'm happy that I can
play his music during recitals
around the world."
Last month, Blechacz record-
ed two of Szymanowski's works,
including the composer's Piano
Sonata No. 1 in C minor, which
he plans to play at Friday's recit-

es to such an extent that no
nd prize was awarded. The
nd-coming virtuoso will
Ann Arbor by storm this
end with a solo recital on
ay and a chamber concert
rn in the Polish town of

Naklo nad Noteci4, Blechacz
began studying the piano at five
years old. As a child, Blechacz
gained a deep love of music
from listening to organ music at
"I was very fascinated by
organ music, and I wanted to
be an organist - not a pianist,"
Blechacz said in a recent phone
interview with The Michigan
Daily. "My memories from my
childhood are connected with
going to church and listening to
the organ. But, of course, when I
started piano lessons, I realized
that this is the right instrument
for me and I wanted to be a pia-
Blechacz is part of a long-
standing tradition of Polish pia-
nists that includes greats like
Krystian Zimerman, Arthur
Rubenstein and Frederic
Chopin, whose works made
Blechacz's name world-famous.

of pianists who are not Polish, al.
but they play Chopin's music "It's a very big piece in four
very well," he said. "Martha movements," Blechacz said.
Argerich is from Argentina and "There's a lot of expression in
Maurizio Pollini is an Italian this piece - a lot of beautiful
pianist. So they are not Polish, melodies, a lot of interesting
but their interpretation is abso- harmony and wonderful modu-
lutely great." lations. SoI think that the audi-
ence will love this piece."
Besides recording and per-
Rafal Blechacz forming, Blechacz finds time to
fit in university classes in his
to tickle the home country.
I started to study philoso-
ivories twice. phy of music at Copernicus
University," he said. "I'm very
interested in the aesthetics and
philosophy of music ... Of course
For his UMS recital debut this isn't a regular study with
at Hill Auditorium on Friday, regular lessons, because it's not
Blechacz has included four of possible when I travel a lot. But
Chopin's works on the program. between my concerts, I can do
In addition, the pianist will join it."
acclaimed string sextet Con- At this early stage in
certante this Sunday at Rack- Blechacz's blossoming career,
ham Auditorium for a chamber Ann Arbor audiences will have
performance of Chopin's Piano a unique opportunity to witness
Concerto No. 1. The pianist said an emerging classical music
Sunday's concert will mark his superstar. As a young Pole,
first collaboration with Concer- Blechacz has helped to spread
tante and also his first perfor- the music of his homeland to a
mance of the chamber version wider audience. Who says that
of Chopin's concerto. the only things that come from
Blechacz has also helped to Poland are pierogies and polka?

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