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April 07, 2011 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 3B

Good girl, bad girl, great art

My big, fat,
Greek finale

By ERIN STEELE Prince Siegfried falls for the pure,
Daily Arts Writer virginal white swan Odette, who
appears to him in human form
According to the popular nurs- only by night. Later, the prince
ery rhyme, little girls are made of is drawn in by the black swan
two things: sugar and spice. This Odile's mysterious and seduc-
dichotomized perception of femi- tive behavior. Both swans look
ninity has pervaded American exactly the same aside from their
culture for years and leaves girls white and black tutus. Both are
hanging somewhere in between equally beautiful, and both roles
two ideals - it's bad to be a goody- are typically danced by the same
two-shoes, but it's just as unsa- ballerina. Each one has what the
vory to be promiscuous. Despite other one doesn't - the two are
being composed in 1876, Tchai- polar opposites on the scale of
kovsky's ballet "Swan Lake" can femininity. Because the typi-
be viewed as a commentary on cal ending of the ballet is tragic,
modern society's contradictory with either Odette and Siegfried
standards for females. drowning themselves in the lake
or Siegfried being unwillingly
tricked into marrying Odile, it's
'Swan Lake never really clear who wins.
Of course, anyone who's seen
still s inring. "Black Swan" has seen the central
si tension of the ballet mimicked in
the unlikely friendship-gone-sour
of the sheltered Nina (Natalie
The plot is essentially a glam- Portman), and the black swan-like
orized, fairytale version of the Lily, whose reckless ways make
inner conflict guys experience for an edgier, dangerous persona.
when finding the right girl. This same idea has capti-
There's the girl you bring home vated audiences of different
to mom and the girl you don't. media across generations. A few

years after the debut of "Swan
Lake," Thomas Hardy published
the literary classic "Tess of the
d'Urbervilles," in which the sweet
and virginal Tess is taken advan-
tage of by a wealthy neighbor and
becomes shunned by her com-
munity after having his child.
Tess lives in a place where there
is no middle ground: One either
conforms to society's standards
of purity, or one becomes perma-
nently marked with sin. Unable to
reconciletwoextremes, Tess ends
up being hanged for the murder
of her neighbor. Though the plot
isn't identical to "Swan Lake," it
deals with the idea that an inabil-
ity to balance the two aspects of
femininity can end tragically.
Fast forward about 100 years,
and you have the smash-hit musi-
cal "Grease." The "Sandra Dee"
scene is a great example of this
perennial theme. Quintessential
bad girl Rizzo and her pack of
Pink Ladies degrade Sandy and
her angelic ways through song
and dance: "Look at me, I'm San-
dra Dee / Lousy with virginity."
In the end, the Pink Ladies con-
vert Sandy with a hot new hair-
it'll transport peoplea little bit."
Spinning a performance
Meanwhile, Interarts senior
Yonit Olshan's thesis, "Arachne:
The Origin" premieres tomorrow
night at the Walgreen Drama Cen-
ter. Though it classifies as a play,
"Arachne" includes live music,
dance and puppetry, making it a
truly inter-artistic experience.
"I was really trying to think
about what I wanted to say about
myself as an artisan, as a perfor-
mance artist," Olshan said.
The play brings to life the story
of Arachne and her feud with the
goddess Athena over who is the
best weaver in the world. Olshan
sees it both as a play about an art-
ist, fighting for her craft and try-
ing to break tradition, and as an
origin myth: the creation of the
spider as a result of Arachne's
eventual transformation.
"Athena doesn't really have a
lot of faith in mortals," Olshan
said. "But the truth is that mor-
tals have a lot of beauty in their
Olshanhas had this show inher
head for more than a year.
"To finally see what other peo-
ple can bring to it is so much more
beyond what I could ever have
imagined it to be," she said. "It's
so exciting."
Olshan's involvement in the
play was inspired by her interest
in different artistic backgrounds,
as well as the idea of cross-cultur-
al origin myths. She researched
myths and performance tech-
niques of different cultures to cre-
ate the play.
"The beauty behind it is that all
of these different creation myths,
even though they're so different,"
she said, "they really all hit on
very similar things like love, orjoy
- all these purposes in life."
Though her primary back-
ground is costume design, Olshan
was drawnto creatingthings with
groups rather than on her own. As
a result, she transferred to Inter-
arts, a major newly rendered by
the University that combines pro-
grams from the School of Art &
Design and School of Music, The-

atre & Dance to give the students
involved a truly holistic view on
performance arts.
"That sort of sense that it actu-
ally is an Interarts performance
is one of the main inspirations for

do and a black leather jumpsuit
instead of a tutu.
In 1989, the creators of Disney's
"The Little Mermaid" stole a page
from the "Swan Lake" book when
they had Ursula attempt to stop
Ariel's marriage to Prince Eric by
arriving at the castle in the form
of a black-haired bombshell with
Ariel's beautiful voice. Again: two
beautiful girls, physically iden-
tical except for their hair color
- one a young, impressionable
princess and the other an evil,
seductive sorceress. This part of
the plotline practically screams
"Swan Lake." Of course, since it's
a Disney movie, Ariel eventually
triumphs and finds love with her
Prince Charming.
Whether nice girls really finish
last is an issue that is still up for
debate and has been in the fore-
front of societal consciousness for
a long time. One thing's for sure:
Going to see "Swan Lake" and
having the feminine dichotomy
represented with gorgeous scen-
ery, tutus and a storybook plotline
is a much more enjoyable way to
ponder the dilemma than reading
an academic analysis of it.
the piece itself," she said. "The
collaboration and the meaning
behind performance art is still a
new sort of emerging art form."
As an Interarts collaboration,
"Arachne" has received assis-
tance from a host of different
studies, from a director from the
Department of Theatre & Drama
to a composer from the School of
Music to a choreographer from
the Dance Department.
"It's really cool right now, in
tech week," Olshan said. "It's one
of the first times we're seeing a
lot of it come together. We put the
cello recording with the dance
choreography for the first time
and it's just goes so well. It's excit-
ing and nerve-wracking, but they
really do just make each other so
much better."
For Olshan, directing a collabo-
ration introduced her to a whole
new world of creative potential.
"Typically, I'm the costume
designer," she said. "I'm not used
to being the person who gets to
make the final decision. We just
go by what the director wants, but
right now I'm playing that role ...
I've learned how to trust myself
to be the leader amongst all these
other amazingly talented artistic
The opportunity to bring danc-
ers, musicians and actors togeth-
er in such a way was a learning
opportunity in and of itself.
Olshan said it, was inspiring to
work with other people to bring
out their best.
"It's about all of these artis-
tic things, but it's really about
Arachne," she said. "It's about her
wanting to fight to be creative,
which I think is what we're all
doing. We're fighting for our indi-
viduality and we're fighting to be
unique against society."
She hopes the audience takes
away the importance of Arachne
standing up for who she is and
trying to accomplish a feat that
others thought tobe impossible.
"It's ahope,"she added, echoing
the sentiments of fellow aspiring
artists. "It's ahope and an inspira-
tion to be unique and creative and
be who you are. It sounds really
cheesy, but it's beautiful."

Senior Arts Editor Jennifer
Xu contributed to this article.
D Seea multimedia piece about
this story on MichiganDaily.com

Sticking out like a sore
thumb at the corner of
Main and Liberty is Ann
Arbor's decaying classic, the
Parthenon Restaurant. What
-puzzles and
amazes about
this seem-
ingly unre-
ment is its
ity. Brothers LILA
John and KALICK
Steve Gavas
opened it
here back in 1975.
The fading paint of the res-
taurant's teal and cream facade,
with a sign advertising gyros,
fine Greek foods and cocktails,
indicates that any aspirations of
grandeur are long gone. There's
nothing shiny or new about this
The reasons I chose the Par-
thenon as the location of my last
food column are twofold. First,
I'd never been there before and I
was curious. Second, I was han-
kering for some good Greek food.
While Detroit has it in spades
in Greektown, Ann Arbor is
lacking in places to get a good
saganaki, the ever-popular
Greek flamingcheese dish. So
I dragged Sharon, the fearless
leader of The Michigan Daily's
Arts section, downtown for
lunch on Friday in search of a
last hurrah.
Everything inside was deco-
rated in muted blues and creamy
whites. Walking by a barrier
made of stacked glass bricks,
our waiter seated us at one of
the five or so booths lining a
wall with windows. We passed
pictures of famous Greek archi-
tecture and plaster reproduc-

tions of vases. Above our table
and the other booths hung a
snaking fake grapevine. This all
could've been cheesy, but it was
actually quite cute and cozy. In
the back, a large family enjoyed
a lively lunch. We made our way
through the menus slowly. The
waiter didn't pressure us.
Finally we decided on the
saganaki made from kasseri
cheese. The waiteryelled "Opa!"
and lit the plate dramatically.
Flames flew high above us -
purple, then blue, then finally
orange. It was the best and most
theatrical part of our meal,
hands down. In the flambeed
crust, flavors danced together
elegantly. The taste was sour
and subtle all at once. The dish
came with a basket of ambigu-
ous white bread that we barely
touched. The bread is unneces-
sary - this cheese stands alone.
No goats were
harmed in
the writing of
this column.
The menu at Parthenon is
extensive, offering an array
of Greek and Mediterranean
dishes. I'd been warned that the
portion sizes were large, but was
relieved to find they had a half-
order of their moussaka avail-
able for lunch.
The restaurant's take on
moussaka missed the mark a bit.
The bechamel sauce was splen-
did, but the pieces of potatoes
were too thick-cut, preventing
See KALICK, Page 4B

LSA senior Jacob Mendel's thesis film is shot in stereoscopic 3-D.

From Page 1B
Czech for "The Goldfish."
"It was avery surreal premise,"
Mendel said. "Someone's goldfish
is kidnapped and these weird cat
people are responsible. It involves
reincarnation ... you know, weird,
short surrealist film."
"Zlata Rybka" earned Men-
del an award at the International
Surrealist Film Festival, which is
organized by the surrealist film-
maker Paul Yates, and eventu-
ally led into the dream-infused
venture of "Train of Shadows." It
seems appropriate that the medi-
um should match the film's theme
of memory - the half-hour movie
was shot completely in stereo-
scopic 3-D.
"The process is using two cam-
eras simultaneously," Mendel
explained. "You get two Canon
5Ds side by side and bend them
inward ... one is going to one eye
and one is going to the other eye.
Through polarized projection,
this basically tricks your visual
cortex into perceiving depth."
Mendel quickly embraced the
technical and creative challenges
of shooting a "surreal film noir"
in 3-D.
"I'm nerdy and I'm artsy, so it's
a nice mix of the two,"he said. "To
do a shot, you basically have to do
trigonometry. You have to do the
angle in which the two cameras
are bending ... where they inter-
sect is the perceptible depth of
the screen, so everything in front
of that is popping out at you and
everything behind that is reced-
"Train of Shadows" is an
exhaustive collaboration between
more than 100 graduate and
undergraduate students, with
areas of study ranging from per-
forming arts technology to media
arts to theatre performance.
Mendel spoke about the his-
tory and challenges of shooting in
three dimensions.
"The thing about 3-D is that it's
actually very old," he explained.
"The technology of stereoscopy
was invented before cinema ...
Every now and then, it's rediscov-
ered and there's a lot of hype and
then it kind of fades away."
Added Mendel: "There's not
really 3-D film schools, so you

have to teach yourself a lot."
The film may be a project for
the University, but it is also an
integral part of Mendel's future
beyond graduation. He and a
friend plan to start a Michigan-
based 3-D film company in the
fall, called Giant Eel Productions,
through which they hope to push
the boundaries of 3-D cinema.
"What would a 3-D Western
look like? Why isn't there a 3-D
documentary?" Mendel asked.
"Now that indie 3-D is possible ...
you can use digital video cameras
that are affordable. That's what
we're trying to do. People are
already ready to watch 3-D - we
just want to make more interest-
ing content with that medium."
Mendel is not a subscriber to
conventional 3-D as it is used in
popcorn movies.
"A lot of films now overuse that,
I think," he said. "Things flying at
you and explosions and all this
sort of stab-you-in-the-face sort of
amusement park 3-D. We're try-
ing to do something more subtle."
"Train of Shadows" premieres
tomorrow at the Michigan The-
ater as part of the TEDxUofM
conference. RealD 3D donated
free glasses to Mendel and his
associates as an incentive for stu-
dents to continue experimenting
with 3-D technology.
"I'm a cinematographer by
training," Mendel said. "I think
mostly the film will be aestheti-
callysomethingnew and different
and kind of exciting. I hope that

The restaurant Parthenon opened in 1975 A.D. The Athenian temple Parthenon
opened in 432 I.C.

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Interarts senior Yonit Olshan's thesis "Arachne: The Origin" includes live music, dance and puppetry.

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