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June 12, 1984 - Image 7

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1984-06-12

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Tuesday, June 12, 1984

Page 7

The Michigan Daily

Brand s
such as
By Andy Weine the fir
Also, A
O NLY AN occasional slap of a dition
mosquito interrupted Oscar Brand'
Brand's performance Saturday night at The
the Ark. Brand sang beautifully in two were h
shows to audiences much less than the disapp
Ark's normal capacity. male h
With more than four decades of ex- ti-auto
perience in playing and studying folk remem
music, Oscar Brand certainly has a anothe
large repertoire from which to play. of earth
What he sang did justice to his years, His s
for he played a wide variety of music, contro
from Civil war folk songs to country promo
music to present-day political songs. what I
Brand did nothing special with his If Br
guitar, just the usual strumming of a there's
few chords. His strong, exhuberant what h
voice, though, was something to savor. were a
He began with an old Gaelic tune, a but u
love song to a dead cow. He skimmed domina
over campaign songs from Van Buren tunes a
to Nixon, proving that there are indeed some a
"conservative" folk songs. The audien- them
ce enjoyed a Malvina Reynolds sophist
favorite, "Little Boxes," and its right- one hi
wing counterpart ("see the hippies in summe
the Village ... and they all think just Dwel
the same"). women
But to Brand, folk songs do not simply immatu
hold their own. In quick, excited words, that he
he told a story before, during, and after should
every tune. He never simply jumped he and
into a song without giving a full, tional
detailed backdrop of how that song times h
evolved, who sung it and rewrote it, could
how people received it . .. etc. femini
"For me, the song and the story are maske
all part of the same thing," said Brand. In a
The "thing" he means is culture and admiti
folklore and people, all of which have songs,
inheritance in a folk song. . in the
For instance, he sang several in- second
teresting variations of the Gaelic tune, Brarn
showing the audience how and why the fol
folks change over the decades. Brand well. C
explained how the Civil War changed doned
one song from a love rhapsody to a with n
more bawdy, homesick variation. could 1
His stories also told of his and ad
associations with famous personalities, wise a
Vill1ella seeks
continuity in

s Harry Belafonte, who sang for
st time on Brand's radio show.
Arlo Guthrie gave his first ren-
of "Alice's Restaurant" on
s program.
most moving songs of the concert
his political ones. He sang of
ointed Vietnam veterans and
omosexuality. One song was an-
mobile ("Doesn't anybody
mber the horse? ... ") and
r was an appeal to grab a fistful
h now and then.
trong political views render him
versial 'among popular
hers, but he maintains, "I am
perform. There is no mask."
and is all that he performs, then
s something disturbing about
he is. His bawdy, sexist songs
a significant part of the concert,
nfortunately they were not
ant. Some of Brand's bawdy
re rewrites of ancient songs, and
re solely his own invention. All of
sound just a bit more
ticated than the raunchy stuff
ears in junior-high school or
er camp.
lling on phallic length and loose
in, Brand exhibits disturbing
urity in these songs. He remarked
e is a feminist and that we all
be disturbed by such music, yet
d many male fans took excep-
pleasure in the songs. Many
he announced that those offended
leave, but his offers, like his
ist comments, seemed only
d words to assay just criticism.
n interview afterwards, Brand
ted to having some feminist
too, but he played none of them
concert (or at least not in the
id needs to take a closer look at
k movement he seems to know so
ountless folk singers have aban-
male sexist music to forge ahead
on-sexist, feminist songs. Brand
learn a lot from these musicians
Id more genius to what is other-
first-rate performance.

bawdy songs

Oscar Brand sings one of the many songs he did during his two shows at the
Ark on Saturday night.

WHAT'S THE difference between a great ballet
dancer and a merely adequate one? '
According to American ballet virtuoso Edward
Villella it is at least in part the consistency of the dan-
cer's movements.
"What disturbs me about the American dance
community is a lack of continuity of movement,"
Villella said in a press conference at the Power Cen-
ter yesterday. He said that anyone can learn the
technical aspects of his art in the classroom. "But
what distinguishes a great dancer from a technican is
the ability to move from step to step with continuity."
Villella, who spent 20 years at the New York City
Ballet and has appeared in such offbeat performan-
ces as the "Odd Couple," will be one of the perfor-
mers in the first annual Ann Arbor Summer Festival
to be held June 30 to July 24. He is scheduled to per-
form on July 15 at the Power Center.
"American dancers lack musicality," Villella con-
tinued in his criticism. "I am very disappointed with
the lack of dancers' ability to apply music to
He said that dancers have to realize that the
musical score and the choreography are integral par-
ts of a performance.
Villella devoted a great deal of his speech to
praising the world renowned choreographer George
Balanchine, under whom Villella studied for 20 years
at the New York City Ballet. He accredited much of
the development of American ballet to the Russian-
born artist.

"He adapted to America and America adapted to
him," Villella said. "He was impressed by the coun-
try, its energy, its speed, and its vitality."
"He changed the art form. He gave us a sense of
elegance. He gave us a 20th century sense."
Villella said that he, like most American dancers,
was brought up to respect the classical and neo-
classical choreography surrounding the 17th and 18th
"I spent a large part of my life trying to imitate a
European prince," he said. "It is very interesting for
me now to watch the Russian defectors and European
dancers trying to imitate American nobility. It is
a fabulous full circle."
Villella refused an offer to be a dancer in New York
after high school because, he said, his father wanted
him to go to college. While attending the New York
Maritime Academy, Villella stopped dancing for four
years and, interestingly enough, took up boxing as his
new physical release.
"I am very pleased that I went to college. It gives
me a sense of accomplishment. But I am -not pleased
that I stopped dancing for four years. I don't recom-
mend that for anyone."
Villella is also famous for working with football
players, teaching them the basics of ballet and at-
tempting to relate the art of dance to the sport of
"We are after the inside of the gestures, as opposed
to being able to power a ball over a fence," he said.
See BALLET, Page 10.

By Pete Williams

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