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October 25, 2019 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily

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The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Friday, October 25, 2019 — 5A


The University Musical Society first invited
Sankai Juku to Ann Arbor in 1996. Now, over
20 years later, this weekend will mark their
eighth and ninth performances at the Power
Center. Between those visits to Michigan, the
Japanese dance group has performed in over
700 cities and 48 countries worldwide.
That may be a lot of travel, but Artistic
Director and Choreographer Ushio Amagatsu
is not tired by his international reception.
In an email interview, he told The Daily that
he has found a “universality” between those
hundreds of different microcultures, writing
that “this difference composes a culture” of
its own.
He uses this concept to continue his ongoing
fomentation of the Butoh dance style.
Born in the aftermath of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki’s atomic bombings, Butoh is not
loved for its prettiness. Instead, the dance
form garners attention for its grotesque
Dancers use Butoh’s uneasy nature to bring
attention to darker and more complex aspects
of modern Japanese culture. When Amagatsu
founded Sankai Juku in 1975, he melded that
history with his training from other dance
techniques to create the second generation of
Butoh that we see today. His group performs
with the traditional head-to-toe white body
makeup and shaved heads, and the effect
draws dramatic lines between the dancers
and the negative space that surrounds them.
Using this contrast, performers move

Amagatsu describes as “conformity with
gravity.” Some claim the result is simply slow-
motion movement, but Amagatsu disagrees. In
his email, he took care to point out that “it’s
the careful correspondence with gravity.”
That hyper-control is far more distinct than
a description of speed, and the effects are far
more powerful. Even through the video clips
on the UMS website, the performances leaves
your heart feeling uncommonly still.
This weekend, the group will perform
“Meguri: Teeming Sea, Tranquil Land,”
a work that found its inspiration in a bio-
history book that Amagatsu read. The work
first premiered in Paris in 2015 and focuses
on the rhythmic repetitions of earthly
processes. Given his childhood spent by the
ocean, Amagatsu added that he’s especially
interested in the “boundary between land
and sea.” In the work, dancers focus on the
universality and timeless nature of oceanic
processes, which Amagatsu connected to
the “universality beyond the differences of
cultures” that he has found through his years
spent abroad.
“It is difficult to explain the details (of that
simplicity) in words. The image in my mind
leads me to construct a creation,” Amagatsu
said. With that, he touched on the very
essence of dance; conveying a concept that
comes from deep within. Though we often
share these ideas or feelings with everyone
around us, they often sit untouched until a
dancer comes along to uncover them.

‘Meguri’ to bring culture
and feeling through dance

For The Daily

It’s not often that a man just shy of 80 has the
energy of a twenty-something. It’s especially rare
for that man, famed jazz pianist Chick Corea, to
have continued touring through his later years, just
as excited to perform as he was at the beginning
of his career. In fact, when I sat in Hill Auditorium
Saturday night to hear him perform with bassist
Christian McBride and percussionist Brian Bladee, I
couldn’t quite put my finger on his age at all.
Corea seemed to transcend any expectations the
audience may have had for him, bounding out onto
the stage in jeans, sneakers and a striped t-shirt that
I swear my 14-year-old brother also owns. For the
legendary musician, it was clear that age, looks and
anything else superficial doesn’t actually matter
in the long run — for him, it’s the music that really
makes the difference.
They began with a typical tune-up of their
instruments, until Corea began to riff around with the
audience. “We’re just gonna tune our instruments up
real quick,” he chuckled, “then we’ll tune you all up,
too.” The quip led to a burble from the audience, and
as soon as the three musicians finished perfecting
their respective instruments, Corea turned to them,
mischievous smile across his face. He played a riff on
the piano, then waited patiently for those seated in
the auditorium to repeat it. They did, and on and on
until we were all buckled over with laughter. It wasn’t
until then that I realized how full Hill was that night,
as the voices of everyone from the front row to the
back of the balcony echoed into the space.
The concert was a special performance to support
the trilogy’s newest album, Trilogy 2, which follows
a 2014 collaboration between the three that won two
Grammys that year. The title of that one? You guessed
it: Trilogy. All three of the musicians have a penchant
for finding beauty in simplicity, but also in a contained
chaos that jazz thrives on. There is power in restraint
with modern jazz improvisation, and Corea, McBride
and Blade know this all too well.
Despite that fact, they seem to make the craziest
riffs seem simple in their own right, moving from
chord to chord with a cascade of notes that seem to
appear out of thin air, much less produced by human
hands. But that’s the magic of their collaboration:
Though the group is listed as the Chick Corea Trio,
they could easily be the Christian McBride Trio or
very believably the Brian Blade Trio. They are all
musicians at the top of their game and the second act
of their careers, resting comfortably in their status as
jazz greats.
Beginning with classic Corea composition “La
Fiesta” and moving between renditions of other
songs like Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood”
and Thelonious Monk’s “Work,” the performance
was widely varied in its creative choices. It seemed

like the three were close enough to not even have a
tracklist, as Corea stood up from his grand piano to
murmur with the other two before each song was
decided. But that spirit of off-the-cuff ingenuity is
what made the trio stand out on the stage, as each of
them held up their part with a nearly effortless talent.
To put it simply, the trio are all monsters of
jazz, imbued the creativity that comes from years
of practice with the best of the best. Beyond that
irreproachable savvy for music, they’re some of the
coolest guys you could ever be in the same room
with. I was stunned by everything they mentioned in
between songs, the intention that every word came
with, and also Brian Blade’s incredible baritone voice.
The same goes for McBride’s skills with the bow, a
special, almost classical interlude in a sea of straight
The shimmering cymbals and undulating bass
tones of the group flowed freely through the
auditorium’s rapt audience, and at one point Corea
even played the strings inside the piano to complete
a composition’s otherworldly sound. When the three
came out for an unexpected encore, my heart lifted
with delight. They played a Coltrane composition, the
simplest, most classic sound to round out the night.
From the craziness of the last two hours, it was a
beautiful example of their love for jazz in all its forms,
especially those that put them where they are today.
The night was a perfect example of what can happen
when friendship and genius come together, creating a
partnership in which innovation can flourish.

Chick Corea & co. aged well

Senior Arts Editor

If you were a teenager between 2010 and
2016, you’ve probably been caught with the
smoky cover of John Green’s “Looking for
Alaska” propped open on your lap. It’s the now-
classic tale of the skinny loner at a new school
who gets mesmerized by the mystifying girl
with the strange name, only to have his friend
group rocked by tragedy. The book is filled
with cigarettes, books, sexual promiscuity and
pranks. It’s halved in two sections — “Before”
and “After” — centered around the tragedy.
Fortunately, all of this finds its way into this
aesthetically-polished adaptation for television.
Miles Halter (Charlie Plummer, “Granite
Flats”) knows famous peoples’ last words.
Anyone could quiz him on them. But no one
would because he’s a bit of a loner. So, he
leaves Orlando, Florida for Culver Creek, a
boarding school in Alabama, trading beaches
for sweat and oak trees, so that he can “seek a
Great Perhaps,” in the final words of François
Rabelais. There, his roommate — The Colonel
(Denny Love, “Lucifer”) — shows him the ropes
of Culver Creek. This brings him to Alaska
Young (Kristine Froseth, “Sierra Burgess Is
a Loser”), the troubled yet alluring girl with a
room full of books and a knack for trouble.
instructing Miles (dubbed “Pudge,” for his slim
physique) how to smoke. But when Alaska’s
roommate gets kicked out for drinking, smoking
and “genital contact,” drinking and smoking,
the Weekday Warriors — a collection of rich
students who go home on the weekends — think
someone ratted on her and her boyfriend, and

they mean to make them pay. So they go after
“Looking for Alaska” takes place in 2005, but
it certainly doesn’t feel like 2005. Everything
about the show — from what the kids are wearing
to the music featured — feels very modern. At
first, this felt like a bad thing. It felt wrong,
lacking the grungy, sweatiness of puberty that
the novel so eloquently utilized to its advantage.
It almost felt fake, too polished and false for
the kind of emotions the novel induced. Hulu’s
“Looking for Alaska” did not feel like the one
I grew up adoring, then growing out of, then
Realizing this made me understand that the
show wasn’t meant to feel like the “Looking
for Alaska” that helped usher me through
adolescence. The unfortunate fact of adulthood
is very much upon me. If the same is true of you,
then you, with the dog-eared, creased-spined
copy tucked discreetly in the back of your
bookcase, will also not see yourself in any of the
main troublemakers of Hulu’s version.
But after coming to terms with my youth’s
mortality, it became evident that “Looking
for Alaska” serves much the same purpose for
modern disgruntled teenagers that it did for
the ones of yesterday. For all its sleekness and
freshness, “Looking for Alaska” does resemble
its source material in many ways. It is still the
same story with the same message, stylized in
its “Before” and “After” chapters. It also suffers
from the same pretentiousness that plagued the
novel. Ultimately, whether or not “Looking for
Alaska” is good depends purely on where you’re
at in life. If you’re older than the novel’s target
audience, the show will fall flat. But if the novel
currently has you torn to pieces, the show will
be a great supplement.

‘Looking for Alaska’ does
try to seek a Great Perhaps

Daily Arts Writer



Looking for Alaska


Miniseries Premiere

Streaming Now


Meguri: Teeming
Sea, Tranquil

Oct. 25-26 @ 8 p.m.

Power Center

Student Tickets $12-$20

Regular Tickets starting at $24

Dancers use Butoh’s
uneasy nature to
bring attention to
darker and more
complex aspects of
modern Japanese

The shimmering
cymbals and
undulating bass tones
of the group flowed
freely through the
auditorium’s rapt
audience, and at one
point Corea even played
the strings inside the
piano to complete
a composition’s
otherworldly sound

We’re all living cable free, right? We’re the
digital generation, we cut the cords, we use
streaming services and we don’t pay for cable.
But would we be better off if we did? While fewer
college students have cable subscriptions than
in the past, I would hazard a guess that most
still watch an impressive amount of television.
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Roku, YouTube
TV, CBS All Access, Apple TV, HBO Go, soon
Disney+ and more; the number of streaming
services continues to increase year after year
and the ways in which people of our generation
pay for the right to watch slowly become more
and more convoluted.
In many college units, at least one of the
aforementioned services is being provided
by a parental unit of some member of the
household. How long will that last, though?
My generation has slowly come to expect that
all forms of media will be provided for them
for free, but that’s not reasonable for the
entertainment industry or a given consumer.
Surely, Netflix and HBO know how many
people share their accounts with each other,
right? Is this something technology can stop,
or is it simply a matter of time before this
entire ecosystem begins to resemble the cable
packages that everyone so despised?
No one knows for sure what the streaming
landscape will look like in a few years, but
most are in agreement that consumers are
not going to shell out five to 10 dollars per
network they want. Bundled streaming deals
feel inevitable, and when they do come, it will
be right back to where we started. Sports in
particular have a difficult road ahead. Last year
it was estimated that the NBA is losing billions

of dollars a year on people illegally streaming
the league’s games through sites as open and
accessible as Reddit. Personally, I used to use
r/cfbstreams all the time to watch college
football games that weren’t being aired on
a network someone in my house had access
to. This fall, Reddit seems to have cracked
down on the existence of threads like that,
which just funnel people to illegal streaming
sites, costing the corporate content creators
boatloads of money.
I think one of the main reasons streaming
is so prevalent is that it feels like a victimless
crime. ESPN doesn’t need more of my money,
nor does Disney, Warner Bros or any of the
rest. Is it really so bad so deprive them of
my five dollars so I can watch Michigan play
a basketball game at Illinois? This is pure
speculation, but I suspect many people who
are guilty of illegally streaming would never
consider stealing so much as a candy bar from
a Walgreens. In reality, illegally streaming
content is just as much of crime and just as
much of a theft as stealing a candy bar is, but
it doesn’t feel that way. Stealing from a store
feels like stealing, whereas illegally streaming
something from a billion dollar corporation
feels like getting one over the man.
Even film majors like myself have seemingly
little moral issue stealing films and TV show
files from the internet and costing content
creators money, despite the fact that they
themselves one day hope to be the ones creating
the content. Surely at that point we will hope
that illegal streaming has been limited or
erased entirely. Surely then we will see that
what we are doing is wrong ... maybe. But until
then, I’m going to keep watching Netflix on my
parents’ account and borrowing CBS access
from my roommate. I don’t need to pay money
to watch the Lions lose on Sunday — I’ve got
enough problems as it is.

None of us have cable, OK?

Daily Entertainment Columnist


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