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 I missed reading Wednesday!  

I am still reading Apollinaire's poetry, and I am almost through Jean Cocteau's Thomas the Imposter, about WWI. I like it very much--it is a slim book, with strikingly concrete imagery and an absurd plot drawn from Cocteau's own experience.  Not quite as outrageous as his real life at that time, though.

Next up is more Cocteau.  I've been a wee bit obsessed with him since I was in my twenties.
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 I was away for the holiday, and to celebrate my mom's birthday--yay mom!--and forgot to post the most recent review.  

The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) is Philadelphia's premier Black dance company. Have a link!

http://bit.ly/2of3fo2
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 It is going to be a busy week in dance.  Here is the first of three reviews at BSR:  Jessica Lang Dance.  

I saw the Pennsylvania Ballet tonight, so I expect that one will be up tomorrow!

 
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 Went to see Piffaro last night--they are a renaissance wind band, but with a harp and a guitar, so mostly a wind band.  They did Music of Spain from the 15th and 16th centuries on period instruments (if you follow the link on their name, you can see the nifty instruments).  I particularly liked a piece with the guitar and the harp, and one with three bagpipes.  I don't usually like crumhorns much, but they did a piece for crumhorns that was very nice.  All in all, a good night of music with lots of friends, and I am glad I dragged myself out in spite of the rain!
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 Reading Wednesday! I am reading the Selected Writings of Guillaume Apollinaire in the morning. There are a few bits of essays in the back, but mostly it is his poetry, in French, with a translation on the facing page. I don't think the translations are all that good, frankly, But I am doing okay on reading them in French with a bit of assist from the translation. Apollinaire's poetry is not exactly easy, but he uses pretty easy language, so that helps.  I read then out loud, because--poetry!


Before bed I am rereading C J Cherryh's Visitor, the book in the Foreigner series that precedes the new one on order from B&N. Read the one before that last week. Wanted to get back into the story before I leap on the new one!

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 The best part of living in the city is how many amazing things you can do really cheaply if you give it some time and some thought.  This weekend, I saw the Philadelphia Orchestra, with the Westminster Choir and the Philadelphia Boys Choir perform Benjamin Britten's War Requiem at the Kimmel Center.  I stood in line for rush tickets--a last minute ticket for $10 got me a seat dead center in the orchestra section that normally costs $90.  

Rush tickets are the best!  On the night of a performance, music lovers on a budget line up to purchase any unsold or returned tickets.  At 5:30, all the windows in the box office open for rush.  The trick to rush tickets is to arrive early.  Verizon Hall at the Kimmel seats 2500 people, and there were just 60 unsold tickets available. I arrived at 5:00, half an hour early, and there was already a line.  So some nights you won't get in.  But many nights you will.

As for the War Requiem, it was fabulous.  Mostly I go to chamber music concerts--you can see chamber music pretty much every day of the week if you want, but I usually go once or twice a week.  I'd forgotten a bit how much I love REALLY BIG music!  And the War Requiem is really big.  The orchestra was huge--I counted 7 percussionists alone.  There were choirs and soloists and a harp and a bassoon front and center in dialogue with the soloists.  The big pipe organ was in play.  And yet, for all the moments of rising wall of sound that blew your socks off, there were quiet moments of reflection as well.  The choirs sang the mass, while the soloists sang the war poems of Wilfred Owen as a sort of commentary.  It was a performance not to be missed--well worth standing in line for!

On my way out I bumped into a couple of friends who were also there.  Looked for another friend, but there were thousands of people letting out at the same time, so I am surprised I saw anyone I knew.  A fun night, then a brisk walk home.  I have a lot coming up in April and May, but I hope to be able to do rush again soon.
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 In my previous post, I talked about Midsummer Night's Dream at the Arden Theater.  This post is about the Lantern Theater Company's Coriolanus.  

It was not my favorite Shakespeare this month.  I did like the contemporary costumes that brought the play into a contemporary political context, but it seemed more focused on tricks--CNN-like screens, lots of rushing around and overwhelming sound effects--than actually enunciating the lines, so it was hard to follow if you hadn't seen other versions of the play. 

The second half was better than the first half, because they slowed down the gosh-wow externals and focused more on characters for the drama.  Midsummer worked better overall for me, but it was an afternoon well spent.

Both plays are still playing, so go!  Then tell me what you thought of them!

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 I have been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to report back here!  So I will try to catch by covering two Shakespeare plays I saw this month--last week's Midsummer Night's Dream  at the Arden and this week's Coriolanus at the Lantern.  Both were worth seeing, but I liked Midsummer better.  

20 years ago, Arden's Midsummer introduced a cast that became acting royalty in Philadelphia. Now, 20 years later, they billed the new Midsummer as introducing the next generation to take Philly by storm.  I'd seen a lot of the cast in recent productions, but they came together wonderfully in a grand version of the great Shakespeare trickster play, this time set in a down-homey Arden with blue-grassy music created for the production.  

Mary Tuomanen, who played Puck, and Dan Hodge, who played Bottom, were my favorites, but the whole cast was excellent. The parallel relationships between Titania and Oberon and Hippolyta and Theseus are always a part of the play, but in this version you really felt the mirroring of those fraught emotions.  Very good.  And the music was fun.



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 I wrote a brief commentary about the Trocks that BSR decided not to run, so I am putting it here!

 

According to the Sunday Times blurb on the cover of the program, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is “the funniest night you will ever have at the Ballet.” The Trocks, as they are affectionately known, present scenes from the great ballets with men playing all the parts, so we were expecting a fun night.  But with the revelation that the “to be announced” in the program would be the pas de deux from Le Corsaire, we all sat up and took notice.  Many of us had tickets for the Pennsylvania Ballet’s performance of that very ballet at the Academy of Music the following night!  With a scene from last year’s Don Quixote already on the schedule, we were in for a meta night.

The Trocks dance a precarious balancing act.  Men in tights and tutus: what is not funny about that?  So they have to acknowledge the absurdity of men en pointe up front. But if they want to tell the joke, and not be the joke, they have to be very good.  The silly bits have to be their choice, and the Trocks made that stunningly clear, in dance that ranged from the beautiful to the utterly absurd (the dying swan leaves feathers all over the stage).

The Le Corsaire pas de deux (Long Zou dancing as Nina Inimenimynimova and Lazlo Major dancing as Araf Legupski) offered a few nods to comedy, but none so broad that they pulled the audience out of the dance for more than a moment.  The balancing act veered much closer to excellent dancing than it did to comedy, except for the meta part.  The fun is not just on the Prince stage but in the interplay with the Academy of Music, the middle space where high art meets a gently humorous commentary in kind.  The Trocks set the bar very high—can high art measure up?

 

 

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 Pennsylvania Ballet is doing Le Corsaire--read the review and then see the show!

http://bit.ly/2mL4spA


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 I went to see BalletX this week.  Enjoy it with me here--

http://bit.ly/2leB0aT
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 Protested immigration ban today!  I thought I was done with protest marches and activism decades ago.  Didn't want to do this again.  But evil must never go unchallenged.  So, here we go again.  
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Saw Hidden Figures this afternoon.  I'd finished some errands and just checked the times, figured I'd have a shot at some free time on Thursday.  But there was a show starting in just a few minutes, so I figured, now is as good as any time, and off I went.  I am so glad I did!  It is a wonderful movie, the acting was terrific, and the story was so exciting.  Women!  Math!  Programmers!  What a great reminder that Black women used to rule in math and coding.  White women were in there too, but also a reminder that the jobs were mostly undervalued when women did them, and when men got into them, the value put on them went up and women got shut out.  

I got weepy when they showed JFK talking about going to the moon.  Got weepy at the end, too, but in a good way.  Women took us into space.  Go us!
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 I marched in Philly today.  Got pictures but don't remember how to include them  I thought about going to DC, and a lot of my family marched there, but I wanted to be here in Philadelphia to be counted.  We had a smaller march, maybe 20,000-40,00 or so, because so many Philadelphians went to DC, but we were very conscious of marching for democracy in the  birthplace of the country.  It was awesome.

It was fortunate I was at a smaller march though, because my back injury from December was not happy with all that standing around.  So I ducked out early and walked out to where it was easier to navigate. Rested up and went to a chamber music concert that celebrated the three Itzig sisters who preserved much of the Bach family music.  Here is a link to the awesome story! newsletter.tempestadimare.org/ We thought it was the perfect concert for a woman's march!



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 The Great American Baking Show had its finale this week.  It was satisfying--I liked both the finalists, so either outcome would have been fine, but it was a very NICE ending.  

I still like the British version better (loved Nadia!), and I thought that last year's American show was unwatchable.  Tried, and only made it through one episode.  But this year they seem to have gotten the whole "nice" thing better.  A couple of people had to leave for personal/health reasons, which happens.  I would have liked to see what they did, but overall, I liked it.  

I don't think the challenges are quite as hard, though.  They are going to have to work on that!

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 Whoa!  My articles about the ballet don't usually elicit such heated discussion. 
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 This year I have been doing some dance reviews at the Broad Street Review in Philadelphia.  Here is my latest about the most recent dance scandal in town. 

You can find my other articles there as well!


bit.ly/2iCojCm


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 I posted this a couple days ago to my private Facebook (mostly family, mostly boring stuff about shopping lists) but I thought it might be good to share it, because I think these are issues that are getting lost in the noise.  And as a writer, I stand with the artists who speak our truth to power.  And yes, I always say Voldemort.  I picked the brand I want to support.

When movie and TV people spoke out against Voldemort at the Golden Globes, I am sure there are people who said, "entitled coastal elites" and dismissed them out of hand. But everyone in that room was aware of the McCarthy hearings and the many people in the industry whose lives were destroyed not because they were communists, but because Joe McCarthy had a thing for movie stars and it was a way to make them come to him. And they know that McCarthy's lawyer was Voldemort's mentor. 

House UnAmerican Activities Hearings, of course, are a circus. While destroying lives for the fun of it, they pull attention from the other awful things the government slips under the radar of a celebrity-obsessed press. 

So those people put themselves on the line, on international TV, knowing all those things. People with huge careers, who maybe can afford to take the hit, drew the fire. People who maybe couldn't afford the hit, but couldn't afford to let things go down unchallenged, drew the fire. Becaue the last time, people let the threat silence them. It appears that this time they will not go down without a fight.

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