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 So excited about the new Doctor.  Love Capaldi, but Moffat never could figure out how to write for him.  When you have such a powerful actor, deciding that Dr. Who is all about the companion is a bad choice.  But we're getting a great new doctor and, hopefully, the new showrunner has a great plan to go with it.  
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 Gym accomplished!  Also managed to get tai chi in between rainstorms.   Much to do, but rainy days make me lazy!
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Finally getting over this virus, and went to DC to see the National Symphony.  Christoph Eschenbach, formerly Music Director in Philly, was stepping down and these were his final performances before he moves to laureate status.  Here is the review!

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 Have been notably absent lately, due to a lot of family visiting followed, as it is, by a nasty virus.  Getting better and hope to be more interesting shortly!  I really want to write about Coming From Away, but that will have to wait until my brain is in gear.
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 Back from crazy weekend with my sisters! Saw the Riverside Choral Society at Lincoln Center, which was wonderful. Then Come From Away on Sunday afternoon. I will write more about that tomorrow.

Highlight of the daylight hours: Mood to look at fabrics! My sister M sews and actually bought stuff to make some capris, but I went because I wanted to visit the fabric shop from Project Runway. it is crazy! It is upstairs in a building on 7th, so you have to take the elevator. We got there a minute or two before 10 and there was a line waiting for them to open and security guard to make sure that people didn't over-crowd the elevators.

There were three floors of every kind of fabric for clothes--I have never seen so much neoprene in one place! Most of the bolts of cloth were stacked on deep utilitarian shelves or propped like sheaves of wheat on the floor. But in one discreet corner, there was a section of suiting fabrics that were $120 a yard. The bolts were stored neatly on dark wood shelving, all very clubby. W.e did not shop in that section, but it was fun to see!

Next door was a Mood for home fabrics, for upholstery and draperies and such such. The only disappointment--I didn't get to see Swatch the dog!
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 Here is my Kun-Yang Lin,Dance review. East and West meet politics and art.


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 Missed Bach this week for BalletX's Spring Series.  You have to love an editor who lets you use the word "crotch-y" in a review!
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 I marched for Science yesterday!  When I was in grad school, the teachers in my department made a big joke about the department turning out the lights when they were ready to retire.  Except that it wasn't a joke, and the department was dissolved and became a program, and then pretty much disappeared.  Turned out they had no sense of handing over a functional scholarly endeavor--it was more like they put one over on us all.  

And it feels like that is what the Koch brothers and the other "drill baby drill" folks are doing.  Using it up with no thought at all for the kids and grandkids who are going to need the planet when we are gone.  Worse, they push an apocalyptic agenda to convince their victims that the world is going to end anyway, so no need to worry about what happens to your grandkids.  

I am not religious in a traditional way, but I think about religion a lot.  And I think that this apocalyptic message is a perversion of religion to benefit a few old men who believe they can take it with them when they die.  They are in for a nasty shock.  But in the meantime, I will be out there with my feet on the pavement, fighting for the planet so our kids and grandkids have air to breath and water to drink, and a climate that supports human life.  It's easy to give up.  Harder to do the work, but the work has to get done anyway.  

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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!
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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!


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July 2017



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