Don't know what he's thinking…

“Cynthia–
Would you be so kind as to email me a copy of your first paper. It is EXCELLENT and I will ask Dr. Holoman to read a couple of lines from it in class tomorrow and he may actually do that!

Well done! 19.5/20

(19s are rare. 20s are exceedingly rare). Well done.

-Jeremy”

Jeremy’s the TA for Music 10. I have no idea how the hell these people grade my papers the way they do. I get decent grades for stuff I write a few hours before class, and get poor ones (well, for me anyway) on the stuff I agonize over for days.

*confused*

If you were interested…

Concert Report #1
“Satyric Festival Song” (Martha Graham Dance Company)

It is October 22, 2004. After returning from the second intermission at the recently constructed Jackson Hall of UC Davis’ prestigious Mondavi Center for the Arts, it is time for the shorter portions of the evening’s entertainment. The curtain rises to reveal a single dancer clad in a striped shift. A solo flute’s melody pierces the darkened theater. The dancer holds her pose for a moment, and then springs to life with a series of exuberant leaps. Her movements coincide with the fluttering tones of the flautist, evoking a sense of laughter and amusement. It seems less a choreographed dance than an expression of unfettered joy; classical forms are nowhere to be found in this performance.

“Satyric Festival Song” was created by Martha Graham in 1932 with music by Imre Weisshaus. As the original notes and music were lost, this particular piece was reconstructed using photographs and memories. Substitute music for the restoration was composed by Fernando Palacios and arranged by Aaron Sherber. The accepted interpretation of “Satyric” holds it to be inspired by Pueblo Indians and their tradition of clowning at ritual celebrations. Certainly the tone of amusement is evident in both the flute’s erratic rhythms and the dancer’s gleeful expression.

The style of Graham’s choreography is meant to show emotion through movement, not exacting perfection. Where traditional ballet appears to spring from an upright torso and precisely arranged limbs, this technique’s central tenet is the expression of emotion through seemingly spontaneous motion. In this particular instance, the limbs are held at sharp angles and the overall effect is that of a cricket or young gazelle bouncing across the stage. Even the costume is angular; it fits closely but is colored in thick horizontal stripes and stretches to accommodate the dancer’s movements. Where a classical ballerina might hold her head high and project an air of restrained reserve, Blakely White-McGuire shakes her loose hair and emotes as might a young child. At one moment, she even turns her back to the audience, bends at the waist and paddles her rump with her hands.

“Satyric Festival Song” as a title invokes the Greek mythology of the Maenads: followers of Dionysus whose celebrations would lead to a violent sexual frenzy. Graham’s interpretation seems a little more innocent. Her costume, while clinging, is not terribly sensual in its color or line. The movements are more those of an impudent child at home in her adolescent body than an intimidating woman using the same body to entice and punish. Subtlety is found not in the line of the body but in the placement of each part: the toss of hair or pointing of the big toe, the cocking of one hip – these are the sources of nuance. Even the facial expression is mercurial, showing a mischievous delight in defying the traditional.

Live performance of both parts imparts an impression of mutual improvisation. The flute reflects the high spirits of the dancer; irregular rhythms and tongued arpeggios combined lend a sense of the exotic. No location is defined – it is simply a timeless partnership of music and movement. Apart from the fabric of the costume, there are no clues even to the era for which the composition is intended. There is no foreshadowing, introduction or conclusion. One perceives that this moment is lived entirely in and for the present. Perhaps this is simply inspired by the original, not an exacting reconstruction of it, for its ebullient tone seems hard to reproduce with precisely choreographed steps and gestures.

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~ by jackelopette on December 2, 2004.

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