British ballet about World War I


This video from England says about itself:

Lest We Forget: Trailer

24 March 2014

Witness English National Ballet like you’ve never seen them before at the Barbican Theatre in a programme marking the centenary of the First World War.

Lest We Forget includes three new commissions by Akram Khan [Dust], Russell Maliphant [Second Breath] and Liam Scarlett [No Man's Land]. George Wiliamson’s Firebird completes the programme.

By Peter Lindley in Britain:

Dance: Remarkable WWI requiem

Wednesday 9th April 2014

Lest We Forget — Barbican Centre, London EC2

5/5

On the face of it a dance programme commemorating the onset of the first world war might seem a lightweight proposition.

But Lest We Forget is both a vision of the hell of those distant battlefields and a comment on the war’s destructive impact on society.

The English National Ballet production, a quartet of contemporary ballet and dance works from the ENB’s Liam Scarlett and guest choreographers, is something of a triumph.

There is grace and superb technique in Alina Cojocaru and Fabian Reimair’s performances in Scarlett’s ghostly No Man’s Land, about the loss and longing of men and women separated by war.

Equally compelling are Ksenia Ovsyanick and Junor Souza, who give a mesmerising display of power and characterisation in George Williamson’s brilliant depiction of a decadent society in pursuit of beauty in the Firebird.

But in stark contrast to the lyrical impulses of Scarlett and Williamson it is the shocking tableaux of falling soldiers in Russell Maliphant’s Second Breath that provide the programme with its most sensitive act of remembrance for lives sacrificed.

Akram Khan, dancing in Dust (pictured) and pushing physicality to the very limits, makes an equally striking impression.

In a duet with ENB’s artistic director Tamara Rojo, Khan’s persona appear to be at the mercy of invisible forces in a desolate yet ferocious struggle to survive.

The sombre mood deepens as the themes of love lost and beauty destroyed are explored.

And, as the evening progresses, the sense of impending hell on earth becomes almost palpable.

Runs until April 12. Box office: (020) 7638-8891.

Birdsong is a a powerful representation of life and death on the Western Front during WWI, says SUSAN DARLINGTON: here.

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Emus dance tango, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

3 Dec 2013

The Emus and Sexy Sexy Sniper the Ostrich dance the tango against their greatest enemy: The weasel ball. Who will prevail?

By Sarah Laskow in the USA:

We can’t stop watching these emus freak out about a ball

The makers of this video seem to think they needed to improve on reality by intimating that the emu was dancing the tango with this battery-powered ball. But it’s not necessary to pretend that. It’s amusing enough to watch the emus go: Ball. Ball? Ball! Ball? OMG ball!

These emus are part of the crew at Camels & Friends, farm animals who live in Arizona.

Israeli soldiers punished for dancing peacefully with Palestinians


This video from Palestine is called Israeli soldiers dance to Gangnam Style at Palestinian wedding.

From Associated Press:

Hebron style: Israeli soldiers’ dance with Palestinians angers top brass

Gangnam Style remix causes moment of K-pop unity in West Bank as video shows patrol group joining dance hall party

Associated Press in Jerusalem

Thursday 29 August 2013 08.27 BST

A group of Israeli soldiers has danced up a storm of criticism after they were filmed boogying alongside Palestinians while on patrol in the West Bank.

The soldiers were making their rounds in the city of Hebron when they entered a dance hall and joined dozens of Palestinian men dancing to South Korean rapper Psy’s hit Gangnam Style.

The Israeli military said on Thursday that it considers the incident serious, adding “the soldiers exposed themselves to unnecessary danger and were disciplined accordingly,” without elaborating.

Footage aired on Israeli Channel 2 TV shows the solders in uniform, flak jackets and carrying guns.

One was shown hoisted on the shoulders of Palestinian dancers. Other soldiers joined hands and grooved with the partygoers. The channel said the incident occurred on Monday.

Hebron has been a flashpoint of violence between Israelis and Palestinians for decades.

So, these Israeli soldiers were punished for peaceful acts. While, on the other hand, Israeli soldiers committing violence against Palestine civilians, including children

These Israeli soldiers and these Palestinians in Hebron gave an example of non-violence which the whole Middle East and the whole world should follow.

Please, Psy, if you happen to read Dear Kitty. Some blog: then, please take the first plane from Korea to Hebron. Organize the biggest dance party ever there. Invite all Palestinians who were at that wedding. Invite all Israeli soldiers who were at that wedding. Invite all Israeli soldiers and Israeli civilians who want peace. Invite all Palestinians who want peace. Let peace spread throughout the whole world from Hebron.

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The European Disease, dance against Greek neo-nazism


Originally posted on :

A dance video that implicitly, through a dance semiotic and an artistic approach, shows the evolution of Eléna, a 22 year old fictional character, in relation to “the Disease” that infects her country in 2013. This young Greek lady is outraged and deeply affected by the influence of the neo-nazi Party « Golden Dawn » in the nation she grew up in. She can’t stand the changes of Greece into fear and into hate, the change of relationships between citizens. The video reveals in three parts her evolution facing the rise of fascism. First she closes herself; the violent, racist and nationalist speech is infecting her body. Then, in the second part, she fights back, she realises how destructive these thoughts are, she takes back the control that she lost. In the conclusion of the video, a link with Nazi Germany is made by a reading, in German, of the…

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Marcel Duchamp exhibition in London


This video from the USA says about itself:

Nov 21, 2012

Dancing around the Bride‘ is the first exhibition to explore the interwoven lives, works, and experimental spirit of Marcel Duchamp and four of the most important American postwar artists: composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and visual artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.

By Christine Lindey in England:

The Bride And The Bachelors: Duchamp With Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg And Johns

Barbican, London EC2

Saturday 04 May 2013

A Marcel Duchamp exhibition shows his continuing influence in questioning exactly what ‘art’ is

Born into a notary’s family in provincial France, Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) headed for Paris to study art in 1905. By 1912 he had challenged not only academic naturalism but also the orthodoxies of the avant-garde. Impatient with the latter’s obsession with formal innovations Duchamp gave up what he called “retinal painting” in favour of returning art to the realms of the mind.

His first love had been Symbolist art and poetry and elliptical, speculative appeals to the imagination continued to be the key to his life’s work. His irreverent, iconoclastic works and actions questioned the fundamental processes, techniques, materials and skills upon which Western art had rested since the Renaissance.

Duchamp redefined the artist’s social role from brilliant creator to provocateur. This had a major influence on Western art yet the validity of his legacy remains controversial.

In 1914 he bought a mass-produced bottle rack, inscribed it with a now forgotten title, signed it and called it a “ready-made,” thus questioning the traditional assumption that art consists of individual objects made by the artist.

The best known ready-made is the urinal which he titled Fountain. He signed it R Mutt and submitted it anonymously to an independent exhibition in 1917.

Defending it in his radical magazine Blindman, Duchamp wrote: “Whether R Mutt, with his own hands, made the fountain is of no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – creating a new thought for that object.”

In choosing commonly seen, industrially produced, non-emotive and “aesthetically neutral” objects, Duchamp questioned existing aesthetic criteria and heightened awareness of the everyday.

Equally radical was The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (1915 -1923), known as the Large Glass. Using non-traditional processes and material it consists of two panels of glass encased in a tall, free-standing aluminium stand.

Motifs are represented on its transparent surface with lead, silver foil, varnished dust and drilled holes – with some of their forms generated by chance rather than by aesthetic judgements.

Its complex content can only be decoded by referring to The Green Box, in which unpaginated notes name its various characters and describes the actions of the bride, alias “motor-desire,” the bachelors, the nine metallic moulds and the oculists’ witnesses.

Devoid of a single, linear narrative the Large Glass’s content nevertheless suggests tales of frustrated sexual desire. Its open-ended, allusive meaning leaves room for the spectator’s imagination to soar. Or to scoff.

So radical were his innovations and so indifferent was Duchamp to careerism that he only became influential when rediscovered by the 1950s avant garde. This Barbican exhibition considers his works along with those he inspired in the American vanguard – composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

In so doing, it explores the impact of several threads of Duchampian thought such as Cage and Cunningham’s use of chance and of “ready-made” sounds and human movement from everyday life in their music and ballets and Rauschenberg and Johns’s incorporation of mass-produced every-day objects and imagery into works to bridge the gap between art and life.

The exhibition also explores collaborations and interactions between the five artists such as Cage’s scores for Cunningham’s ballets and the references to Duchamp’s works in sets by Rauschenberg and Johns for Cunningham’s productions.

Created during WWI and its aftermath, the emotional disengagement of Duchamp’s work can be partly attributed to sociopolitical revulsion.

That it resonated for vanguard artists in the US of the 1950s can be understood in the context of their nation’s cold war denial of its 1930s socially engaged art. Theirs were creative responses to Duchamp’s legacy.

However, in the mid-1970s and 1980s his rebellion and iconoclasm became ossified by art educational institutions into academic orthodoxy. A misunderstanding of his ideas to mean that anything can be called art has led to an infestation of mindless and sniggering art in recent decades – an unwarranted legacy which has cast a shadow over Duchamp’s own work.

Curated by the contemporary artist Philippe Parreno, this celebratory exhibition becomes a creative soundscape/installation in its own right. It intertwines sound, light, live dance performances and art works. Relatively few and judiciously selected works by each of the five artists are presented with flair and imagination to appeal to the senses as much as to the mind.

Avoiding a stodgy trudge through endless works, the exhibition introduces complex ideas and creative cross-fertilisations carefully themed around key ideas in an elegant and palatable form.

Art in which ideas take precedence over skill and visual responses must be based on ideas with depth of meaning and purpose. Parreno’s exhibition may inspire yet a new generation to engage with Duchamp’s intelligent questioning of preconceived ideas which will bury the puerile and cynical use to which they have been made.

Runs until June 9. Box office: 0845 121-6823.

Why do young cranes dance?


This video is called Japan Red Crowned Cranes Dance.

From the BBC:

31 March 2013 Last updated at 00:57

Why do ‘single’ birds dance?

By Jeremy Coles, Reporter, BBC Nature

“Mesmerising and with a little bit of mystery about it.”

That is how aviculturist Amy King describes the graceful leaping, bowing, running, spinning and grass-tossing of dancing cranes.

This unique and spectacular behaviour has been imitated in various human cultures since the Stone Age and the purpose of such elaborate displays is widely understood to establish and reaffirm long-term pair bonds.

But on the occasion that young or single birds dance, for no clear social reasons, scientists become really intrigued.

Curiously, all species of crane dance throughout the year and at any age. The behaviour can appear random at times: sparked by a feather, stick or gust of wind.

Explanations for this peculiar propensity for dance have included socialisation and pair bonding in sub-adults, averting aggression and as a displacement activity when nervous.

But while these reasons could drive certain situations, they cannot explain everything.

Cranes dance most often when relaxed and at ease, often while not involved in any obvious social activity and when they are too young to form pairs; they will even dance alone.

According to a publication in The International Journal of Avian Science (IBIS) the answer could be that most crane dances, outside of courtship, are for play.

Five rules

“What came as a surprise was that nobody has figured it out before,” author Dr Vladimir Dinets from Louisiana State University, US told BBC Nature.

To better understand the behaviour, Dr Dinets compared non-courtship crane dances to five criteria for determining what exactly constitutes play.

These categories, widely accepted by scientists, were proposed by Professor Gordon Burghardt in 2005 in his book The Genesis of Animal Play.

According to Prof Burghardt, play is a repeated behaviour that should not contribute to survival, it is spontaneous and voluntary; performed when the animal is healthy and free from stress.

“They have become kind of a golden standard,” Dr Dinets said, “We know that play has evolved independently in many groups of animals, from mammals to octopuses, and that its occurrence correlates with complex and flexible behaviour.”

“[Play] could be a unique window into the evolution of complex behaviour, but so far we don’t know even the most basic things about it,” he said.

Serious playtime

Professor Burghardt describes play as a “behaviour that doesn’t seem to be very adaptive or functional in the context in which you see it.”

And for a long time it was thought that play was only found in mammals and a few birds.

“It is probably much more common than people think,” said Prof Burghardt.

So why do animals play? There is no simple answer according to the expert: “It’s a behaviour that has arisen evolutionarily many times for different reasons and many different functions.”

“Like practicing skills that [the young] will need in adulthood and helping them cognitively.”

For many species you only see play in young animals. There are exceptions: monkeys, apes, humans, wild dogs and turtles for example, where older animals play too.

Prof Burghardt explained that it is also more likely in animals where there is a period of parental care, where the young are protected from doing things seriously on their own to survive.

“That’s why you find play much more often in mammals and birds,” he said.

Keeping it interesting

Dancing cranes interested Prof Burghardt because adult birds, and not just chicks, exhibit this play behaviour.

“Maybe one of the functions in cranes is that it helps keep the [long-term] pair bond exciting and interesting,” he said.

For Dr Dinets, “it solves the old mystery of what crane dances are, but since play is so mysterious, it just replaces one riddle with another.”

Common cranes have now returned to parts of the UK, notably Norfolk, after a 400-year absence.

Other key places to see the spectacular performances are the Somerset levels and moors, where the Great Crane Project have been releasing captive bred birds since 2010.

If you are thinking about watching the dance of these distinctive birds then the project’s Amy King suggests dawn and dusk on a windy day when the birds “leap in the air and spin around, run and jump”.

“[It] looks like they are having fun,” she said.

Rumba dancing in Cuba


This music video is called Havana Rumba at Callejón de Hamel, Cuba.

By Elaine Correa:

Rumba beats stereotypes

Wednesday 06 March 2013

Spontaneous dance sessions on the streets of Havana which defy facile interpretation

The worlds of holiday dreamland and raw reality collide in the Callejon de Hamel in Havana on Sunday afternoons.

This is no ordinary alley. On those afternoons the whole place breathes rumba as the weekly Afro-Cuban cultural pena – social gathering – takes place and anyone can wander in and take part.

It’s a tight fit – musicians and their percussion instruments, singers throwing their hands up in the air and dancers moving fast as they flick their skirts and handkerchiefs with their pint-sized offspring trying to follow.

The audience is sandwiched around the invisible lines and spread out in all directions, especially where there’s a bit of shade. In the co-ordinated mayhem nobody shoves their elbow in their neighbour’s ribs. A young couple are dancing to an impossibly fast-paced piece. She’s wearing flip-flops and a pair of denim hotpants that don’t leave much to the imagination. He has a beer can in his hand, with which he gestures toward her crotch every once in a while as they dance, sweat dripping, tongues out and gold teeth gleaming.

Both are full of sexual energy. “That’s a bit vulgar, isn’t it?” says a foreign voice. Like many of the 2.5 million tourists that come to Cuba every year, the speaker is perhaps taken aback by the reality of some aspects of Cuban culture compared to what is often packaged and sold to tourists.

In the port city of Matanzas, one of Cuba’s main trade hubs in times of slavery, rumba was born from the secularisation of a whole range of rhythms taken from African and African-derived religions.

Imagine the sheer complexity of it. Men who worked in the docks began dancing to rumba competitively, as a display of their skills and attitude. This style became known as rumba columbia. Today there is also yambu – a slow dance for couples intended for the older generation – and guaguanco, a fast-paced dance full of sexual connotation and competitive tension between man and woman.

Cuba has changed since the 19th century, and spontaneous rumba sessions are becoming scarce as its official recognition increases. There’s a rumba module in the dance department of the University of the Arts, where it is dissected and choreographed, and going to a rumba often involves more watching a show than dancing. This may be the price to pay for rumba to shake off its “marginal” status in the eyes of many white Cubans.

Since the guidebooks began trumpeting the existence of this free Sunday rumba, it has almost been taken over by tourism. Almost. There is a bar that sells overpriced mojitos and a seating space under the shade of a canopy only for those ready to fork out hard currency. There’s a core of handsome young men fishing for foreign amigas and also a slightly pushy pass-the-hat policy. But there is no unintimidating and smiley presenter who takes the microphone before the show to explain the programme in three languages – “What you’re about to see, ladies and gentlemen…”

Plenty of Cubans from the neighbourhood go to the pena simply to enjoy the music and the vibe, graciously ignoring the tourist presence.

Anecdotes, love stories, confrontations, criticisms and much more are the many themes of rumba. But the one point in common is dignity and respect. Don’t talk behind people’s backs. Don’t even think of hitting a woman. Rumba teaches people values. Its rhythms are so complex they drive non-Cuban musicians up the walls. You won’t learn rumba at your local pub’s weekly salsa class, not to mention by watching Strictly Come Dancing.

Either you grow up in the right marinade or you can’t claim it. Unless you know what you’re watching, all you will see is the sweaty skin, tongues out, hips thrusting and gyrating.

Unless you know what you’re watching, remember not to judge.