Reflecting on Katie Faulkner’s Divining
Every now and then I get an invitation to write a reflection or review for another blog. It was a pleasure to catch Faulkner’s most recent work and write for Life as a Modern Dancer.
It’s been a while.
More writing than watching, which means I’m working on an essay. Right now I’m looking at Christoper Wheeldon’s version of The Nutcracker (2017). What is most interesting about his version is not the choreography, but the new story written by Brian Selzinz. Can a Nutcracker be made anew?
Selzinz’s story is set during the 1893 World’s Fair Columbian Exposition in Chicago on Christmas Eve, this Nutcracker casts Marie as a fatherless immigrant longing to catch a glimpse of the exposition’s splendors and delights. The fair’s workers come together for a simple but lively Christmas party and are visited not by an uncle named Drosselmeyer, but by The Great Impresario (designer of the fair). The nutcracker doll, given to Marie by The Great Impresario, turns into a Prince (named Peter) to fight the rats that kidnapped Marie’s brother Franz. Marie, Franz, and The Great Impresario then travel on a gondola and meet the Queen of the Fair (Marie imagines her mother here) who grants them entrance to the Dream Fair. Like the Chicago 1893 World’s Fair Columbian Exposition, this Dream Fair has different country pavilions – Chinese, Spanish, Arabian, Italy, and even Buffalo Bill’s Wild Wild West Show (it replaces Russia). After watching The Great Impresario and Queen of the Fair dance a romantic pas de deux, Marie awakes from her dream back at home with her mother and brother on Christmas morning. The Great Impresario comes back. Marie’s mother seems to blush as she invites him to stay.
Selzinz describes the ballet as “Marie’s dream journey” and hopes that it “will illuminate what is special about all holiday stories…the value of love, the need for hope, and the comfort of family.” It’s a compelling message, yet told through a reference that most of us already know – – The Nutcracker ballet.
So, can a Nutcracker ever be new? I’m not so sure.
I’ve started to work with collaborators on this blog. I posted the first one a few weeks ago. I look forward to sharing this space with others that are watching and writing dance. I guess I need to write an editorial policy — more on that soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the next guest post.
In May, Text and Performance Quarterly published my review on Diana Taylor’s book Performance.
It was a fun review to write, but not easy. I think there is a lot to say about how Taylor’s Performance moves and what it attempts to argue. Unfortunately, the constraints and expectations of academic book reviews don’t always allow for the fullness of thinking about a text.
Here is a link if you’re interested in what I had to say about Performance.
I must confess. I’ve seen some dance and performance that I haven’t written about. Some of it was just too dull. Some of it just didn’t inspire. And others I couldn’t find the time to write the fullness they demanded. So here is a list:
May 7th Rioult Dance NY, “Bach Dances”
May 6th ODC School, “Uncertain Weather”
April 28th Risa Jaroslow & Dancers, “Touch Bass”
April 21st San Francisco Playhouse, “Noises Off”
April 6th Wooster Group, “The Town Hall Affair”
February 21st, San Francisco Ballet, “Frankenstein”
February 18th Mike Daisey, “The End of Journalism”
I’m looking forward to Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, “Dearest Home” (May 18 – 20) and Hope Mohr 10th Anniversary Season, “Precarious” (June 1 – 3). And I’m looking forward to writing.
A good friend pointed out that maybe after 2 years, I don’t have to write about every dance I see anymore. He pushed this point a bit further: “maybe you’ve gotten what you need out of that practice.”
He might be right, but I still strongly believe that this writing practice enables me to participate in the dance community in a way that (I feel) is meaningful, thoughtful, responsive. So do I write only about the dances that inspire or challenge me in some way? Do I write only when asked?
Another thought as I type is to write every week or so either about a dance I’ve seen or something about dance. I’m not sure I can keep up, but it would be a different kind of practice and writing.
As I ease into the possibility of writing more (and less), I offer a brief response to Meg Stuart’s show, “An evening of solo works,” at Counterpulse Jan. 20th. I went with a few friends; they knew more about Stuart’s work. We all agreed that “Blanket Lady” (2012) was the most compelling dance of the five performed. The music, costume, and choreography came together in such an interesting way. I wanted to see the entire piece (maybe I did). That said, what I enjoyed the most about the evening was being in the company of friends, talking dance and resistance.
I wrote a little review of the dance I saw in 2016. It’s not really a formal review, but more so a reflection on my writing.
Oddly, I already have tickets for a few shows. Here they are in chronological order:
Jan. 20 Meg Stuart, “An Evening of Solo Works” at Counterpulse
Feb. 03 Lucinda Childs Dance Company, “Available Light” at Zellerbach Hall
Feb. 21 San Francisco Ballet, “Frankenstein” at War Memorial Opera House
May 07 Rioult Dance, “Bach Dances” at Zellerbach Playhouse
May 18 Kyle Abraham, “Dearest Home” at YBCA Forum
5 performances to watch, and many more waiting to be seen. I can’t wait.
January 16th, “Restless Creature” Wendy Whelan
January 25th, “Bear/Skin” Keith Hennessy
January 29th, “Giselle” San Francisco Ballet
January 30th, “the why ask why we dance dance” Scott Wells & Dancers
February 19th, “Pavement” Kyle Abraham
March 7th, “Age and Beauty Part 1: Mid-Career Artist/Suicide Note ” Miguel Gutierrez
March 13th and 14th, ODC/Dance Downtown
March 3rd, “Antigonick” Shotgun Players
March 9th, “Schokovitch Trilogy” San Francisco Ballet
April 11th, “Pilot 65: Cruising Altitude”
April 19th, “Sarah (the smuggler)” Sara Shelton Mann
April 23rd, “Berkeley Dance Project”
April 25th, “Univerity of San Francisco Dance Ensemble Spring 2015 Concert”
May 8th, “An Intimate Evening of Three Choreographers” Margaret Jenkins Dance Company
May 27th, SF Danceworks Fundraiser
May 30th, “Stay and The Material of Attention” Hope Mohr Dance
June 5th and 6th, “Walking Distance Festival”
July 9th, “Bestiarium (or a conversation on empire and the multitude)” Paige Starling Sorvillo, Violeta Luna, Evelyn Ficarra
July 10th, “95 Rituals (for Anna Halprin)” InkBoat
July 16th and 17th, “Breath Catalogue” Megan Nicely/Dance and Kate Elswit
August 8th, “Pope.L’s Costume Made of Nothing” Brontez Purnell
August 19th, “Observations of Predation in Humans: A Lecture by Dr. Zira ,Animal Psychologist” Coco Fusco
September 12th, “Six Voice’s Sing Gertrude Stein” Ramon & Jessica’s A Cappella Big Band
September 25th, “Earth/Body/Home” Amara Tabor-Smith
October 3rd, “Eurydice” Shotgun Players
October 9th, “Umusuna: Memories Before History” Sanki Juku
October 29th, “Fact/SF JuMP”
October 30th, “Opus” Circa
November 11th, “Talk the Walk: Local Artists at the Intersection of Language and Dance” Hope Mohr the Bridge Project
November 10th, “Kaash” Akram Khan Company
December 11th 15 Years of Gravity, Jess Curtis
December 13th, “Peter and the Wolf” San Francisco Youth Symphony