Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Angels, Demons, and Savages": Valentine's Dance Trilogy presented by Phillips Collection (for painters Ossorio, Pollock, Dubuffet)


Tonight, I attended a performance of a “Valentine’s Dance Trilogy: Angels, Demons, and Savages”, by the CityDance Conservatory, to celebrate the art  of Ossorio, Pollock and Dubuffet, at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC.

The five sections were a Prelude, “Angels and Wings”, “Demon Spirit”, “Burtal Beauty (Demons)”, and “My Heart Has Four Corners”.

The performance was preceded with a solo electric cello concert by Wytold, (Resident Artist, Strathmore AIR Program, at the Mansion), a suite of his called “Do You Know?”, a ground bass with variations, often using sequences of four repeated notes.

The dancers, some of whom are teenagers, are Brittany Goodman, Alexandra Grayson. Katherine Koegel, Mica O’Brien, Dana Pajarilaga, Holly Blackweidler, Matthew McLaughlin, Brian Galvez..

Each ballet dance movement was performed with an appropriate abstract painting in the background.
  
Galvez had the wings of angels drawn temporarily on his back.  Unlike the Washington Post preview picture, the men wore trousers, but no tights.  The dancing obviously required athletic precision and considerable upper body strength.

The auditorium (two floors down below) and stage are small, and the performance was sold out. It was impossible to see all of the dance through people in front.  The stage needs to be higher. 
  
It’s curious that one of the leading characters in my novel manuscript (Angel’s Brothers) has a college student of partly Hispanic origin, who may (in the context of the “science fiction” of the novel) become an “angel”.  But there are no obvious markings in the novel.

There was a panel discussion after the dance program (30 minutes).  One of the dancers said that it was possible to interpret one of the numbers ("Savages") in terms of rejection in a relationship and even domestic violence, but it didn't have to be seen that way.  I didn't see much of the "Rite of Spring" in this setting.  The "Demon Spirit" number used a passage from Debussy's piano "Arabesque" repeatedly.  
   
The exhibition of the three painters is on the top floor (link).   The work has various materials, including coal dust and sand in one work by Dubuffet.  A piece by Ossorio is called “Martyrs and Angels”. 

Curiously, I didn't see any "no flash photography" signs on the premises.  Obviously, original paintings like some of these must not be exposed to flash.
  
On the second floor, there is a photography exhibition on environmental themes, with a photo of the BP oil spill disaster in 2010, and a photo by Burtynsjy of an open pit gold mine in western Australia hundreds of feet deep.  Wonder about mountaintop removal?

I used to go to piano and chamber concerts at the Phillips Collection in the fall of 1962, when I was a patient at NIH, an episode in my life that I have covered elsewhere in these blogs.

City Dance at Strathmore has this website

Wytold’s website is here. His music was used in the Sundance film “Blood Brother” which I have not yet seen.  (I just “saved” it in my Netflix queue.)  Yes, I wonder why does  someone have just a “one word name”.  But so does “Cher”.  Or “Beyonce”.  Or the film director “McG”. 

 Ed Harris directed and acted as "Pollock" in a 2000 film by that name (Sony Pictures Classics).  I saw it in Minneapolis.  
.Update: Feb. 16, 2014

There is a review of "Blood Brother" on my Movies blog today, and Wytold's cello suite is used throughout the film. 

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