Notes for Bears Ears say the piece aims to raise awareness of the current controversy surrounding Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah. While designated as a National Monument by President Obama, Bears Ears is now a symbol of the Native American struggle as a result of the current Administration's attempts to reverse Obama's designation.
Articles by Mari S. Gold
If angels wore dark blue and carried music scores they could be the Soharmoniums. This all women’s chorus brightened the stage fifty-strong and filled the ears of the audience. A beautifully blended vocal group, it added to the pleasure to see them in uniform dress so that the eye was not distracted and all attention could be focused on their entirely delightful offerings.
The work asks “what does Utopia mean to you?” The standard definition of Utopia is an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect. What I saw was seven dancers, (five women, two men), in vaguely Greek white costumes dancing with long, cylindrical poles. The dancers gave the premise a good try but the end result was bland. The poles, made by visual artist Keren Anavy, as well as the “rocks” that later became lighted headdresses, took over. The dancing seemed in service to the props so the concept of exploring a “perfect place” got lost in the shuffle. In fairness, there wasn’t much shuffling but rather too many repetitive, unimaginative steps with a few lovely interludes, notably when a man and woman briefly danced a tender pas de deux and later when the troupe ran in place with the poles serving as trees flanking each dancer.
Start with the title: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde: A Comedy. Indeed, this production, based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s anything-but-amusing novella, has many funny (and even more quirky) moments beginning with the opening scene in which Jekyll and an unidentified woman watch a fumbled public execution. The particular, wacky charm of the show stems from the fine interplay between Burt Grinstead, playing Jekyll and Hyde and Anna Stromberg playing everyone else—Jekyll’s maid, Poole; a London Bobbie, Jekyll’s friend and many other characters, each identified by a single costume piece or prop. Grinstead and Stromberg also wrote the script that centers around duality and the nature of morality while Stromberg directed.
Technically The Hello Girls were the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit, telephone switchboard operators who were sworn into the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I. The corps was formed in 1917 by General John Pershing in hopes of improving the state of communications on the Western front. Over 7,000 women applied but only 230 of them, many former switchboard operators, all bilingual, actually went to France.
Both “Imprint Ghosts” and “Menagerie” were world premieres. “Menagerie,” the second piece, is described as a “strange or diverse collection of people or things in a household unit.” It was also said to be made for 6 dancers; 5 roses, 4 FREEDAS, 3 hundred unicorns, 2 co-creators and 1 home. I have no idea what a FREEDA is nor, beyond the dancers, did I see any of the other items. What I observed was a self-indulgent work with a group of dancers in black lace tops moved around with devices that vaguely resembled ironing boards and metal poles. I feared for their safety—might the man who thrust his head through the “machine” get stuck?
The Dessoff’s core group of about forty singers was in great form, presenting a short work by Bach followed by William Shuman’s Carols of Death and then As Adam Early in the Morning, a world premiere by Douglas Geers as the first half of the program. The second half consisted of Messa di Requiem, composed in 1923, by Ildelbrando Pizzetti.
A visit to the Guggenheim Museum usually involves walking up or down (I vote for top down) the winding ramp viewing art. Last night spectators lined the ramps to watch Michelle Dorrance and a group of black-clad performers push wooden platforms across the floor and make sounds by hitting the top of the ramp with sticks—sticks that made sounds but nonetheless sticks.