reading and thinking about music and dance


Ruminating over Saturday night’s lengthy dance concert. I found it interesting that one of the more fascinating pieces to me was a reconstruction of a 1992 dance by the founder of the department, Maxine DeBruyn. The name of the piece was “doodle, doodle, doodle, SNICK.” Four dancers were dressed in contrasting body suits of single bright colors. Each of them had a long piece of elastic which ran from their head to their hands to their feet. Each convincingly maintained a startled facial expression with an open “oh” mouth. I was prepared by all this cutesyness to dislike the piece, but was quickly drawn in to its cleverness. There were two sections of  music (many of the other nine pieces had three sections!). What I remember about the first one was that old fashioned record vinyl noise was part of the music. Disappointingly I just googled the composer, Remi Gassmann, and found that he was used by the prominent dance choreographer George Ballanchine.

I seem to remember the second section as  being a synthesized piece that went well with the dated costumes and effective lighting.

Anyway, the over all effect of the evening to me was a lot of very sincere and talented young dancers who sincerely danced their teacher’s choreography and gave it their all. But the pieces themselves seemed to add up to an evening that demanded an audience indulge its designers with more patience than I would ask from any audience these days. The evening was about two hours and twenty minutes long.

When I compare that to how difficult I find it to keep an audience’s attention these days it seems doubly insulated by it’s context of the insular college environment and the unreal world of conservative Western Michigan.

Jes sayin,

I continue to plow through John Bortslap’s The Classical Revolution: thoughts on new music in the 21st Century. I’m about half way through. It’s obvious to me that Bortslap is a classic example of one of the blind man who has hold of a piece of the elephant and mistakes it for the whole.

His narrow definition of music (tonal sound organization in Western civ)  omits so much music that is important to me and indeed probably significant to the human experience that it’s basically meaningless. He often couches his comments in extremely purple prose colored with his own anger:

He describes a recent textbook on Serialism in Music as “a remarkable exercise in useless superfluity, with serialism being the most pointless, meaningless, amateuristic, destructive and nonsensical endeavor the musical world has ever seen…”

Come on, John, I think as I read, tell us how your really feel.

I am sympathetic with his critique of much modern academic writing. However his rejection of all music but the music he deems worthwhile and intelligently expressive is ludicrous. I ascribe it to his narrow academic European (Dutch!) experience.

Hey but what do I know?


1. A History Lesson That Needs Relearning –

Sam Tanenhaus rehearsing history in the face of the present Ukrainian crisis including origin of the phrase, “the cold war.”

2. Chokwe Lumumba, 66, Dies; Activist Who Became Mayor in Mississippi – NYT

One of Michigan’s own. Makes this Holland Michigan resident proud.

3. A Guide to the 2014 Whitney Museum Biennial –

A blow by blow of some interesting art work.

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