Modern dance: The agony and the agony

Is anybody happy?

Stallone as Rocky: What Carrie Rickey won't tell you.
Stallone as Rocky: What Carrie Rickey won't tell you.

In his post-mortem to Philadelphia's recent Live Arts/Fringe Festival, our contributor Julius Ferraro professes to have spotted three trends: populous stages, an emphasis on movement, and an aversion to moralizing. If the Festival reviews by our dance writers are reliable guides, I think I've spotted a fourth:

—Jonathan M/. Stein's review of SCRAP's Tide: "…a remnant of humanity searching for meaning, or for connections to the only people who cared or might listen…"

—Stein's review of Headlong Dance Company's more: "….loving connections amid conflicting lives and imperfect bodies."

—"'Merilyn Jackson's review of Chunky Move's Mortal Engine: "Connectivity, both organic and electric, was another motif, with dancers joined only by their forefingers, lit with a pinpoint spot that, as it diminished to darkness, suggested a disconnect."

—Jim Rutter's review of Headlong Dance Company's more : " …a compelling visual and spatial array of disconnected bodies."

— Stein's review of Melanie Stewart's Kill Me Now: "They ask the audience to examine the animal within us and in the society we shape."

— Stein's review of Merián Soto's Postcards From the Woods: "…a meditative connecting to nature outside."

—Stein's review of Kate Watson Wallace's Store: "From this mass of textiles the performers emerged, as if this was a re-write of Genesis, with man's creation emanating from consumer goods."

—Stein's review of Brian Sanders's Urban Scuba: "Popil… imperiously terminates each of the three male performers, who die in a slow-motion descent down the wall of the pool."

What ever happened to dancers who dance for joy?

* * *

Old wine in new bottles:

Newspapers now encourage journalists to write blogs on the papers' websites— candid, personal observations where writers can let their hair down without regard for the stuffy old rules of conventional journalism. But old habits die hard.

Consider this excerpt from a September 25 blog by the Inquirer film critic Carrie Rickey, discussing The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies, by Ray Didinger and Glenn Macnow:

"I won't tell you what their No. 1 pick is, but it's a boxing film that is not Body and Soul…"

Why so coy, Carrie? Are you a journalist or a book promoter?

Let me (unlike Rickey) save you a trip to the bookstore: The book's choice for No. 1 sports film is Sylvester Stallone's Rocky.

We go the extra mile for you here at BSR. No doubt that's because, as Brian Tierney would put it, we're locally owned.

* * *

Talking about journalists, the venerable architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable recently jumped into the sweepstakes for longest and most convoluted sentence of 2009. See if you can navigate this, as it appeared in the Wall Street Journal of September 30:

"Part of a series called "'Living Architectures'— which includes "'Gehry's Vertigo,' a trip on the roofs of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao— by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, a husband-and-wife team of filmmakers, Koolhaas Houselife deals with the "'afterlife' of the widely published and highly praised house near Bordeaux, France, built by Rem Koolhaas of the Dutch architecture firm OMA for the family of a successful publisher, Jean-François Lemoine, confined to a wheelchair when his life was permanently altered by a crippling automobile accident."

It's like I've always feared: When the cutbacks begin, the editors are the first to go.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Want previews of our latest stories about arts and culture in Philadelphia? Sign up for our newsletter.