Polka

Polka by Mark Morris. The dance uses a piece for violin and piano by contemporary composer Lou Harrison. Morris was taken by its final movement, called, strangely enough, “polka.”

I always start with a piece of music. I’m not doing, like, a musicological analysis and writing a paper or anything, but I’m figuring out in my mind what makes that particular piece work. So my intention is to say through dancing exactly what I think is being said through music.

Because I heard that “polka,” I said I must choreograph this right now. And to me, it sounds very, very ancient. And so I wanted to make up a dance that was evocative and a little mysterious and seemed like maybe people had been doing it for hundreds or thousands of years. That was my assignment.

Frames of reference

Jabberwocky

John Hurt reciting Jabberwocky, the first poem I learned by heart.
He died on 27 January 2017, Lewis Carroll’s 185th birthday.

If you’ve got an hour he also does a great performance of Krapp’s Last Tape.

Frames of reference

Art Ensemble Of Chicago

The Art Ensemble of Chicago play tonight at Café Oto, but I’m too late to get tickets, they’re all sold out. Instead I remember their performance at The Roundhouse in 1982, as part of the Camden Jazz Festival. They were astonishing and spectacular, unlike any other band, and able to encapsulate the whole history of jazz with wild improvisations and swinging ensemble playing and breathtaking solos. They were sweet and fiery and dynamic and funny and possibly the best band I ever saw. Here are four videos from Polish television of a performance in Warsaw, probably from the same tour, and the closest I can find to my memory of that fantastic night in Camden. Read more

Frames of reference

Protection

Then I stumbled upon this cry for help from Lucinda Williams
and it felt universal, like she’s crying to the trees for all of us.

Frames of reference

Oya

My twin daughters suggested this video by Ibeyi, a French-Cuban musical duo consisting of twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz.

They sing in English and Yoruba — a Nigerian language their ancestors spoke before being brought to Cuba by the Spanish to be made slaves in the 1700s — though Lisa’s is the lead voice, Naomi plays traditional Peruvian/Cuban percussion instruments cajón and Batá drum, while Lisa also plays piano. Ibeyi (Ìbejì) is Yoruba for “twins”.

Ibeyi

Frames of reference

Homage To Andrei Tarkovsky

The Tarkovsky Quartet – François Couturier, piano; Anja Lechner, violoncello; Jean-Louis Matinier, accordion; Jean-Marc Larché, soprano saxophone – at the Nostalgia Festival, Poznań in 2013.

Andrei Tarkovsky is my favourite filmmaker. “Andrei Rublev” was a revelation for me. Since then I have seen all his films over and over again… They are long poems, hypnotic in their slowness, and pervaded with spirituality. There is very little music in them. Tarkovsky used to say, “It’s my personal conviction that a film does not need music at all.” Anyway, he was a master of using it.

So I did not seek to make ‘scenic’ music of any kind but have tried, instead, to represent in each piece a specific emotion linked to the universe of this director – to his films, of course, but also to some of his favourite actors (Anotoli Solonitsyn, Erland Josephson) or composers (Bach, Pergolesi). Or even to the very original way he plays with shades of colour (“Crépusculaire”). This is our way of paying tribute to this great artist.

François Couturier

Read more

Frames of reference

Walking Back To Montefollonico

We’d just walked to Montepulciano in the blistering midday sun, feeling a bit like ‘mad dogs & Englishmen’ as we climbed the last few kilometres, quivering from heat exhaustion, thirsty and hungry and pretty sure we’d be returning to Montefollonico in a taxi. But after a surprising lunch at L’Altro Cantuccio we were rejuvenated and given new legs to walk us back home. Read more

Frames of reference

Montepulciano

We visited Montepulciano a few times last summer. The first visit was brief, having walked there and knowing we had to walk back, we stayed just for lunch and a quick look around. Through the gate, we followed the Corso winding steeply up through the town, feeling hungry and exhausted, sightseeing long enough for somewhere to rest awhile before heading back. We climbed all the way to the church of Santa Maria at the top of the town, only to return back down again, eventually finding a table near the Porta al Prato where we first came in. Read more

Frames of reference

Walking To Montepulciano

It was a circular walk, there and around and back again, but I got carried away with the camera and took far too many photos, so it might seem we were gone for three days instead of just the one. We were staying in Montefollonico – this quiet fortified village, with its small medieval houses, is Sienese in atmosphere, and inhabited by numerous doves and pigeons – and from our terrace we could see the birds come home to roost each day, across the valley from Montepulciano. Read more

Frames of reference

Trees: Irene Kung

I found a book under the Christmas tree, a souvenir of Italy. It’s full of spectacular tree photographs, apparently caught by flashlight; night-time dreaming trees suddenly startled awake. They are by the Swiss photographer Irene Kung –

“In my way of working it is possible to reinstate the tree to what I felt. That is exactly what I do with my work: I remove everything unessential in order to show the tree as it is, as I feel it. It is intuition, it is irrational: rationality can be misleading, sentiment cannot… I return the tree to what I have felt – its essence… A positive and fruit-bearing message in the face of crisis.” Read more

Frames of reference