Being John McLean

This time last year, as relief from the winter gloom, we went down to Margate to see an exhibition of paintings by Patrick Heron. This year there’s no need to travel quite so far; the Art Space Gallery in Islington is full of winter sunshine until the end of January. I don’t know why I’ve never been before. It’s an intimate series of rooms and alcoves and niches, presently framing some wonderfully joyful bursts of colour by John McLean. It’s a memorial exhibition for a sharp, bright and generous spirit. Continue reading “Being John McLean”

Frames of reference

For Ashley

These days I seem to be mostly listening to cello music. I was recently introduced to this wonderful video performance by Ashley Bathgate of a piece written for her by Andrew Norman, inspired by J S Bach’s Prelude from the Fourth Cello Suite. It’s energetic, bouncy, playfully repetitive and fantastic.

Ashley Bathgate

Frames of reference

Parabelo: Grupo Corpo

Brazilian dance ensemble Grupo Corpo performing their 1997 piece Parabelo, choreographed by Rodrigo Pederneiras with music by Tom Zé and Zé Miguel Wisnik. “From working and devotional chants, from the memory of the rhythmic baião and from the exuberant and an ever present, entangled, rhythmic points and counterpoints, emerges choreography full of hip swaying and feet stamping. It’s a ravishing statement of maturity and of the expressive teachings, developed throughout many years, by the maker of Missa do Orfanato and Sete ou Oito Peças para um Ballet.”

Grupo Corpo | Parabelo

Frames of reference

Bach: Grupo Corpo

Brazilian dance ensemble Grupo Corpo performing their 1996 piece Bach, (“it’s like a game between what one hears and what one sees”), choreographed by Rodrigo Pederneiras with music by Marco Antônio Guimarães (channelling J.S.Bach).

Grupo Corpo | Bach

Frames of reference

Ama

A breathtaking short film by underwater freediving artist and director Julie Gautier.

“Ama is a silent film. It tells a story everyone can interpret in their own way, based on their own experience. There is no imposition, only suggestions. I wanted to share my biggest pain in this life with this film. For this is not too crude, I covered it with grace. To make it not too heavy, I plunged it into the water. I dedicate this film to all the women of the world.”

海の女 (ama) is the Japanese word for “woman of the sea,” which is also the name for Japan’s traditional shell collectors. The film is a metaphoric nod to these united women, while also representing the relationship that connects women from all over the world.

“For me, this film is a way to say: you are not alone,” said Gautier, “open yourself to others, talk about your sufferings and your joys.”

Frames of reference

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

Juicy Lucy

A tune for Mother’s Day from Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood.
This sweet video was directed by Billy Martin; he’s the drummer in the band –

The video for ‘Juicy Lucy’ features my mom, who is a former Radio City Rockette. At 81 years old, she’s still a phenomenal dancer. I’ve wanted to feature my mom somehow for a long time. She put tap shoes on me at a very young age and got me into rhythm.

Medeski Martin & Wood

Frames of reference

Smashed

A short trailer for Smashed by Gandini Juggling.

A mesmerising mix of circus and theatre, inspired by the work of Pina Bausch, “Smashed” is a series of nostalgic filmic scenes exploring conflict, lost love and quaint afternoon tea.

Another version, filmed outdoors, was featured here in an earlier Frames Of Reference blog post. Continue reading “Smashed”

Frames of reference

Vollmond

The Christmas full moon got me thinking lunatic thoughts and I remembered this wonderful piece by Pina Bausch for Tanztheater Wuppertal.

Vollmond, meaning full moon or high tide, is among Pina’s most revered works and has been making waves, literally, since its creation in 2006… The full moon highlights our humanity and how we get thrown into emotional highs and lows. Pina’s dancer-actors ride this roller coaster throughout Vollmond, showing vulnerability and strength, detachment and desire, collapse and vitality. It’s visceral. It’s deeply relatable. There is no one story to this show, it’s a glimpse into the lives of a handful of intertwined individuals. Vollmond is a work you can return to and always come out of with a new perspective. Continue reading “Vollmond”

Frames of reference

Flying To Barcelona

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Over the Pyrenees a week before Easter, en route to Barcelona, the spectacular view a heartbreaking reminder of the suicidal plane crash five days earlier. A flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf had fallen from the sky onto similar mountains near Barcelonnette in the French Alps. It was impossible not to think of it, to imagine its kamikaze descent, to remember its helpless victims. Continue reading “Flying To Barcelona”

Frames of reference