IN LOVE WITH ISADORA

Dancer Isadora Duncan was one of the great dancers (according to some). On the other hand, Balanchine remembered her as a “drunk fat woman who for hours was rolling around like a pig.” A new book examines her life: “Isadora’s melodramatic death in 1927, at the age of 50, came too late to save her reputation from ridicule. Blowsy and reckless, she commandeered a ride in a sports car (the marque was an Amilcar, not a Bugatti) in order to try out the handsome driver. The long fringe of her red shawl caught in the rear wheel, her neck snapped and her body was dragged along the road for 30 metres. The perfect end, according to Jean Cocteau: ‘A kind of horror that leaves one calm’.” The Observer (UK) 01/27/02

FORBIDDEN DANCE

Capoeira is “a 400-year-old Brazilian martial art that arrived in North America only 25 years ago. Developed by slaves as a weapon to strike for their freedom, it was outlawed in Brazil for such a long time – it only became legal in the 1930s – that in order to survive it was disguised as dance. The outcome is an exhilarating art form that in North America has undergone yet another metamorphosis.” The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/26/02

LESSER OF TWO EVILS

For mid-level ballet companies, the choice of what to do about music is never an easy one. Everyone agrees that live music is preferable to recorded, but the cost can be prohibitive, and once a regular ensemble is engaged, union rules can make it very difficult to disengage them. Still, is the ballet really the ballet when the sound comes from a speaker rather than an orchestra? San Francisco Chronicle 01/20/02

MOVING WITH THE TIMES

Yuri Grigorovich, for 30 years the master of the Bolshoi Ballet, wielded absolute power during his reign. In post-Soviet Russia he was ousted from his perch. “Clearly he saw the writing on the wall in terms of his future with the Bolshoi; as a principal cultural powerbroker in the old Soviet regime, he was a natural target for housecleaning.” But he quickly put together a new company, made up of young dancers from the leading schools. The company is now in America for an impressive tour. Chicago Sun-Times 01/16/02

APPRECIATING DANCE

How does one teach the aesthetics of dance as an artform? “All students have seen dance movement, if only music videos on MTV or Broadway musicals. But appreciating dance as an artform requires some understanding of the cultural status of works of art. What makes ordinary movement different from artistic movement? What makes social or ritualistic dance different from theater dance?” Aesthetics-online 01/02

THE FACE OF DANCE

“Those of us who love dance are sometimes haunted by the memory of a particular face on stage. What force is it that, without close-ups to simulate intimacy or words to aid communication, imprints the dancers’ personalities into our consciousness? Do the thousands of hours of sweat and self-criticism that mold the dancer’s body also mold the face? Or is there an essential presence that is inborn? One thing sure is that the charismatic dance face is not achieved through a deliberate effort but mysteriously springs from some deep connection between mind and body.” The New York Times 01/13/02