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Archive for the ‘Dance and Theater’ Category

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will be at the Museum of Contemporary Art for two more performances, January 28 and 29.  I saw them last night. During the intermission I scribbled in my sketch book. These performances leave me speechless.  Best to just let the pen make some marks.

(The sketch book I used is one of my self-made ones.  See post for November 11, 2011, “Make Your Own Sketch Book.”)

It’s a small theater, but you may still try for a ticket or two:

http://www.mcachicago.org/performances/now/all

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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There’s nothing like drawing from a live model.  It’s inspiring and invigorating and you can see the forms clearly.  In a pinch, if you feel the urge to draw but can’t get anyone to pose for you (good luck trying to find someone who’s willing and able to sit still these days), you can draw from photos.  But photos are so 20th century.

Instead, I recommend that you draw from YouTube.  Name a person, a topic, or an event, and you’ll find it on YouTube.  If you want to practice drawing faces, pick one of the thousands of clips of talking heads.  Run the video and decide which angle you’ll draw.  Stop the frame.  Voila.  Your model is sitting for you.  If you’re in the mood for gesture drawing, find a sport or a ballet.  Stop the frame.  You can be sure, no model would ever hold these poses.  You will get a work out, guaranteed.

Above, a page of studies after a ballet by Nacho Duato, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkC0hHat_ik

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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“Walking Mad” is choreographed by Johan Inger to Ravel’s Bolero.  You know Bolero and now that you’ve been reminded of it you’ve started humming it and you will be humming it til you leave the house to hear Dashing Through the Snow from every street corner, you hear.  Bolero starts like a march, like an accompaniment to a Medieval processional straight to hell in a tableau from Hieronymus Bosch and it repeats at ever increasing insistence and volume til it falls apart in blaring discord and exhaustion.   It’s usually associated with sexual frenzy.  But Johan Inger takes a less lascivious view of the old chestnut.  There are pelvises, thighs  and groins to relate to and there’s a wall.  The dancers interact with a wall.  They hit the wall, they are slammed against the wall, they jump at the wall, they hang from the wall, they try to climb the wall;  the wall folds, opens and lies down flat and gets walked on.  Plenty of frenzy here–sexual, violent  and existential.

I saw this performance by  Hubbart Street Dance Chicago two months ago.  Two months.  It was such a knock-out, that I didn’t think I could come up with a drawing associated to it.  I watched clips on You Tube of other dance companies performing passages from this piece and kept being overwhelmed.  No way  could I do justice to this piece, as a concept and as theater.  A couple of days ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon,  I just decided to watch the clip again and I started to draw.

The agony I had put myself through for two months was the same as the agony my students experience when they draw from life.   It’s the feeling that you can’t do justice to the grandeur and complexity of the model and the model will judge you,  implicitly.  So, I speak from fresh memory and insight, when I say, that’s not what it’s about.  It’s not about the model, it’s about you finding a new perception.  Yes, the drawing will refer to the model, but it will not be dominated by the model.  The drawing will be something new, will exist in its own right as a new object , never been seen before and full of surprises—most importantly to YOU.

Johan Inger was not paralyzed by the history of Bolero, not by its clichéd currency nor by any torture about what Ravel “really” meant to say. He did not hit a wall.  Well, yes, he did and then he put it into the work and worked with it.

We need to get back to this.  In the meantime, take a piece of paper and some pencil or marker, whatever is lying around, and draw. Draw something, the celery on the counter, the mug on your desk, the cover you just pulled off your printer.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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First I liked it, then I thought, nyah-nyah, and now, two days later, I can’t get it out of my head.  Sure sign it’s a good play.

It’s a rant punctuated by long silences, with a bloody, gutsy, painful recollection in the middle of it.  Rothko’s assistant is doing the talking while he mops up the red paint on the floor.  If you’ve ever felt frustrated because nobody has a definition of art, go see this play, pay attention and when the boy mops up the red stuff, don’t think for a minute this scene is about making the stage floor neat and safe.  That scene is the core of this play.  If you get it, you’re not likely to feel the need for a definition of art again.

“Red”  is a one-and-a-half hour play without intermission in which Mark Rothko (1903-1970) is portrayed at work and arguing with his new assistant, a young artist, who is excoriated by Rothko because he hasn’t read Nietzsche. “What do they teach you in art school!”  Indeed.

Since the proscenium forms the fourth wall of the studio which presumably would be covered by paintings-in-progress,   it happens more than once that Rothko and the assistant stand facing that “wall” with Rothko asking “what do you see?”   Of course, he’s asking us.  The silences in this play are important.  Rothko tells the assistant, 10% of the work is spent actually painting, the rest is thinking, looking, meditating.  The audience was not fidgety.  The silences really were silent.  There was much to absorb.

The last day to see “Red” by John Logan at the Goodman Theater will be a week from now, Sunday, October 30.   http://www.goodmantheatre.org/

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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The Hubbard Street Dancers make me crazy in the best way possible.  While I’m watching the performance, my mind is blank.  They allow no breathing time in which to be “smart” or to think metaphorically.  Instead, I am completely IN the dance.  My only sense of self-awareness comes from the occasional reminder to myself to… breathe.  When a piece is over, I momentarily don’t know where I am and I feel wiped out.

Then I go home and I’m sure I can’t possibly make a drawing from what I saw.  It takes me about four weeks to get up the courage to attempt a drawing.  Then I work from the videos on YouTube and my memory of the actual experience in the Harris Theater.

The piece I chose for the drawing is called 27’52” by the choreographer Jirí Kilyán.  The human body appears to be whipped about by forces that are not connected to any mythic notion of selfhood or poeticized emotion.  What these dancers do is a long way from the pretty feet and ankles that Louis XIV and his courtiers enjoyed.  The work of the Hubbard Street Dance Company is truthful to a painful degree.   It inspires me and nourishes me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8t1DFs0qVM&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC1VY93-oh8

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.khilden.com

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