PREVIEW: Looking Back, Moving Forward

MFA Dance Performance: J. Lindsay Brown and Jessica Post

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (April 4th, 5th and 6th), two MFA candidates in the Dance Department will showcase their long-time-coming theses. I will be there for several reasons. One of which is that I love watching student dance performances, no matter who is dancing. And two, because these two lovely ladies are both instructors of mine. J. Lindsay Brown (who is crouched ever so gingerly  in the tree on the left) teaches a Composition/Improvisation class and Jessica Post, the lady in pink on the right, teaches Body Conditioning. Both are productive and challenging courses  in all the right ways, though  very different from each other. By the sound of it, that’s very how these two dancer/choreographers are, so their collaborative performances will be dynamic and interesting to watch.

Lindsay’s piece is an extension of her undergraduate BA performance, where she explored fairy tales and the untold stories behind them. Through an independent study of German and other European fairy  tales, she gathered inspiration and channeled it into movement. Imagining what Rapunzel’s heavy hair must feel like, or Sleepy Beauty’s groggy slumber, Lindsay choreographs a piece that tells  age old fairy tales in an unexpected way. And unike many classic  stories, this narrative features the female character instead of shunting her to the side to stand prettily in the shadow of the Knight in shining armor.

Jessica’s performance, called “Moving from the Inside Out,”  is less theatrical than Lindsays’, and perhaps more athletic and physically oriented. As a somatic study, this dance explores  how different bodies perform the same activity, or how the same movement looks different on every body. Using movement techniques which she perfected in her study abroad in Vienna, Jessica designed a three person piece that forces an interaction between muscle and mind. About her process, Jessica said, “It was not enough to make a dance just about movement, I had to include the mind and spirit as well.  A new question emerged: “How does one continuously shift between a quest for optimal and idealized movement and the reality of daily stresses and the messy nature of the human condition?”

One thing about this performance that is anomalous to most  is the stage. The first piece will be performed by three people (some undergraduate dancers) on a three sided stage and the second will  be performed by four dancers on a four sided stage. This non-traditional space reflects the boundaries that will certainly be pushed by the concepts and the movements addressed in these theses. Both Jessica and Lindsay will both perform in their choreographed productions alongside the dancers with whom they spent months collaborating.

Each evening, the show will be held in The Betty Pease Dance Studio in the Dance building. For more information, check out the press release. The show starts at 8pm but $5 tickets sold at the door go fast so get there by about 7pm if you mean business. Enjoy the show and see you there!

PREVIEW: UMMA’s 24-Hour Art21 Screening

UMMA’s 24-Hour Art21 Screening

If you find yourself at the UGLI this Staurday night, studying into the wee hours of the morn and, nearing dawn you need a study break, never fear! Entertainment is on the way. UMMA and the UGLI are teaming up to present a 24-hour marathon screening of Art21. PBS’s series features one hour pieces on famous twentieth century contemporary artists. The episodes to be aired this weekend will include celebrated  names such as Kara WalkerAi Weiwei, El Anatsui, Cindy ShermanMatthew Barney, Barry McGee, Laurie AndersonMarina AbramovićJeff KoonsJohn Baldessari, and many more (ninety, to be exact, because this event honors 100 working artists). The series invites viewers into the studios, homes, galleries, and creative spaces of these pioneering stylists. This behind-the-scenes look is inspiring to artist types and others alike.  So whether you intend to be at the library this weekend or not, you will certainly have something enjoyable to do!

For more information on Art21, click here. The Facebook event and the UMMA’s student blog The Annex will also tell you everything you need to know about the screening. See you there!

REVIEW: Ann Arbor Film Fest Award Screening

Ann Arbor Film Fest Award Screening

On Sunday night, the Ann Arbor Film Fest holds a closing screening of the year’s award winning short films. I sat in for part one of the two part award show and saw a variety of films that took home impressive titles for this year. The evening opened with a short film made by – no artist in competition- but by audience members themselves. Over the course of the Festival, a dry erase board in the lobby captured the doodles and scribbles of patrons of the films. The final collection of drawings was compiled into a stop motion film and was presented as a prelude to the award winners. It was so gratifying to see audience work transform into something experimental and avante-garde over one week of time.

The sequence of winning pieces  included about 10 films from a variety of genres. Stills from my favorites of the collection are featured above. “Split Ends, I feel Wonderful” was a montage of vintage footage of women and men in hair salons getting cornrows. The shots  was overlain with the bourgeois accent of a man commenting on the coif and the culture that so often sports it. The short film carried obvious, but gentle, socio-political commentary.  The second film, which was my favorite of the whole competition, was called “Dad’s Stick.” The British filmmaker made a portrait of his late father, using a slide show of colored panels and a few of his personal belongings beneath short text that described the relationship between each item. It was a very touching film- surprisingly so- given how simple it was; I felt I knew the father so well after seeing only a few of his things. The final film of my top three favorites was one I had already seen at the animated short film screening. It was called “Bite of the Tail.” It told the story of a troubled marriage that was strained by the wife’s mysterious health problems and her husband’s obsession with hunting for snakes in an empty city lot. The narrative was very unusual and the animation was so human that it was captivating to watch.

While these three films were intriguing to me, most fell flat in my opinion. They were too experimental to be accessible; too epileptic and flashy to be pleasant to watch. I noticed a thread of commentary about film- the actual medium- by simulating VCR videos with digital recording devices. I adore the film fest so I was happy to see what this year brought, but I didn’t walk away feeling particularly fond of the selections. Perhaps I just don’t know enough about experimental film. maybe I need to study up before I go back for more screenings next year.

REVIEW: Ann Arbor Film Fest Animated Shorts

Ann Arbor Film Fest Animated Shorts

On Friday night, I attended my favorite film event of the festival: the Animated shorts. The screening 14 mini films ranging from 1 to 1o minutes. The style of each was highly varied, though the recurring theme remained the same throughout: darkness and sadness. While some films used traditional cartoon animation, others used collage, paintings, fibers, and other mediums of animation. Some used dialogue and human voice, dialogue, and narration,  while others used electronic music, abstract soundscapes,  and silence. With film makers from all over the world using influences from literature, personal biography, and political polemic, the series was a very strong curation of artwork.

However, the sadness factor was all-pervading. The films touched dark moments in the psyches, representing disturbed and distorted images that were transportive albeit harrowing. After the show, I ran into a woman I work with at the UMMA and she shared her opinion: “It’s this kind of a thing that makes everyone else think that all artists and depressed!’ It is true that it was depressing, but finely produced and worth seeing- had I had the caveat in advance.

On Sunday, the competition screens the cream of the crop, the winners from each category. I imagine that  one or more of these films will take him recognition at the end. They creative, unusual, and interesting to witness. To read about the animated film makers and watch clips from the animated shorts, click here. I hope you enjoyed the film fest and, if you didn’t make it this year, be sure to check it out in the future!

PREVIEW: UMMA’s Student Late Night

UMMA’s Student Late Night

On Thursday April 4th from 8-11 pm, the UMMA will host the annual Student Late Night. Since September, the UMMA Student Programming Advisory Council (SPAC) has been planning for this multi-media evening. The venue will be jam packed with activities, performances, and prizes.  WCBN Radio will be DJ-ing all night; live music  includes Music School senior Peter Felsman and friends who will accompany a performance by Cadance Dance Company.  The Ann Arbor Art Center will host an art-making activity. The SPAC has arranged a scavenger hunt throughout the museum, featuring pieces from the permanent collection. But there will also be ample opportunity to explore the visiting exhibits by El Anatsui, Florencia Pita F/P Mod, and Francis Alÿs. There will also be  a photo booth for you and your friends as well as free snacks and refreshments. The evening is partially  sponsored by Arts at Michigan and a number of local businesses and restaurants whose goods are up for prizes. Come get your UMMA gear, including buttons featuring images from the permanent collection, and so much more.

Bring your friends! In the meantime, check out the SPAC’s blog The Annex. See you there!



If you haven’t already heard of UM SOUP, I’m sorry to tell you that you are one step behind. The good news, however, is that now you know! And now that you are IN the know, you can attend of the most inspiring, student organized events in town.

Inspired by DETROIT SOUP, Junior PiTE student Izzy Morrison decided to arrange Ann Arbor’s very own UM SOUP. The way it works is this: all semester long, locals and students have been submitting proposals for community oriented projects that need funding. Those who attend the dinner enjoy a great evening and vote on the project proposal with the greatest potential.

Here is a blurb about the event that Izzy wrote for

“For $5, A2 residents and UM students can have a fun evening learning about local projects, eating a local meal, jamming to live music, and voting on their favorite community project! The event will take place March 23rd at 7pm at LIVE Ann Arbor. At the end of the night, the winner will receive collected funds. These grants support start-up community projects that might have no other means to get off the ground. All SOUP applicants have the opportunity to make connections and talk to potential supporters over dinner. There are no rules for proposals, except that they benefit the greater community.”

For a list of project proposals, click here. Some propose to address educational, health, and environmental prospects, while others focus on transportation, discrimination, or crisis aversion. Live With food donated from Zingerman’s, Crazy Wisdom, The People’s Food Co-op, and Izzy’s mom,  the dinner will surely be delectable. Live entertainment will include Music School student Gabirel Wilk’s Latin inspired band, Gabriel and the Keystones, and spoken word artist Carlina Duan. This is not a community event to be missed!

February 23rd, LIVE  Ann Arbor on 102 First St., 7pm, $5 tickets at the door. All are welcome.

Check out the Facebook event for more info. See you there!