PREVIEW: Mark Morris Dance Group

What? A performance of Layla and Majnun by the Mark Morris Dance Group, presented by UMS

Where? Power Center for the Performing Arts

When? Thursday October 13 at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday October 14 and 15 at 8:00 pm

How much? Starting from $30

Why? The Mark Morris Dance Group is one of the most well-known dance companies in the world, and this September is their world premier of Layla and Majnun, a tragic and beautiful Persian love story. It is a performance not to be missed.

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by Kim Sinclair

PREVIEW: The Drowsy Chaperone

The Drowsy Chaperone is literally a musical within a comedy, as the poster states.  It is a hilarious story about the chaotic events occurring before a wedding.  I had the pleasure of performing in this musical a year ago and it was honestly one of my favorites.  The show is so light and fun, and is bound to make you fall out of your seat laughing at one point or another.

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U of M’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is putting on this wonderful production and I am beyond excited to see it tonight!  The music is so much fun and the story is extremely loveable.  Later, I will be posting a more in-depth summary of the show with my review.

Shows run October 13-16 and October 20-23.  Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

PREVIEW: Layla and Majnun

Layla and Majnun is an “opera” based on a Persian poem about lovers who will never be allowed to unite. Alim Qasinov and Fargana Qasimova, singers from Azerbaijan, will be showcasing their majestic voices accompanied by the Silk Road Ensemble and Mark Morris Dance Group as they tell this emotional story.

Just looking at the photos and sneak-peek videos make me happy. There are so many colors, emotions, movements, and art.

Photo by Susana Miller
Photo by Susana Miller

Layla and Majnun, to me, seems like the epitome of performing arts: a skillful combination of poetry, dances, fashion design, visual art, and of course, music — both improvised and composed. And that’s what excites me about it. Collaboration among different art forms is something that I’m striving to achieve in my final year of undergraduate degrees, and I can’t think of a better example than Layla and Majnun.

The show will be on Thursday October 13 at 7:30pm, and Friday & Saturday October 14 & 15 at 8pm. Tickets are running out, so get yours ASAP from the Michigan League Ticket Office or ums.org/students.

PREVIEW: C. Dale Young Reading & Booksigning

This week’s guest of the Zell Visiting Writers Series is C. Dale Young. Mr. Young is not only the author of numerous books and the recipient of numerous literary prizes and fellowships, but also a fully licensed physician.

I invite you to his web site to view a sample of his poetry, or here to read a sample of his prose.

Much of his work revolves around love and nature, and each poem of his that I have read is simple, yet pleasant and enriching.

Thursday, October 13th

5:30 PM in Helmut Stern Auditorium (basement of UMMA)

 

REVIEW: LHSP Pop-Up Luminary Parade

Students of Lloyd Hall Scholars Program’s art instructor, Mark Tucker, may theorize from past experience that rain often comes with luminary showcases. This year’s pop-up parade in Grand Rapids proved that theory wrong.

These students are LHSP student assistants and some Ypsilanti high schoolers who devoted the past month to creating luminary puppets: three-dimensional wire sculptures wrapped in papier-mâché with lights strung inside. The theme this year intersected space with sea – Emily Miu’s blowfish comet and Anna Minnebo’s full-body NASA/sea explorer costume were among whales and jellyfish, for examples.

Emily Miu's blowfish/comet luminary in lower right
Emily Miu’s blowfish comet luminary in lower right corner

On Saturday, October 8th, these students and some LHSP alumni (including yours truly) took a trip to Grand Rapids’ Art Prize to enjoy the public art and to create a pop-up parade of these luminaries at sunset around the city’s center. Last year’s debut parade day was rainy, which made for a very small audience and short-lived march. Last Saturday was graciously clear as the students prepared to carry their month’s worth of work around the busy downtown at night. The current LHSP student assistants carried their new puppets and others either carried older works brought along for the ride or drummed on metal and plastic buckets to draw more attention. Being a pop-up parade, nobody other than us from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti knew what this was. As hoped for, this only made for a more intrigued audience.

We marched around the city center as sunlight dissipated, across bridges with lit-up puppets, eccentric drum rhythms, and excited energy. Passersby on foot and in cars looked on in awe (and some confusion), shouting and honking their approval toward us. It went on for about an hour with high energy building and lasting throughout. It was a great opportunity to surprise an artful city with even more art from across the state, making its people smile and wonder what prompted it all.

The next time you’re in Alice Lloyd Residence Hall, take a look in the art studio to see what wild art they’re creating next. Maybe you’ll be the next member of a surprise audience.

Waiting for the sun to set; students getting ready to march
Waiting for the sun to set; students getting ready to march

REVIEW: Penny Stamps Speaker Series — Performance Animation

One of the many wonderful things about new technology is that it can lead to entirely new genres of art. Performance animation is one of those genres.

First, we were introduced to two blank screens. Then, a flash of light and color as animated landscapes splashed across the screens. A silhouette stepped into view, and we watched it interact with the buildings and plants and animals that appeared. At times the message was a clear narrative, while at others it was more of a series of dreams transposed on top of one another. If that makes the show sound trippy in any way, then good, because it absolutely was trippy.

Miwa Matreyek is a multi-talented artist currently on tour performing the two pieces that formed this week’s Penny Stamps event. “This World Made Itself” seemed to be more of a love story, although love was by no means the only theme. The juxtaposition of her gigantic form with a city skyline, and her interaction with a tiny animated figure, had strong allusions to King Kong.

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Her second piece, “Myth + Infrastructure,” dealt with the biggest themes possible: the birth and death of the world, modernization, death, life, and the interaction of mankind with the natural world.

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Time and again we watched Miwa swirl through bodies of water, capture and free flying insects, blend in and become one with the Earth.

Several times it was like a magic show. The audience and I reacted with awe when Miwa sprouted wings out of thin air and her arm melted away into a swarm of white petals. “How did she do that?!” the people next to me exclaimed as they recorded the performance for their Snapchat stories. I wondered the same thing as I too recorded a clip for my story.

Shows like this are rare opportunities, and I strongly encourage you to see the show in Ypsilanti on Friday, October 7 if you can.

You can get a small taste of the performance in this TED video here.