japonisme: 5/24/09 - 5/31/09

30 May 2009

(sitting in a tree-)

(sitting in a tree-)
o small you
sitting in a tree-

sitting in a treetop

riding on a greenest

riding on a greener
(o little i)
riding on a leaf

o least who
sing small thing
dance little joy

(shine most prayer) •

into the smiting
sky tense

tree leaps
a stiffened exquisite

wait the sweet
annihilation of swift

i make me stern against
your charming strength

O haste
drawing into you my enchanting

both poems by e e cummings

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29 May 2009

the hommage continues

listen to anitra's dance while viewing
new york times, august 21, 1917


Adolf Bolm, who was the "brains" of the Russian Ballet in its American seasons, as Michael Fokine was in Europe, presented at the Booth Theatre last evening his latest assembling of exotic dances, called "Ballet Intime," drawn from original sources as various as Russia, India, Java, and Japan.

Among his associate artists, Roshanara led with a "Hindu Fantasy" in dark silhouette, danced to the air of the "Hindoo Song" that Alma Gluck sings, played on this occasion by Jerome Goldberg as a violin solo with orchestra.

There were also Roshanara's "Snake Dance," "Ceylon Harvest," and an East Indian Nautch, with Ratan Devi, the British India singer, who on a platform before the footlights gave some of her own familiar and the authentic folksongs and classics of the East.

Michio Itow of the Imperial Theatre, Tokio, staged his own "Wine Dance," suggesting the methods of modern Japanese art, and the "Fox Dance," in mask and eerie fantasy, recalling the courtly "Noh" dances of old Japan.

The principal new production, recently rehearsed here before a tour of the Summer colonies from Washington to Newport and Bar Harbor, was Mr. Bolm's adaptation of Saint-Saens's "Dance of Death" in the manner of the choreodramas of the Diaghileff troup, with Rita Zalmani for a tiptoe partner, and Marshall Hall as the grinning Death, who tunes the fiddle and takes toll of the dancers at last, an idea congenial to that of the composer of the "Macabre."

Eva Gauthier sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the intermission. Marcel Henrotte played Schumann's "Carnival" for piano during briefer pauses, and in conclusion there were Bolm/s "Assyrian" and "Prince Igor" dances from the Russian tour.

Opera and theatre goers in about equal measure made up an appreciative audience, that applauded the presentation of a laurel wreath to Mr. Bolm, who hopes later to produce here an American dance after the "Red Mask" of Edgar Allan Poe.

Bed! Bed! I couldn't go to bed!
My head's too light to try to set it down! Sleep! Sleep!
I couldn't sleep tonight.
Not for all the jewels in the crown!

I could have danced all night!
I could have danced all night!
And still have begged for more.
I could have spread my wings
And done a thousand things I've never done before.

I'll never know What made it so exciting;
Why all at once My heart took flight. I only know when he
Began to dance with me I could have danced,
danced, danced all night!

Eliza, in My Fair Lady

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26 May 2009


the story in diaghilev's ballet scheher- azade is found nowhere (and, perhaps, everywhere, in bits and pieces) in the collection of stories called the arabian nights. there are stories which include the characters named in the ballet, including, of course, scheherazade, who is the 'featured player' of the book, but beyond this, it's sketchy, but who cares? one view of that backbend is all the reason one needs.

as you can see, the production of the ballet has remained remarkably similar, including the costumes by bakst and the choreography by fokine. then, as now, the designs have had a great power in influencing fashion and style.

george barbier was so moved by the ballet that he created a series of drawings illuminating the performance, and paul poiret openly attributed his inspiration to bakst.

even now, i can easily see bakst as further motivation to galliano in his fall 2009 rtw collection. and not only galliano, but the whole world celebrates the ballets russes this year because, as of this month, it reaches its hundredth year.

much has been written, and much of that fascinating, about the simultaneous appearances of scheherazade, salome, salammbo, and other very sexual, very dangerous, women during the terrifyingly liberating time of the fin-de-ciecle. it will not be added to here.

instead we will simply exalt and congratulate the multitude of wondrous artists who came together at that time: diaghilev, nijinsky, cocteau and matisse, bakst, and balanchine, and rimsky-korsakoff, and stravinsky. there were chanel and braque and leger and derain and miro and rouault and picasso and utrillo and gontcharova and pavlova, and redon.

or better yet, go celebrate them yourselves:
in boston, london, stockholm, amsterdam, salt lake city, hamburg, paris, and many many more.

or read more in the new york times, from harvard, or everywhere in the world! the universe! or even further out! start here! or here.

if we want to analyse, i'm sure there'll be time. for now, dance.

addenda: • Ballets Russes and Western Couture

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