Becoming: Nature’s Sensually Choreographed Battle with Man

Becoming: Nature’s Sensually Choreographed Battle with Man

Becoming is an acclaimed, stunningly beautiful short film created by Ayelén Liberona and Joseph Johnson Camí at Canada’s Wandering eye Productions.  The film is about a mythical woodland creature who is called upon to fight a battle with Man.  It mixes together beautiful imagery in the form of beautiful costumes and locations, as well as the beauty of movement by the main character, a mythical being named Idolamantis, an ancient woman who moves like a praying mantis.

Man is garbed in old jeans with a rope for a belt.  Barefoot and bare-chested, he is the epitome of the archetypal peasant, straining at trying to make a living.  The great shock for Man, and for the viewer, occurs when Idolamantis is caught in mid-air as she literally comes in for a landing on top of him.  What follows is an erotic, yet vicious duet for the two charismatic performers.  We have pushed nature to the limit and she is fighting back; the slinky, seductive, reptilian Idolamantis wins the day.

Becoming: Nature’s Sensually Choreographed Battle with Man

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Impoverished Places: An Inspiration to Comfort and Transform Us

Impoverished Places: An Inspiration to Comfort and Transform Us

Impoverished Places is a dramatic, uplifting five-minute short film produced by the Canadian filmmaker Karen Pascal, which provides a sensitive, poetically touching evocation of  our needs for human connections.  In the film, two dancers, one of whom has lived with Parkinson’s Disease for thirty years, enact a dramatic portrayal of the relationship between the finite and the infinite, while all the while reaching into their “impoverished places” to comfort and transform us.

The film stands as a bold reminder that people are capable of doing great things that can in turn inspire greatness in others.  It quietly makes a strong statement supporting our social aspirations for peace and a soothing sense of communion that is stronger and deeper than the need to win in the competition of life.  More specifically, it evokes an emphasis upon wishes for both belonging and human connection.  This, in turn, is interpenetrated with a hope for the kind of society in which people with developmental disabilities and the friends who assist them can work together in ways that enable each person to grow to his or her full potential.

Impoverished Places: An Inspiration to Comfort and Transform Us

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Isadora Duncan: A Dance Prodigy or Ridiculous Charlatan?

Isadora Duncan: A Dance Prodigy or Ridiculous Charlatan?

The Melodramatic Isadora Duncan: From International Celebrity to Poverty

Isadora Duncan was born in1878 in San Francisco (CA) and died on September 14, 1927, in Nice, France. As a young girl, Isadora rejected the formal rigidity of classic ballet and based her dancing on more natural rhythms and movements. Her earliest public performances in Chicago and New York City met with little success, and at the age of 21 she left the United States to seek recognition abroad. With her meager savings she sailed on a cattle boat for England. Duncan was soon invited to perform at the private receptions and salons of London’s leading hostesses, where her dancing, distinguished by a complete freedom of movement, completely enthralled those who were familiar only with the conventional forms of ballet, which at that time was in a period of decay. Soon the phenomenon of Isadora Duncan dancing barefoot and scantily clad as a woodland nymph, brought large crowds to theaters and concert halls throughout Europe. Duncan toured widely and at one time or another she founded dance schools in Germany, Russia, and the United States, although none of them survived.

Duncan’s private life, quite as much as her dancing, kept her name in newspaper headlines owing to her constant disregard of social taboos. The father of her first child, Deirdre, was the stage designer Gordon Craig, who shared her abhorrence of marriage; the father of her second child, Patrick, was Paris Singer, the heir to a sewing machine fortune and a prominent art patron. In 1913 a tragedy occurred from which Duncan never really recovered: the car in which her two children and their nurse were riding in Paris rolled into the Seine River and all three were drowned. Her subsequent tours in South America, Germany, and France were less successful than before, but in 1920 she was invited to establish a school of her own in Moscow. There she met Sergei Esenin, a poet 17 years younger than she, whose work had won him a considerable reputation. Her marriage to Esenin was a disaster, and his drinking and increasing mental instability turned him against her. He returned alone to the Soviet Union and, in 1925, committed suicide. During the last years of her life, Isadora Duncan was a somewhat pathetic figure, living precariously with little money in Nice on the French Riviera, where she met with a fatal accident: her legendary long scarf became entangled in the rear wheel of the car in which she was riding, and she was strangled.

Isadora Duncan: Dance Prodigy or Ridiculous Charlatan

In the early 1900s, fat, middle-aged, highly sexed women weren’t supposed to dance, bare their breasts, or take lovers half their age. But Isadora Duncan did all of that and more while she was leading her free-range, tragic, melodramatic life 90 years ago. Could this woman really have been a dance genius? In 1921, when Duncan was 44 years-old, fat and notorious, a 17-year-old English boy bought a ticket to see her perform at London’s Prince of Wales Theater. “I didn’t think I’d like it but I was absolutely captivated,” he recalled many years later. “I suppose she was rather blowsy, and the first impact of her gave me a shock, but that soon passed. I find that people now stress this appalling life that she led, and the sexual side, but I didn’t get that impression at all. She had the most extraordinary quality of repose. She would stand for what seemed quite a long time doing nothing, and then make a very small gesture that seemed full of meaning.”

That boy, Frederick Ashton, would grow up to become Britain’s foremost ballet choreographer, and he was not the only creative figure to be enchanted by the alternative dancing that Isadora Duncan performed. Auguste Rodin, the acclaimed sculptor, said that she was his greatest inspiration; Konstantin Stanislavsky, Moscow’s radical theater director, was fascinated; George Bernard Shaw was impressed, despite himself; and the pivotal figures of 20th-century Russian ballet, Sergei Diaghilev, Anna Pavlova and Michel Fokine unreservedly admired her. But while half the dance world marveled at Duncan’s magical ability to pluck dance from the air without apparent preparation or technique, the other half was totally dismissing of her as nothing but a sensationalist. The strongly held diametrically opposed opinions of Isadora ranged from those who adored Duncan and described her work as spectacular, to those who flatly described her as rubbish. But one can’t ignore the fact that Duncan was outside of her time, and very bravely, too; she knocked a lot of conventions on their head. She was also a widely-known celebrity figure, honored in theaters throughout Europe and pulled through the streets in carriages surrounded by adoring throngs. During her onstage performances, Duncan would give little talks that embraced Communism, attacked the rich and harangued her audiences.

The very short video presented below is footage from an outdoor recital given by Isadora Duncan. In the opening section, Isadora adjusts the robe on her shoulder, and then the dance continues beyond that. It is the only known piece of film showing her dancing.

Isadora Duncan: A Dance Performance in the Forest

Photo-Gallery: The Melodramatic Isadora Duncan

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