Monday, November 23, 2009

Dame E at Her Very Best


It seems to me that Dame E is at her very best in the short mostly scripted comedy festival format.

Of course, there are hallmarks of her full one-woman stage shows - such as the interaction with a single member of the audience.

This usually begins with some pretty subtle (and scary) scanning of the front few rows - left ...


... and right ...


... until a suitable victim is spied ...


... at which point, an expression of devilish delight usually passes over the face of the demonic Dame ...


The doomed soul is seized on in a pythonesque and unreleasing grip ...


... and lured into participating in their own public humiliation and destruction ...


... which they usually do with good humor ...


Watching the video, I realized I hadn't remembered how pants-wettingly funny Dame E's slow and exaggerated facial freeze expressions could be ...






So enjoy ...

video

... as I will cos I think I'll just look at it one more time ... or two ... or five ... .

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Film of Diaghilev Ballet Russe Ballerina Absoluta At Home

Tamara Karsavina arranging things in a doll's house in the garden at home in England (1920s)

A couple of days ago I came across some footage of the great Mariinsky (now Kirov) Theatre and Serge de Diaghilev Ballet Russe prima ballerina, Tamara Karsavina ...

In 'L'Oiseau de feu' / 'Firebird' (1910)

In 'Giselle' with Vaslav Nijinsky (1910)

With Vaslav Nijinsky in 'Le Spectre de la Rose' (1911)


With Vaslav Nijinsky in 'Le Spectre de la Rose' (1911)


With Vaslav Nijnsky in 'Le Spectre de la Rose' (1911)

In 'Les Papillons' (1912)

In 'Les Papillons' (1912)


With Serge Lifar in 'Romeo et Juilette' (1926)

Tamara Karsavina c1960 teaching the ballerina role in 'Le Spectre de la Rose' (1911) to Margot Fonteyn

... doing a variety of ordinary and less ordinary things at home in England in the 1920s, such as arranging things in a doll's house ...



... choosing some material to be made into a dress ...


... reading a letter in her study ...


... exercising and dancing in the garden ...




... and leaving the house for a performance at the Coliseum Theatre in London ...


... turning to take a coat from a maid ...


... as a cat scurries past!

video


The footage of Tamara Karsavina in these mostly every day activities seems to make her more real and less like simply the great and remote legend of the photographs, memoirs, histories and biographies of the Ballet Russe era.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Importance of the Beginning?


I was re-reading Martin Boyd's 1957 novel 'An Outbreak of Love' over the past few days and again thought about how important a beginning is.

Everyone remembers the the first few lines of 'David Copperfield' (Charles Dickens) ...

I AM BORN

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.


And probably knows that one of the tenets of Greek drama held that all characters and events should introduced or foreshadowed at the outset. Which Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa does so perfectly and without seeming calculation in the opening chapter of 'Il Gattopardo' ('The Leopard'), my favorite novel of all time.

So I happily settled down, coffee in hand, after the first paragraph of Boyd's novel ...

'Our minds are like those maps at the entrance to the Metro stations in Paris. They are full of unilluminated directions. But when we know where we want to go and press the right button, the route is illuminated before us in electric clarity. We may go through life with no light ever shining along the unused tracts of our mind; or something, the influence of our parents or our friends, our environment or our own stupidity may cause us to press the wrong button, so that instead of reaching stations of which the names glow with history and devotion , Sevres Babylone, Cluny, Strasbourg St Dennis, we arrive only at Monge. The right button is more often pressed by some accident than by our own choice, as when a line of poetry or a glimpse through a doorway may show us where we long to go'

Happily cos this opening so nicely reflects, among other things, the epiphany I experienced at twenty something when I went to a party and someone told me about semiotic theory and I phoned Sydney University about a post graduate course ... and ultimately became an academic in the field. And I understood that much of life is chance - and all my anxiety at not being able to answer the question 'What are you going to do with your life?' was unnecessary.

So beginnings are important in novels and the like - but, counter-intuitively, not necessarily in life!

Monday, November 16, 2009

C12-15 Yoruba Art Across Nigeria, Benin and Togo

Head of an Oni (King) from Ife Oni Palace Vicinity, Nigeria C XII-XV

I've long been bowled over by Yoruba art of the C12-15 - though the Yoruba, who were spread across south-west Nigeria, Benin [Dahomey] and Togo, would probably rather see these as objects with particular social functions within their culture.

I got hooked a few years back after buying a late C19 Yoruba divination stick ...





The Yoruba are perhaps best known in the international tribal art world for twins figures, carved when women have twins ...

Yoruba mother holding her twins. Town of Share, North Oyo. Deborah Stokes 1980

... to mitigate the danger to one child if the other dies, as it is believed they share a single soul ...

Yoruba mother with memorial figures of her deceased twins Selia Alaka, town of Ikoyi, Ogbomoso. 1980 Deborah Stokes

Yoruba Carved Wooden Twins


But I'm getting distracted from what I set out to post - the astonishing beautiful C12-15 bronze, copper, brass and pottery heads of Oni (rulers) found at the Palace at Ife.

These sculptures speak so eloquently ...

Head of an Oni From Wunmonije Compound, Ife C12th-15th

Head of an Oni Brass CXII-XV

Head, Ife, Nigeria, 14th-early 15th century

Obalufon Mask, Ife Nigeria, C12 Copper


Copper Mask of Oni Obalufon II

Crowned Zinc Brass Head of an Oni C12-15 From Wunmonije

Terracotta Head of a Queen C12-13 From Ita Yemoo

Terracotta Head of Lajuwa, Oni's Palace, Ife C12-13

Terracotta Female Head from a Figure, C12-15

... that there's absolutely no need for any 'blah blah' from me!