Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dada Googoo Gaga

Last night, Lady O, her friend, and I attended the delightful first "Paris in the Jazz Age" lecture in the series for which we registered. After a discussion of art, Ballet Russe, and Ballet Suedois, the professor showed some slides and film clips about the period. I'm not a big fan of modern art, so I have to say that this was the first time I appreciated the blotchy paint splatters of Bakst, shown as the stage design behind 'Afternoon of a Faun.' It looked sumptuous and somehow right.

The prof also described the Dada cultural movement, which was a reaction to the barbarism of World War I. If the world had gone mad, what choice was there but to go mad too? A performance piece would be purposefully meaningless – the meaning must be found by the observer. A poem might be read at the same time as a dancer moved across the stage, at the same time that musicians might be playing unrelated sounds.

We watched a 1925 film from the intermission of the ballet Relache that showed flickering images of a cannon being dragged back and forth, an upside-down Paris, men chasing a horse-drawn hearse, and their subsequent disappearance. Whistles had been sold in the lobby of the theater, and the audience encouraged to make noise.

This morning, while reading a story to Q, he urgently requested his toddler tunes CD, and then waved his broom wildly and handed me stuffed animals, one after another. It occurred to me that entertaining a toddler is not unlike a piece of Dadaist performance art.

In other news, we've had three votes for the tumbling disco arms, so I think that's the official cool move for the 'The Wheels on the Bus go round and round.'

And thanks to Momma-to-Ashley and Kari for pointing out that it's "If you're happy" and not "When you're happy." I guess I've been in marketing too long and can't avoid spinning everything in the most positive light. I did a web search and found lyric listings for both "you really want to show it" and "your face will surely show it," so maybe that's a regional thing.


Mom101 said...

Thanks for bringing up a happy memory: Seeing Nureyev perform Afternoon of a Faun and Petrouchka with my dad as a kid.

By the way, I agree that the face line for Happy and You Know it? TOTALLY wrong. Isn't the point that you "really want to show it" and thus, you're clapping your hands? I mean, if your face is showing it, why clap your hands at all?

I swear I had this debate just the other day. I'm with you, mama!

Lady M said...

Mom101 - You've seen Nureyev perform? Wow!

I was taking a ballet class when he died, and the instructor told us a story about how he danced a performance for Nureyev when he was a teen. One of his happiest memories was having the great one tapping his face with champagne, commending him for his talent.