Monday, November 16, 2009

Fantastic Arts Weekend

Doug Elkins and Friends performing Fraulein Maria

Choreographer Doug Elkins assembled a group of 13 dancers and re-imagined The Sound of Music as the spectacular Fraulein Maria, a 70-minute movement extravaganza that we attended Saturday evening. Excerpting the best music from the film, he developed dance set pieces to complement the music. The show verged on vaudeville, and it could very easily have stepped over that threshold. But in Elkins's skilled hands, it never took that fatal trip. Instead, most of the dances were humorous (but not slapstick) takes on the film music--truly inspired and very well performed by the "friends." A tall brunette female dancer and a well-built black male dancer (who was one of three Fraulein Marias in the show) were particularly skilled and masterful (they appear on the right and left, respectively, in the image above). Though an absolutely frenetic--nearly spastic--hip-hop version of "Climb Every Mountain" was the show stopper at the performance that I attended, I actually thought that the dance conceived for "Do, Re, Mi" was far more powerful, interesting and entertaining; it built and built in intensity until reaching its near-orgasmic finale. Bravo!

Fraulein Maria has been preformed fairly frequently in New York since it was created in 2006, and will be preformed there again this winter. I can understand why it keeps getting reprised. It's fun, engaging, and will surely become a milestone in the contemporary dance repertoire.
Also this weekend, we attended the 33rd-annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in central Philadelphia. This is a high-end show (i.e., expensive [admission was $15 per person to benefit the art Museum] ) with 193 top-notch artisans. Of course, the pieces were all highest quality, and priced accordingly. We really didn't expect to buy anything; attending the show is equivalent to visiting a fine museum. Nevertheless, my wife did purchase a maroon cashmere scarf ($148) to keep her neck warm during the upcoming cold weather.

In evaluating the show afterward, both of us agreed that we enjoy the huge but slightly more accessible American Craft Council show in Baltimore held at the end of February each year.

After we left the show, we went to Philadelphia's famous Reading Terminal Market, a huge space filled with butchers, bakers, and produce vendors, plus a lot of small restaurants. We had dinner at a creperie there--an interesting and out of the ordinary meal, for a change.

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