Posts Tagged ‘dance


what i learned (art & the human spirit)

with all the talk of diminishing returns on education in the united states & the slashing of budgets for many core curricula as well as extracurricular programs caused by the economic downturn, it was particularly heartening last night to be reminded how much art (one of the first things to be deemed unnecessary when school administrators & school boards bring out their budget axes. whack!) can be the salvation of so many.

that art (& i am not only talking about the visual arts, but all of the arts: music, drama, literature, dance) has the power to transform individuals’ lives, but also to release them from their prisons (made manifest by disease or social stigma) & allow them to move forward in life because they have found a way to communicate with the world around them is dismissed as inconsequential to the greater good of society is a mistake that is too often made by those with the power to determine the course of young people’s lives.   for shame.

when the voice of one child is quieted by the ignorance of an adult, it destroys what i would deem a sacred duty, a duty that each of us should hold dear, one that we should be held accountable for; that there is room in our world for all voices, regardless of how that voice comes to be.  to deny our society the benefit of creativity is surely the first sign (of many signs) that we are sliding irrevocably toward insignificance.

one can only hope, that the need to express one’s self through the arts will be too strong to destroy & that little by little, enough people will be able to see past their fears (the arts: unquantifiable = unnecessary!) & embrace their own creativity (we all have it, truly) & tend it, letting it flower as it should, in its own time & at its own pace.  we’ll be better human beings for it.



near & far (art & reality)

“in order for yuichi’s desire to come into reality, either his desire or his concept of what was real must perish.  in this world it is believed art and reality live quietly side by side; but art must dare to break the laws of reality.  why?  in order that it alone may exist.”  –yukio mishima, forbidden colors

on my afternoon walk yesterday (dogs in tow) i thought about things near & far.  the dogs’ reality is about nearness, what is at hand (or what is at nose.)  they are all about scent (esp. joey now that he’s going blind) & the macro is of utmost importance to them.

mishima’s quote was rattling around inside my head: that in order for art to exist it must break the laws of reality (for this little vacation i’ve indulged in i’ve picked up forbidden colors for a re-read 30 years since i last had opened its covers.)

& looking at these photographs that i took on the walk, i got to thinking about the end of reality & the beginning of art;  the plant life i photographed is real,  but only because we have been told it is.  could it not exist separately as a work of art in its own time?  as an abstraction of its reality?  perhaps even as a work of literature/music/dance; the staccato beat of the green leaves in contrapuntal harmony with the fuzzy white blossoms.

& just as a writer utilizes language by manipulating vowels & consonants, parts of grammar (participles & pronouns & gerunds & prepositions) to construct a voice (personal & universal) purposefully & with full intent to suspend belief so that their art exists solely on its own so does the visual artist juxtapose near & far, dark & light, color against color, shape & form & compositional tropes that play with our desires (real & unreal.)

like yuichi, must our desires (or our realities) perish in order for one or the other to exist & thrive?  without our foreground (our foot in reality) this photograph (above) would cease to be representational of our reality, instead its background (so far away) would be bands of blues stacked in abstraction eliminating reality (but is it art?)

i believe mishima is correct that art must exist on its own, separate from our reality (or our grasp of what is real) in order for it to truly function as a work of art.  it separateness compels/propels our grasp of its truth & its mirror, its reflection of our reality is its essence.

like this hawk floating on the updrafts from aliso/wood canyon, art is both near & far, at once real & still at odds with our reality.


those dancing feet

it’s no secret how much m. & i love the art of dance & last night we attended one of our favorite yearly dance events, the national choreographer’s initiative held at the barclay theater of the university of california’s irvine campus.   each year 4 choreographers from around north america are invited to come to uci, along with 16 dancers from companies across the u.s., to work on any project that they wish, over a 3 week period, ending with a one-time only performance of the, most often, work-in-progress.

we had secured tickets for the front row of the balcony, our favorite place to sit for dance as you have a clear view of not only the dancers, but also of the patterns & movements created by the choreographer on the stage floor below.

it is a thrilling theatrical experience because of the unique opportunity to see how the language of dance is interpreted by the 4 choreographers.   last night was no exception.  as ann marie deangelo (one of the 4 choreographers) said last night “it’s the ‘ography’ part that interests me, the dialogue between movement & space.”

helen heineman’s “pieces for eight” began the evening, set to eric ewazen’s “sinfonia for strings” it was a beautiful, lyrical interplay of classical ballet movements cunningly integrated with contemporary attitudes.   it set the mood & tone for the evening as the other choreographers also explored (some to a greater degree) the past & envisioned the future through their own particular lenses.

peter quanz from toronto gave us a ballet that he has devised for a premier in tokyo later this year during a lunar celebration.  “luminous” was richly realized & accompanied by the music of marjan mozetich’s “affairs of the heart.”  he revealed a magnificent understanding of the relationships we encounter, build, nurture & destroy each day of our lives.

each dance lasts approximately 15-20 minutes & after the intermission we were treated to a new work by the russian choreographer viktor kabaniaev who is currently based in northern california, but teaches here in orange county (judging from his exuberant fan club of young women he is much loved.)  “series of unrelated events” was a playful nod to the russian comic tradition (circus! clowns!) & was delightfully interpreted by the dancers.  it’s lighthearted tone was a counterpoint to the very complex movement he had organized.  the dancers obviously enjoyed themselves, but worked very hard (not that you noticed) to bring a level of nonchalance to the piece.   much spontaneous applause & laughter filled the theater throughout his work.  it was set to excerpted music from jon hopkins’ “insides.”

finally, the producer, director & choreographer, ann marie deangelo presented “the process: discovery & integration.”   of the four dances, this was the most ‘theatrical’ integrating not only movement but sound & acting by the dancers (at the beginning of the piece, the dancers provided beat-box music to which they all danced–fabulous!)  & although lighthearted, a pas de deux in the middle of her piece was exceptionally touching & brilliantly danced by thomas ragland & his partner adrienne benz.

all of the dancers were stunning, but two of the men really stood out: andrew brader & ted keener.  bravo gentlemen!


the golden mean & the physics of aesthetics

this is a subject of which i know nothing.  but it is a subject of which i feel inherently able to comment upon as its very basic essence seems one of which i am genetically predisposed.

the golden ratio/golden rectangle informed the art, architecture of ancient greece & was, allegedly, discovered by our favorite math wizard, pythagoras.   although some claim that the golden mean (phi) confirms a basic aesthetic proportion, others feel that there are too many of these ratios to accurately state that one is more ‘golden’ than the next.

although one can find the golden ratio/mean/rectangle/triangle/pentagram/isoceles triangle in much art of pre-history and again in renaissance art, it’s not until the 20th century that it (for itself) becomes a prominent dialectic in artistic circles.

we may also speculate on the neurophysiological basis behind the sense that the golden mean is a pleasant proportion.  of course, it’s a pleasant proportion & we know that these certain proportions create feelings (little synapses of pleasure coursing through your nervous system & sparking in your brain pan, all *POW* *WOW* *ZAP* *KERPOW*!)

A golden rectangle is one whose side lengths are in the golden ratio, 1: \varphi \, (one-to-phi), that is, 1 : \tfrac{1 + \sqrt{5}}{2} or approximately 1:1.618.  (via wikipedia) & may be easily constructed by following these guidelines.

A golden rectangle can be constructed with only straightedge and combass by this technique:

  1. Construct a simple square
  2. Draw a line from the midpoint of one side of the square to an opposite corner
  3. Use that line as the radius to draw an arc that defines the height of the rectangle
  4. Complete the golden rectangle

for me, though, the golden mean & the physics of aesthetics should be a given.  they say the golden mean does not occur in nature, which seems likely considering the chaotic nonchalance of the natural world (all that striving for dominance, evolution et al.)  but artists (& here i mean ALL artists; musicians, writers, painters, sculptors, CREATORS of art,) the great ones at least, utilize the golden mean, ratio, rectangle, triangle in much of what they do (it might be argued that the abstract expressionists did not and that photographers impose the golden mean upon their compositions.)

the next time you’re at a museum, or an art gallery, take a moment to consider the composition & the artist’s way with the structure of his subject matter, let it be the way, the path to discovering its pleasures, its theme, its beauty.



Before recording digitally every waking moment <insert nostalgia sigh here>, some of us wrote things down in a little black book of blank pages–mine started in Chicago in 197_ and ended in 197_.  Although I oftentimes missed it and attempted to restart it–it seemed that photographs, work, lovers, friends, living, replaced it.   Alright, I lacked discipline.  There, I’ve said it.

June 30, 1976 – Wed.   New York, New York.  Have been here since Sunday.  Monday night we went to Maxwell’s Plum for Dinner — it was outstanding.  I have seen so much and done so much and enjoyed myself so much — I don’t really want to leave  — but I can always come back, can’t I?

The view from R. & B.'s apartment on Morton Street in the West Village.

Life is so bizarre — before I left on my vacation Jim C. decided that we were no longer to be friends and I suddenly realized how very petty he is and it’s fine with me if doesn’t want my friendship.  I was under his control for too long.  I imagine that more of him was coming off on me than I wish to concede or even want to admit.  Let him go his merry way, castrating himself from other people until he is all alone–an island among the sea and we’ll see how long until he’s destroyed by the sea.  How long can loneliness be happiness?

Tonight I’m going to see “Three Penny Opera” [starring Raul Julia] at Lincoln Center — last night we saw David Rabe’s new play “Streamers” directed by Mike Nichols — it was so very good —

July 6, 1976 Tues. — am going home for a week now.  Will be nice contrast to New York — in the continuing saga of the aforementioned [trip to NYC] — I saw Tony Perkins in “Equus” — a marvelous piece of acting and a very controlled play.  I also saw Marcel Carné’s film — Children of Paradise — the New Yorker magazine says it is the perfect film – they were right.  On Sat. afternoon, B. and I saw American Ballet Theatre — Baryshnikov danced Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove.  It was an amazing concept in ballet!

What I didn’t record was that I was in New York for the bicentennial and witnessed the tall ships sail up the Hudson, along with amazing fireworks over the Statue of Liberty — and — that one day during my trip there, R. & I walked from 92nd St. and Broadway all the way downtown to their Morton Street apartment in the West Village.  And then, of course, there were the men–Christopher Street was filled with gay men (all with hairy shoulders–which at the time impressed me no end–today, not so much, well, okay, maybe a little.)

At home in South Dakota the following week, July 1976.

July 12, 1976 – Mon —

a dream – walking through slush and snow in New York City wearing black rubber galoshes — come upon Dean R. painting a fire escape, then I meet David B. and we sit and talk and then we walk through Washington Square Park and then into his apartment which is very gypsy-looking, lots of pillows and drapes–almost tent-like–I’m confused as to whether or not I work that night or have a dance class–the dream ends.  My dreams at home were terribly erotic and violent — but not in the nightmare sense.  I have the ability to dream and remember those dreams.

Flash forward 12 years–M. & I vacation in Puerto Rico/St. Thomas/St. John.  There is no journal recording my feelings, just photographs, but they, they completely define the time we spent there.  Which is better–journal or photos?  For now, looking back–I must rely on both.

Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, November 1988.



Twitter Updates

Copyright notice

© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

%d bloggers like this: