I started totally crushin’ on the work of artist Kota Ezawa after I saw it in the 2008 “Photography on Photography” exhibition at the Met. His slideshow History of Photography Remix is a series of notable still photographs re-rendered by precise tracings.

The lunar view is a great example of what I find really charming about these tracings – the absence of shadings and gradients transform the ultra-magnificence of the original into something much smaller and milder. I find this image hilarious – the Earth looks like a piece of penny candy.

I’d known for a while that Ezawa had used similar processes with video material, but these pieces were hard to see without being at a gallery or screening until now. Ubuweb.com has posted two-minute excerpts of four of Ezawa’s video pieces (U B U W E B – Film & Video: Kota Ezawa). Footage from moments in art and political history (The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, The OJ Simpson Trial, the assassination of JFK) are subjected to the tracing technique, and much of the material is quite powerful. The objective regard of the tracings makes the human gestures all the more poignant – by removing shadows and depth, even the most nuanced movements speak. The way he renders Susan Sontag’s hair flips is really thrilling, and the footage of the JFK assassination is newly chilling in the silence and calm objectivity of the animation.

Like many drifting wanderers of the information age, I’ve recently discovered the joys of free movies on the internet. Movie Powder, as these sorts of sites go, is really not bad. Part of the excitement of browsing through and watching its library of films is the cap on quality. There are some conventional favorites that somehow found themselves in the mix – David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” and “Harold and Maude,” for example – but on the whole Movie Powder’s archive is curated around old films in the public domain or recent films so bad that nobody cares to renew the rights. The latter category is of course the more fascinating. A shot in the dark can be a risk (“Snowbeast,” the story of a Big Foot-esque creature who terrorizes a ski lodge during its winter festival, is captivating at first but quickly grows dull), but there is gold in the hills if you know where to look.

“Invasion of the Bee Girls” (1973) is one of those fabled 1970s horror / soft core porn films that are often parodied but were difficult to find or care about when found before the internet made them free to watch. Like the best kitsch films the writing is criminally bad; so many links and relationships are left unexplained that the plot is nearly avant garde. The story revolves around a federal agent (William Smith, a former Marlboro man) who is sent to investigate a mysterious rash of heart-attacks sustained during coitus by men working in and around a federal research institution. With the help of his bespectacled librarian love interest (Victoria Vetri, 1968 Playmate of the Year), he discovers that a mischievous entomologist (Dr. Susan Harris, played by one-time Price Is Right model Anitra Ford) is crossing the town’s womenfolk with bees in her basement lab, and that somehow this makes their lovemaking fatal.

Though the film is assuredly crap, loaded as it is with cheap thrills and shameless, dated misogyny, the density of its shit elements makes the search for moments of real beauty and intelligence all the more fun. If you don’t have time to watch the whole film, skip ahead to the bee conversion scene at 54:50. The choice of music is amazing, and the transparency of the acting makes the image of a sisterhood quite touching. Something about the uniformity of the costumes and the way the faces of the women are filmed is really mysterious and intriguing to me. The original music by Charles Bernstein is at times quite creative, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherezade” is put to good use during Dr. Harris’s seduction of Dr. Kline.

“Werewolf Woman” (1976) succeeds and fails for many of the same reasons. Dubbed from Italian (orignally La Lupa Mannara), the rushed English dialogue is often hard to follow, but the story is surprisingly coherent. A hysteric young girl (Annik Borel) begins to believe that she is a werewolf when she discovers that she bears a frightening resemblance to her great-great-aunt, who was killed, as legend has it, in wolf form not far from her father’s countryside villa. An hour of killing and sex ensues.

Basically the best reason to watch this film is Borel’s extraordinary performance, not in the talking way but in her extreme physicality and expression. Particularly in scenes where she is killing someone or struggling against captors, she is able to achieve a remarkable physical range. I have never seen someone open their mouth so wide while screaming, it’s really something to see.

photo by Steven Shreiber

It is with glowing pride and pleasure that I alert you to an upcoming performance of work by my dear friend Sydney Skybetter. It’s no accident that my tone is coming off as a bit mother of the bride – having been a part of his company, skybetter and associates, from its birth in an empty stairwell at the Tisch School of the Arts, it’s been really remarkable to see how the artistry of the repertory and the performances have grown. The performance next weekend at the Joyce Soho is the full evening debut of a really remarkable group of performers in a body of work that I find refreshing in its tender attention to craft and its calm, sensitive presentation of the dancing figure.

The current state of Sydney’s craft is best seen in the newest addition to the repertory and the evening’s “title track” – “Laws of Falling Bodies,” a recent commission from Minneapolis’s Zenon Dance Company. Set to music by Jonny Greenwood, this septet represents both an increasing preference for the athletic over the stately and contemplative qualities that mark some of the earlier repertory, as well as a more profound and delicate sense of how formal patterns and anomalies communicate group dynamics. Having seen some remarkable footage of this piece in workshop stages I can only imagine that a final presentation with the New York group of dancers and design collaborators will be something really special.

The evening features performances by Kristen Arnold, Cat DeAngelis, Jennifer Jones, Elliott Reiland, Gary Schaufeld, Dana Thomas, Bergen Wheeler, and Sydney himself, with lighting by Kate Ashton and costumes by Candida Nichols. Pertinent information regarding ticketing and attendance can be found on the poster below. Go!

Sayat Nova

I became aware of this film during a workshop with famed video artist Charles Atlas. Sergei Parajanov was one of the great Soviet film makers, and one of the more controversial for his time. After breaking with the institutionally approved “Soviet Realism” style, Parajanov was routinely persecuted, denied funding, and eventually imprisoned for homosexual acts. “Sayat Nova,” “King of Songs,” was the moniker given the 18th century Armenian poet Harutyan Sayatyan (the film is marketed to the English speaking world as “The Color of Pomegranates). As luck would have it, the whole film is on Google video:

It is indeed a feature film of about 70 minutes. If you’re pressed for time and want a taste, I suggest the Prayer Before the Hunt scene at around 19:00. It may give you an appetite for more, as it did for me.

What I love most is how Parajanov uses the still frame and the choreography to activate iconic portraiture. The work is a remarkable marriage of 20th century film editing technology with the image production of the 18th century Persian empire. Fans of Meredith Monk or Christopher Williams should get a kick out of it, as should anyone else who enjoys the poetry of image – it is beautifully composed.

Sweet Sight

As I intend this blog to be a resource for my community of artists, I hope that it can serve to spread the word when a member of that community is in need. My long time friend and colleague, Cadence Dubus, shares her life with Sugar, a five year old pitt bull. I know Sugar as a friend, a rehearsal assistant, and a treasured companion for Cadence. Sugar has struggled for the past year or so with genetic diabetes, complications of which have resulted in chronic cataracts over the last few months. If you know Sugar or understand the very special relationship one can have with an animal companion, please read what Cadence has to say and consider helping her in her campaign for Sugar’s surgery:

“Dear Friends,
As most of you know, I have a lovely dog, Sugar, whom
I adopted 3 ½ years ago. What some of you might not know is that Sugar
ironically developed Diabetes 10 months ago. Her diabetes is most
likely genetic, much like human Type 2 Diabetes. It was not because of
her diet or weight – in fact Sugar has always maintained a very sleek
and athletic build and during her diagnosis we struggled to keep her
weight up instead of trying to lose.

Sugar’s disease means that
I give her an insulin injection twice a day, every 12 hours and that I
bring her for regular vet check ups and maintain her weight on a simple
formula food as well as regular exercise to make sure she burns off her
excess blood sugar each day. I also have a lovely dog walker who comes
3xs per week when I am teaching at 7am, before Sugar’s shot time, so
that she gets her breakfast and injection on schedule.

Sugar’s disease has been life altering for both of us, I have welcomed
the personal growth that the new responsibilities and strict regime
have afforded in my life. I have always felt that Sugar and I were
destined to be together and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her
happiness, which is also my happiness. 

A dog with Diabetes has
the same life expectancy as a healthy dog. With her Insulin well
regulated she has no more health problems or concerns that any other
dog would have. There is one issue which occurs in 80% of diabetic
dogs, usually within the first year of diagnosis; cataracts. As of 2
weeks ago Sugar has developed cataracts in both her eyes. They develop
surprisingly fast and make daily life increasingly difficult.

is only 5 years old and as most of you know extremely energetic and
playful. Her blindness has been extremely stressful for both of us. We
now struggle with our evening walks, as she is more prone to knocking
into objects when she doesn’t have light to help distinguish objects or
movement. The Veterinary Ophthalmologist described her vision as being
like looking through frosted glass. It will only get worse and she is
now knocking into things in our apartment as well as struggling to
recognize people she knows very well who come through the door. 

can sense her frustration and confusion and it is heartbreaking. The
first time I noticed that her vision had significantly deteriorated she
was trying to fetch her favorite toy and came back to my feet with her
tail between her legs looking upset that she wasn’t able to find it in
the small space where we were playing. 

After consulting her
primary Diabetic Specialist and the Veterinary Ophthalmologist I have
decided to have her receive cataract surgery. It is the same surgery
humans receive; a quick and safe surgery with excellent results. It
would be the only time she would need it and she would never have this
problem again. It is also the last major health issue we will have to
deal with that relates to her illness. I have pet health insurance for
her but they do not cover her Diabetes, as it is a ‘pre-existing
condition’ at this stage. 
The surgery would take 2 hours with a
24-hour vet stay and a 1-week recovery at home wearing a collar and
using eye drops. She will be able to see immediately. 

I have
decided to do this because Sugar could easily live another 10 years of
vital health. Our childhood dog, the same breed, lived to 16 with no
slow-down in energy or health till her last day. Sugar is only 5 years
old and most who meet her think I meant to say 5 months old. She loves
to walk at the Red Hook docks and run off the leash in tall field grass
where she likes to do both her favorite things at the same time; eat
wild grass and run – by running with her mouth open, taking big bites
as she leaps! The fall before last she learned to swim by imitating my
boyfriend’s dog and has since developed a love of water and playing
fetch in the open waves. She is truly a joy to be around, a sidekick
and an animal that is my friend as much as my baby. 

Cataract Surgery must be done within 1-2 months because her eyes are
healthy now and the cataracts can cause pressure to either build or
drop in the eye, causing complications for the prospective surgery. The
cost of the surgery is 5,000$. They do both eyes at the same time and
we have opted for the hard lens replacement which costs about 600$ less
than the newer soft lens replacement, but with the same effect, same
safety and sight.

I am asking for help from my friends and
colleges because 5,000$ is more than I have to put towards this
necessary care. Though Sugar is my responsibility, there are times in
anyone’s life when certain cares are more than they can handle on their
own. I believe we live within a community that has the ability to rise
to help those in struggle. Please help me give Sugar the life she
deserves and give her back her sight. If you have any fundraising ideas
or abilities, if you think your place of work, your place of worship,
your co-operative, your other friends, would be open to passing the hat
for Sugar please let me know. The ChipIn tab goes directly to an
account used solely for this purpose. If everyone on this invite gave
25$ the goal would be reached. If that is too much please donate
whatever you feel you can and please pass this on to family or friends
you feel might help. Thank you so much, I will keep you updated with
Sugar’s progress. 
Thank you for your kind support. 


Nuts by Nuts


photo by Nicholas Burnham



One of the big time tragedies of leaving New York has been leaving behind some great performance opportunities. I had the distinct pleasure of performing in David Parker’s “Nut/Cracked” for the 2008 holiday season and I wish I could be doing the same in 2009. David Parker and the Bang Group, a company known for both their precise and exuberant physicality and their lush theatrical presence, reprise Parker’s clever adaptation of “The Nutcracker” this weekend at Dance Theater Workshop, dismantling its narrative elements and re-mantling its spectacular thrill. In turns vaudevillian, slapstick, and classic, the dancers shake it to re-imaginations of the ballet themes by Duke Ellington, as well as the original Pyotor Ilyich T. Shake it with them at Dance Theater Workshop on Dec 19th and 20th.

  • Nut/Cracked
  • Dec. 19th and 20th, 2pm
  • Dance Theater Workshop
  • 219 W 19th Street
  • New York, NY
  • Tickets: $25, dtw.org

Childress, TX

Next Saturday my friends Karl Cronin and Deborah Black Black will be performing at Draftworks, a free series for developing work at Danspace Project. Indeed there are a few upcoming chances to see Childress, TX, their new theater project, in New York, and this is a lucky thing because Karl is currently living between four or five different states, meaning actual physical, geopolitical states of the Union (if we were to count his psychic states I’m sure they would be far more multiple, or maybe just one or two depending on the philosophies to which one subscribes). I suggest you take one of these opportunities. I was involved in the very beginnings of this project and I am quite curious about how it is developing now. The basic conceit is a connection to a historical moment in a very specific location – the town of Childress, TX during the Dust Bowl crisis. The two performers develop and embody characters who confront themselves, each other, and the space, while “the fragments of their customs and beliefs fold into their creation of a new life.” You can read more at the Childress, TX blog. They will be sharing the Draftworks showing with Anna Azrieli. The performance will be followed by a discussion lead by the extra-super Ishmael Houston-Jones and a wine reception. If you can’t make it this weekend, I’ve also included the information for their Judson Church APAP showing below.

Draftworks – Dec. 12, 2009 (3pm)

Danspace Project
St. Mark’s Church
131 East 10th St. 
New York, NY
Tickets: FREE

APAP MR AIR Showcase – Jan. 11, 2009 (8pm)

Movement Research @ Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South
New York, NY
Tickets: FREE