Newspaper Page Text
sadly fell short
By KIM FRIEDMAN
Collegian Arts Writer
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet per
formed the second of 27 perfor
mances scheduled in 28 days on
Friday night in Eisenhower Audi
torium. The performance con
tained exerpts from several
different full length ballets, as
well as complete, short works.
RWB is a very small company.
They travel with 26 dancers, 12
orchestra members and a produc
tion staff. This was quite a change
for principal dancer Henny Jur-
riens who danced with the Dutch
National Ballet, a company of
over 80 dancers. "Since I come
from such a large company, it's
(the small size) an attraction. Big
companies are less creative."
The creativity of this small com
pany was unmasked at Friday
The first piece, Ballet Premiere,
was the only work performed that
was choreographed by Artistic
Director Arnold Spohr. The audi
ence had trouble accepting this
celebration of dance, however.
since the dancers were often out of
synchronization. In order to
achieve the beauty of many danc
ers performing together, the com
pany needed to be together
themselves. Unfortunately, this
did not appear to be the case.
The dance did improve as it
continued, with the male dancers
leaping way above the ground and
showing greater versatility than
the females. One of the male danc
ers earned himself a round of
applause for a set of jumps and
leaps he executed part way
through the work.
The second work, Belong, com
pletely changed the pace of the
show. Danced by Sarah Slipper
and Andre Lewis. the work demon
strated flexibility, technique and
The curtain opened to reveal the
dancers huddled around each oth
er on the floor, wearing skin-col
ored unitards. Full of heavy
emotion, the dance mirrored its
title. The dancers truly belonged
to each other. As they began mov
ing together, it appeared as
though one body would be unable
to move without the other. Both
Lewis and Slipper displayed re
markable acrobatic talent through
many lifts and spins. This work
demonstrated a combination of
the grace from ballet, the use of
the body from modern, and the
physical dexterity from gymnas
Four Last Songs dealt with the
way three couples coped with the
idea of death. The dance began
without music, as Death ( a dancer
dressed in black) walked on stage
among the couples. The dancers
were dressed as country peasants,
and the backdrop suggested a fall
afternoon in the country.
Each couple increased its
knowledge of the inevitable sepa
ration by dancing with more force
and intensity. The pas-de-deux
ranged from the ligthhearted
carefree and playful to the imme
diate and desperate. By the time
the third couple began to dance,
Death was already on stage, loom
ing in the foreground. He suddenly
began to dance as well, as the
couple 'danced with death.' Soon,
all the dancers were 'walking with
death,' as they left the stage.
They Might Be Giants try everything once
By CHARLES PATTERINO
Collegian Arts Writer
Three giant xeroxed cardboard
faces hang as a backdrop for They
Might Be Giants. Whose face is that?
Hubert Humphrey? Joe McCarthy?
He looks like every porkbarrel poli
tician who ran this great nation be
fore JFK made looking blow-dried
and air-brushed a standard require
ment for national office.
Like their backdrop, They Might Be
Giants remind you of a lot of things,
but when you try to think of exactly
what, you go blank. Maybe that's
because They Might Be Giants aren't
like anybody else.
First, consider the lineup. TMBG is
John Flansburgh on guitar and vo
cals, John Linnell on accordion, saxo
phone and vocals, and their
soundman / drum machine program
mer / "omnipresent guiding force"
Bill Krauss. Not exactly your typical
guitar / bass / drums combo.
Next, consider the music. TMBG
take eclecticism to its outer limits.
Country? Pop? Broadway? Polka?
TV theme songs? Sometimes they do
it all in one song. They have tunes
This piece was entertaining, but
unsatisfying. It was an emotional
work, but that strength in emotion
was not often portrayed. There
were several moments, especially
when the second and third couples
were dancing that the intensity
could be felt, but in general the
dance itself lacked the gut feeling
that the subject matter required.
A pas-de-deux from Swan Lake,
called Black Swan, was the follow
ing feature. This was a pretty
dance, performed by Svea Eklov
and Jurriens. This work epit
omized classical ballet. The balle
rina performed many pirouettes,
fouete turns and arabesques while
Jurriens served as a partner and
as the object of her affections.
Both these performers displayed
energy and grace, showing the
true finesse of the art form.
The last work was just the oppo
site of its predecessor. Instead of
displaying the grace and beauty of
the ballet. Symphony in D was a
parody of all the stereotyped bal
let cliches. This piece kept the
audience laughing, and it seemed
to be the first time during the
program that the dancers were
The dancers appeared on stage
with the females wearing pink
bloomers and the males wearing
blue outfits. And so it began. First,
they executed their movements
without pointing their toes or pay
ing attention to the details that
usually create the beauty of ballet.
When trying to execute a common
ballet lift, a dancer grunted while
attempting to get his partner off
the ground. A line of male dancers
performed a Russian kickline and
jumps, while the ballerinas
stalked off the stage with their
noses high in the air.
The work got faster as it pro
gressed. First, the dancers got all
tangled up, with arms flying all
over the place. Then, the dancers
began to shake their hips and
bodies, disputing the expected re
gal bearing of all ballet dancers. It
ended just as comically as each
dancer moved down the line
bumping into the dancer beside
her. Although the piece was on the
whole comical, the same jokes
were used repetitively.
By far the most enjoyable piece,
the dancers had the audience ex
cited by their performance. It was
a shame that it took them until the
last piece to get their performance
quality up because once it reached
its peak, the company was both
entertaining and inspiring.
After the performance, Jurriens
said of the State College audience,
"This audience was very express
ive and very nice." He claims that
dancing for a rural audience is not
very different from dancing for an
urban audience, as long as the
auditorium is full. Svea Eklov,
also a principal dancer, explains
that different areas of the country
or of the world generally have
different preferences. "You never
can tell how you're audience is
going to react," she says, "You
just present them a good program
and then see what they like best."
about writer's block, Toys R Us,
female hotel detectives, Bill Krauss,
and even love. They marry jumpy
rhythm tracks and thickly layered
sound collages to pure pop hooks and
their own vocals that sound like John
Lennon with an adenoid infection.
The result is cutting-edge pop music,
the sound of the 1990'5.
Finally, consider their live show. At
their four-weekend stand at the Vil
lage Gate in New York City, the two
Johns wailed away in front of those
giant heads like the hyperactive ga
rage band progeny of Lawrence Welk
and Laurie Anderson.
Backed by prerecorded tapes,
Flansburgh chopped at his guitar and
Linnell pumped his accordion with
wild abandon. They slashed through
tough versions of their future-pop
hits, "Put Your Hand Inside the Pup
pet Head" and' "Don't Let's Start."
They also stopped for some good-na
tured, arty silliness like doing an
instrumental "My Funny Valentine"
on accordion and melodica. They
opened the show by singing a new
song with tall red velvet hats perched
on their heads.
To bring their snappy tunes to the
'Hurricane' may storm the charts
By LAURA PACE
Collegian Arts Writer
Penn State is too far inland to feel
the real brunt of a hurricane, unless
that hurricane happens to be The Eye
of the Hurricane ( 1.R.5.-42061), the
new album from the Alarm
The new album is the first release
by the foursome from Wales since
October of 1985. It was produced in
Lodon by John Porter who has
worked with the Smiths, Roxy Music.
Billy Bragg, Eric Clapton and Steve
Winwood, and contains the same spir
itually uplifting messages that are
featured in their first two albums,
Declaration and Strength.
Lead vocalist Mike Peters' voice
has been somewhat refined and his
lyrics are still optimistic, but not as
"We're not out to make some kind
of almighty statement. We're not on
some kind of holy pilgrimage. We're
just people growing up and learning
to cope with our world. And we hap
pen to be a rock and roll group." he
Peters leads the group vocals,
plays acoustic and electric guitar and
the harmonica. The lead guitarwork
is done by Dave Sharp who also plays
the acoustic guitar and sings. Sharp
appeared earlier this year on Wire
Train's album Ten Women, where he
played the lead guitar on ''Breakwa
Eddie MacDonald plays bass guitar
and bass synth as well as keyboards
and backing vocals. Finally, drum
mer "Twist" rounds out the group
with his backing vocals.
The first single from the album is
called "Rain in the Summertime,"
and the accompanying wideo can be
seen on MTV. On the first listen, it
seems choppy, but after a few times
through, it can have a stronger ap
peal and the tune can easily be sung.
Peters said it is a "very emotional
piece of work," and Sharp said it has
Isc h el l
They Might Be Giants demonstrate the tools of their trade and engage in some
a "fluid feel same thing that makes
it sound different every time I listen
Still, the best two tracks on the
album are "Shelter," and "Rescue
"Rescue Me - is highly danceable,
and should it get some commercial
airplay, it could be the big breaker
for the Alarm. It contains the same
type of pleading lyrics found on the
title track of Strength, but with a
happier tone. It is by far the best
track on the album.
"Shelter" is easy to sing and should
turn people who only just liked the
Alarm into fans. It is already getting
airplay by album-oriented rock radio
stations. Should contemporary-hits
radio stations pick up these songs, the
group could land in the Top Ten.
The album contains "One Step
Closer to Home, - a live track that
sounds much like a Billy Bragg song.
Though Peters' voice is sometimes
grovelly and off-key in live produc
tions, he holds his own very well on
The record as a whole still sounds
much like Strength, but that should
be taken as a compliment. Strength
Baryshnikov breaks tradition
By MARY CAMPBELL
AP Newsfeatures Writer
NEW YORK Mikhail Baryshnikov, now an American
citizen, starred on PBS Friday night in an unsual talk
and-dance piece, David Gordon's Made in the USA.
The hour-long program kicked off the new season of
Great Performances on PBS.
The three dances were choreographed by New Yorker
David Gordon. The first was Valda and Misha, a talk
dance duet for Baryshnikov, whose nickname is Misha,
and Valda Setterfield, an English dancer who is a mem
ber of Gordon's eight-person contemporary dance troupe.
Baryshnikov defected from the Soviet Union in 1974 and
now heads the American Ballet Theater.
"I like the talking-dancing ballet, - Baryshnikov told
reporters gathered recently at the ABT studios. "It is like
a tribute to dance and to this country. We both are
immigrants, she in the late 1950 s and me in the '7os, for
much the same reason, to dance in this country.
"The rhythm we were trying to get was two friends who
hadn't seen each other for a long time or two who'd just
met and know this is the beginning of a very good
friendship. We were sharing life experiences and mem
The second dance, TV Nine Lives, had Baryshnikov
dancing with four men fromthe Pick-Up Company with
whom he'd never danced before. Dancing and tumbling
with a prop chair, they combined aspects of vaudeville
and cowboy movies the music was a collection of
"You are very much looking at a minimalist collage,"
Baryshnikov said. "The patterns are all the time going to
something else. The chair is a center point and a coun
terpoint. For the TV audience, this takes a certain kind of
concentration. The jumps and turns are for me a bit
The third dance. Murder. a mimed comedy-melodra
ma, was commissioned for American Ballet Theater and
has been performed by the company on stage. That same
cast dances it for TV.
"Murder was supposed to be a piece in which Misha
could play Alec Guinness playing many parts," said
was applauded for the single "The
Spirit of '76," its "street-like chroni
cle of punk rock, - according to their
Strength contained lyrics of first
person instead of lyrics of collective
first person, like those contained in
their first album, Declaration. Decla
ration was criticized for its lyrics that
seemed to cry "War."
The album's most sucessful cut was
"68 Guns, - that cried for people to
fight for freedom. It also contained
the song "Third Light, - the excellent-
ly-mixed song of the death of a soldier
"First light / the Sniper saw•
you / second light / took careful aim
/ third light / pulled the trigger / of
the gun / dead, dead, dead:'
With the release of Strength, the
words, like those in "Spirit of '76'
sang of personal freedom "If a
man can't change the world these
days / I still believe a man can
change his own destiny . . I will
never give in / until the day that I
die / I'll get myself some indepen
dence / carve out a future with my
two bare hands."
With these uplifting words in mind
the band taped a concert on April 12
Gordon said Baryshnikov, who has acted in the movies
Turning Point, White Nights and Dancers, became in
trigued by the talking while dancing.
"He asked if there could be talking in Murder),"
Gordon said. "That meant everybody would have to be
miked. I thought that was rather difficult. So I made a
prologue with words for one person to read. The whole
ballet was made before I did the prologue. When I sat
down to write this prologue, I began to write a mystery
story. I stole it from The Bald Soprano.
"The piece is funny, then it isn't funny," Gordon said.
"He really does die a whole lot of times. The possibility of
a range of possible emotional reactions is more interest
ing to me than a single one."
Baryshnikov, 39, says he is feeling the limitations of age
and concentrating on new projects, - instead of rehears
ing a few hours a day on good old Giselle or Swan Lake.
It's a question of priorities. I still can do them and do
"I don't think I have to do Giselle again on stage. I did it
for the film."
Dancers was filmed in Bari, Italy. The American Ballet
Theater plays a ballet troupe in Italy to shoot a movie of
Giselle. The ballet is within the movie. and so is an off
stage romance between Baryshnikov and young Julie
Kent, in some ways parallel to the plot of Giselle .
Baryshnikov says he likes performing less than he used
to. "I like being part of an idea and getting from the idea
to the realization. This is the most exciting thing for me.
What happens later, I am less interested in somehow."
Despite the restrictions of television on dance, the
medium has attractions. Baryshnikov said.
"This is not just entertainment for entertainment's
sake," he said. "It is a challenge, too. It is part of the
education of TV. It introduces certain aesthetics. If you
get into the rhythm, you can enjoy it the way we do. If
you're not with us, I'm sorry. It was an honest attempt."
Baryshnikov said he'd like to do something on MTV.
"An especially designed program based on the essence of
pop art and pop music. There's a lot of interesting stuff
masses, TMBG started a Dial-A-Song
service three years ago. If you call
their special number, you can hear
the latest TMBG song. They write
about six or seven new songs to the
rotation every month.
"We started the service because I
was robbed of all my stage equipment
and Linnell broke his wrist, so he
couldn't work," Flansburgh said.
"We don't make any money off of it.
It's a home phone."
Flansburgh looks like Jerry Lewis
in The Nutty Professor. Wearing
green pants, a white button-down
shirt, and glasses with thick, black
rims, he defies every rock and roll
stereotype imaginable. "We're not
exactly a high-fashion band. If we
knew how to dress, we probably
would," he said.
Linnell looks marginally more
fashionable with his askew haircut.
but his frequently worried expression
undercuts any potential hipness.
Asked about the face on the back
drops, he said, "We don't know who
he is exactly either. He's Mister Mys
tery, Mister Psycho Fuck-Up."
TMBG formed when Flansburgh
and Linnell met on their high school
The Daily Collegian
Tuesday, Oct. 27, 1987
1986 that won them critical acclaim
The Alarm should be hitting the
American stage to support their new
Mike Peters wished his audience to
know he is looking forward to the
"Tell them we're looking forward
to seeing them again. We certainly
miss them. It's been a long time and
we're looking forward to getting back
out there:• he said.
Agreed, the Alarm represents the
best in New Music. But it is difficult
to define New Music since a lot of it is
pretty old. What separates the Alarm
from the New Music category that
they now embrace from the popular
sucess that comes from a Top 40 hit?
The answer may be in The Eye of the
Alarm fans should love this album,
though it takes a few times around
the turntable to catch all that it has to
oiler. As for everybody else, it might
take some pushing and shoving by the
record company to get the album the
airplay it deserves, but once it gets
going, watch out.
Eye of the Hurricane has incredible
potential to take the charts by storm.
Gordon. The parts were invented so there would be a
range of characters for him to do."
newspaper staff in Massachusetts.
They broke up while they went to
college, but reformed in 1983 to start
playing New York's East Village
clubs. where they refined their show.
1 originally performed with a Farfi
sa organ, but I lived with a woman
who loaned me her accordion, and I
stuck with it. I can move around more
onstage with an accordion, and it's
also cool-looking." Linnet! said.
TMBG released a cassette in 1985
on Express Music. Many of those
songs ended up on their first, self
titled album on Bar / None Records,
released at the end of 1986 to high
critical acclaim. They Might Be Gi
ants contains "Puppet Head" and
'Don't Let's Start," plus 17 more
cryptic toe-tappers, such as "Youth
Culture Killed My Dog" and "Chess
"Chess Piece Face, - a spooky syn
thesizer meditation on the title char
acter's life, was inspired by a co
worker of Flansburgh's at his job at a
book publishing company. "This guy
I worked with had Elephant Man's
disease. It really affected me, be
cause I could barely stand to look at
Please see GIANTS, page 13.