Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Back in the days when he was funny, Woody Allen wrote a wonderful essay, A Little Louder, Please, from the point of view of an arts aficionado who feels incomplete because he doesn't “get” pantomime. I never could get dance, and have consequently always felt like a bit of a hollow artistic shell myself. I can appreciate it on the “No way in hell could I ever do that” level, but can't recall ever having been moved by a performance. I can't blame a lack of contact with the art, I live in the dance Mecca of the Intermountain West—Salt Lake City boasts more internationally acclaimed dance companies than I can count on what's left of both hands. I've even dated a couple of dancers in the past, and count a number of them among my close friends. I'm convinced that it's a congenital brain anomaly that I have to accept and learn to live with.

So it was with horror that I opened a letter yesterday from Repertory Dance Theatre, probably the top local modern dance company. This week RDT is premiering a new piece entitled Postcards From Utah. The current members of the company and a number of alumni were each asked to select a painting from the permanent collection of the Springville Museum of Art, and choreograph a dance based on it. Seventeen works by Utah artists were selected, including work by such luminaries as Doug Snow and James Christensen. Also on the list was...gulp...Lizard Relay, by yours truly. I am invited to attend a performance and reception on Friday.

Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely honored that my work was selected, but I simply can't go. I can't imagine how a dance based on that painting could be anything but embarrassing to watch. I'm a naturally curious person, but there are some things that just shouldn't be seen, which is why most of us wear clothes in public. And someone's sure to ask me if I liked it. What would I say then? I'll tell you what I'd say: Nothing. I'd stare into space and stammer. Anyway, I have an excuse—they didn't exactly give me lots of notice, and Friday night the brilliant Australian biologist Tim Flannery will be speaking at the library, just a few blocks away. If you need to get a hold of me that's where I'll be.
illustration: LIZARD RELAY--JAGUARUNDI, GREEN IGUANAS & BANDED BASILISKS (1991) acrylic 32" x 42"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I imagine the dance would consist of several costumed individuals leaping and bounding about in lizard-like fashion, while another dancer stalks them.

We see that a lot on the playground at recess. I'm with you, the lecture would be far more interesting and easy to understand.

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your painting is full of movement and drama, so I can see why they chose it. A lizard dance would really be something to see!

11:31 PM  
Blogger Carel Brest van Kempen said...

Thanks for your comments, Karen and Beth. I wound up taking Karen's advice. Tim Flannery gave a very good basic overview of climate change. He held my attention, and not once did I stop to wonder what i was missing.

12:55 PM  

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