Archive for June, 2006

Interview: Mary Lou Aleskie

Sunday, June 11th, 2006

Mary Lou Aleskie is the executive director of the Arts & Ideas Festival in New Haven, Connecticut (USA). Previously, Mary Lou has been the President and CEO of the La Jolla Music Society, programming orchestras, ensembles and dance companies as well as the summer music festival, La Jolla SummerFest; executive director of Da Camera of Houston for chamber and jazz music; general manager/manager director of the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas; producer of the Saratoga International Theatre Institute (SITI); and an artist manager with the Helen Merrill Agency.

We spoke earlier this week, just days before the beginning of Mary Lou’s first festival with Arts & Ideas. Mary Lou talks about her approach to the festival, including the intersection between the festival’s art programming and the ideas panels, the economic impact of the festival on the region, and what a producer worries about in the days before a festival begins.

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World in Balance

Monday, June 5th, 2006

What’s the biggest story of the week? The story that best captures our global culture, our place in the cosmos, in the historical continuum of humanity? The story that receives the most play, online hits, and cocktail chatter?

Could it be the new discovery of an intact ancient ecosystem in Israel that includes eight previously unknown species? These lake dwellers are inside a cave that has been completely insulated from the outside world for millions of years. Isn’t that amazing?

Could it be the new solution to what caused most of life’s extinction on our planet millions of years ago — and created Australia at the same time? The discovery of the world’s biggest meteor crater in Antarctica leads scientists to understand how 95% of life was destroyed. The impact caused the future Australia to be pushed away from the ancient continent of Gondwana. The meteor hit 250 million years ago and was far more damaging than the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. Isn’t that something?

Could it be the news that the Arctic circle was once a tropical paradise? Recent core samples reveal that 55 million years ago the North Pole had an average temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 Celsius). Obviously, we have much to learn from this about the effects of what were then naturally-caused greenhouse gases. In the least, it’s worth thinking about, since as a member of the scientific team conjectured, mosquitoes would have been the size of our heads. Isn’t that significant?

No, it’s the preparations for the World Cup!

To help add some balance, last week we posted all the performing arts festivals in Germany taking place during the World Cup. There are obvious connections between these two endeavors: beauty (it is the most beautiful game), collaboration, and national pride. However, in the performing arts we should celebrate that this pride never slides over to an antagonism for the foreign. In fact, one of the great aspects of international festival going is the acceptance of other nations and cultures through their art.

You can learn more about the history of the relationship between fans and the beautiful game at Hamburg’s Ethnology Museum: “the biggest culture project to FIFA.” Or, for an example of friendly and mutually appreciative competition, there is the World Beer Cup. (Beer and the World Cup do seem to go together, for better for worse. Still, knowing the winners provides you with practical information for new experiences at the games.)

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if all the fans equally applauded great plays, no matter who made them, just as they do at festivals?

- Bill Reichblum

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Interview: Lia Rodrigues

Monday, June 5th, 2006

This year the IN TRANSIT festival, held annually in Berlin, turns its attention toward Brazilian art and culture. Lia Rodrigues Dance Company presented Incarnat, a contemporary dance piece based on Susan Sontag’s essay Regarding the Pain of Others ““ about the ambivalent pleasure experienced in watching war and violence. The company used no other props than the bodies of the dancers and no other music than the sound of their own breathing, voices and footsteps.

Following the performance of Incarnat, in The House of the World Cultures, Lia Rodrigues talked about performing arts, war, and violence. Rodrigues also explained why her company decided to live and rehearse inside a favela in Rio de Janeiro, how the experience of performing in Berlin was, and what the reaction of the audience is when confronted with such “staged” violent images.

The International PEN Congress is currently taking place in Berlin, and its theme is “Writing in a World Without Peace”. What can you say about dancing in a world without peace?

There was never peace. So, I don’t know, our history, in all times, is war. So I don’t know what kind of peace they are talking about because there is no peace, never. I work in this world where there is no peace, there is always war, and this is very important for the empires, the war is business so they need war.

More”¦

Incarnat 15
Incarnat 16
Incarnat 19

Photos: Lia Rodrigues Dance Company (Incarnat)

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