Monday, March 5, 2007

Three Things That Make This Curmudgeon Happy

As of late, when I do publish a blog entry, either here or on another site, it tends to be a polemic or an account of some quarrel in which I have been engaged. So be it: conflict is the basis for both comedy and tragedy and thus makes for a compelling read. However, today I will share with you three relatively new things in my life that make me happy just to demonstrate that I am not a complete curmudgeon.

Back in November I joined the commedia dell'arte troupe, i Sebastiani. Commedia dell'arte is an improvisational comedic theatrical form that originated during the Italian Renaissance, but over a couple of centuries, became popular throughout Europe, leaving its mark on Western theatre. It uses masks, slapstick comedy and a collection of stock characters. This past December I played the role of Pedrolino, a clever servant. In the next month of shows I will be playing Arlecchino, a maddingly foolish servant from Bergamont, and Flaminia, a lusty convent girl. Cosmic Spelunker Theater always drew upon our peculiar conception of commedia, but outside of the briefly lived Teatro Commedia, I had never actually played any of the traditional stock characters. The group is a great deal of fun to work with, and I appreciate the collaborative atmosphere-- everyone has good suggestions and no qualms about sharing them.

For a number of years, I had been attending concerts by kathak dancer, Gretchen Hayden, and the students of her school Chhandika. This past October, however, I decided to become a student. Kathak is a classical dance-theatre form that developed in Northern India and Pakistan. I became very attracted to kathak in part because, like other classical dance forms of India, incorporates elements that remind me of the corporeal mime that I have studied for years, and is also very much tied in with India's sculptural, storytelling, and mythological traditions. What gives kathak its unique identity amongst other schools of Indian classical dance is that because of geography, it developed into its modern form in the courts of the Mogul period, and so has elements of both Hindu and Muslim aesthetics. On the other hand, it is rhythmically sophisticated with incredibly intricate footwork that, owing to my lack of background in percussive dance (or percussion in general), means that I have to concentrate on those elements and not the more mimetic aspects that come naturally to me. Unfortunately, due to my performance commitments to i Sebastiani, I won't be able to perform in the Chhandika student show this year.

Off and on, I have been also been taking ballet classes. I had tried to start some years ago, but I was sidetracked, but for the past year I have been more disciplined, studying with Anna Myer. If I keep this up, I might even be a real dancer in a few years.

What is most exciting is that I would not have been able to imagine myself doing any of these things a decade ago.

Post a Comment