Tomorrow is Election Day, so don’t forget to vote! If you’re looking for somewhere to watch the election results, there are several viewing parties happening across campus:
- Starting at 5pm, the results will be playing on a jumbotron on Upper Sproul Plaza. Sponsored by the ASUC and Graduate Assembly.
- KALW will be broadcasting live election coverage from Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley – Berkeley faculty, staff and students can attend for free (with ID). More info can be found here.
- Results will also be shown in the I-House auditorium. More info here.
When I was young I had a music box that played the theme from Swan Lake. It’s a beautiful, haunting melody that tells a tale of mystery, magic, and mayhem. Listening to Tchaikovsky’s composition while watching the world famous Mariinsky Ballet at Zellerbach Hall last Saturday created an unreal world where gravity was defied, sorcerers cast spells, and swans became maidens. The dancers were strong and skillful, and the costumes and scenery were breathtaking. In each act, a different set is produced, each with delicate details and carefully chosen lighting that helped create the atmosphere. Some of the costumes flowed with color and sparkled like diamonds, while others remained simple and elegant. Both accentuated the graceful movements of the dancers and brought life to this world. The orchestra’s use of dynamics and the dramatic music made the story easier to follow. The music was filled with emotion, and the dancers’ graceful hands and looks of longing pulled my heart to and fro as the plot thickened. The way the scenery, costumes, music, and dancing all harmonized was magnificent to behold.
After the performance, I was lucky enough to speak with Keenan Kampa, the company’s only American dancer, and the first female American ever invited into the prestigious group. She was incredibly open and down to earth, nothing like the diva ballerinas that are sometimes portrayed. We got to have a nice chat about her childhood, her experiences with the company, and how she sees herself as an American in Russia.
She was homeschooled in Virginia, where, as she explained, there is a large home-school community. This enabled her to have a largely normal childhood, despite her long hours in the dance studio during the week and even on weekend nights. She has worked hard throughout her career, and is excited to share the stage with so many talented dancers. We talked about how many of them had attended the Vaganova Ballet Academy from as young as ten years old. Since they do not have unions for the dancers in Russia, she says that everyone must work very hard to earn their place. The dancers sometimes have up to twelve-hour days.
After her dancing career, Kampa is interested in pursuing sports medicine or nutrition, or perhaps even international relations. I see that as incredibly relevant, since as the only American, she is representing the United States in Russia, and she is aware that much of what she does and how she acts reflects on her home. I was excited to see someone as bright and worldly as Kampa be admitted into the company to represent our country, and hopefully spread the idea that as humans, we are not all that different. American dancers can be just as good as Russian ones, and we should judge each other as individuals, not based on our backgrounds’ stereotypes. It is my hope that this is just the beginning of many more instances of inclusion despite differences around the world.
This interaction with Kampa and the experience of the ballet, left me feeling incredibly satisfied, and thankful that UC Berkeley creates the space to bring art and culture from around the world into our community.
Additional information on Keenan Kampa can be found here:
Tuesday: Looking for a musical way to celebrate Big Game Week? Check out Big Sing, tonight at 8 pm in 145 Dwinelle. Eight of Cal’s fine a cappella groups will face off with four of Stanford’s. The event is free, but seating is limited.
Wednesday: the UC Rally Committee is organizing “Laugh Your Axe Off,” a night of Cal comedy. The set features some of the same a capella groups, as well as performances from Jericho!, Barestage, and various other Cal comics. It is located in the Haas Club room (in the back of Haas Pavilion) and will begin at 8pm. Free!
Friday: Check out the pyrotechnic Big Game rally in Edwards Stadium. It will feature performances by the Cal Band, dance team and cheer team. Plus, fireworks! And if rallies aren’t your thing, Bob Dylan will be playing at the Greek (which is why the rally is at Edwards instead). The show’s sold out, but you can always sneak up onto tightwad hillRead More
Next Tuesday, October 16, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis will bring his octet to Zellerbach Hall for a one-night performance of his Sweet Thunder: Duke and Shak, an interpretation of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s Such Sweet Thunder. Inspired by Shakespearean characters, Marsalis describes the piece as “[J]azz opera without without the vocals, telling a story with dramatic music.” In addition, the octet will perform several standard big band pieces as well as compositions by Marsalis.
Marsalis hails from a famous musical family; some may recognize his famous brothers Branford and Winton. He has produced over 100 albums, and is known for his imaginative playing and technical excellence. This performance is part of a larger tour, hitting 35 American cities, that started in January 2011.Read More
By Aly Neumann
When I was mentally preparing for the Florence and the Machine concert I tried not to get my hopes up. Her voice is so deep, I said to myself. It’s too good to be true or even to expect Florence’s voice to deliver those melodic deep notes in a concert where she will be moving around the stage constantly. But she did it. Her voice sounded just as good live as any of her songs that I have heard on the radio.
In fact, at times she even held a note for longer amounts of time than featured on both of the band’s albums. Florence also held a whimsical presence on stage that adored audiences throughout the arena. Her light and cool English accent took the audience’s breath away before even beginning the next song. She twirled her fingers to the metallic sounds of the band’s signature harp like she was playing it herself.
While delivering that amazing voice that makes Florence and the Machine so wonderful and mystifying, the harp had just as mystifying an impact on the audience that made everyone sway as if under a spell.
The band also added a uniqueness to each song they performed. They played songs from both their previous album, Lungs, and their latest, Ceremonials, with a slightly new life by performing with backup singers who emphasized those choruses we all love so much. Florence and the Machine still stayed true to the themes of their albums however. They maintained the energy filled rhythm of Lungs and the mysterious and spiritual rhythm of Ceremonials and projected both natural and mysterious images that moved according to each song.
I would highly recommend the band to anyone, as the band has a sound that just about anyone could like. I saw much diversity in the audience. There were older hipster moms to teenage boys who just finished their chem homework before their weekend truly began. And might I say, seeing Florence and the Machine was the best way they could have possibly spent their weekend.Read More
By Sierra Senzaki
Earlier tonight, I went on my first field trip in years. I got a little dressed up (by which I mean I changed out of my tennis shoes and actually put on eyeliner), headed over to the Berkeley Repertory Theatre on Addison St., picked up my ticket from my professor, and settled into the back of the theater with my classmates to see David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish.
I actually knew a bit about the play already, having tutored someone last week who was writing a paper on it – her class had also taken a field trip to the Berkeley Rep. From our discussion of thesis statements and the importance of specificity, I gleaned the knowledge that the play’s main theme was translation, or rather the lack of it, between American and Chinese businessmen. I also knew that the play was funny, because multiple people had told me so.
Those multiple people didn’t lie. Chinglish is, indeed, very funny, mostly because it so accurately points out the difficulties of communication between two completely different languages and cultures, and the problems that those difficulties can cause. Case in point: the mangled English translations of Chinese signs with which the play opens.
Chinglish is also quite thought provoking, for it suggests (rightly so, I think) that the blame for these often-hilarious mistranslations lies not with poorly trained Chinese translators, but with entitled Americans who expect the rest of the world to accommodate them. (I say this knowing all too well that I am one of these entitled Americans)
I do have a few small complaints about the show. First of all, I am usually all for loud and piercing Chinese pop music, but the selections used for the scene changes were so loud and piercing as to be jarring. I found myself wishing scenes wouldn’t end, partly because I was enjoying them, but also partly because that meant the goddamn music again. Secondly, I found the Peter character’s shaky “British” accent slightly distracting.
Other than these two minor concerns, however, I thought the show was very well acted, staged and written, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I think the rest of my class did too – the girl sitting next to me had a sore throat by intermission from laughing too much. I might have to ask my professor to take us on field trips more often.
The West Coast premiere of Chinglish is playing at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre until October 21. More info here.Read More
Have some free time today? Come check out Cal Performances’ annual Free For All, a free day full of performances all around the UC Berkeley campus! Kicking off at 10:30 with a performance by the California Straw Hat Band on Lower Sproul, the day includes concerts, CD signings, and interactive activities. Some highlights include selections from Shotgun Players’ production of Sondheim’s Assassins, the Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company at 3 pm on Lower Sproul and the closing performance by the presitigious local chamber ensemble the Kronos Quartet at 5 pm in Zellerbach. There will also be performances by student groups, such as the presentation of original work by Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies students interspersed with pieces by UC Jazz between 2 and 4 pm in the Bancroft Studio. The wide variety of performances means there’s something for everyone!
For a full list of performances, visit http://calperformances.org/community/community.Read More
Tonight, I went to the opening performance of Rhinoceros, an absurdist theatre piece by Eugène Ionesco. Performed by esteemed Parisian theater company Theatre de la Ville, Rhinoceros depicts the horrific and darkly funny transformation of a community of humans into a community of Rhinoceroses.
It is especially interesting to consider the work in the context of its inspiration: the rise of fascism in 1930s Romania. Comic lines involving rhinoceroses suddenly become insidious when you replace the trans-species transformation with the horrific mutation of free men into fascists. The absurd hides something disturbingly real.
Well-acted and crisply directed, Rhinoceros also features an amazing aesthetic. The set is both complex and minimal, giving the actors both room to play and room to breathe. And there are some stunning visuals of impending rhinoceroses.
Just a warning: This play is in French with supertitles. For the most part this isn’t a problem (it actually made sure every word of dialogue was perfectly comprehensible), but there were a few times I wished I could focus just on the actors and not have to read along. It being opening night, there was a glitch or two with the titles, but it just meant a couple dropped lines and it was perfectly easy to follow along with the rest of the action. Fear of the language should not discourage you from seeing it!
Rhinoceros is running September 27-29 in Zellerbach Hall. For tickets and more information, click here.Read More