Posts Tagged ‘ballet’

The Weekender: QFest, family friendly community disco, the mass appeal of sugar substitutes, and storming the Bastille with high-kicking ferocity

Posted July 12th, 2013
Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?

Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?

See such born-to-be classics as Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?, The Secret Disco Revolution,and Meth Head at the biggest queer film festival on the east coast, Philly’s QFest! The festival, kicking off Thursday, July 11th and exciting our filmic senses until July 22nd, is stocked with goodies from the cow hide-laden James Franco/Travis Matthews film Interior. Leather Bar. to the scintillating Pratibha Parmar documentary Alice Walker:Beauty in Truth. View the event shedule and venue map and make good choices!

Caili Quan, Billy Cannon and Richard Villaverde in Beautiful Decay, Photo by  Alexander Iziliae

Beautiful Decay, Photo by Alexander Iziliae

“Is it like, all classical?” a friend asks as we enter The Wilma Theater, 265 South Broad Street.  “No, it’s BalletX! Like the “Z“ in Zorro, the “X” clearly indicates that we are about to see edgy, cerebrally demanding contemporary ballet!” And that’s just what choreographer Nicolo Fonte and the BalletX company deliver in their Summer Series piece, Beautiful Decay. Running July 10th through the 14th with tickets ranging from $22 to $40, it is an enthrallingly impressive work The Philadelphia Inquirer pronounces as “too important to be unknown to Philadelphia ballet lovers.” (TIX)


ParkJam at Malcolm X

Strap up your workman’s boots and prepare to A-town stomp the chlorophyll out of West Philly’s outdoor discotheque, otherwise known as the spacious green at Malcolm X Park, running between 51st and 52nd Street and between Pine Street and Larchwood Avenue. On Saturday, July 13th from 2pm to 7pm, the green lends itself to ParkJam, a  Garden Community Association sponsored community dance party featuring co-presenter and Philly DJ Danophonic Dan, folk rock/golf enthusiast band HighKick, a moon bounce (!!), local artisans, food trucks, and community members and groups galore.


Tastier by Leslie Friedman

Ongoing until July 26th, Philadelphia printmaker and installation artist Leslie Friedman, explores the bodily and psychological effects of our culture’s strange sexual attraction to Coke ZeroTastier, showing at Space 1026, 1026 Arch Street, 2nd Floor specifically aims to stage interventions between Crystal Light lemonade packet suckers and art goers all over Philadelphia by drawing parallels to the allure of simulated pleasures and stripping sleek, sexy soft drink labels from bottles and replacing them with bright sugar-rushes of technicolored sex. Bring your own juice box.

Bearded Ladies, Bastille Day 2011

The Bearded Ladies, Bastille Day 2011

As we mourn the loss of Twinkies, we look to Marie Antoinette, patroness of good will and hope, as she cries “Let them eat Tastykake!” from atop Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue. All day Saturday, July 13th the Penitentiary will celebrate Bastille Day with discounted tour rates, the beheading of Antoinette, emcee Edith Piaf, French-themed menus at surrounding restaurants, and a slew of sobering, historically faithful theatrical performances including a visit from experimental cabaret group, The Bearded Ladies. Before you go, check out this instructional video on how to dance like a revolutionary. 

Spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon entranced by ornately costumed body rolls and globally infused instrumentals. For $12 on July 14th at 7:30pm, World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street provides the scene for ANIMUS- Philadelphia’s Belly Dance Spectacular. Musical ensemble ANIMUS brings its culturally diverse musical concepts and traditions–Greek, Blues, Middle Eastern, Jazz, Spanish, Funk, Latin, Rock, Indian, Jewish Klezmer, and African and tosses the norm amongst the reverberations of emotional rhythmic energy. (TIX)

–Maya Beale

Mysteries of Strange Choreography in Women’s Gymnastics Revealed

Posted August 1st, 2012

The Olympics are in full swing, and women’s gymnastics—kudos Americans! (Boo to Russians for their tears, there was no crying in the Brezhnev years, unless they were tears of steel)—is heating up prime time. Perhaps the most popular event of the summer Olympics, it has always featured the peculiarity of  “dancing” during the floor routine. And the dancing is always embarrassingly bad. As much as we are pro-performing arts here, sometimes it may be best to leave the art alone. Thus we asked our former intern and editorial assistant Mara Miller, once a gymnast herself, to explain the origins of this Olympic oddity.

Poise, grace and artistry. The author in competition.

For about a decade before track & field availed itself as the easier sport, I was a gymnast. My pigtailed teammates and I had leathery hands, absurd six-packs, and no fear. Except for the one thing that made us all want to hide under a mat, or maybe fabricate an injury for that day.


My personal resentment for dance came from my general inability to do it correctly. My oversized big toe would never point in the right direction. I would always stick my tongue out when I did a leap off my weaker leg. I couldn’t make my hands into the right shape—they either looked like oven mitts or claws. And our lovely, delicate instructor, as you can imagine, made me feel great about all these things.

So we disliked dance because we were kind of clumsy. But also because we were just itching to get back out on the bars or the vault and do something dangerous already. We wanted to flip high in the air, not prance around like ponies. Though these days, as I watch elite gymnastics on TV and wince right along with the uninitiated at the stilted tour jetes and angular wrist-flipping, I at least want to issue an apology: I’m sorry we dance like constipated toy soldiers.

But I also want to demystify why that is.

Modern gymnastics was invented as a training regimen for military men, and by 1896, it was an Olympic sport. Women’s competitions were added, as in most sports, as an afterthought—some as early as the 20s, but in the Olympics, not until the 50s.

While the men aimed to demonstrate power, the women focused on poise and artistry. (Keep in mind, this was a time when there was no women’s 800 meter race in Olympic track & field because, at two laps, it was considered too taxing for anything with ovaries.) A woman’s floor routine involved some tumbling, plus leaps, turns, and a lot of weird lunges and leg-holds copied from the men’s side but done, ideally, with feminine grace.

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