I do what I do because
that’s what I do, and if
I didn’t do it who would?
— Rudy Perez
In talking with Rudy Perez about his career’s performances over the last nine months (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), I noticed how many took place in art spaces. Of course, by the time I met Rudy in 1980, performances—dance and otherwise—were often hosted by galleries—large and small, for-profit and non. What follows are reminiscences of such productions during the years before I left Los Angeles for Denver in 2005, including bits from our conversations earlier this month.Continue reading “Portrait of Rudy Perez 4: Lingering in Spaces”
Yesterday my brother Richard remarked in our weekly transpacific Skype chat, that the cell phone camera has changed everything, from unmasked undistanced kids walking down a hallway in Georgia (I hadn’t yet seen it; he’s on Bangkok time) to gals getting their nails done getting zip-tied on the blacktop near my neighborhood. Continue reading “Everybody Dance Now 5: The People’s Panopticon”
This fourth edition of Everybody Dance Now involves travel in space and time, beginning with a short from Arizona filmmaker and photographer Harrison J. Bahe of Navajo Joe Films. “Xibalba” comes from the soundtrack of The Fountain (2006) composed by Clint Mansell, which also accompanies Bahe’s film. Xibalba is the Mayan underworld, which figures in The Fountain, a once-and-future picture that weaves together Mayan and Hebrew mythology, featuring a Spanish conquistador astoundingly being recognized by a native priest as the First Father, the life source. Continue reading “Everybody Dance Now 4: Time/Travel”
This is a second conversation with dancer-choreographer Rudy Perez, taking place last month on May 30. During our review of Part 1 Rudy raised a few topics that I wanted to pursue. And, of course, there had been the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day, and the reactions from coast to coast.
Last year, in Everybody Dance Now 1, I reminisced about studying with dancer-choreographer Rudy Perez in the early 1980s. Nearly four decades later Rudy agreed to let me interview him a week ago, on May 13. What follows has been lightly edited for clarity.
The year 2003 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Their killing had a great impact on my wife Andrea Carney (see Part 1 and Part 2 of our trilogy). Somehow I learned that a major commemoration would be held in New York City on June 19, the same day they were killed. It was produced by the Rosenberg Fund for Children, founded in 1990 by the Rosenbergs’ son Robert, who was grateful for the support he and his brother Michael had been shown during the jailing of, and after the killing of, their parents. The fund’s purpose is “to find and help children today who are enduring the same kind of nightmare he endured as a child.”1Continue reading “Rosenberg Resistance”
This second installment of movement musings begins (or rather ends…) below with a variation of a video sampling technique that I covered in “Knee, Sugar” of the last section of Everybody Dance Now 1 (Knee, Sugar, Hammer, Shame). I also look at what was suggested by “Shame”: what might be seen as anti-dance, or what I call adansual.
I first became acquainted with the Australian band Bumblebeez 81 via their suggestive “Pony Ride” from 2002. Five years later they released “Dr. Love,” the promo for which involves a parody of a dance music video that could have been shot on a smoggy day along the Los Angeles River. All the performers sport Sharpie-ed chest adornments: pushbuttons and keyboards, chains, phones and headphones, a bandolier, a mink stole, an LP, even sham shoes. Rapper Christopher Colonna is bedecked in markered bling, and his sister Queen ViLa, dons an eyepatch through which she easily sees. The promo’s coda reprises the song’s sonics with pushbuttons pushed and keyboards keyed, essentially A/V sampling.
The following is an initial meandering musing on dance: casual, staged, amateur, professional, choreographed, spontaneous, celebratory, liberatory.
Six years ago Pet Shop Boys issued their album Electric and I bought it for the cut “Love Is a Bourgeois Construct,” a sentiment I’d been voicing for some time. But I was more taken with the promo video for the more nuanced “Vocal.” Directed by photographer and filmmaker Joost Vandebrug, it is compiled from amateur video shot at British late-’80s raves as well as Manchester’s Haçienda club. Given the visuals, the song suggests a nostalgic number, but the singer is surprised: “Every track has a vocal/ and that makes a change.” The music—“Expressing passion/ Expressing pain”—is the glue that binds its listeners as well as the promo’s dancers. It can be seen as a tone-poem-take on the experiences of ecstasy, a drug of choice at the time.
In the milieu of the multitudes, Vandebrug’s choices convey not only that E-intimacy but also a heterogeneity—racial, sensual, presentational, more.
The “Vocal” visuals only hint at what was taking place across the pond in the waning ’80s, as do those for Madonna’s promo for “Vogue” (1990), which is an oddly literal (mm… periodical) treatment, a recreation of classic West Coast film and fashion photography, even as her choreography, by Karole Armitage, was a lite—and largely synchronized—version of East Coast ballroom moves (at least in the five-minute cut). Continue reading “Everybody Dance Now 1”