Sideshows possess an illicit allure, at once reassuring us of our own relative normalcy while also offering a glimpse of those border-states where our categories of the human and the natural break down. Although our urge to leer at others’ frailty and aberrations can often ironically transform ourselves into freaks, the circus can also be a carnival-esque celebration of unexpected diversity.
Love’s Labors Lost is one of Shakespeare’s wordiest and most intractable plays. Ostensibly a comedy — if we trust the original folio’s title page — it yet fails to end with any marriages. The play is more of a learned satire, pillorying debates from the Elizabethan period about issues of rhetoric, law, and questions of sovereignty. And yet again, as intellectual as all that sounds, Love’s Labors Lost has more penis jokes than one can shake a stick at. The play is essentially about words and about word play — about how there is no about when words come unhinged from what they seek to signify.
Fuzzy purple lights wrapped the State Theatre in a cloud of warmth, as 30-foot tie-dye tapestries set the backdrop for the world’s most renowned Grateful Dead tribute band, the Dark Star Orchestra (DSO). Touring nationwide for over a decade, the Chicago-based DSO recreates original, song-for-song concerts from the Dead’s 30-year history. Last Tuesday night, the audience was treated to DSO show #1,611 — a rare original set list.
Think back to seventh grade when you and your friends attended bar-mitzvahs every weekend. You all felt like you should be dancing, but couldn’t be the first one to start it. So instead, you and everyone else just kind of stood there bopping your head awkwardly.
Now imagine that one of those bar-mitzvahs was in Noyes, with a bunch of Cornellians in attendance and a really awesome Israeli band playing. That is what the Hadag Nachash concert felt like last Thursday night.
Last October, when the Cornell University Programming Board brought Steven Colbert to Cornell, his entrance was anything but subtle. First he roused thousands of students at 9 a.m. to buy tickets online. Then he sold 3,000 tickets in 15 minutes, selling out his scheduled performance in record time. To top it off, he performed an additional show to quell the desire of eager Cornell audience members. Attracting a crowd of about 10,000 over 2007’s First Year Family Weekend, CUPB, to say the least, started the year with a bang.
From the balcony of the State Theatre, the turnout for the Avett Brothers seemed unimpressive. Save for a scattering of patrons and a small contingent of students having their own private rave in the upper corner (complete with glow-sticks), the balcony was largely deserted. Fortunately for everyone, the balcony was so depopulated because the entire audience decided to get as close to the stage as possible — the lower level of the theater was the most crowded I have ever seen it, and filled with the most enthusiastic crowd I’ve ever seen (or heard).
I love attending dance events that support charity — not because they’re necessarily the best performances I’ve been to, but because they put dance into context. A casual audience member isn’t going to consider the history behind each dance discipline or step, but they can recognize that they’re supporting a great cause. Such an opportunity for dance appreciate occured this past Saturday, when Cornell’s Shadows Dance Troupe presented their annual fall benefit concert in Bailey Hall. All proceeds from the show went to On Site Volunteer Services, a student-run group that promotes community service.
[img_assist|nid=33690|title=Shadow Dancers|desc=Shadows Dance Troupe performs at the Fall Step 2008 concert in Bailey Hall on Saturday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Saturday night, the Fanclub Collective put on a rather unprecedented four-act show in North Campus’ own Just About Music dorm. Now, through my three years at Cornell, and despite the fact that I have several JAM-resident friends, I have never actually been to one of their coffee-house shows (I am infinitely excited to cross it off of my list of things to do at Cornell).
The space was neat, inviting and just the right size to make a Fanclub show seem full to the brim, though I felt bad for the people who actually live there. Anyone trying to sleep at 11pm was undoubtedly having a terrible time doing so — the last band was particularly gut-bustingingly loud.
Attending two musical events this weekend, I puzzled over the fact that no matter how precise musicians are in their interpretations, each audience member will ultimately hear something different. I began to feel like one of the characters in Howards End, who get carried away at a concert until they’re no longer focused on the sounds, but rather on their own romantic raptures. Both events, a “historically-informed” staging of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni at Risley, as well as a program by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra in Bailey, filtered the past through the terms of the present. I wondered whether what we hear often tells us more about how our ears have been conditioned than it does about the music itself.
Frustrated with the half-hour delay, and already having chatted up the plaid-wearing I.C. boys next to me, I probably would have left my back-row seat in the State Theatre before the show even started Saturday night had I not been waiting to witness a true musical talent in the flesh.
When opening act for the night took stage, only a handful of people seemed really excited. (I found myself snickering when a middle-aged man jumped out of his seat to dance, for example.) It was a different story later on, however, when Sharon Jones pranced into the spotlight. Then, I was one of the only people left sitting down, because how can you sit down when a woman like that is onstage?