Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘social distancing’

harss_plainspoken_img_0

Photo: Timothy Norris
Choreographer Mark Morris is currently learning to make films remotely with his dancers. Above, he leads audience members in a sing-along at California’s Ojai Music Festival in June 2013. The image is from an article in the
Nation.

As we all try to learn new technologies to continue valued activities under social distancing, I’m noticing that some technologies turn out to be pretty hopeless while others will be a good addition to our repertoire. Figuring out why my sound system’s feedback was disrupting an ESL teacher’s online class wasn’t worth repeated failures. I contribute to the teaching other ways. But basic features of Google Classroom, WhatsApp, Skype, and FaceTime have been great. Those are keepers.

In an example from the dance world, choreographer Mark Morris is teaching himself to make films with his quarantined dancers.

Sarah L. Kaufman writes at the Washington Post, “Choreographer Mark Morris says to his dancers. ‘Go as far away as you can in your room.’

“Morris, in a black T-shirt and a string of beads, peers through his reading glasses at his computer screen. Arranged around his own image in rows of little boxes he can see who’s on this recent videoconference call: his rehearsal director, music director and three Mark Morris Dance Group performers.

“Stuck at home like everyone else in New York, the dancers jog backward, past couches, beds and bookshelves, to the rear walls of their apartments. … It’s all he and his performers have to work with.

“Choreography in the age of covid-19 is hardly a graceful undertaking. Morris, the esteemed modern-dance artist whose company has performed to acclaim for more than 40 years, suddenly finds himself out of place in a world of seclusion. His profession depends on working closely with people, getting them to move exactly as he wants. But he’s determined to keep creating. No matter that the city’s quarantine makes gathering in a rehearsal studio impossible.

‘Now, let’s dance a little bit,’ he says. ‘Foot articulation is not important ’cause I don’t see that. What’s more interesting is swooshing’ — he swirls his hand in a serpentine movement — ‘and depth changing.’ …

“The three dancers in their separate squares whirl and glide into view with a smooth, floating quality, winding side to side as if drifting on wind currents. In his chair, Morris echoes their moves with his upper body, lifting his arms as they do. He gasps, he gapes. He sucks in a breath and runs a hand over his hair. Suddenly he waves frantically at the screen.

“ ‘Stop, stop!’ He grabs his head in his hands and pitches backward in his chair. Something has bowled him over — but what? Anguish, despair? Has he been horrified into silence by what he’s seen?

“The dancers wait, breathing hard. Finally the choreographer snaps himself upright.

” ‘That was great!’ he shouts, beaming.

“He adjusts his glasses and adopts a lilting Italian accent: ‘I feel like-a Federico Fellini.’

“That captures this weird, tilted reality perfectly. There is a certain hallucinatory, Fellini-esque quality to this scene, where a giant of the dance world struggles to master the same awkward video technology that remote office workers are using to teleconference. And where top dancers are limited to a few feet of floor space and bad lighting, using bathroom doors as stage wings. …

“Morris has retooled himself as a filmmaker. He began working on this dance last fall, devising the movements in his company’s spacious Brooklyn headquarters with a pianist and 15 dancers. He was nearly finished before shuttering the building last month. …

” ‘My job is irrelevant, if not obsolete,’ Morris says in a phone interview. … ‘The truth is,’ he continues, ‘I’m not making up a dance. I’m making a film. But I’m not an auteur, I don’t understand this technology.’ …

“The dancers have been taking company class every day on Zoom, and having weekly Zoom singing sessions and happy hours. But rehearsing with Morris — even with his tendency to tease them about their unmade beds — fulfills a deep-seated need. Gazing into his virtual studio, Morris appears to be comfortably in his element, scanning each face, each body, picking up every move and gesture, editing freely. No one escapes his focus.

” ‘Can you exit stage left or stage right?’ Morris asks the group. Christina Sahaida and Laurel Lynch slip out of view through nearby doorways, then simultaneously strut back in like Ziegfeld showgirls.

“ ‘Oh, my God,’ he exclaims, delighted. He leans in, like a scientist studying specimens under glass. …

“ ‘There will be more dance products coming from me,’ Morris says later. … ‘When I’m done with this I’ll start something else. Even though it’s not my medium.’ ”

More here. (There’s a firewall at the Post, but you can get a free subscription for a short period of time.)

Photo: Mark Morris Dance Group

DANCE-MORRIS

Read Full Post »

ca_0313nf_notre_dame_roof_10210381_1280x720

Photo: Patrick Zachmann/Magnum Photos
“In a 2019 fire, Notre Dame’s spire toppled and pierced its vaulted ceiling. Its lead roof melted into jagged stalactites,” writes Christa Lesté-Lasserre at the journal
Science.

How did you spend your Sunday? I took an early walk and watched FaceTime with my husband as Suzanne’s kids hunted for eggs. John sent a picture of his egg-hunters, and in the afternoon we chatted. I also “attended” San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church via Zoom, but it got hacked, and the church had to turn off the “chat” feature. The music was super, as usual. Then Suzanne sent me a Broadway-style Passover seder meant to raise money for the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, and I got a huge kick out of that.

Meanwhile, in Paris, online services were performed at the damaged Notre Dame Cathedral, as you can read at CNN. Reporter Alaa Elassar quotes Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit: “A year ago, the cathedral was destroyed. Today the country is ravaged by a pandemic. There’s always a message of hope, and this celebration at the heart of the cathedral will be the sign of our hope.”

My post today is about that cathedral.

Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes at the journal Science, “Eight restoration scientists put on hard hats and heavy-duty boots and stepped inside the blackened shell of Notre Dame de Paris, the world’s most famous cathedral. Ten days earlier, a fire had swept through its attic, melted its roof, and sent its spire plunging like an arrow into the heart of the sacred space. Now, it was silent but for the flutter of house sparrows. The space, normally sweet with incense, was acrid with ash and stale smoke. Light beamed through voids in the vaulted stone ceiling, cutting through the gloom and illuminating piles of debris on the marble floor.

“Yet the scientists, called in by France’s Ministry of Culture to inspect the damage and plan a rescue, mostly felt relief — and even hope. Rattan chairs sat in tidy rows, priceless paintings hung undamaged, and, above the altar, a great gold-plated cross loomed over the Pietà, a statue of the virgin Mary cradling the body of Jesus.

“ ‘What matters isn’t the roof and vault so much as the sanctuary they protect,’ says Aline Magnien, director of the Historical Monuments Research Laboratory (LRMH). “The heart of Notre Dame had been saved.”

“On 15 April 2019, an electrical short was the likely spark for a blaze that threatened to burn the 850-year-old cathedral to the ground. Following a protocol developed for just such a disaster, firefighters knew which works of art to rescue and in which order. They knew to keep the water pressure low and to avoid spraying stained glass windows so the cold water wouldn’t shatter the hot glass.

“But even though their efforts averted the worst, the emergency was far from over. More than 200 tons of toxic lead from the roof and spire was unaccounted for. And the damage threatened the delicate balance of forces between the vault and the cathedral’s flying buttresses: The entire building teetered on possible collapse.

“At LRMH, the laboratory tasked with conserving all the nation’s monuments, Magnien and her 22 colleagues apply techniques from geology to metallurgy as they evaluate the condition of Notre Dame’s stone, mortar, glass, paint, and metal. They aim to prevent further damage to the cathedral and to guide engineers in the national effort to restore it. …

“And even as they try to reclaim what was lost, they and others are also taking advantage of a rare scientific opportunity. The cathedral, laid bare to inspection by the fire, is yielding clues to the mysteries of its medieval past. …

“The LRMH researchers work in the former stables of a 17th century chateau in Champssur-Marne, in the eastern suburbs of Paris. … Véronique Vergès-Belmin, a geologist and head of LRMH’s stone division, was sorting cathedral stones until 10 p.m. last night. This morning, she’s the first to unlock the laboratory’s ancient oak door.

“She slips a hazmat suit over her dress clothes and slides on a respirator mask — necessary when dealing with samples contaminated with lead. In the lab’s high-roofed storage hangar — once a garage for the chateau’s carriages — she presents several dozen stones that fell from the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling. Fallen stones hint at the condition of those still in place, which are largely inaccessible. The scientists can’t risk adding their weight to the top of the vault, and debris falling near the holes in the ceiling makes it dangerous to inspect the structure from below. Many of the samples in the lab were retrieved by robots.

“Heat can weaken limestone, and knowing the temperatures endured by these fallen stones can help engineers decide whether they can be reused. Vergès-Belmin has found that the stones’ color can provide clues. At 300°C to 400°C, she says, iron crystals that help knit the limestone together begin to break down, turning the surface red. … ‘Any colored stones or parts should not be reused.’ …

“Philippe Dillmann, an LRMH collaborator and a metal specialist with CNRS, the French national research agency, believes rust from the cathedral’s iron structures can provide similar clues. At increasing temperatures, the microscopic structure of the rust changes. By investigating the cathedral’s nuts and bolts — literally — as well as a ‘chaining’ system of iron bars within and around its walls, Dillmann wants to create a heat map for the nearby stones. He says it’s unknown whether these bars were used in construction and left in place or served as reinforcement. …

“Beyond the physical damage left by the fire is the emotional trauma suffered by thousands of Parisians and others, and CNRS researchers are also investigating this hidden aftermath.

Sylvie Sagnes, a CNRS ethnologist with the Interdisciplinary Institute of Contemporary Anthropology in Paris, is part of a group that will interview tourists, locals, guides, journalists, donors, and church members to analyze the fire’s emotional effect.

“She says people can display a powerful attachment to monuments, parks, and historical sites. When people mobilize to protect heritage, she says, it’s a democratic expression — something French anthropologists studied 30 years ago during a public outcry against planned renovations of a basilica in Toulouse. In the case of Notre Dame, strong feelings are intensifying controversies around its restoration, such as whether to rebuild it exactly as it was.

“ ‘Notre Dame isn’t just any monument,’ she says. ‘After the fire, people remain emotionally implicated.’ ” Over to you, Pierman Sister.

More at Science.

P.S. Do take a look at Andrea Bocelli singing in Milan’s Duomo on Easter, here.

Photo: CNN
A meditation ceremony was arranged at the damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to celebrate Good Friday 2020.

200410101353-03-notre-dame-mass-0410-exlarge-169

Read Full Post »

drive-in-theater-5

Photo: TheTakeMagazine
Drive-in theater. When? My husband says he can tell by the cars that the photo is circa 1950. (Homeschool history project: Research drive-in-movie theaters in your state.)

Everything old is new again under quarantine. People are suddenly getting an urge to bake their grandmother’s traditional recipes while stuck at home. Drive-in movies are back in vogue. Fancy a flic for a birthday party, all friends in different cars?

Speaking of birthday parties at drive-in theaters, I wonder if Carole remembers her party, when we saw the seafaring tale Two Years Before the Mast. How old were we? I don’t remember the plot, but talk about social distancing! I definitely wouldn’t want to be on a ship for two years like the crew in the film. For one thing, people get sick. In the old days, they didn’t get coronavirus like folks on today’s cruises, but scurvy, for sure. I do remember one sailor in the film got scurvy from lack of citrus.

I got a kick from Jake Coyle’s Associated Press (AP) report on folks lucky enough to find a drive-in today.

“The drive-in theater,” he write, “long a dwindling nostalgia act in a multiplex world, is experiencing a momentary return to prominence. With nearly all of the nation’s movie theaters shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, some drive-in owners think they’re in a unique position to give moviegoers a chance to do something out of the house while keeping distance from others. …

“The Showboat Drive-In Theater in Hockley, Texas, about a 30-minute drive outside Houston, normally sees ticket sales go down about 40% on a weekend when they don’t have any new movies. Last weekend, they saw a 40% increase, says the theater’s owner, Andrew Thomas. Usually open weekends, Thomas has kept screenings going through the week.

‘Obviously this isn’t the way you’d want it to occur, but I’m excited for the idea that there may be a new generation of people that will get to experience going to a drive-in theater and — I was going to say catch the bug,’ said Thomas, laughing. ‘Maybe some other turn of phrase.’

“There are just over 300 drive-ins left in the country. They constitute a small, oft-forgotten flicker in today’s movie ecosystem that hardly competes with the megawatt glare of the megaplex and the nation’s 5,500 indoor theaters. But through decades of disruption and change in American life, they have managed to survive. …

“In certain parts of the country, [they’re] one of the only remaining refuges of public entertainment — of getting out the house to do something while still staying inside your car.

“At the Paramount Drive-in near Los Angeles, Forrest and Erin McBride figured a drive-in movie was one of the only ways they could responsibly celebrate their anniversary.

” ‘We were like, what can we do? Everything’s closed,’ said Forrest before a showing of ‘Onward’ on Thursday night. ‘We were like, “Well, a drive-in theater is kind of like a self-quarantined movie date.” ‘…

“Drive-ins aren’t without their own virus concerns. Concessions and restrooms, in particular, still pose issues. All owners interviewed for this article said they were spacing out cars, reworking how customers could order food (sometimes via text messages) and limiting restroom occupancy.

“Chris Curtis, owner of the Blue Moon Drive-in in Guin, Alabama, said he was doing something that has long been anathema to drive-ins: allowing outside food and drink in. ‘In fact, we suggest it,’ reads the Blue Moon’s Facebook page. Like indoor theaters, drive-ins make their money almost entirely by concessions.

“ ‘We’re just trying to pay the power bill and the water bill and get through this, and give the community something to do at a time when there’s not a whole lot to do,’ said Curtis. …

“To keep the Blue Moon uncrowded, Curtis launched online ticketing for the first time. ‘I don’t want people driving from long distances just to see that we’re sold out,’ he said

“There are few movies left for drive-ins to play. For now, they can still screen recent releases like ‘Onward’ and ‘The Hunt,’ but those movies are already available on various digital platforms as studios have funneled their films to homes due to the virus. Earlier this week, all of the nation’s movie chains shuttered following federal guidelines that urged against gatherings of more than 10 people. The studios have cleared out their release calendars into May.

“Those postponements have extended all the way to major summer releases, including Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’ (previously slated for May 1). Eating into spring releases will be hard enough for drive-ins, but summer is when they sell most of their tickets. Owners say that if they manage to remain open in the coming weeks, they could potentially play older films (though those cost almost as much as new releases to play). …

“Drive-ins could also improvise in other ways. Lisa Boaz, who with her husband has operated the Monetta Drive-in in Monetta, South Carolina, since 1999, said they’ve been contacted by churches interested in using the drive-in for Sunday services. Parishioners would listen to sermons from their cars through the drive-in’s FM-radio transmitters. …

“So long as it’s safe, Boaz appreciates the irony that in the year 2020, the best — and in many cases only — way to see a movie outside the house is at the drive-in. The pandemic hasn’t proven the supremacy of streaming as much as it’s shown how indomitable the urge is to spend a night at the movies. …

“Said Boaz, ‘The old ways are the best ways.’ ”

More at AP, here.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: