Laura Marling is just the start

June 22nd, 2013 § 0

If you've read uncoy before or worked in the offices at Foliovision, you'd know I have a penchant for female singer songwriters and good taste in the same. One day I was looking for Charlie Fink, I needed his profile picture for a project. And ended up with the peculiar frontman from Noah and the Whale on the Guardian.co.uk. I was looking for a different Charlie Fink but read enough of the article to hear that the wrong Charlie Fink had dated an amazing songwriter/singer Laura Marling. Go to the clouds now with some of her tunes off of Once I was an Eagle.

Laura Marling is just the start Continues »

Celebrating Sacre in Graz

June 2nd, 2013 § 2

In Graz the 2013 season was dedicated to the work of Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes. The crowning achievement is a three piece full evening of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky with full orchestra.

A sumptuous rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloe opens the evening. As substantial a stage as is the Oper Graz, the orchestra pit is full to bursting while the female voices take up the the left upper lodge. The male singers are in the wings backstage. The musical performance is worth the price of admission on its own. Combined with ballet director Toulon’s complex visuals, this is an extraordinary work. Majestic dancer Bostjan Ivanjsic takes centre stage as Daphnis. The role is a complex one, exploring a young man’s sexuality – first timid, then more aggressive. He throws himself into a pool on stage and comes out soaking wet and fully nude, challenging the slightly bourgeois Graz Opera audience with full frontal male nudity.

Celebrating Sacre in Graz Continues »

Humanity, Mortality and the Dalai Lama

May 18th, 2013 § 2

stunning nature
nature vs humanity: in the very long run nature must win

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered:

Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

Apparently the Dalai Lama never said this. What a pity if he didn’t. This is our life. We lose our time pursuing matters of little consequence, preening before our peers and dreaming of irrelevant wealth. Long term stress-related cancer claimed Steve Jobs as surely as it will claim you or me, if we don’t live better and balance our lives better.

One of my best friends and my long term creative partner died in a car crash on his birthday a week after mine, just before he hit thirty. My life was changed, his was ended. This is mortality.

On the other hand, since we are all in an inevitable rush to the finish line, what does it matter if we labour out our existence and pushing to the top of the ant pile? If we are going to be dead soon we may as well work hard while you have the chance.

Or to pivot one more time. Since we don’t live long, what does it really matter what we think or feel in our nanosecond?

To put some perspective on matters, life on earth is 450 million years old and has been nearly snuffed out three times before our epoch. Those 450 million years are just a short day in the history of our solar system which is approximately 4.5 billions years old and has another 6 billion years to go before the sun extinguishes itself, burning through all the helium.

Humanity, Mortality and the Dalai Lama Continues »

Review: Maria Yakovleva as La Sylphide

April 8th, 2013 § 1

As some of you might know, I recently wrote a long front page article about the struggle to be prima among the ballerinas at Vienna's Staatsoper, started by Ludmila Konavlov (print edition for now, will appear under my profile Alec Kinnear). In that article I wrote about Maria Yakovleva and it occurred to me that I hadn't seen Yakovleva in a leading role in a classical ballet since her first years in Vienna. I'd recommended her as an ideal Sylphide and decided to test my recommendation.

Yakovleva is now in her prime as a ballerina at 27 years of age. It's always a joy to see a dancer with all the strength and beauty of youth, but with solid experience. The non-ballet public often makes the mistake of going to see celebrated dancers when they are past their prime. The time to see Yakovleva is now.


Maria Yakoleva, Masayu Kimoto and Andrey Kaydanovsky in the tragic final scene
of La Sylphide at Vienna State Opera 7 April 2013: 
Yakoleva's final moments are truly touching

Returning to the young Yakovleva, her early faults were too much attention to her footwork and not enough attention to her emotions, as well as too strong a reliance on what is indeed a charming smile. In modern works, recently she's overcome her urge to charm with strong expressive dancing. Yet in the title role of La Sylphide, Yakovleva continues to charm but without entirely bewitching. There's some secret part of her which she does not give to the stage. This is not to say Yakovleva is not entirely delightful as she effortlessly dances through even the most challenging sequences.

Review: Maria Yakovleva as La Sylphide Continues »

Tigre v Meste (Tigers in the City) Film Review

April 1st, 2013 § 0

Tigers in the City is ostensibly an urban love story mixed with an international crime thriller. As strange as that mix sounds, the actual film is even stranger.

TIgre v Meste cast
TIgre v Meste cast

The main story follows a hotshot young prosecutor in Bratislava, Rudolf Jazvec. This gentleman at the age of thirty has not lost his virginity, much to the amusement of his randy bon vivant zoo keeper friend Hyena who has been boffing Rudolf's oversexed younger sister and fitness instructor Jane for the last five years. Rudolf is in love with a radio host on Bratislava's culture channel, Marina Kuznikova.

Kristina Tothova Diana Morova
Kristina Tothova and Diana Morova in an intimate moment,
no it's not a lesbian love story: Tóthová plays a man

Unknown to anyone except the viewer, Marina's Russian husband Ivan (the boxing instructor of Jane) has been brought in by Marina's mafioso brother to eliminate a troublesome state prosecutor. Rudolf.

Tigre v Meste (Tigers in the City) Film Review Continues »

Lóve by Jakub Kroner: Review

March 30th, 2013 § 0

Lóve is a deeply sinister film. There aren't many films made these days in Bratislava or Slovakia that make it to theatres. More particularly there are even fewer films for young Slovaks to see themselves in. I've just survived the brutal skinhead-centric feature My Dog Killer (opening film of Febiofest) and had higher hopes for the very glamorously and heavily marketed Lóve.

Love poster Jakub Kroner
Love poster Jakub Kroner

Here we have three typical student girls living in the main dormitories at Mlynskina Dolina. They sneak boys in and out of their rooms and dream of having punky guys turn up with pear spirits in their underpants. After drinking the bottle straight, some of them have sex with the said punky guys. The next week Sandra cries that Tomas doesn't call her anymore. So far so good. The same maudlin story which French étudiantes might live through, albeit with better rooms and better liquor.

Lóve by Jakub Kroner: Review Continues »

In Greece, they are dancing in the streets

February 1st, 2013 § 2

Amazing image from Christos Lamprianidis. Who would have thought in times like this the Greeks would be dancing in the streets?

Christos Lamprianidis Dexim
Christos Lamprianidis - Dexim via 1px

Dance retains the power to make banality go away, to lift us into the air and out of the prose of everyday life. How we've forgotten to move and become glued to our desks and computers never ceases to astonish me.

We just need to step out into the world and into our bodies to really live again.

In Greece, they are dancing in the streets Continues »

Vienna’s New Nutcracker

January 3rd, 2013 § 1

A new production of Rudolf Nureyev’s staging of Tchaikovsky’s classic at the Staatsoper with a fin-de-siècle set, a child army, and fake moustaches; plus: a guide to opera etiquette for kids.

The Nutcracker. Author: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Staatsoper

Nussknacker Konovalova
At the Vienna State Opera, Liudmila Konavlova as Clara holds the
nutcracker, surrounded by the giant heads of the grown-ups

Photo: Wiener Staatsoper

Every child should see The Nutcracker at least once. But if you want her to remember and him to treasure the occasion, best to be very careful which Nutcracker you choose.

Thus the new Nutcracker at Vienna State Opera is not a bad choice. It’s a Russian version, from Rudolf Nureyev, one of his first grand evening ballets in the West. The costumes are very traditional and very Russian: fancy officers’ uniforms, the grand gowns of the 19th century. The soldiers are Napoleonic and numerous, there are Hussars on horses (well, convincing enough). The decorations are as rich as the costumes, with photorealistic drawing rooms and massive grandfather clocks.

Vienna’s New Nutcracker Continues »