Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting Off on Oregon Ballet Theatre

In previewing Oregon Ballet Theatre's ecclectic program "Song and Dance," The Long Suffering Floyd wrote this for the Portland Mercury:

Oregon Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Christopher Stowell wants you to get off—on dance. When asked about the popularity of shows like "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," he says, "I don't like the gossip or the drama, and I don't like the idea of competition within an art form, but I love that people are getting off on watching others move around."

Stowell put together a totally satisfying evening that incorporated square dancing (with a caller), hip-hop, yoga and men dancing to Cole Porter in 1930s underwear - wife beaters, boxers and garters. The mash-up allowed me to experience classical ballet through a new perspective without sacrificing the integrity of the form.

I'm all for mixing the highbrow and the lowbrow into what my Bastard Jones collaborator Amy Engelhardt and I call "the unibrow." But so often the hybrid is just excruciating, like when The Three Tenors revealed themselves to be the only singers on the planet who required sheet music to perform "Singin' in the Rain."

So I felt a carbonated happiness as I watched OBT's program succeed, because my own work seems to straddle opposing worlds - sometimes too weird for conventional people, while too conventional for weird people. Just today Portland Center Stage turned down my new play Tulip Mania for this year's JAW New Play Festival while informing me it's laugh-out-loud hilarious and commercial.

It reminds me of when my cousin Tim was premiering his show Zanna, Don't and a producer told him "the ending takes too long and feels rushed."

Then again, it also reminds me of this bumper sticker I saw recently:
Just because you're misunderstood doesn't mean you're a genius.

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