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robertogreco : michaeljackson   7

Zadie Smith: dance lessons for writers | Books | The Guardian
"“Fred Astaire represents the aristocracy when he dances,” claimed Gene Kelly, in old age, “and I represent the proletariat.” The distinction is immediately satisfying, though it’s a little harder to say why. Tall, thin and elegant, versus muscular and athletic – is that it? There’s the obvious matter of top hat and tails versus T-shirt and slacks. But Fred sometimes wore T-shirts and slacks, and was not actually that tall, he only stood as if he were, and when moving always appeared elevated, to be skimming across whichever surface: the floor, the ceiling, an ice rink, a bandstand. Gene’s centre of gravity was far lower: he bends his knees, he hunkers down. Kelly is grounded, firmly planted, where Astaire is untethered, free-floating.

Likewise, the aristocrat and the proletariat have different relations to the ground beneath their feet, the first moving fluidly across the surface of the world, the second specifically tethered to a certain spot: a city block, a village, a factory, a stretch of fields. Cyd Charisse claimed her husband always knew which of these dancers she’d been working with by looking at her body at the end of the day: bruised everywhere if it was Kelly, not a blemish if it was Astaire. Not only aloof when it came to the ground, Astaire was aloof around other people’s bodies. Through 15 years and 10 movies, it’s hard to detect one moment of real sexual tension between Fred and his Ginger. They have great harmony but little heat. Now think of Kelly with Cyd Charisse in the fantasy sequence of Singin’ in the Rain! And maybe this is one of the advantages of earthiness: sex."



"But both men were excellent dancers. Putting aside the difference in height, physically they had many similarities. Terribly slight, long necked, thin-legged, powered from the torso rather than the backside, which in both cases was improbably small. And in terms of influence they were of course equally indebted to James Brown. The splits, the rise from the splits, the spin, the glide, the knee bend, the jerk of the head – all stolen from the same source.

Yet Prince and Jackson are nothing alike when they dance, and it’s very hard to bring to mind Prince dancing, whereas it is practically impossible to forget Jackson. It sounds irrational, but try it for yourself. Prince’s moves, no matter how many times you may have observed them, have no firm inscription in memory; they never seem quite fixed or preserved. If someone asks you to dance like Prince, what will you do? Spin, possibly, and do the splits, if you’re able. But there won’t appear to be anything especially Prince-like about that. It’s mysterious. How can you dance and dance, in front of millions of people, for years, and still seem like a secret only I know? (And isn’t it the case that to be a Prince fan is to feel that Prince was your secret alone?)

I never went to see Michael Jackson, but I saw Prince half a dozen times. I saw him in stadiums with thousands of people, so have a rational understanding that he was in no sense my secret, that he was in fact a superstar. But I still say his shows were illegible, private, like the performance of a man in the middle of a room at a house party. It was the greatest thing you ever saw and yet its greatness was confined to the moment in which it was happening."



"The art of not dancing – a vital lesson. Sometimes it is very important to be awkward, inelegant, jerking, to be neither poetic nor prosaic, to be positively bad. To express other possibilities for bodies, alternative values, to stop making sense. It’s interesting to me that both these artists did their “worst” dancing to their blackest cuts. “Take me to the river,” sings Byrne, in square trousers 20 times too large, looking down at his jerking hips as if they belong to someone else. This music is not mine, his trousers say, and his movements go further: maybe this body isn’t mine, either. At the end of this seam of logic lies a liberating thought: maybe nobody truly owns anything.

People can be too precious about their “heritage”, about their “tradition” – writers especially. Preservation and protection have their place but they shouldn’t block either freedom or theft. All possible aesthetic expressions are available to all peoples – under the sign of love. Bowie and Byrne’s evident love for what was “not theirs” brings out new angles in familiar sounds. It hadn’t occurred to me before seeing these men dance that a person might choose, for example, to meet the curve of a drum beat with anything but the matching curving movement of their body, that is, with harmony and heat. But it turns out you can also resist: throw up a curious angle and suddenly spasm, like Bowie, or wonder if that’s truly your own arm, like Byrne.

I think of young Luther Vandross, singing backup a few feet behind Bowie, during Young Americans, watching Bowie flail and thrash. I wonder what his take on all that was. Did he ever think: “Now, what in the world is he doing?” But a few performances in, it was clear to everybody. Here was something different. Something old, and yet new."
zadiesmith  dance  dancing  writing  fredastaire  genekelly  haroldnicholas  fayardnicholas  michaeljackson  prince  2016  janetjackson  madonna  beyoncé  davidbyrne  davidbowie  rudolfnureyev  mikhailbaryshnikov 
october 2016 by robertogreco
J.PERIOD
The mixtape world’s master storyteller, J.PERIOD, joins Spike Lee & 40Acres.com to pay tribute to Michael Jackson with this exclusive mixtape. Mixing Michael’s classic hits with rare demo versions, remixes, and behind-the-scenes interview clips, J.PERIOD weaves together an 80-minute musical documentary that pays tribute to The King of Pop’s staggering catalog of songs, and reminds us why - no matter what you think of the man - Michael’s true legacy will always be his music.
michaeljackson  music  jperiod  spikelee  2015 
august 2015 by robertogreco
the lonely city - Olivia Laing
"I'm now starting work on my third book, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. It will be published by Canongate in the UK and Picador in the US.

You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of strangers. And while The Lonely City will be a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, it will be centred on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that tiny, teeming island of gneiss and concrete and glass.

Like my previous two books, this will be a hybrid work of non-fiction, bringing together elements of cultural history, biography, travelogue and memoir. It’s a story about what it feels like to be lonely in a city, and about the complex connections that exist between loneliness, sexuality and art.

Among the residents of the lonely city, I'll be looking at Hopper and Hitchcock, Andy Warhol and Henry Darger, at David Wojnarowicz, Michael Jackson and Klaus Nomi. I'll be thinking about communication and sexuality, about apocalyptic cities, Aids and the art of the machine age.

The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It’s a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many – millions, say – of souls."
via:kio  books  loneliness  cities  urban  urbanism  strangers  olivialaing  experience  human  humans  michaeljackson  klausnomi  davidwojnarowicz  henrydarger  andywarhol  alfredhitchcock  edwardhopper  alone 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Nico Muhly » Wormhole
"Did everybody process Michael Jackson dancing to R. Kelly: [video here] There is, in this video, one of the most amazing ten seconds of dance I have ever seen; it’s like Butoh and Tallis Cadences all at once. Watch the hands: he starts with these tight fists held close to the chin, and slowly slackens them. The left hand opens up and slowly falls, and then the right hand opens up, angles itself, and does a quick “come here” gesture. That gesture focuses the entire torso & head: watch as everything quickly tightens and the upper lip gets taut! It’s soooo good, and I love where it happens in the phrase: it’s in the beginning of the second bar of a four bar phrase, which is about as random a place as possible to put an accent — it’s like having a wild and crazy night out on a Tuesday rather than Friday. <3 Michael."
michaeljackson  dance  nicomuhly  music 
july 2009 by robertogreco
White Glove Tracking
"On May 4th, 2007, we asked internet users to help isolate Michael Jackson's white glove in all 10,060 frames of his nationally televised landmark performance of Billy Jean. 72 hours later 125,000 gloves had been located. wgt_data_v1.txt (listed below) is the culmination of data collected. It is released here for all to download and use as an input into any digital system. Just as the data was gathered collectively it is our hope that it will be visualized collectively. Please email links to your apps, video, source code, and/or screen shots to evan[at]eyebeam[dot]org. Work will be exhibited in an online gallery and depending on popularity and interest potentially in a forthcoming physical gallery exhibition as well. Huge thanks to everyone that contributed to the data collection."
michaeljackson  technology  art  visualization  collaboration  processing  motion  programming  crowdsourcing  music  data  opensource  tracking 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Jan Chipchase - Future Perfect - MJ (The Media Experience) Remembered
"Bangkok does a pretty compelling gridlock. Tokyo skips to the rhythm of subways and cyclists. Los Angeles? It throbs to the thwop-thwop of the news-copters . In LA, when celebrities are involved the network media are the first responders everyone else is playing catch-up."
janchipchase  losangeles  michaeljackson  media  news  celebrity 
july 2009 by robertogreco

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