In which our Diva is in awe
I saw this on Superstars of Dance about six weeks ago, but the sprawling discussion of cultural appropriation and race in sci-fi/fantasy currently going on in the fannish blogosphere tangentially reminded me that I wanted to post about it.
Mamela Nyamza as the Dying Swan:
(For comparison, check out this archival film of Anna Pavlova, for whom the piece was originally choreographed, and present-day star Uliana Lopatkina. Also, to clarify, it's a standalone number, to a piece by Saint-Saens. It's a separate entity from the Tchaikovsky story ballet Swan Lake, with which it gets confused about 98% of the time.)
Stop before you get to the part with the judges, because they're crazy. I love this so much. It's such an amazing fusion, and her physical perfection and emotional power just blow me away. As a friend pointed out, it's a great big challenge to the traditional "pretty" portrayals of death and suffering, especially women's. And I lovelovelove that it's a black artist doing a little cultural appropriation of her own.
I almost didn't watch the show, what with Simon Cowell's tacky "reality" competition fingerprints all over it, but I couldn't resist the lure of getting to see this awesome smorgasbord of dancers even in that context. And I'm not sorry (though it was really hard to stick with ignoring the lame competition aspect), because I wouldn't have heard of most of them any other way, and they were all worth watching. I really need to get back into dance class; I feel like such a slug since the end of Dracula with all its cool movement work.
And posting all these videos lately makes it look like I'm not doing anything but surfing the Internet! Which is only partly true -- I'm in research mode, working on the storytelling bits for The Magic Flute. Where, as well as being the storyteller, I'm once again playing an imaginary creature, one of the "Spirits" that lead Papageno and Papagena together at the end. In the last year, I've been a fairy, a vampire, and now a forest spirit. Oh, and several zombies in this oddball voiceover gig last fall. (I should nag them about getting a copy of that -- it looked like it was going to be really fun when the animation was done!)
So, back to the fairy tales. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!