Saturday, October 23, 2010

Piano Phase: The Dance

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker & Michèle Anne De Mey

based on a choreography by
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker

Piano Phase originally composed by Steve Reich

Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s “Fase” premiered in 1982, performed by Keersmaeker and Michèle Anne De Mey. After the success of Fase, Keersmaeker founded her own troupe, Rosas. In 1990 Michèle Anne De Mey, previously with the Rosas troupe, founded the dance company Astragale, and since 2005 she has been the artistic director for Charleroi/Danses. Interest in "Fase" was rekindled 2006 due to the 70th birthday of Steve Reich that year.

more than the sum ....

Glass: A Portrait in 12 Parts

“You’ve made a wonderful film,
I just wish it wasn’t about me!”

Philip Glass to filmmaker Scott Hicks

This is an achingly beautiful documentary about one of my favorite living musicians, Philip Glass.

In my opinion, four things make this film truly great:

(1) The music.
(2) Glass' amazing friend Chuck Close and his mesmerizing artwork.
(3) humor.
(4) the just-voyeuristic-enough peeks into Glass' complex romantic life.

In addition to the above there are a few other things that really got to me. One of the highlights is when Glass talks about his teacher, Nadia Boulanger, with whom he studied in Paris from 1964 to 1966. Glass says, in the film, "when I came to her I was a Juilliard graduate, when I left I was a composer."

Glass also talks lovingly about Ravi Shankar, whom he met in 1966 and continues to work closely with to this day. The teacher-student relationship is obviously very important in Glass' mind, and he manages to communicate his thoughts on this subject very powerfully.

The documentary also includes fascinating segments with Woody Allen and Errol Morris, with whom Glass has collaborated extensively. I mentioned "humor" above, and sprinkled throughout there are references to the less than warm reception that Glass' music has often encountered over the years, including the following "joke":

Knock knock.
Whose there?
Knock knock.
Whose there?
Knock knock.
Whose there?
Knock knock.
Whose there?
Philip Glass.

[That is the short version. Here's a longer version.]

There are two places in the film where time completely stops, and one just sits, listening. These are when clips from the film Koyaanisqatsi are shown, and then during Glass' solo performance in Melbourne. Those moments are absolutely spellbinding, but they are simply the high-water marks in a genuine masterpiece of documentary filmmaking.

obligatory linkage: