We think this little number by a black-and-white clad chorus line will brighten everyone’s day. The dance is called the Strumpfhosentanz, which roughly translates from the German as “the sock trousers dance.” It’s often performed by a male lineup, with members literally linked together by shared pairs of tights. You can watch a number of versions on Youtube, but we think this video really nails the optical illusion created by the dance. Thanks to Raya Bodnarchuk for sending us this link when it went viral last month. Music is by the folk-rock polka band Hess.
May 8, 2013
March 27, 2013
There is more and more stuff being recycled these days, but in Paraguay it’s taking a particularly interesting form at the Cateura landfill. Here parents support their families by picking through the trash, looking for materials that can be resold. Favio Chavez, a social worker and music teacher, was working for an environmental group teaching the trash-pickers about safety issues. At the same time he opened a small music school for the trash-pickers’ children, but they only had five instruments among them and the kids grew bored. Nicolas Gomez, a carpenter and one of the trash-pickers, was asked by Chavez if he could devise some instruments from recycled materials. He started by building a drum, then moved on to making other instruments. X-ray film became drum heads, cans became violins and flutes, bottle caps became saxophone keys. Now the LandFill Harmonic is on tour and coming to Arizona’s Musical Instrument Museum this year. It’s such a creative way to educate, inspire, and provide skills that will change these children’s lives. Watch a video of the Orchestra of Instruments Recycled From Cateura.
November 3, 2012
It may surprise some, but Washington, DC, has a funky, alternative side, and yesterday it was on grand display at the 26th annual Halloween High Heel Race. Guys in drag (and some women in costume, too) vamped their way down 17th Street in the Dupont Circle neighborhood for two hours before the race was run, posing for photos with spectators and giving news interviews to the press. Most wore heels of varying heights, many spiked and VERY high. The race itself included runners, walkers, and those who casually sashayed to the finish line. Usually held on the Tuesday before Halloween, the race was postponed this year due to Hurricane Sandy, but thankfully not cancelled.
October 30, 2012
Here’s a novel approach to developing an alternate persona: Nina Katchadourian’s extemporaneous ”Flemish” portraits created with materials typically found in public restrooms: paper towels, toilet paper and seat covers. Katchadourian frequently works with simple found materials, improvising them into artworks around a specific theme which she then photographs. For the 2012 election she has created a piece called Monument to the Unelected with campaign signs she’s designed to commemorate those who failed in their election bids. A version of this piece is now on display at the Washington Post offices here in Washington, DC. To see more of Katchadourian’s work, visit her web site.
April 22, 2012
We drove into downtown Washington, D.C., late last night to see artist Doug Aitken’s media piece, Song 1, projected in the round on the Hirshhorn Museum. It’s a very impressive production, including a running soundtrack of various people singing I Only Have Eyes for You and a visual dialogue of moving text and images. Eleven projectors are employed to create what the artist refers to as a work of “liquid architecture.” Even at 11 pm, there was a large audience of people walking around the museum’s exterior to experience the 360-degree video performance. The work will be up until May 13th, but if you can’t get to Washington in time to visit the museum, you can get a feel for the work by watching this YouTube video.
November 10, 2011
Aside from Washington, D.C.’s impressive monuments, museums, and libraries, our nation’s capitol has a thriving theater community. The Synetic Theater Company is one of the city’s theatrical treasures. Billed as “physical theater,” most of its performances are wordless interpretations of great dramas, combining mime, dance, and acrobatics with amazing sets, props, and costumes. This season’s Speak No More silent Shakespeare Festival features three plays, MacBeth, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet.
The idea of a silent performance of Shakespeare may seem to run counter to the Bard’s emphasis on words and dialogue, but Synetic’s performances work on an intuitive level, using the universal languages of movement and art to convey the essential meaning of the plays. The company has also mounted performances of Dracula, King Arthur, Frankenstein, and our favorite, The Master and Margarita with actors posing as manuscripts in costumes of hand-written text.
Founded in 2001 by Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili from the Republic of Georgia, the company’s experimental approach to theater is a joy to experience. Washington visitors should definitely add a Synetic performance to their list of must-see D.C. attractions.
August 12, 2011
A sequel to the popular “Green Porno” series of videos about animal and insect reproduction, the “Seduce Me” videos expand on the playful combination of paper props, unique musical scores and amazing costumes worn by Isabella Rossellini to describe how creatures attract each other for the purpose of procreation. A combination of hard science, art, sound and poetry, the videos make learning about the natural sciences fun. Visit the web site to see all the videos along with behind-the-scenes views of the creators and the making of the props. http://www.sundancechannel.com/greenporno/
April 17, 2011
The line between books, electronics, theater and animation is becoming thinner these days with the rapid development of digital readers. We’ve seen several great apps that attempt to capture the feel of a pop-up book, although the experience is not the same as the actual paper versions. Here’s another approach in which film and pop-ups retain their distinctive qualities, yet the two are joined in a beautiful, surreal way. Created by Davy and Kristen McGuire during an artist’s residency at Kuenstlerdorf Schoeppingen in Germany, this large-scale pop-up book serves as the stage set for a story told through behind-the-page video projections. Inspired by Russian fairytales, the story is of a young boy enticed into the realm of an ice princess who wants him to warm her heart. Click here to watch the video.
To read more about this project, visit their web site at http://www.theicebook.com/Behind_the_Scenes.html
January 27, 2011
It’s not a pop-up or an artist’s book, but we found this video so delightful that we wanted to share it with our readers. Old meets new, silent film meets sound track, it’s a mash-up that works. It’s only 1:37 minutes long. Here’s the clip.
Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo working in vaudeville and silent films in the 1920′s and 30′s. Filmmaker Michael Akkerman (Dark Knight, Taxi Driver, Midnight Express) added the soundtrack, Oye Como Va, by rock and jazz fusion artist Carlos Santana. Mr. Akkerman managed to merge the two seamlessly.
November 16, 2010
We are now big fans of the Vegetable Orchestra after listening to PRI’s The World radio segment about it. Members of the orchestra make their own instruments before every performance. Beginning as purchases from local markets, vegetable instruments are reamed out, carved, and tested before being played in performance. Back-up vegetable instruments are also made in case of a malfunction. The resulting music is very hip and techno. Watch a video and see if you don’t agree that this is an awesome show.