Late Ballet review, early day at the zoo, late in the hoops season

OK, OK, the ballet was last Friday night, but if I haven't been sick, I've been swamped. Such is life with a full time job, kids, and a girl scout troop.

But Friday was lovely. We started at the Milwaukee Ballet's annual show at the Pabst -- where it's either a Genesis competition, or just three edgier selections, and this year was the latter. The first was a piece by corpsman Petr Zahradnícek, who set his thing to some Ethiopian jazz music. The music itself sounded like it had indeed been recorded in Ethiopia in that this wasn't exactly state of the art recordin, but the recording lent itself to the style of the music itself -- both the sounds and the rendering sounded like something out of a niteclub circa early 60s. The sets were also extremely space age bachelor pad -- I was expecting Lenny Bruce to come out and do a monolouge any minute. The costumes and dance itself evoked a few years later -- very angular, very Vogue-ish, very Edie Sedgwick. The Journal critic didn't like that the dance followed note for note of the music, but that was the thing i really liked about it. Maybe because I'm a musician, but I liked that clearly Zahradnicek listened very carefully to the music, and built his piece around it. And maybe I'm just partial to the fact that I like that the Ballet is looking within their own ranks to develop programming -- I suspect it makes this company a more attractive destination for up and coming dancers who want to be more than just a hired hand.

Up next was Denver's Jessica Lang, and I guess it was OK. After Zahradniece's playful retro piece, perhaps I wasn't ready, or in the mood, for such a heavy piece. Even the music was heavy -- it sounded like the kind of thing you'd hear in Lord of the Rings -- when/if Gollum dies. Our protaganist keeps going up and down these stairs, trying to find God or something, and a chorus of other dancers seems totally oblivious of him, finding their own way. I'll need to give Lang another chance, but it just didn't fit.

Especially when the next piece, by Nelly Von Bommel, last year's Genesis Competition winner, promised to be so uplifting based on her entry last year, based on meeting her (she was as bubbly and vivacious as her work), and based on the music she chose. And she delivered. Her piece, using gypsy music, was fun, funny, enchanting, and near the end almost involved the audience, as it culminated in what reminded me of street dance competition. It made me forget about the splitting headache my sinus infection was causing. I want to see more of her, that's for sure.

Saturday, I promised the kids I'd take them to the zoo to "see all the new babies" and at first, I was happy to see that it was free day at the zoo, but as soon as I got off Hy 45 at Bluemound I really regretted it as I spotted the ridiculous traffic and crowds of people and couldn't help but comment on the obvious: "What a freakin' zoo!" I should have known that free day tends to bring out unbearable crowds, jeez, you'd think it was Summerfest, and on top of that, the main entrance wasn't functioning because they're building something new. So nobody knew where to get in, the parking lot was beyond control, and there was one skinny opening in the gates to get both in and out. Did anybody not think this through?

Once in, however, it was tolerable. People seemed to understand that there were a ton of us there, so amazingly enough, people were polite about encouraging their kids to take turns being up front to see the animals. And we did get to see plenty of spring babies, especially in the primate house, while plenty of nervous parents had to explain things to kids like, "Oh, that's how the mommy monkey feeds her baby" "And, well, daddy monkey has a little itch. Let's go see the cats, OK?" (Being the lactivist I am, I thought it was kind of sad to see people shooing the kids away from the former, though.)

There was lots of great music this weekend, but, frankly, I missed it. I had a date with a bottle of NyQuil.

In the meantime, Stella and Brian just got home from the Bucks vs. the Celtics. The game's still going on, but they left with the home team down by 25, though they'd heard on the radio that the Bucks cut it to 6. Brian reports that T-Shirt guy was there, and frankly, his shirt tonight said it all: "I'm available for my GM Interview at any time." He's got my vote.


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