Monday, July 02, 2007

Dance gala

Tess took part in a big dance gala last night. First, Tess went to Contstance's house to put on her makeup. The gala is a pretty big community event.

Beth snagged some front seats by getting there an hour early. Tess has been going to dance class all year every Wednesday morning. Her dance group - girls ages four to six - performed two numbers.

The clip below is from their second number entitled Reve d'enfance.

The theme of gala was "The ways of man". The program displayed four photos, three of which were rather dispiriting images of warfare, industrial pollution, and population epxlosion...the fourth photo was a rather enigmatic shot of an elephant...not sure what to make of that...except that I assume it's bad news for the elephant to be in such company. The entire program consisted of 30 different numbers (three hours not counting intermission) performed by kids of all ages and their teachers. It was all contemporary styles...jazz, modern, and hip hop (which is quite the thing here...the pop culture time warp here is really hard to get used to).
The dance scene here is very reminiscent of the scene back home. Even Tess's teacher reminds me a great deal of one of La Grande's dance divas. She is a powerhouse physical presence whose passion for dance is clearly as much about performance as it is about teaching. She shares the stage with her students but it is hard when she is out there to look anywhere else.
Tess and her friends and dance partners, Pauline and Constance, gathered at the foot of the stage to watch the older kids perform. You could see Tess soaking in every detail. Colm too was rapt although more often distracted by the company he was keeping. One number featured an all boys group that did some fairly credible hip hop routines. Tess recognized one of the boys, Hugo, and was delighted by his smooth antics up there.
For me watching the girls come out in age groups, was like a parental primer for what is to come. It's funny how some kids are already at home in their skins at such a tender age and others are clearly years away from making peace with their own bodies. I continue to be struck by the sort of tone deaf and uncritical way in which adults/parents (both French and Americans apparently) concede the cultural airspace to an industry that cynically packages "streetwise" material and tarts up young girls, refers blandly to them as "bitches" while affecting a hip revolutionary pose...and all the while these parents mindlessly, faithfully, documenting their offspring who dutifully give a choreographed middle finger to the very culture that nurtures them. It's as if some very elaborate and very dark joke is being played on us as we deconstruct ourselves and our values in public.
I can't help but wonder if this is what we deserve when as a people we embrace the "commoditization" of entertainment. When you buy your entertainment off the shelf, or from cable or internet, you own it but it's not really yours because you didn't make it. It doesn't come from you. On the other hand, I don't have a lot of patience with people you criticize the values of popular culture but who don't contribute anything themselves to the imaginative and energetic lifeblood of that culture.
The thing I love about kids is that they are so eager to sing, to dance, to draw, to invent stories...they are primed and ready to join the great collaboration that is culture making.
It's a shame that their parents can often not find it in themselves to do the same things; rather, they too often do little more than buy their culture, foist it off on their kids and then watch bemusedly as the culture in which they live makes less and less sense to them.
The answer? the immortal words of Commander Picard, "Engage!"
p.s. - that may be my first Star Trek allusion of this entire blog...perhaps I am being assimilated


Anonymous Missy said...

speaking of Picard, I stumbled on this today (it's a Picard kind of day, I guess):

10:31 PM  

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