Category Archives: Dance

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – #67/365


It is an absolute privilege to be able to view Toulouse-Lautrec’s work up close. Not just for his energetic painting style, capturing the seedier side of Parisian nightlife, but also for his art direction and typography.

Over the years, there have been many articles about whether advertising can be art, and I’m pretty sure that it can’t be whilst it is selling something. I think it can transcend into art after it has served its purpose and becomes era defining.

In Lautrec’s case, I’ll make an exception, as he was already well known for being an artist when  he was commissioned to create posters for various clubs and salons.

Any art director or designer worth their salt should be aware of the influence of art in layout and design purely from a composition point of view.

In this Jane Avril example, I love the way he frames the poster using the double base. (How many ‘frames’ have we seen like this for contemporary brands?)

Obviously, Lautrec wasn’t a 19th century ‘ad man’. He was a brilliant artist and spent much of his time in Montmartre hanging out with philosophers, writers, artists and the like. Then popping off to brothels to draw/paint the staff and clientele. He was a reportage photographer before they’d even been invented. That, coupled with the eye of a poet, lead to some breathtakingly intimate works.

So, for inspiring a 17-year-old art student, Mr. Toulouse-Lautrec, I am very grateful.

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Giselle – #61/365


What better way to follow a slap-up fish supper than with a jaunt to the theatre to catch a ballet?

My favourite is Giselle.

Giselle is a peasant girl who falls in love with Count Albrecht, who has led her to believe that he is also a peasant villager, named Loys. After discovering his true identity and, that he is betrothed to another, she dies of a broken heart.

The Wilis, a group of supernatural women, [is there any other kind?], who dance men to death, summon Giselle from her grave and set about luring the devious Count to his grave. But Giselle’s love frees him from their grasp.

I’d a let them kill the two-timing git.

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Dad dancing and other misdemeanours


OPEN ON AISLE IN TESCO. INT. DAY.

SCARLETT (7 and a half): Daddy, can I have a gooey alien?

ME (49 and a third): A what?

SCARLETT: A gooey alien. It’s a baby alien in goo.

ME: That’s not a baby alien, that’s a foetus in its amniotic sac.

SCARLETT: What’s a foetus?

ME: How about this Brit Awards CD?

SCARLETT: Nah, I want a baby alien.

ME: It’s got that Billy Ray Jepsom song on it.

SCARLETT: It’s Carly Rae Jepsen.

ME: That’s what I said, diddle-eye?

SCARLETT (rolls eyes to heaven): Da-deeee.

ME: Look, it’s got Gangnam Style on it as well.

SCARLETT: They come in different colours. You collect them.

ME: “It’s hard to look right, at you, baaaaby, so here’s my number, just call me, may”…

SCARLETT: DA-DEEEE!

ME: I bet Lydia would like it.

SCARLETT: Get it for Lydia, then. I want a gooey alien.

ME: “Ripped jeans, skin was showing, hot night wind was blowin’,”…

SCARLETT: Daddy. If you want Carly Rae Jepsen so badly, just buy it!

And there I was – caught red-handed. Other parents looking at the ground as they gave me a wide berth with their trolleys. They knew my shame.

Some of the many wonderful things about being a dad are being able to play with toys, watch kids’ films, do colouring in, make stuff, act like a lunatic and listen to music that is only fit for prepubescent ears. (To be fair, the two aforementioned songs aren’t fit for prepubescent ears.)

Of course, there are many tribulations with being a parent too. But I won’t go into them now, as I only have a two-gig capacity on this blog.

My seven-year-old is already behaving like a pouting teenager. Whereas, my five-year-old still thinks my special brand of dad-dancing is pretty damn cool.

So, even with my appalling maths, I reckon I’ve got a good brace of years left in which I can act like a fool before having to behave a little more sensibly for my children.

Ah, well. They can live in hope.

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Perfection


To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.

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I have a dream too, you know.


True, it may not be as ambitious and world-changing as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. But it’s a dream nonetheless.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to post about it until I felt I was in more of a position to realise this dream. But short of winning the Euro Millions Lottery, it aint going to happen without some serious philanthropic backer.

So, what is my dream?

Well, it’s to build a School of Arts for under-privileged kids.

Kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds in large inner-city estates. Kids who might not ordinarily get the opportunity to explore the more creative aspects of their nature.

What good would that do society? We’re in a depression, don’t you know!

Problems in every field of human endeavour are virtually always solved by creative thinking. Even the great Albert Einstein said so himself. Creativity allows us to look at problems from different angles and apply new thinking to solve problems.

Moreover, I don’t see it as a school that produces an unprecedented amount of artists. But an unprecedented amount of creative thinkers – whichever vocation they choose to pursue later in life. Whether it be mathematics, science, business, computers, product design, or economics.

And yes, a few more more artists too. And what’s wrong with that? Art is seen as a dirty word in this country. If I tell people I write poetry, they shift uneasily in their seats. If I said I write poetry in Ireland the response would be a polite smile and a nod toward the back of the queue.

Do you think the first rocket flight to the moon was dreamed up by a scientist?

Sure, scientists and engineers made it a reality. But it is creative people who come up with the ideas and the original solutions of how they can be achieved.

What will the kids do?

The school will develop and encourage creative thinking and self-expression.

It will foster, nurture and encourage exploration of the arts in all its many and varied forms including: painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, poetry, literature, screenplays, theatre, drama, dance, music, design, digital arts, film, photography, humanities, languages, and the classics.

Where is this school?

I quite fancy the idea of transforming a derelict Victorian mill. There’s something quite ironic about that. Though it certainly wouldn’t be a prerequisite. (Salts Mill in Bradford is a good example.)

Initially, an inner-city campus close to urban populations that have a high level of low socioeconomic families. Basically, anywhere across the Manchester – Huddersfield – Halifax – Leeds belt. It’s also sufficiently ‘central’ enough to accommodate children from further afield.

It would also be good to have a rural retreat – somewhere like the Lake District, Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales, where children can attend week-long courses/classes which double up as a holiday.

I would also like to open an international sister school in India or Sri Lanka where people from distinctly different cultures can share ideas. These schools could also participate in exchange programmes. (Then subsequently, even further afield: China, South America, South Asia.)

What about science subjects?

This school wouldn’t be a replacement for existing schools and their curricula – more of an extension to them.

Would it exclude people from non low socioeconomic backgrounds?

Not at all. But opportunities for middle-class families in other schools are much more accessible, regardless of ability.

Intake for low income kids would be based as much on desire and enthusiasm to participate rather than ability. There would be a limited number of places for more affluent children. Sort of like Eton – in reverse.

What kind of courses will it run?

Day-long workshops for visiting schools.

After-school classes.

Week-long courses. (Which would include accommodation for traveling students.)

Weekend classes.

Full-time sixth form courses. (A-levels.)

Masters and PhD courses.

What ages are we talking about?

Key Stage 2, up to, and including, sixth form.

Undergraduate, Masters and PhD courses.

What else does the school have?

Apart from studios and classrooms?

There’d be accommodation for students who are visiting from further afield.

Cafe / restaurant.

Gallery to promote and sell students’ work.

Gallery featuring independent contemporary and traditional art.

Masterclasses from guest lecturers.

State of the art library. (Both on and off-line.)

Book shop.

Art-house cinema.

Who will pay for it?

Well, that’s the biggest question of all.

A like-minded philanthropist would be nice.

Arts Council grant.

Lottery funding.

A percentage of Masters and PhD students’ tuition fees could go towards funding.

Sales from restaurant and galleries.

Fundraising / donations.

An Ideal World School of Arts.

Salts Mill, Bradford.

David Hockney at Salts Mill.

Salts Mill interior.

Studio space?

Any constructive criticism and advice about how to get something like this funded and off the ground would be greatly appreciated.

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Japan, In Memoriam.


On March 11th it will be exactly one year since almost 20,000 people lost their lives in the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

To mark this anniversary, composer Albors Askari, is releasing a single to commemorate the disaster. With all the proceeds going to an Austrian charity called Helft Japan who are raising money for a children’s dance group in a town in the Miyagi prefecture near Onagawa.

You may or may not recall that the piece he composed, entitled “Onagawa”, (after the nuclear power plant), was inspired by my poem: Tsunami – A poem for Japan.

It’s an absolutely stunningly haunting piece of music which I urge you to buy a copy of on Amazon. (It will also be available on iTunes and Spotify.)

It’s officially being released on the 11th, but I’m sure you can pre-order. It’s all for a good cause! What’s more, you get to read my poem which is on the cover artwork!

http://www.alborspascalaskari.com/

iTunes

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Onagawa by Albors Askari, poem by David Milligan-Croft

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Kagemu a Paris


Take a look at this incredible art/dance piece by Artist Nobuyuki Hanabusa and dancer Katsumi Sakakura, together known as Kagemu.

It uses a combination of traditional and contemporary Japanese dance/martial arts combined with exquisitely choreographed motiongraphics.

You won’t be disappointed.

And if your creative juices have been whetted, you can read an interview of the dynamic duo by Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg here.

Thanks to Alastair O Liathain for sharing it.

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