The BEATLES are coming to Milwaukee!

I am not quite sure why there is a sudden renaissance of Beatles music in Milwaukee this year and next but here are the facts!

photograph by Robert Freeman used as cover art for the Beatles first Capitol album, Meet the Beatles!

Starting tonight, the Milwaukee Ballet is presenting a live in person program in their Baumgartner Center for Dance entitled Encore (info and tickets here). One of the pieces features Trey McIntyre’s A Day in The Life, set to the music of The Beatles. Encore runs from today June 3, 2021 through June 13, 2021. Beyond the typical excitement around the ballet being back on stage…the BEATLES…insert screams here.

And as previously announced, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater will be presenting William Shakespeare’s As You Like It next February 15 to March 20, 2022 in their Quadracci Powerhouse Theater AND as the Rep warns us: “Interwoven into Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy, the production features over 20 Beatles songs performed live including “She Loves You,”“I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Let It Be.” Audiences will be rolling with laughter and singing along to some of the best songs ever written”…the Beatles…insert screams here!

So find your old Beatle boots, your Carnaby Street duds, and get your wig hat on your head…and maybe bring a few cough drops to assuage a sore throat (but unwrap them before the curtain goes up!)

The Four States of Music In Contemporary Dance

Let’s start with disclosures and disclaimers! LOL!

[This is the first time that I have gone in and edited/updated an article that has already been published. But after some on line discussions and a lot more thought, I have made a few changes to state three. I am surprised that I changed my mind because this whole article has been floating in my brain for a couple of years at least. But I think I am adding some precision to my ideas with these changes. They are minor but…]

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree…many many moons ago…in art education of the visual arts. And part of our base requirements was to take one class in each of the other art disciplines. Now being a bit reserved at the time, I wasn’t sure how to satisfy my dance requirement. I didn’t take dance theory or dance history…and was afraid to take dance in performance despite feeling that I should…I compromised and took a course in eurythmics which was a bit daring for me but very rewarding. I don’t remember much about it other that trying physical movement around a dance studio to the prof playing piano or listening to odd snippets of music or even Gregorian chant. Whether that decades old experience contributes to my thoughts here is beyond knowing.

Also, most of my actual live/life experience with dance in performance was the occasional Nutcracker. And then a major life change event opened the opportunity to attend dance concerts and I took advantage of that. Fortunately Milwaukee has a number of very talented companies performing their own contemporary works, a very decent professional ballet company, and an exciting dance program at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. I was enthralled.

Now, as I said, I have never studied dance theory or dance history. So am calling my dance experience with contemporary companies as contemporary dance. I don’t know if dance has had the movements that visual art has experienced…whether there is a period of modern or post-modern dance or dozens of ‘isms’ in the meantime. So it’s just going to be contemporary dance today!

And with no theory training…this is just an intuitive perspective article…I am just making this up! To paraphrase a paraphrase by John Cale of a quote attributed to Mark Twain and others: “I don’t know much about dance, but I like what I know”!

Now on with my meanderings: The Four States of Music in Contemporary Dance:

Our first state: we have the relationship of dance and music, just as we expect it to be. Whether classical ballet, Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, The Twist, or the flailing around we did as youths to impress our partners…dance movements working in time to the music. Foot steps, spins, twists, lifts, marches across the stage all occur in sync with the music. Not only do we find this pleasing visually but since we too can feel that rhythm, it enhances our experience with the dance. It is an enthralling thing of beauty, visually, aurally, and emotionally.

And our second state: we have dance against the music. This is just as exciting and rewarding as our first state of music and dance once you get used to it. The music is just as important here but the movement, the footfalls, the spins, all seem to be filling in the spaces between the beats of the music. This is certainly disconcerting at first but once your heart and head pick up the nuance, it too is a thing of beauty. But I imagine that this is difficult to choreograph and even more difficult to perform.

The third state: this may seem obvious once you accept my premise of there being that state one and two above…and that is dance in defiance of the music. And what exactly do I mean? The dance is being performed, there is music playing, but the dance bears no apparent relationship to the music. It’s as if the music is a necessity to fill our ears and fill our expectation that dance be accompanied by music. And so it is, although the dance itself is ignoring the presence of the music entirely…or as entirely as possible. And no this isn’t just bad performance…when you focus on the performers you see their determined dance movements and sense that they aren’t at all relevant to the music…but this requires as much effort from the audience as from the dancers (well not quite). I know I have experienced this at least once…but my mind wants to say twice. It isn’t very frequent. But the fear here is you may lose the audience with this state.

(“…and that is dance in spite of the music”…is what I originally wrote. and in the comment below a friend of mine who has been involved with dance suggested ‘indifference’. I toyed with that for a while because of its elegance but threw it out and intended to keep ‘in spite’. From the comment: “…in the case of a contemporary dance concert, the choreographer selected the music specifically…for a reason…and is programming against it or around it…or in spite of it.” But after three weeks of wrestling with this, ‘indifference’ seems particularly passive…and ‘in spite’, not precise enough. So tossing around words at 2 AM while intending to sleep, the word ‘defiance’ became the defining word for me! And then I made every effort to memorize that before I succumbed to sleep so that I could recall it in the morning. YES! Defiance is the more appropriate word to describe what I sense in the third state.)

And the fourth state: An obvious remainder, dance without music. That doesn’t mean that there is no sound or no rhythm. It means the dance movements are emphasized by the sounds of footfalls, the sway of arms, the swoosh of costumes, and timely claps or slaps. Well done, this too can draw the audience into the performance because there is no actual music to feel…you lean forward to actually see the footfalls and claps and twirls in order to anticipate and appreciate the sounds. Now I have seen dance without musical accompaniment where the dancers enhance their efforts using canes or staves or other percussive devices. To me that’s a gray area and moves the dance back into the first state above…just that the music is self accompanied and not really dance without music.

So those are my four states of music in contemporary dance…is that a wrap? Well, no, not quite, there’s this little corollary:

Dancing with/to noise. Yes, music is noise but with rules and accepted sounds and expected rhythms. So maybe this noise is non-traditional music for our purposes! LOL!

So when dance is presented with noise…if the noise has a beat, wave, thrum, throb, or rhythm that is consistent or identifiable, then I suggest that we are actually in state one or two above depending on the dancers’ reaction to the noise. If we simply have an ambient noise or white noise for accompaniment, then I suggest we have state three above, dance in spite of the music.

Well, there you have it, my crazy little ruminations on music and it’s use with dance!

[original publication April 24, 2021. additional content and edits May 18, 2021]

Celebrating Our First Anniversary At An Intuitive Perspective.

I am not exactly sure when to celebrate our first anniversary…but I actually published our first post on March 20, 2020, so I am going to use today as our official birthday.

For those of you who have visited here before and read our Welcome to An Intuitive Perspective page know that I am a fan, student, and practitioner of the arts and culture. I have a BFA in art education and at one time or another produced prints, photos, watercolors, and oil paintings. And there was a bit of time in high school and college when I played in a number of rock, blues, and proto-punk bands. I showed work in the art rental and sales gallery of the Art Institute of Chicago, was represented by a north loop gallery in Chicago, and had art in a number of regional shows. But all of those were so last century so to speak. And of course I have attended a gazillion openings and plays and concerts over the years. Great times!

But as often happens in life, I got sidetracked or interrupted. And for nine years I had been scratching another itch…writing…and writing for a political blog…and publishing it for four years. And I started to burn out and knew that I wanted to move on with my writing in retirement after the 2020 elections…so started the groundwork for An Intuitive Perspective!

So on March 20, 2020, I published a half dozen pieces, all reprints of my responses to plays presented by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater…pieces that I had written on Facebook as part of my involvement with the Rep’s Social Media Club. And then I was determined to build from there with all of my future visits to galleries, museums, theaters, dance companies, etc…and just as I was hitting the publish buttons over and over, the live arts and culture scene came to a grinding halt because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But I found some silver linings in the daily hovering gray clouds. I attended art history courses at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee virtually. I found any number of new theater groups who were doing virtual readings or presentations. There is a lot of very exciting stuff out there. And I wrote about many of them as my energy and emotions would allow during a very troubling year. I hope you go back and look at a few of them.

And as a hold over from my political blog where we featured music one day a week, just for a break from the seriousness of the site, I brought that feature here as Monday Music. And I started out with some pop songs that I find spiritually magic and then others that I enjoy a great deal. And in 2021, I have mixed in some more serious music…much of it from smaller groups that are new to me or are playing modern composers who are new to me. If you have had a chance to listen to them, I hope you have been entertained.

This anniversary note will be my 117th article on An Intuitive Perspective…granted about 50 of them are Monday Music entries and the first two handfuls, reprints from other sources…but an accomplishment given the state of the arts over the past year and the effects on my spirit.

And for 2021? Well more of the same…sort of. Plus a few original posts that are slowly percolating in the back of my mind…and fingers crossed…many many new responses to live in person arts experiences!!!!

And as always, if you want to reach out to us, leave a comment after a post that has drawn your interest…or if about just something whatever, reach out to:

Thank you for visiting and I look forward to hearing from you!

Ed Heinzelman