I did actually make it to “Cliff Notes” for Dummies, and I have to say that I had a lot of fun. After the show I saw Marsha and Jeremy, which was fun, because it made the evening seem a little less like an experiment in public isolation.

I finally managed to take some notes during a performance, and here they are:
Latin Dances Shakopee
Eastern Euro Paunch
Surprisingly Wild
Narrator: Higgens From Magnum P.I.?

I might translate these notes into something more productive later, but I honestly think this is more entertaining.

Also, when I got home, Stan whispered up the stairs “hey Jesse, would you like some sake?” Despite my past experiences I came down to give it a sip, and it was actually pretty yummy. It tasted like Japan!

Then Lisa and I came back upstairs to drink and talk about a million things. I guess that I didn’t like wine until the wedding where I was staggering around with a bottle in hand. Amusingly, after the wedding Marsha told Lisa “Jesse is a nice drunk.” Yes I am, I’m nice all the time.

If you want to see the show but aren’t so eager to see a penis or vagina — sorry — lingam or yoni, just see everything except the last dance. Save the last dance for me.

3 Responses to “Wine ”

  1. Wow, two posts a day and my first is a drunken mess. At least I didn’t say anything embarrassing about being all weepy when Lisa said that Noah was asking about me over and over at bedtime, or about the black hoodie that I balled up and was using as a pillow while Lisa and I talked about dating. She said something that had all of my superstitious hairs on end, but I won’t say here.

    Okay, a translation of my notes:
    “Cliff Notes” for Dummies was a surprisingly tame and clever grab bag of dance. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I got more than I did expect out of it. Instead of painfully thin dancers moving with robotic precision, the company included a mix of body types and organic lines of motion.

    The opening dance was “Mambo” (aka “A Brief Introduction to Cruise Ship Entertainment”). I was reminded of the handful of times that Melissa had managed to bring me to a latin dance in Shakopee. I went for the food, Melissa went to samba, but we would both watch the inevitable expert dancers moving exquisitely across the dance floor. Despite my strong sense of rhythm, I could never quite get my feet to remember what to do, so Melissa had to dance with the few men who would still dance with a girl whose boyfriend was in tow. The dancers last night seemed to mambo very little, but they definitely danced.

    Following that was “Pushka” (aka “Ukrainian Character Dance 101″), where John Munger danced to traditional Hungarian Gypsy music. Hmm. The program says “gypsy,” but I think that “Romany” is the preferred term. Oh well, I’m not the word police. John was surprisingly wild (ah ha! the notes!) despite his looming stomach. This was endlessly entertaining.

    Next John Munger narrated a “Cliff Notes” Macbeth. He really sounded to me like Higgens from Magnum P.I. Evan Dando would be so proud that he injected Higgins into my brain so that I would be able to use that reference now. I honestly did not know MacBeth, but now I’m interested. Costumes were changed aplenty and there was no break in the action as dancers were inebriated, eviscerated and emasculated.

    At this point I wished that I had one of those reviewer’s pens with a flashlight attached. I don’t remember “Time Brings No Regrets,” which was a shame because Marsha said hello to the dancer, Amy Behm, after the show.

    “Tenderness,” backed by the song of the same name by Otis Redding, left a more lasting impression on me, perhaps because of its subtitle: “A Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness.” The dancer, Jen Stutsman, danced the word into physical form. This may have been my favorite piece out of the lot.

    “Cliff Notes” Kama Sutra was an inoffensive expression of a threeway in dance form. Despite the title this was not the dance that featured nudity, although one of the dancers took off a layer of shirt. Munger’s reading of the Kama Sutra was clever and witty, but it only loosely tied to the movements on stage. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the narration or the playfulness of the three dancers.

    “Mascarada” (aka “Executive Summary of a Corporate Fantasy”) at first seemed to be the summary of a man’s fantasy — Sara Stevenson dances seductively in a business suit, pulls off her jacket and unzips her skirt. She peeled off the grey layer to reveal a red dress that spoke of her own freedom and joy. It was her corporate fantasy — to ignore propriety and responsibilty and just dance. How very Footloose of her.

    “Spare Chaynge.” What the fuck was that about? If you want to avoid seeing any penis, this would be a good time to make your way to the door quietly. Fake a heart attack as the dance ends and dive through the door Indiana Jones style. I’m not actually advocating this option, in fact I think that you would be doing yourself a disservice, but I’m not the arbiter of your tastes, just mine. I just couldn’t get my mind around this dance.

    The grand finale of the show was “‘Cliff Notes’ Genesis.” John Munger was a pasty chubby Adam, April Sellers a pasty Eve, and Yahweh was played by Santa himself (probably Colin D. Claypool, but who’s counting?). Amusingly, April didn’t want her photo taken at Marsha’s wedding, but she apparently has no qualms about showing it all in the company of fifty audience members. Klezmer music makes me happy (check out Agada, Fire, or Tsirkus by the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band) and it was liberally applied here as the troupe played all the important characters in Genesis (and I’m not talking about Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, and Steve Hackett). All the love triangles and partying were explained and embraced. The stops were pulled out and thrown away — everyone in the company except the lighting techs were on stage at one point or another, hamming it up and having a grand old time.

    John Munger is a clever man indeed, and I would gladly see him naked in another performance, as long as it was as much fun as this one. Five stars.

  2. Yes you are right I did not want my photo taken at jeremy and Marsha’s wedding and really don’t want it posted here. Please do not assume that I have no problems being naked in front of an audience of 50 or even 1. The truth is we as artist must always figure out how to be naked. How can we be our most revealed most vulnerable and yet completely fearless enough to make art. The question isn’t were they skinny or pasty or did you mind seeing it. The question is What was the art itsself speaking, About or society, the times we live in, humanity or perceptions of the human form

  3. April:
    I took down the pictures per your request. The comment about you and the photo was funny because it highlights the contrast between a public performer and a private person. If you have the bravery to reveal yourself on stage but have to cover your face when someone points a camera at you — well, that’s a pretty common reaction, but it is still funny.

    The rest of my point is a personal reaction to the show for the benefit of those who might have wanted to see a dance performance but were concerned about what to expect. I had a great time, but my friends and coworkers were a little uncomfortable about the nudity, so when talking about that subject I inflated it to extreme proportions with my hyperbole pump. I find that absurdity can ease people’s fears and lead to understanding. In any case, the question of if I minded seeing the nudity is important to my target audience because not everyone is prepared to be uncomfortable while appreciating art. I was not uncomfortable at all, but some of my friends might be. My mom would probably have loved the show. My grandmother would not.

    I usually give people grief for leaving comments with errors in spelling and grammar, but I’ll leave you alone on that count because I had to explain my humor, which is a cardinal sin in my book. If I have to explain a joke, it is my fault for not making it understandable to the recipient. Perhaps the same could be said about art.

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