Eisenhower Dance Repackages Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” for their 25th Anniversary Show

I took my sister to the Detroit Opera House on Saturday, January 23rd to see a live performance of Igor Stravinsky’s masterpiece “The Rite of Spring.” The Eisenhower Dance troupe did some other numbers first. All were brilliant. My sister has met the artistic director of Eisenhower Dance (heretofore “ED”), and my niece Ashley is a former ballet dancer and is teaching my grandnephew Zanden some killer moves. The troupe took intermission after a wonderful take on Bolero. It was performed a lot differently than in the movie with Bo Derek. Hi, Bo! You rock! LOL!

As awesome as they were before intermission, I saved all my love for Stravinsky. I’m a bit of an art snob. If I’m at an art museum, I will stop longer in front of a Monet than a Manet. No offense, Manet; but you aren’t Monet, home slice!

And Stravinsky is right up there with Monet in masters of Art Itself. Manet, ah, yeah, okay, lol. If you can cause a riot in Paris in 1913 way before the new reality of religious rioting in our scary millennium, you might just be a masterful musical composer. Igor is.

I’ve loved “The Rite of Spring” even before I heard it. As soon as I heard about it as a freshman at U of M, I had to hear it asap. I got ahold of it on vinyl and played it in my West Quad dorm room and it mesmerized me. It galvanized my wish to be an artist. (Bowie sealed the deal; but I will write about that in the Postscript.) I’ve written a few songs in my day. Love songs, a punk song, and some pretty good rock songs. Blue-Green Audumbla is my band. I have a few tunes on YouTube. More to come, I hope. I’m sure “The Rite of Spring” is there, too. Check it out.

I wrote a symphony once in my head when I was 19 and living in the Valley. L.A. Like gag me with a spoon. LOL. I took a year off after my freshman year and moved out there with a kid I grew up with all the way from elementary to high school. He wanted to go to film school and I went for the ride. I started painting watercolors there in Arleta. Some people said I would never go back to U of M and finish college. They didn’t know me very well, did they? It’s too bad I didn’t preserve it; but that’s a story for my memoirs someday.

I was looking forward for months to see this performance. I even read about “The Rite of Spring” on Wikipedia to refresh my memory. I expected to see a young female dancer pretend to dance herself to death in a pagan celebration of the vernal equinox; but Laurie Eisenhower used her artistic license to instead show the history of Man from the invention of the wheel to that of the cellphone. It was cool. I liked it a lot. Someday, though, I’d like to see a traditional performance; but I admire Laurie for having the audacity to rebrand the Rite for one night.

My sister liked it, too. Afterward, in the lobby as people loitered before venturing into the cold winter night of Downtown Detroit, I saw a young man looking down at his cellphone. I told him he could’ve been one of the dancers. He smiled, looking up ever-so-briefly from his celly….

After we got my car back from the valet, I used the GPS on my celly to just make it to the Closing Reception of The Atrium Gallery on 15th Street.

It is a pretty new art gallery in Detroit. It had some pretty cool artworks in its group show called “The Actual Size Biennial.” One was a cool turtle made of wood by Mike Johnson. One was a cool message about texting and life by Julie Fournier. I had to take a picture of that one, since it was in keeping with the theme of Laurie’s rendition of the Rite.

I hope to see ED again. A lot of people don’t appreciate that Modern Dance is an important art form, like fine art, sculpture, novels, short stories, poetry, and music. Comics, too. And movies. But it is. I had a roommate in college who was a modern dancer. What’s up, Jonathan? You ever make it to Oz?

Jonathan was a great modern dancer. He choreographed some of his numbers, too. I remember one where he dropped I think it was Captain Crunch from a ladder onto a female dancer below him. It was awesome.

I love art. You gotta have art. Remember that commercial on teevy? It’s so true!


I bought David Bowie’s new album Blackstar the day before he died. I am one of the few people to have heard it while he was still alive; and now that he is dead, it is very poignant to hear. Donny McCaslin, the lead saxophonist on the album, told Rolling Stone that Bowie told him the title track was about ISIS. That piqued my interest even further. I’ve followed David Bowie ever since I got into his music in the 1970’s. One of his songs was the final straw for me deciding to devote my life to art.

When I heard Bowie chopped off the last minute and a half or so of his title track so he could release it as a single on iTunes, I was incensed. I remain wrathful at iTunes, and Apple Inc. for rendering the title track of Bowie’s last-ever studio album a mere song fragment.

The song Blackstar is originally over 11 minutes. You can tell it ends abruptly at 9:57, three seconds before the iTunes arbitrary time limit for singles. ISIS, too, likes to destroy art. I recall footage of them using sledgehammers to destroy artworks at an art museum in Mosul. Another entity who doesn’t like free speech is Eric Smith, the Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney who’ll fire any of his underlings who puts a “Mike Wrathell for Prosecutor” bumper sticker on their car. Looks like I’ll have to see if the third time is a charm this year. I’ll file the papers next week. If you ever see iTunes, ISIS, and Eric Smith hanging out at the bar, please tell them something for me. “Rotate on this!” LOL!

I am calling for a global boycott of iTunes until they make the full version of the song Blackstar available. Bowie chopped it down to 9:57 on the album, too, to avoid confusion, reportedly.

Hopefully, one of his musician friends, or producers, or whatevers, has the unchopped version. You can tell the song is a fragment if you listen to the other songs on the album. The song was just going into a new flow, and bam, stoppage.

It reminds me of the fragments of some of the Ancient Greek poets I’ve read. Callimachus. Sappho. The lost plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and so many others, some of whom have only a few fragments, or only a quotation in a dialogue of Plato like the great Agathon.

That was because of the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria at the hands of the enemies of Hellenistic Civilization.

But this time, it wasn’t the Romans, or the Persians, or ISIS; it’s iTunes of Apple Inc. Shame on you!


This artwork by Julie Fournier was in The Actual Size Biennial at The Atrium Gallery in Detroit. Text it to your friends, but not while you are driving, and be sure to tell them who made it. Great job, Julie! Hope we can be in a group show together sometime! (Julie Fournier)


“Turtle” by Macomb County artist Mike Johnson is a solid work of art made of wood.


True To The Constitution!



Eric Smith’s Loyalty Oath embedded in the Collective Bargaining Agreement? Gag me with a spoon!

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