The Hidden Language of Modern Dance

"Common Ground" - "Inner Seasons" 5/8/15 Granada Theatre, SSB, SBDT & Eisenhower Dance, Edgar Zendejas, choreography

Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.
~~~Martha Graham

Last Saturday night in Detroit was a veritable urban petri dish of battling forces. Modern Dance versus Monster Trucks. Cars vs. parking spaces. Ford Field vs. The Detroit Opera House. Bolero vs. Chewing Tobacco.

It took me a while; but I finally parked in an alley and caught the last few minutes of a beautiful modern dance with Revel’s “Bolero” right before Intermission. I say “with” and not “set to” or “inspired by” or “accompanying” because of this quote by the great modern dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham.

“I was working on a title called, “Untitled Solo,” and I had made—using the chance operations—a series of movements written on scraps of paper for the legs and the arms, the head, all different. And it was done not to the music but with the music of  Christian Wolff.”

The dancers of Eisenhower Dance each had different color lights illuminating them. Arthur Rimbaud, the great French poet who wrote “Illuminations,” would’ve loved it as much as me and my sister. The great Laurie Eisenhower choreographed the number.

It was – I hate to say it for two reasons – an historic night for Eisenhower Dance:  first, it marked the last performance fired by the Muse of its founder, Laurie Eisenhower, a very talented lady full of grace, and a brilliant choreographer and much more. Second, I hate to use an “an” before a word starting with a “H.” I wasn’t taught that in school; so why is it so common? Was I sick that day? Wait, I had perfect attendance in high school. And what about the theme song for “Mr. Ed.” Listen carefully…..

Hello, I’m Mr. Ed 

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, 
And no one can talk to a horse of course 
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed. 

Go right to the source and ask the horse 
He’ll give you the answer that you’ll endorse. 
He’s always on a steady course. 
Talk to Mr. Ed.

I’m sorry, Mrs. Pitt; but I am going with Mr. Ed from now on!  You really did a number to my G. P. A. when I took Advanced Composition! I even got a letter from The University of Michigan, expressing their concern for my Senioritis – but they still let me in, no thanks to you! I still remember when you marked me down for capitalizing the “T” in The University of Michigan, even though that is how we Wolverines spell it! Ha!

Anyway, the entire performance was billed after the title of the performance following Intermission that perfectly meshed the combined efforts of the three dance companies of the show. The house company as it were, Eisenhower Dance (henceforth E/D), the “Left Coast” company from Mexican-coveted California, viz., State Street Ballet, specifically from Santa Barbara, CA, and the Montreal-based dance company of ezdanza. Yup, they are “furrinners.” Glad they were let in the country! They all became one for “Common Ground,” a beautifully, edgily choreographed number performed with a song by Antonio Vivaldi, recomposed by Max Richter called “The Four Seasons.” It was pretty intense, and had some masterful tippy-toe ballet dancing in it!

Modern Dance is a such a legit art form. It’s a pretty well-kept secret, though, if the crowds marching like ants to the splotch of strawberry jam, I mean, to the Monster Jam at Ford Field is any indication; but maybe it’s for the best that art is not wholly appreciated by the cretinous hordes of Humanity.

For most people, Michelangelo is a mere Ninja Turtle. You don’t see any lunch boxes with “The Last Supper.

It is what it is.

You can lead a horse to water, of course; but only a genius like Alexander can ride Bucephalus.


After the performance, there was an Afterglow I went to; and I met some of the dancers and spoke briefly with Laurie Eisenhower herself, along with Nannette Mazich, executive director of E/D.

One dancer had a swallow tattoo just above her ankle. I joked that I saw it flapping its wings; but maybe it was just because I had three glasses of champagne.

I also met an astrophysicist who almost voted to demote Pluto at the IAU’s General Assembly in Prague in 2006, but, luckily left the night before the ill-conceived vote. I gave him a half-hug and said, “I’m glad you left.”

As Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto & Beyond said on the demotion, “…IAU definition is even worse, because it produces different categorizations for identical objects, depending on where they are. Get this — Earth at the same distance from the sun [as Pluto] would not be a planet by the IAU’s measure, because Earth can’t clear that zone either. I would say any definition that produces a result where Earth is not a planet under any circumstance is immediately indicted as ridiculous, because one thing we all agree is a planet is planet Earth!

After I delivered an impromptu, but persuasive pro-Pluto speech, he admitted that Pluto would probably someday be replanetized. I think when I said that most cashews consumed worldwide are actually dwarf cashews that my argument was won. It helped that I mentioned that Alan Stern is also a Pluto hugger of the first nitrogen ice, I mean, water…. I also told him that New Horizon’s next target (it reached Pluto way back on July 14th, 2015) should be called Homie. He was amused; but I am serious. Science should be fun, and there are no set rules to name small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) past the orbit of Pluto. Why not Homie? 2014 MU69 is so lame compared to Homie!

New Horizons arrives at Homie on January 1st , 2019! Write the IAU and NASA and tell them you want New Horizons’ next target to be named Homie!


A Limited Edition print of “Pluto XXX, Frame 3” was recently sold to an art collector who saw the entire 11-frame animated gif at an art show at The University of Arizona entitled “The Art of Planetary Science.” The photograph of Pluto was taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it flew 7,500 miles past the surface of the ninth planet on July 14th, 2015. I changed the color and saturation for the sake of art, but left everything else true to the icy orb. (Mike Wrathell)




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