The Pick List: The Week’s Recommended Events

Wednesday, March 5

Jenifer Ringer

We’re living in a very first-person world right now—from the blog to the selfie, it’s all about ourselves. Some of the most interesting sentences we can read right now start with “I,” and several of them are in Ringer’s memoir of her life as a ballerina with the New York City Ballet, Dancing Through It (Viking, $27.95). That title is a term dancers often use to talk about performing while in pain, just as any athlete will talk about playing through an injury, and Ringer does discuss setbacks (including one notorious 2010 run-in with New York Times critic Alastair Macaulay over a comment about weight). But there’s plenty of joy as well—both should be in evidence when she talks with Pacific Northwest Ballet director Peter Boal about her book and her 23-year NYCB career, set to end this spring. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, townhallseattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 6

SEAT & Spin

The Seattle Experimental Animation Team (or SEAT) is ravenously hungry for new ways to animate. The group has animated cartoons by drawing on everything from glass panes to mural walls to sand. But in this group show, the team is wrenching its forward-looking tendencies back to the past, to the very origins of animation. With roots as far back as 180 A.D. in China, a zoetrope is a cylindrical device with a strip of drawings on the inside and slits on the outside. By looking through the slits when the zoetrope is spun, the drawings create the illusion of motion—a precursor to the movies, since both rely on persistence of vision. Popular in Victorian England, the zoetrope will make a comeback tonight. In SEAT & Spin, member artists including Webster Crowell, Stefan Gruber, Salise Hughes, Tess Martin, and Clyde Petersen will animate their work in a large zoetrope that can accommodate six-inch-tall drawings. The results will inevitably be as charming and squiggly as SEAT’s work always is. (Through March 27.) Gallery4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Pl. S. (Tashiro Kaplan Building), 296-7580, 4culture.org. Free. First Thursday opening reception: 6–8 p.m.

Seattle Symphony

Some tricky rhythms and an opening tune played by the timpani are about the only jokey aspects of Richard Strauss’ 1886 Burleske for piano and orchestra, despite its title. Glenn Gould, no fan of virtuoso piano display, seemed to explain away his affection for this dashing arch-romantic showpiece by calling it a “parodistic concerto-commentary.” What he primarily admired in Strauss, as do I, is the composer’s remaining true to his own voice over his very long career. His dates, 1864–1949, bracket a period of immense change in music history, and by not following fashion, Strauss’ reputation paid dearly; simply by calmly sticking to his last, he went from being one of the most notorious avant-garde firebrands in Europe to the fogiest of old fogies. (Looked at another way: When he was born, Rossini and Berlioz were still alive; when he died, the Beatles were schoolboys.) Gerard Schwarz, whose Strauss performances have always been some of his most thrilling, offers an overview of the composer’s career this weekend; in addition to the Burleske (with soloist William Wolfram), there’s Don Juan (one of those electrifying early firebrand works); a Divertimento based on harpsichord pieces by French composer François Couperin; and Schwarz’s own selection of favorite orchestral moments from the opera Der Rosenkavalier. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., 215-4747, seattlesymphony.org. $19–$112. 7:30 p.m. (Repeats Sat. at 8 p.m.)

Friday, March 7

Cousin Jules

Newly restored and finally released in the U.S., this 1973 French documentary could almost have been made in 1873. Director Dominique Benicheti spent five years following an old rural blacksmith and his wife, shooting in CinemaScope, lovingly preserving on film a way of life that was already fast disappearing in France. There is no score, Jules and Félicie rarely speak, and the viewer should be prepared for many scenes of carrot-slicing, iron-pounding, chicken-feeding, and floor-sweeping. Still, I love it—Cousin Jules is like a portal into the past, everything frivolous stripped away, its central couple (both born in 1891) running their small farmstead in a way we would now call sustainable and organic. (That they are locavores almost goes without saying.) We see one truck on the road, delivering a few groceries, and the farm does now have electricity, but everything otherwise is 19th-century. These octogenarians monitor their energy output, eat sensibly, nap regularly, and manage their inevitable decline. (When Jules begins setting his table for one, we can guess why.) Cousin Jules is equally a portrait of place and a profile of marriage. The modern phrase we might apply is “aging in place,” but I think dignity is the operative word here. Benicheti spent his later career teaching at Harvard, then died in 2011 during the film’s restoration; his colleagues and students completed the job using the latest digital tools. What they’ve preserved feels handmade, too, like iron wrought in Jules’ forge. (Through Thurs.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, grandillusioncinema.org. $5–$7. 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 8

Sounders vs. Kansas City

Every Sounders season that doesn’t end with an MLS Cup (i.e., all of them so far) is reckoned a disappointment, but never have fans been hungrier for vengeance than after the late-season collapse of 2013 (we only just backed into the playoffs, and then were knocked out by Puh . . . Puh . . . oh, don’t make me type it). Considerable roster turnover, too, has left us curious about all the new players. The team opens its season at home against—as luck would have it—last year’s Cup winners, Sporting Kansas City: no greater challenge, but also no better morale builder when we win. Let the healing begin! CenturyLink Field, 800 Occidental Ave. S., 800-745-3000, soundersfc.com. $30–$100. Noon.

Little Shop of Horrors

I’m not sure I buy the old adage about musicals being the gateway drug to serious theater. With a pop-culture confection like this, based on the old Roger Corman B-movie, turned into a hit musical, and filmed in 1986 with Steve Martin and Bill Murray, I do not believe that school field-trip groups will convert to die-hard Ibsenites. Here the pleasures are those of nostalgia, camp, and jukebox melodies that wink at Little Shop’s retro setting. The unbeatable team of composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman were, in 1982, fondly lampooning a 1960 movie they must’ve seen on television thousands of times during childhood; their show is an unabashed celebration of cheesy horror and Motown harmonies—joyous kitsch, in other words. After ACT’s prior musical collaboration with the 5th Avenue Theatre, 2012’s First Date, this co-production boasts a long roster of Northwest stage talent, with leads Joshua Carter (as the lovelorn Seymour) and Jessica Skerritt (as his ditsy crush Audrey), directed by Bill Berry. As for Seymour’s carnivorous plant from outer space, that’ll be a giant puppet, given voice by Ekello J. Harrid, Jr. (Previews begin tonight; opens March 13; runs through June 15). A Contemporary Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, acttheatre.org. $20–$50. 8 p.m.

 
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