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Crossing Over

Our staff psychic decodes the meaning of the UCSC Arts & Lectures 2004-2005 season

By Mike Miscleo

I'll have you skeptics know right off the bat that when I called the Arts & Lectures publicity and production coordinator Moon Rinaldo, on the afternoon of the full moon, our conversation was interrupted by a snake--arguably the most potent of mythological symbols--in her office doorway.

"Oh my God!" she said. "There's a snake in my office doorway!"

Now, A&L director Michelle Witt would have us focus on the way the season explores the "intersecting disciplines in the work of contemporary American performing artists," and the overlap of various cultural influences within their work, as well as the ways in which they're crossing lines between popular culture and fine art. We applaud all these things.

But I, for one, don't take full moons and snakes lightly. The proper thing to do when confronted with such rich symbolism is to start connecting the dots using sophisticated mytho-analytical methods, also known as random association. Because if tea leaves and tarot cards say something about the future, then certainly the 2004-2005 season of the UCSC Arts & Lectures series says something extremely important about what the future holds for us all.

Dance More

More dance performances this year bespeak the liberation of your physical self, which will also grow more limber and adept on Jan. 29 and 30, when the Pilobolus Dance Theatre creates colorful spectacles of interlocking bodies and exciting acrobatics on the UCSC Theater Arts Mainstage. On Feb. 23, be prepared to move in unexpected ways when the Trisha Brown Dance Company presents newly commissioned works with musical accompaniment by the ever-innovative John Cage and jazz luminary Dave Douglas. With the Momix Dance Theatre in town on April 2, performing Baseball, ponder the common ground between dance and sport, and the power of narrative gesture. Wear more spandex.

Speak Out

A multimedia tribute event will explore the comedic writings and monologues of the late Spalding Gray on Oct. 23, meaning this will be a good time to speak your mind, as long as you take care not to invade other people's personal space by getting all up in their faces about their hypocritical complacency as they try to enjoy a meal at a local cafe, where you might be brushing up on your Tobias Wolff before the Word for Word Performing Arts Company performs his work on Jan. 14 and 15. Public Enemy rapper Chuck D's appearance on Nov. 18 makes this an ideal time to fight the powers that be, to say nothing of cold, cold lampin'. On March 19, comedian Marga Gomez opens the door between comedy and social criticism, helping us to laugh instead of cry--or laugh so hard we cry.

Rhythmic Intersections

Clearly, the appearance of two Louisiana-based bands on Oct. 8 (Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet and Preservation Hall Jazz Band, playing Cajun zydeco and New Orleans jazz, respectively) signifies intersections--of the old French dance melodies, Caribbean music and blues forms that make up zydeco, of an urge to laissez les bons temps rouler. Cook often this season and explore the malleability of cuisine, taking inspiration from the ways in which jazz has mutated and incorporated styles from all over the world, elevating and situating disparate vernacular styles in an ever-expanding idiom, as exemplified by the Turtle Island String Quartet (Oct. 16), pianists Anthony de Mare and Steven Mayer (Jan. 21) and the Assad Brothers with Paquito D'Rivera (Jan. 26). On May 5, heed the call of your inner Gypsy when Taraf de Haïdouks with Biréli Lagrène bring to life the Romanian folk tradition and the works of Django Reinhardt.

Classical Interludes

Union with the divine is possible in every moment, but it will be a lot easier around Nov. 5, when Purna Das and the Bauls of Bengal explore Sufi Islam, Tantric Buddhism and sects of Hinduism via ecstatic musical performances replete with flowing gowns and exotic instruments. But the formality of Western classical music can be just as transportive, so pay close attention as solo violinist Leila Josefowicz (Nov. 10), the Amadeus Trio (Feb. 6) and the Beaux Arts Trio (April 9) explore passion bound by structure. Experimentation with power roles in romantic relationships is highly recommended.

Lastly, be inspired the entire season long by the "Arts Xchange" outreach program, in which A&L puts some of the world-class performers on its schedule into classrooms in Santa Cruz colleges and high schools, thus solidifying their superiority to the inscrutably distant planets as prophetic omens.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Beausoleil perform Friday, Oct. 8, at 8pm at the Civic Auditorium, 305 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $26/adult, $23/students and seniors w/ID, $15/UCSC students w/ ID, $32/Silver Circle, $45/Gold Circle (subscriber rates vary), available at the Civic box office. For more info and a complete list of events, visit www.events.ucsc.edu/artslecs.

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From the October 6-13, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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