Category: Music

Stryx – 1978

While browsing Youtube’s fine selection of Grace Jones videos the other day, I came across this nugget from Italian TV show Stryx in 1978. It features Grace performing her song Fame while trapsing about in a heavily smoke[machine]-filled set and cavorting on leopard print divans. Note the tone set by the fantastical cape and perched birds as she appears in a bubbling pitcher.

My interest was piqued and I carried onward, determined to delve more deeply into the abyss of Stryx. Unfortunately, as the show only aired for one year, there were a limited number of clips to devour. The journey was short, but not without its high points. In addition to Grace, the show featured an eclectic international mix of songstresses, including Amanda Lear (French), Patty Pravo (Italian), and Gal Costa (Brazilian). Stylistically, the show had a decidedly glamified 70s take on the Middle Ages with dark imagery and characters, though catered specifically to each performer’s song. Each performer’s set of segments was classified by a particular Stryx-ian title – Grace Jones was featured in Rumstryx; Amanda Lear in Sexy Stryx; and Patty Pravo in Subliminal Stryx. (A full list of performers can be found in the Stryx Wikipedia entry.) I SO wish Kate Bush had been on this show. But I digress. The show was yanked from TV channel Rai Due in ’78 due to controversy over the devilish undertones and nudity. So unfortunate, but on the flip side, these fun discoveries remind me how very fortunate we are to have youtube in the first place.

Check out some more Stryx clips below. I promise human hand candle fixtures, a smattering of loud costumes, awkward chorus members, a LOT of smoke machine mist, and even – no exaggeration – a whole litter’s worth of adorable black kittens, not to mention several other animal species making appearances.

I’m not terribly partial to the song, but the giant head and hand on set alone make it worth a watch.

Kittens galore! Plus this one has amazing costumes all-around.

Great intro on this one, and great cape

An awesome very moody Patty Pravo performance

And finally, more Patty Pravo excellence including toplessness (turn it up as the volume is low):

Kate Bush Dance Troupe at The Kitchen

The Kate Bush Dance Troupe performed at The Kitchen November 5, 6, and 7 as part of Chase Granoff’s piece The Art of Making Dances. Chase’s piece featured himself and Jennifer Sullivan as the main dancers as well as a group of dancers who performed during several segments. Our contribution fell at the end of the piece and we performed just one song – The Dreaming. I made an additional costume for Renata, as she rejoined the group for this performance. The evening also included i need more by Nancy Garcia and was curated by Matthew Lyons. Matthew also conducted an interview with me, Jennifer Sullivan, and Samara Davis about The Kate Bush Dance Troupe that is included in the book Chase produced as part of his piece. The book is also titled The Art of Making Dances.

We were really stoked to be included in this show, and it was funny, because we had earlier joked that KBDT was blowing up and that we’d be at The Kitchen before we knew it. It was an awesome opportunity and really cool to perform in that space, so “big time” compared to the loft/party type locations of our previous performances. Unfortunately I don’t yet have any photo or video of the performance to share save for a mobile phone pic and some photos of us before and after the show. Check out the review from the NY Times and check back for more documentation in the near future.

Also see posts on our first and second performances.

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photo by Timothy Hull

Goofing off in the lobby of the Kitchen before going onstage

Kate Bush Dance Troupe, minus Cassie

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pics by me and Collin

See the full set on Flickr HERE.

Finally, an auto-tune experiment worth watching

“We Are All Connected” is the second in a series of auto-tune compositions by the Symphony of Science. The creator John Boswell used clips of Carl Sagan from the Cosmos series, as well as Bill Nye, Richard Feynman and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Cosmos in itself is an amazing series that should be viewed in all seriousness. Impressively, this video succeeds in making such observations jovial without casting an irritating ironic shadow over the whole production. Bravo! Go to Symphony of Science to download the songs and videos. As seen on Geekologie.

We Are All Connected

Also check out the first video A Glorious Dawn, mostly comprised of Cosmos footage, enhanced by a verse by Stephen Hawking.

The Kate Bush Dance Troupe at 179 Canal

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Photos above by Brina Thurston. Below, video documentation (by Andrew Steinmetz) of our second performance on May 30th at 179 Canal, a temporary gallery and performance space hosted by Margaret Lee. The month of programming was called The Month of May – read an interview with Margaret on the Art:21 blog HERE. For this iteration, members Renata Espinoza and Margaret Lee bowed out and were replaced by Cassie Thornton and Kate Scherer. Jennifer Sullivan, Samara Davis, and myself remained. Check out the video footage in order of presentation with a brief explanation of each number below.

Link: Photo set from The Month of May.

Wuthering Heights
We began the evening with an encore presentation of Wuthering Heights, enhanced by a lovely red sleeve-and-sash accessory made by Samara Davis. Kate Scherer’s abstract video played on the wall to our right (you can’t see it here due to the angle at which the footage was recorded).

Hounds of Love
Samara Davis came up with the moves for this piece, combining ghoul-like hound movements with doo-wop style snapping and bouncing. She also made an eyepiece for each dancer, which, in tandem with black gloves scouted by Kate Scherer, contribute a gang/posse element. Cassie Thornton’s slideshow video plays offscreen.

Room for the Life
This song did not have a Kate Bush-choreographed dance to work from, so Jennifer Sullivan used a live performance video as a jumping-off point. In the video, Kate leans and rocks in a womb-like structure, so Jen created quilted pregnant bellies for us to wear. The dance moves are alternately sexy and maternal, climaxing in a birth sequence. Maya Erdelyi provided liquid light visuals for this womb-tastic number.

The Dreaming
Source material was ample for this piece – in addition to the awesome sci-fi video Kate created for this song, there are a few great live television performance recordings as well. I faithfully transcribed the moves directly from these performances and crafted costumes that are simplified versions of those worn by Kate and her dancers. Add a smoke machine and we’re good to go!

Thanks to the DJs and those who helped out as stagehands!

Link: First Kate Bush Dance Troupe Performance

Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip

I was searching the world wide web for pictures of Kate Bush the other day and stumbled into photos of this spacey lady:

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To my surprise, it turned out to be Sarah Brightman, one of my dad’s fave divas. She played the lead role in Phantom of the Opera – her husband Andrew Lloyd Webber was the composer and creator, and the role was written specifically for her. These days she enjoys success as a soprano siren-diva blending classical and pop influences. I guess when you look into the range of styles she has experimented with in her career, it should come as no surprise that she first met with success as a disco dancer – still, it kinda made me chuckle.

Sarah debuted as a member of Hot Gossip, a British dance troupe that was led and choreographed by Arlene Phillips. Their performances were super glittery disco numbers with a sci-fi tilt that were bursting with sexual energy. Hot Gossip was showcased on the Kenny Everett Video Show in the late 70s and the troupe released a few singles with Sarah as their songstress – see I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper below. I’m also including their video for Supernature by Cerrone.

See early-sarah-brightman.com for more info about Hot Gossip.

I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper

Supernature (includes a bit of footage of Kenny Everett at the end)

Performance at U Wisconsin-Madison’s Starlight Cinema

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I’m performing along with artist Shana Moulton this Thursday in Madison. In addition to some, er, classics, I’ll be performing a new piece, for which I made a new costume (see above). I have to admit – I’m pretty impressed with myself. My costumes are actually beginning to turn out as I had envisioned them!

Here are the deets:

Shana Moulton & Erica Magrey
a night of live performances

Thursday, March 26, 2009
8 pm – 915 pm
Starlight Cinema
Memorian Union: Fredric March Play Circle
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI

nyc video and performance artists shana moulton & erica magrey will each
perform individual sets and then come together for a rare, starlight-only
surprise collaboration. this is sure to be an evening of full impact head-on
collision wizardry so don’t miss it!

shana moulton will perform a piece titled “body ÷ mind + 7 = spirit.” in
this performance, shana brings her alter ego, cynthia, and her strange world
to life through an innovative use of props, costumes, live-action and
projected video. the performance weaves an abstract narrative out of
exercise equipment, carpal-tunnel therapy, goddess worship, the new-age pop
music of enigma, angela lansbury, the thousand-hand bodhisattva dance and
brian de palma’s carrie.

erica magrey will appear as her alter ego, metalmags, in a performance
titled “window.” here, a collage of personas, reflections and realizations
emerges as stories of transformation and empowerment are told through
movement, light, and sound. using performance, video, and songs, she creates
a psychedelic journey of self-discovery, engaging themes such as self-doubt,
nostalgia and personal mythology.

p.s. this event is free

MIA is a goddess, obviously

This is way overdue, as everyone saw or heard about uber-pregnant MIA performing at the Grammys and reportedly experiencing contractions while there (she has since given birth). But when I came across this flashmob video by Oxfam it reminded me of how fucking cool MIA is. And also that she wore the most amazing uber-pregnant woman dress of all time, or certainly the best in our time. The designer is House of Holland, and for the decision to dress a pregnant woman in it, we can thank MIA’s forward-thinking stylist.

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Ya Gotta Love Weird Al

I watched UHF last night – it had been awhile – and was reminded that as stupid and corny as Weird Al’s humor is, it still cracks me up every time. There’s something about his particular style and charisma that elevates his flavor of comedy above other similarly stupid works like The Naked Gun. Then again, I seem to respond to super over-the-top corniness with a high cringe factor, so maybe it’s just his tilt toward risk-taking absurdity. After watching the movie, I revisited a Weird Al fave, White and Nerdy, and watched the entire nearly eleven minutes of the Trapped in the Closet parody titled Trapped in the Drive Thru. How did I not know that this existed?? I would have embedded the videos here but unfortch Weird Al TV won’t let me embed their vids. What’s up with that?

UHF – Stanley’s Rescue

DEVO on Sex and Scooters

DEVO’s Gerald Casale waxes poetic on DEVO’s goals and values, with occasional interjections by Mark Mothersbaugh (“If the spud fits, wear it”). In this first interview clip, Gerry discusses the controversial music video for Whip It and speaks rather eloquently about what is and isn’t acceptable and digestible to the public – specifically what types of sexual representation. Other topics include the band’s energy dome head gear and slick hair headpieces. Video quality is bad in the first clip but it’s worth watching. Check out FurionHazard’s youtube channel – this person has posted several other rare DEVO clips. I’m also including below a Honda Ad from 1984 that brilliantly highlights and plays on DEVO’s group image and demeanor.

DEVO 1980 Interview

DEVO 1981 TV Interview

DEVO Honda Scooter Ad 1984

Kate Bush Dance Troupe Documentation

At long last – links to photos and video of our premiere performance as the Kate Bush Dance Troupe. The troupe was conceived and organized by Samara Davis and Jennifer Sullivan. Performeres are (L to R): Jennifer Sullivan, Margaret Lee, Erica Magrey, Samara Davis, and Renata Espinoza.

Giant Kate Bush painting on set by Jennifer Sullivan. Photos by Brina Thurston. Video by Collin.

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Wuthering Heights

Wow

The Man With the Child in His Eyes (Jennifer Sullivan on the mic; piano drawing by Margaret Lee)

Suspended in Gaffa