Wednesday, November 16, 2011


ELOQUENT EVOCATION OF A BLOODY SPORT - Bullfighting is a blood sport in which survival depends on the demise of another living being. The question of what goes on in the mind of someone who embraces such a brutal tradition is a provocative one, ripe for artistic exploration.  Choreographer Mathew Janczewski of Arena Dances accepted this challenge, and “Matador,” which premiered at the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis over last weekend, is his eloquent response.  What Janczewski captured particularly well was the movement elements that define the battle. Bullfighting is, after all, a sadistic dance toward death played out before spectators. The central feature of his choreography was the dynamic interplay between an upright, watchful stance and the chaos surrounding it - the matador’s controlled pose in contrast to the bull’s building anger and terror.

Dancers Rachel Freeburg, Jacob Melczer, Lucas Olson-Elm, Renee Starr, Sarah Steichen and Timmy Wagner were dressed simply in form-fitting black outfits and performed against a red backdrop. Janczewski could have indulged in the more ceremonial aspects of bullfighting but wisely pared back his focus. The stripped-down quality gave space to the psychological conflict. An outstretched arm suggested the stylized wave of a cape while a raised hand meant acknowledgment of the crowd - or a last goodbye.  Sometimes the dancing was too introspective (the tense energy dipped midway), but the work regained its dramatic footing when Starr hit the floor, dazed, unable to get up, her body undulating as if in its final throes. She somehow made herself seem larger, as if she were a fallen beast. And then the piece continued. Just another death for someone’s viewing pleasure.

Mathew Janczewski’s company explores the dangers, cruelty, and spectacle of bullfighting; specifically searches into the psyche and emotion of the bullfighter, as the full company fearlessly dances into the center of danger, sensuality and mysticism.  This artistic work raises powerful questions about the failures of the human conscience and the desire for orchestrated violence.  What goes through the mind of someone who enters the ring with the goal of surviving at the expense of another living being? Why does danger and fear compel the audience to watch and enjoy the fight?

Every day thousands of animals are killed or abused indiscriminately with the following justifications: give a taste to our palate, filling the pockets of some money, experience some new cosmetic product, provide the ultimate in fashion by creating costumes based on skin or leather, for a traditional ritual or religious type (bullfights, fiestas, Santeria - religious rites, etc..), and finally, as a spectacle (circuses, zoos, etc.). The question is who gave us this right?  Some people who call themselves Christians biblically justified it, but the Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill” without any specification. Others are based on the animal does not reason, which is true, but neither does a baby; however, the animals do feel fear, anguish and pain when receiving abuse or realize that they are about to die. Just look at the behaviour of cows in the slaughterhouse lines. Perhaps an animal can not philosophize, but it can feel physical pain.

School of Yoga Inbound
Yoga Inbound Instructor System
1.11. “Food Inbound”
“Learning to Eat and Live Healthy”

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