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Is the winner always eurofluff?It’s usually an upbeat song in English or French, though last year’s winner was a Crimean Tatar number about Stalinist repression. ————————————. Didn’t Justin Timberlake compete last year?Timberlake took the stage as a non-competitor to debut “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”. ————————————-. Who is favored to win this year?Italy’s Francesco Gabbani, singing “Occidentali’s Karma” (Westerner’s Karma). We have to admit, after the initial shock of the gravelly voice, he’s pretty appealing. Yes, he dances with a gorilla, but he winks at the silliness of the whole thing.
———————————–, Any other must-not-miss entrants?In the category of unabashedly cheesy pop, we nominate Moldova’s Sunstroke Project singing “Hey Mamma,” in which lead singer Sergei Yalovitsky assures his girlfriend’s mother, “I am not that unfounded boy.”, But for the pure Eurovision experience, we have to go with the Montenegran custom made pointe shoes entry, In his own words: “Artist, Theatre, Music, Movies, TV series, TV media, X Factor, One man show, Vegetarian, Cosmopolitan, Those few words describe the diversity of Slavko Kalezić.”..
In the video for “Space,” the glowering Kalezić wears a three-foot braid, a paper crown and occasionally pants. Sample lyric: “The spaceship is ready to blow / Drunk in love, I’m gonna explode / Be my Bonnie, we’ll mix and match with Clyde / Let’s explore this galaxy of stars.”. ———————————. Want to see more? The entrants’ official song videos are here — or see all highlights of all 43 songs in 15 minutes.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco, Trey McIntyre’s new work, “Be Here Now,” evokes the feelings of community and naiveté of that time, in sharp contrast to the backdrop of the still-fresh Cuban missile crisis, political assassinations, the Vietnam War, civil rights struggles, and general social upheaval, Billed by the company as “an energetic exploration of custom made pointe shoes dance and the creative process,” “Be Here Now” premiered during the opening night of Smuin’s Dance Series 02 in Mountain View, on May 5..
McIntyre provides a thoughtful essay in the program, which helps to illuminate his approach to the creative process as well as his spiritual philosophy. The piece is heavy in stereotypical symbolism and innuendo — mushroom clouds, young people tripping, “free love.” The dancers are self-involved in their feel-good bacchanalia, but at the same time aware of the audience — grinning at us, sharing flowers with us. The choreography is loose and fluid, effectively depicting the amiable chaos of a gathering of hippies. The strongest moments, however, are the solos where the lack of background movement allows the audience to focus. The costumes are what we would expect to see — fringe, lace, and lots of bare skin. The ending was a little confusing for the opening night audience, in that we weren’t sure when to clap.
The highlight of custom made pointe shoes the program was Amy Seiwert’s “Broken Open,” which stole the show when it premiered in Smuin’s 2015 season, The piece is a series of group, duet and solo sketches to music by experimental cellist Julia Kent, Seiwert makes ingenious use of slits in the black upstage curtain, As the lights come up at the start of the piece, dancers scuttle into the dark corners like insects, leaving a lone dancer on stage, At other times, dancers enter stealthily and leave again while our attention is elsewhere..
Seiwert’s choreography incorporates intricate gestures and hand movement motifs, particularly pleasing and clear on dancers Terez Dean and Ben Needham-Wood. There are many moments of breathtaking lifts and inventive pas de deux, signatures of Seiwert’s style. The program includes another new piece, “The Poetry of Being,” by Smuin dancer and emerging choreographer Nicole Haskins. The dance is set to Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous “Souvenir de Florence,” and oftentimes Haskins highlights the crescendos in the music by having her dancers stand completely still, letting the music take the focus.
The lighting design, by Michael Oesch, is stunning, bathing dancers in warm sunshine as they open their faces to the sky, or highlighting custom made pointe shoes them with sharp shadows as they turn their backs to us, The costumes, designed by veteran Smuin dancer Susan Roemer, are a little reminiscent of vintage Star Trek uniforms, and I’m not sure of the significance of the dancers switching between vibrant blue and flesh-toned outfits, However, that is a minor distraction; Haskins’ new work is quite lovely..