Art and human nature

I’ve had a great 24 hours.

I went to a preview screening of The Social Network last night. It’s a great film about Facebook, it’s creator Mark Zuckerberg, and the lawsuits that followed. It was written by Aaron Sorkin who wrote The West Wing, my favourite TV show of all time. It’s such a smart piece of cinema, and one I expect will comfortably have a massive opening weekend. Harvard law professor and copyright activist Lawrence Lessig agreed, but thought it slightly missed the point. His review makes some interesting observations about the reasons behind the phenomenal success of Facebook, and where Zuckerberg’s genius really lays. Regardless, the film comes with my hearty recommendation.

Today I was already in a good mood due to having had our big new offices to work in – it’s so nice to not be in cramped surroundings any more – and having watched the 3rd Chilean miner rescued from the bowels of the earth. I know that the news channels have taken a bit of flak for their 24 hour rolling coverage of it, but I was quite happy to have such a positive story oust the daily drudgery that we’re normally subjected to. It was a joy to hear news of every miner released. I admit to having shed a tear or two on watching the miners being reunited with their families. In my head I could hear David Tennant’s Dr Who exclaiming the brilliant, tenacious, wonderful, altruistic nature of human beings! Stories like these warm my heart, and give me hope.

But the day got even better. I went to see “Alvin Ailey – American Dance Theater” at the Wales Millenium Centre. I’ve seen quite a lot of contemporary dance over the last few years, and thoroughly enjoyed all of it, but this was among the very finest I’ve ever seen (maybe only topped by a performance that included this piece by Sylive Guillem).

It was stunning. Warm, smart, funny, and sexy. And it had buckets of soul. And I don’t mean to use “soul” as a lazy tag for “black” (Ailey’s company are almost exclusively african american, and perform to Nina Simone, gospel choirs and jazz-funk). I mean it to signify the humanity the performance was imbued with. Contemporary dance can often feel slightly “alien” and disconnected from reality (e.g. this piece I saw in London a few years ago), as if the dancers are recreating other-wordly movements, a purely athletic and artistic exercise. But Alvin Ailey’s dancers feel warm, and human, and perform with undisguised joy on their faces. It was an honour to be within a few feet of them for a few hours. They earned and deserved their lengthy standing ovation.

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2 thoughts on “Art and human nature

  1. What a lovely post. I’m so pleased you loved Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. I’ve felt like all my christmasses and birthdays rolled into one the last couple of days, having spent the last year waiting for Alvin Ailey to arrive and raving about it obsessively to anyone who might listen. They’re not just amazing performers, they’re gorgeous people to boot. Glad you were touched by them as well.

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