The Low Anthem: Lonely Eyeland

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The Low Anthem stripped its sound and membership down to the bare essentials to actualize Eyeland

On the subject of epitaphs, it’s been written that the quality of a life is not contained in the dates on the stone but in the hyphen between them. That sentiment is equally true when the dates in question describe the gap between a band’s releases. In the Low Anthem’s case, the five years between 2011’s Smart Flesh and the diverse and distinct Eyeland may have been the most productive and evolutionary period.

After a nearly two-year tour for Smart Flesh, the Low Anthem decamped to its Providence, R.I., base to contemplate its next moves. The band found itself engaged on a variety of fronts—it began a project to rehabilitate the Columbus Theatre in downtown Providence into a performance/studio space; lost its manager to corporate acquisition; its labels dropped the group as the gap between albums widened; and, perhaps most damaging, three of the band’s five members defected for varying reasons. It was a string of events that would have unraveled a lesser group.

“We were floating in free time, just me and Jeff (Prystowsky), the only other original member,” says frontman Ben Knox Miller. “We would look at each other and go, ‘Do you believe in all these other projects we’re doing?’ We agreed that this time was good to let the chemistry fully dissolve back down to the elemental.”

When the space—also named Eyeland—was operational, Miller and Prystowsky further divided their time by recording other bands in the studio and booking the theater. Having vast eyewitness experience on how not to run a venue gave them an upper hand.

“It’s a venue run by musicians, so you don’t walk into an environment where you feel like a fish out of water,” says Miller. “It’s not some corporate place; it’s like our living room and your living room, and it’s very personal. John C. Reilly played here and was interviewed for a New York Times piece, and he said, ‘It’s nice to see the inmates running the asylum.’ That’s the vibe we’ve cultivated.”

Simultaneously, the pair was taking chunks of time to work on what would ultimately become Eyeland. It was a long process made more difficult by the absence of management, finding a new label (they signed with Concord/Razor & Tie/Washington Square) and dealing with the loss of most of the band.

“The record has been like a painting you leave in the kitchen, and every time you sit down to eat breakfast, you’re like, ‘Oh, fuck, I’ve got to cross that part out,’” says Miller. “It’s always there on the wall while all these things have been going on.”

When Miller originally came up with the name Eyeland, he and Prystowsky played a word association game in a local bar, working out the potential ways that listeners might perceive the title.

“There seemed to be a whole host of one-step associations that had very different suggestions,” says Miller. “Without any specific interpretation that this was bent toward, the fact of its interpretational ability gave us the confidence that there was room to explore and let it not be any one of those things. It was very much a process of discovery for us, and I’m grateful for the time we had to let that happen organically.”

As Miller was writing songs for Eyeland, he also conceived a 12-page abstract narrative intended as a liner-note key to connect the arc of the songs. With the shifts and alterations in the album’s form, that idea was shelved.

“At one time, it was very elaborate, and you could trace it from A to B,” says Miller. “Four years later, I’m not sure that’s still true. I don’t have perspective to know that anymore. There were 26 songs when we started looking for a place to record, and I think eight of them survived, so you have this constellation of moments from the story that are now abstracted by what’s been taken away.”

Eyeland was further influenced by the duo’s visit to San Francisco’s Audium, the immersive sonic theater experience that features life sounds mixed with music; Prystowsky subsequently bought a stereo field recorder and began capturing found sounds and atmospheres that added Brian Eno’s aggressive ambience and Tom Waits’ woodshed constructionism to the soundtrack.

“I was like, ‘OK, I get it, but now we also need the music to come the other half of the way to meet that,’” he says. “From that point on, it was like day one again. We had this whole new mission to give that collision some kind of order. That was one of those turning points where we thought we were done, but we were just getting started.”

—Brian Baker

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: The Far Out World Of UNARIUS With Jodi Wille

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

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Magnuson: There is nothing more cosmically “out there” than the UNARIUS Academy Of Science. Warning: This isn’t your grandma’s “science.” But it is your fairy godmother’s science!

I used to watch the UNARIES public-access show back in the mid-’80s when I first started hanging out in Los Angeles. The group’s very theatrical pageants presented personal psychodramas that involved past lives, extraterrestrials and a benevolent geriatric leader. Her name was Uriel (an acronym of Universal, Radiant, Infinite, Eternal Light), and she offered her followers unconditional love while channeling teachings and prophecies from the Space Brothers (a.k.a. advanced inter-dimensional beings who exist on higher frequencies). Oh yeah, and she looked like Barbara Bush dressed up as My Little Pony. It’s kind of hard to describe. An ex-boyfriend, who actually turned me onto UNARIUS, put it this way: “Imagine if Aunt Clara from Bewitched had a religion.” But that’s from a non-believer.

Jodi Wille is a believer. Jodi wrote the book on the Source Family and directed the extremely popular documentary about them as well. Both were hits among The In Crowd. (I’m not the only one who ascribes the current rage of young women dressing like ethereal hippie chicks to the publication of the Source Family book.) Now Jodi is doing for UNARIUS what she did for the Source Family, bringing their guileless message of love and healing to the wider world. Yes, even to the pithy cynics!

Ann: Jodi, the short film you did for The Front on the Unariuns is the perfect primer for folks just hearing about these UFO spiritualists. How can people see the film?
Jodi: Right here. They have a couple extra offerings on the site, too, including the article “What Is Psychodrama?” written by the Unariuns and Songs For Space Travelers, a ’60s and ’70s spiritual underground music playlist I curated.

Ann: Tell me what is so important about the UNIARIUS message, especially during this election year.
Jodi: Our world is such an apocalyptic mess right now. Anyone who can move past the cynicism and hopelessness, bring deeper meaning to our lives and point a possible way forward has value. Unariuns are unrepentant idealists who believe that there’s no greater power in the universe than love and that the future of planet Earth is positive and progressive. They don’t deny their dark side but aim to transform and heal it through self-examination and creative expression—painting, writing, singing, dancing, etc. Whatever they’re doing works for them and encourages them to be decent, caring people, the kind of quiet Americans who help hold this country together. If only we could get Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton—hell, most of Congress—to do a past-life psychodrama therapy session together re-enacting their regrettable deeds in the Orion galaxy 100,000 years ago, we’d have unicorns (or at least alpacas) grazing on the front lawn of the White House.

Ann: I vote unicorns! I wonder if the UNARIUS members used dreams in their work with psychodrama therapy? Certainly those films and plays they make are quite dream-like. Nearly all the stories represent the archetypal hero’s journey. Even if one doesn’t believe in the “reality” of past lives, the Unariuns have recreated legitimate archetypes that live within each person, spinning modern myths in a culture that has lost touch with essential life-transition rituals. Since we don’t have many left, we must create our own. UNARIUS seems to me a trippy example of how that can be done.
Jodi: Exactly. Plus, because of their practices, which aim to enhance their psychic and intuitive abilities, the Unariuns have extremely vivid dreams. They communicate with benevolent spirits and extraterrestrial beings in their dream state and receive personal guidance and revelations that frequently benefit them in their waking lives, even sometimes resulting in radical physical healings.

Ann: What are the similarities between the Source Family and UNARIUS?
Jodi: Both groups attracted a number of very good-looking, creatively talented, idealistic young people who were willing to dedicate themselves entirely to the experience. Both had charismatic leaders who are still beloved by most members of the group and who had a highly original, audacious sense of style—both in their teaching methods and in the way dressed. Both groups produced creative work (Source Family: music; Unarius: films and videos) that for decades was disregarded or mocked by many but that in recent years has become increasingly collected, respected and even revered by certain music and film aficionados, fashionistas, writers and artists.

Ann: How do millennials react to all this? So many young people were dressed up in cosmic retro-wear at the premiere (in L.A. at the Standard, Hollywood). Do you see a hunger for deeper meaning, healing and spiritual life—no matter how that may manifest—in an increasingly narcissistic culture?
Jodi: Absolutely. So many of the Source Family and UNARIUS fans I’ve met in their 20s and 30s seem to be drawn to the DIY collective and idealistic aspects of the experience, people coming together in a creative, wildly outside-the-box way to create a world they want to live in. The so-called kitsch and far-out aspects of both groups bring provocative, aesthetically exciting and even slightly dangerous elements, adding allure and a high playfulness that other spiritual groups and practices and things like yoga don’t really have.

Ann: How would you best describe Uriel, a.k.a. Ruth Norman (the spiritual leader of UNARIUS.)
Jodi: Today my friend Jon described her as “Divine meets Carlos Castaneda.” I like to say “Imagine if Glenda the Good Witch had a baby with Liberace on a spaceship.”

Ann: That’s the perfect description! What lies ahead for you and UNARIUS?
Jodi: We just returned from mounting an 100-piece UNARIUS art, photo, film and artifact exhibition at the Horse Hospital arts center in London, and I’m currently developing the material into a project I’m very excited about but can’t talk about yet. Meanwhile, on October 8-9, UNARIUS is hosting its annual “Interplanetary Conclave Of Light” weekend at their center in El Cajon, Calif., and the public is invited. This will be their biggest celebration in years, and they’ll have a full tour of the center including the video lab, printing press and costume room, with special workshops, a trip to the Space Brothers landing site, a procession down Main Street with banners and the Space Cad (which will release 33 white doves) and a screening of a brand new transfer of their 16mm masterwork The Arrival.

Ann: Wow! I better dig out my purple Quina gown and silver lamé cape and get down to El Cajon!

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Film At 11: Against Me!

Against Me! has just released one of the best albums of the year in Shape Shift With Me, an LP full of lovelorn punk-rock songs that acts as the fiery follow-up to the band’s incredible Transgender Dysphoria Blues. If you’re falling behind on Against Me! or have never listened, fear not! “333” is the perfect starting point—and we’ve got a fresh new video to show you, featuring Natasha Lyonne. Check it out below.

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MP3 At 3PM: LOOP 2.4.3

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LOOP 2.4.3 is interested in mind control. At least, that’s the impression we get from new track “Out To War,” which comes from the act’s latest LP Time-Machine_Music, a dizzying, even scary piece of work. LOOP 2.4.3 is described as an “improvisatory jazz/electro-classical/psychedelic rock ensemble,” and it does seem that “Out To War” is successful at jamming all of those disparate elements together. Curious what that sounds like? Check out the track below.

“Out To War” (download):

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Essential New Music: Wye Oak’s “Tween”

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There was a collective gasp at Wye Oak’s decision to put Plinko synths where Jenn Wasner’s reciprocating-saw guitar had been—it’s as much an extension of herself as any instrument could be. Anyone paying attention to where Wasner’s attention was going couldn’t be too shocked: On burgeoning side projects Dungeonesse and Flock Of Dimes, the fluid singer hadn’t just opened the door to a stringless world; she had danced through it.

Where does that leave this flagship band? Tween sums it up perfectly. An odds-and-sods collection of eight songs shelved between 2011’s Civilian and 2014’s Shriek, the record is, at 35 minutes, neither quite an EP nor an LP; its busy arrangements, brimming with the atomic energy of colliding guitars, synths, bass lines and drums, largely belong to no version of the band we know, instead a succession of growth markings scrawled in graphite.

—Noah Bonaparte Pais

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: Kitty Brophy

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

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Magnuson: Kitty Brophy is an artist whose time has come. Until recently, her erotic, psychologically raw, politically charged and deeply personal art was practically unknown. But in 2017, it will be featured at the Museum of Modern Art in a show about the neo-dada cabaret/arts lab/funhouse Club 57. I first met Kitty at that club when I was the manager (1979-1980). Gorgeous Kitty was moonlighting as a model and dating artist Kenny Scharf. Kenny was among a group of art students from SVA (that included Keith Haring, John Sex and Wendy Wild) who gravitated to the club. Kitty was part of that gang, and together with many other bright young things, we ran amok. Kitty is one of the smartest, wittiest women I know and not only is she still modeling (her latest shoot, “Beautiful Mess,” in Territory is to die for!), she is making art with a vengeance. Her work has recently been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson.

Ann: Kitty, when did you start making art?
Kitty: As soon as I could hold a crayon. I wanted to be a fashion designer or illustrator. In the first half of high school my art was more decorative- and design-oriented, and then in the second half, after I started having sex, taking drugs and drinking a lot, my art started to reflect that. I was also dealing with manic depression, which wasn’t helped by all the hormonal changes and self-medicating. So, you take all those things—plus the music of David Bowie, T.Rex and Patti Smith—and my art went from pretty and nice to disturbed, imbued with dark humor, text and poetry. The work became much more sophisticated, with more nudity and costuming of my models, and I started putting in S&M design elements where the women were in positions of power, humiliating the men who had wronged them. And I still was voted artist of the year at my high school and was accepted into seven top art schools.

Ann: Damn, you went to a more progressive high school than I did! When Kenny first showed me your early work, I was blown away! We wanted to make sure it had a prominent place our East Village West show at Royal-T in 2011. I know it was disheartening to have the male artists at the time, like Keith and Kenny, getting all the recognition but did it ever stop you from creating?
Kitty: My teachers at Parsons were not encouraging or positive about the kind of work I was creating which was very disheartening. Keith and Kenny were both very encouraging to me, and loved my art, but their careers were starting to take off and they had to focus all of their energies on that. It was an immensely creative time in all artistic disciplines, but the kind of small delicate line drawings I was doing—that dealt with issues of female sexuality, powerlessness, depression, and repression—didn’t seem to fit in with the bigger, more colorful art usually representing the 1980s. I eventually dropped out of art school. I worked as a model, paid and unpaid, in NYC and Paris from 1979-1986, but mostly in the early ’80s. When I got clean from drugs and alcohol in early 1985, I stopped doing any art for 12 years and focused more on writing.

Ann: Your art gives a strong, unashamed voice to the female libido including “forbidden” sexual urges, frustrations and anger in ways few women at the time—or even now—dare express. What were your influences?
Kitty: My biggest artistic influence was Aubrey Beardsley, who I discovered in my senior year of high school. What he did was revolutionary in terms of using ink-line drawing and various printing methods to produce art that was not only incredibly beautiful, but oftentimes sexually charged and decadent. His drawings of men walking around with gigantic penises and women looking powerful and sexy moved me away from straightforward representational depictions to a more fantastical autobiographical one; oftentimes filled with sex and violence. I saw my art and writing as a way to own my sexuality, my body, my gender fluidity, my anger, my desires, and to use it to freely express everything and anything. I wish I had known about all of the amazing women artists and the work that they were producing in the 1970s, but it was much harder to get information then and it sure wasn’t being taught in schools.

Ann: You once told me, “Most of my art comes from my ‘id,’ when the conscious part of my brain shuts down and allows the creativity and thoughts to flow freely.” This is a good description of the dream state. Do you ever work directly with your dreams?
Kitty: I have very involved, vivid, Technicolor, dreams, like movies. Through them I live in an alternative reality, much like the depiction in The Matrix. But it’s really that moment upon waking, that semi-conscious state where the ideas start to take shape. I can also get into that state late at night when there are no distractions. Or while hiking in nature. Some of my drawings and paintings take days or even weeks to fully gestate into a reality. I keep extensive art journals filled with writing, sketches, ideas, many of which I never produce. It’s not about that. I never force anything. It’s almost as if I have to go into that near sleep state while sitting in front of my paper to begin. Anytime, I plan or try to force out a vision, I end up tossing it. My art has to flow out of my hands the same way it flows into my brain, with minimal interference from my conscious self.

Ann: The Memory Card Project you participated in is great. Those are illustrated poker-sized cards that look almost like snapshots of dreams. Yours really capture the realm of the subconscious complete with a hallucinogenic desert vibe and talking reptilians! I love that they’re for sale at MOCA Tucson. Exit through the gift shop!
Kitty: Those were fun to make and are very id-oriented. I chose to mix Sonoran desert creatures with faces and text, using a limited color palette.

Ann: Tell me how your experiences in the meat market of fashion influenced your work. Did art help you survive the indignities of that industry?
Kitty: When I was a young model, I was subjected to a lot of sexism and sometimes even expected by my agents to go out with men and sleep with them (which I never did) in order to further the agency’s image. That was one of the many reasons why I eventually quit modeling. I saw myself as a professional doing a job, but that wasn’t always how others saw or treated me and the other models. A lot of this anger and humiliation did end up in my early work. In almost all of my art, past and present, the women are in positions of power, and the men who have wronged them are the ones being subjected to degradation and punishments. But then there are also the early works that depict my depressed and discouraged mental state where all the characters act out in suicide or homicide.

Ann: I’m so glad you acted out in your art and not real life! Art really does save lives! We were lucky to have that amazingly rich “alternative” universe known as the punk-rock/new-wave counterculture scene in downtown New York. And lucky, we survived it!
Kitty: I’m so fortunate to be an artist and writer and have a creative outlet for whatever goes on inside my head. Now, my life is wonderful, and I am in a stable, healthy place mentally, emotionally and physically. I still use my art and writing to express personal or larger issues of living life as a woman and human being. I’m not sure we’ve really come a long way, baby, so I keep putting it out there. Judging by how many young fans I have who relate and identify with my work, I see that world peace and gender equality still has a very, very long ways to go.

Ann: Thank you, Kitty. You continue to inspire. And I assure you, we both have come a long way, baby!

Good interview here as well.

Another photo after the jump.

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Film At 11: Nouvelle Vague

Nouvelle Vague released its Athol-Brose EP earlier this month and is gearing up for full-length I Could Be Happy in November. Today, we’re happy to point you in the direction of the band’s new video, a cover of the Buzzcock’s “Ever Fallen In Love.” The song takes on a quieter air in Nouvelle Vague’s hands, but loses none of the original track’s addictiveness. Check it out below. I Could Be Happy track listing and cover art after the jump.

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MP3 At 3PM: The March Divide

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The March Divide’s “Go To Sleep” is a rollicking pop/rock tune, sounding straight from early-aughts radio. It comes from the San Antonio band’s most recent release Saturdays, and is sure to get you hyped for what the band has in store in their new EP Bribing Jace, which comes out in November. Check out “Go To Sleep” below.

“Go To Sleep” (download):

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National Park Radio: Sounds Of Rural America

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National Park Radio is flying its freak flag

“Our songs are big, folky free-for-alls,” says Stefan Szabo, National Park Radio’s ringmaster and songwriter. The romping, stomping tunes on The Great Divide, the band’s debut, live up to Szabo’s description. Although there’s a hint of bluegrass in the arrangements, the band eschews the solo instrumental flights of the genre, going for a lively sound marked by the rhythmic interplay between banjo, acoustic guitar and galloping stand-up bass.

“It’s a singer/songwriter with a band,” says Szabo, “but I don’t like to describe it. If you listen, you’ll understand what it is.”

Szabo played guitar in a Christian rock band in high school, but didn’t get serious about music until he turned 27. “I’ve always wanted to sing, but never gave it a try. In my late 20s, I realized I was running out of time.”

He made an album of original songs in his garage and, after he started playing them live, added other musicians to flesh out his vision. “I’m not an amazing singer or player,” he says. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to not embarrass myself when I perform. I’m just an ordinary person who decided to try and do something extraordinary. I’m just as real and honest as I can be in my songwriting. A lot of people seem to connect with that.”

When the band isn’t on the road, its members live in the rural Arkansas town they grew up in. “We’re isolated from the rest of the world in a lot of ways,” says Szabo. “That’s why my songs reflect real life in Arkansas, which I imagine is similar to life in a lot of rural areas and small towns across the South and Midwest. The whole idea of ‘hillbilly’ backwoods mountain music is fun to play with, which is probably why banjo has such big role in our sound.”

—j. poet

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: Dream Ballets

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

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Magnuson: One of the greatest tropes in contemporary Dreamology is the Dream Ballet. But it wasn’t always a trope. When Agnes de Mille first incorporated ballet-as-dream-sequence into Rogers & Hammerstein’s 1943 musical Oklahoma!, the dream ballet was a radical departure from standard musical-theater storytelling. In fact, preview audiences were reportedly so bewildered at the then-unconventional approach that one of the producers secretly sold off his shares during intermission at the New Haven opening.

De Mille’s choreography condensed the agonies of the classic ‘good girl vs. bad girl’ personality split into an 18-minute psychological thriller.

The New York Times, in their original review of Oklahoma! called the dream ballet, “a first-rate work of art … it actually carries forward the plot and justifies the most tenuous psychological point in the play, namely, why Laurey, who is obviously in love with Curly, finds herself unable to resist going to the dance with the repugnant Jud. Many a somber problem play has … failed to illuminate it half so clearly after several hours of grim dialogue. Yet this is a ‘dance number’ in a ‘musical show’!”

Hammerstein initially wanted a circus scenario to end act 1. De Mille fought for her ballet. “Girls don’t dream about the circus.” She said, “They dream about horrors. And they dream dirty dreams.”

They sure do!

Of course, Freud was all the rage in progressive New York arts circles back then. Innovators like Ruth St. Denis and Martha Graham (and De Mille) were making dance increasingly more “modern.” Surrealism had already made its mark (Elsa Schiaparelli’s surrealist fashions—in collaboration with Dali—were featured in Vogue) and the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin musical Lady In The Dark (about an unhappy fashion-magazine editor undergoing psychoanalysis) ran on Broadway in 1941. Hitchcock’s Spellbound–with the famous Dali dream sequence—would appear in 1945.

The movie version of Oklahoma! wasn’t made until 1955. (The original Broadway production ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances and then, of course, there were the road tours, foreign productions and revivals.) In the film, innocent farm girl Laurey (played by a young and very dewy Shirley Jones; later to become the singing mom in The Partridge Family) is unable to fight off the advances of “repugnant” Jud (Rod Steiger, at his rough-hewn meatiest.) The saucy saloon girl scenes are so much more exciting than the prim goings on at the goody-goody square dance. The loose women of the saloon are absolutely faaaaabulous! They look like high-fashion models photographed by Avedon, drenched in Technicolor and “throwing shade” like nobody’s business! Once again, ‘hos trump the hoe-down.

Of course, classical ballet has been using the dream as a plot point for … well, probably ever since it was invented. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite is mostly all a dream. The ballet blanc, or white ballet (where the ballerinas all where bell-shaped, ankle-length tutus), became an audience favorite thanks to the second acts in the 19th century ballets La Sylphide and Giselle. In each, ghost ballerinas live in a dark wood and seek revenge on caddish men who wronged the sisterhood.)

When I went to see the Mariinsky Ballet do Don Quixote several years ago, I have to admit I didn’t know what to expect. I knew about the Spanish pas de deux at the end. (Mostly because the Mikhail Baryshnikov/Gelsey Kirkland version was endlessly played on PBS back in the day.) But I had no idea there was a dream ballet in act 2. It was the most enchanting thing I’ve ever seen!

Don Quixote is knocked unconscious after fighting his famous windmills, then dreams of dancing in an enchanted garden with his beloved Dulcinea along with an adorably androgynous Cupid plus a corps de ballet of mythological creatures called the Dryads. It was the trippiest, sweetest thing I’ve ever seen! And so innocent! Like the pastoral scene in Disney’s Fantasia with the hunky centaurs and sexy centaurettes!

Perhaps the most luscious ballets seen in the movies are the ones from filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. All of The Red Shoes (1948) plays like a dream and Tales Of Hoffman, a 1951 film adaptation of Jacques Offenbach’s opera fantastique (which was first performed publically in 1881) is beyond fantastique!

Gene Kelly gave us old Hollywood glamour and Technicolor eye-candy in the dream ballet sequences in An American in Paris and Singin’ In The Rain. His number with sexy gangster moll Cyd Charise is one of the sexiest things ever committed to celluloid!

Sex does seem to be the common denominator in dream ballets. In fact, it just became blindingly clear to me what the Oklahoma! dream ballet is … it’s the ancient Greek myth of Persephone! Abducted by Hades during the autumn harvest and taken to live in the Underworld as his queen, Persephone was ravaged all winter. Her mother Demeter weeps until the spring, when her daughter returns. Above grown, she blossoms like the budding plants, bringing fertility to all (and a successful crop for the next harvest, when she then has return to Hades for another cycle of winter sorrow.)

Oklahoma farm girl Laurey is Persephone. In her “dirty dream,” Laurey discovers the darker passions of sexual desire from repugnant Jud and the underworld saloon girls. Only after she has learned what goes on “in the dark” can return to handsome cowboy Curly whom she marries (and will eagerly procreate with), then the corn can grow as high as an elephant’s eye!

OK, it all makes sense now.

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