"His death drew sharp criticism from animal activists, who had complained for years that Berlin Zoo officials should not have hand-reared the cub after his mother abandoned him in 2006."

Remember this post I put up about the baby monkey abandoned by its mother only to be adopted and nursed by a zoo, and how I mused about the ethics of that?

Read about the sudden, sort of tragic death of the popular polar bear Knut at the above link.


Doug Varone’s “Chapters” Like a Novel You Can’t Put Down

by Natalie Walters

The 20 emotive and aptly titled “chapters” that comprise Doug Varone’s Chapters from a Broken Novel at the Joyce until Sunday feel, to an audience member, like one’s own biography. Skillfully danced to an original, cinematic-sounding score by David Van Tieghem, Chapters takes the viewer through an emotional landscape to which dancers and non-dancers alike can relate.

Varone’s loose but purposeful and clean style was exhibited from the beginning, with signature arm slashes and backward reaching ball-changes on display in the first chapter, Spilling the Contents. A beautiful falling-and-getting-back-up-again themed solo, Another Failure, danced by the mesmerizing Natalie Desch, immediately followed. Her frustration, so expertly choreographed as to be credible, was palpable. Her facial expression read as true, and even her grunts of distress seemed to come from a real place. But when she emoted it was not—and this holds true in general for Varone and Dancers—melodramatic.

Varone has a great sense of where the line between the realistic and the overly theatrical rests. There were two dances where this was particularly true: Erased by Degrees and Ron Tells the Truth. It speaks of Doug Varone’s Dancers’ performance skill that they evoke such empathy from the audience as they do with these dances. Erased has the power to put your stomach in knots and your shoulders up to your ears as you watch Erin Owen react to in-your-face-attacks by her fellow dancers. But I have never seen anything so captivating and honest as Ryan Corriston’s internal struggle with Truth. He shook his head, clapped his hands over his mouth, even audibly sucked in his breath. He bit his knuckles, and turned beet red, fighting impulses. This chapter displayed Varone’s genius and Corriston’s talent melding into something heart-wrenchingly real, to which any human watching it would unavoidably relate.

But Varone also knows how to manipulate this theatrical line, to provide the evening with a little comic relief. In sharp contrast with the tension of Erased, Tile Riot let us into an intimate bathroom self-celebration by Owen. In it, she admired herself in the mirror, toward the audience, putting on lipstick and primping. She did a little dance, seducing the imagined mirror. It was endearing, and Owen was adorable—and highly versatile, having also played the role of the trodden-upon earlier in the show.

Some chapters were admittedly less memorable than others. Repeated Routines, for instance, was exactly what it sounds like, as was Rewind. Often the group dances became a bit blurred; pieces like these sometimes felt like filler for the more specific chapters like Erased by Degrees and Ron Tells the Truth, where individual dancers shone. Though always skillfully danced and beautiful and interesting to watch, sometimes during group pieces the Varone Dancers’ tendency toward a narrow, inward focus with the eyes shut out the audience somewhat. They seemed very conscious of each other’s presences, but this did not always include the audience in the way the soloists did.

Doug Varone and Dancers are especially good at bringing concepts to reality through dance. Some of the chapters’ titles cannot be danced literally, but somehow they made perfect sense, and title and the movement were one and the same. You don’t know what The Ghosts of Insects look like until you’ve seen it danced by Varone’s Dancers. The musical score played a role in this that can’t be ignored, but the choreography worked with, rather than relied on, the sound. The music for Glass was reminiscent of glass breaking, but even so, there was a sense of shards cutting through the bond between Netta Yerushalmy and Ryan Corriston, and their movements were sharp like broken glass. Each time he pushed or flicked her away it was like a piece of glass falling from a cracked window.

Varone has a signature style, which often has the appearance of being loose and organic, but his technically well-trained dancers move cleanly, precisely, and unaffectedly within this style. Combined with the minimalist set of a white curtain by Andrew Lieberman and light play by Jane Cox, it allows for Varone’s artwork and the choreography to speak for itself, through the tightly knit cooperative of dancers that comprise his company. The result is raw and beautiful.


This article highlights the plight of baby spider monkey Estela, who was "shunned" by her mother monkey.

The zookeepers are nursing to health a baby monkey which was rejected by its mother, until they determine she has the strength to be released back into the monkey enclosure.

... which would not happen in nature. I know it's hard to take, because it's so cute and so tiny and so ... so ... abandoned, but this monkey was supposed to die. It's a weird thing that humans do: they assume that they are above nature, and that what they believe is "good" is what is good, regardless of the nature of monkeys.

Estela is a pet now, and to pretend otherwise only speaks of humans' disconnect and poorly thought out good intentions.

I mean, the monkeys are already in cages at the zoo, which is a far cry from a natural habitat, but it annoys me to see photos of zookeepers "caring" for the animal when by caging them they aren't caring for them in the first place.


"Love the Guy, Hate the Ring"

You know, this sort of pisses me off. I'm reading this article in the February 2011 issue of Marie Claire by this title, and the whole idea of it rubs me the wrong way.

The article is about "heirloom rings," and how no woman wants your great-grandma's engagement ring, and that it's ugly.

I have so many gripes and suggestions about this that I'll just make a list:

1) Marriage is not about the ring.
2) If your boyfriend doesn't know you well enough to know you will "hate the ring," maybe you should hold off.
3) If you don't have the kind of relationship with your boyfriend where it would be cool to ask him if you can put it in a different setting, maybe you should hold off.
4) Wait, why do you hate the hand-me-down ring? It's rich with his family's history. And you are entering this family history. If this bothers you, you should probably not be engaging him.
5) Who cares if you really like the ring?

This article goes really hand-in-hand, I think, with an advertisement I saw in Elle:

"You only get married for the first time once"

I think this all plays into why I don't want to get married. I see it as an outmoded, irrelevant ritual whose meaning has all but disappeared over the centuries. The ring is supposed to stand for something, which, judging by popular culture, it doesn't anymore.

I mean obviously, there are those couples following the rules, including the whole "death do us part" thing (parents being one of those couples), but I think it has very little to do with the ring. Some people just actually mean their promises.

Maybe if marriage was less about the dress, the ring, the color scheme, the cake, the bridal registry, I'd be more into it. But as long as women's media portrays it as such, I'm cool with just having a boyfriend for life, ring be damned.