Edinburgh (Scotland) Dance Festival founders daughter defends Batsheva Dance Company

September 2, 2012

(Carl) concerning the disruption of an appearance by the Batsheva Dance Company at the Edinburgh (Scotland) Dance Festival:

The most amazing thing about this comment blasting that disruption and others is that it appears in al-Guardian. It’s a comment by the granddaughter of the founder of the Edinburgh Dance Festival.

As Batsheva are an ethnically mixed group of performers who danced to a “mash up” including the Star Wars theme and Wagner and who, at home, have incurred the wrath of the Orthodox community for a routine involving them stripping off to a Passover song, it would seem bizarre to hold them responsible for any Israeli government policies. Surely it would make as much sense to blame the ballerinas of the Mariinsky (formerly the Kirov) for Putin’s human rights abuses. Indeed, Batsheva’s choreographer, Ohad Naharin, has said he is “in disagreement” with his government whereas the prima ballerina of the Mariinsky, Diana Vishneva, has maintained a studied silence over the fate of Pussy Riot.
But while Mariinsky played a sumptuous Cinderella at the Festival theatre to sell out audiences, with a line of chauffeur-driven cars waiting outside to pick up dignitaries, including government ministers, the Batsheva had a very different fate. Their show played to half-empty houses and was continually disrupted inside the theatre. It was a tense and nervous – if well-coiffed in shades of grey – Edinburgh contemporary dance audience that made it into the foyer through the hundreds of shouting demonstrators taking up most of the pavement outside.
The night I was there, the show was stopped three times; the next night it was four. As an audience member, I must confess I felt alarmed and vulnerable. I didn’t know what was about to happen. The 82-year-old Dutchman next to me patted my arm and murmured: “This is not Kristallnacht. I remember that”
Despite the courage and professionalism of the performers on stage it must have been a nerve-racking gig for them; in other countries protesters have remained outside the theatre. No one was arrested for any of the disruptions, the Scottish police taking the view that it was not illegal.
The dancers were being held responsible for the situation of Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza on the very thin grounds that their work had been praised by the Israeli government and they take government money – both things that apply to the Mariinsky.
A group of Scottish writers headed by Scotland’s national poet Liz Lochhead (who has also taken government money on occasion) even wrote to the press calling for a cultural boycott of all Israeli companies and artists. This was what was effectively being imposed on the rest of us by the pickets outside.
I felt personally deeply ashamed and upset that these renowned international artists who were visiting the EIF were unable to perform their show in peace.

It’s striking how author Jackie Kemp saw through the double standard that was applied to the Batsheva dancers. I believe that others see it but choose to ignore it.
Read the whole thing. The post is supposed to be open to comments ‘Sunday morning’ London time. At this writing (Noon London time – this is a ‘scheduled’ post), it is not yet open to comments. When it does open to comments, you may want to have your screen capture utility ready since many of the comments will be quickly deleted.

White House protests Pussy Riot’s two-year prison sentence

August 18, 2012

(thehill.com) The White House on Friday protested the conviction and “disproportionate” two-year sentence handed down against three members of the punk band Pussy Riot, whose trial in Moscow for “hooliganism” has sparked an international outcry.

Josh Earnest, a spokesman for President Obama, said the United States was “disappointed” by the guilty verdict against musicians Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich.
“The United States is disappointed by the verdict, including the disproportionate sentences that were granted,” Earnest told reporters.
“While we understand the group’s behavior was offensive to some, we have serious concerns about the way these young women — about the way that these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system.”
Victoria Nuland, a department spokeswoman, said in a statement the United States fears the chilling impact the case could have on individual freedoms.
“The United States is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the case against the members of the band Pussy Riot and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia,” Nuland said. “We urge Russian authorities to review this case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld.”
The sharp response came after a Russian court founded the band members guilty of “hooliganism driven by religious hatred” for an unscheduled performance held at a Moscow cathedral in March. The Pussy Riot musicians were protesting Vladimir Putin during his bid to regain the Russian presidency. The band called on the Virgin Mary to save them from Putin, according to reports.
Keep reading…

what is politically motivated here? these ladies desecrated a house of worship. Why the bias? The Democratic party really doesn’t play even handed in international politics. They wouldn’t say anything if this happened in a Muslim country. I’m disgusted… like usual


Putin’s Religious War Against the Female Punk-Rock Band Pussy Riot

July 25, 2012
(NewYorker)Before their arrest, Tolokonnikova was a student of philosophy; Alekhina studied journalism and creative writing and was engaged in religious charities and environmental causes. Samutsevich, the oldest of the three, has a degree in computer programming. They are members of a larger group that also goes by the name Pussy Riot—they use a transliterated version of the English words—that combines radical performance with leftist ideas ranging broadly from anti-authoritarianism to feminism; the group cites figures such as Michel Foucault and Julia Kristeva among their many sources of inspiration, as well as the American punk-rock band Bikini Kill and the riot-grrrl movement of the nineties. Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are mothers of young children whom they have not seen since their arrest.

what are these girls smiling for?