DCCC student hula hoops in Old Hollywood Glam Cirque

By Alexis Marshall

circus.jpg

Autumn Cornell, a studio arts major at DCCC, poses in vaudeville costume back stage at Tellus360, following her solo performance for The Circus School of Lancaster showcase. Photo by Alexis Marshall

The backstage area of Tellus360 bar is buzzing as the performers prepare. Wherever you look, people are putting on makeup or fixing their costumes.

A performer sits on the steps to the stage, strapping stilts to her legs. Another complains to her friend about leaving a prop back in her car.

Among the waiting performers is Autumn Cornell, a 25-year-old DCCC studio arts major dressed in a red leotard, black chiffon skirt and black tights; a bowler hat sits upon her head.

“Kind of going for a vaudeville look,” Cornell says, referring to a popular type of entertainment in the early 20th Century.

Cornell was one of several performers participating in the Old Hollywood Glam Cirque Variety Show at the Circus School of Lancaster and Tellus 360 Jan. 22.

Cornell stands next to her props, a peacock feather fan, a black and white pointed umbrella, and a set of four blue hula hoops. She shares that she will be in two performances this evening. One group performance, and one solo act.

“I’m really excited,” she says. “The show is about to begin!” Cornell’s opening act was joined by two performers, Pixie Flowess and Sheena, both 28-year-old Lancaster locals, who performed acrobatics featuring umbrellas set to the “Moulin Rouge” version of “Roxanne.” Cornell’s solo performance was a hula-hoop acrobatic dance, set to a remix of Disney Aladdin’s song “Never Had a Friend Like Me.”

The hulahoop performance featured tricks where she spun the hoops around her wrists, ankles, thighs and around the outside of her body. She steadily added more and more hoops as her performance continued.

“I was surprised,” said Laura Mae, a co-owner of MaeJean Vintage, an antique and vintage jewelry shop in Lancaster. “It was very entertaining.”

The Ladybirds, a dance group from York, Pa, performed three acts. Tina Watkins, 27, performed partner burlesqueacrobatics with Sheena. Anika Alegra, 28, also performed a burlesque act featuring a hula hoop.

“Look at them go,” said Dahlia Jean, a business partner to Laura Mae. “These girls are lovely.”

The Master of Ceremonies was Evan Young, a street performer with 15 years of experience in the field of circus acts.

Between each act, Young shared an old Hollywood glam fun-fact, while performing a trick. One trick involved standing on a balance board while transitioning two hula-hoops across his body in opposite directions, simultaneously.

“Fun fact: Joseph Stalin tried to have John Wayne assassinated because Wayne was openly against communism,” Young said, while balancing a skateboard on his forehead.

The final performance of the evening was a contortion and aerial hoop act, performed by Kiki Konfelli a 38-year-old former gymnast from Maine. She has performed since her childhood.

The night ended with an open floor dance party.

Guests, who were encouraged to come in era-appropriate clothing, were enticed to dance to vaudeville style music.

“We love everything vintage, so this is fantastic,” said Amanda Jean, Dahlia Jean’s sister and co-owner of MaeJean Vintage.

The Circus School of Lancaster will be hosting three more showcases over the course of the next three months. The showcases will be the fourth Tuesday of every month and will feature a different theme each time.

Contact Alexis Marshall at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

‘Suspiria’: cult classic remake chills audiences

By Dean Galiffa

Dakota

Shake, rattle and roll.

As in: there is a scene in which a dancer’s body shakes in agony as her limbs contort, her bones rattle and her innards roll.

That is the kind of grotesque imagery running throughout “Suspiria,” directed by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino.

The film is a remake of the 1977 horror cult-classic of the same title, but takes many liberties. Indeed, much of Guadagnino’s film is an expansion of the already outlined story by Director Dario Argento, yet translates as a convoluted, expansive, and sometimes onerous plot.

Starring Dakota Johnson in the protagonist role of Susie, a young dancer from Ohio who travels to the acclaimed Markos Dance Company in Berlin for an audition, the film’s eerie set design and arthouse camera work creates an unease that never lets up.

Although the movie never quite tops the “shake, rattle, and roll” scene in terms of making the audiences’ skin crawl, it leaves the viewer anticipating the worst at every creek and squish.

Alongside Susie is the renowned dance instructor Madame Blanc, portrayed by Tilda Swinton, who is instantly impressed and almost transfixed by Susie’s skill.

From the start of her time at the company, Susie is groomed for the lead role in the company’s upcoming production. We come to find later on in the film that this seemingly innocent lead role is far more sinister than it appears on the surface.

A standout performance of the film is Mia Goth, who plays the supporting role of Sara, a vivacious and skilled dancer who falls victim to the dance company’s more malevolent regime.

Unlike her leading opposites, Goth’s character and performance are far more interesting than Johnson’s Susie. However, this could be the fault of poor direction or screenwriting.

Still, some major performances were notable. In addition to her role as Madame Blanc, Swinton plays two other characters, including the primary role of Dr. Josef Klemperer, a psychoanalyst who begins to investigate Markos Dance Company after sessions with a former dancer.

Without the knowledge that it is Swinton under a prosthetic nose and thick frames, Klemperer just comes off as a stiff old man with an oddly high-pitched croak of a voice.

The prosthetics hindered her performance, but Swinton’s acting chops did pay off when becoming each character.

Both costume and set design were improved by an overall clean performance of both the actors and the cinematographer.

Bearing red hair and a middle part, Johnson was able to fit perfectly in the cold bluish brown hues of Markos Dance Company.

Playing off of its predecessor, the plain lighting and clever use of color in the costumes of “Suspiria” pay tribute to the original film.

While the 1977 version often used simple costume design and vibrant settings, the remake could not be any more opposite.

Most notably, the sound design of the film was truly haunting. Along with rather graphic imagery, each individual crack, snap, and crunch punctuated the overall realism of each scene.

Defined by grotesque imagery, sound design, and experimental cinematography, Gaudagnino’s take on the cult classic leaves the audience with many unanswered questions.

The film leaves much of the plot unexplained, with some subplots feeling completely unnecessary altogether.

Nevertheless, overall, the casual movie-goer and film buff alike will be shaken, rattled, and rolled by “Suspiria.”

Valerie Battaglia also contributed to the writing of this review.

Contact Dean Galiffa at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ buckles, but does not break under pressure

By Shane Soderland

freddie

Director Bryan Singer resurrects singer Freddie Mercury in the 2018 biopic film “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The film chronicles Mercury and his band Queen’s rise to prominence and iconization.

Rami Malek gives an Oscar caliber performance as the sensational rock star struggling with vice and indulgence capturing his mannerisms, flare, and humanity above all else. The film never goes out of its way to characterize Mercury as an omnipotent figure, which is commendable, but it never goes deep enough to match Malek’s performance.

Singer gave tight direction to cover the entirety of Mercury’s career, but the overall structure was bothersome. The film tells its story in a very traditional and formulaic way, which doesn’t suit the inventive and experimental nature of Queen.

At one point, dialogue shared between Brian May’s character and a production executive criticizes formula in music. This interaction almost feels ironic, given how conventional the film’s direction is.

Mercury’s life is examined well, but it would have benefited from more abstract storytelling. An interesting perspective would have been a nonlinear approach, with scenes from various times in his career sporadic throughout.

Similarly, a perspective such as the miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” where direction is taken by expanding multiple character’s viewpoints would have worked. In a story with a vast range of material, the film would have benefited from this format, especially considering Malek’s success on the show “Mr. Robot.”

Yes, “Bohemian Rhapsody” plays like a biopic you’ve seen a hundred times before — it’s even been parodied in “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”

The film covers Mercury’s career in a seemingly impossible two and a half hour run time. Story threads were cut down, ignored, or glossed over for the film to work.

There are enough enjoyable aspects to make the film both watchable and endearing.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” finds ways for audience members to become invested in its larger-than-life focus, counterbalancing its duller aspects with vibrant cinematography, unique editing techniques, and a good cast with believable chemistry.

Malek’s transcendental performance as Mercury, the electric soundtrack, and the dramatic elements are all strong components.

The movie struggles, however, to authentically portray the lives of 1970’s rock stars — especially, a group as outlandish as Queen. Mercury is portrayed as a flawed and indulgent diva, while his band mates are unchanging figures with strong moral authority.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” made a conscious choice to gloss over the seedier aspects of Mercury’s life, yet it does not take away from the film’s focus — Queen and their music. The film did not need exploitative debauchery to succeed, but a single f-bomb would have been permissible.

Most disappointingly, the film’s message about Mercury’s sexuality is muddled. With the exception of the closing moments of the film, Mercury’s homosexuality is portrayed as raucous and destructive throughout. However, the characters treat his orientation and eccentricities with familial tenderness, which was poignant to see.

Historical inaccuracies, exaggerations, and Meta-references are abundant in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but do not detract from its entertainment value or message about family and teamwork. This film is a flawed take on a legend, but as a concert film it will rock you.

Contact Shane Soderland at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu