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March 25, 2010, 7:00 PM

Dancing in the Dark: Julie Taymor, Oedipus Rex, and the Gaze of Upright Posture

Participants: Roger Copeland

When her visionary adaptation of Disney's The Lion King opened on Broadway in 1997, Julie Taymor proved that an avant-garde director could create a commercial blockbuster without sacrificing the uniqueness of her talent. But audiences who only know Taymor as the director and costume designer of the Disney musical have barely scratched the surface of her artistry. Long before the word "multicultural" became the flavor de jour, Taymor was exploring the deep cultural context of theatrical conventions as disparate as Kabuki, Commedia dell' arte, Bunraku, and Indonesian shadow puppetry. One of the most spectacular results of this cultural eclecticism is Taymor's 1993 Emmy Award-winning film adaptation of Igor Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, which she staged in Japan with Jessye Norman as Jocasta and Philip Langridge performing the title role. This presentation will explore the complex thematic palette of Taymor's Oedipus, using excerpts from the film version, which features the legendary Japanese Butoh dancer Min Tanaka.

Roger Copeland is Professor of Theater and Dance at Oberlin College. His books include the widely used anthology, What Is Dance? and Merce Cunningham: The Modernizing of Modern Dance. His essays about dance, theater, and film have appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The Drama Review, Partisan Review, American Theatre, and many other publications. He has lectured about Julie Taymor's work at the Puppet Centre in London, the World Arts and Cultures Program at UCLA, The Wexner Center at O.S.U., the Field Museum in Chicago, and at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Java.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


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