Friday, December 25, 2015

Capturing Collective Memories: Of Broadway Dance And Of Family Life

Posted by Peter Quennell

The only YouTube so far,  with costumes & lighting & orchestra the dances really take off

There’s an astonishing Broadway show on in NYC now.

If you are part of the million visitors in NYC at any one time (absurd, right?) it’s at the Joyce Theater, tkts are only $45 if you can get them, its a sponsored run. Its called American Dance Machine. Some 18 Broadway dancers and a fine orchestra onstage at the back.

The promotional video above gives a hint but for-real it is a terrific jolt. Its only a brief season because the dancers are some of the best and are in great demand. A couple are from the several ballet companies here.

The purpose is to capture and show again many dance routines and several songs from Broadway musicals that are mostly gone, some long gone, and wont be back again, and show just how good they were. Maybe every year there will be another brief season like this.

How did they put this together? There was an audience panel of the creators and some dancers after the show one night and they explained. They had to hunt round and find choreographers and dancers who had memories of the routines and find videos of the routines at the Arts library at Lincoln Center. The collective memory is mostly still there but its elusive and spread around and it will fade.

So. To the real point of this post, Does anyone have a family blog? The reason for having one is really the same. Collective memory, in this case of the family, while memories going back awhile are still around. Put down the family history as you know it and get some others in on it and pass it down.

It might make those who follow want to write online in a more empowering and permanent way than social media, which scrolls away fast and can have limited satisfaction and real-results effects. Best of the family videos and photos can go there.

Some 20-40-60 years hence those who come next are going to value that body of family history so much. They may not know you but they will know about you and what you did and felt and feel they are part of a great team going forward.

Season’s cheer!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/25/15 at 04:28 PM in The wider contextsN America context


I am happy that for a change we will not be talking about Amanda Knox.

Happy holidays! Wish you all a very prosperous new year.

Bad times do come; but we always get up and move forward. Scars heal; they still leave a mark. Callous grows. A strange numbness where the pain was. That is our collective strength.

We are nobody without you.

Posted by chami on 12/25/15 at 05:30 PM | #

Fine words Chami. You as much as anyone know the power of group-group-group. It can go up against very big bucks - and win.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/25/15 at 05:35 PM | #

Dont ask to see any family blog of mine! As yet it aint there. But I know of some who have been on the edge of this for years, and several who did begin regretted the delay.

If I might offer only one tip it would be to use paid-for software and not the freebies. Even at the professional level maybe (the one TJMK runs on is very good) which could avert many problems down the years.

Paid-for software comes with fast support and a forum where all the problems can be aired. It has many more options for things like membership control and the “look” plus it gets to be updated as the computer languages and html advance.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/25/15 at 05:37 PM | #


It is a very nice video and it lifted up the mood. I forwarded the link to some of my students!

I cannot sing or dance but the flow is mesmerizing. I just wonder.

Posted by chami on 12/25/15 at 05:39 PM | #


The audience at the panel were stunned to be told that the entire show was put together in three weeks, routines and music and lighting and (numerous) costumes and all. Several on the panel said “wow am I tired!” but it didnt show. There’s more on it here.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/25/15 at 05:51 PM | #

Wonderful performance.
May the dark sleep of Winter, sow the seeds for a successful 2016.

.......onward.  : )

Posted by Tina on 12/25/15 at 09:41 PM | #

...saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

...but one sinner destroyeth much good.

Posted by chami on 12/26/15 at 05:46 AM | #

Amazing dancers in a cheerful performance. Lovely and encouraging all round, it’s so great when youth use their time and talents for lifting others like American Dance Machine.

Dance takes so much self-discipline and sacrifice. Dancers earn our respect. And where would Christmas be without The Nutcracker? Baryshnikov in his day and all the modern Ballet companies, a great art to support. Where would this world be without beauty and movement, entertainment and story-telling, the great narratives that make sense of life?

Thank you, Peter Quennell, for encouragement to begin our family blogs. Great idea for 2016.

Capturing one’s history is a favor to others. I’m starting a class in January for writing one’s biography called writing our lives. One person who took the class said, “Some of them have been taking this course for years.” I suppose that meant we will only write a little along, no overnight book, which sounds perfect.

How quick important memories fade if things aren’t in some form documented. Maybe through art or symbol but words are great, too. Blogs are the answer. I started one on GoDaddy a couple of years ago for a history subject I’m passionate about but I didn’t follow through. I hope all you bloggers can do better.

@chami, great Scripture verses, thank you.

I’m having a Christmas full of chuckles and action amidst the usual stressors. May TJMK garner a double portion of blessings and joy in whatever way they need it. And start a blog.

Posted by Hopeful on 12/26/15 at 07:26 PM | #

Merry Christmas to everyone and a happy new year. I sincerely hope that Knox has a holiday time filled with fear but then that’s just me. We will never stop ever.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 12/28/15 at 02:43 AM | #

This is a poem I wrote on Christmas Eve 2015 for Meredith, reflecting how her spirit survives. It’s in rough sonnet form of 14 lines, unrhymed.

Meredith’s Meaning
(“No one can destroy the meaning of your life.”)

Meredith, strong survivor of calamities,
Destined to death but not to a meaningless death,
Your spirit reminds us of power beyond our life,
The power to touch the millions who come after us.
Your smile rocked the nations.
Your sweetness comforted many a stony heart.
Your delightful wit and kindness continue to sow
Good seed into the cruel world you left behind.

How marvelous that manners and love still matter
In days of cruelty, drunks and vulgar women.
Among the chaff you shine like pure sweet grain,
Ready for baking bread for a hungry world.

Posted by Hopeful on 12/28/15 at 06:38 PM | #

Thanks, Pete, for the info on the dance ensemble concert. I read the review, and it sounds marvelous! Definitely would go see it if I could! The Joyce is only a little bit north of where I worked in the West Village in 2007. Loved that neighborhood!

Thanks everyone, for the comments as well. Hopeful, your comments always tie so many elements together in a cheering way! Chami, you seem to be channeling some deeper spirit today!

Today marks Meredith Kercher’s 30th birthday. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends today.

Posted by Earthling on 12/28/15 at 08:39 PM | #

Hopeful, thank you for the lovely poem, which I had not seen when I posted my previous comment. You have a true talent for poetry! I love the last two lines so much.

Speaking of family ties and blogging, my sister has recently been collecting, scanning, and organizing family pictures. It has been an eye-opening and delightful experience! Family records are so important. In the era of digital preservation, there is still a need for hard copy back-ups. Back-ups to back-ups, so to speak.

May you all have a blessed New Year!

Posted by Earthling on 12/28/15 at 08:45 PM | #
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