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5 | Years

THE MURDER BALLAD (1938)

REDCAT

April 23rd - 26 2015

8:30pm Thur - Sat, and 7pm Sunday

631 W 2nd Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012

 

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Three years before the death of Jelly Roll Morton in 1941, The Murder Ballad was recorded for the Library of Congress. A woman who driven with madness, commits murder and is sent to life in prison. Morton’s fluid storytelling blends, mythic violence, gender identity and bestial lust into a haze by which the two dancers from Poor Dog Group, drift in and out of including the self, ghosts, and cultural archetypes. The 30 minute song continues to haunt the genre,  “hypnotic and translucent, the act of it’s recording is equal part as memorizing as the song itself.” says director, J. Bonnell, “a body receiving frequencies of past folklore, past mythology, it’s a dissension into purgatory”. The dance is comprised of seven sequences drawing from various symbols of feminine madness. At times the dancers appear in bliss, then are transformed and unnatural exposing hidden realities of aggression and violence.  Inspired by the work of Muybridge, the design for the show draws not only from early experiments in photography but also evokes a modern day fashion studio, one that can also be seen as a stark prison. Musician Andrew Gilbert creates an additional soundtrack that frames the ballad within a laboratory like environment. Heavy drones, and robotic messages crackle over the musings of Jell Roll’s piano playing. The L.A. based collective include all 30 minuets of the song while extending sections creating a darkly poetic and of the time meditation on prison, hysteria, jazz, race, and sexuality.