Seventy years ago today representatives of 50 nations, lead by the American Eleonor Roosevelt, convened in Paris’s Chaillot Palace to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If Chaillot, which soon after hosted Jean Vilar’s Théâtre National Populaire, has since become the country’s only National Dance Theater and the principles it launched on December 10, 1948 honored as much in the breach as in the act — and the United States recently withdrew from the Human Rights Council — the location still celebrates universal principles, both in the citations that ring out from the parvis of the Trockadero Palace (commissioned from Paul Valery) and on its stage. Or, as regular guest Angelin Preljocaj recently explained, “Dance allows me to learn about the world.” Above, from the recent Bibliotheque National Francaise exhibition Chaillot, une mémoire de la danse: Festival populaire de ballets, Poster for the Théâtre National Populaire by Marcel Jacno, illustrated with a drawing by Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008), décembre 1962 – janvier 1963. Courtesy BnF – Arts du spectacle.
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If there’s one person in dance who is consistent, it’s Battery Dance’s Jonathan Hollander, whose vision, contrary to the myopia which sometimes infects other leaders of the New York dance community, has always been both global and community-oriented in the larger sense. Receiving its premiere Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Modern Art as part of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight festival, Rob Fruchtman’s 2017 “Moving Stories” follows six dancers from Battery, including ex-Graham fixture Tadej Brdnik, as they travel to India, Romania, Korea, and Iraq to work with at-risk youth, with just one week to prepare a performance. The documentary is preceded by Maris Curran’s “While I Yet Live,” in which five acclaimed African-American quilters from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, discuss love, religion, and the fight for civil rights as they continue the tradition of quilting that brought them together, and followed by a discussion with some of the dancers, who also included Robin Cantrell, Mira Cook, Clement Mensah, Sean Scantlebury and Lydia Tetzlaff. Photo courtesy Rob Fruchtman.
As an illustrator, Kees Van Dongen can’t be beat. (Check his ethereal covers of Proust’s gossamer ladies for Folio’s editions of “Remembrance of Things Past.”) But I just can’t see what makes “The Tall Doe in Black Stockings,” a 40 x 32 inch oil of a thin naked flapper painted in 1922-23, worth between 1.2 and 1.6 million Euros, Artcurial’s pre-sale estimate for tonight’s Impressionist and Modern auction in Paris. So if you’re looking for a representative of the Montparnasse epoch of the School of Paris — in all its international splendor — we propose instead Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886 – 1968), whose 1918 “The Lemon Pickers,” an 18 1/4 x 12 inch watercolor, ink, and gold and silver leaf on paper, is estimated at a paltry 100,000 – 150,000 Euros. Not just for its intrinsic value, but because Foujita, born in Japan and artistically flowered in France, in the hybrid nature of his oeuvre defies the false debate current among some French pundits between “multi-culturalism” and “national identity,” demonstrating that far from being antithetical, they have forged the synthesis that is the cosmopolitan French and Parisian culture. Signed in French and in Japanese (of course) at lower right. Image courtesy and copyright Artcurial.