Musical comedy focus: ‘It’s Great to Be Alive’ in a manless world, baby, at MoMA

moma alive smallNewly preserved by the Museum of Modern Art from a unique nitrate print in the museum’s collection, Alfred Werker’s rollicking pre-Code musical comedy “It’s Great to Be Alive” (1933), above, produced by the Fox Film Corporation, is set in a near future where every man on Earth has succumbed to the fatal disease of “masculitis.” As Edna Mae Oliver leads a team of female scientists in a desperate attempt to create an artificial man, one lone male — an aviator, played by the Brazilian star Raúl Roulien — is discovered living on a tropical island. Returned to civilization, he becomes an object of hot contention, claimed by his fiancée (Gloria Stuart — who’d portray the aged Rose in James Cameron’s “Titanic” 64 years later) but kidnapped by a gangster (Dorothy Burgess) who plans to auction him off to the highest bidder. Final showing tonight at 7 p.m. at MoMa in New York City. Image courtesy MoMA.

Art from the Archives: Ay-O

japan momaFrom the DI Archives: Featuring over 200 works of various media — painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, drawings, and graphic design, as well as video and documentary film — Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, was first highlighted on the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager in February 2013 with, above: Ay-O, “Pastoral (Den’en),” 1956. Oil on panel, 72 1/16″ x 12′ 1 13/16″ (183 x 370.4 cm). Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. © Ay-O & courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.

If you will it, it is no dream

rousseauthedream smallAmong the work from the permanent collection currently on view in the Alfred H. Barr Painting and Sculpture Galleries of the Museum of Modern Art: Henri Rousseau, “The Dream,”  1910. Oil on canvas, 6′ 8 1/2″ x 9′ 9 1/2″ (204.5 x 298.5 cm). The  Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller. Love art? Check our sister site The Arts Voyager.

“Stormy Weather” with La Dunham & friends at the Museum of Modern Art

dunham moma smallAmong the under-projected classics screening April 18 – 26 at the Museum of Modern Art for Making Faces on Film: A Collaboration with BFI Black Star is the 1943 all-star extravaganza “Stormy Weather,” featuring Lena Horne and Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson (above), Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Dooley Wilson, the tap-flying Nicholas Brothers, Katherine Dunham and her Troupe, and just about every other major African-American performer of the epoch. Directed by Andrew L. Stone, the movie was meant to help the recruiting effort among African-Americans. The MoMA mini-festival celebrates the legacy of African-American artists working both within and outside the mainstream film industry. Image: Film Study Center Special Collections, The Museum of Modern Art.


543.2005.2Louise Bourgeois, “Spiral Woman,” 2003. Dry point and engraving. Sheet: 17 x 15″ (43.2 x 38.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. © 2017 The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, NY. From the upcoming exhibition Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, on view at the Museum of Modern Art September 24, 2017 through January 2018.

Picabia,Francis (1879-1953)Francis Picabia, “Udnie” (Jeune fille américaine; danse) (Udnie [Young American Girl; Dance], 1913. Oil on canvas, 9′ 6 3/16″ × 9′ 10 1/8″ (290 × 300 cm). Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne – Centre de création industrielle, Paris. Purchased by the State, 1948. © 2016 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo: © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerdtchian/Dist. RMN–Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York. Featured in the major monographic exhibition Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, on view at the Museum of Modern Art through March 19.

Flash Flashback, 2-2: Not ‘Phase’ away — De Keersmaeker at MoMA or, The universe of dance on grains of sand

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

(Author’s Note: Re-reading many of my reviews of for the most part European Modern Dance concerts — in which rubrique I include William Forsythe — during this epoch, in which my frustration with the often-indulgent choreographers is evident in less than inspired, voir redundant, writing, I’ve wondered if the problem wasn’t me. If I’d simply grown up to become the mirror of that well-known jaded critic who once complained, reviewing an Elizabeth Streb concert in the late 1990s, “I’ve been going to Elizabeth Streb concerts since the 1970s and I still don’t like her,” prompting me to respond: Stop going. Re-reading the review below, though, where Denby-like inspiration if not Denby-level poetry is evident, it occurs to me that perhaps it was after all the dances that failed me and not the inverse.)

NEW YORK — Seeing Anne Terese De Keersmaeker reprise her seminal 1982 “Violin Phase” yesterday at the Museum of Modern Art — you can catch her at MOMA again today at 2 and 4 p.m. — made it clearer than ever to me that this piece, performed by this dancer, should be required viewing in every modern dance class around the world. Which is not to say that it is just a *modern* dance masterpiece (perfectly at home among the other modern masterpieces at MOMA, where these performances are being connected with the exhibition Online, Drawing Through the 20th Century), but that, craft aside — because there’s plenty of that too — De Keersmaeker does what fewer and fewer modern dancers and choreographers seem interested in doing these days, and that is reaching out to and engaging the audience.

To receive the rest of the article, first published January 23, 2011, subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, dance company members, etc.) and receive full access to our Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews by 150 leading critics of performances on five continents from 1998 through 2015. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check or in Euros. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archives for just $49 (individuals) or $129 (institutions) Purchase before February 14, 2017 and receive a second, free copy for the recipient of your choice. Contact Paul at .