Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Kafka’s Metamorphosis

John Milosich in Synetic Theater's production of "Kafka's Metamorphosis." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

I’ve always had a fascination with insects – the hive brain, the rigid delineation between workers and soldiers, queens and drones, a repulsive caterpillar breaking out of a hard cocoon as a delicate butterfly, the viciousness of praying mantis sex, spider babies eating their mother… just your average day in a realm all around us, a kingdom we barely notice.

Gregor Samsa, the unfortunate center of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, leads a life not unlike that of a worker drone, slaving away at a clerical job so that his family may live, in particular his beloved sister Greta. His creator, writer Franz Kafka, lives in a body progresively weakened and diseased while pining for his beautiful love Felice. Director Derek Goldman takes these two and morphs them together in his adaption for Synetic Theater of the story of a man waking up one morning to find himself transformed into a nasty and unwieldy insect body. Here, Kafka’s internal rage at his body’s weakness and his psychological wounds are directly manifested as he creates Gregor’s world.

Now through May 22, you can witness this grostesque and haunted world (“creepy,” as artistic director Paata Tsikurishvili said at opening) at Rosslyn Spectrum, where the stage has been incredibly and nauseatingly transformed into wild angles by designer Natsu Onoda. Your stomach will also be turned by the sound design of James Bigbee Garver, evoking a gooey, icky insect world. It’s all lit with eerie unnaturalness by Colin K. Bills. The production design is top notch.

The adaptation itself? It’s brave, and filled with some startling imagery, but ultimately left me cold. You may feel differently, but splitting the main character dropped the stakes significantly – I found myself unable to care for Gregor’s plight, and just wished Kafka would stay behind the writing desk. That being said, it’s an intriguing production whose merits I’m still debating. Continue reading

The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Dracula

Dan Istrate and Natalie Berk in Synetic Theater's "Dracula." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

Dan Istrate and Natalie Berk in Synetic Theater's "Dracula." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

Oh, Vlad. How we missed you. Vampires are back in fashion, sucking blood and living forever. Sad soulful looks are fine, but let’s say you prefer your undead to be more aggressive and lustful. Synetic Theater’s revamp of their smash rendition of “Dracula” will be just the thing to get you in the mood. For Halloween, that is!

The company throws themselves into the well-known tale with unbridled enthusiasm. In some cases, they are literally thrown – the physicality of Irina Tsikurishvili’s choreography caused the audience to gasp repeatedly. As always, the artistry of the ensemble creates breathtaking images – fluttering hands for firelight, tossing hair as horses, a crawling bat – too many to mention.

As Dracula, Dan Istrate’s raw masculinity and wry humor were so on target, I thought the women next to me were going to have several Victorian fainting spells. Continue reading

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Water, Water, Everywhere

Photo courtesy of
‘Falling Water’
courtesy of ‘photo_secessionist’

Perhaps you had enough of water over the weekend? If not, get thee to the DOME in Rosslyn at 7 p.m. tonight for a screening of Liquid Assets (see the trailer).

This third film in a green series sponsored by Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment promises to share the true importance of systems of water, wastewater, and stormwater treatment that we often take for granted.

I understand — at first glance it sounds a bit dry, no pun intended, but it can be fascinating to find out how things work. How does that water get from the river to your faucet anyway?

This film talks about what goes on far below our feet — and how to keep that clean water flowing.

Entertainment, Music, Night Life, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Saffron Dance

"Shimmy" courtesy of Saffron Dance
“Shimmy” courtesy of Saffron Dance

This past Sunday when I arrived for my Oriental bellydance class at Saffron Dance in Clarendon, the studio was a frenzied hive of activity. Costumes fluttering, dancers rehearsing in every available space, everyone giving their all in that wonderful energy that takes over the week before performances. Every glimpse I catch inspires me to try harder in class so that one day I might be able to shimmy around a stage. But until then, I’m content with enjoying not one but two performances this weekend at Rosslyn Spectrum – and I highly encourage you to do the same.

First up, Saffron Dance Company performs “Shimmy” on Saturday May 16 at 8pm, highlighting classical Egyptian inspired bellydance as part of the Planet Arlington World Music Festival. What makes this performance really exciting is that they will be accompanied by live music. Moroccan vocalist Hatim Idar (whom I’m told is rockstar incredible) and the El Anmari Ensemble will perform original musical compositions on traditional Arabic instruments including the oud, nay, qanum, violin, tabla, riq and frame drum. It’s a rare treat to be able to watch the interplay between dancer and musician, and will no doubt make for a captivating evening. Tickets are $25.

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Arlington, Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Yaku

Nestled along Clarendon Boulevard in the Court House area, Yaku looks to be the perfect neighborhood hot spot. Two levels of glass and glowing lights, it always looks warm and inviting from the street. I live in Arlington, and have walked past Yaku almost daily since it’s conception as just an empty office space below my dream real-estate local, The Odyssey condominiums.

When it finally looked as if something was actually going to go in the space (that had stood empty since before I moved here in fall 2007), I got pretty excited. On my walk home, I ran up to check the posted licences to see what it would be. It’s the perfect location to be our new favorite go-to spot. Yaku, the signs said. Hmm… I said. That’s an odd name. A little googling, and I find that Yaku will be another restaurant from Latin Concepts, the same people who brought us places like Chi-Cha Lounge, Mate, Ceviche, and Guarapo (which is only around the corner from Yaku).

According to the Web site, “YAKU, is a “Chifa” restaurant lounge brought to you by Fraga-Rosenfeld.  Chifa is the fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cuisine developed by Chinese immigrants to Peru in the late 19th and early 20th centuries… The name YAKU means “water” in Quechua (Incan Language) and is intended to capture Asian-influenced Andean culinary styles unique to the region.” Yaku is also, says our friend wikipedia, a town located on Yaku Island, Japan. So let’s just go with Asian-Peruvian fusion, and call it interesting… Continue reading