Sunday, January 25, 2015

Feiffer’s famous cartoons are basis of free Sunday performance at Mondavi

"A dance to art" by Jules Feiffer was released Sunday, Sept. 1, 1974. Courtesy drawing

From page A9 | October 03, 2012 |

The free event at the Mondavi Center at 3 p.m. Sunday — “The Dancer Films Live Event” — is part concert, part cartoon, part dance performance and part family event. There’s a film angle, too.

To explain: Newspaper readers of a certain age may recall the weekly syndicated comic strip by Jules Feiffer, which tended to run in the newspaper’s literary supplement or the week in review, rather than on the funny pages.

A frequent character in Feiffer’s weekly cartoon was a female modern dancer, dressed in a unitard. The cartoons typically ran six or eight panels. The dancer was inspired by a girlfriend Feiffer knew in the 1950s who piqued the cartoonist’s interest in dance as an art form. The cartoon dancer’s leaping, long-haired, endlessly flexible figure (accompanied by a few well-chosen words) illuminated her pithy opinions from 1957, when she first appeared in the pages of The Village Voice, until 2000, when Feiffer retired after more than four decades of weekly deadlines.

And the dancer addressed any topic under the sun. Initially, she danced to topics like the changing seasons. As one Village Voice journalist put it, “Clad in the period uniform of black feetless tights and black leotard, she leapt from one improbable position to another while intoning an ode to summer (‘In this dance I symbolize the desire to escape … from all the inadequate pleasures’) or the end of summer (‘The solstice in its declension … and insect repellant, gathered in an organic unity’).”

In 2010, a decade after he gave up the weekly cartoon, Smithsonian Magazine asked Feiffer to explain the dancer’s long-running appeal.

“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “It’s a complicated question and I’m not sure how to answer it simply, but from the time I began my Village Voice cartoon in the ’50s, modern dance was taking off and I visited periodically that world and took in dance and had friends who were dancers. I saw the dancer as an ideal subject matter for the kind of comments I wanted to make and embodied in her all the ambivalent ambiguity, doubt, self-doubt, self-reproach and all those other feelings — neurotic and not neurotic, political and non-political.

“And also because she moved all the time she was leaping and arabesque-ing and doing this and doing that, as opposed to most of my figures who just stood and talked. So it was a lot more fun drawing her than it was my other characters.”

In 2010, a group of artistically minded admirers of the series decided to create “The Dancer Films” — a cluster of six very short films (about two minutes each) taken directly from Feiffer’s cartoons. Collaborators included Andrea Weber, a star of Merce Cunningham Dance Company; Jane Ira Bloom, a jazz musician; and Larry Keigwin and Susan Marshall, celebrated modern choreographers. Some scenes were shot in a studio, others in New York locations like the Brooklyn Bridge or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For the Mondavi Center’s live, family-friendly event, the creative forces behind the films, including director Judy Dennis and producer Ellen Dennis, will bring the Dancer to life onstage in Jackson Hall. Audience members will have the chance to join the Dancer event on stage. Feiffer, now 83, had originally planned to attend, but will not be able to travel to Davis to participate.

Tickets to Sunday’s 3 p.m. performance in the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall are free, but seating is reserved. Tickets, without a handling charge, may be picked up in advance from the Mondavi Center box office or by calling 530-754-2787. A handling charge will apply when reservations are made online at





Four days of unusual, adventuresome music

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Bridges of Yolo County: Wear, tear … repair?

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Spanish police arrest 4 suspected members of a jihadi cell

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Abe ‘speechless’ after video claims IS hostage dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Abortion opponents express renewed hope at California rally

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Fake schools draw federal scrutiny

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Winter produce available at Sutter market

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Vote for your favorites in Readers’ Choice poll

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Share your love (story) with us

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sip wines at St. James’ annual tasting

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Speaker will share computer security tips

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Logos Books celebrates 5 years, offers language groups

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Australian olive oil company opens U.S. headquarters in Woodland

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Explore at the YOLO Outdoor Expo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Donations to be distributed during homeless count

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

Yolo animal shelter seeking rawhide donations

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5

Woodland Healthcare employees take Great Kindness Challenge

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

At the Pond: Nest boxes give birds new homes

By Jean Jackman | From Page: A6 | Gallery

California ranks worst in nation for guidance counselors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Davis, Woodland are saving water

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A12

Words and Music Festival events

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A12



Family isn’t keen on relationship

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A8

Caring for the aging mouth

By Samer Alassaad | From Page: A8

We don’t have to suffer

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

City helped immensely

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Rick McKee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

Big utilities’ nightmare begins to play out

By Tom Elias | From Page: A10

Mayor’s Corner: Let’s renew Davis together

By Dan Wolk | From Page: A10

We have the right to choose

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

When measles spreads from Disneyland, it’s a small world after all

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A11

From innovation parks to innovative buildings and planning

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11



Loud crowd sees DHS boys win

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Lady Devils hold off Pacers, stay perfect in league

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Wildcats’ inaugural kids development league exceeds expectations

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Aggies get top 2015 gymnastics score, but fall short

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD men take two tennis matches

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

Watney in ninth at Humana Challenge

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8







Davis man focusing on cannabidiol business

By Will Bellamy | From Page: A9

Marrone Bio’s Regalia approved for new uses in Canada

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

UCD grad makes insurance ‘hot 100′ list

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Yolo County real estate sales

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9





Comics: Sunday, January 25, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B8