BoSoma Review

Here is my review of the Boston Somatic Dance Company’s Oct. 2 performance at Hampshire College. For this review, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and take in a style of performing arts that is new to me. Enjoy.


My history with live dance performance is thin. My parents took me to see The Nutcracker when I was nine and I was less than enthralled. My cousin has taken dance for as long as I can remember and has invited me to countless performances, but I never felt the slightest inclination to attend. Once again, my fear of boredom got the best of me.

None of this really mattered Friday night, as I sat in a tranced state of heightened bemusement and sheer wonderment during the Boston Somatic Dance Company’s performance at the Hampshire College Main Dance Theatre.

The BoSoma ensemble, now in their sixth season, consists of nine women, each meticulously trained in various styles of dance, and perform in venues throughout Greater Boston and New England.

They played two shows, Friday and Saturday, at Hampshire College and the company has deep ties to the Five Colleges. Co-Artistic Directors Irada Djelassi and Katherine Hooper both received their Bachelors of Fine Arts in dance at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, in 2000 and 1997 respectively. Three dancers are also UMass graduates and one from the Smith College graduate dance program earlier this year.

The nearly full Main Dance Theatre sat about 75 patrons and acted as an ideal intimate environment for the engaging performance. The sound system made a couple of the performances really pop, especially some of the more tribal, bouncy numbers. Although the lighting was minimal and caused delays, as it took a couple minutes between each performance to change color schemes, they were successful in establishing a unique mood to each song.

Overall, there were seven separate dances, each containing unique costume and lighting changes. The music ranged from works from Italian composer Giovanni Sollima to Japanese drum ensemble Kodo to ambient maestro Brian Eno.

The standout performances of the night came from Tara McCrystal and Amanda Rey, the only dancers to take part in all seven scenes, including a duet entitled Between Lines (2009). Set to a two part composition from Sollima, the two, one in an all red dress, the other black, begin with a sensuous display of mutual worship before escalating into a feverish standoff and display of anything-you-can-do.

The pieces ranged from transcendent, Habitual (2009) mostly due to the music from the pling-plong plucking of Meredith Monk, accented by the stream of conscious vocal arrangements, to forgettable, the second act opener Tapestry (1997), perhaps outdated, as it is the only piece that originated outside of this decade.

The next dates for BoSoma are set for Nov. 6 and 7, the Massachusetts Dance Festival Inaugural Performance at the Boston University Dance Theatre. Even if you have no interest in dance, I suggest attending one of their performances for nothing more than the potential to expand your horizons.


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Baggin Classics


As a self-aware connoisseur of all things rap, I have to admit my tastes have become suspect over the past couple years and not by my own admission. The definition and subsequent spins of ‘What’s Hot’ on the radio has aided in corrupting not only my ears, but the ears of hip-hop heads nationwide, forcing millions to dumb down or ditch their respect for the art-form all together. Hell, my favorite rap release of last year came from Rick Ross, the self proclaimed ‘Boss’ who once rhymed 22 with 22 for eight straight bars.

That is why I, along with millions of others, let out a large sigh of relief when the Chef, better known as Raekwon, also known as Lex Diamond, decided to don the Superman cape and drop Only Built 4 Cuban Linx pt. II, the  long awaited, oft delayed sequel to his ’95 timeless classic, that has served as a much needed reminder that hip-hop does in fact live. It is easily the best rap release since 2006 and possibly since his partner in crime, Ghostface, released my all time favorite, Supreme Clientle, at the dawn of the century.

So it came as a surprise when reviews started trickling in and none were able to capture all of the glaring aspects that make this new album what it is: meeting the hype created by its status as a sequel to possibly the most hip-hop album of all time, the chopped up production from a laundry list of lauded producers that perfectly coincides with Rae’s undercurrent flow, and the pitch perfect guest list of co-conspiritors, including, but not limited to all of the Wu members, mysteriously excluding U-God.

But then about a week following it’s release, I stumbled upon a review from our class’ favorite music review site, Pitchfork. And surprisingly the review touched on all the points I mentioned, including the glaring absence of U-God (possibly that he was killed off at the end of the original OB4CL), all without their trademark pretension.

I included a link to the review, as an example of an ‘A’ review, for its ability to finely capture all that I, along with everyone who knows anything about Shaolin Shadow Boxing and the Wu-Tang sword style, recognize about the greatness that is OB4CLII. I also chose to include a video after the link from the albums second single, House of Flying Daggers, produced by the late J Dilla and featuring fellow Wu’s Inspectah Deck, GZA, Ghostface and Method Man.


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two for you

For my first post I’ve decided to share two of my favorite music-related blogs. These are both fairly popular in their respective fields of music. I check both on a semi-daily basis as both are consistent in uploading with new content.

Gorilla Vs. Bear


This particular blog has entered my daily repertoire because it was the first to introduce me to the particular music covered on the site and no other blog has done as good of a job introducing me to new bands that I love. They mainly focus on a brand of lo-fi indie that often boarders on psychedelic, but frequently branch off into hip-hop and remixes of said genres. They primarily post mp3s and youtubes of new music and recent live performances. In the years since discovering this site they have aided in unveiling some of my favorite new artists, including Wavves, Panda Bear, and Vivian Girls.

Little White Earbuds


This blog focuses on an entirely different genre of music, electronic, but is equal in helping me discover new and upcoming acts. The blog is filled with reviews of singles, EPs, and full length LPs, and each review contains a full track available for stream. They also post monthly charts, highlighting the writer’s favorite tracks of the moment. The heart of the blog lies within their podcasts, in which they commission world renowned DJ’s to produce exclusive mixes. One of their better, recent podcasts comes from Peter Van Hoesen, who has been taking the electronic world by storm over the recent months with his Berlin-style of pounding techno featuring a hint of dub. His entire mix is composed of his original productions.

I have linked both blogs at the bottom of my page for future reference. Also linked is my other blog, blog, sweat, and tears, which focuses on local Amherst happenings.

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My name is Michael Walsh. I am a senior Journalism student at UMass Amherst. This blog has been created for me to share some of my work and stuff I’ve been digging lately with all of you. The primary focus is on the world of performing arts. Enjoy!

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