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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews

Jon Anderson

Earth Mother Earth Ballet by Jon Anderson

Review by Anne Corbin

The Center for Performing Arts in SLO is very pretty - it reminds me of the one in San Jose. Our seats were in the Orchestra 4th row (which was actually about 10th or 11th row). We looked around the audience for familiar faces, but saw none. Most of the attendees must have been local people

Before the lights went down, the stage manager appeared (as he did between some of the acts). He came out and started to explain that everyone was ready at curtain time, but it seemed that Mother Earth might want to control things a bit...(flash of Lightning and clap of thunder behind:) then he spoke of respecting the earth, told about Jon's music and the show began.

There were large speakers set up on either side of the stage, and the earthmotherearth Introduction started. On the stage was a cloth covering a dancer (the Diva) the lights went down, you could see her arms flowing upward, looking like a plant coming out of the ground - very pretty.

There was no orchestra playing - everything was Jon's taped music. Most of the songs were remixes from EME, Lost Tapes of Opio and TMYK. The stage was simple, just some platforms with scarves and painted stars on a backdrop. The first half of the show, most of the costumes were a pretty turquoise and red and everyone had sparkles on them from head to foot. There was only one male dancer and he was a part of Yin and Yang this movement.

The first movement was called Spirit and consisted of the songs EME Intro, Concerto Uno, Some Would Say, That Crazy Wind. I feel it is impossible to describe how beautiful the dances went with the music, all I know is I found myself very moved.

Between the 1st and 2nd movements, the Stage Manager came out again, this time wearing some scuba gear and stated that indeed Earth Mother was having her way with us that night. All the while, behind him, they are changing the stage scene. There was a movie screen as the backdrop and a clear screen (scrim) between the front of the stage and the movie screen. Then the second movement (called Spherical Support) began with 3 dancers on stage behind the clear screen. As the first strains of Whalewatching started to play, I was in tears. The movie screen had a film of whales in the ocean dancing. In front, the dancers were using scarves and as they waved them, the light hit them in such a way that the scarves became a part of the ocean, as the dancers became ONE with the whales. It was so amazing. I was completely mesmerized by this dance. The tears just kept rolling down my face, so moving!

Of course the rest of the movement was magnificent as well. The other songs from this movement were Harptree Tercera and Release/Realize. Then came the intermission.

It was so wonderful to hear Jon's voice over those speakers, for even though he and Jane couldn't be there, they were in voice and in spirit - Wendy and I could both feel that, especially when they began Act II by bringing people in to the song Time has Come.

Everyone was talking, so I decided to sing - I definitely got some looks, but I felt that if they could talk through such wonderful music, I certainly could sing it! Anyway, as the song was coming to an end, they showed Jon and Jane on the movie screen doing what I call meditational movement - really cool! I believe that Jon and Jane were supposed to sing in person, but due to the YES concerts, they did this instead. Of course, that is only my guess.

They kept the movie screen up for the 3rd movement (Scars and Freedom) and played all kinds of nature scenes behind the dancers. This time the dancers came out in black with red underneath. As the music went on, they showed their scars by pulling down "patches" in the costume to show the red "scars". Kind of dramatic, The songs for this movement were Concerto Due, Sad and Heaven Knows.

I believe that the 4th movement (The Meadow & the Mirror) was the one where they used some very large chimes. They were hanging pipe chimes and during one of the songs, the dancers went by and hit those chimes along with the ones playing in the music.

To me, this movement was of all the hope and celebration of the future. In fact, during one dance, the stage was dark and the cast was dancing with those fluorescent sticks (you know, glow in the dark). During the dance, they would come together with the glowing sticks spelling out HOPE, then WILL, then KEEP THE FAITH. As those words appeared, the audience applauded and shouted.

The songs for this movement were Take a Little Time, EME, Change We Must, The Hearalding, Say and In My Dreams.

The closing number (Say), was far from a ballet. The style was modern and the kids had so much fun with it - they were all grinning from ear to ear as they got to shout and chant a bit with the song too. It created a great build up to the end, which received a standing ovation (after Wendy and I started it). We floated out of the theater to the tune of Magic Love.

All in all, the night was wonderful. I am so glad to find out it WAS video taped!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 6 at
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