Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Basketball


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Basketball
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Only ten persons are allowed on the gleaming
dance-floor at a time, though thousands may
crowd edges of the rectangle and loom in galleries.
Also, two or three jesters dresssed in stripes
may intermingle, interrupt, blow whistles,
and make humorous gestures. The ten dancers
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improvise in clothes not dissimilar to underwear.
The ritual expresses a bifurcated attitude toward
a brown sphere. One person for instance may
desire the sphere so much as to reach, jump, dive,
beg, or flail for it; may hold it close, even dance
with it. An instant later, the same person may
cast the sphere away as if it were accursed or
diseased. Clearly, the drama partly concerns love,
possession, covetousness, fear, and fickleness.
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There are two symbolic window-panes, with
hoops and nets attached to them, at either
end of the rectangle. These installations
are supplemented by line-drawings on
the dance-floor. It is all art: set-decoration,
of interest but not crucial. Often the brown
sphere falls through those hoops and nets,
and such an accident seems to affect the crowd.
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The whole activity seems to be a privileged,
ceremonial performance much obsessed with
height and time. Indeed, a clock looms
high above the dancers, well out of reach;
a sense of haste often pervades the dance.
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Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom
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