Blossoms announce the season
With joy and achoos
Blossoms announce the season
With joy and achoos
Sunny but wind chill,
Who knows how to dress in this
In between weather?
A.k.a. “Spring’s Dance” as suggested by Sean or “Return of the Geese” as suggested by Steve:
The wobbly song of geese return behind slate grey clouds of an inland sea
Branches are fuzzy with halos of buds, except the brave green needles of the pine tree
Clicking coffee cups echo up the stairwell and reroasted lunch unmildens lazy air
The sun has yet come out to play, but paved roads exist now to reality.
I honestly don’t know what to say except I’m sad Easter break is over. I couldn’t even come up with a title so if someone has a suggestion please let me know. I don’t know if I’m just unsatisfied to go back to school or dreading the hectic run to the end of the year, but mornings are so different when you know you have a full day to do whatever you want.
Reference from the NaPoWriMo website:
Today I challenge you to write a ruba’i. What’s that? Well, it’s a Persian form — multipe stanzas in the ruba’i form are a rubaiyat, as in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Basically, a ruba’i is a four-line stanza, with a rhyme scheme of AABA.
Thanks for reading,
23 songs for a white chill mood with a warm hot chocolate and happy heart. They never fail to put a smile on my face, happy easy listening:
Sous le Ciel de Paris – Jill Barber
Cecilia – Simon and Garfunkel
Junk of the Heart – The Kooks
Baby It’s Cold Outside – any version
Benny and the Jets – Elton John
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
Pick Me Up – Hollerado
The Girl from Ipanema – Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto
Come on Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
For So Long – Andy Gibbs
The Golden Age – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
Wouldn’t it Be Nice – The Beach Boys
Jammin – Bob Marley
September – Earth Wind and Fire
Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
The Lazy Song – Bruno Mars
Masque Nada – Sergio Mendes
Solace – Scott Joplin
Blackbird – The Beatles
Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band
You And I – Ingrid Michaelson
Oxford Comma – Vampire Weekend
Go Outside – The Cults
Yes, the styles are completely jumbled. But I like variety when I’m listening to music. Inspired by “The Modern Philosopher”, who like most of Canada, is experiencing Christmas weather again, at a very wrong time. Let me know what you think if you decide to have a listen!
Thanks for reading,
Chilly winds under an overcast day
Chase the sprouting hopes of spring away
But the rain bearers they shall also blow by
There is another sky
As obstacle shadows into vision set
By failing light, don’t you forget
Dawn after dusk follow in line
There is another sunshine
Endless silent fields across the horizon
On walks beside the restless waves of Poseidon
The uncertainty makes the heart sorest
Yet here is a little forest
Its leaves are ever green,though frost it has seen
Within faded forests are unfading flowers
Tended by bright bee hum and a patient some
One just like you. Into the garden, come!
This is based on Emily Dickinson’s poem “There is Another Sky,” which contains so many beautiful phrases, I was moved to write with it instead of Cesar Vallejo’s rather sombre poem in the official prompt. I stayed with the theme of optimism in this version, and have a feeling I will be reading this as food for the soul in the future. Thank you Ms Dickinson.
And thanks for reading,
It’s not any day you meet and perform with over a hundred fellow dancers from 10 different countries. Actually, it was a week. So naturally, I have an urge to write about this unforgettable experience. Amazing. Inspiring. Awesome. Enlightening. Bomb-diggity. These words can only begin to describe what hosting a giant, international ballet festival at our school was like.
Nearly everyone arrived early on the first day for orientation. It was a confusing ordeal at first, as students wandered around trying to find their partners who may or may not still be in bed. Or, having found them, realized their partners had already been taken on a tour meaning they were left feeling quite useless, standing around like a lamppost. My partner was a pretty, Indian girl who will be in the corps of the San Francisco Ballet next year and who had no trouble engaging in conversation, which made it easy for me. From this first introduction, I realized how many different experiences were being brought by everyone, and was sure it would be an interesting week!
Being the second of this tetra-annual event (think Olympics, except with dancing, and a celebration instead of a competition), we had an arsenal of organizational experience that we launched into some virtually foolproof plans. Firstly, each of us was partnered with a student from a visiting school, and each school had a contact person. It was a system of relaying any concerns between student, teacher, and artistic director of the schools without multiple people trying to fix the same problem at the same time in their own way. Binders were prepared containing weekly schedules, pamphlets on public transportation and restaurants in the area, cell phone numbers of every participant, even directions on how to get to every studio. Food was also stocked up with snacks of fruit, yogourt, cheese, and crackers and tables laid out to fill “Town Square” as we call our school’s main hall, where 180 people would eat every day. It surprised a few of us when visitors exclaimed, “Do you get to eat this every day?!” pointing to the row of hot food and salad bar.
We started each day with a ballet class, each one with a different teacher and with a different set of dancers. Throughout the week I was scheduled to be taught by teachers from the School of the Hamburg Ballet, Dutch National Ballet Academy, New Zealand School of Ballet, and Houston Ballet Academy. To think that to take this week of classes otherwise I would need to travel across the globe! Although each class was set differently, with a variety of teaching style and focus (for example, upper body expression, or petit allegro which is quick beats and jumps) it was interesting to see that many corrections were the same, just told in a different way – dance truly is a a universal language.
In the first few days, “Traditionally Timeless” was rehearsed: each school would perform a piece of repertoire that reflected their culture over the course of two programs. Each was the most exhilarating three hours I have never seen on stage. It was amazing to see everyone represent themselves and their school with so much integrity, and the diversity of styles and skills opened my eyes to how much more I have to explore in my art form. Counter-balancing acts, pure classical virtuosity, abstract, theatrical, and humorous contemporary, and impressive shows of strength in pas-de-deux – the shows had it all!
In total, there were 18 schools that participated and we had the privilege with mingling with what is, literally, the next generation of the ballet world. As mentioned, our daily ballet classes had new combinations of dancers every day, so we danced with the world, did a bit of unavoidable “sizing-up”, and collected lots of names that would surely pop up again in the dance world. It was also good practice for auditions to have to jump in and learn a class with people you hardly knew.
Another set of programs was performed in the second portion of the festival; these were named “Fast Forward” (they really liked the alliteration, didn’t they!) which featured student choreographic works as well as a live streaming project. These all had international casts, with a random scramble of dancers that had learned the dance through videos from their home country. And there were approximately four days to put it all together.
“Stream” was a 20 minute fusion of classical and contemporary styles and used projections of water and the dancers from Amsterdam on two big screens on either side of the stage. White was worn so that images would be projected onto bodies when people were dancing behind the screens. It really was a cool effect. It is amazing how technology can enable dancers from across the ocean to put on a show together with a lag time of .0-something seconds. It was a big achievement on the part of the choreographers, stage crew, cameramen, technology crew, and everyone in between.
We met many modern dancers from Juilliard, Palucca Schule, and Codarts who impressed all of us with their movement quality and style. It was improvisation as we had never seen before. And of course, they were all so nice. We got to know this cast of 35 or so people quite well since we had “Stream” rehearsal nearly every day. It was fun to learn how to communicate through language barriers and shocking for many of my friends who realized many Europeans not only speak their native tongue but also speak better English than most from North America, excluding their accents. I feel a lot of the times we are too casual with speaking properly, but that’s another topic. Other than the Cubans who spoke almost no English, we exchanged many words with everyone and nevertheless gained a valuable, international network of dance connections.
Our main socializing time was lunch hour. I had always told myself I would be the person plopping myself down at a table of foreigners, but I learned it’s not as easy as it looks. For the most part, students from the same school stuck together, so it could be a little intimidating. What I also learned is that having the courage to put yourself, as an individual, out there seems friendlier than approaching others in a group. By the end of the week, we were all quite comfortable with starting spontaneous conversation with anybody and could only wish that we had more time to hang out as our days were packed with dancing and rehearsals.
Wrapping up the week was a conference that was titled “Creative Challenge” after its topic, since “conference” seems to bring up the wrong sorts of ideas to young dancers (you pictured stern faces jotting down notes in an auditorium, didn’t you?). It started off with an interview with world-renowned modern choreographer, Wayne McGregor, and our main speaker, former Principal of the Royal Ballet, Deborah Bull. It was so cool to hear him speak about the projects he had done and how he built his company, but I don’t know if it was fatigue or the extremely hot temperature of a packed theatre, many of us started nodding off after 45 minutes, which was too bad because it is such a special opportunity to be sitting with two significant advocates of the dance world.
So the break-out sessions came at a good time. We split into groups in different studios to brainstorm ideas for a dance project that: a) is performed in an unconventional venue (meaning outside proscenium theatres) and b) collaborates with young artists from various disciplines (ex. composers, costume designers, filmmakers, poets, painters). Due to the economic times and the trend that companies are hiring older and more mature dancers, developing entrepreneurial skills is valuable to create opportunities for oneself. The projects are to be broadcasted through the internet and a hub designed so we can update each other on our progress and learning experiences.
The idea is also a way to expand the reaches of the art form to the public since theatre tickets can be considered elitist, especially when it comes to price. Our group extended the discussion to how the audience can become a participant instead of observer, and to work with “non-performers” as well, perhaps construction workers, the blind, or mathematicians. Everyone had different ideas and was enthusiastic about the new endeavour, which is good, since our director was worried it might have been too far “out there” for the current ballet community.
Ms Bull said something that really resonated with a lot of us, “You may think of yourselves as students that are about to enter the dance world as professional artists in companies. But actually, you are the dance world.” I just thought, “Wow, I am a part of this family that I’ve always envisioned to strive for. And I am a part of the future.” When the conference was wrapped up, a roaring standing ovation rose and our director performed a spontaneous dance of joy to the cheers and hoots of two hundred young dancers, giving the documentary crew quietly filming in the corner the exciting footage they had been waiting for. It felt like the beginning of a revolution and I hope we always remember the indescribable solidarity of that moment.
If that didn’t wrap up the week with a bang, the closing party sure did! We danced the night away, simultaneously introduced ourselves and said farewell to people we had or hadn’t met yet, and even saw some of the top directors and teachers of these highly prestigious schools break it down on the floor! A slideshow of photos from class, rehearsal, and performances played and there were tables of food: desserts of macaroons, cupcakes, fruit salad, and tarts; a bar for the legally of age (saw a director sneak his student a drink – very funny), and savoury treats of sliders, shishkabobs, cheeses, you get the idea. It was a fun evening, bittersweet, but only slightly thanks to the wonder that is Facebook. We joke that we are set for life from our connections all across the globe now.
It is hard to sum up my thoughts for this festival. I met so many wonderful people and was inspired by every single one to always be the best artist and person I can be. We shared many memories in the seven days the world gathered together in Toronto, and I feel very lucky to have been a part of a learning experience that I will treasure all my life. It will be funny if the t-shirts we received become rare collectibles one day; maybe we will recognize each other from them, or the grey booties that we also got, when our paths meet again.
April – May 2013
Thanks for reading,
was a thunderstorm with a high of twenty-two.
Stretching in a studio anticipating
the song of raindrops to slide down glass walls.
They were right about the high of twenty-two,
But yellow light streamed inside instead,
Too bright we reluctantly put down the blinds.
In a building you can’t feel a high of twenty-two,
A little walk to the store to buy pairs of pointe shoes
For rehearsals that stretch further than sunshine.
At day’s end hoped it’d still be a dry, high of twenty-two,
Sigh of relief stepping out into fresh air
Body had been programmed to seize up for winter’s chill.
Skin finally sees the sun again, in a high of twenty-two,
Cool breezes aerate fibres of clothing
While the clouds are patiently waiting.
Thank you Mr. Weatherman for reporting the good news,
But it’s nature who let us have a a high of twenty-two
Spring weather makes me so excited for summer and spending time outside. April showers bring May flowers, so pour on, rains of Toronto, because I can’t wait to see green on the trees like the grass. It looks like we’ll be rotating around our seasonal wardrobes very soon…
Thanks for reading,
Sleet drops in buckets
I forgot my umbrella
Must I go outside?
A hooded man sits content
On the street sipping hot tea
“Someone else is happy with less than what you have.” -Unknown
(More than one third of the way there!)
Thanks for reading,
The Big Blue is in front of me
Most beautiful species I ever did see
I grip the net tightly between my hands
Homemade and woven by individual strands
From generations collected of silkworm line
I step cautiously, keep quiet focus in mind
Raise the net high, ready for a swift sweep…
Watching the butterfly sway.
Take off in a flutter, into the clear sky
I let it fly away,
And wave an imaginary goodbye.
“I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.” ― Jeffrey McDaniel
Just for fun footnote: The name of the poem comes one of my favourite childhood shows, Arthur. In an episode entitled “Binky Barnes, Wingman”, Binky becomes obsessed with butterflies and vows to catch one he calls “Big Blue”, who always escapes, satirizing the scenario of Captain Ahab and Moby Dick.
Thanks for reading,