July 19, 2006
My feet are a callin' me to start dancing again.....lindy dancing that is. I try to dance everyday but its not necessarily lindy, with a partner and most definitely is not swinging to the best of the best in a natural park surrounded by trees, runners and cyclists.
Lindy-in-the-Park on Sunday mornings in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park has been going on for awhile now, but I haven't been since I moved here. Check out this fabulous shot by David Wong.
July 10, 2006
On the SF Ballet & Dance
Tonight, my French pals gathered for a networking and cultural event at Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley in Redwood City, CA. They know how to do things right - the food is always a cut above other events, the wine just right and the after discussion is always alive.
Last time I attended one of these, I met the premier wine grower of Opus. And then voila, after his presentation, we sampled and then sampled some more :-)
Tonight, DBF: Muriel Maffre talks about her life in dance, where she is the principal dancer in the San Francisco Ballet.
She has created, premiered, and performed roles in ballets by artistic Director/choreographer Tomasson, and by Ashton, Balanchine, Bournonville, Forsythe, Morris, Petipa, Ratmansky, Robbins, Tudor and Welch.
To attend these events, it is $30 unless you are a member of the French American Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco, in which case there's a $5 discount.
June 29, 2006
France in the Summer
A new Parisian pal of mine talks about France in July and August, Paris mostly but because I asked him to. When I lived in Europe, I didn't make it to Paris often enough, typically it was to stock up on wine or shop.
He writes about Marselle, the World Cup, and the response to it, beautifully giving me a visual to remember about European summers.....so much so that I easily travel back in time and remember so many wonderful moments about living and traveling there.
On Marseille: I'm here in a very popular neighborhood with a very large number of "Cafés-Terrasses" which are full of people crying and jumping... simultaneously, there is a strike by the local garbage-men. When will Marseille be a clean city?
Paris without cars. Paris without Parisians. Paris without stress. That's Paris in August. So quiet. So smooth. So hot.
A kind of mirror. Good moment to think about ourselves. The weight of a great history appears so clearly against an individual. We have to be proud. That's an invitation to innovate. History as a gift for another future, for other things, for improvisations, for games.
You know: in France, all things end in songs. But also in dances. As soon as sun appears, it's possible to dance under it in the quays of the Seine river at the end of the day until nine or ten at night.
There is a large place for young people (rap, rock'n roll , ...) and another great place for tango dancing. Just in front of the Arabic World Institute and the "Saint-Louis" Island. Paris downtown. And, because all serious things in France are business-less, the aristocratic touch of poetry.
I have to keep reminding myself that English is his second or third language. Yet, he has captured a few fabulous moments of France in the summer, at least for me. Thanks for the dance down Parisian streets on a hot July day.
March 28, 2006
I had an informal Tango lesson last weekend, followed by a discussion about dance, one's connection to dance and how that translates over into your view of the world.
Tango is fascinating, yet as I thought about tango's movement' versus swing, which I've been doing for years, I am still more inspired by swing. Yet, perhaps its because I don't know enough about tango and we naturally gravitate to what we are more accustomed to rather than something which is harder to relate to.
My justification, however was connected to personality and energy, meaning 'swing' says more about who I am as an individual than tango ever could. So I thought.
Swing is all about energy, it's both an 'open and a closed' dance, and is extremely playful, whereas tango is mostly closed and you are nearly always connected at the hip, but torso-to-torso.
My friend Maxwell, who is a top notch west coast swing dancer, has been studying tango for the past three years and while he still loves other forms of dance, he asked me an interesting question.
What other dance is this physically connected, where you can feel the breath and energy of your partner throughout the dance?
Think about it. The waltz perhaps, but it has 'open moments,' and it is harder to 'feel' each movement, even if your partner is a strong leader. Cha-cha and the Rumba are open dances and while Salsa and Samba are connected, they are more rythmic, fast moving and almost at an angle rather than torso-to-torso. (based on my experiences).
So, as I closed my eyes, I quickly learned that I could feel when and where he was going to move me before it happened, mainly due to the ever so subtle energy shifts in his body. Like most experiences that are worth treasuring, when you move your head out of the way, replace it with heart and simplicity, the experience moves from great to truly remarkable.
The first word that came to mind was deliberate. Rather than dishing me move after move (for techies, I could replace this with feature after feature), the tango experience seemed to be more about 'movement' rather than the move.
In other words, walk me 'deliberately' and 'passionately' around the room; the combined experience is remarkable.
With grace and intelligence, and at times, precision. Without exchanging a word, I can read you, feel you, understand you. Yes, remarkable.
While there's definitely a rush to feeling the spray rise above me as my slalom ski cuts into the water below me, and feeling the snow hit me on both sides as I speed down a mountain, dance is without a doubt, the art that reminds me what it means to 'feel alive' more than anything else I've ever experienced.
February 22, 2006
On African Issues & Dance
Following the scientists and physicists on this year's TED stage, the Children of Uganda follow. Category? Science, sure. Reform, sure. Making a difference, sure. Entertainment and Dance, sure. Most of all, inspiring.
Whenever you have a flux of children, with eager and innocent eyes, kind souls, and inquisitive minds, you can't help but melt and go to a different place, a more mellow and reflective place, a quieter and happier place.
I spent a chunk of time in Uganda (mostly by foot) close to ten years ago. The country was still in conflict and yet, what an amazing place. Unlike the early days when China opened their doors to the rest of the world, the people of Uganda were not as indifferent to outsiders; moreso, they were eager to meet new people, share and learn.
AIDS is still a huge issue in the area; one obvious goal of the organization is to support children with HIV or living with HIV-positive widowed mothers, as well as orphanages.
Children of Uganda also sponsors the education of Ugandan children abroad with its U.S. Scholarship Program and produces an award-winning dance troupe featuring children enrolled in its programs who tour internationally to raise funds and increase awareness of AIDS and its impact on children.
Photos from behind the scenes (before entering the TED stage) to follow later in my posts.
December 29, 2005
I Dance, Therefore I Am.....
I have ALWAYS loved this saying......I Dance, Therefore I Am. Almost as much as I love Dance as if No one was watching......I subscribe to both.
What a beautiful write, a beautiful read. In Wired (yes Wired....), they quote Kafka in a letter he wrote to Milena: "One can think about someone far away and one can hold on to someone nearby; everything else is beyond human power. Writing letters, on the other hand, means exposing oneself to the ghosts, who are greedily waiting precisely for that. Written kisses never arrive at their destination; the ghosts drink them up along the way."
How beautiful --- and sad is that? Thanks for including it in the piece, but then I lose connection on the reference to this ghostliness reference, which "is also the hazard of computing..." Yet, sadly another part of me relates more than I want it to.......
But then he brings me back. I like this guy. He weaves Brian Eno into the picture who was quoted in Wired in 1995 as saying, "Do you know what I hate about computers? The problem with computers is that there is not enough Africa in them. This is why I can't use them for very long. Do you know what a nerd is? A nerd is a human being without enough Africa in him or her."
WOW, am I LOVING this piece. I have a ton of Africa in me (always more than computers) and lately, I think computers have been winning. I'm not quite a nerd, but have grown boring and less passionate (okay, only slightly). Can't take passion out of a girl, a writer or a natural. Yet computers try. And are trying. Know what I'm talking about?
He gives us references to explain PRECISELY what he means by this. Great writer whoever you are. "The now rather than deferred gratification? Spontaneous expression rather than planning? The concrete rather than the abstract? Will Africa always be these things? Are we, by using "Africa" as shorthand for these things, helping condemn it to failure?"
My book about Africa (physically and the deferred gratification and expression part) remains on hold. But not forever.
Always DANCE as if no one is watching. More importantly, never forget to dance. More Africa, less computers please. (I'll take that straight up, without milk, without the cherry, just without anything extra please.....)
October 17, 2005
Capacitor is performing at the Project Artaud Theater in San Francisco from October 20-30. Synthesizing dance with new circus, innovative props, and interactive media, Capacitor aims to send you on a journey through the layers of Earth into the Core.
August 04, 2005
Even West Coast Swing-Outs are Different
By West Coast Swing-Outs, I don't mean West Coast Swing - I mean Swing-Outs in California. They're not unique because 'its a different style of swing dancing on the west coast necessarily,' but because the venues are so different.
For someone who used to integrate dance into if not her daily life, certainly her weekly life, I felt like I was on foreign soil last night. Time to get out and swing-out more I guess.
So how different? It's not news that Silicon Valley is surrounded by geeks, particularly at a South Bay event and where else can you dance with a laser developer, a chip guy, five software engineers, a guy in a Sun golf shirt and one with the word geek on his upper right pocket -- all in one hour. There were also fashion and hollywood magazines thrown around tables and lying on couches. (definitely not an East Coast 'Swing' thing)
Verbal communication may 'always' be engaging, but their swing-outs certainly are. The best line all night......when I apologized for not 'smoothly' following a lead, one such geek said, "there are no mistakes, there's only Jazz."
Here here. Imagine moving your body to these guys all night.
June 25, 2005
The reason for the event was to officially launch the Ubercool global event series, which are by-invitation only “trend parties” that will now travel to New York and Miami in 2005, with Los Angeles, London, Shanghai and Las Vegas scheduled in 2006.
Ubercool’s mission is to find the most outstanding examples of products that seize a trend and ride the wave to ultimate success. Ubercool media and event properties are analyzed and produced by Michael, whose mission it is to show people how to create superior products and services that leverage changes in business, lifestyle and technology.
The event itself was very chic, with people roaming around in 'trendy garb' enjoying martinis and the fabulous appetizers, and modern dancers who scattered themselves along the edge of the outside courtyard.
The presentation included dance demos which spanned from the Victorian era to 1920's Jitterbug to the Electronic Age, all of which exemplified the change in trends and culture over the years. It also portrayed just how fast-paced our life has become, and how much stimuli we now need to be inspired (as a society). I would also add -- less connected.
If you look at the closeness of the waltz and intensity of the gaze between both parties involved, then the Jitterbug, which is faster and while still a 'couple dance,' less connected. When we watch electronic, hip hop and rap, it's all about the individual for the most part and we're not connected at all. Yet, in the last couple of years, tango has been on the rise, so perhaps we are starving for 'close connection' once again.
We also saw a fabulous tap dance demonstration outside in the courtyard; some people hung onto every move, while others chatted inside the gallery, surrounded by fabulous contemporary art and flower presentations. Photos to follow.
December 10, 2004
Wanting to Move in Oakland
One of the nice things about being a newcomer in a place, is that people love to show you their favorite restaurant, bar, bistro or 'hood.' It's a great way to learn about new areas of the city.
Last night, Gato Barbieri was on stage; their head saxophonist was leading the way in brightly colored attire, a loud red scarf and dark sunglasses. Fabulous show - my only quirk with jazz clubs is that there's never enough room to dance nor does the protocol allow it.
When you're really connected and at one with the music, the most natural thing for your body to do is to move. And when I move, my feet follow. Then, I'm energized and in this absolutely fabulous zone I never want to leave.