Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘dance’

Are you watching? Do you gloat when Lilly wags her finger at that Russian swimmer who has been accused of doping in the past? In and around the Olympic pool, shaming a competitor is allowed. Go ahead and try to hack into our emails Moscow, we’ll show you a thing or two when the games finish up and the medals are counted!

Do you cringe when the bicycles crash? What about archery, or volleyball on the beach, in bikinis? My all time favorite is diving – guys, girls synchronized pairs, or alone. How in the world do they enter the water with a tiny ripple after somersaulting like birds in the sky?

I’ve been reminded that in 1972 the world experienced a seismic shift for women when Title IX was passed into law in our country. Sen Birch Bayh of Indiana said this on the floor of the Senate:

“We are all familiar with the stereotype of women as pretty things who go to college to find a husband, go on to graduate school because they want a more interesting husband, and finally marry, have children, and never work again. The desire of many schools not to waste a ‘man’s place’ on a woman stems from such stereotyped notions. But the facts absolutely contradict these myths about the ‘weaker sex’ and it is time to change our operating assumptions.”

Title IX was too late for me. Graduating from high school in 1966 – yes our 50th reunion is coming right up – my class was on the cusp of the feminist movement. My friend Lee is ten years younger, yet she experienced discrimination in law school, one of very few women. You had to be tough in those days to last, like Hillary!

At my girls camp every summer I had racked up athletic prizes. Basketball was my favorite, and I was the one lone player, the “roving” one, allowed to run the full length of the court because they didn’t think girls could play like the boys. There was no future for me in sports however. In high school I was always trying out for plays, the drama department had stolen my heart. I had compartmentalized any talent I thought I had, not consciously, but summers were for sports. Sure some girls played after school, but I returned to the “real” world, where the Flapper had to work and so I had to take the bus home every day.

I thought about dance, ballet had been a big part of my life. The one time I performed that wasn’t part of a musical on stage, was in the gym as part of the Girl’s Athletic Association annual award ceremony. I didn’t get a medal of course, but I did choreograph and dance an interpretive number to “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Flower Drum Song. One PE teacher took pity on me, and encouraged me. Looking back, it seems ironic:

I adore being dressed in something frilly
When my date comes to get me at my place
Out I go with my Joe or John or Billy
Like a filly who is ready for the race

When I have a brand new hairdo
With my eyelashes all in curls
I float as the clouds on air do
I enjoy being a girl

I actually hate frilly. Moving on to my first year in college saw my first knee injury on a ski slope. Sitting on a chair at a law school mixer in a full leg cast, my first husband approached me. I should have known something was up; he didn’t dance himself. Washed up as a dancer, my dreams of being a super star on Broadway, a hoofer, were stalled.

So I did what every girl my age did, got married. The point is, we women of the late 60s couldn’t even dream of being super star athletes. Not then.

Today the “Final Five” USA Women gymnasts are super heroes, inspiring a whole new diverse generation of girls. And most importantly, all the women in Rio grew up with equal opportunities – Title IX was entrenched – whatever money went toward boy’s sports in public schools, had to be allocated to the girls too. In archery, tennis, golf, rowing, basketball, softball and of course swimming and diving.

Even though times they have changed, the media coverage of women in elite positions on the world stage hasn’t very much. I thought this was a provocative article – a little “sarcasm” if you will. Imagine covering a man the way some broadcasters talk about women. Maybe the world of male commentators thinks we are still waiting for our Joe or John or Billy?  It’s a good laugh if it doesn’t make you cry. “Congrats girl! Fiancé of former Miss California scoops his 25th medal” http://thetab.com/uk/2016/08/10/congrats-girl-fiance-former-miss-california-scoops-25th-gold-medal-13873     IMG_3652

 

Read Full Post »

Hold the applause and pass the champagne for our little coterie of writers in Cville. This past weekend I attended another writing workshop on Memoir at The Writer House. Our fearless leader, Sharon Harrigan, helped us dig into our past, crystalize our vision and discover a theme that might shape the story of a life. This town is a veritable estuary of literary types, it seems I have found my people!

Although I’m not crazy enough to think my life story gives me the right to run for President, for instance, I wondered if it’s worthy of a book, I thought that delving into my past could help me structure the fictional story I’ve been working on for years based on the life of my Flapper. You see, I didn’t really get to know my biological Mother until I moved in with her at the age of 12, and I never knew my birth Father. He died of a brain tumor when I was seven months old.

I could write a scene about the automobile accident three months later, on July Fourth weekend in 1949, our family’s Year of Living Dangerously, only through the eyes of my sister Kay. It might start like this scene in a drugstore in Scranton, PA:

Robert P. Norman’s name was emblazoned on the door and he was always happy to see us. I’m the oldest, and only girl at home, so I’m the sugar in his coffee. Only lately, Daddy was having trouble moving his left arm, and sometimes he had headaches, headaches that sent him stumbling towards his office in the back. I was heading there to see if he needed me when I heard my name.

She was fourteen at the time and is currently my living archive. She helped our Father pound chemicals into pills in the back of his pharmacy. After the accident, she was in a coma for a month. She had to care for me that summer and her brothers, and eventually the Flapper when she was discharged from the hospital, her dancer’s legs broken in so many places she would never walk normally again.

But first I had to get to know myself better. Sharon had us make a list of our quirks, which was a fun exercise and kept me busy jotting down things like:

  • “I need to keep my hair short, or I’ll twirl it all the time;”
  • “Small talk is painful, but I’m told I’m good at it;”
  • “Sleep will sometimes elude me for no particular reason;”
  • “I stop for stray dogs.”

I was getting discouraged, my quirks didn’t seem quirky enough. Then someone said we should ask a friend or family member to list our quirks. Genius!

“You have to load the dishwasher a certain way,” Bob said. Now that is true, and it did show up at the end of my list. I’ve even been known to return to a dishwasher only to reload it, if someone else was kind enough to “help” with the dishes.

I’m also pretty particular about hanging clothes out on a line. One of my very first memories is of getting stung by a bee under clouds of crisp white sheets floating above me on a clothesline.

And I love to dance. The Flapper signed me up for ballet at Phil Grassia’s studio in NJ. I chased a dream in high school and commuted to Martha Graham School in NYC to study modern dance. I continued to study all types of dance under Bill Bales at SUNY College at Purchase.

And when Bob, who never liked to dance, wouldn’t take me to our Junior Prom at sixteen, I asked our good friend Bernie. Because I was that girl who had two Mothers and was never afraid to ask for what I wanted. I guess that was pretty quirky in 1965.   Junior Prom 20151111

Read Full Post »

While I was driving home from Isle of Palms, I put Bob in charge of playing podcasts. Like most things Bob, he had an opinion. He’s not one to listen to doom and gloom, and so I was prepared for an upbeat playlist. When I heard my favorite singer/songwriter, Sting, start to talk, well I just had to listen! It was the TED Radio Hour and the subject was “The Source of Creativity.” http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/351538855/the-source-of-creativity

If you live now, or have ever lived with a creative person, you know the drill. They are dreamers, they are never lonely, they find meaning in ordinary things. When the Rocker was little, his fingers were always moving, tapping out an inner beat. Once he held the guitar, it became a part of him and followed him everywhere. The music that was in his head finally had an outlet – it could flow.

Sting talked about taking risks, about not being afraid to fail, and how children are just naturally this way until growing up sucks that courage, the creative impulse, out of us. I remember seeing awards on a bulletin board in our elementary school, mostly for being “quiet,” mostly to girls, and I had a premonition. Would my son flourish here? He was always moving, he loved to make noise!

Early hours spent delivering milk with his father gave Sting the solitude to dream about a life outside of his working class English suburb. He spent decades making music, a most prolific artist, until he felt the music die within him. For two years he didn’t write another song. To get his creative drive back, he returned to his childhood, and wrote an opera. You have to listen to the podcast.

So we can all still tap into that reservoir of creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert likened it to a moving walkway in an airport – we trudge along pulling our baggage behind us, and every now and then a walkway appears and it becomes much easier to write. That analogy resonated with me. I always had a deadline, so I needed to sit myself down and sharpen my keyboard. But sometimes, time would stand still, and something else took over my fingers. As if the picture, the words were in my head and my ability to write them down was effortless…I didn’t worry about grammar, or spelling. My inner editor was turned off.

Which is interesting because when Dr Charles Limb, an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins who runs the Music Cognition Lab,  studied the brains of jazz musicians in an MRI scanner – yes, while they played a keyboard – he found that the self-expressive,  creative parts of the brain light up and are on fire only when the pre-frontal cortex, the self-monitoring, critical part of our brain shuts down. That ability to disconnect is what gave us Bach! So we all have to be willing to fail in order to create, which is exactly what Sting said…

When the Love Bug started to sing “Let it Go” at the beach, I immediately had to download the song so that I could learn the words (I know I’m a bit late on this one parents) and we could improvise a dance to the tune. Because there is nothing better than channeling your inner child to rev up the creative impulse. Nothing.

Here is our talented artist, finally allowed to give her baby brother a bottle, and thinking of her next project!

IMG_5514

Read Full Post »

What goes around…

Underneath my 1966 high school yearbook picture is the caption, “Dover today, Broadway tomorrow.” It was good to have a friend on the yearbook staff, thank you Bess, but in my defense I did try out for every single play in high school. From Freshman year when I was a CanCan girl dancer in Oklahoma, to Senior year playing Adelaide to Bob’s Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, (Achoo) you just can’t make this stuff up. And whatever part of the right side of our brain that’s responsible for creativity, well that part was squared when the Rocker was born.

He would practice the violin while our Corgi howled right next to him. He spent hours filming stop-action cartoons in our garage. Later on, in middle school in the mid 90s, he would design websites for his friends. He started his first band with his buddy Alex around the same time. I was deep into filming dance aerobics workouts for our local cable channel, while Bob played old 60s music extremely loud in the background of the Rocker’s early life. In fact, Bob said the only way he could calm him down as an infant was to blast Led Zeppelin in the car.

So I am happy to announce that the Rocker is going back out on tour this week. He’ll be playing guitar with Nicole Atkin’s band http://nicoleatkins.com/home/ and his old friend Christopher will be on drums. They will share the stage with the Avett Brothers again, and open for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. My son will visit his sister in Nashville on the 16th when they play TN Music City Roots – they will also be filming for PBS to benefit the Nature Conservancy. http://musiccityroots.com/events/

He’ll be onstage for his birthday this summer, so chances are he’ll have a big crowd singing “Happy Birthday.” All the while working on The Parlor Mob’s reunion shows this Fall and scoring music for film on the road. http://www.davidjamesrosen.com Unfortunately, he’s going to miss his Grandma Ada’s second 90th birthday bash in NJ (the first was in Mexico), and I can’t tell you how many people want to sing and dance at her party!

Which makes me think about the Flapper, sneaking out of her bedroom window in Scranton, PA to dance all night to the Tommy Dorsey band. Later in the 20s, Tommy joined his brother Jimmy in a band they called the Scranton Sirens. Later still, as a dowager on Lake Minnetonka, my brother Mike had Cab Calloway play piano for our Mother. The rest of that jazz is history

…it comes around.

The Rocker was named after Sue’s father, and got off a plane from Mexico with Ms Cait to attend her funeral. I like to think he was her favorite cousin.    photo

 

Read Full Post »

A quick post about a documentary “Never Stand Still” that will be on PBS next Friday the 26th at 9 on PBS.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/dancing-at-jacob’s-pillow-never-stand-still/about-the-show/1756/

When we lived in the Berkshires, summertime meant we’d drive over to Jacob’s Pillow every week for an evening of astonishingly beautiful dance.

You may remember, I used to dance. First at the Martha Graham studio, and later I minored in dance at SUNY Purchase when Bill Bales was the Dean. When the Bride was little, I would dance in the Nutcracker when she was a little reindeer.

So it’s more than thrilling to let you know that a dear friend, Nan Honsa from Rumson, Imagehas produced this dance documentary with her husband. http://mpny.tv

I hope you tune in, and imagine the wall at the back stage opening up and the wind and the sounds of birds and insects coming through with the twilight. Imagine the music as the dancers float onto the stage.

375867512_640

Read Full Post »

The word for today on Dictionary.com is “Quacksalver.” I love it when I’m unfamiliar with a word so I eagerly clicked on its meaning:

Noun  1. a charlatan. 2. a quack doctor.
Origin: 
1570–80;  < early Dutch  (now kwakzalver )
Of course, quacksalver is onomatopoeic. Someone who is hawking his snake oil cure-all from the back of a pioneer wagon, someone who’s home made salve promises to do everything. Someone who is not who he appears to be, like Jay Gatsby.
Bob scooped me up on Mother’s Day from my self-induced TCM mom/alone/coma, and deposited me in our town’s newest movie theatre symposium. We didn’t see Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D version of The Great Gatsby, which was screening later in the evening, but we sat through 20 minutes of previews until F Scott Fitzgerald’s characters materialized onscreen in all their digitized glory. I’m so glad I waited until the next day, on the bike at the gym, to read one critic’s take on this classic American novel turned screenplay.
Fitzgerald coined the phrase, “The rich are very different from you and me,” and this was his most subtle way of proving the point. It was the Jazz Age, skirt lengths were going up while the price of bootleg liquor was going down. The reason the love story of Daisy and Jay has lasted so long is because it’s a pretty universal one. Boy meets girl, boy can’t have girl for a myriad of reasons (like class or clan differences) and chaos ensues. But more than a romance, it’s a morality play. Fitzgerald’s genius is in his elegiac prose:
“It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Gatsby creates an empire and holds lavish parties at his Long Island mansion with one thing in mind, winning Daisy back. But he didn’t go to Yale with Nick and Tom, and he didn’t graduate from Oxford or Cambridge. He will never fit in with this polo-playing crowd; Gatsby created an image of himself built on his shadow world of respectability – a precursor to the celebrity culture of today. Old money vs new money. Like Juliet or Zelda or Anna Karenina, Daisy Buchanan could never be his happy ending.
I was 23 in 1972, attending SUNY College at Purchase when I drove to one of those “cottages” in Rhode Island with a friend from the Dance Department to audition for the ballroom scene in The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. My friend Nadjia made the cut, they told me I “…didn’t look the part.” Little did they know that I was the daughter of a real Flapper, a Dime a Dance girl, who shimmied with Cab Calloway at a speakeasy. But then again, I didn’t know that either. My Mother kept a few secrets too.
When the Flapper was in her 80s, my brother Michael arranged for Cab Calloway to surprise her at a party on Lake Minnetonka. And I realized that my Mother must have felt very much the same way I did my whole life, the way Fitzgerald felt:
i.2.s-great-gatsby-farrow-redford-dicaprio-mulligan
“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

Read Full Post »

It’s been a most intriguing weekend so far. Our anthology of stories from bloggers around the country, “Tangerine Tango,” arrived in a sweetly smiling brown box. My essays are sprinkled in among other women who manage to find the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of everyday life. My brother, Dr Lynn, has already downloaded a Kindle version. Thanks Jim!
http://www.amazon.com/Tangerine-Tango-Women-Writers-Slices/dp/1479125318/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349230395&sr=1-3&keywords=tangerine+tango

And the Bride has been published too. Remember that child she took care of right before the wedding, when she was on a toxicology rotation? Remember the brown recluse spider bite? It was a heartbreaking moment for all of us who knew; wedding shenanigans were immediately put into the proper perspective. I was on another platform back then, but her paper just came out in their professional journal this month, Annals of Emergency Medicine. I am so very proud of her.
http://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(11)01926-3/abstract

I wish I knew that the Dalai Lama, who was here visiting Cville, had scheduled a talk with medical professionals at UVA. Bob said the tickets sold out in 2 minutes. I met a woman who heard him speak about being vulnerable, about bringing compassion into their relationships with patients. “His holiness emphasized the importance of paying attention, being mindful, and giving a patient a sense of hope, peace and satisfaction with their life, especially at the moment of death.” http://www.nbc29.com/story/19794898/dalai-lama-charlottesville

Although I missed his lecture, I bought his book “Beyond Religion.” The Dalai Lama writes: “The fundamental problem, I believe, is that at every level we are giving too much attention to the external material aspects of life while neglecting moral ethics and inner values.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/02/beyond-religion-dalai-lam_n_1125892.html

And I attended a half-day Yoga/Dance Workshop. It was exhilarating to be in the company of women who could create peacefully and nurture our inner artist. We talked about the difference between setting goals and having an “intention” for our time together – one is future-based while the other is grounded in the here and now. How soon we adults forget to play together. And this morning’s Love Bug update? Learning to play!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: