Archive for March, 2013

Oh Cincinnati, how happy I am to be back on your firm, yet comfortable couch with a nice ale nearby. After riding shotgun through one of the worst driving experiences I’ve had – 25mph through a snowstorm that started somewhere near Columbus and ended at Kings Island – I am content to be home. I know, I know – that was Sunday, but still…a snowstorm. On the cusp of April? Color me meh with flecks of traumatized. Should I mow the lawn or snowblow it? Who knows?

Back in the world, back to the business of life, back to the keyboard.

People…for some things, the right words just haven’t been invented yet. You think you know them all, but then a thing happens, and you have to take a moment to try to string together the best syllables that you have at your disposal. Even when you know they won’t be enough. Even when a really long, snowy car ride gives you a few extra minutes to think. Then you still take another day. Not enough.

Last Saturday night, the husband & I pulled out the finery and headed out, once again, to the Cincinnati Ballet. You may recall, I put this on the calendar earlier this month and was really looking forward to the George Balanchine centerpiece Prodigal Son. As infamous as ‘Prodigal’ is in the Balanchine repertoire, I’d not seen it performed before. Pair that up with the intriguing preview of Extremely Close, my guy, and two of my best gal pals who were joining us out on the town – for me, it was an excitement cocktail.

As we took our seats, there were the feathers. Floating ever so gently down, from rafters to stage. Knowing they were there for a reason, I gave myself a moment to let them pull me in. To feel them as much as to see them. Extremely Close would be up first, and right on cue of dimming lights – my dancecrush, Patric Palkens is the first we see dashing onto the stage. Two others follow and, in a complete contrast to the gentle calm of the floating feathers, the three are moving fast! Chains of movement that come together and break apart rapidly. The music, fast-paced piano by Philip Glass and Dustin O’Halloran, leaves no room for a misstep or hesitation. All in all, 8 dancers break into pairings and trios amidst 3 mobile white panels which mirror the push-and-pull tension of the physicality going on around them.

It is about a third of the way into this performance that I cock my head to the right, and the clarity of it all comes crashing down on me. When I saw the preview of the piece, I thought I understood it – though I was a little confused by the “relaxed aggression” description used in the Q&A session. I thought I had it. But oh…now…at least for me, something has become so unexpectedly clear. Something I have not seen in any of the descriptions I’ve read.

What I am feeling, this complex inhale of energy, is Balanchine – but not Balanchine. It is a study of contrasts – stage lights at the back light up subtly enough to create shadow. The stark white panels provide contrast to the dark costuming so the dancers stand out. There are transitions done in slow silence which play against the rapid piano syncopation. What seems so simple to the eye in set design & costuming is contrasted heavily against the alluring and complex choreography.  These conceptual contrasts are the hallmarks of Balanchine! Whether it is the intent or not, this is what I see – and the unadulterated genius of it sets me spinning. Alejandro Cerrudo hasn’t missed a single opportunity in this incredible piece to mesmerize and conflict his audience. To compliment Balanchine (seriously, go google clips of The Four Temperaments) and at the same time be unique. SO ELEGANT. Every little detail is JUST SO ELEGANT. This moment of clarity was where I lost all my right words. I think I actually heard them hit the floor and roll away. I am spun.

Also notable in ‘Extremely Close’ are Janessa Touchet, James Cunningham, Sirui Liu, and Maizyalet Velazquez. Though, to be honest, I call them out more because their sections were my favorite parts as much as any other reason – because everyone was amazing. Honestly, there is not a single spot on this visual masterpiece which did not entrance me. It is a contender for being my favorite ballet. Ever.

Following EC was the World Premiere of Concerto #4, choreographed by Cincinnati Ballet’s own Devon Carney. Following the themes of contrast and Balanchine, as intensely carnal as EC was, ‘Concerto’ is light, airy and innocent. Virgin. It is happiness via Bach and pointe shoes. Perhaps an homage to Divertimento No. 15 or Jewels. Again, Balanchine, but not Balanchine, though the influence here is more direct than Cerrudo’s.

Finally, we get to the actual Balanchine choreography in Prodigal Son – or do we? Here is the crux of the thing. The flirtation that is driving me mad. One of the most unique features of Prodigal is that it tells a story – a feature for which George Balanchine wasn’t known. At least the GB works with which I am most familiar do not bog down in details of fables. There are some others out there, but they are not the most common. Balanchine is about music and movement entwined. That’s it. So, Prodigal Son, in the very nature of its story telling continues the thread – THIS IS BALANCHINE. But Balanchine, in this work, is not yet the Balanchine we know so well. All of the revolutionary methods are there, but wrapped up in story. Similarly, in this work, we see a Cervilio Miguel Amador that we thought we knew. When you think he can’t get any more amazing, it’s as if he channels some inner daredevil that flings him up to the topmost height – just a little further than where we thought he could go. I would be remiss if I did not mention how the entire audience around me gasped when he ran up the table, sure he would fall – or held their breath at the crucifixion imagery he presents stripped down of all his possessions. Likewise, Ms. Sarah Hairston – girrrrrl, you made some people blush. I might have been one of them. For all the subtle visceral pleas of Extremely Close, Prodigal Son is unflinchingly open about the sexuality between the son and the seductress.  Yet, somehow, in all of this unabashed passion, there is the comic relief of the “drinking companions”.  More contrasts – subtle v. open, passionate v. comical. It leaves you so torn. How were you just laughing with Amador a moment in the pub when now your heart bleeds at the sound of yet another knee-strike on the stage as he drags himself home, where – with a nod to Devon Carney in the role of the father, he is unexpectedly welcome? How?

In the final moments of Prodigal Son, a single white feather comes drifting down from the sky. Whether that was intentional or not, the timing is perfect. Poetically, we are where we began with the contrast of floating calm against this intense scene in one small motion. As it strikes the ground, son & father dim. The performance is done.

Oh. my. God. Yes, loves, that was me and my crew on our feet in front of the tech box upstairs applauding like mad.

Every single time I venture out to the ballet, it is better than the last. The ballet’s next events include the Club B benefit on April 20th and Peter Frampton and the Cincinnati Ballet Live on April 26th & 27th. Go! You have got to go!

More flashbacks to the Opening Day parade last year…the City wecomed Mat Latos (#55) & his lovely wife Dallas to our favorite team. I believe that’s Nick Masset occupying the drop-top next to Mr. Latos.

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So, last night was one of those nights where surreal meets real. 

You see, my internet family (that’s you) is a bit surreal to me (that’s me). How I can not only be friends with, but get support from,  a group of people which are spread across the globe, most of which I have never met, and most of whom I will never meet, is fascinating stuff to my analytical brain.

Seriously, when I get up at 4:35 in morning to dress for bootcamp – and put a tweet out there, or read other athletes lacing up for workout, it’s like we’re in it together. A community. That ‘good morning!’ back that early says ‘You’re not alone. We’re both doing this.” Somehow – it makes the effort easier. Somehow special.

You early morning workout tweeters – I love you. You mid-day lunch scavengers – I love you. You gotta go get coffee now desperate clutch on the mug – gers (not muggers, I can’t love the muggers. I’m agnostic.) tweeting out your java love – I love you. You’re my tribe.  Same goes for bloggers and facebook groups – we’re community. A family of sorts – but the good kind of family that never visits and usually doesn’t judge. My tribe. You’re all incredible (that’s you again).

Buuuuuuut…there’s always that little niggling in the back of the head that says…are those real people out there? Maybe this is like the matrix. 

I am soooo completely digressed…get there Cynthia! Last night, I got to meet surreal.

Jenny Lawson, aka “The Bloggess” – She’s NOT THE MATRIX!!! She’s real! I met her at her book signing at Joseph-Beth yesterday and she’s totally, awesomely real. (I checked for power cords when I walked around the back and she didn’t have any sticking out of her, so I’m sure. 100% human!) (Wait. She could be wifi.)(But I don’t think so. There was no humming, whirring or buffering. And I was standing pretty close.) (So, human. Definitely human.) (Don’t quote me on that.)

Anywaaay…J-Blo…that’s what I call her now, came to Cincinnati on her tour for “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” – her memoir. Which I haven’t read. Embarrassing to admit, but I haven’t. I love her blog…if you don’t read her blog, you should totally go do that (you, again). Then her book came out and I was going to buy her book, but then I had this moment where I was all ‘wait, what if she tours again, I should wait and see if she tours’ and then I wanted to wait for the paperback, but then I didn’t want to buy the paperback before the tour, because you know, if I did then that would jinx her coming to Cincinnati. So essentially, it was for you all that I didn’t buy the book until last night. At the tour. To get Jenny Lawson to Cincinnati. Jinx-free. You’re welcome. *breeeathe*

Jenny is not only 100% human – she is 100% AWESOME! She’s in person, exactly what you would think based on her writing. Gracious. Funny. Humble. Cusses more than I do. Added to my girlcrush list.

Somehow she managed to keep a smile through a VERY, VERY LONG line of people and be charming to me even though I was towards the back of the line and it was growing late.  And I got to say something I have wanted to say to her – a THANK YOU for being such an open advocate for depression and mental illness.  I’ve never experienced either of those myself – to my knowledge – but Jenny Lawson’s frank discussion of her personal battles and humorous advocacy for our human struggles has helped me understand and have more compassion for those to whom, as she would say, “depression lies”.

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I’ll also mention, that Joseph-Beth does author visits pretty frequently. I’ve seen another of my writing heroes – Jon Katz – there. If you’re local to me, or one of their locations, you should check out their events calendars. They do some nice readings and signings. And they have a bar.

Current stubborn love…

Posted: 03/20/2013 in Uncategorized
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Updated the running playlists earlier this week.

The current obsession that I should just put on repeat as it puts me in the mood to log miles & miles…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GFvUCcljkM

The Lumineers – Stubborn Love.

 

…the “search terms” that bring people to your doorstep can be interesting. To say the least.

Let’s just say there is an unusual subset of the population looking for “likeable girls” and things that “likeable girls” do.

I hadn’t given that even a remote iota of thought when I named this curve in the internet.

Especially not when I added the “somewhat” part. I mean really, what kind of *that* kind of likeable girl wants to advertise her services as only somewhat likeable. Yipes!

Also, sometimes I think people are learning to speak English via Google Translator and accidentally getting me.

Good luck with that.

So, usually – I ignore that little bit of my metrics. Mostly because scrubbing my eyeballs hurts a bit.

But then yesterday I noticed this little cutey:

Search

Heart = melted. It’s the little things sometimes.

Even if it’s not relating to my little blog at all, it’s nice to entertain the thought for a moment.

Whoever ended up at my doorstep with that term yesterday, I wish you luck –

whatever language you’re trying translate into a date.

…and do all of that at the same time if you please.

Friends,

There has been a whirrrrrlwind of activity going on around me! I mentioned that I’d had more time for ideas than writing lately, and that’s because a lot has been going on. I have updates! So, in other words, this post is going to be part data dump and part trying to keep up with my own bad self. Come keep me company…

First – I got the date for my very first student-teaching yoga class!! YAY!! April 21st, here I come! Except wait! That’s only a month to get my plan for a class together. Can I do it? Am I ready? We’ll still have a couple weeks of learning to do that I haven’t done yet! Honestly – some days, I feel like I could just drop in and teach a yoga class right that moment without a plan ahead of anything. Other days The Shy kicks in and asks me “what the heck? are you really going to get up in front of people and do this?”. Yes, Shy. Suck it up. It’s going to happen.

Mostly though, I’m genuinely excited. I know how great I feel when I’ve gotten some time in moving my body – and honestly, I think I respect my body the most wherever it’s at in a given day – when I’m doing yoga. You meet the mat where you’re at – and it’s always accepting of that. The idea of sharing that self-respect with other people thrills me.

Second – 2 weeks ago, I asked if I could bring my camera to our yoga teacher training and do a creative exercise in photography. I got the green light, and to make a long story short – I put an album of photos out into the world for more than just my friends to see. Putting creativity out in the world like that – for me – ACK! People might see my stuff! They might actually have opinions about my photos! Holy heck, WHAT AM I DOING? It’s a freak-out festival, foh shure.

Not that I really expected anyone to point, laugh and say YOU SUCK! – but…well, I did kind of expect that too. Just nicer. I kinda wanted to go ostrich and put blinders on and cover my ears. Ya know, just in case I was wrong about liking them myself. So I wouldn’t feel the bazinga-sting of being ridiculously wrong.  But Saturday – two of the girls in yoga class told me how much they really liked the photos! And that didn’t count the likes on Facebook. They like me! They really like me! One said she’d gone through them several times, she liked them so much. VALIDATION!!! Yay! (I’m stopping here to hug myself for a second. (No, that’s not a metaphor.))

So anyway, that was a really good thing and I’m pretty happy about it. Especially, since I have a few other events on the horizon to go play photobug.

Now, for things that aren’t going so well…

Running plan for Run the Bluegrass = stuck on the Bridge to Nowhere.  There just hasn’t been any time at all to get the higher mileage in. And it’s only a half. A 13.1. Grrr. The furthest I’ve run to date is 8.74 miles and my hips and ankles (which don’t usually bother me) were a bit cranky afterward.  That was a 3-mile jump in distance too. Seriously – no time for the mileage. Been struggling to make 2 runs a week happen steadily and anything over 6 and I can’t even fathom carving it out of the day.

Can I do the 13.1? Yes. I can get it done. The very first half-mar I did, I only trained to 8 miles – and then I had no idea what I was doing. Now…I know more. I’m a better runner. I KNOW I can finish 13.1 tomorrow if I have to. But do I want to? Should I? I went into this for a fun run – no time pressure – just to see the pretty horses and spend a nice weekend with my husband.  If I push for the half – will I still be able & wanting to do anything else? I’ve signed us up for 2 horse farm tours. There’s also a distillery tour we want to take and an aviation museum to peruse. Will I want to do all that walking? There’s a 7-mile option available also. I’m seriously considering downgrading, owning up to the fact that my other interests have taken the priority right now. I don’t really have to make a choice until the expo, I guess.

Also, I think I’ve managed to tear a muscle in the front of my shoulder. You know, the one you use when you pump your arms on hills. ICK. At some point, I will surrender to the fact that I suck at arm balances. Need to work on them a lot more. Trying to learn a new one, without enough prep work on it, did a bad, bad thing to my shoulder on Saturday morning. Then I went and did about 30 vinyasas (yes, 30) on it yesterday. It hurts. A lot.

Which completely sucks double suckiness because the trainer I really, really like is back to teaching my morning boxing/bootcamp. So I’m back to the 5:30am thing. Or I was. Twice. And really happy about it. Until I had to skip it today because, well – OUCH. You really can’t throw a good hook without a healthy deltoid. Or a lot of pain. You choose. I chose to sleep in today. So…now I’m supposed to work on vinyasas hardcore for the next month with a bum left shoulder. *sigh*

At least I’ll have a week of vacation at the end of this month to figure it all out – and catch up – and slow down – all at the same time. Sooo looking forward to that.

Tell me peeps, what should I do? what should I do? 7, 13.1?

Oh lovely people, how I have been neglecting this place lately.  Not for want of wishing – I’ve been thinking of lots of things to write about, but frankly, there’s been no time.  I’ve got lots of updates!!  However, some are more critical than others – and I’m going to let the gym/training plan/misc updates fade behind an event write-up* for a moment.

Last night, I had another opportunity to attend a Ballet & Beers event at the Cincinnati Ballet rehearsal studios. You may remember I wrote a bit about this last Fall for their Kaplan New Works series.  This time, the event was related to their upcoming performance – which features a triptych of Prodigal Son, Extremely Close and Concerto #4.  I saw this one on the schedule, noting that Prodigal Son is a Balanchine piece. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken in a Balanchine work. Too long. I am a girl who loves me some Balanchine. And with that realization, the tickets were bought – along with the complimentary prequel tickets for the Ballet & Beer event.

I dodged out of work early, grabbed one of my favorite gal pals, and ended up sitting next to another friend completely by accident. We were front row of the balcony. This was going to be a good day, I could feel it.  And off the rehearsal went!

We were getting a sneak preview of Extremely Close – which is described as follows on the ballet’s website:

“Taking inspiration from piano solos by Philip Glass and Dustin O’Halloran, [Alejandro] Cerrudo intricately weaves dancers through striking elements of visual art in a thought-provoking and hauntingly beautiful piece that is sure to stay with you long after you leave the theater”

In other words, it is not a story ballet – but rather a concept ballet – a visual art piece.

Unlike the stops and starts of the previous rehearsal I witnessed, this rehearsal allowed the dancers to get all the way through the piece. Let me say first – these dancers are ready to put on this piece! They looked phenomenal.  I was really happy to see Patric Palkens with a prominent role in this dance after he was so nice to me at the last event. Second, I can not wait to see what this piece looks like in final form onstage! Even in the rough, it was intriguing and beautiful. And that was without the feathers. What feathers, you ask…all week the ballet’s Facebook page has been releasing promo shots of this ballet being done on a floor covered in large white feathers. This day’s rehearsal = no feathers, but we were promised they would be there for the actual performance. FEATHERS! EVERYWHERE!

After the first run, the standard notes and working points were delivered, then some pain-point work on specific sequences in timing and partnering. Do it again…nope, more this way…still more of that…one more time. It’s actually pretty fascinating stuff. Then on to the Q & A and the beer & pizza.

I will tell you that in the Q & A session, the first question asked was one the entire audience was thinking – essentially:

 What is up with the chin thing?

Yes, there’s a chin thing. And no, I’m not going to tell you what it is right now. That’s why you go see the show. Because a blogger mentioned feathers and a chin thing. In a ballet. You’re welcome.

Gal pal, random friend & I all hang around for a beer after and it’s not long before we’re chatting up with Patric again. Seriously people, this man is stunning – onstage, he has a powerful, passionate presence that deservedly got him locked into the matinée role of Romeo in last month’s Romeo & Juliet after another dancer was injured. Offstage, he is devilishly charismatic with an excellent sense of humor. We spend a bit talking about the upcoming show – working out the chin thing (still not telling you!) and how much FUN working with the feathers has been.

I tell Patric I noticed that all the dancers were wearing socks in rehearsal rather than ballet shoes – unusual. He tells me it’s because of the feathers – the dancers are sliding around in them and they can slide much, MUCH further with socks on. All of the sliding with the choreography is what makes the visual art piece work – kicking up the feathers, watching them float around the stage with every movement. Sticking to you…every once in a while one ends up stuck on a hand or a foot and it’s the dancer’s job to pretend it’s not there. But, he tells me, then you kick your foot back and see one coming up 6-8 inches further than your foot and you understand how incredible this looks to an audience.

Incredible indeed! After seeing all the jumps and slides in rehearsal – a pretty aggressive choreography to be contrasted against the gentle calm of the floating feathers – I can imagine what this will look like in full dress out and I can not wait to see it in reality.

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The Cincinnati Ballet will be presenting Prodigal Son, Extremely Close & Concerto #4 on March 22nd (8pm) and March 23rd (2pm & 8pm). A Meet the Artists opportunity will be prior to the Friday, March 22nd performance at 7pm. You can purchase tickets here.  

I would also encourage you to check out information for the Club B Event scheduled for April 20th.

*This is not a sponsored post and I am in no way affiliated with the Cincinnati Ballet.

Opening Day last year was the first time that I took my camera out specifically to practice taking pictures of an event.

I’d never been to the Opening Day Parade, or to any of the Opening Day Events. But since I’d become a much better Reds fan over the past two Summers, I decided to dive on in. Took a vacation day and headed Downtown by myself with my little Canon Powershot to see what I could make of it. Learn more about my camera and shooting in heavy sunshine.

What I found was a sea of Red. Literally. Thousands of people crowding the street, dressed in Red, with one thing on the brain – Opening Day Red.

And being surprisingly patient about the wait.

ONE MONTH REDS FANS!!!! And it all starts again. The March to the World Series 2013 begins!

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