NBT’s As Time Goes By

Northern Ballet Theatre

Five stars to Northern Ballet Theatre’s As Time Goes By, an evening of classical to contemporary ballet. The performance opening premiered former NBT dancer Daniel de Andrade’s Glass Cannon, a rambunctious dance for ten dancers, set to Eastern-inspired jazz by Scottish band Moishe’s Bagel. The dancers’ relentless blasts of movement seemed to “shoot” their bodies into the air or across the stage. Andrade briefly played with the bounds of contemporary ballet with men partnering men, and women partnering women. Composer Phil Alexander warmly commended the dancer’s interpretation to his music, “I thought it was great. I was thrilled to see it.”

Isabella Gasparini and Hironao Takahashi delivered a satisfying Don Quixote Grand Pas de Deux. NBT’s Artistic Director David Nixon showed off his dancers’ athleticism in his work, Powerhouse Rumba. Nixon’s cutting-edge choreography resembled William Forsythe improvisational methodology, complete with blue and green Umiko dancewear.

The audience was stunned by Victoria Sibson’s solo performance in Ossein, set by acclaimed choreographer-in-residence at the Royal Ballet, Wayne McGregor. With impeccable precision and control, Sibson portrayed one woman’s struggle to find freedom from confines of rigidity. All that was visible in the spotlight was her chiseled body as it sliced the air, a striking contrast to the harmoniously complex piano music.

American choreographer Mark Godden used broom sticks and chairs to captivate the simplistic life of the Shakers in his work Angels in the Architecture. A ‘well made Shaker broom would stand on its own’ was Goddard’s inspiration for the opening image of the piece where six broomsticks stand alone. The women and later the men manipulate the brooms, and hung them on the backdrop like swinging pendulums as part of the set.

The title piece of the night, As Time Goes On, delivered an appealing mixture of classical ballet with Jazz and Swing. Decked out in black evening gowns and tuxes, couples graced the 1920’s dance club set. Tweny-two year old Jazz sensation Peter Grant sang live in this finale of the evening, including Always and Sophisticated Swing. NBT exceeded expectations in As Time Goes By, undoubtedly the perfect date night out. Showing February 23 through 25 at the Grand Opera House, Leeds.

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Turning Point: Writing about Dance

Writing about Dance:

If you know me, you know dance is what I’m passionate about. I don’t speak “ballerina” to people walking down the street any more, because my time has passed training and dancing as a professional… but it’s still there.

I was supposed to go to an open ballet class tonight. Supposed to, I say, because I had hoped to revitalize my dancing in England. But my body’s not that of a skinny ballerina any more, and I feel uncomfortable just thinking about ballet any more – although I feel at home when  I get into class. I find difficult to go to a dance class these days because I have not yet decided that dance can be a pastime for me now – I don’t think it ever can be, and I don’t want it to. I am making an effort to take some contemporary dance classes and branch out while I’m here, but those are extra-curricular to my studies, and job if I get one – and it costs money. I want nothing more than to get fit to perform professionally again, but that takes more commitment and time than I am willing to invest right now. It is exhausting, both mentally and physically, but it is so rewarding.

I know I will envy the dancers onstage tomorrow night when I go to see NBT’s As Time Goes By at the Grand opera House. I am reviewing it for Leeds University student newspaper. Lucky me. I was thrilled when I got the task – I have been intending to get my stuff into print journalism for some time now. This is the second best thing that could happen to me right now – it is my second most desirable career, to write about dance. At least I can do now as a student; my prospects of getting to write about dance for a career look about as bleak as they did to dance for a career.

To be an arts writer I have to step outside the role of the artist or dancer, and be the observer, the interlocutor,  step outside my attachment and comment on it as an art form. Or do I? How far can my experience make me a better writer about dance performances? Perhaps I can use my passion to my edification, rather than spite. I get the job of turning the beauty I once experienced into beauty in the form of words, for reader to experience it. My job is to convince them there is a world of riches waiting for them to experience as the audience themselves.

With all that said, I will be devoting more of my free time to updating my performing arts critique blog, VistaMuse (link to it on my blogroll).  If you fancy, check it out in a couple of days. I have a lot of catch-up work to do to it.

All the best, Becca

PS be looking for my reviews in print and on-line Leeds University Paper (links under UK and beyond)

Pic of the Day

Pooja and I stood in line for 30 minutes to get our henna done by girls from the Islamic Society in their tent across from the library on campus Friday. Although their designs were small, they were definitely more intricate and professional than our henna “experiment” last week. I ended up with a design going all the way around my palms, and up my left arm, traces of which I still have. I must owe my interest in Indian culture and Bollywood dance to my precious roommate Julie, who instilled an appreciation for India in me while I lived with her.

Love, Neptune and Jove

Rachel's door decked out in love notes

After reading Alexander Pope, 18th Century English poet, I feel as if I must add some Greek mythology or at least throw some names of the gods out there… and they seem to go appropriately well with the euphemism “love”.

I know I am a bit late for reflecting on Valentine’s Day, but there were a few things I was thinking of the week leading up to that fatal day that I need to coin, if only for my own sanity. First off, I feel badly for single guys on that day. Commercial holiday or not, you can’t ignore that everyone else seems to be in love, or at least in their lover’s arms but you. At least for girls, we can still have a grand time with one of our girl friends and it not be seen as strange. We can profess love and give gifts to each other without causing any suspicion of us being more than two happily single (straight) girl friends enjoying each other’s company and laughing at the folly of men. Poor men, they can’t exactly do that on Valentine’s day without raising question of their sexuality. If two blokes go to the movie together on Valentine’s day, well, why would they do that?! Surely they’re allowed to have a good time and go on with normal life on Valentine’s day just like anyone else. But how many guys do you hear of having a dinner party for all their other single friends to drink wine and eat chocolates and watching chick flicks and painting their toe nails on Valentine’s? If you know any, I’d like to meet them. On second thoughts, maybe not. So…is there a male version of celebrating singleness on V-Day together?

I have had too many single V-Days –you can tell by how much I know about girls’ night dinner parties. That doesn’t keep me from loving on all those around me. (not what you think, I know you British!) For instance, this is how I “love on” my flat mates:  I made one last batch of cookies before Lent,  swept the floor, organized the recycling, cut out paper hearts and wrote notes on them. Maybe I was trying to put off doing my work, yes. While Rachel was dutifully toiling over her dissertation in her room, I cut hearts out of one of those Unipool booklets that have been sitting on our kitchen table, wrote notes on them and quietly taped them all over her door, plus a few other objects… She didn’t find out till an hour later.

I guess Rich did write a billet-doux of sorts to Udo one night as well, and slipped it under his door, but he was very drunk, and the next day even he couldn’t  decipher his message. Ah, flat mate love! That note is currently on our fridge door, to be displayed for his embarrassment and our entertainment.  Rachel and I doting on each other isn’t as hilarious to our fellow flat mates as the boys are; I suppose mocking gays is more acceptable than mocking lesbians?

Well, back to Valentines Day — I succeeded in finding one American custom, or holiday, that traditionally treats women better than men. Not only are retail, flower shops, and Hallmark  geared toward women, things that their man can buy for them, but society is  gentler to single women than men on that day as well. Then again, V-day can turn out to meet less than expectations if a woman expects too much. Men are often slack or forget. Why was I feeling sorry for them? I would rather have a man who professes his love to me in little ways everyday than in one large, lavish gift on Valentine’s Day.

For now, I need to get my head out of the clouds and back on earth. What does it mean to love each other now, your friends, co-workers, the people around you? What little act of love, in service, a kind word, a helping hand, can help spread God’s love to people on this earth? I’ll leave you with that, my deep philosophical quiery… But seriously, can you imagine what would the world, our city, our relationships look like if we reflected Jesus Christ’s example.

Lest I be deemed a hopeless romantic, I’ll quote my favorite Bible verse on the topic of love:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8  — “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

That kind of love is worth striving to be.

posing in a garden in Harrogate, England

outside Betty's in Harrogate: for the love of tea and confectioneries

more home-made cookies

flat mates and “Valentines”

Random Daze in February

Wednesday 3.2.10

It’s snowing! I was so excited to see the flakes outside my window I ran down the hall and knocked on all my flat mates’ doors, “It’s snowing!” I wonder if they’re getting used to me yet. Like I discovered the first week I was here, abundant snowfall is not, contrary to the images of snow-covered English cottages in our heads, all that common during the winter months. Not to say they don’t have a long winter – it is usually marked by rain or “sludge”.

I am currently putting off reading Pope, Milton, and A.G. Dickens for my literature classes… You would think it would interesting enough to me to be reading these great authors of 18.C England, but I would rather be roaming around the open fields and secret gardens looking for ancient statues and hidden passageways. Ahh…life! The library itself boasts almost more history and artifacts for me to sink my teeth into than the literature on the pages of its books.

I should presently be starting my volunteer work with Kidz Klub Leeds, a ministry to inner city children in Leeds, UK. I heard about it through a presentation at a church I started going to. Immediately I knew I wanted to be involved. This past year I have been seeking for ways to serve in other countries, mostly for the experience and to travel, I will admit. But I know that God can use me to serve anywhere if I am willing. I have not been directly involved in ministry work like this before, yet I decided to take the opportunity as it was presented to me.

Last Saturday I had such a blast with the children! It was a remarkable experience to see God’s love displayed in children’s terms, and to see them worship and praise Him as they learned about His love for them. I was impressed with the young leaders’ passion to see God’s love made known to the younger generations. Most of workers for Kidz Klub are volunteers. It is a sacrifice, but one worth making to see God’s kingdom grow as these kids come to know Him. I already know that I will be receiving more back from them in terms of joy and satisfaction than I will be putting in.

While I get all the paperwork processed so I can join the team, and continuing my seemingly futile part-time job search in the city. Maybe God knew I needed to get my UK work Visa for this one thing: to serve in Kidz Klub. I am still trusting that He will provide me a job soon, because I cannot support myself here much longer without one. I sometimes think, “Why would God care about my situation, if I am well off enough to be studying at a university in England, but just foolish enough to move to a country without enough money for the entire term?” Well, I have taken many chances before with the Lord’s go-ahead, and He has always come through for me, usually at the last minute.

However, I am being a fool if I think I can bargain with God. For instance, saying, “Look at this work I’m doing for You, Lord.”  He doesn’t work that way. I wonder if He laughs at my foolishness sometimes!  I know that Jesus said to have “child-like faith”. Well, I feel pretty childish now.

I was filling out paperwork for Kidz Klub today and they needed my addresses of residence for the last 5 years. I realized that I have lived in at least nine different residences in that time, (the ones I lived more than one month each) since I left home at 17! The longest I’ve lived in one place was my last apartment in Columbia, and that’s because I loved my roommate and our landlords kept letting us go month-to-month after our year’s lease was up. If I had continued on the professional dancing career, I would have moved more times than that! Crazy.

One last random thing that happened today that made it a good day… I went to take a contemporary dance class at the university. I had to bite my tongue while I sat waiting for the room amongst the other girls. No one had any idea I have danced professionally, and I wasn’t going to tell them. I was certain I had more experience than the girl who was to teach the class. Funny – because I’m sure I would have enjoyed her class regardless, just getting to move is a pleasure to me now. But she had an emergency call and had to leave before class started. So I offered to teach. Why not? I am qualified to teach ballet and Pilates. I did not want to teach a dance class, especially ballet to college students, so I offered to teach a Pilates mat class – and I did, and everyone enjoyed it. I didn’t get paid or anything, but it gave me back the confidence that I am more than qualified to be teaching, and perhaps I should be teaching dance or Pilates now rather than looking for some café or pub to work in. And why am I getting an English degree if I don’t want to be an English teacher? I told myself it was because I didn’t want to be stuck teaching dance and being bitter all my life if I couldn’t perform it. Well, when it comes down to it, I will most likely be teaching SOMETHING to make a living, so I just as well teach something I enjoy…

Comments? Job offers, anyone?