Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just Dance

I was very much enthusiastic when my across-the-hall neighbour rallyed me to join her for a yoga class in the area. Our destination: Pineapple Dance Studio.

From the moment I arrived at the facade and glanced in the fogged-up window of the ground-floor studio to see dancers in rehearsal, I felt like I was in a dance movie. Pineapple Dance Studio had me at hello (maybe even before that, the studio's very name had me convinced from the get-go). Thank goodness for Tess (said neighbour) because we were whisked inside and up a narrow flight of stairs to the studio where our class was happening. Next door, before we entered our room, a wild broadway-style rehearsal was happening. Absolutely stunning and inspiring to watch. I could get into this place, I thought to myself.

And then the class.

While I had known it would be a ballet/yoga/pilates fusion class, somehow in the heat of the moment, the blur of first introduction to the studio, I had forgotten. But I quickly remembered as we were led through a sequence of ballet positions (more like ballet meets yoga). Plie! Tendue! First! Fourth! While Tess told me this was more ballet than this class had ever seen (her face said it all when she looked over at me mid-sequence), I was sorta digging it. Well, of course I was terrified just a little bit, but I was open to learning new things. The spirit of the ballet sequence was very much in tune with yogic philosophy, always learning, always open to new movement, new space.

Once we settled into the yoga/pilates portion of the class, I was all warmed up and in a groove. Great pace, good energy. I almost burst out laughing a few times I was so happy to be in a totally new space.

It's a humbling experience to be thrown into an environment so unlike your regular routine. But that's exactly it, that's exactly life. Constancy in flux.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Transitioning in the Dark

I arrived in London early Sunday morning and undertook the adventure of settling in. First up, I needed bedding if I wanted to sleep comfortably that night at my dorm (whose entrance is pictured below... more pictures soon). For some reason, I decided to trek out to IKEA (not that far a trek, really, but not as close as some department stores... live and learn, live and learn). In a jet-lagged daze I tried to pick things that would work, looking at my camera to the sheets, finally settling on a dark shade.

I try to convince myself that it isn't black. But my neighbour across the hall said it point blank: "It's black." Sometimes I think it looks dark navy, sometimes I see shades of green. But really it's black. [which precipitated the buying of new linens, an extra set, more money, another bill (In Paris, apparently they call the bill la douloureuse. I couldn't agree more)]

And this morning, I was equally in the black, in the dark. Aside from waking up bright-eyed at 1am (why? I can't even tell you), I was enjoying my first shower this morning, taking a little extra time to soothe my slightly scratched skin (sheets now washed, duly noted, feeling much smoother), and, all of a sudden, the lights went out. See, the lights in the bathroom are activated by motion. The motion detector, however, does not seem to extend into the shower. So mid-lather, the lights went out, and I let out an expletive, was confused, then laughed, realizing. Waving over the shower door was no good, but an opening and a wave of the door did the trick.

The adventures begin...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's Your Deal, Martin Patriquin?

Yesterday Maclean's Magazine published its most recent edition claiming Quebec to be the most corrupt province in Canada. The article uncovers scandals and wrongdoing and delves into a lengthy history in la belle province. The cover featured the innocent mascot Bonhomme Carnaval carrying a suitcase full of cash.

But I thought to myself, Maclean's, corrupt, these are words I've heard before. Oh yes, back in November 2009, Maclean's published the article titled and sub-titled: "Montreal is a disaster: The once-glamorous city is now a corrupt, crumbling, mob-ridden disgrace. What went wrong?" The cover proclaimed "Montreal is a corrupt, crumbling, Mob-ridden disgrace."

Oh. And look, both articles are written by the same author: Martin Patriquin. A Quebecer. A Montreal. The Quebec bureau chief for Maclean's. I can't really figure out much else on the man, except he's a local and probably writing about what he knows best.

Maybe he is right, perhaps there is a lot of corruption in Montreal and Quebec. I am all for political accountability and believe this city and province could be run much better. We could be a thriving metropolis and province, but somehow we lag. But in the past two years, Maclean's has only ever bashed Montreal and Quebec so openly on its front cover. What of the other provinces, are they all run with such integrity? (Although back in 2008 the cover procalimed BC: The World Crime Superpower). I just wonder if stories are getting blown out of proportion in order sell more magazines in an age when the industry is in decline.

Why not become informed citizens and demand more from our politicians? Go pick up a Maclean's, go take a read.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Stefan, Guest Blogger for Art21 on PBS, Part II

Today marked the end of my Guest Bloggership (as I like to call it) at Art21 (but not the end with me and Art21... stay tuned...).

Just wanted to share the last few links:
Oil on Canvas: Jenny Schade
Game (as) Art: The Kokoromi Collective
The Medium is Not the Message: Adad Hannah
Embodiment and Process: Vida Simon
What You Give is What You Get: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

And the series conclusion...


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stefan, Guest Blogger for Art21 on PBS

This week I started a 2-week blogging stint for the online component of the PBS show on contemporary art, Art21.

Follow the blog here.

The first four posts are as followed...
New guest blogger: Stefan Zebrowski-Rubin
How Sweet It Is: Shelley Miller
Augmenting Reality: Paul Warne
One Hour Photo: Yves Medam


Monday, September 13, 2010

Aqueous Transmission

Before I was born, I drowned.

Those first years of life, I was scared of water. I defrosted the freezer by accident (never press large red buttons) and I let the water overflow from the tub (so much that it leaked into the kitchen below). Water and I did not appear to mix well without catastrophic consequences and floods.

I did not learn to swim until I could see what was underneath. With a snorkel mask, seeing, and breathing, I took to water.

And now, I find solace in the horizon of the ocean. Opening, possibility.

When I learned to surf, I was amazed how little actually separated me from the wave. I was actually riding the wave. A precise instant caught to move in time with the ocean, quickly caught, easily lost.

Aqueous vocabulary has infiltrated, flooded, seeped into my language. I wallow, I plunge, I float, I immerse, even when far away from the sea.

Where earth meets water, where opposites connect, in fluidity, in constancy and simultaneous flux, this is where I feel closest to truth. Everything changes, nothing is the same and far asea, a constant possibility.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Le Show Off: A Reflection after the fact

First, let me just admit that I am not a dance expert by any means. However, I do appreciate it immensely. Dance is a consummate art expressing in movement what I never could in words.

I've just returned from seeing Le Show Off, a showcase of 3 solo male performances/works-in-progress. An initiative by Pierre-Marc Ouellette, joined by Manuel Roque and Dany Desjardins, the short "show off" featured three lauded and noted dancers charming the audience in excerpt. My mind is simmering with thoughts and imaginations and excitements...

Manuel Roque kicked things off with a breathtaking level of introspective dancing in Raw-me. He began fluidly, almost imperceptibly at first, moving quite masterfully, almost mimicking one of those contraptions inflated with air, a personnage constantly flopping and inflating, twisting side to side, sporadic, unpredictable. Manu then stuffed a large sheet of plastic in his mouth (unlearning that whole prohibition of plastic inhaling from childhood) - at first I recoiled in horror (childhood prohibitions still strong, perhaps?) but then as he moved forward, it was a choreography of the emerging, the plastic blossomed out. Roque's most chilling sequence began motionless and tremors moved from his legs up his body. Skillfully controlled, this male dancer captured my imagination. It was a divine shaking. When his limbs came into play however, the parellels with disability, parkinson's and other such physically uncontrolled states struck with greater gravity. Heart-stopping almost. As the lights went down, Manu was windmilling his arms, his limbs a blurred circle in the light.

The moment he puffed out his chest, Dany Desjardins brandished his humour and captivated the audience in On Air. Centered around a radio, waves and frequencies, this solo revealed its sharp maturity and development. A series of yogic movements - a pendulum of a downward dog repeating around the radio - were executed with finesse, obsession, an exploration of movement. Dany next entered smoking, walking with confidence, gesturing with humour, possessing an almost slapstick, comic punch, his actions were sharp (he used his hand as an ashtray, his mouth to put out his cigarette). Desjardins played with the radio warbles and high pitched adjustments, humping his radio with comic sonic responses. When the music finally kicked in, Dany displayed a virtuosity of full-body musicality. All in all, a fine exploration in movement. I could watch Dany all night (as I could Manu as well).

Pierre-Marc Ouellette concluded the night with a much more story-based exploration in Le Show Off. The movement was much more loose, much more ambiguous, to the point where it was almost clumsy. The overly theatrical music and inarticulated motivation of the piece garnered some giggles from the audience, although I feel the piece was trying to be more grave. I appreciated Ouellette's integration of spoken text into his piece, it added a nice dimension. It is undeniably that Pierre-Marc is effortlessly charming, bringing his glance to the audience immediately warmed up the crowd. At times, his long wispy bangs seemed to get in the way, or, as I would like to believe was an intentional part of the movement. Hair masked his eyes an added an interesting dimension to the solo introspection of the piece. More haireography! Conducting to a semi-circle of chairs, Ouellette flowed most when the music picked up again and his arms and body surrendered to a series of conductorly swoops.

All in all, a tantilizing evening of works-in-progress. Snippets to charm and to whet the appetite...

Dany Desjardins officially premieres the full work of On Air (developed in Berlin) September 12 at 4:30 at Maison de la culture Maisonneuve (4200, rue Ontario Est), September 14, 16 at 8:00pm at Maison de la Culture Cote-des-Neiges (5290, chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges) and September 22 at 8:00pm at Maison de la Culture Notre-Dame-de-Grace (3755, rue Botrel).

forced rhyme: two moments

A woman eating, like an apple, a tomato.

Mormons on the metro!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Oh The Thinks You Can Think

What have you been thinking about lately?

This is my new favorite question to ask the right people to really get to the core of what's going on beyond the now-banal and meaningless How are you? My friend Annemarie actually started the whole thing. The question always took me by surprise, but we always really got to the core of how we were existing lately.

Not too long ago, she took inspiration from Dr Seuss's book Oh The Thinks You Can Think, taking one line per day as creative prompts (she's an MFA in Creative Writing). And she started a blog.

So, what have you been thinking about lately?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Word's Play

The word mnemonic mumbles memories in a hushed sheer whisper. I can only track traces of truth, microbes of meaning. Really, I'm long lost. Still, I nod knowingly, pretending I've picked the pentimento, the ravishing red crux of the word's (the olive's) core.