Tag Archives: dance

Of Swans

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Before I start, I just want to say that I must have somewhere around a billion (ok… maybe more like 7?)  browser windows open and anywhere from 5 – 10 ( more?) tabs open in each one. I also like to think I have a pretty good memory, so often I’ll spot something in a magazine some kind of other somewhere and I’ll close my eyes and tell myself where it is and to tell myself to remember, assuming that I will. Sometimes I take a picture on my phone, thinking it will help. So, I may have some whole huge little article compiled in my brain and then I go to write it up and realize I don’t know where everything is, which I always find annoying because I like to think I’ve gotten better at organizing my adventures in curiosity.. I mean, come on, I’ve even organized my bookmarks! I did! Into categories. Sigh, anyway…. What I meant to say was that I had some killer shoes to go with this post, but it turns out I don’t remember who designed them and my searching (for the last 1/2 hour or so) has not yet yielded satisfactory results. Granted they were way more expensive than I wanted them to be, and you, too. So maybe it’s better that you didn’t see them… Because if you have a thing for all things ballet-ish (or just pretty shoes), well, you’d really want them, and then you’d be kinda bummed that you couldn’t have them. (But, I’ll still try to track them down, just because I love you all so much)

BACK ON TRACK:

So, I’m pretty jazzed for the film Black Swan.

Dance films can be like crack for me. I don’t really have the space to dance around here in my NYC abode, and watching dance makes me warm and fuzzy inside. Cheesy, I know, but true. This film looks both beautiful and dark in a way that dance related films don’t usually touch. And I’m excited about how much press and interest it’s been getting. The above promotional posters are, in a word, amazing. Released by Empire, sadly without notice of the designer (who certainly deserves to be recognized), they certainly set the tone. They’re intrinsically beautiful, with dark, hidden, look-closer details that hint at the mystery and thriller nature of the film. What’s so lovely about them, in my opinion, is how well they could stand on their own. I’d want them even if they weren’t associated with a film. Just because they’re great.

I feel like ballet/dance is seeping more and more into culture. It’s subtle, but it’s there. With the popularity of ballet flats (and the shoes I found but then lost, even had satin ties to wrap around your ankles), and of clothes that are reminiscent of dance/wear, and some of the headband craze, it seems like more and more people are looking to reflect the delicate strength and grace of a dancer.

Thinking about it, it’s kind of an interesting off-shoot to the beautiful garb of say the Mad Men age and other vintage eras that have gained popularity in the fashion world, and spreading into the mass market. The whole look of ages past is so very well thought out, all in the details. But with dance, sure the costumes for performances are gorgeous…. but the strength and the posture and the character is all internal. It’s all about you and your body and your mind. Granted, it’s competitive, too. And so is the real world.

Or maybe it’s the tiaras and Prima Ballerina “princess” sort of idea that captivates some…. haha.


Ray Lewis for Black Swan, some more photos here


The Australian Ballet has certainly taken wind of the trend with these fabulous tote bags. I saw them first on The Design Files, where they were having a giveaway – and it’s a good thing, because when I checked the site after ooh-ing and ahh-ing with glee over the bags, they were totally sold out. They’re back in stock now, but something tells me that it’s not just your standard ex-ballerinas, ballerinas or dance patrons snapping them up.

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The Dying Swan

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Isn’t Anna Pavlova lovely? (I tried some magic code to shorten the video so that it would start just when she began to dance, but apparently the code doesn’t like me because it refuses to work. Oh bother)

I was watching a short clip of an interview (long ((enough)) after her death, I believe) with someone who knew who Anna well. The duo ruminated on how she was such a wonderful and unique and captivating dancer, and they touched upon her limited technique and how considering the “dancer’s of today” she might never have made it so big.  It had to be mentioned, and though they went back to remark on her passion, her presence, and how there was something different and ineffable about her performance, I couldn’t help but think, how true.

The thought occurs to me most every time I look at dancers of the past. The bar of technique and athleticism and perfection has risen to such an incredible degree throughout the years. I find it dually wonderful and a little sad. Perfection. Passion. What if you have the passion but not the perfection? What if you have the perfection but not the passion? What if there are scores of Anna Pavlova’s (in any art form or field) held back by a lack of textbook all-around perfection? And, while I’m wielding a double edged sword (being a perfectionist and all), what if we’re missing something really great by only looking for “perfect”. Doesn’t that, after a while, get a little boring?

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Shedding Layers

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In case you didn’t already know, I happen to love (love, love) the show So You Think You Can Dance. As someone who used to dance for hours pretty much everyday, it’s practically a requirement. Dance is one of my passions, and a passion that is in part fuel for one of my other great loves which is clothing and therefore fashion/costume design (which I have a degree in).You see, I sort of like to live (in theory) as though we are always dancing, and your clothes should move with you and add to your “character”. Like in acting, costumes play a huge role in defining characters/mood/etc in a piece of dance. Sometimes the costume doesn’t just define the character but becomes a part of the dance, a metaphor, too, such as in a particular piece danced by Jeanine Mason and Kayla Radomski and choreographed by Mia Michaels in the So You Think You Can Dance finale on Wednesday evening.

The piece was meant to chronicle the transformative process the contestants of the show go through – that we all go through while making our way through our lives: working hard, shedding our layers, making our way to our “true selves”. The girls start stage left and make their way to the right, beginning in a frothy dress of many layers that they shed one by one like weight off their back until they’re free.










While there were many (many, many) wonderful dances of the show (and out there in the world), I was immediately transfixed, admittedly, by the costumes in this piece. I loved the big colorful frothy dress and they way all of its colored layers moved, and was delighted with every single incarnation of the costume as it’s layers were removed. Each worked and moved so well together. Bashfully, I admit that while the dance was beautiful I spent in inordinate amount of time watching the the dress. I’m a nerd like that, in case you haven’t been able to tell by how many times I had to watch the video to get decent screen captures. (since I can’t find it on youtube watch it here)

I guess I just relate really well to the metaphor of the dance, and the literal interpretation of shedding layers of clothes as shedding the layers of oneself. I’m reminded of my younger years when I was always, always dressed eccentrically in a cacophony of bright colors. I wanted to be sure that I stood out. I had too. I would feel too naked and anonymous and “not me” if I were out in jeans and a tank top. It felt wrong. And slowly, slowly over the years I’ve become ok with myself enough that, while I still rock my sometimes eccentric style, I am actually able to go out in jeans and a tank top or incredibly simple anonymous dress. I’m ok with being simpler, now. And somehow, I’ve found, people can still see “me” (which I can’t lie, I was a little surprised about).

Sorry for the posting pokyness, loves. Been shedding some (metaphorical) layers. I’m working, however, on getting back on the posting train. ;)

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What would I give..

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To be able to travel back in time and dance with Gene Kelly. Maybe have legs like Cyd Charisse. Sigh. I had a huge crush on Gene when I was a teen. Now, older and wiser, I have fully realized that he is a)really no longer alive and that b) time travel is a long, long way off. Such a pity.

Anyway, Happy Saturday, and enjoy this gorgeous, standout scene from the classic Singin’ in the Rain.

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everything is everything

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It started when I saw this:


Phillip Glass’ “Geometry of Circles” created for Sesame Street in 1979.

It made me feel a little giddy inside, and I was reminded of a conversation I had the other day with a friend about how essentially (in my eyes at least) everything is everything. You know, sort of like (loosely)

art:music=dance=emotion=color=(now that I think about it) shape=geometry=math:science

They all sort of eventually run into one another! I know my explanation of the science end is likely highly lacking. Perhaps I should toss chemistry in after math? Maybe? Anyway, I love how the “Geometry of Circles” film sort of brings like to the whole everything being connected thing. It kind of mixes it all in there. Similar to Norman Juster’s “The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics.” (If you didn’t watch it when I posted it last year, click here). They sort of give character and motion to shapes and therefore geometry and therefore math, something which we generally might take as something lacking in creativity. You might thing of yourself as being either math/science oriented or art/languages oriented. Left brain vs. right brain. One or the other. Whereas, in truth, they all obviously intermingle. One of reasons I love designing clothing is all of the thought and little calculations that I found (surprisingly) were involved and (even more surprisingly) I actually kind of enjoyed. It’s architecture for the human body. It’s taking a shape, dissecting it, splicing it, moving it around to get differing (hopefully) aesthetically pleasing looks. I’m the “artistic one” of the family who found herself surprisingly spending odd amounts of time trying to calculate (or something?) the best way to dissect a curve. I might be full of it, because I don’t remember exactly what I did or was doing; only that I’ve spent good chunks of time calculating strange things (but, hey it was beneficial! Skirts fall so much more gracefully when everything is evenly spaced).

And then, of course, I was/am completely obsessed with color. I have loudly proclaimed that a blue paint that was handed to me was not right because it wasn’t “happy” enough. The lady working in the paint department in Sear’s Home (or whatever it was) looked at me like I was nuts (this was in Delaware). Regardless of that…Don’t you notice how we tend to prescribe emotions to color (feeling blue! the mean reds! green with envy!)? Personalities even?

I discovered Ken Nordine’s spoken word jazz album Colors (1966) in college when I was supposed to be writing a research paper. He takes 34 colors and tells jazzy little stories about each one. I thought it was the best most hilariously wonderful thing ever and I was immediately consumed by it’s novelty. I do not know how to put just songs up here, but I did find (!) some youtubed video of Kinetic Typography (cool!) of two of the colors created by students at Oklahoma State University:

These are fabulous for the way they make the movement meld with the mood and beat of what he’s saying. And of course, for the stories of the trials and tribulations in a land where colors are people-ish.

And then there is dance. Of course, dance! For me, dance is kind of like being in the music. It kind of gets into your bones and under your skin and when your dancing you’re not necessarily “you” but a living representation of the music. Twyla Tharp’s choreography of “In the Upper Room” to Philip Glass’ music exhibits this wonderfully:

Isn’t it beautiful? How the layered movements interact and represent and mingle with the layers of the music. Sometimes, often, in dance telling a story takes precedence but this was just being and living out the music.

At the same time, for me, music feels kind of like this:


both by Marilyn Cvitanic

I once explained it like this to a friend who asked which I would choose if I could only have one, Color or Music:

“I couldn’t choose because they’re the same. It’s like moods and colors are connected and you listen to certain music perhaps when you’re in certain moods you might sort of “feel” like a color (pantone 292!)…. and then it’s like within the music the colors are dancing around and mixing and bumping into each other and it’s all art. color, music, dance, etc.”

Close your eyes and listen to this:

What did you see?

(And of course.. it can all be led back to science:

Wikepedia on Color

And you know, I’ve read that we all might very well have a little bit of Synesthesia in us.)

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Bravo!

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So, I didn’t catch the original airing of the premiere of So You Think You Can Dance, one of my favorite shows (if not only) of the summer, but when I saw the replay last night and I saw Robert Murraine dance I was like damn. As someone who has danced for the bulk of my life, watching the show tends to inspire me to get up and dance around my little apartment (as best I can)((without infuriating the persons who live below me)). But, my friends, I most certainly cannot do that. Wow. Bravo.

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