Aldous Huxley, Simone Orlando & Lilly The CatSunday, November 25, 2007
But the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly to comprehend.
The Doors of Perception - Aldous Huxley
Friday Night Rebecca and I attended a performance of Ballet BC called Elemental Brubeck An Evening With Jazz. It featured three works. The first was Serge Bennathan's In and Around Kozla Street, the second was a premiere of Simon Orlando's Realm of Her Eclipse. The third was Lar Luvobitch's Elemental Brubeck.
In and Around Kozla Street
I am unable to see this sad piece without thinking of two other previous performances, years back, by Ballet BC. One featured Crystal Pite and her beau Jay Gower Taylor. This is when I first noticed (hard not to!)an embrace where the couple kiss and keep dancing. I didn't time it then but it felt like two minutes. The second occasion, January 22, 1988, was my favourite as it featured red haird Lauri Stallings and the most electryfing man that ever danced for Ballet BC, Mirsoslav Zydowicz (below brushing artist Tiko Kerr).
As I watched Lauri Stallings and Mirsoslav Zydowicz twirl around and around - their lips seemingly glued together - I asked Rosemary how long she thought the kiss was and, I had a revelation, which I whispered to my wife Rosemary: "Ballet is about sex." She hushed me, pointing out that Stallings' boyfriend, Rick Carvlin, was sitting next to us. He had heard me. "They kiss for one minute and 58 seconds," he said. "I have timed them before." Lauri Stallings more so because of her red hair and a very prsonal style imposed a fiery passion.
Crystal Pite (left) had been more ethereal, more tender.
Friday evening's was different too. Alexis Fletcher (bottom, right, alumni of Arts Umbrella) danced with James Gnam. Because of Fletcher's youth it felt like a first time kiss.
It was wonderful to watch. And it was wonderful to watch (Rebecca commented on how she liked her) this dancer, who in spite of Makaila Wallace's performance that evening as the lead in Orlando's ballet, has to be the dancer to watch in Ballet BC.
At the intermission Rebecca wandered to a small table where ballet paraphernalia was being sold. I spotted Ballet BC Founding President Jean Orr (universally adored). She always greets me with her smile and I always want to embrace and kiss her. This I did. Meanwhile Rebecca asked if I would buy her a necklace. I said no. Orr looked at me and I had to change my mind. I asked Orr, "How long was it? (without having to explain anything.)" She answered, "It felt like a two-minute one."
Realm of Her Eclipse
When I first saw the sets designed and painted by Charles Forsberg, and the way dancers quickly appeared and disappeared by what seemed to be moving doors I thought of a book I had read in my not too psychedelic youth. I saw in my head the cover (even though Max Ernst's Cocktail Drinker does not resemble Forsberg's sets) of Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell.
The work set to Maurice Ravel's Piano Trio in A Minor was satisfying to me in many ways. Back in the beginning of the year I had photographed two male dancers who had never danced together before. Edmond Kilpatrick (bottom, left), Ballet BC had as yet no connection to Arts Umbrella up-and-commer Connor Gnam (bottom, right).
And here they were dancing together and if that weren't enough Gnam's brother James was there too! It was almost impossible not to stare at every move Makaila Wallace made dressed in a wondrous red outfit except every once in a while I had to contrast and compare with Alexis Fletcher. The first the sophisticated prima-ballerina-to-the-max, the second an earthy and innocent young girl who will surely mature to my future delight.
During the second intermission we rant into people who we knew and all would ask about Rebecca's teddy bear which she tightly clutched with one arm. Rebecca kept correcting them that it was not a bear but Lilly the cat.
Both Rebecca and I have a soft spot in our heart for classy and elegant Jones Henry. His name confuses my dyslexic ways but Rebecca always remembers it as Jones Henry and not as Henry Jones.
Henry (left) did not disappoint. What did disappoint was choreographer Lar Lubovitch's choice of the wrong Brubeck selection. To me Brubeck (so famous for his quartet) simply did not make my grade as a symphonic composer. Rebecca, who knows her Brubeck, agreed as we thought of the possibilities of:
1. Paul Desmond's song written when he fell for Audrey Hepburn, Audrey.
2. Three to Get Ready or Kathy's Waltz from Time Out.
3. Autumn in Washington Square from Dave Brubeck - Jazz Impressions of New York
4. The Lonesome Road from Gone With the Wind.
5. And of course anything from Rebecca's and my favourite Brubeck Jazz Impression of Eurasia.
For me this was the only work of the evening that did not satisfy as much in spite of Jones Henry.
More on that first photograph, top left. I took it in May of 2000 when Ballet BC was saluting the work of its Founding President, Jean Orr. The Georgia Straight was writing about her. I decided I wanted to photograph her with some dancers. At the time my favourites were Emily Molnar (left) and Andrea Hodge ( right, now Ballet Mistress and Rebecca's first ballet teacher, below, left at Arts Umbrella).
It was Orr with all her past experience who said to me, "We need one more. Let's get Simone Orlando, she is beautiful." I had never noticed Orlando's quiet beauty with that superstar that Emily Molnar was at the time (in all of her 6 ft). But as I posed the four women I knew Orr was right.
Rebecca has followed Orlando's career and I once photographed them together in my studio as seen here. On Friday night I was angry that Rebecca's digital camera had dead batteries and I was not able to photograph her backstage as she chatted at length with Orlando. So yesterday I photographed Rebecca in my studio with Lilly the Cat and wearing the wonderful white dress she wore the previous day. Also in the picture is the $12 little dragonfly necklace that I purchased from Jean Orr. All in all a nice tidy ending to a wonderful weekend.
That humanity at large will ever be able to dispense with Artificial Paradise seems very unlikely. Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor, and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul. Art and religion, carnivals and saturnalia, dancing and listening to oratory - all have served, in H.G. Wells's phrase, Doors in the Wall.
The Doors of Perception - Aldous Huxley