The Paris Opera Ballet & Alonso King Lines Ballet
Saturday, March 04, 2017
for me is all about our ability to associate disparate stuff together. I
believe this may be what differentiates my cat Casi-Casi from me even though
when I hit a tin of cat food with a spoon he knows that the one and the other
mean dinner is served.
can do the same. It can transport me elsewhere by what some might think are
that in last night’s performance of the Alonso King Lines Ballet at the
Vancouver Playhouse (and tonight Saturday March 4 at 8pm) the first work
Shostakovich (featuring five of his string quartets) had me thinking of a great
tank battle between the Germans and the Russians in World War II at Kursk. And that was not all I was also humming in my head
Shostakovich’s orchestration of Tea for Two (with a further digression to the Thelonious Monk version).
Hass’s spare set design featured a curtain of shimmering golden strings that when
ocassionally rippled by a dancer (from the back) suggested sand falling in an
hourglass or sand dunes being buffeted by wind.
Axel Morgenthaler’s lighting design was also spare and not intrusive. With
Robert Rosenwasser’s costumes and that gold lighting sand was in my head. At
one point all ten dancers face a very strong light from one quarter and you
could see how sun and desert almost did them in as they faltered.
itself (from the point of view of this rank amateur) is a company that is
highly skilled and I would almost call it a modern ballet company in prestissimo. They are spectacular to watch. The five men and five women are all
uncommonly tall. But with all their technique and virtuosity there was still room for passion, gentleness. In the striking ending of Sand's VIII We Hum, Outro where Robb Beresford placed his head on Madeline DeVries's lap.
While our city
has a fairly healthy dance scene, it is most important to see how others in
other cities (in this case San Francisco) do it. I was chatting with an Arts
Umbrella dance student who was there “to see how”. Her favourite dancer of the
evening was the male Babatunji. I particularly liked him because of his
effusive smile. He was having fun.
Before the performance
began I spotted a man sitting by the center wall in back of the theatre.
He had a red cap on his head. I went up to him and asked him why his Spanish
was so good even though he had been born in Georgia. With a smile of his face
Alonso Lines replied, “I learned it in New York.”
end this sparse review (but of a performance that left me pleased if not exhausted
by all the heavy duty movement) without mentioning that I have a personal
connection with the Alonso King Lines Ballet. Before I go into that detail I
must explain something that might not be generally known about dancers and
dance companies. We all know that seasoned musicians must always practice
before a performance. How about dancers? The fact is that even on tour in
mornings before their performances they are given refresher classes on ballet
and modern dance. Dance companies hire “mercenaries” (in a good sense) who are
skilled in spades to bring them up to speed. One such person is my friend
I write this she is giving those ten dancers a ballet class. I like to think
that since Cassini started as a 14-year-old-dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet
(!!Degas!!), somehow some of her technique, a most French technique is being
transferred to those dancers. It was at one section of Shostakovich that
extremely tall Courtney Henry did some slow movements en pointe. With her long
arms and longer legs I was transfixed watching her. And yes there was something
of Cassini in those moves.
To someone who grew up in Mexico city in the 50s where I was exposed to American jazz (records and Voice of America) listening to the music of Sand composed by saxophonist Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran was a final icing on my dance night cake.
Friday, March 03, 2017
Maddalena came to me with this concept. I thought she was nuts but I took the pictures anyway. Of course she was right.
Anita Roberts - Elegance in Age
Thursday, March 02, 2017
If there is a hint of feminism in me it has all to do a
tad with my mother and my wife Rosemary. It was my mother who told me to sew my
own buttons and fry my own eggs after I complained on how she did it. Rosemary,
whom I married in 1968 has been the financial pants in the family. She makes
all those decisions that we men think we can do better (not a fact at least
with this un-macho).
Rosemary not only has never sewed a button but until I
discovered that I could buy jeans that fit me exactly at Mark’s Work Warehouse
I was forced to do my own hems. And of course Rosemary refuses to cook so I
have to do that. In short in our family she rules most of the time.
In this spirit of my personal feminism I decry and dislike
the posting in social media of pictures of older women that have been de-pored
(as in skin pores) and hazed and blurred up. Worst of all are the comments from
the womens’ friends (more so than the men): “OMG you are still beautiful!”
It is the presence of still
that implies that other nasty expression that we all think
but do not want to write, “You have been ravaged by time”.
|Anita Roberts & Nora Patrich painting|
In media, all media women who use Oil of Olay are models in
their 20s. We live in a society that glorifies that kind of youth. If you are
young you will find yourself attracted to people your age. In your 40s you
might opt for a Miata and a younger redhead.
Few ever mention the idea that
persons like this one (74) is attracted to my own wife. She is not still
beautiful. She is beautiful.
In vain I am not able to find women over 40 or over 50 to
pose for me (clothed or not so).
The pictures you see here of the breathtakingly beautiful
Anita Roberts have sat in my files for a couple of years. We had a session with
Nora Patrich when she was in town two years ago. The story behind our
was that I had photographed
Roberts as a much younger woman.
There is a tremendous pleasure in being able to photograph
someone with that long lapse of time.
Because of our 21st
century idea of what is
correct and what is not I had to clone a rose on to her exposed breast. In
spite of it Roberts is beautiful, handsome, striking, regal, elegant and not
still. In fact she might not have been all that when I first photographed her!
|Anita Roberts & Nora Patrich|
Cara o Cruz
Wednesday, March 01, 2017
In previous occasions I have written this about a face:
Gerry Gilbert's Bicycle
Friday, February 24, 2006
in 1980 they sat at a Railway Club table one Saturday night, oblivious
to a loud band playing on the stage. As I watched the pair of them, the
music faded for me, too. She had this nose and the gaze - piercing for a
long time, then remote almost diffused - I had seen seven years earlier
at the Italian Cultural Centre. Gerry Gilbert had read his poetry after
Allen Ginsberg's rather tedious singing and melodeon playing, and had
revived all present. I spotted Gerry often, riding his Chinese bicycle
downtown, and caught glimpses of Tamsin as she worked in a shopping mall
Madeleine Morris's Mouth
Saturday, May 13, 2006
My Spanish grandmother would have said, "She has the map of Jerusalem on
her face." In retrospect I can see what drew me to Madeleine when I
first spotted her face - the pale skin made even whiter by the contrast
with her red lips - in the summer of 1985.
As a boy growing up in Mexico City I would stare at the darkish faces
yelling a strange archaic Spanish from the inside of the orange school
bus that passed by every day. On its side was the inegmatic message " Colegio Hebreo Sefaradita"
. Ever since, Sefaradites or Spanish Jews, have been a mixture of the exotic and the mysterious for me.
In Madeleine's face I can see apparitions of the past. In the deep
shadows of her eyes, I see the little girl peering out from the left
corner of El Greco's The Burial of the Count Orgaz
the church of Santo Tomé in Toledo. In her cheekbones I see her
ancestors praying in a tiny white sinagogue in Granada. Nearby, in an
ornate cathedral, lie the lead caskets of the Catholic Kings who would
exile them forever from Spain in 1492.
Madeleine was raised in Spain, and she always makes it a point to remind
me of the source of power over me in her throaty and impeccable
Castilian. As I photographed her in her tub, she said, while carefully
pulling the top of her yellow and black '50s bathing suit, "I had to
wear something, after all. It has to do with my Jewish sense of
Alas now at my age I find myself unable to write about this face:
María de Lurdes Bejar died young and again my vision of being on a train with passengers that jump out of the window and then when the train arrives at my Retiro station in Buenos Aires I find myself to be the only passenger.
Sandrine Cassini - A Soon-to-be Visit by an Apparition
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Often in these pages I praise the day that I decided to
become a photographer and not a plumber. Plumbing would have been more lucrative and not the
preoccupation of what the next job was going to be as a freelancer.
But there are some perks.
Consider my long photographic involvement with one of the most
spectacularly beautiful (in a haunting 19th century-kind-of-way) ballerinas I have ever met.
This is her curriculum until a couple of years ago:
Born in France, Sandrine Cassini studied at the
Conservatoire Superieur de Paris before being awarded the Prix de Lausanne.
After dancing with the Paris Opera Ballet, she joined Les Ballet de Monte
Carlo, where she danced major roles in works by Balanchine, Forsythe, Neumeier,
Duato Kylian and Maillot. Her career then took her to Zuricher Ballet, San Jose
Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, National Theater Mannheim and recently, Bejart
Ballet, where she performed in Alonzo King’s Figures of Thought. Sandrine has
choreographed works on Staatstheater Regensburg, Ballet Victoria, Dances for
Small Stages in Vancouver, and National Theater Mannheim. Most recently, she
created a work on the LINES Ballet BFA Program entitled Arrowed Down, and she
created the work every cloud has a silver lining on the LINES Ballet Training
Program. She also created And Soon We Are for DTSF’s fall season. In 2014 she
was the Ballet Mistress for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
Since then she has been an extremely active mercenary
dancer/choreographer/instructor traveling Have Tutu - Will Travel) to far flung places. I know of this
because I can plot her movements through our mutual friendship in Facebook. She was last in Iceland.
It seems that soon she will be a guest in our Kitsilano
home. I will have the opportunity of taking photographs of her again. This time
we will also have time to reflect and converse.
I definitely prefer that to working under a kitchen sink.
Nuestra Señora del Internet
Monday, February 27, 2017
Nobody can deny that one’s path towards whatever is
deemed to be a success can be pushed along with a good contact. All those who
in some way either with money or with sycophancy contributed to Trump’s
election are now reaping the benefits. In some case experience is not
For those who are not Roman Catholics or High Church of
England there has always been this problem of not understanding the role of
Christ’s mother Mary into the scheme of what makes Catholics revere her.
It has all to do with that most important word, intercession,
commonly explained by the expression go-between.
If you ask the Virgin Mary, perhaps with the help of a
rosary or in a direct prayer for help in appealing to her Son to help you
retain your job or cure your terminal disease you have good grounds for this.
After all it was in that wedding where wine was run out that the man giving the
feast appealed to Christ’s mother. And wine did pour.
In the same way Catholics appeal to saints, particularly
those known for some specialty, to help them. My mother and grandmother who had
a penchant for losing one from a pair of earrings were often asking St. Anthony
of Padua to help them find the lost article. And they used a quid-pro-quo
approach. If we find the earring we will donate 10 pesos to charity. But if you
Think of any trade, profession or whatever and there is a
patron saint for it. In Mexico drug smugglers have la Santa Muerte..
Another custom much on the way out is naming your child
when it is born by the name of the saint of the day. This is why there are so
many women in Mexico (as an example called by that ungainly name of Petra).
Worse still is naming a girl Mary. In Spanish there are many versions
(variations) of the Virgin Mary. There is Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (which
means all those Mexican women called Lupe are in reality called María de
Worse are those named after our Lady of Perpetual Help
(Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro).
They usually go by the shorter Socorro or even shorte Soco. Imagine shouting after
her ¡Socorro! ¡Socorro! Are you asking for help because you are in a fix
perhaps going down for the third time in a raging and deep river or just
calling for a friend?
Worse of all are those women (usually from every Spanish speaking
country except Argentina, and I will explain) called María de la Inmaculada
Concepción. These Marías are always called by the shorter Concepción and by the
affectionate Conchita. That is verboten in Argentina.
Thanks to Linnaeus
who thought that the sexual organs of
a clam resembled that of a human woman in English a clam can be more than just
a clam. I do not have to go any further, I believe.
In Argentina a concha (clam shell) is what a woman has
that men don’t. This would make it certain that any visiting Conchitas to
Buenos Aires will assert that their name is María.
I wrote here
about Saint Isidore of Seville who the most
Christian Spaniards have designated to be the patron saint of the internet.
I think that this is a splendid choice for the man who
first used the word cama or bed. But I would also like to propose here that
there is a version of the Virgin Mary, Nuestra Señora del Internet who we can
appeal to intercede for us when our computer crashes.