Saturday, April 21, 2018
“Apenas él le amalaba el
noema, a ella se le agolpaba el clémiso y caían en hidromurias, en salvajes
ambonios, en sustalos exasperantes. Cada vez que él procuraba relamar las
incopelusas, se enredaba en un grimado quejumbroso y tenía que envulsionarse de
cara al nóvalo, sintiendo cómo poco a poco las arnillas se espejunaban…”.
Decay, Death & Beauty
Friday, April 20, 2018
|Camellia x williamsii 'Donation' May 20, 2018|
In the early 70s when we lived in the outskirts of Mexico
City, both my Rosemary and I were influenced by my mother who was a snob. With
glee we talked about the nouveau riche (we were nouveau, halfway between the
bottom poor and the middle class). Those who lived in a new development called
Tecamachalco were particularly in our laughing criticism. We laughed at how
they purchased Formica tables and put glass on top to protect them. They
covered their lampshades with transparent plastic and did the same with their
I have seen the same phenomenon with the new arrivals to
Vancouver. Everything must be new, look new, have no flaws. Everything must be
I do understand. You
come to a new country, a new city and you want to start anew.
It is only once you have settled down and age begins to
affect your thinking that you begin to use the word patina and you suddenly
become keen on antiques.
|Camellia x williamsii 'Donation' May 2 2014|
In a garden the same standards exist once you have been at
it for some years. My Rosemary used to keep the edges of our flower beds (where
they met) with our perfect lawn) neat with scissors. Thankfully we no longer
have a lawn although I believe our cat, Casi-Casi misses rolling on it.
And so now both of us past 70 we have learned to notice and
admire the decay in a garden. My hostas in the fall in some ways rival the
leaves of deciduous trees. Deep red Gallica roses turn blue/purple/grey with
Perhaps the earliest harbinger of decay in a garden (as in
now) are the flowers of camellias. When they age they look messy.
And yet. And yet. Have a look at my two scans from our
Camellia x williamsii ‘Donation’. There is beauty in this decay. Now if only
more of us could see the beauty in old age. After all, every one of us, at that
certain age are no less a classic antique 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. We have
Odile & Odette & a Camellia
Thursday, April 19, 2018
|Camellia japonica 'Swan Lake' April 19, 2018|
My grandmother, born in the 19th
influenced by the shock of Darwin’s theory. Whenever I said something that
demonstrated my ignorance she would say, “La ignorancia es atrevida
ignorance is daring
If my mistake was of
major consequence she would then say, “Asomaste el rabo,”
or “You let your tail show.
Memory tells me that one of my first real boo-boos happened
in Mexico City around 1962 when a music connoisseur asked me if I liked Carmina
Burana. My answer shocked him, “No, who is she?” This one was similar to one in
front of my high school students in Mexico City in 1972. “Mr. Hayward, have
your heard Alice Cooper?” I am sure that anybody who has arrived to this line
will immediately guess my answer.
In the late 80s I became enthused over the police procedural
(not quite, just really good novels) book by Newyorican author Jerome Charyn.
One of the books was Blue Eyes
featuring the gunning down of a policeman
playing ping-pong in a NY City ping-pong club. The story includes Isaac Sidel
the “Pink Commish” who much later becomes President of the United States and
still carries a Glock in the White House.
George Bowering reads from Charyn's Winter Warning
Blue Eyes is sexy (the guy and the novel) and it even
includes a chapter that happens in a very familiar Mexico City since I lived in
that city for many years.
But there was a character in Blue Eyes that defied my
understanding. Who was this Odette who sometimes was Odile and sometimes not?
It took around 20 more years for me to go and see the ballet Swan Lake
to figure that out.
They sat in her room-and-a-half, Odile in plain cotton, a
highcheeked girl with gorgeous fingers and a sturdy profile, and she asked him
what he wanted of her. “Straight talk,” he said.
“Oh the ambitious little cop. First we have some breast
beating confessions from Odette, then a seduction number, with your pants on my
chair. Mister, I’m not so crazy about men this season.”
“Don’t tense up on account of me, Odette. I’m not much with
the girls anymore. I get most of it off on the ping-pong table.”
“Odile,” she said. “I’m Odile. Odette is for the hard-ons. I
remember the ping-pong. You played with Vander with your tie off. Why’d you
“Because I am getting bullshit in both ears, and maybe the
same people who are fucking my brain are fucking yours.”
She decided he was no great shakes of a cop, and she warmed
to him considerably. She mashed two lemons and made him a hot buttered drink in
a tall glass. She opened her icebox for him, spared him the canapés of luncheon
meats and triangular party breads, which she served to male clients and Vander’s
friends, and fixed him one huge, unnatural pancake with primitive utensils and
her own private awkwardness. It was the pancake filled with egg fluff and
clotted bits of sugar, that galvanized Coen’s affections and fastened him to
Blue Eyes Jerome Charyn
Two Straight Men? Pity!
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
|Left to right, Evan Frayne, James Fagan Tait, Noam Gagnon & Kevin MacDonald, April 18 2018|
Curiousity brought me to the opening at the Cultch of James Fagan Tait’s The Explanation last night April 18. It was a the frank theatre company production.
While I cannot prove it except by going to
the probably long lost files of Hospital Anchorena in Buenos Aires I cannot
demonstrate that my birthday was on August 31st 1942. My birth certificate
stipulates that it is April 18, 1943.
My Rosemary was not well so I celebrated my unbirthday at
The Box (my name for the Cultch’s Vancity Culture Lab). The joint is small and
intimate. The Explanation was that, intimate but bigger than you might expect.
To begin with I must play the trumpet, loudly, here (I am an
alto sax player but the trumpet is the appropriate instrument). I believe that
Vancouver as a city may have finally arrived. It seems to be sharing some similarities with my Buenos Aires.
I know that in 2007 Rosemary and I attended the opening of
the Daniel MacIvor play His Greatness
based on a potentially true story about two days in 1980 (in a Vancouver hotel
room) in the last years of the life of Tennessee Williams. The play was superbly played by Allan Gray
(for me he will always be the General),
David Marr (the man with the voice) and Charles Christien Gallant. The latter
was perhaps discovered in that play and became Charlie Gallant
In 2012 there was The Number 14
about a notorious Vancouver bus route.
The Explanation is a Vancouver play. And to be exact (and
this makes it better) it is about Burnaby and Vancouver. It features our main public libarary and our transit system.
In Argentina poetry, novels, stories, music and other arts
that are about principally one city is called Costumbrismo.
Jorge Luís Borges
is the most famous of these costumbristas.
Now we have (finally!) our own costumbrismo thanks to Playwright/Director James Fagan Tait..
Before I go to the particulars I must write about the two
actors, Kevin MacDonald (John)
Frayne (Dick). For they are from the Willford Brimley/Spencer Tracy
non-acting-acting. By this I mean that in the intimate Cultch box these actors made
me forget they were actors. The two were people telling us (and me in
particular) their story.
The play begins with a little shock and I will not reveal
that here. But I have a question for Costume Designer Carmen Alatorre
. "Did you buy everthing the two wore at Value Village?"
The play hit home for me because I understood a little bit
of the conundrum the two men face in this play.
When Rosemary, our two young daughters and I arrived in
Vancouver in 1975 we immediately settled in Burnaby. One of my first jobs,
after renting cars at Tilden was for a gay publication called Bi-Line
end of the 80s there was a huge gay scene in the West End. As the only straight
guy (like John perhaps?) and photographer I had to photograph many men in
various states of undress and I frequented all the gay clubs in town of which I
have fond memories of going for tea at Faces.
One event, at the Luf-a-Fair I have never forgotten. Coming
from a very straight Burnaby to see men with moustaches dancing together to a
disco version of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from his
Messiah was a site that
brought fond memories when Dick and John dance at a Vancouver gay club (before
Yaletown became Yaletown we are told during the play). Their dance movements
were choreographed by that man of delicate and elegant taste (not always it would seem!), Noam Gagnon
here showed another side of him I never suspected!
The play is existential. At one point John says, “We are becoming
what we are.” I am not sure that Sartre would quite agree but it is close enough
to the idea that we are born to be what we are and we become by being. There is
no searching to find oneself in Sartre’s philosophy.
The Explanation is a funny, tender play in which my only
piece of advice is if you ever go to the Vancouver Public Library by the
literary DVD section think twice before talking to a tall woman dressed in black leggings, a black
mini-skirt, a black top, wearing designer glasses and a Prince Valiant wig.
And, I almost forgot. Don't ever eat salmi before a date.
My latent interest in men
Arts Umbrella Dance Company - An Excercise in Excellence
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Any opinions you may read here are all from an amateur dance
enthusiast. These opinions are highly subjective and obviously could not stand
any professional and knowledgeable scrutiny.
On Sunday my Rosemary and I went to the Roundhouse Community
Centre for a varied performance of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company. This local
institution has been having these performances, always on Sunday (Sunday
Performance Series) where one is able to see works in progress.
These performances may be not as well known as they should.
When you have the likes of James Kudelka (my opinion is that he is the best
Canadian choreographer) or Aszure Barton and Crystal Pite testing their works
with the dancers of Arts Umbrella you know that something here is out of the
February's Sunday Series with Noam Gagnon
One of the reasons is that the Arts Umbrella Dance Company’s
goal is not to get your kids out of the streets. Their goal (perhaps mission
would be a more appropriate and fanatical word) is to graduate dancers.
Routinely their graduates go to such places as the Netherland Dance Theatre
(perhaps the best dance company in the world) and others in Europe and New
For $10 dollars I saw a show that would run way over $100 in
bigger cities with a higher dance profile community.
But the fact is that Ballet BC just came back from a
European tour.They are well know around the world and many of their dancers
graduated from Granville Island.
And there is another thing I must mention here. There is a choreographer;
she is quiet and almost unassuming. She is Lesley Telford (a little bird has
told me that Telford has gone bonkers over Argentine Tango). Below is her
Lesley Telford is
presently based in Vancouver, Canada as a choreographer and director of Inverso
Productions as well as directing the Performance Research Project (PReP) at
Arts Umbrella’s Professional Dance Program.
She finished her
studies in Montreal at L’École Supérieur de Danse du Québec before joining the
company Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. She went on to dance with Nacho Duato’s
Compañia Nacional de Danza in Madrid, Spain. Most recently she danced with
Netherlands Dans Theater 1 where she worked with choreographers such as Jiri
Kylian, Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin, Johan
Inger, Crystal Pite and others and performed in major theatres worldwide. She
has set and staged the work of Jiri Kylian as well as Lightfoot/Leon.
As a choreographer,
she has created for Ballet BC, Netherlands Dans Theater 1, Hubbard Street Dance
Company 2 (US), Compañia Nacional de Danza 2 (Spain), Ballet Vorpommern
(Germany), International Project for Dance in Rome- DAF (Italy), Butler Ballet
(US), University of Utah (US) and Arts Umbrella Dance Company. She won the
Pretty Creatives choreographic competition at Northwest Dance Project in 2014.
Her work has been presented in the CaDance Festival and Korzo Theatre in the
Netherlands, International Festival Madrid en Danza and the Reina Sophia Museum
in Spain, Chutzpah Festival, the Banff Festival of the Arts, The Gothenburg
Dance and Theatre Festival and the Schmiede Festival. She is the founder of
Inverso Productions, a platform for interdisciplinary performance, through
which she produced and choreographed a full-length work: Brittle Failure which
has been a part of tours and festivals in Spain, the Netherlands and Canada.
As a teacher, she has
given workshops and classes internationally in many companies and schools such
as Ballet BC, Spring Seminar Vancouver, Prague International Contemporary Dance
Intensive, Danscentrum Gothenburg, Madrid Conservatory of Dance, NDT Summer
Intensive and NDT educational projects. She teaches classes of repertoire,
ballet, contemporary, movement exploration and improvisation/composition.
furthering her artistic research and exploration into the field, she has a
Master of Arts in Cultural Production from the joint program of the University
of Salzburg and the Mozarteum. Her thesis examined the use of the museum as a
performance space for dance. She was also a fellow in a joint research project
with the Zurich University of the Arts in 2013.
She was recently
selected by Crystal Pite for the Vancouver
Mayor’s Arts Award 2015 as emerging artist in dance.
Some of the performances featured Arts Umbrella Dance
Company instructors. Such was the case of the performance that had my granddaughter
Lauren Stewart. This was Penelope Boyse’s Full Bloom. In the pictures below the
dancers wearing white are from Sunshine. The other choreographed work by Penelope Boyse, Sunshine featured the lovely girls dressed in yellow.
A special treat was the participation in the afternoon’s
program of The Historical Performance Ensemble. We learned all about this dance
the preceded just by a bit the rise of ballet. It was promoted by that great
dancer that was Louis IV. They came with three musicians Pat Unruh, Anne
Duranceau (both played violi da gamba) and Edgar Bridwell on baroque violin.
I must explain that as an obsolete, redundant &
retired magazine photographer I have no assignment and no artistic intentions
in taking the pictures that the Arts Umbrella Dance Company allows me to take.
The photographs do not have to be sharp and I can do as I please. And this I