Strange weekend. Today marks the one year anniversary of my cat, Najma’s, death from congestive heart failure. I still miss her after all this time. I still miss the way she would, true to her Russian Blue Breed: open my bedroom and bathroom doors while I was sleeping or showering (Russian Blues don’t like to be left out of ANYTHING, so, seriously, they will stand on their hind legs, and twist the door knob with their paws while applying the proper amount of force to make the door open; only way to keep them out is to actually lock the door); “talk” (again, R.B.’s don’t like to be kept out of ANYTHING, so whenever I had a friend over, she’d inch her fuzzy little silvery gray body between us on the couch and, looking back and forth at whoever was talking, would grunt a little meow, and if you didn’t every once in a while acknowledge her with a “right,” or “oh,” or “uh-huh”, would start to paw at you or even bite! — I had friends who were more than a little creeped out by this behavior… I thought it adorable, of course!); and I miss the way she would sassily shake her little behind when she walked (one leg being shorter than the other). A lot of people don’t understand how hard it is to lose a pet; they figure a pet’s not a human so you should just get over it. But it’s really one of the hardest things in the world. Najma was the first pet I had as an adult, on my own, and she was my little roommate, always home, always there for me. And making the decision to put her to sleep, after both my vet and the emergency animal hospital doctor told me there was nothing more to do — she could be ‘saved’ again through emergency surgery and an oxygen cage but she was likely to go right back into congestive failure and suffocating on fluid in one’s lungs was a horrible way to die — was thus far the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life… Anyway, I really don’t want to re-live that day… Here are some pics of her that I hung on my magnetic door.
So, trying to escape my depression this weekend … after trekking out to Valentina’s again on Saturday for my initial costume fitting (she’s just cut the material, hasn’t sewn it up yet, so at this stage I can never tell how it’s going to look), I went to an open air book fair in front of the Housing Works Used Bookstore in SoHo. While in SoHo, I passed this interesting public art exhibit comprised of a mass of post-it notes that spelled out the words “To Do” and which allowed passersby to write on the exhibit their own ‘to do’ notes — some very funny entries! The book fair was okay, but they mostly just had used books by established authors. I bought a copy of Saul Bellow’s “Herzog,” Amy Bloom’s collection of short stories, “A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You,” and this novel I saw on Amazon and have wanted to read, “One Pill Makes You Smaller,” by Lisa Dierbeck. All of the books at the SoHo fair were only $1, but I still liked the Brooklyn Book Festival much better — even though the books were full price, or near full price, I got more exposure to new authors, and independent presses. There need to be more book festivals like the Brooklyn one — in general, there need to be more forums for new, emerging artists.
Speaking of which, Alyssa (wonderful friend who trekked out to Martha’s Vineyard with me to see Marcelo Gomes‘s choregraphic debut) and I are planning to go to the choreographic debut of another ABT dancer, Matthew Murphy, on Tuesday night, as part of Dance Off at P.S.122. He’s posted a bit about it on his blog. I just often find new artists a lot more interesting, a lot fresher, than established ones. Should be fun!
Today, I went to my second of two shows of the Fall For Dance Festival now underway at City Center. This is a great festival — each night five different dance companies perform an excerpt from one of their larger works, so the audience gets exposure to many different companies (most of them the smaller ones that don’t get a lot of publicity). On Friday night, highlights for me included the Dutch National Ballet (performing beautiful contemporary duet, “Before After”, depicting two lovers just before they break up), Pennsylvania Ballet (excerpts from a contemporary piece choreographed to Rufus Wainright music), and Bill. T. Jones dance company’s excerpts from his fascinating “Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (there was so much going on in that one — spoken words, famous text spoken backward — ie: ‘last at free, last at free’, a jazz band, singers, on top of the incredibly amazing dancers, and super fun choreography including crazy turns and jumps, pretend spanking, men lifting other men, etc. etc. etc. — I must definitely see that one again!). Highlight today, and, for me, probably of the entire festival, was Compagnie Franck II Louise, an all male French troupe whose dance style I’d call hip-hop combined with modern, or innovative hip-hop. Franck Louise (who is damn cute, I might add!) spoke before the show at a panel discussion about the uses of technology in choreography, and he said (in French, through an interpretor) that he is a dancer as well as a musician, and he uses this sound machine while choreographing, into which he kind of feeds music, and the machine tosses it around and mixes it up, then spits it back out, and the dancers move their bodies according to how they hear the music. I couldn’t completely understand how the technological device worked, but the dancing his company performed was some of the most innovative and awesome I’ve ever seen. This one guy expanded and contracted his diaphram to create a physical interpretation of the music in rather humorous ways, which I didn’t even know were possible (reminded me in a weird way of the Puppetry of the Penis show I’d seen — I mean, regarding use of the body to make different shapes), and another spun around and around on his head for what seemed to be minutes — I have absolutely no idea how he did that; I definitely would not have thought it impossible if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. I luckily had a seat right at the edge of the stage, but I don’t think it mattered where you sat: the audience was screaming, and they got a unanimous standing ovation, the first I’ve seen at this festival. This was their U.S. debut, but if the audience response here is any indication, I’m sure they’re going to be welcomed back at many more venues. They definitely ended my weekend well, getting me over my Najma depression. Go see them whenever you can!