This is a Christmas card I received from one of my clients in prison. He obviously spent a good portion of his inmate funds on this, and I found it so sweet when I received it Friday, I burst into tears. Anyway, I will share it with you all, to wish everyone a wonderful holiday. I have to say, Christmas sometimes really depresses me. I start thinking of everyone who is alone — my clients in prison, the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill who have no one, orphans, etc. etc. etc. It’s just heart-breaking. Since I’m spending the holiday alone myself (though not ALONE alone; I expect to be receiving umpteenth phone calls from relatives ), I contacted a local volunteer organization that sends people to soup kitchens and shelters, but they told me that, ironically, Christmas-time is just about the only time they are NOT lacking in help — just about any other time of the year they’d love me. I made a mental note to try to volunteer at some other point, if and when I’m ever not dancing or working!
Anyway, trying to keep sadness at bay and keep an upbeat attitude… this weekend I had another dance / theater marathon. Yesterday, I went to my last Alvin Ailey performance of the season, sadly. I saw some brilliant dancing and choreography, of course! The matinee’s ballets included The River, a gorgeously dreamy ballet choreographed by Ailey himself to Duke Ellington music, with all dancers dressed in light blue, which kind of reminded me of Clear or Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes — beauty for beauty’s sake. And, I saw Pas De Duke for the first time, which was originally choreographed for Judith Jamison and Baryshnikov. I liked, but didn’t love it. Ailey called it a modern pas de deux (dance for two people), but there was hardly any partnering; it was mostly side by sides, with the dancers interacting a lot with each other emotionally, but not physically. I loved Dwana Adiaha Smallwood (probably the most famous current dancer in the company) in the female role — she was a badass! I can only imagine how Jamison must have performed the part! Then, Solo, by Hans van Manen, was next, a beautiful piece designed, despite its title, for three men, alternating between a pas de trois and each man dancing alone onstage. And the last was Love Stories, a very fun ballet choreographed in honor of Ailey by Jamison, Robert Battle and hip hop choreorapher Rennie Harris. It alternated between hip hop, disco-y jazz, and ballet, and had some absolutely spectacular lifts — man carrying woman over his head while circling the stage multiple times — and jumps — twice a woman jumped up on the chest of a man arching his back — crazy!
I sat in the orchestra pit for this one! I don’t know why these seats are so cheap ($25) — they’re so close to the stage, you feel like you’re practically one with the dancers (a feeling that of course I savor!), and, unlike at the Met when you’re so near to the stage, at City Center you can still see the dances’ feet perfectly. Afterward, they held another post-performance panel discussion with some of the dancers, like last time.
This time we had two Frenchmen, Malik Le Nost and Willy Laury (in the glasses — one of my favorites, whom I always seem to see in the Sinner Man part of Revelations which is odd because they always say they alternate between all the roles; I recognize him partly by this cool tattoo that he has on his hip snaking down to his groin area, which is always peeking out from the top of his cinnamon red Sinner man pants ), and I think the woman was Khilea Douglass (she was sitting on the far side from me, so I didn’t hear her name clearly or see her face). I really enjoy these discussions — I appreciate hearing the dancers talk about the work from their perspective.
Today, I went to see Spring Awakening, the new big thing on Broadway.
There were a lot of people out in NY for it being Christmas Eve day…! This Rent-like musical was recommended to me by my friend, Mark, who knew I liked Bill T. Jones, the show’s choreographer (hi Mark!) and I also saw a fellow Winger post about it on her website. I liked it, but I have to say it didn’t move me hugely on my first viewing. It’s something I may have to see again (when it comes down a bit in price!), but I did like the music, the singing was great, and the staging (which I assume was what Jones was responsible for, since there really wasn’t any dancing) was a lot of fun. I guess what I didn’t like was the basic story — it’s based on a German play from the 1890s — and wasn’t something I haven’t heard a zillion times before, so it definitely told me nothing new. And, it seemed a bit melodramatic and I couldn’t understand the motivations of some of the characters. I also wanted some real dancers for Jones to work with! Maybe I’ve just seen so much dance lately I expect everyone to go soaring through the air like an ABT or Alvin Ailey member. I’ve got so used to seeing abstract expressions of thought revealed through the sublime vehice of a near miraculous human body that I just didn’t want to hear any dialog! — which is VERY odd for me since I used to be so into dramas. But I guess I’ve never been a huge fan of musicals in the first place — the only one I think I’ve ever liked is the Cabaret of the Mendes / Cumming variety. But, everyone seems to love this musical, so I’m sure that whatever I didn’t see in it on first viewing is just me
So, this will be my single-girl-in-the-city Christmas dinner for tomorrow: an artisanal chicken pot pie made by Just Rugelach and bought at my local Sunday farmers’ market, fresh spinach with Olde Cape Cod honey mustard viniagarette currently on sale at my local Food Emporium, and Barefoot Sauvingon Blanc from Nancy’s Wines, preceded by my favorite appetizer of Greek taramosalata (red caviar mixed with pureed potatoes and other lovely ingredients) on Russian black bread, and for dessert, thick delicious (and immensely fatty) Southern Comfort Egg Nog, and some Haddington Farms chocolate-covered peanut caramel clusters sent by Mom Yum!
And, finally, here’s some of my Christmas reading! Two novels I’ve been hoping for time to sink my gums into — Home Land by Sam Lipsyte, which is a dark comedy in the style of Augusten Burroughs and consists of letters an alum writes to his alma mater on the eve of his high school reunion basically telling them how life DIDN’T pan out so hunky dory (just my type of thing ), and the other, The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter, was recommended by Nick Hornby to his fans a long time ago, which I never got around to buying, but some nice person in my apartment building left this copy for me on top of the recycle bin! And these two lovely works of fiction sit here atop my stacks of trial transcripts for the next case I’ll be working on. I promised friends and family I WOULDN’T do any work work, but if I get antsy enough….
Anyway, happy holidays everyone!