Roses are Red…

The olde nursery rhyme, Roses are red, etc. is probably one of the first rhymes that American children memorize. It’s a charmer for a young child, easy to recite, and to manipulate the last two lines for their own needs be that loving or cutting.
rosese nasty

I remember loving Valentine’s Day from the early days of elementary school. Each teacher I had would lavishly decorate a box that would hold all the valentines our classmates brought to school for their friends. They would be distributed at one time on V Day. All the kids waited anxiously,( the less popular ones probably more anxious than the self assured), hoping to have a substantial accumulation of envelopes piled on their desks to confirm he/she was not an outcast. Unfortunately, these were the yoyo(you’re on your own!) days. There were no mandates that a student should bring or make a card for each classmate.  The distribution of cards was inevitably unequal, and actually an unnamed popularity contest.  I remember the distribution being occasionally excruciating as I waited for a card that failed to materialize. Oh, the heartbreak!

THE powerful and mysterious VALENTINE BOX would appear several days before V Day. They were mostly crepe paper works of art that any young  child would think is gorgeous. I remember studying their construction each time I walked past the teacher’s desk, hoping hoping hoping that my name would be on a reasonable number of envelopes.

caany hearts

Some cards from friends included some small candies which would be an added bonus. Let’s face it, the chalky pastel heart sayings never tasted good, but they were fun to look at and I managed to eat them even if they didn’t taste very good.

I think by the time we got to middle school the Valentine Distribution was over. At least I have no memories of such events. Just as well, because I know it would have been painful for me. Those years were awful as far as I was concerned. I didn’t know who my friends were from day to day.
valentine

I used to enjoy going antiquing in New England with my Mom. I quickly began to collect vintage Victorian Valentines. I think they’re beautiful to this day.
victoriaan valentine

The truth is I like to decorate things. Vday makes it easy. When one of my granddaughters passed through her first VDay I saw it as a perfect opportunity to dress her up. See digital card below.
nat valentines day

Vinegar Valentines could be found in the Victorian era if needed.
vinegar-valentines-lemon_valentine

Fast Forward to having my own family. I tried to do it up for my kids when they were young. My mother would always send large boxes of candy for each child, along with other Valentine -themed miscellany. My Dad had a grocery store, so I imagined that she had fun with a grocery cart at the candy counter piling up the junk. My kids were invariably thrilled. I kept the Valentine tradition going, probably longer than I needed to!

My parents gave me Valentine cards as long as they lived. My father often bought me a heart shaped box of Whitmans’s candy. That was a Big Deal, because he hated to shop, even though I knew he’d probably gone next door to the drugstore to buy the heart!   I’d kept those boxes as treasures and the chocolate scented paper cups and liners that contained the candy too. The lavish heart boxes resembled coffins as far as I was concerned, but they somehow managed to still look glamorous.

I continued the tradition of giving each of daughter a card each year, long after they were grown.

One year, after experiencing a drought of cards from my children, I let it be known that my feelings were hurt. The daughter I shared my sadness with, looked at me with alarm and curiosity. “Why should I give you a card?”she wanted to know. “After all, I am not your boyfriend.”

Now I still will get a card for my younger grandkids, but the older ones? They’re on their own! (TOTO)They never inquired why I stopped sending them cards.  Sadly, I don’t seem to be on their lists either, assuming they have one! But it’s understood we love each other, I hope!

A Contemporary Valentine:

Dear Donald Trump,
Roses are red,
Like, so red.
So red, you won’t even believe that they’re real roses.
Trust me, I know roses.
And these roses are red.

Knowing Love

Today, visiting my umpteenth Kyoto temple ( this time, Shoren-in )I thought how each time I reconnect with the places, things and people I love here, it’s like meeting an old friend after a long absence.  You can’t explain its satisfaction and happiness, but you sure know it and feel it.

The delicate maple leaves in the temple gardens  are certainly familiar as is the smile on a loved one’s face or the twinkle in their eye. The junction of wall and roofing always pleases too, not to mention the koi in the ponds, the stones, the quiet, the moss, the flowers, the mysteries hidden in the darkened sanctuaries.  How wonderful to be reunited!

 

People often ask me, how many times have you come here?  I truly don’t know, I stopped counting years ago.  It’s irrelevant anyway.  There’s always a First Time feeling to each visit.  I revere the integration of Nature in daily life.  The physical buildings of temples, generally hundreds of years old, are such a part of each temple landscape, looking as if they might have emerged from the earth itself. The carefully constructed gardens are often sublime.  It’s easy to feel a part of them as they have become a part of me.  As loved ones influence and mark our lives, so does this place for me.

 

 

What a Powerful Month!

our line up
our gang: L to R: Kate Weare, Larry Keigwin, Aszure Barton, Doug Varone, me, Mark Dendy, Brian Brooks, Doug Elkins

September ushered in a whirlwind month for me and what a month it’s been!
I’m still shaking the star dust out of my hair and enjoying the afterglow of what was for me, the perfect culminating 10th Anniversary residency for DANCEworks. It celebrated DANCEWork’s decade of devotion to adding to the creation of new modern/contemporary dance in the USA.

The smiles and good will generated by all the performances were powerful. It felt like a perfect antidote to the recent display of nastiness in our culture, that we’ve all become too familiar with. Ah, the power of art to bring people together. I experienced an elusive mystical moment of oneness, when the power of dance displayed the human condition so well, that audience and performers merged together in spirit.

ryan
Jason Cianciulli, representing Shannon Gillen, COLORVISION
William Brisco,representing Aszure Barton, Awáa
brian brooks
Brian Brooks, I’m Going to Explode

I realized in the process that a large part of the thrill of it all is about being able to share my passion for dance with others. I think that’s what moves he choreographers as well. While sitting in the audience, I feel very much in tune with them, yet somewhat apart. There’s an energy released at the conclusion of each performance,if the audience has been moved by what they’ve experienced, that is elevating. No other way to describe it. Fucking thrilling. The joy on the faces of the dancers at the conclusion of a satisfying performance is no less elevating. ” We’re in this together,” their smiles say to me. ” So thrilled you got it.”

elkins 2018
Doug Elkins dancers performing their new work, Kintsugi
Doug-Elkins_Press
Doug Elkins, 2018 Choreographer in Residence

You never can be sure during the planning stage of a big event that you’re getting the details right and that your instincts are correct.There are no guarantees in this world. I guess that’s part of the excitement. Unlike turning on the tv to watch something pre-recorded, you know you’re in an amphitheatre where anything can happen. There are no second takes or opportunities to do over. That is part of the excitement and what gives a successful live performance an added kick.

varone
Doug Varone, Nocturne
mark dendy
Mark Dendy, Rumsfeld, from Elvis Everywhere
keigwin
Larry Keigwin, Ballad #1
adam worst pies
Adam Barruch, The Worst Pies in London from Sweeney Todd
nicle diaz
Nicole Diaz, dancer for Kate Weare, Praise

As the choreographers began to arrive on performance week, I felt an enormous sense of gratitude for their commitment to travel hundreds and often thousands of miles to join our celebration. I said on stage that if I’d died then and there I would have died happy.

That was not an understatement, but it might have ruined the party.

 

 

  • photos by David Bazemore

A DAY FOR LOVE

wedding day

Throughout the centuries, great minds have tangled with the meaning of LOVE.  It’s a big mysterious word, yet one that is used frequently and casually in our culture.  Although we all speak of love frequently,  we don’t have many opportunities to immerse ourselves in its radiant glow.

On a basic level if we are lucky, we learn to:  Love our parents, love food, love God, love the sunrise, love Thanksgiving, love our child, love our dog, love the full moon, love a restaurant, love to travel, love to dance, love a movie, love the color green, love a sibling, love our Manolo Blahniks, love yoga, love San Francisco, love the sunrise, love flowers, trees, the ocean, and the Sierras. You get the idea.  We get some bang for the buck from each of these relationships, but can take many of them for granted.

I only want to comment about being in the presence of a universal ritual devoted to love, called a wedding.  It caused me to pay attention to LOVE in a way I don’t often get to do.

We had a small wedding at our home recently.  It was not for a close family member, but for a friend.  It was a privilege to be present and to witness the love that surrounded those present and the spaces we shared.

It goes without saying the bride was beautiful.  The groom was dashing.  The day was spectacular.  The setting intimate and personal.

But, what I will remember most and what permeated everything was the spoken and unspoken celebration of love.

I was aware that this ancient tradition is the highest expression of our humanity.  Before me stood  a young couple, deeply in love, vowing to be there for each other. Their parents, relatives and close friends heard their vows and surrounded them with their own love for each.

I was aware of what a brief moment in time we were sharing together in this fragile world and fragile life.  A sacred moment of beauty, intimacy and hope.

It was a time that seemed blessed, no matter its length.  It was a time of smiles, laughter and tears.  It spoke of the importance of family, continuity and friendship.  Most of all, it was a glorious day for LOVE.

We are born of love; love is our mother.  Rumi