So let’s talk about last weekend: Lots of activities; lots of fun. It was one of those weekends that makes me think I might get a little carried away sometimes in planning my weekends…
Remember how, at the end of that job interview the other day, the GC suggested that I get to know a guy who used to work at the LC and recently moved to Washington? Well, I met up with Brandon briefly during the week for coffee (Perrier and a banana for me, actually), and then again for dinner on Friday at Del Frisco’s Grille. The food was good (and the decadent coconut cream pie nearly did me in) and it was fun to get to know Brandon. Seems like a nice guy; we certainly have a lot in common: same law school, similar language/poli sci undergraduate majors, enthusiastic international traveler, way into the performing arts. But what I really wanted was for him to give me a sense of what my chances were for getting the job. Sadly, he was totally useless on that front. Grr.
The New York City Ballet was in town last week for a series of performances at the Kennedy Center, and on Saturday morning they offered a master class for folks interested in learning more about ballet. Natch, Amy and I signed up right away.
The class was small and taught by Daniel (a principal dancer with calves the size of small children) and Emmy (a member of the corps and approximately 7 feet tall). The other students were mostly middle-aged (or just past) women and two other men, most of whom seemed roughly familiar with dance, but by no means advanced dancers.
The goal of the class was to teach us excerpts from the pieces that the company was performing during the program that night at the Kennedy Center. The bulk of the class focused on a long sequence from Glass Pieces (Jerome Robbins, Philip Glass) that had the great virtue of being both formal enough to feel like we were learning dance moves, and informal enough that our approximation of those dance moves looked basically okay.
|Yes, we did this.|
The other piece was a much shorter “polka” segment from Vienna Waltzes (Balanchine, Strauss). We learned this one at the end, in kind of a rush, but everyone had had such fun with the Glass Pieces that we were eager to give it a try. Plus, with the exception of one bit of fancy footwork (which may have been physically impossible, the teacher’s demonstration notwithstanding), it was intuitive enough that we caught on pretty quickly.
|Why, oh why!, did they not have eveningwear on hand for us in the rehearsal room?|
The class was enormously fun and MUCH better than the ballet classes I’ve been going to here in town. I did not get every step, and I’m sure my form was all over the place, but I had fun and never once felt lost or frustrated. What a difference it makes to have a teacher who is both good at dancing AND at teaching.
To be honest, I went into the performance with some skepticism. I knew these traditional dances were largely symbolic narratives about Indian mythology, and since I know very little about Indian mythology and related dance symbology, I thought I would be bored. Not at all! The movement and music was really lovely and at times entrancing. The lighting needed some work (surely there’s a better way to light improvised portions than just turning on all the lights) and it either needed to be twenty minutes shorter or have an intermission, but overall the presentation was very strong. Now I need to go to India.
After church on Sunday I headed back downtown to meet up with Amy and Danya and another friend of theirs to see Mike Daisey’s American Utopias at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre.
As with all of Daisey’s performances, this one consisted of him sitting alone in the dark at a table on the stage — telling stories. That’s what he does, tells stories — and he’s SO good at it! The substance of the stories can be funny or provocatively political (often both), but the technique of the telling is what fascinates me. The way this homely, obese man can sit there and keep us captivated for two hours without an intermission. It makes me want to be a better story-teller.
But being a good story-teller is hard. Unless you’re on some crazy travel adventure, or going through Trials and Tribulations at home, the stories won’t come unless you pay super close attention to what’s happening and take the time to recognize the story and develop it. None of which I’ve been doing lately.
And now? Back to work.