He could not pronounce 'Ellen' so he called me 'Mary Elephant' I was a baby, and he was three and a half. Anything Joe liked, I liked. Anything he called me, I became. My older brother, as older siblings do, shaped me. Some days we were inseparable. As we grew, some days were difficult. I always looked to him for definition.
I became an elephant. One evening, Joe sat with his speak n' spell working over his vocabulary list for the third grade. He asked, "How do you spell Elephant?"
"E-L-E-P-H-A-N-T" I replied.
"She is in kindergarten!" he said with tears in his eyes. I didn't understand, because I thought he knew that he was the one who taught me that word.
I was told to go to my room. I didn't play downstairs while Joe did his homework anymore after that.
In Melbourne right now there is a parade of elephants all over the city. Mosaic elephants, painted elephants, knitted elephants, all with their trunks up, of course. I see them everywhere and it makes me feel home. I asked a dear friend of mine, a man I was once in love with, who I still very much love, to draw me an elephant.
I just want a little elephant with me all the time. One that can never leave.
Now I have an elephant sitting above my left ear.
I just wish Joe was still here.
Balaclava to Fitzroy via Elsternwick and tram 96.
See you again soon.
Last night was my last evening with the Melbourne Contact Improv Jam at Cecil st studios. I attended a improvisational teacher training workshop my first week in Australia with Al Wunder, and I immediately fell in love with the space. It has a feeling much like Eden's Expressway in Soho and The Woods Cooperative in Ridgewood Queens.
The contact community in Melbourne is really open and accepting and I know I'm really going to miss it.
As I type this, a train is carrying passengers like myself away from Melbourne to Ballarat and beyond. Al Wunder has invited me out To stay with him and his wife for a few days. I'll be back for the weekend, but then Sunday I will depart for Sydney. I am really going to miss the community, the city of Melbourne, and the very special people with whom I've had the pleasure of dancing and laughing.
This is a jam where I really felt contact.
Returning to New York feels like a dream to me now. I am so comfortable here.
Finding home in many places is a blessing, to be sure. There is just so much more to love this way.
I bet Jay would love Silent Bob to get him a Magnum right now. They are delicious.
I usually have really good experiences in transit. I don't mean that I have impeccable timing or psychic knowledge what station is in proximity to the best little noodle spot in town. Well, sometimes I know that...
What I mean is I meet the most interesting people. This has happened to me my entire life. Once, a man on a bus tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I would believe he was an actor, then demonstrated his command of some Shakespearean soliloquies. I was eight and on my way to ballet class. Seriously. Sometimes I don't ever think much about them past our transport interlude; but SOMETIMES I end up meeting someone really special. Today, while on the 96 tram to brunswick in Melbourne, I met Jay & Silent Bob.
Okay not really, but they were pretty damn close to the real thing. I'll call them Jay & Aussie Bob. They crowded next to me-Aussie Bob plopping beside me reeking of cigarettes, and Jay sliding a clear trash bag of clothes onto the seat in front of me and immediately asking me questions. Granted, sometimes I walk around with a ukulele and this seems to make me more approachable. Lots of people smile at me or ask me to play a song, and sometimes I will oblige. I wasn't so keen when Jay asked me for a tune.
"Aw, come now, don't be shy!"
"I'm not shy, I just don't always want to talk"
"Okay, love, I understand...is that a ukulele? I played the piano when I was a kid."
And I was hooked. He had the gift of gab and leveled himself immediately to make me feel comfortable. Aussie Bob, characteristically, just sat there. Jay went on to tell me about his childhood scholarship to music school in Queensland to his father who gave him a guitar to his recent time in the slammer to his five month old baby girl who died from SIDS.
Heavy. He was a professional at accepting a strangers sympathy, which is a quality I can recognize in a heartbeat. Perhaps I project, but I know a little about personal tragedy and the awkwardness that it can bring to a conversation. Awkward so much that you, the person in pain, feel the need to reassure the listener and convey your plucky togetherness to prove you've accepted it and are healthily moving on with your life. I had to stop him in his starring role in this two man show and took the mic.
I told him to take care of himself. I told him that these things take lots of time and you don't understand what happened right away. I told him exactly how I knew the pain he knew, and he took my hand and said how sorry he was that I knew. He thanked me, and called me genuine. Whether or not he listened to what this stranger shared with him about taking care of himself I'll never know,, because even when people told me that I never understood what they meant. That may sound naive, but I had no idea that it meant really big important things like DON'T BE AFRAID TO STOP AND GRIEVE FOR AWHILE, and DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF, and especially, WHEN YOU ARE READY, DO THINGS THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY ABOUT LIFE AGAIN, and most importantly-IT'S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP.
Those really big, helpful, loving, honest things that you need to give yourself in order to keep going. Maybe Jay had that, maybe he's learning. He wasn't much older than me, and although he was imprisoned for assault (he assured me he was defending himself and he wasn't a criminal) he seemed to be a pretty quick witted guy. Maybe these were lessons he had figured out. I really have no idea.
But I do know that because of him I was reminded of the laborious pursuits of understanding and love over the years and how much I have learned and how much more there is still left. I'll probably never get to thank him.
Jay was a quick learn on the uke and after nailing three chords, made up a little tune about meeting me...
"I learned to play the ukele-leeeee, from a girl who looks like Gwen Stepha-neeeee, she didn't judge that I was arrested for getting in a fight..."
then Aussie Bob chimed in with an almost unintelligible mumble,
"I play the trombone every night."
Aussie Bob, everyone. Aussie Bob.
I have been super silent on this blog for some time now...but I am back and ready to write all about Australia!
That's right! I am in Australia at this very moment. I arrived last month and not being seeing the bright lights of the big apple until September.
So far I have been studying at Chunky Move and Lucy Gurin here in Melbourne, and Sydney Dance Company and AusDance while I was in Sydney.
I also had the priviledge of studying under Al Wunder, another descendent of Alwin Nikolais. My entire department at Hunter (well...many of them) had some relationship with the Nikolais company in some way, and isn't it wonderful to find someone else all the way on the other side of the earth? I was just enthused to be a part of his improvisational teacher training workshop at Cecil st Studio in Fitzroy. Cecil st is also home to the Melbourne contact improv scene. I've attended their weekly Tuesday jams for three weeks and found the community open, passionate, and really well attended and accepting.
I am awaiting word to see if my contact Dean Walsh from Sydney Dance Company will bring me back to Sydney for some more dancing in a rehearsal setting. I really hope that connection pans out.
Aside from dancing, I've been indulging in Bikram yoga, boxing classes, an occasional run along Port Philip while I'm in Melbourne, and lots of animal watching at the zoo...not to mention swimming with nurse sharks & cheeky sting rays :)
This post really is a huge recap of the past five weeks, and due to a new iPad app I'll be able to update more frequently!
Tomorrow I head back to morning class at Chunky Move (I took today off...rest is important too!), More hot yoga (it's very chilly here...I left summer in new york), some video editing, and some more shooting at the beach.
Goodnight...as soon as I can I'll post some photos via my iPad :)
Jeez, who knows anymore?
So training for the race has a new aspect-MY DAD IS COMING TO RUN WITH ME! Can you believe that? He ran a 1/2 marathon THIS MORNING and will be traveling to Brooklyn to come run with me for TURTLES! So good. My dad rocks the turtle shell like none other.
@ MOMA's Talk to Me exhibit. You should go, I did!
The Jewish New Year has passed and I'll take any chance at new beginnings and sweetness. Apples and honey all around, please. Pass the maple syrup, too!
Yesterday involved one Melissa West and Joshua Sotomeyor at the Stone Barns Center Harvest Fest. So we got to make pork sammiches and police the beer drinkers and hang with some piglets of both the hog and human variety. It was rad, smelled incredible and the kids running about provided endless smiles all around.
Jon Kinzel finished up his week at Movement Research and let me tell you what-WORTH IT. The NOT Festival is happening now-October 8th. Jon Kinzel is teaching as is Luis Lara Malvacias and Lindsey Dietz Merchant and MORECLICK FOR DETAILS
I am in the process of completing a new video with footage taken from over the summer. I traveled to Rochester and Boston, and visited friends and family. This is a compilation of that journey. It includes South Boston's experience of Hurricane Irene! I wish it was as fun everywhere as it was in Boston-but I know Vermont was particularly affected.
Stay tuned for that, and in the meantime-subscribe to my videos on YouTube! YAY!
I don't think that was actually seven days-but whose counting? Autumn is here and my countdowns are finished, unless
Make a pledge to help me reach my fundraising goal of $250.00 to help the Wildlife Conservation Society preserve habitats for Turtles!
Click the Turtle below to get to the donation page.
running is cool.
I'm tackling the autumn months with a new directive-running.
I used to run much more before I moved to NYC, and I'm taking up the habit again :) My father is a half marathon runner and it is my goal to be able to run with him in a half marathon next year.
So, I found a local 5k race that focuses on TURTLES (and other sealife)! The turtle is my father's totem animal, so this is a dedications of beginnings to him.Click for info on the Wildlife Conservation Society Run for the Wild!
I find that when I run more, I dance better, I feel better, I laugh more-it's kinda a panacea for health.
Look for a new project this october-a dance video dedicated to NYC park running.
Believe me, it will be ridiculous and fun :) If you want to be a part of it, comment here or fill out the contact form
on the site!
So we were talking, about life and love and expectation and hopes and goals...
kind of. I was super tired and not really totally engaging in the conversation because I was so wrapped up in memories and then...
Then my friend John said this:
focus on your heart. and your legs--make them move in ways that make you happy. and then your heart will follow. and then you will be in love.
Well that stopped me in my thought tracks.
I needed that.
I realize that it has been some time since I wrote in this blog. I have been looking...looking for so many things! What to do next how to move forward, and what direction to take. It's been a major thinking period in the choreography of life, and as a dancer and dance maker, I am forever constructing and deconstructing what I want and need to do in this life.
I have just returned from a two week trip. I'm not actually even home yet. I am sitting in a home in NJ, listening to my boyfriend play the piano as I make the decision-register for the yoga teacher training? Find work here and attend a local training? I'm not sure of the plan that is ahead-but I do know that I am making progress as my options become more specific and exact. Process can be a line, but more often, my process feels like a spiral.
Everyone I meet is looking. Looking out or in, that is their journey-but I admire and respect the ways that we are all finding and carving out our paths. One must act. One must make a decision. It may not be right, but hopefully we make it with the information and wisdom we have at the time.
I believe very much in the intention of dance and life, and believe that no matter if your passion is gardening, computer sciences, or dance, it is your very intention that can begin whatever journey you are on. If you do not intend for something, will you be able to have any direction at all?
I hope your summer seeking is going well.
BUT thanks to the internet-I can find it again :)
March 11, 2011 was Martha Graham's Birthday and Google made this animation to commemorate the day! So Cool.
Here it is in case you missed it too!
HBD Madam Graham. Very Belated.