Thursday, 24 November 2011

non flamenco activities in my life...

It's been gallery week! Of course, I've had all of October and November to get these visits in, but no, left it all till the last possible moment! I am fitting 3 gallery visits in in a week as the exhibitions I want to see are over before I get back in January!!!

Wednesday I went to Bata Shoe Museum to see a Roaring '20's exhibit. Can we just say major drooling! Did you know the ankle strap and t-strap became necessary so women wouldn't lose their shoes while dancing the Charleston? The Louis Vuitton travel trunk that housed 30 pairs of shoes in individual compartments was fantastic. How posh!

As well, there was an exhibit entitled Art in Shoes-Shoes in Art. Dating back to the 1500's, it combined lithography and wood-block prints (which I LOVE) with historical artifacts from their permanent collection. Didn't know St. Crispin and St. Crispinian (very religious cobblers) were the patron saints of shoemakers. And it concluded with print items i.e. caricatures/advertising posters from the Victorian era through to current day photography and sculpture...foot fetish anyone?

Yesterday I visited the Gardiner Museum specializing in ceramics. The Tsar's Cabinet, from a private collection of decorative arts, included work of Faberge, gilded dinner services, serving pieces, imperial porcelain eggs and historic court photos. The extravagance of life in palaces and yachts during the Romanov era is mind boggling. Also from a private collection, were pieces owned by the Grand Duchess Olga, the younger sister of Tsar Nicolas II, who spent her final years living in Toronto.

A second exhibit was the Twelve Trees of Christmas, a yearly event of trees decorated for public viewing and then donated to homes and shelters for the holiday season. All I can say is, "oh-high-end-decorators-of-Toronto-which-I-thought-would-mean-fabulous-trees", so sad, so sad! Took a picture of the worst one EVER and someday, when I figure out why my phone and computer tell me they can't connect, I will show you and you will laugh!!

One more to visit, coming up...the ROM!

Friday, 18 November 2011

I like to watch....

Earlier in the week, I had the pleasure of staying in Vineland, ON with my friends John and Connie. They like to cook and, well, I like to watch. This does go along with the fact that I have always loved reading cookbooks and I can spend a fair amount of time in the company of the Food Network. But this was somehow different.

It was the first time that I truly understood the beauty of a centre island for food prep. Sure, lots of people have them. Sure, they are fabulous for parties so friends can gather around. But, picture being seated comfortably, a fabulous glass of red wine in hand, lovely music playing...and you are quietly watching two people who love to cook.

I was fascinated by the care taken by John slicing the cremini mushrooms just so for the mushroom gravy. I confess, I am a bit of a hacker, the faster the better. Connie prepared the pork tenderloin for pounding into cutlets utilizing dexterity with saran wrap few of us could achieve. The oven roasted potatoes were to die for and let us not forget the home made apple pie! I am told the secret to the pastry is adding vodka...if that excites you, let me know, I will ask specifics.

Now if only I could get to a point where I really like to cook. I get it, I understand. Like I said, I love to watch. Maybe I need the "I love to cook fabulously" fairy to wave her magic wand? I'll let you know if it happens.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

what a week!

Crazy weather, freezing, raining, warm, windy!!! Quit with the changing air pressure!!!

After my lazy day on Monday, everything kicked back into high gear! Rehearsal and classes as usual Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Plus, I have yet again added another class to my schedule....palmas class has started up again. Yes, I am paying someone to teach me how to clap!!!

Lisa, a flamenca from Winnipeg, came for a workshop and stayed with us for a few days. We had a nice dinner out with some of the other dancers. Christine, a flamenca from St. Johns, Newfoundland surprised us by getting a cheap last minute flight on Porter. Good visit!! Much fun!!!

Did you notice the class schedule?? I see a part-time job in my future!! When I get back from California on January 5, I will be job hunting for sure.

Tomorrow I am going to Vineland for a little R&R with the Vickrucks for a few days...can't wait!! Time for me to pick up a book and try to read a few chapters!!! Sweet dreams all!!!

Monday, 7 November 2011


I know I came here to be busy but I still like a day with few obligations and definetly no classes!!! Mondays have become that day. I don't want to sleep the day away either. Up by 10, some yoga, some brekkie, my stretchy-keep-the-body-going exercises, groceries if I HAVE too, catch up on Y & R at 4:30 with a cup of tea.

Today I planned how I was going to fit in all the exhibits at the galleries I want to see. Oh, and I paid a bill, actually walked to the mailbox to get it in the mail. There are a few bills left in the world apparently that you still need a cheque bizarre.

In TO there is a free museum admission program called MAP, Museum + Arts Pass, coordinated by library branches for Bata Shoe Museum, AGO, ROM, Gardiner and others. I never go and stand in line, which you need to do to score passes for AGO and ROM, I just get what is available. In September, I went to the Gardiner and this month I am going to Bata Shoe. There is an exhibit of shoes from the Roaring 20's...drooling just thinking about it. It's on till June 2012 if you want to put it on your calendar.

This is very interesting...ROM has lowered their admission prices from $24 to $15. I want to go see the David Hockney exhibit entitled Fresh Flowers, "paintings" he has done on Ipads etc. plus several other exhibits that really interest me. The Hockney is only on till Jan 1.

Then there is the Grace Kelly exhibit at TIFF Bell Lightbox which runs till January 22, a Chagall exhibit at the AGO until January 15, the Tsar's Cabinet at the Gardiner until January 8...phew!!

Sunday, 6 November 2011


I started a second dance class this week...after a year of no dancing.....ouch.....feet....I forgot how much your feet can hurt! Hello ice packs! For the month of November (at least) a new teacher, recently arrived from Cuba, is offering classes.

Cuba? Flamenco?? Si. Danza Cuba is a phenomenal company trained by the brilliant Lizt Alfonso. A documentary, which Veronica Tennant was actively involved in developing, was presented at Luminato a few years ago entitled Vida (life). I wonder if it runs on Bravo sometimes? (fyi clip above is not from Vida). Ima and her partner, who played cajon, were so enthusiastic when we got the footwork right we were cheering! Have not laughed that much in a dance class ever!

It was not only my second class of the week but my first class of 1 hour and 30 minutes...another reason for the ouch factor! The two palos (styles) taught were tangos and bulerias. There was no way I was going to dance for 3 hours so I opted for bulerias. Bulerias is my nemesis....this is a style you would break into on your own at a party and improvise. Me, not so good at it! I also have a mental block against it as I find the cante (singing) difficult. So, I am taking it on head first....focusing on the cante and the baile this year to see if I can get somewhere with it. We'll see!

Friday, 4 November 2011

I have a roommate!!

Christine finally arrived home from Europe last night. The original return date was October 15 but a decision was made to stay two weeks longer as classes were going so well. And, arriving with her is a suitcase full of frilly flamenco dresses and a glorious shawl with trim and fringe that must be a foot wide....gorgeous!!! As well, Christine scored Farruca pants!!! Insert explanation here: visualize the classic male flamenco dancer with the high waisted black pants and skinny leg. Historically only men danced Farruca but now women do as well. However, it simply does not suit being performed in female attire. There was a serious search in Seville for the pants and she finally found them in her size the last day!!! It was meant to be.....

The second return date was supposed to be October 31 but a rotating Air France strike cancelled her flight from Seville to Paris. After a horrible weekend of trying to figure out how to get home, it worked out it was best if she stayed in Seville in the apartment she was renting as it was available and, finally, it was a for sure that she could leave on November 3. Now she just had to get to Paris. Here's the kicker, any cost that was incurred with arranging travel to Paris and extra accommodation is not covered by travel insurance as it was an announced strike!!! Wtf!!! Even if you read the fine print I doubt you would be able to figure out what they really do cover. She has been told to submit all expenses and they will make a decision in three weeks. Seriously!!??

So the dining room table currently looks like a clown's tickle trunk exploded. Cream and crimson and silver and rose and azure and lemon and russet and gray and purple and white and pink and orange and many of you got through that without singing!?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

no fear...

Yesterday I finished a singing (cante) workshop with Maria Mezcle from Spain. Previous workshops have been taught by men so it was fantastic to have a cantaora for a change. She stressed vocal warmups and technique for breathing. I had no idea I had so many cavities in my head that could vibrate!! We spent time on a particularly confusing warmup that involved blocking the back of your throat with your tongue...we looked and felt ridiculous!!! Back to that later. She taught us true Andulucia style one has ever broken it down for us so well and expected us to get it!!

Typically in workshops we learn more familiar styles so you start with some knowledge. No, no, no, not Maria!! We learned a Mirabras which is specific to the region of San Lucar where she is from. Challenging! We sounded pretty good as a group though!! There were 10 students in the class and it was the first time she had taught such a big group even in Spain. She was thrilled there was love of flamenco cante in Toronto.

Back to the tongue in the back of the throat produce a nasal tone for lack of a better description and then slowly unblock the throat by dropping the tongue...can't describe it any better...and then you let a note rock the room. If you are doing it right, you can hear a ringing of sorts in the note you are holding. Anyways, bad description but she made us do it alone every day. Curses!! Look, feel and now sound like you have no idea what you are doing!!!

On the third day of the workshop it was my turn. Once done my first attempt, I got the slow tipping of the head from shoulder to shoulder with a pursing of the lips and a shoulder shrug. That means "kindasorta". She tells me to do it again. "But this time, she said, no fear....sing with no fear". So I started the list of breath, check, posture, check, tongue, check and I let a note go. This time I "kindasorta" did it better. That means all the movements above with a bit of a smile!!

That's my new mantra now.....sing with no fear!!!