Sunday, June 5, 2016

Activity Week

Here's an account of my week of fun last week courtesy of Carlos.

We did a bunch of stuff in honour of his week off!

Monday:
Met up with Andrew Nemr, tap guru.  Carlos is in his company Cats Paying Dues, I've taken his class a couple of times, he's a really great guy and superb dancer/teacher.  Haven't seen him in ages so was great to catch up.

Tuesday:
Shakespeare in the Park!
Currently running is an all-female production of Taming of the Shrew, directed by Phyllida Lloyd.  And starring English Cush Jumbo as Katherina and Scottish Gayle Rankin as Bianca, go Brits! Also Gayle is a friend of Lauren's, go figure.  Both leads = EXCELLENT.  Whole company in fact was excellent, many great lessons in physicality and movement as part of character development, especially from Adrienne C. Moore who had her swagger ON as Petruchio.
There are a few flaws in the production - since TotS is so fantastically misogynistic those who mount it on stage have the option to just roll with it and say 'we didn't write it' or make a statement about it and say 'we don't agree with it'.
This production opts for the latter, using the framing device of a beauty pageant that is initially won by the simpering Bianca for fulfilling 'traditional female' tropes, but by the end Katherina is declared the new winner after she makes her grand speech teaching other wives to defer to their husbands.  We saw her declared the winner, and as everyone applauds and music swells she decides to reject her victory, reverts to stormy shrew form and flings her tiara and flowers down.  Bianca is then recrowned the winner.
I thought this was cool until they dealt with Katherina by having her bundled offstage through a trapdoor in the floor (previously used as an exit through which Petruchio was leaving what appeared to be a strip club)  Like, she refuses to accept being lauded for being an oppressed woman so she commits mutiny, but is then immediately and successfully punished for it.  So the empowerment message didn't quite land.  I think they should have had her throw down her spoils and run off to steal the camper van that Petruchio kidnapped her in earlier in the play, and take off into the sunset.
Also the beauty pageant framing device was only present at the very start and very end, so it wasn't entirely consistent.  It was a really fun character introduction for the two sisters though - we saw a series of contestants performing talent shows - baton twirling, tap dancing, opera singing - and then Bianca sails across the stage, standing up on the back of a pink bicycle and waving to the adoring crowd.  The bicycle was being pedaled by a furious-looking Katherina.  Bianca took to the centre podium to sing a pouty version of 'Cowboy Take Me Away' as Katherina continued to pedal around and around, becoming progressively more disgusted with the whole situation until she leaped off the bike, snatched the mic from Bianca and rained down vengeful sarcasm.  I loved this whole opening set piece.
As when we went to see King Lear a couple of years ago (when torrential rain added a certain drama to the, well, drama) we did it up in style with travel cups full of wine and bags of snacks.  Despite a couple of opening night hiccups it was overall a really fun show and we had pizza afterwards.

Wednesday:
Went to a cabaret that some of Carlos' cast members were performing in while in the city.  I also know the guy who directed it, the charming and delightful Justin Boccitto, who is the director of Choreographers' Canvas in which I'm dancing in July.  Then I went to scrounge dinner from Lauren and Tea and Sympathy:D She always sorts me out.

Thursday: I think this one was my favourite
Swing dance! We had a swing dance lesson with Carlos' friend Katherine, a fabulous all-round dancer and swing dance teacher.  She is great and I'm very happy to have met her, and her husband Caleb who is also a fabulous swing dancer.  She was teaching us East Coast swing/Lindy hop.
We went to her apartment to get some fundamentals.  Carlos and I are both dancers so this will be easy, right?
NOPE
He is an accomplished salsa dancer so he knows how to lead, but leading salsa and leading swing are very different.  Also the styles are different - how you hold your hands, stance, all of it.  So he kept slipping into salsa by mistake.  And I am a terrible follower - having never done any partner dance (except a couple of times Carlos has tried to teach me to salsa...it's a struggle) so I'm really bad at listening to signals from a partner.  I tend to want to just know what steps we're going to be doing so I can be in charge of them.  But that's not how partnering works.
With a lot of encouragement and patience from Katherine however we got the hang of the basic, a turn, a Lindy circle, a swing out and a simple flourish.

We then went with Katherine to Frim Fram (a swing dance night in midtown at which Katherine and Caleb first met, aww) to practice our new moves.
Carlos: Let's go, come on! We have to try out what we learned! The whole point of swing is you just do what you want!
Me: Nope I did it wrong....I messed up...I'm on the wrong foot...
Carlos: *head explodes*

Towards the end of the night when it was a little less crowded I got more into the spirit and we had so much fun messing around and trying things out.

It was a pretty late night so I was super exhausted the next day but not too exhausted for...

Friday:
Roller disco!!!

Yes, the Prospect Park roller disco has returned and I am overjoyed! I love to roller-skate to music!
The theme was 70s divas so pretty much the ideal music for skating.  We got there around 8 and had about two hours of skating which included watching the roller-dance contest and a hula hoop performer in the middle of the rink.


Err...yep!

By the time we took our skates off my feet were just about ready for me to chop them off, but nothing a little Korean-Mexican food and a frozen margarita couldn't fix.

Such a fun night.  Another tiring one.  But a late start the next day for

Saturday: 
Brunch with the crew!
We met at Dominies Hoek, as arranged by Anel.  They have a $15 brunch with bottomless mimosas deal...and we can put away a lot of mimosas.  

It was so much fun having this group of people around a table together for the first time in a looooong time.  We all spread out and move around and shift lives but we sit down together for eggs and drinks and time stands still.

Also it was a beautiful hot sunny day and it's always nice to throw on a summer dress and get kind of tipsy at 3pm.

The rest of the plan for the day didn't quite work out - we went to stand in line for cheap tickets to Shuffle Along on Broadway, but fate was not on our side.  So no ticket were to be had.  But we ended the week of fun with...

Sunday:
Rice pudding and presents

For our final adventure week outing, Carlos took me to a place called Rice to Riches in Soho.  It's pretty much amazing - it is all kinds of rice pudding.  Marscapone, coconut, tiramisu, rocky road, chocolate hazelnut, pina colada...all delicious.  We got a tiramisu and a marscapone and cherries, with crumbled biscuits on top.  As a thank you for all the fun outings I got Carlos a book called A History of Tap Dance - something to read as he hops around the US on the rest of the tour.  Pretty wiped by a really full week (bearing in mind I worked every morning for Troy and babysat every afternoon plus activities plus dancing, audition prep and FTP meeting) but I had so much fun - out of town visitors are always a good excuse to enjoy the city in ways I might otherwise not.  

This past week was definitely super boring by comparison, BUT not long now til Fairey adventure time! 

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