Monthly Archives: February 2010

Quote of the Day: Alice in Wonderland


” ‘Cheshire Puss,’ she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name; however, it only grinned a little wider.  ‘Come, it’s pleased so far,’ thought Alice and she went on.  ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where – ‘ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.”

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland

An Op-Ed on the “Balanchine Effect” by BalletDanceClass

Below is a repost of the blog written by Choreographer and Professional Ballet Dancer Michael Cornell of Align Ballet Method, talking about the Balanchine “effect” on companies everywhere.

Balanchine Dominance by Michael Cornell of

Below is an article questioning if dance companies are overdosing on Balanchine. I had actually been contemplating this subject prior to reading this article.
Dance Magazine:  Are We Overdosing On Balanchine?

These have been my thoughts on the subject for a long time. Balanchine is important, obviously he changed ballet completely. I have a problem with companies with a large Balanchine repertoire that dance every ballet in the Balanchine style. It’s artistically problematic.

I recently viewed a Nutcracker performance from a major company that had much more in common with Concerto Barocco than it did with this family oriented holiday classic. In my opinion, the NYCB style distorts the “classic nature” of a ballet like Romeo and Juliet, or Sleeping Beauty. The Balanchine style is a “neo classical” style, so I do not understand why companies use it in all their performances? Obviously, the only exception to this rule would be New York City Ballet dancing Balanchine’s Nutcracker.

In my opinion the number one problem with Balanchine overdose is that companies that depend on Balanchine as a great portion of their repertoire are missing the opportunity to develop their own identity. Part of the Balanchine genius is that he crafted a company with an instantly recognizable identity, a true brand. Companies that constantly repeat Balanchine only limit their ability to forge their own identity. This seems like a waste of precious and limited arts funding. I understand that often Artistic Directors battle boards of directors that have limited vision, but a company with its own identity has the opportunity to build their own international following. It is interesting small cities in Europe have done a much better job of this than mid-size American cities, and I will give you Nederlands Dans Theater and The Compañía Nacional de Danza as examples. Companies are probably not going to brand themselves with a majority of their rep coming from George Balanchine. They just end up being another branch of the Balanchine franchise.

I would also like to mention Chicago’s Hubbard Street Dance Company as a small innovative company that started from nothing to create their own style which resonates world-wide. They thrived as the former Balanchine based Chicago Ballet continually failed during the time I was performing.

The “Balanchine Effect”  example below:
Now the difference – – I know we are taking on a “sacred cow”  but here is the example of a corps de ballet dancing in the classical style, where the dance builds to a musical crescendo.  Also the lines are more reminiscent of the period of time in which the ballet takes place.

Expert Advice: The Benefits of Going to the Gym

The benefits of going to the gym aren’t just losing weight   by Harvey Mcewan

When we think of pumping iron in the gym or working up a sweat on the treadmill, our primary goal is generally to lose weight or maintain a figure we’re happy with. While these impressions may well be the first reason we hit the gym, there are plenty of other gym benefits that are often overlooked or even invisible. These benefits don’t just affect our physical shape but also our social, financial and mental well being.

Hit the gym for a solo workout and other gym-goers will more or less be plugged into their music or deep in concentration. Opt for a gym class such as spinning, aqua aerobics or kick boxing however and you will find this to be a much more social affair. Classes in particular where you have to work in pairs or small groups is a great way to expand your social circle and meet like-minded people such as yourself. While some people might suggest a nightclub or bar as an ideal place to meet the opposite sex, you might find that a daytime activity that doesn’t involve loud music or alcohol is in fact a much more positive place to meet someone.

Aside from the social aspect of the gym, there’s also the psychological boost that going to the gym offers. Exercise has been scientifically proven to release positive hormones such as adrenaline and serotonin which are known to fight off depression as well as minor illnesses such as the common cold. The combined benefit of feeling good mentally and looking good physically is not only a boost in itself but also spills into other areas such as self esteem and confidence that subsequently allows you to perform better in all areas of your working and personal life.

When it comes to the internet, recent studies in Europe have shown that people who spend more time online are more likely to suffer from depression and lead an increasingly insular existence. Setting a date in your diary to hit the gym a couple of times a week reduces the amount of time you’ll spend in front of the computer or even your television. With just some of the benefits of going to the gym already explained, these dramatically outweigh the detrimental effects that television and the internet can pose.

Furthermore, going to the gym can also save you money. While a monthly gym membership is a small price to pay for the benefits mentioned previously, you’ll also find that a regular exercise routine will reduce out-goings in other areas of your life. In particular, if you’re in the process of getting a health or life insurance comparison, many sites or brokers will ask how often you exercise per week. Spending less time in front of the television, outside of the house and eating healthier food associated with that kind of lifestyle will also save you money on your shopping and energy bills.

About the Author

Harvey McEwan is an expert in well being.

Introducing: Christian Daniel Beer

Eyes Closed Wide

It isn’t often that one is the subject of a great artist.  And when I suddenly found myself as the muse, I just couldn’t help but be flattered, impressed and well – special.

Of course, I am probably not supposed to reveal that information but never-the-less, it has prompted me to introduce the very undiscovered emerging artist:

Christian Daniel Beer.

Along with an illustrious family history, dedicated to the arts, Christian brings a deep layering of reality and emotion to his work.

An artist worth investigating and taking time with.  I hope to encourage him to a bright future and help to enhance his work as he continues to enhance the richness of my life.

Quote of the Day: Hamlet

Doubt thou that the stars are fire;

Doubt thou that the sun doth move;

Doubt truth to be a liar;

But never doubt that I love.

~ William Shakespere – Hamlet

In case this video cannot be view please visit:

Re-Post: Will A Court Ruling On Campaign Finance Raise Concerns About Corruption?

Will A Court Ruling On Campaign Finance Raise Concerns About Corruption?

12:01 // pm

Below is a re-post of an article from NPR’s Planet Money.  It’s worth the read.

February 8, 2010

By Ethan Arrow

When Chana and David did a podcast last month on the 2009 Corruption Perception Index, I was a bit surprised to hear that the US ranked not in the top 5 least-corrupt countries, not in the top 10, but 19th. That’s a lot more corrupt than Singapore, Australia and Norway, and just a little less corrupt than Barbados. In case you missed the podcast, they talked to Jermyn Brooks of Transparency International, the organization that compiles the annual index from a series of surveys. Jermyn assuaged our worries by explaining that rankings are based on perceived levels of corruption and not on actual corruption. He added that there’s some room for improvement as countries end economic, political and social practices that many view as corrupt.

That might be good news for countries like Nigeria (currently #130), which is trying to pass anti-corruption laws in an attempt to rid itself of the bribes and blackmail that have historically infected its politics and economy. (We did a podcast on that, too.) But what about the US? Brooks told us that one of the reasons the US ranks relatively low on the list – at least compared to other democracies – is that private money, albeit with some restrictions, is allowed to play a pivotal role in politics.

Now things could get even worse, at least if you’re listening to the critics (Obama included) of the recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign financing. On January 21st, the Court ruled that limiting corporate spending on political campaigns violates the First Amendment principle on free speech.

So in the spirit of continuing our examination of corruption, I decided to ask Brooks what he thought about the ruling. If lobbyists, special interest groups and private corporations can now use even more money to sway elections, what effect might that have on next year’s index? Here’s what he had to say:

“The international reputation of the US as a fair and transparent society will take a further blow, and nascent democracies will cite the US as an example why they do not need to deal with their own conflicts of interest between politicians and business.” He added that the US is ” most vulnerable to perceptions of corrupt practices with respect to business’s aggressive lobbying, supported by campaign financing, to influence political decision making.” Brooks’ conclusion: “If the Supreme Court ruling is allowed to stand, it is bound to impact negatively on the Corruption Practices Index.”

I guess if Jermyn’s right, we could find the US even further down the list next year, possibly behind Qatar, Saint Lucia or even France.

categories: Politics

Home-made Easy

Been home a lot these days and cooking much more than ever.

And to tell you the truth - I love it. I have always been a pretty

great cook. What's more, I simply love food.

As it turns out I have had my mother visiting for a month now with

the added bonus for me - yes, you guessed it - food galore! All my

favorite meals simple and not so simple. Of course, I thought, what

a great item for my blog. Everyone should

be able to have a delicious meal at home and better - "homemade." So

I asked her if she would consider parting with a simple recipe for peppers

and eggs. And of course, the answer was an emphatic "NO!" It is

a tradition in my Sicilian family that one must "die with the

secret!" Uggggh!

So humor and chagrin aside, I did a simple search and found an

article by Author Sid Stevens, with a great book

suggestion until I can manage to part with one of my own.

Cheap Homemade Meals

Everyone loves to go out an eat at fast food restaurants and

dine in restaurants,but with the cost of gas being so high plus

with just the cost of one meal for a single person being 5

dollars or more, eating out 3 or more times a week can be

very expensive.

I have been trying to come up with some cheap homemade meals

that taste great and don't take hours to make, and I have been doing

some internet searching and I found a product called,

America's Secret Recipes. It has recipes from a lot of big

name restaurants that have been put together into a cook book.

I loved eating homemade meals at family gatherings while

growing up, or waking up to a great breakfast that my mom has

made. Now that I am older and living on my own getting to eat

great tasting homemade meals doesn't happen as often. I think

thanksgiving and Christmas were probably the only two times that

I didn't have to cook at home this past year.

I think I have been doing more reading out of cook books than

anything else since I have gotten older, trying to learn different

homemade meals to make throughout the weeks. After finding America's

Secret Recipes I think a lot more of our going out to eat will be

family nights at home. With all these homemade meals that are

provided for you every day will be like getting to eat out.

Most of my favorite restaurants are included in these homemade

meals that you can make. My favorite part about it is that I

do not have to make a long drive to the restaurant, stand in

line,or wait for a table. I can do it all from my very own

home. Also having to take kids with you to a restaurant to

me is not very fun. We have a 5 year old and he doesn't want

to stay still. He says he is bored, when the food finally

comes he says he isn't hungry. It ends up feeling more like work then

just trying to have a nice time out.

So if anybody else needs some great homemade meals to make.

Then I strongly recommend America's Secret Recipes.

It may have your family just end up saying WOW!!!

Theme and Variation: The Buck and Wing

In  my search for the perfect videos a couple of weeks ago, for the perfect ballet Ailes de Pigeon, I came across some interesting variations of Pigeon Wings.  This next section is from the Dance History Archives.  It was really fun to find out who actually uses this movement and how it developed outside of ballet…

The history of the Buck and Wing (Buck Dance and Pigeon Wing) or Buck dancing is a pre-tap dance routine and was done by Minstrel and Vaudeville performers in the mid-nineteenth century portraying the African-American males, known as “Bucks.” Originally the Pigeon Wing steps (foot shaking in the air) were a big part of this early folk dance but later separated when variations began such as the shooting out of one leg making a “Wing.”

The term “buck” is traced to the West Indies where Africans used the words po’ bockorau (Buccaneer), and later the French term Buccaneer. Ship captains would have the men dance on the ships (dancing the Slaves) to try to keep the morale up as well as a form of exercise. It was one of the dances that became popular with the Irish Buccaneers who did Jigs and Clogs, reels etc. who would be known as Buck Dancers. These terms would eventually become dance steps.

– The legendary dancer “Master Juba ” did a Buck and Wing in the 1840s. It is said that the Buck and Wing ‘routine‘ was first performed on the New York stage in 1880 by James McIntyre as well as inventing the ‘Syncopated Buck and Wing.’ king Rastus Brown is considered one of the best Buck and Wing dancers in history. During the dance craze of the 1920s, buck and wing dancers would be considered square and corny when compared to the newer style of tap dancing that was slowly replacing the buck and wing style of previous years.

-The Buck and Wing was adapted to the Minstrel stage from the recreational clogs and shuffles of the African-American. The Buck and Wing is said to be a bastard dance, made up of Clogs , Jigs , Reels, Sand dance etc. which later gave birth to the Time Step and Soft Shoe. The Buck and Wing  was used in Reels, Clog dance , Can-Can (Pigeon Wing,) Jigs and Tap . The modern Buck and a Wing is characterised by wing-like steps done in the air (known as “wings”) done mostly on the balls of the foot and which is considered the forerunner of rhythm tap. The Hornpipe of England was an elaborate Pantomime of English sailors, mimicking their duties while patting the feet to a tune.

Buck: (Buck dance)
– Originally just a stamping of the feet to interpret the music which later became more refined when mixed with the Jig and Clog. In Tap Dance it is known as the earliest version of the “Shuffle and Tap Steps.” The Basic Chug or Buck step is done by pushing the ball of the foot across the floor, at the same time dropping the heel, with or without weight. Buck dancing was the first known American Tap form performed to syncopated rhythms. These rhythms were performed on the “Offbeat or Downbeat” which came from Tribal rhythms in Africa. Buck dance was a type of countrified Clog or Tap dance. Usually associated with Barn Dancing or Country Dance. The Indians (Mainly Ute), also had a Buck dance, participants would dress in Deer Skins (Buck) and do a ceremonial dance called Buck Dancing.

Originally the music used was 2/4 time and was of the Syncopated March type. The Mobile Buck was an ancestor of the common Buck Dance that later evolved into the Time Step.

Pigeon Wing:
– Originally (1830’s) just the shaking of one leg in the air. Was also known as the “Ailes De Pigeon” in Ballet . Was commonly called to as “Pistolets ” by the French and just plain ole “Pigeon Wing” by the Folk dancers, later taken over by minstrel dancers. In the Can-Can the “Pigeon Wing” was bringing the bust into play by leaping forward, kicking high and throwing the shoulders back while “carrying on the arm” (or holding one leg up against the cheek, while hopping lightly on the other leg). Basically it’s just the lifting of the leg (demi-Plie’) and move the leg too beat the back calf of the other foot. Can be done in front of other leg or as in the variation of Michael Jackson’s modern version of his front lifting leg swing. When Minstrel dancing came en vogue, many variations came about, namely a small hop on one leg while shooting out the other leg to form a “Wing.”

Wings: The more modern Wings started to become a basic stable to tap dancing around 1900. “Wings” are basically derived from the much older minstrel variations of the Pigeon Wing but no real air step. Eventually becoming “air steps” that have the dancer springing up from one leg off the floor, and using the correct timing to do a certain amount of taps with the same foot before landing back down while the other “winging leg” usually remains motionless. There are variations such as the pump (winging leg goes up and down), double back, pendulum, Three-tap wing (one tap on the way up and two on the way down), Five-tap wings, etc.

Quote of the day: What’s in a Name?…

From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1594:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Ballet Lessons: Ailes de Pigeon

The Bluebird of Sleeping Beauty

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move


Ailes de pigeon (Fr., pigeon wings),  also known as Pistolet and Brisè Volèt.  This was a tough one.  After a lot of searching online for videos that I might use, I decided to enlist the help of my creative producing partner,  Los Angeles Choreographer and dance teacher, Michael Cornell of Private Ballet LA (now known as Align Ballet Method).  He was a bit reluctant – “…Only the toughest movement in ballet!”

But I knew he could do it as he had danced the role of the Blue Bird from Sleeping Beauty, during his career with BalletMet.  So over morning coffee and and the biggest brownie I could find (his favorite guilty pleasure), he relinquished.  Below is a video of Michael demonstrating this very powerful movement.

Formal definition for Ailes de Pigeon:

A particularly demanding ballet step which most famously occurs in the Blue Bird variation in Sleeping Beauty. The dancer throws the left leg up, springing off the right which rises to beat beneath the left calf. He changes legs and beats, then changes again in order to land on the right foot, with the left leg stretched out into the air. It is performed en avant and en arrière.

Contributed and video produced by Tracey Paleo, Gia On the Move with the help of her creative partner, dance instructor Michael Cornell.

Ballet Lessons: Adage, Adagio, part 2

(2) The opening section of the classical pas de deux, in which the ballerina, assisted by her male partner, performs the slow movements and enlévements in which the supported exhibits her grace, line and perfect balance while executing développés, pirouettes, arabesques and so on, and achieves combinations of steps and poses which would be impossible without the aid of her partner.