Monthly Archives: January 2012

Tango and the POWER of Touch

I recently received an email from local Los Angeles Tango Teacher, Naomi Hotta.  The letter was so moving and inspiring and happened to coincide with a recent theatre review written for the play Bridge at the Complex Theater in December, that I felt this particular letter was well worth posting.

Both deal with the horrific tragedy of the Japanese tsunami, but Naomi alights on one of the most vital remedies for healing in our very human world,  that is often ignored or culturally unacceptable in some parts of the world – TOUCH.

Read on…

2011 was a year with many changes around the world. As I just came back from a trip to Japan, I acknowledge the long process of recovery from the earthquake/tsunami, and at the same time the surprising speed of what has already been done. I am hoping this year will be a peaceful and happy year around the world, as an entity and for each individual.

I had the opportunity to teach few tango workshops in Japan as well and converse with the students there. Tango is an international language spoken around the world, as is any other form of art or sports. There may be cultural differences that color the personality that comes through in the individual’s dance and the community, but the basic language is there. In the same way it does in Los Angeles, I heard how tango can bring joy and change to one’s life.
One of the powerful elements of tango is the “touch”. How often do we “touch” someone, let alone, “embrace” someone? I have heard that if there is some sort of “hug” or touch before any discussion, the discussion flows smoother and harmoniously. In tango, we “embrace” someone as we let our creative expressions flow through the physical art form. There is a lot of power in that. In Japanese, there is an English pronounced word, “skin-ship”, which I had always thought was an actual English word till few years ago. It is the combination of “skin”, the touch, and a relation to another such as in “friendship”. In Japan, it is used, for example, to explain how the mother and child should have “skinship” for the health of the mental and psychological growth of a child. It is the perfect word to explain what exists in tango, “skinship”. A connection we create through touch which could be very healing, bringing joy and mental well being.
One of my students in Japan explained that after starting tango lessons, her work environment changed. She believes it is the power of tango that changed her. She is now more open to hearing opinions of others and open to the idea of connecting to others. We never know, but I have a hunch that things like that could happen. If you already dance tango, maybe you have some stories as well? Even if is not tango, giving a hug and receiving one can be a great pleasure. Why not give a “hug” to somebody today and each day that follows in 2012? “skinship” could go a long way, I believe! :) I am wishing for you all that connectedness and joy throughout the year.
Beginners: Wednesdays 8:00-9:00pm 7 week series  (Jan 18, 25 Feb 1, 8, 15, 22, 29)
Varieties International 2523 17th Street Santa Monica, CA 90405
$85 for the series or $15 for drop-in class
(+$5 for intermediate class)
Intermediate: Wednesdays 9:00-10:00pm Ongoing
Varieties International 2523 17th Street Santa Monica, CA 90405
$125 for 10 weeks includes beginner+intermediate classes or $15 for drop-in class
(+$5 for beginner class)

Naomi Hotta

Gia Reviews: Innocent Flesh Now Playing at the Zephyr Theatre, LA

 ” After seeing the preview of Innocent Flesh last month, the LAPD’s [Head of Human Trafficking Task Force] Detective Eric Moore said it is “as authentic as anything he’s ever seen.”

It all comes comes down to one single over-arching, human theme:

“I want someone to love me.”

The most complex of stories could not possibly have a simpler solution in Innocent Flesh, the brand new social drama, filled with darkness and humor,  written and directed by NAACP winner Kenyetta Lethridge.

In exposing the realities of sexual exploitation, teen prostitution and trafficking of children in America, Letheridge, drives a bald, clear, cut line in the asphalt with a story that gives audiences no where to hide – no excuses – that gets right to the ‘heart’ of the matter.

Based on the real stories of four young girls and the hardships they face as underage prostitutes, we follow the shocking lives of four naive girls whose hopes of getting out of the cycle of violence is pretty much a 1 in a million chance, audiences become everything but voyeurs of life on the street.

A  bold new work.  Honest.  Shocking.

This show inspired me to write several pieces.  Please take the time to view both be clicking the links below.

LA Theatre Review:

West Hollywood Patch Review:

Innocent Flesh

Written and Directed by kenyetta Lethridge

Produced by Michael Mann, Diana C. Zollicoffer and Kenyetta Lethridge

Featuring: Daphne Gabriel, Clara Gabrielle, Jameelah Nuriddin, and Angelina Prendergast.

Now playing:

Innocent Flesh @ The Zephyr Theater                                                                                                                      7456 Melrose Ave.                                                                                                                              Los Angeles, CA 90046

Tickets: $30

Updated ticket information is available at:

Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Jan 31 and Feb 1

Wednesdays and Thursdays
Feb 8, 15, 16   (FEBURARY 9TH IS SOLD OUT.)

Reviewed by Tracey Paleo

What’s Eating Kids Today Anyway

Food seems to be quite the theme these days.  How to eat it.  Where to find it. What channel to watch it being cooked on.  And why it’s so good.  But with all of the encouragement from the media, public agencies, government, California and other public school systems changing their lunches from heavily sugared and salty snack based products to more nutritional menus, even the First Lady promoting better diets, we still haven’t really stopped to think about connecting the dots entirely when it comes to lifestyle, parenting, food and childhood obesity. This week Poll Position offered its own little tidbit of information.

A new poll finding that 34% of Americans think both poor parenting and poor food choices cause childhood obesity.

A Poll Position national scientific telephone survey of 1,145 registered voters nationwide was conducted on January 17, 2012 asked, “Do you think childhood obesity is a disease, or is it caused by poor parenting, poor food choices, or both?”

Thirty-four percent of respondents said both poor parenting and poor food choices cause childhood obesity, 29% said poor parenting, 24% said poor food choices, 4% thought childhood obesity was a disease, 9% did not offer an opinion.

Men and women differed in their views on the causes of childhood obesity.

Among men, 35% said poor parenting causes childhood obesity, 31% selected both poor parenting and poor food choices, 22% said it was poor food choices, 4% said it as a disease and 8% offered no opinion.

Thirty-six percent of women thought both poor parenting and poor food choices cause childhood obesity, 27% said it is caused by poor food choices, 24% said poor parenting, 3% said it is a disease and 10% did not offer an opinion.

So, ok.  Given these particular statistics, where is the connection getting lost?  Something to definitely think about.  Poll Position wants to know what you think.

See a breakdown of survey participants by age, race, gender, and political affiliation in crosstabs for this poll at

Do you think that childhood obesity in America is a disease or is it caused by poor parenting, poor food choices, or both? Vote in the online companion poll and comment at

The online companion poll in which you can vote provides unscientific results, meaning it’s a tally of participating Poll Position users, not a nationally representative sampling.

Poll Position is committed to transparency and upholding the highest professional standards in its polling, explaining why we provide you with the crosstabs of our scientific polls. Crosstabs provide a breakdown of survey participants by age, race, gender, and political affiliation.

Learn more about Poll Position’s polling methodology at

About Poll Position
Poll Position is a unique non-partisan news, polling, and social media company founded and lead by two award-winning CNN news and polling veterans. The company’s goals are to engage, enlighten, and entertain millions of people with exclusive news-making, buzz-generating public opinion polls and giving people everywhere an opportunity to vote and comment on hot topics, while learning the views of others.

The Model Critic Reviews: The Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet

Reviewed by Carlos Stafford, The Model Critic
 Recently, Gelsey Kirkland’s Academy of Classical Ballet (GKA) energetically presented a truly pleasing showcase of both her young, dynamic students, as well as a debut for her newly minted, fledgling Academy.
    What was pleasing?: Youth, strength, quickness, on the one hand, coupled with a ready enthusiasm and joy exuding from Kirkland’s well trained dancers–they came to deliver their best performances with surefire commitment, nothing held back. When this fortunate event occurred, the audience didn’t necessarily look for perfection of technique from the budding dancers, which by the way was very accomplished, but to the exchange of the infectious, energetic dynamics given so generously by the performers. And indeed, grounding this energy was a very evident clarity of acting ability that connected character and story, giving the varied program depth and delight.
      The theme of the night was the “Art of the Ballerina–The Triumph of Feminity.”  Kirkland and Michael Chernov tell us, to achieve this goal “we look to the archetype of the ballerina, who represents the ideas of purity, gentleness, sensitivity, empathy, and tolerance while demonstrating strength of body, heart and mind parallel to that of the bravest heroine.”
    The program was well chosen–“Mostly Bournonville and Petipa”:  “Pas de Huit” from a Folk Tale, “Excerpts from Le Conservatoire,” Napoli Pas de Six,” from Bournonville; “Neapolitan” and “Hungarian” from Swan Lake, “Drum Dance,” and the longer closing piece from La Bayadere, “Jewels,” “Blue Bird Pas de Duex,” and “Red Riding Hood and the Wolf” from Sleeping Beauty–all these from Petipa.  And special mention to the wonderful “Pas de Quatre” by Perrot/Dolin, beautifully performed and costumed, as well as the final La Bayadere lead couple, pas de trois, and corps.  La Vivadiere by Arthur St. Leon was also exciting and well received.
    The mission statement at GKA is also well worth mentioning…“we believe the development of a ballerina is dependent on more than simply providing excellent instruction in technique; the dancer must also be nurtured in the light of inspiration and the waters of culture…to encourage a renaissance of dramatic storytelling in ballet.”
     That GKA stresses storytelling is refreshingly evident, and so correct to my mind.  So often at the bigger, important productions from abroad, as well as a trend in national companies, ballet, at times, has become showier, more gymnastical, with dancers performing bravura movements with more regularity.  Too much of this display and the message becomes the dancer’s individual prowess instead of the work at hand; everything becomes subverted, and we loose nuance and subtlety. Yes, this approach is commercial, sells tickets, and has its place in divertissements, but can in the end, become cloying and unsatisfying, beyond the spectacle, projecting nothing.  So, having the dancer’s live their roles with honesty, grounded in the context of verisimilitude with the story, will always, in the end, appeal to the audience’s desire for inspiration, transcendence, and the enjoyment of recognition of truth and beauty.
      Perhaps from this group of dancers we will one day see an individual emerge that can lead the way to a new and honest view of dance that bridges the gap to the past (i.e. Dame Margot Fonteyn), and reflects the actual gift of performance that Gelsey Kirkland herself offered the world of ballet.  Look at her Nutcracker for instance!
  Here’s wishing the Directors, Faculty, and dancers all the luck in achieving their goals, and congratulations on your auspicious beginnings.
(company photos courtesy of GKA)

Crazy Cuisine for Chinese New Year

General Tsao's Chicken

I have a confession.  I am a food critic who every now and again commits the crime of doing the absolutely, indelicate and unthinkable.  I eat from a package.


Ok but here’s my excuse.  I was asked to try a sample of a new food line in celebration of January 23rd, the day of the 2012, Chinese New Year.  It’s the year of the Dragon – a big celebration to be sure. I’ve been debating getting together with my friends in China Town watching the parade, eating a few difficultly named and visually un-describable delicacies (and I mean this in the most venerable way), and taking home a dragon jade charm or agate necklace.

But I kind of need an alternative this year.  Insanely busy writing schedule and all that.  So here’s what I’ve come up with.

Chinese New Year’s Days are also called the Spring Festival. The Spring Festival lasts 10 days.

Now that’s interesting [I thought].  10 days of Dim Sum maybe?  Nah.  But 10 days of Crazy Cuizine might be fun.

The Crazy Cuizine lineup features everything from Potstickers to Mandarin Orange Chicken to Teriyaki and General Tso’s Chicken.  Made with authentic flavors from the Far East, the entrees are fully cooked (ready to heat and serve), high in protein, and free of preservatives, trans-fat and MSG.

And, one of the things I really liked about these dishes is that the ingredients are U.S. sourced and the dishes are made at the company’s state-of-the-art facility in Southern California (I am a big fan of buy local), which has received four consecutive “Gold” standard awards for food safety and quality practices by Silliker.

Second confession…I already popped the pot stickers plate-side last night.  They were yummy.  So I celebrated early!  It was a — Jackie Chan (Rush Hour) inspired theme night!


Gia Reviews: Fruit Fly Now Playing at The Celebration Theatre in Hollywood, CA

 Fruit Fly the new show written and performed by Leslie Jordan is enough to make any other Southern Belle blush.  And, with plenty of hilarious humor, playfulness, twists, turns, hammed up bloopers and a little bit of polite dissing, Mr. Jordan gives us a surprising, sentimental and bittersweet picture of what it was like growing up a boy who really loved being a girl in the South, with the off-handed help of his grandmother, Mary Lucille, and mother whose early sage advice was, “just don’t tell daddy,” giving us more than a devilish take on the age old question, “Do gay men become their mothers?”

Read the review by clicking:  HERE

Now playing at The Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends Feb. 18. $34. Call (323) 957-1884  or Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Reviewed by Tracey Paleo

Hollywood Trend Gossip: Red Carpet Rocker Chic(k) Erica Chase Rules!

New music artist, Erica Chase


The carpet wasn’t the only thing that was red in Hollywood this past weekend.  Rocker chic(k) new music artist Erica Chase sported a slick lick of power-red lipstick as she hit the carpet in high Hollywood style.

First, Erica was spotted on the carpet at Andy Dick’s Hollywood film premiere of Division III: Football’s Finest wearing a soft red lipstick with a coral undertone, but the following night, she joined celebs including Quinton Aaron [The Blindside], Carla Renata (Up All Night), Desiree Hall (NCIS: Los Angeles) at Gloria Govan’s (VH1’s Basketball Wives) charity birthday party wearing a glamorous, full-on shade by Revlon in their signature Revlon Red hue (Pictured).

“Red isn’t just relegated to the bottom sole on a pair of Christian Louboutins these days,” Chase said.  “It’s made its way upstairs on some of fashion’s coolest faces too.”

Chase isn’t kidding.  Many of fashion’s glamour queens have been sporting the crimson shades including Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, Miranda Kerr, Taylor Swift, Amber Heard, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Moss and Katie Perry.  In addition, Lancome recently revealed Emma Stone’s new ad in which Emma is flying the red-hot flag for rouge lipstick as the brand takes aim at a younger group of women to tempt them to ditch the lip gloss and come back to lipstick.

Meanwhile, when Erica isn’t seeing red on the carpet, she and her guitar are in the studio with metal legend Dana Strum (Slaughter, Vince Neil band) and working on her upcoming album.