Thursday, August 16, 2012

Reflections of A New York City Summer: 8/16/12

     Reflection is indeed the right word.  After spending 6 weeks in New York City with my son Colin, It took almost a week to put thoughts together about Colin's dancing, New York City, and the Bolshoi.  If you followed me on FaceBook from June 23rd through August 6th, I gave almost a daily update of our activities.  I am so glad that I did that because it serves as a diary of my summer.  I did not mention, however, the wonderful final performance that the Bolshoi master teachers staged on August 3rd.  It was three hours of the most beautiful ballet variations and Russian character dances that I have ever seen all in the Alvin Ailey Citigroup theater.  I think that Colin's performance literally stunned my husband and his twin sister Claire.  His entire physique changed as did his technique.  Colin was the strongest I have seen him and I think that just amazed Marc.  At that moment, I was never more proud of him and so incredibly happy that I was able to seize this unique chaperon opportunity.
Colin loved this training and hopes to study in Moscow one day soon.  If only.....  For now, we are thinking we might be able to send him one more time this summer with a sizable scholarship.  Meanwhile, We have to prepared Colin for actually going out into the world.  A contract with a ballet company is his first and foremost dream.  However, he will be auditioning for college programs at Butler and Indiana University as well.  I feel this is so important.  Jobs in ballet even if you are a male, are hard to come by and Colin really wants to dance with a well known company.  So my question to him is and was:  "And what do you do if you do not get a contract?"  His obvious choice and answer was "College."

     I learned a little something about myself too, while in NYC.  I learned I could navigate anything with google maps.  I learned that I could live on $150.00 a week (for a food budget).  Traders Joe's was a God send. I learned that I truly never get tired of watching men dance.  I was in Colin's classes every day for 6 weeks, about 7 hours per day.  I learned that I can handle medical emergencies and dance injuries.  We had quite a few issues with the young women.  I learned that I can handle an entire floor of young women and their caddiness.  I learned that I can act as a therapist for a myriad of relationship problems. I learned that I could jump into action every time I had someone knock on my door at 2 in the morning.I learned that I looked forward to my one on one talks with Colin.  I actually got to know him, his dreams, his goals, his love of dance.  That was perhaps the most rewarding of all, getting to know my son who is just on the verge of adulthood.  I learned that I love New York City.  There were so many places I did not get to but at the same time, I never wasted a moment exploring.  The vibe in New York is very art orientated.  It is, after all, one of the best performing arts venues in the world and all arts are highly visible.  The museums were awe inspiring and I came away with so many ideas for my own art. I could definitely live in and around this marvelous city. I learned a lot about ballet.  And I think I learned about what it takes to train a serious male dancer for a professional career ( that's an entire blog post by itself and then some).   

     So there it is in a nutshell.  I am so thankful to the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and the Russian American Foundation for making this happen for Colin and myself.  I am so thankful for my husband for sacrificing his summer so that I could go to New York with Colin.  I am so very thankful for my daughters who helped out, especially Claire who did a lot of cooking and driving herself to and from her own ballet intensive.  As I head into the Autumn season, I have a lot to prepare for.  Colin and Claire will be priorities.  We have college visits, college auditions, and company auditions looming. I know I won't have much time for my own art.  This senior year will fill my art time totally.  I do have one art show coming up and that is just around the corner in September.  I need to get going to prepare for that and hopefully will be able to blog about it soon


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Another Long Stretch

"Tidal Pool,"  May 2012
I get overwhelmed too easily.  Why, I don't know.  Some people thrive on stress, some people welcome stress with open arms, some people actually are productive under stress, some people learn how to deal with it, and others just shut down.  I'm one of those that shut down, even under mild stress.  Why?  I don't know.  But what I do know know is that I don't deal with stress and life becomes counter productive.  The blog is just one facet that gets left in the dust.  Its been a while, no?  So much has gone down, so many fun details ignored, life keeps happening to me and I'm just floating through the day, the weeks, the months...  So I read an updated blog, finally, from a dear friend, Faye.  She has been absent from the blog seen for a while as well and she got me to thinking.  My thoughts and words do matter, at least to me.  They help me feel better about myself, my motivations, my life.  They put things in some what of a perspective and allow me to reflect on just how much I have accomplished and just how much I am blessed, very blessed indeed.

Since January, I have just sort of skated through 2012.  My art work has been dismal.  I've produced three pieces of which one is presented here, "Tidal Pool"-a mixed media and collage work in my Claiming Sanctuary ongoing series. I did manage to get accepted to the big Art of the Land fundraiser gallery show at the Starline Gallery (in September) once again, so that will be on the horizon.   I did get to meet one of my collage idols, Laura Lein-Svencner at a one day workshop.  I marvel at how organized she is and how talented she is.  She is living the artist life and sucking up every minute of it.  I marvel at how she juggles everything.  Young adults still living at home, doing the home maker thing, full time artist and collage teacher (a ton of prep work goes into her classes...amazing), mom to several animals, an avid gardener, she even makes her own paper (from scratch).  I am sure I am missing several things( like almost daily walks in her local forest preserve).  Jealous, maybe..  As I get older though, I know jealousy is a dangerous emotion and to be careful what I wish for.  So I follow Laura's blog and dream a little, but not too much.  

Since January, my father-in-law went spiraling down hill (too quickly) into the depths of Alzheimer's.  My husbands sister was closest to the situation and she she was ever caring for and handling all his affairs.  We will be forever grateful to her. My husband was with his Dad often and our family tried to make as many trips as possible to visit. In mid May, Jack Ellis passed away under Hospice care.  My sister-in-law and her husband were there all morning but had stepped out just for a breather.  That is when Jack passed.  Marc was very close, very close to his Dad.  Its been a long couple of weeks.  Alzheimer's is an awful condition.  I prefer to remember Jack as he was during my early years of marriage:  vivacious, loving, fun, life filled him with exuberance on a daily basis, a lover of animals, an adoring Grandfather, lover of the arts, optimist, and an individual in peace with himself and nature.  I will miss you Jack Ellis.

In April I learned that I could be a chaperon for the Bolshoi Ballet's Summer Intensive in New York City.  Colin was actually thrilled to have me come along, really?  Colin is seventeen and it will be his first time in New York City for 6 frigging weeks, really, its OK for Mom to come along?  Hell ya, he embraced the idea.  I can't even describe what went into that decision making process and I am still concerned about my decision to go. I am so guilted out at leaving my two daughters for 6 weeks. There is so much to deal with on the home front over this 6 week period.  Marc works full time after all, Claire has a summer intensive with Judith Svalander School of Ballet (she still doesn't have that drivers license yet), school registration needs to be done with numerous dumb ass forms, senior pictures needs to be arranged, Katie's college registration for fall needs to get paid (stupid computer program sucks and has changed several times since she started at our local college--it takes a college grad and then some to figure out how to pay the school), dogs need food on weekly basis, certain bills need attending too, making/cooking healthy dinners, and that is a just a few things poor Marc will have to contend with during this 6 week period.  But my dearest husband told me if I wanted to do it, then go for it.  It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Imagine, I would get to be in one of the most highly ranked cultural centers of our country, seeing first hand  top training in ballet from a world renowned ballet school.  New York City is where Colin wants to be someday.  I had been so nervous about sending him on his own and now I can be there if he needs me...but at what price? At any rate, I would really love to blog this experience, I just hope I can make that a reality.I won't have the capability to upload pictures from my camera, but if I remember to use my son's iPad, I might be able to get a few pics.

In the midst of all this "upheaval," I had to get physicals.  Those who know me may know that I hate doctors.  Anyway I went and we discovered that I have hypertension.  Doctor told me mine was genetic and all the exercise and diet in the world would not alleviate the condition.  A few meds later, its under control.  Whew.  I also started a walking program in mid April to at least get my sorry legs moving again for all the walking I will be doing.  I purchased a new pair of Saucony running shoes (my favorites for walking) and off I went.  I am happy to say I think I'm going to be fine as far the physical part of this trip.  Now I face the real stress of packing for 6 weeks for the two of us, getting to the airport, getting checked in, flying out, and getting to the place that we are going to call home.  Why do I do this to myself?  I guess I am getting myself mentally prepared for the upcoming fall/winter whirlwind of company auditions and college auditions for Colin and college visits and interviews for Claire.  After New York I have to hit the ground running (walking, running is not in my vocabulary). 

Right now...we are in the midst of tech week at the Woodstock Opera House.  It is spring performance time.  This year is the Judith Svalander's School of Ballet 40th anniversary.  Instead of a full length ballet, Mrs Svalander pulled together a program that promises to delight.  She has selected repertoire from her 40 years as an artistic director.  Many favorites of her instructors will be highlighted as well as some excerpts of full length ballets that were staged at her hands (or feet lol).  Its a big time for Colin and Claire because they are both members of her company.  They dance a lot..which does my heart good.  I will never get tired of watching them...ever.  We are going to all the performances.  Here is the link: If you are in the are..this is a great venue.  It is also a wonderful way to introduce young children to ballet. The program will be fast moving so it will keep children's attention on the stage.  It should be a blast.

Now I am babbling..  I need to come up for air and continue my journey...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Twitter Art Exhibit and More: 3/10/2012

     Three months into the New Year and it seems like June (even though the weather says no way).  The month of January went by faster than I can even describe.  It was filled with summer intensive auditions for Colin and a movie premier called Life Lessons (both Colin and Claire were in this little short movie about a young girl coming of age through Stone and Camryn Ballet school in the sixties). Colin's auditions went fine.  He was accepted at both the American Ballet Theater's intensive in North Carolina and the Bolshoi's intensive in New York City.  We spent an agonizing two weeks doing some serious research and he did some serious reflection.  Both programs offered scholarships and Colin had a difficult time deciding which program would benefit him most at this stage in his training.  In the end, he made a decision on his own given all the facts presented to him and he decided that this was the time for adding serious Russian technique to his repertoire.  I think it was a good choice because this may be the only time he has to study with the Master Teachers from this world renowned company.    This is a 6 week program in New York City.  He will dance at Lincoln Center and I believe two other locations close by.  As a mother, I really nervous about this but I will have to get over it quickly.  I have tried to rationalize that it is really an opportunity of a lifetime and quite an honor to be asked to the program.  So in a few short month, we will send him off.

     Quite soon, over spring break, we are off to visit a few colleges, namely---Butler and Indiana University.  Colin wants to go directly to a company, he wants to get on with his career.  However, both myself and my husband want him to have a back up plan.....  Money for the arts is very limited and who knows what the situation will be like in a year or two.  Butler is already interested in him so I suggested we take a road trip. Both Butler and Indiana U have great ballet programs.  I hope Colin will be in the position to start down his career path but if that doesn't happen, college is a good thing.

     In art news, sadly there is little right now.  I did finish a very small series ( 3 by 6 inches, 3 in all) called moon over Chaco Canyon for David Sandum's Twitter Art Exhibit.  I did this charitable event last year and the exhibit raised about $3000 for children's books at the Moss library in Norway .  This year the sale of these small works will benefit the Woman's Crisis Center in Moss.  I am proud to be invovled in this event even though it is just in a very small way.  I had a fun time doing these.  The series came together with very little thought, I just did....  I do hope the sale is a success for David.  He puts so many hours and a lot of heart into it...  I wish I had so much energy!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Belated Holiday Greetings

Yes, I did it again.  My poor blog has been totally neglected for far too long.  I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and that the new year is off to a good start.  We flew through our holidays.  Nutcracker was a big success.  Colin and Claire brought it home in a big way.  Each year I fight for words that can describe my feelings and well, words just are not adequate.  Perhaps these pictures will tell it all.  I always have to mention the wonderful Dan Swinson.  He has a gift for capturing these dancers emotions.

I managed to clean our home in the short days following Nutcracker and then Christmas was here.  I cooked and a good meal and good time was had by all.  We were blessed to spend our Christmas Day with Grandpa.  He is in the late stages of Alzheimer's.  We know that each gathering is a precious one because time is cruel.  Marc's Dad may only have a short time or not...its a crap shoot and so terribly unfair.  

New Years was very quiet.  We spent it with neighbors who we have known for many years.  Our children have grown up together.  Great talk, good food, and wonderful people.  Who could ask for more.  I'm afraid our party days are sooo over.  Marc and I rang in New York's New years and then we drifted off...

I managed to teach a fun class at The Studio.  Our patrons are always so enthusiastic and each lady produced a lovely whimsical portrait even though many said they could not draw.  Ha, joke was on you :)))

And then our bubble burst.  Our dearest greyhound, Tigger, slipped on our tile floor and broke his shoulder (a pathological break) although we did not know that until the following day.  He did it on a Friday night when a snow storm was raging.  So we waited till morning.  I could tell he was in pain but he ate and drank normally.  We had to carry him up and down the stairs and carry him to do his business outside.  I knew in my heart of hearts it was not good.  I had the kids say good bye to him the next morning and I fed him a huge yummy breakfast.  Indeed I knew he would not be coming home because even though I did not have xrays to show the break, I knew what it was and I knew this kind of break was not good...osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is prevalent in his lineage...enough said.  The Xrays showed or confirmed what I feared and we chose to send him to the Bridge right then and there.  I will miss you Tigger.  You were my dearest hound.  

During all this, Colin auditioned for big company summer intensives.  He auditioned at the Bolshoi, American Ballet Theater, and Pacific Northwest Ballet (which we eventually decided to sit out of).  He was accepted to all with scholarships.  So a decision had to be made as to where he would go.  stay tuned...will update that a little later :))))


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Its Nutcracker time Once Again: 12/7/11

Rehearsal at the Waverly in Woodstock Illinois Photo by Dan Swinson ©2011
Claire, photo Dan Swinson ©2011
I am trying so hard to savor each moment of my 2011 Nutcracker Experience.  It will be a bitter sweet one I'm afraid.  Colin and Claire have one more year before they move on.  They will go separate ways.  My twins will begin to have their own lives, apart.  I don't want to dwell on that.  It is hard enough knowing they will soon be seniors.  I want so much for each of them.  I want their dreams to be fulfilled.  I want them to be the best they can be and I hope they will always stay in touch. I hope they will want to come home on the holidays or that I and their Dad can go to them on the holidays.  I hope.....

So how is this years Nutty shaping up?   As I said, I am trying hard to savor each moment, smile with each trip I make to the Opera House because something was forgotten, rejoice when I have ballet shoes to sew, take the home Christmas decorating in stride even though I have Christmas this year, shrug when I spend umpteen dollars on carry out meals through rehearsals and performances, make no comments about how many small loads of dance apparel I have to wash each night for the next two weeks, revel in each performance that I have tickets for (I have five performances that I am seeing and 3 that I am ushering), be a proud Mom no matter what happens in each performance, be a kind Mom when first time Nutcracker parents are trying to figure out scheduling and the tricks of the trade (so to speak), and finally, soak up the compliments with humility from other parents and friends.  I want to remember everything.  I want to be a part of Colin's and Claire's triumphs.  I just hope I deserve all these precious moments because they will be over all too soon.  Merde my dear Colin and Claire. 

Love MOM

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

So much to be thankful for: 11/22/11

So its the eve of my second favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  Reflection time for me is always right around this time of year.  I've had one of those years that as a mother, realized some of my worst nightmares.  My daughter Kaitie has had two close calls as of this writing.  The first was the accident on June 4th that totalled her car and realized an ADHD diagnosis.  I had a hard time coming to terms with just how close she came to being seriously injured or worse.  After spending some quality time with God, I resolved to be a better mother to her, to be more patient (something I have never been able to do), to love her unconditionally and accept her for who she is, not what I want her to be.  That accident was every mother's or parent's worse nightmare. Continuing, just when I thought life was good, God sent me another wake up call.  Kaitie was rushed to the hospital last week.  She had developed a serious kidney infection (started most likely as a UTI) which went septic.  We spent two days on pins and needles as the health care team tried to figure out an antibiotic scheme that worked.  I tried so hard to be strong for her but I did finally break down in front of her, my family, the nurses, and her boyfriend.  I could not believe we were facing this.  How could this happen and get to this point?  I have always been able to catch her illnesses before we had to resort to emergency care.  You know, step throats, ear infections, and even a UTI when she was very young.  How could I have missed this...  I really guilted myself out and for the last week have been pretty subdued.  How can one protect this young adult?  Is it even possible.  Well she is home now, back to school and work, and even though she is still on the antibiotic regiment, she is herself again.  I know God would not give me more than I can handle but really...two close calls in such a short time span?  I am grateful that I finally had enough sense to get her into the hospital, too much longer and it would not have been good.

So what else am I thankful for.  Well there just happens to be this wonderful man in my life.  And then there are my twins, my gloriously talented twins.  There is my home and my wonderful greyhounds.  My health, my friends, being gainfully employed (both of us), my art, and of course the Nutcracker (which is just around the corner). Lest I forget my God who keeps me grounded in reality.
I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.  I for one know just how blessed I am to have my family around me on this holiday....  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Surfacing Again: 10/30/11

I simply have not been able to put together contiguous thoughts nor meaningful ones for the past 3 months.  So do you ever question why you started a blog in the first place, do you wonder if your words are worth reading, who really cares, do your talents make people want to come back and revisit your work/writings...  I am in one of those periods I guess.  I have never really been good at keeping this resource up to date.  My priorities switch so often.  Perhaps its a touch of my ADHD (really).  So when I am feeling like this I try to go back to the real reason I started writing using this venue...yep...for my children who are almost young adults.  I hope truly that they find this little gem one day and really peruse through the stories and artwork...maybe they won't judge me so harshly.  Gosh this sounds like a pity fest.  The funny thing is, I'm really OK, just a little befuddled at times. 

Skulls for the Passionate Frida
Most of my August was spent ordering, organizing, and preparing for my part of the Passionate Frida Workshop.  I honestly don't know how I got through that.  For four nights, I spent my time with the dancers from this ballet making props which included 24 skulls, over 200 paper flowers, decorating maracas, and teaching (not only the art part but the history of Mexico from early 1900's through Fridas death in 1954).  It was so important to me that the girls and guys understood the essence of Frida, and that essence is in Mexico herself.  I hope the kids learned something.  In these pictures by Dan Swinson you can see two of my props.  The folding screen contains a mural that was copied from one of Diego Rivera's works.  Mrs. Svalander wanted her Diego to be working on a mural.  And below is the cubist painting that I copied again from one of Diego's originals.  This was used during the scene when Diego was painting a portrait of Christina, Frida's sister.  I have to say this experience was very rewarding.  It pushed me as an artists, to go where I have never gone before.  By completely immersing myself in the life o
Frida, I was able to almost understand her passions, Diego, her art, and Mexico.  Then when the ballet premiered, it felt almost surreal.  The dancers were absolutely incredible.  Because I studied Frida's life for the workshop, I could follow in depth the symbolism used in this work.  It was a once in a life time opportunity.
Since Frida, I have been preoccupied with preparing mixed media classes for the Studio School of Art.  I also took an on-line workshop with the Fabulous Katie Kendrick which was relaxing and freeing.  Because Frida was so much on my mind, during Katie's class, I started a collage which is all about Frida.  I started it in September and it is still waiting for me to finish :)  My ADHD has gotten the better of me and I am now working on several projects at once getting no where.  I have two workshops coming up.....  Oh and its Nutcracker Season.  Colin and Claire are in the thick of it...They still do not have a license and I'm still driving... 
I'm going to leave my entry at that...I read some of my back logged favorite blogs today.  So glad to see beautiful art...                  k