blending Art, Culture & Exercise

INspired by ART

Just when you thought the melting pot couldn’t get any narrower some smart person added working out to the mix of blending art with just about everything.workout1

Everything being fashion, music, culture (a given), food with or as an art, now getting FIT with Art which started only last month. might be the next new craze.  And like all big success stories it takes place in NYC at the largest art museum in the United States, “the Met”.

Here’s the lowdown taken from T, the NY Times Style Magazine:

Monica Bill Barnes & Company, the irreverent contemporary dance troupe, started “The Museum Workout”: a 45-minute physical journey that spans two miles of the Metropolitan Museum of Art before opening hours. The workout, commissioned by the MetLiveArts, contains a route curated and narrated by the illustrator Maira Kalman, the author of “The Principles of Uncertainty,” and encapsulates the company’s motto to “bring dance where it does not belong.” “We wanted to honor what exists and build from it,” Barnes, the company’s artistic director, says of the unlikely setting.

By pre-selecting objects to encounter along the way (the Met’s permanent collection houses over two million items) and dictating participants’ movements, Barnes hopes the format’s “physical framework allows each audience member to have a unique emotional experience.” The workout begins promptly at 8:45 AM; at this hour, the museum’s usually clogged steps are clear, shrouded in shadows and bright patches of morning light.

Within the museum, Barnes and the performer Anna Bass serve as our athletic docents. They dance side by side, snaking through the museum, trotting, marching, speed-walking with ease. When objects, like a terracotta monument carved with angels, obstruct their path, they diverge like hand-holding lovers, separated by an oncoming crowd.

Make no mistake: this is a workout. Your body will perspire, your heart rate will rise and you’ll shed any light layers. (That said, my one request would be to increase the cardio incrementally and start with more stretches that early in the morning.) And because our enjoyment of anything increases when it’s otherwise prohibited, the workout’s massive pleasure derives from its illicitness:“trespassing” the Met before re opening hours, writhing to Elton John within the galleries, gently sweating on various marble surfaces. It confers other singular bragging rights as well — like having done jumping jacks before the marble statue of a nude Perseus

WATCH the Museum Workout Video Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Though Kalman isn’t physically present, her presence is pervasive. Her narration proffers personal thoughts about art and unexpected aphorisms on mortality. Barnes admired her work as an acquaintance, and admitted that, like anyone she approaches for projects, “It’s just an excuse to become close to somebody that you think is going to add value and perspective to your own life.” Novelty aside, the building is exceptionally beautiful uncluttered with people. What the workout gives participants is an appreciation of the museum itself: the soaring ceilings, narrow hallways, spacious galleries; how the sunlight rakes and refracts through the windows, then scatters like beads from a broken necklace across the floor.

At the end, there’s coffee, clementines, crusty bread and butter. The assortment, neatly spread in the American Wing cafe, was chosen by Kalman, and her handwritten notes — scribbled with “KEEP MOVING” — lay arranged for participants to pocket. Though thrilling, the experience is ultimately ruinous. Wandering the halls after the museum has opened, your resting heart rate restored, How wonderful, you’ll think, as school children scuttle around, when none of you were here.

Source for Story: ALEXIS CHEUNG for T MAGAZINE – NY Times

What do you think?  Meet me at the Met.  Yes, No?

Humorous Sidenote (which has nothing to do with this post – I was phoning an auto repair shop): Today is Presidents Day in the U.S.  I phoned Saturday to find out about getting an oil change on Monday (today).  Asked if they were open on Monday.  Girl who answered replied “Yes, we’re open.”  To clarify I said “but it’s Presidents Day.”  She replied “yes,  but we’re Mexican!”  How about Sunday?  Are you open then?  No, she replied.  “We’re Mexican!”

Art of the DANCE & DEGAS – two beauties

A STRANGE NEW BEAUTY –  at the MoMAdegas

“Degas’s focus on dance is part of his engagement with depicting the subjects, spaces, rhythms, and sensations of modern life,” says Jodi Hauptman, senior curator in the department of drawings and prints at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, where an exhibition that explores Degas’s extensive work in monotype, “Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty,” opens up next month.  “His vision wanders and focuses, taking note of what usually is overlooked and honing in on what best reflects the conditions of his time.”

I found the article below INSPIRING.  It encompasses the perfect ménage à trois of Style: Art, Dance & Fashion.

As she channels the artist Edgar Degas’s most famous ballet works ahead of this new exhibition, dancer Misty Copeland opens up about what it feels like to make history.

Ballet dancers, Misty Copeland says, like to be in control. It’s something about ballet itself—the painstaking quest to achieve the appearance of a kind of effortless athleticism, fluidity, and grace—that makes it hard to let go. “I think all dancers are control freaks a bit,” she explains. “We just want to be in control of ourselves and our bodies. That’s just what the ballet structure, I think, kind of puts inside of you. If I’m put in a situation where I am not really sure what’s going to happen, it can be overwhelming. I get a bit anxious.”

Copeland says that’s part of the reason she found posing for the images that accompany this story—which were inspired by Edgar Degas‘s paintings and sculptures of dancers at the Paris Opéra Ballet—a challenge.

Copeland re-creates Degas's The Star; Valentino dress, $15,500, 212-355-5811; Wilhelm headpiece, $495, and corsages,$135,; Mokuba ribbon, $11 per yard, 212-869-8900.
Copeland re-creates Degas’s The Star; Valentino dress, $15,500, 212-355-5811; Wilhelm headpiece, $495, and corsages,$135,; Mokuba ribbon, $11 per yard, 212-869-8900.

“It was interesting to be on a shoot and to not have the freedom to just create like I normally do with my body,” she says. “Trying to re-create what Degas did was really difficult. It was amazing just to notice all of the small details but also how he still allows you to feel like there’s movement. That’s what I think is so beautiful and difficult about dance too. You’re trying to strive for this perfection, but you still want people to get that illusion that your line never ends and that you never stop moving.”

Copeland as Degas's Dancer; Carolina Herrera top, $1,490, skirt, $4,990, 212-249-6552; Hatmaker by Jonathan Howard headpiece, $750,; Mokuba ribbon, $11 per yard, 212-869-8900; Mood Fabrics fabric (worn as a belt), 212-230-5003. 
Copeland as Degas’s Dancer; Carolina Herrera top, $1,490, skirt, $4,990, 212-249-6552; Hatmaker by Jonathan Howard headpiece, $750,; Mokuba ribbon, $11 per yard, 212-869-8900; Mood Fabrics fabric (worn as a belt), 212-230-5003.

It should probably come as no surprise that Copeland would have trouble conforming to someone else’s idea of what a ballerina should look like; she gave that up a long time ago. At 33, she’s in the midst of the most illuminating pas de deux with pop culture for a classical dancer since Mikhail Baryshnikov went toe-to-toe with Gregory Hines in White Nights. Last June, she was named a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, the first African-American woman to hold that distinction. She was also the subject of a documentary, Nelson George’s A Ballerina’s Tale, which chronicled her triumph over depression and body-image issues, as well as her comeback from a career-threatening leg injury in 2012. The story of her rise from living in a single room in a welfare motel with her mother and five siblings to the uppermost reaches of the dance world has become a sort of 21st-century parable: the unlikely ballerina, as Copeland referred to herself in the subtitle of her 2014 memoir, Life in Motion, who may be on her way to becoming the quintessential ballerina of her time.

Copeland as Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green); Oscar de la Renta dress, $5,490, 212-288-5810; Mokuba ribbon, $11 per yard; Hatmaker by Jonathan Howard headpiece corsage, $70, 
Copeland as Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green); Oscar de la Renta dress, $5,490, 212-288-5810; Mokuba ribbon, $11 per yard; Hatmaker by Jonathan Howard headpiece corsage, $70,

Degas’s ballet works, which the artist began creating in the 1860s and continued making until the years before his death in 1917, were infused with a very modern sensibility. Instead of idealized visions of delicate creatures pirouetting onstage, he offered images of young girls congregating, practicing, laboring, dancing, training, and hanging around studios and the backstage areas of the theater. Occasionally, portly men or dark figures appear, directing or otherwise coloring the proceedings. “People call me the painter of dancing girls,” Degas is said to have once told his Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard, the Larry Gagosian of the day. “It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes.” It’s an unsentimental place, Degas’s ballet, and his representation of the dancers is far from sympathetic. But it’s a space where he discovered not only a freedom for himself as an artist but also a kind of beauty that existed behind all the beauty of the performance and in the struggle of his subjects to become something.

 WHEN: 26 Mar — 24 Jul 2016 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York

Not to be missed if you’re in New York City

Sourcephotography by Ken Browar & Deborah Ory of the NYC Dance Project.


Feel-good Friday: DANCE

It’s a little like a love affair Dancing feet. It starts out great, makes you feel good and then there are a few bumps along the way.  You begin to doubt yourself.  You settle in, become comfortable with the same steps and work into a routine.  But if you want to improve your dance and keep things fresh you have to always evolve and work at it.  You have to be eager to take it one step further to keep it interesting and alive. And to make the leaders want to dance with you.tango6

Anyway, that’s my little analogy of the dance

You just can’t take a crash course to be a tango dancer in a movie – Robert Duvall

tango1Dancing is not only social and good exercise, it makes me feel good. But I’ve been lax in going regularly for a long while now and I feel like I need to improve.  With tango, it seems so easy but you never quite feel like you’ve mastered it.  It is said that it takes a lifetime. Well since I have some time left I started lessons with one of the best instructors – Nadia of “Strictly Tango.” She spends several months a year in Buenos Aires. She’s professional but makes it fun, doesn’t miss a beat, watches your posture, corrects you on the spot and her dance space is incredibly appealing – the most ambient dance space for learning in Vancouver.  Her base is ballet – actually the best base for any dance.  She’s lovely. (See a short bio below).  I already feel a big improvement. But I have a looong way to go.

A good dancer is one who listens to the music…We dance the music not the steps. Anyone who aspires to dance never thinks about what he is going to do. What he cares about is that he follows the music. You see, we are painters. We paint the music with our feet.” – Carlos Gavito

Nadia's dance studio
Nadia’s dance studio (and photo above)

I also started taking West Coast Swingopposites attract! Think Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing (but not as dirty). tango5I took West Coast Swing years ago but was travelling and didn’t continue when I came back and forgot the steps. It’s more funky, casual but lots of fun and the music is upbeat…a mix bag of rockabilly, country, blues and current pop music – club style dancing with a partner. The opposite of tango although there is a mixer where both dances are incorporated into the evening which should be interesting. My instructor Pamela Podmoroff is one of Canada’s top competitive dancers – but she knows HOW TO TEACH.  A rare package. She’s fun, friendly and patient. Both of these classes are gender balanced.


A good reason to dance West Coast Swing – CHECK OUT this short video:

Strictly Tango with Nadia (BIO):

Nadia’s love affair with dance began early, with lessons in classical ballet at age ten in her home country, Iran. By the time she was fourteen, she’d earned a scholarship to study ballet in New York City. By nineteen, she was the youngest company soloist of the San Diego Ballet.  Even when university studies and a successful career as a high school teacher demanded her focus — and took her from the United States to Canada and on to New Zealand— Nadia continued to teach ballet at the urging of her students.  Her love of dance also took her to Cuba on three occasions, where she studied modern dance.  In 2000, back in Vancouver and ready for a change, Nadia put dance on centre stage again, devoting herself full-time to her own studio, the Forufera Centre for Dance.

The Dancing King

My sis took this pic in the kitchen. She thought I looked natural & happy.
My sis took this recent pic of me in the kitchen.  Me at my most natural.

Have a great weekend

Feel-good Friday: FLAMENCO frenzy!

Have you ever seen, or remember the last time you saw a live Flamenco performance?

Kino Cafe
Kino Cafe

Last week I thought it about time to take in a show or two with a visiting friend who is a Flamenco singer.  Soulful, joyful, powerful, angry, sad and beautiful all rolled into one dance…that is so alive.

East is East
East is East

Thought I had a little bit of a gypsy in me when about 15 years ago I decided that I wanted to learn to dance Flamenco.  It was mostly to do with the tiered flouncy dresses and shoes.  I mean how feminine and nice are they? But I also love Spanish guitar.  After about 3 months of clapping and stomping my feet I decided to give it up.  My feet were getting sore and besides, no male partner!  It really is a difficult dance that takes years to properly learn.  After that it was salsa, west coast swing and tango, which I still do.

You know how to express the song when you’re carrying the pain of centuries with you. The Gypsy who knows how to do this gets it from his ancestors ahh, that explains things…These are real experiences which have accumulated within him…He suffers them; he lives them; he remembers all his own.

Pedro Peña/Gypsy Flamenco Singer & Guitaristflamenco1

To truly understand what flamenco is, you must know the cante (the song) very well. Flamenco is born in the cante, and if you take the experience of cante away from young people, they’re left with no roots. They’re left with empty musical forms, and when they build on them, they build without understanding the emotional substance that characterizes and differentiates the various forms.”

Manolo Sanlucar/Guitarrista

Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive” – Hafiz.

health MATTERS: can dancing the TANGO improve cognitive function?

imagesa79d20fb8c4aa92f6e351bed1fa80152How nice to know that aside from the sheer pleasure of dancing the tango there might be a health benefit to go along with it.  Tango may be the most passionate of all dances but it has a structure that goes along with the flow, so I consider it to be the “thinking man’s dance.”  

So I wasn’t surprised to find out that that according to the non-profit organization Dance for PD® (Parkinson’s disease), the answer is YES, it does help to improve cognitive function.

The following was written by Ruth Buczynski, PhD  for the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioural Medicine.

Because Parkinson’s is a brain disorder, some people thought it might be uniquely affected by something like dance. So they approached the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, New York, about creating a program for people diagnosed with the disease.

Dance for PD® has been holding classes since 2001 and has witnessed the profound positive impact it has had among participants. But most of this evidence was anecdotal.

Scientific evidence of the program’s effectiveness was just beginning to be published.

In the nearly four years since I first started following Dance for PD®, the science has caught up. I heard about a 2015 study focusing on participants, but when I went to look it up, I was amazed at the number of studies published just in the first few months of 2015 that look at the topic.

Given this wealth of studies from research facilities around the world, I had a hard time highlighting just one. So instead, let’s look at some of the most recent findings on dance as an intervention for Parkinson’s:

  • 46 patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Parkinson’s participated in Japanese researchers Hiroko Hashimoto et al’s study. They found that dance improved motor function, cognitive function, and mental symptoms. (Effects of dance on motor functions, cognitive functions, and mental symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: A quasi-randomized pilot trial. Complimentary Therapies in Medicine, Apr. 2015)
  • Researchers out of Canada and Sweden investigated the use of tango lessons to improve motor and non-motor functions of people with Parkinson’s Disease. They found that the Argentine tango can improve balance and functional mobility and are calling on larger studies to test benefits on cognition and fatigue. (Tango for treatment of motor and non-motor manifestations in Parkinson’s disease: A randomized control study. Complimentary Therapies in Medicine, Apr. 2015)
  • Irish investigators led by Dr. Amanda Clifford took ten participants and had them attend weekly Irish dancing lessons, along with a parallel home practice, over an 8-week period. This preliminary study found that Irish set dancing is feasible for people with Parkinson’s and could increase their quality of life (Is Irish set dancing feasible for people with Parkinson’s disease in Ireland? Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 2015)
  • A May 2015 [epub Feb. 2015] literature review in Maturitus concluded that studies support the idea that dance can cause “substantial and wide-ranging benefits” in people who suffer from Parkinson’s, in addition to the older population in general.

One of the things that fascinated me about these studies was the sheer number of countries that are currently researching the neurological possibilities of dance for people with Parkinson’s.

This is a treatment strategy that could be used anywhere in the world.

And then, let the neuroplasticity begin.

In our Brain-Smart webinar series, we’ve been talking about practical and innovative strategies for working with the power of neuroplasticity to strengthen and heal the brain. The webinars are free to watch at the time of broadcast – you just need to sign up.

What are your reactions to using dance as a therapeutic intervention?

Source (National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioural Medicine – a pioneer and leader in the field of mind-body-spirit medicine.).

ART/Dance – Degas

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas

If you love art and you love dance


Edgar Degas (19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917) – a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing.  He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. He is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half his works depict dancers. These exceptional paintings display his mastery in the depiction of movement (as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes).  His portraits are considered to be among the finest in the history of art.  I personally love the ones chosen for this post.

Blue-Dancers, c. 1899 - Degas
Blue-Dancers, c. 1899 – Degas
Ballet-Rehearsal, Degas
Ballet-Rehearsal, Degas
The Dance Class II, Degas
The Dance Class II, Degas

“Painting is very easy when you don’t know how and very difficult when you do” – Edgar Degas

Dancer-with-a-Fan-I, Degas
Dancer-with-a-Fan-I, Degas

Source: taken from