Bardo – Something Really In-Between

Before COVID times I was listening to a podcast about meditation (because why meditate when you can listen to other people talk about meditating) when the woman introduced this interesting term, “bardo” which she defined as meaning “in-between.”

In-Between!

Well, considering that this is the In-Between Things it certainly seems like the right place to explore the concept of bardo. I decided that I needed to look into this it further, did a little bit of research, and left my notes sitting in my draft folder.

Until now.

Bardo Thödol is a Tibetan Buddhist funerary text that is popularly known in Western culture as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. This text describes the process through which a recently deceased person transitions from their current state of being to the next. The occurs in an in-between state, bardo, which is similar to the Roman Catholic concept of purgatory.

Applied metaphorically, bardo can describe many sorts of in-between situations. Any time there is a suspension in the way of being that we are familiar with we are experiencing bardo.

COVID times certainly qualify, wouldn’t you agree?

The Four Noble Truths, a central tenant in Buddhist teaching, explain that the root of suffering is desire for and attachment to worldly things. When we experience bardo, we become detached from our usual way of being, including the accompanying suffering.

But you know what we feel is worse than our regular, everyday suffering? The unknown!

Think about someone you know who is always complaining about something. You wonder why they continue fill-in-the-blank rather than change. When you say something, they usually reply beginning with, “yeah, but…”

This is because in-between-ness is uncomfortable. Bardo puts us in a position where we are confronted with considering other ways. We must mind the gap as it were.

What if, in that in-between space, instead of reacting negatively, we withhold judgement of the discomfort?

We may discover an opportunity for something new.

The gap gives us the cognitive distance to consider things from a new perspective. We may have a flash of insight or creativity or we may gain clarity about things that we are allowing to be causes of our suffering.

And this is why I wanted to dust off this topic at this time. The past year was certainly bardo, the entire world’s usual way of being was suspended. Now that things are beginning to stabilize, many are looking to get back to our old ways of being and doing. But it would be unfortunate to not take advantage of this bardo to make some conscious choices about the sorts of suffering we hold on to.

Maybe being in-between this past year wasn’t all bad.

All of the Pesto, None of the Basil

Something new that I’m doing in 2021 is getting farm box delivery. I have really enjoyed the pandemic practice of minimizing trips to the grocery store, but running out of fresh vegetables is the pits. It’s been great having a box full of veggies show up at my door ever couple of weeks.

I’m a big fan of vegetables in the crunchy water family (I believe that’s the technical term) – celery, cucumbers, etc. and one of my favorite things to get in my farm box delivery is radishes.

One week, I noticed that the greens on the radishes were looking particularly lovely. Were they edible? Yes! What could I make with them? Pesto!

Since this was an experiment with bonus vegetables (radish greens are now on my list with beet greens as a vegetable gift-with-purchase), I didn’t worry about not having all the right ingredients to make pesto (such as basil or pine nuts). I just threw the radish greens in the blender with some other things I had on hand to see what would happen.

It turned out good enough to share the recipe with you here.

Radish Greens Pesto

Suggested Ingredients:

  • Bunch of radish greens (cleaned)
  • Handful or two of walnuts (I don’t keep pine nuts on hand, but I always have walnuts around)
  • Couple cloves of garlic
  • Lots of lemon juice
  • Plenty of olive oil
  • Some salt

Blitz the radishes, garlic, and lemon juice in the food processor until the greens are mostly broken down.

Throw the walnuts in and keep blitzing until it resembles a lumpy paste (so that you can’t tell that they are walnuts anymore and the whole thing has taken on a pretty, light green color).

Now comes the fun part, let the food processor run and drizzle in olive oil until the concoction sort-of smooths out (I feel like Ina Garten when I do this which is why I think it’s so much fun).

I like it on the thick side but add as much olive oil as you like (at least enough to get to a creamy-ish texture).

If you taste it at this point, it will taste very bitter and you will be sad, but don’t despair! Just add salt! A good bit of salt, not just a wee sprinkle.

Now taste it. Magic? Yes. Salt magic. It will be a little more bitter and earthy than a basil/pine nut pesto, but still plenty tangy/zesty.

Now that you have your pesto, what are you going to do with it?

You could put in on pasta, sure. You could use it as a spread or a dip. You could use it to dress a green salad. I use it for a roasted vegetable salad that I have been experimenting with and it is perfect for bringing all the random ingredients I found in my cupboard together.

Lentil and Roasted Veg Salad

  • Cook ½ cup (or so) lentils (use the kind that stay firm) w/ salt and thyme in water until just done, drain and cool. *or substitute a can of garbanzo beans for the lentils – even easier!
  • Dice one sweep potato, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until tender.
  • Optional (but delicious): dice some turnips and roast with the sweet potato.

Let everything cool a bit, throw it in a bowl, cover, and throw it in the fridge.

Later add:

  • A good amount of chopped parsley
  • Some artichoke hearts
  • Some sliced radishes
  • Maybe a scallion
  • Maybe some grated parmesan
  • Whatever else is in the fridge/the cupboard/the garden that looks interesting
  • Lots of your delicious homemade pesto

Get it all mixed together and it’s ready to eat. Or you can throw it back in the fridge for later.

Both the pesto and the roasted vegetable salad feel like good foundations for improvising as the seasons change and different produce is available. What would you add/change?

The Writing Sprint Challenge Prompt Was: Mercy

Have you ever participated in a writing sprint challenge?

Neither had I until a couple of weeks ago. Someone was doing one on Instagram and I signed up right away because there were prizes. There are probably a lot of things that I can be motivated to do for the sake of artisanal smelly candles. I should remember that. 

Ok, back to the writing sprint.

The challenge was that there were prompts for each day and you would write for a set amount of time and then post on Instagram for accountability. The writing sprint prompt one day really captured my attention and I decided to turn it into this blog post. It was just one word: mercy.

Mercy. It isn’t an unusual or exotic word. But it struck me that this is not a word that I use or hear a lot. It’s not really in the zeitgeist the way that forgiveness is for example. It’s an ordinary word, why did it feel uncommon? What thoughts/ideas/feelings does the word evoke?

My first thought was that mercy correlates to surrender. Not that there is some sort of causal relationship, they’re not two sides of the same coin; but maybe they live in the same room.

So where does that correlation come from?

I started to pull my idea apart. Mercy is an act from a position of power, isn’t it? Whereas surrender seems to be something that the one who is being acted upon would do. Asking for mercy is a means of surrender.

That got me thinking about affirmations and all that jargon. Forgiveness is very trendy these days. But what about mercy?

Mercy means that you were in an acknowledged position of power and chose to relinquish your advantage. That rather than impose your will, you showed restraint. I suppose that mercy takes a good deal more awareness and self-control than forgiveness.

By the time that you get to forgiveness the thing is done. You stayed strong and kept plowing ahead with a single-minded determination, then when it’s over, you can evaluate and choose to forgive.

Mercy requires evaluating the impact of your actions while in process. That’s no fun.

If you follow the etymology of mercy all the way back to its Latin root, you find the word merx which means “wares” or “merchandise.” There is something tangible about giving up one’s advantage in a power dynamic, isn’t there?

All that being said, I wonder if we all couldn’t use a little more mercy in our hearts, even more so than forgiveness.

Just because something is within our power to make happen doesn’t mean that we always need to. Maybe have mercy for your feet by not wearing those shoes (you know which ones I’m talking about – they are really cute). Rather than say the unkind thing that you will apologize for later, demonstrate mercy by not saying it at all. You could even get meta with it – I’m thinking things like buying hand soap at the refill-your-own-container store (mercy) instead of putting another plastic container in the recycling bin (forgiveness).

What do you think? Did I get too in-between on this?

Adventures in Landscaping, part 2

As my adventures in landscaping continued, rather than shapeless days of digging, there were discrete tasks that needed to be executed in a certain order. I was so excited to get to the part where I had a finished patio that I had to keep reminding myself to take breaks and enjoy the process.

After consulting with Mr. Man about what he learned from his research, I forged ahead, driven by enthusiasm and determination rather than knowledge or skill. There was a rainstorm pending for the end of the week and it seemed like a completed patio would weather a storm better than a half-finished project. Over the course of five days, I went through the steps of:

  • Framing
  • Leveling
  • Lining
  • Installing the base layer
  • Leveling
  • Installing the fill layer
  • Leveling
  • Tile setting
  • Filling
  • Watering

It all went relatively smoothly although I did basically fake it when it came to leveling.

The great thing about dry setting tiles is that there are no long-term consequences to messing up. You can just pull it all out and start again until you get it right. Which is exactly what I did. Many times. After the third or fourth try, I started to figure it out. I wouldn’t say that I did a good job, but I did the best job that I was capable of. And when I get to the point that I can no longer tolerate my shoddy workmanship, I will just pull it all out and try again. But look at that! I built a patio!

Now what? It was just kind-of there. Sitting in the middle of a bunch of dirt. What needed to happen for it to get to the point that I could sit out there comfortably, sipping rosé and reading books?

Over the course of the next several weeks, I puttered, tweaking here and there (including adding a patch of pea gravel, there had to be pea gravel somewhere). I have been slowly adding some plants and finally got around to picking up some furniture. Mr. Man has promised to run some irrigation for me but in the meantime, I have just been making a point of going out every couple of days to hand water and tell all my new little plants how proud I am of them. It will be a while until they are established so I want to make sure that they are getting positive reinforcement while they are settling in.

Now that it is starting to feel like springtime, I am looking forward to making use of my little outdoor getaway. I’m sure that I’ll find more tweaks and finishing touches to do, but my adventures in landscaping have already been a very satisfying success!

Adventures in Landscaping

It’s time for an update on my little side yard project. In January I shared about how we finally got a fence between our property and the place next door and how that started a whole chain reaction of what I am calling my adventures in landscaping.

That side of the house had been an eyesore for years and years and years. Because it is shady for most of the day, it was never suitable for any serious gardening. Sometimes I imagined turning it into a little meditation garden/sitting area. Then I would walk out there and behold the magnitude of such a project and put that idea back in the maybe someday idea file. But once the fence happened, I was ready to at least give it a shot.

After the what turned out to be a car-sized bush was removed, it was Mr. Man’s turn to get to work building a fence to divide the front/side yards. Suddenly, I had a whole little private oasis … well, it wasn’t much of an oasis, but it was finally private and had potential for oasis-ness. What to do?

Our very lovely landlady mentioned that she had a bunch of tiles in her garage that we were welcome to use to build a patio (she and I had talked about doing something to the side yard years ago, but until the property owners next door were ready to do something about the fence, there was no reason). Up to that point, my best idea was just putting down pea gravel. But a patio! Yes please! I was ready to get to work.

And so, adventures in landscaping continued as phase two of the side yard beautification project got underway (phase one had been the fencing). While perhaps some would look for professional help or rent power tools, I just started digging.

There is something relaxing about just digging in the dirt for the sake of digging in the dirt. I spent hours out there. There was so much to notice about the ground, how it sloped, how it could change from hard and dense to fluffy, how many earthworms were in there (who I kept stopping to transfer to my vegetable garden). Maybe it already was a meditation garden of sorts.

Mr. Man does not find digging as meditative as I do, so for everyone’s happiness, we agreed that I would focus on the digging and he would focus on providing support (encouragement, knowledge, supplies, and tools).

After several days of digging, it looked like I had done enough to be able to move on to the next step, whatever that was. Fortunately, Mr. Man had been researching and laid it all out for me.

Before any actual patio building could take place, we needed to define the footprint. I knew what I thought would be the ideal area, but my eyes tend to be bigger than my stomach if you know what I mean. Mr. Man had the good advice to figure out how many square feet of tile I had to work with before I over-committed.

Ah! Math! Alright then. Eight feet by twelve feet sounds about right.

Next week I’ll tell you all about how the plan came together.

Flash Fiction Friday – Prose to Poetry

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I love to read poetry though I don’t do it regularly. Last year, I tried to post a poem (not written by me) every day on social media. The best part about the endeavor is that it got me reading and thinking about poetry again and I’ve been playing around with the form here and there ever since.

A while back, the prompt from my writing group was:

I want you to paint a picture with words. Set the scene where the action is taking place. Where is the character in your story: mall, bookstore, the kitchen. It could also be France, Italy, or the desert! You could describe a house, room in the house.

I knew that there would be roses. That was about it. There was no story, no plot. I just wanted to create something indulgently descriptive. It felt more like writing poetry than prose fiction. So after I presented it to my group, I decided to take the original 350-word draft and turn it into a poem. It was really fun to take the sentences apart, just keeping the juiciest words and essential ideas, and to play with the typesetting – using line breaks, spacing, and punctuation in ways that I would never let anyone get away with in text.

Here is the result. I hope you enjoy it.

She stepped into the garden

The loamy, chocolate brown soil
     hugged her ghostly bare feet
          the way that children hug each other –
                                                                      in an ecstatic, joyful embrace

Unkempt rosemary sentinels
     guarded the open-air hide-away and
     brushed her threadbare, calico-printed skirt,
lush branches of spiky green leaves releasing their spell
                                                                               … remember, remember …

As she inhaled deeply,
a long-forgotten door in her addled mind
     began to open

The air was still heavy with the chill of the previous night
     and she shuddered
     (did that door create a draft?)

Morning’s golden rays
     flooded into the small clearing,
illuminating a stone bench
     that resembled a leopard, lounging
     on a low-hanging Buffalothorn branch
Somber black granite shone like polished obsidian,
     the leopard luxuriating in the sunlight
          as if alive

Eleven paces to the beckoning beast
     (how did she know that?)
Eleven paces to the warmth that the stone creature offered
     (how long since she felt warm?)
But she didn’t move, 
     hesitant to mar the pristine surface of the undisturbed, tender dirt path
     with her footprints

Roses the size of outstretched hands lined the path
The petals,
     yellow near the center,
          graduating to peach,
               then to salmon,
     a coral flourish dancing along the edges
Blossoms stretching toward the morning sun,
     asking it to lighten the burden of last night’s dew

For one bloom, the sunlight came too late
Its laden petals could no longer hold the weight
     and collapsed

She sprung toward the disintegrating rose,
attempting to capture it
     before the pieces
     fluttered to the ground

Crushing the petals in her hands,
     the heady fragrance engulfed her
Her timid demeanor
     evaporated in rose-scented sunlight

She strode confidently to,
     and then reclined upon,
the sunlit cat

Virtual Ballet Season, Program 3 – A Journey Through 20th-Century Music, History, and Literature

Symphony #9 – Alexei Ratmansky, 2014
Wooden Dimes – Danielle Rowe, World Premiere
Swimmer – Yuri Possokhov, 2015

Program 3 of the SF Ballet’s 2021 season was subtitled, A Journey Through 20th Century Music, History, and Literature. An ambitious title for a program of three abstract story ballets, but hey – they were connected by themes rooted in 20th century culture. It is perhaps a tenuous string to tie these works together with, but at least the pieces did seem to compliment rather than detract from each other.

Symphony #9 – Alexei Ratmansky, 2014

Symphony #9 is one of the pieces from Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy which we saw in 2019. It is about the communist state, control, surveillance, and love. The dance vocabulary for this piece incorporates traditional folk-dance forms into the balletic vocabulary in a highly effective way and the key characters express their roles through their own very clearly defined vocabularies, rather than simply through expression.

One couple represents the Soviet regime. Interesting steps in their particular movement vocabulary include this recurring judgmental snooping posture and the female dancer has this very literal “beating the drum” movement that she uses as a sort of rallying cry for the corps de ballet. The other main couple represent Shostakovich and his wife. There is an underlying sadness mixed with a bit of paranoia in their movement vocabulary.

Then there is a male soloist in an undefined role. In his entrance, he is figuratively waving the flag (for the regime?) and uses his charisma to gather all of the dancers around him (including the Shostakoviches). I was very intrigued by the way that his motives remained vague throughout.

Though the intensity of the tension between the Shostakovich couple and the Soviet regime builds throughout the piece, there is never really a resolution. I suppose as T.S. Elliot would say, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.”

Wooden Dimes – Danielle Rowe, World Premiere

Since this was a premiere, it was presented as a dance film, but unlike COLORFORMS, it was filmed on stage rather than in the world. The way that it was filmed made me think of a 1940’s musical number although at a certain point the interesting, swirling camera angles detract from rather than enhance the movement.

This ballet has a 1920’s vaudeville vibe. The story itself is an old trope: it starts with a happy, young couple, she gets seduced by stardom, he gets seduced by jealousy, they break up, then try to come back together, but in the end they both wind up alone and miserable.

Even though the story isn’t original, there are certain elements in the way the choreographer tells the story that I found really insightful and interesting. There are two sets of characters in the ballet – Betty’s Shiny Things (her joy and happiness) and Robert’s Dark Angels (his doubts and insecurities), that are portrayed by dancers. I really like the way that these ineffable ideas are embodied and interact with the characters.

Swimmer – Yuri Possokhov, 2015

Swimmer is loosely based on a short story called The Swimmer by John Cheever that was published in 1964. This ballet was an archival performance capture, but the set and staging, particularly the use of projection, translate well to viewing via monitor.

There is an overarching mid-mod style to the work, including scenes that evoke Mad Men and a Frankie and Annette movie pool party. The ballet is comprised of ten vignettes, most of them centering around the main character, but there are some sort-of random interludes, such a section titled Lolita. The scenes in which the lead character is “swimming” are some of the most effective thanks to the way that the projections are used to convey his transition from being on land to being in/under water as well as the movement vocabulary.

Overall, Program 3 was fine, it just didn’t knock my socks off like Mark Morris’s Sandpaper Ballet did. I am looking forward to Program 4 (Balanchine’s Jewels) which starts streaming tomorrow (April 1).

Flash Fiction Friday, 2021 Edition

Welcome to the first Flash Fiction Friday of 2021! The prompt for this exercise was:

Please use a plot twist, reversal, or danger to tell a great story about the picture below.

You have 350 words to slay me.

The photo was a nighttime sidewalk scene. There was a slightly shabby storefront lit up with four different signs proclaiming its name (which is not the name in the story), and I just knew what the twist had to be.

I got a kick out of writing this and since there were a few giggles when I shared it with my writing group, I decided to post it here. I hope you will get a kick out of it as well.

KinKiller – Fun Gifts, Accessories, Vintage Clothing

I opened this shop seven years ago. I have been selling vintage clothes online since the dawn of E-Bay, but the online vintage marketplace has become really crowded. Some people thought that going brick-and-mortar in the digital era was crazy, but for me, it was the logical next step to protect my market share and continue to build my brand.

Keeping my one-of-a-kind, vintage inventory up-to-date online was getting exhausting, so I began stocking random tchotchkes so that I could keep the store looking robust. You know, fun gifts – incense, laptop sleeves, naughty garden gnomes, magic 8-balls. And accessories – floppy hats, beaded bracelets, and anything with fringe. The kind of junk that just screams, “BUY ME!” – especially when you’re trolling the internet drunk (or zonked out on Ambien). I know because most of my sales happen between 10:30pm and 3:30am.

Finding the right location was a big challenge. I couldn’t put my store anywhere that had requirements about business hours. Afterall, I needed my mornings free for thrifting. And my target customer is a bit tipsy. I needed to be somewhere where I could accommodate the same sorts of shoppers who frequented my online store. I needed to be next to some bars. Somewhere where I could open at 6pm and stay open late.

I wasn’t worried about having to deal with what the local PD termed, “unsavory characters” when they came by to check-up on me. After the cops realized that KinKiller wasn’t a front for some drug dealer or a pimp, they left me alone. What they didn’t realize (though the riffraff did) is that KinKiller’s off-the-books business is fairly literal.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I know that I look like some bohemian hipster junk merchant. I mean, that IS what Instagram is for after-all. But there sure are a lot of Millennials out there who are sick of waiting for their folks to kick it. They are perfectly happy living with their parents, they just want to be able to spend mom and dad’s money without having to talk to them about it. They want their inheritance. Now.

Sally’s Accidental Claw-ectomy

Sally post claw-ectomy

When you are a cat with extra furry toes, you tend to spend a lot of time cleaning said toes. So much so that when you give yourself an accidental claw-ectomy your people might not even notice the difference between your booboo licking and your regular, daily toe licking. Especially if you didn’t bleed or make a mess when you ripped your claw off. Which is what happened to Sally last week.

However, Mr. Man did notice that Sally was spending an inordinate amount of effort on his front right paw. When it comes to our cats, Mr. Man is the worrier and I am the taking care of it-er. After the tenth time Mr. Man commented on Sally licking his foot too much, I picked him up to see if anything was going on.

Usually when you push on a cat’s paw pad, their claw extracts. But this time there was nothing to push on. And boy howdy! You should have heard the “OWWWWW!” when I touched it. The rest of his toes are all fine, but that front, right, index finger claw is completely gone.

Of course, it was 6pm on Friday night when we made this discovery.

After a sleepless night and anxious morning, the vet was able to squeeze us in. Going to the vet during Covid times is a different kind-of experience. At our vet, you call when you arrive, they come out to collect your animal, and you wait in your car. After Sally was examined, the vet, Dr. Smith, came out to talk to me about his condition.

Yes, Sally had given himself a claw-ectomy – he had ripped his whole claw off. The good news was that the quick was still intact so it will grow back eventually. The bad news was that it was starting to get infected and needs a lot of care to ensure that the infection clears up and doesn’t spread. The worst-case scenario is if the infection spreads to the bone, they will have to amputate his finger.

With an arsenal of medications and instructions, we headed home. You know how when you don’t feel good and you go through a stressful situation, when you finally get home and can relax, you can’t? How you are sort of wound up and wiped out at the same time? Well, that was how Sally was. It took a long time to get him to settle down and once he relaxed enough to lay down somewhere, he still wouldn’t fall asleep.

The face of a cat who is furious at you for taking him to the vet, yet feeling too bad to do anything about it.

So, we are on a regime of antibiotics and antiseptic washes for the next several weeks. I’ll take him back in a week or so for Dr. Smith to check on his progress.

As of today, he seems to be doing alright. He fought me hard when it was time to clean his paw but didn’t yell when I touched it. And he’s not compulsively licking on it which is a really good sign. Hopefully, he won’t stay mad at me about taking care of him for too long.

Virtual Ballet Season, Program 2 – A Celebration of Contemporary

Let’s Begin at the End – Dwight Rhoden, 2018 (Unbound Festival)
COLORFORMS – Myles Thatcher, World Premiere
Sandpaper Ballet – Mark Morris, 1999

Well y’all, it was time for program 2 of the San Francisco Ballet virtual ballet season. I forgot to look up the program before I pushed “play,” so I was surprised that there was more to the program than just the world premiere of Myles Thatcher’s COLORFORMS ballet.

The title for this program was A Celebration of the Contemporary. The three works presented were Let’s Begin at the End, a 2018 piece by Dwight Rhoden that had been performed as part of the Unbound New Works Festival, COLORFORMS, a world premiere by Myles Thatcher, and Sandpaper Ballet, a 1999 piece by Mark Morris.

I guess that I could have watched the trailer …
LET’S BEGIN AT THE END – DWIGHT RHODEN, 2018 (UNBOUND FESTIVAL)

Let’s Begin at the End in 2018 is very clearly a work of this time. There is a certain … I don’t know what to call it – preciousness maybe – that is in fashion in current choreography and this piece is no exception. I won’t get into my feelings about that here. Suffice it to say that a contemporary work can be abstract or it can be narrative, but once you’ve established a narrative, it would be a kindness to your audience to strive for a modicum of coherence.

The work seemed to be about the conflict of male relationships v. male/female relationships. One character kept coming through to disrupt the harmony of the male/female pairings. I interpreted this character as perhaps “bro code” but according to the choreographer, he maybe represented Cupid. I suppose we are all entitled to have different opinions about what love or partnership is.

COLORFORMS – MYLES THATCHER, WORLD PREMIERE

The second work was Myles Thatcher’s world premiere, COLORFORMS. Because this work was recorded specifically for the 2021 season, it was presented as a dance film versus a live performance capture, meaning that rather than filming one complete run through presented on a proscenium stage, the dance was recorded in various locations with various camera angles and cut together to create one work. The venues included the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a dance studio, the stage at the Opera House, and a grove of redwoods in Golden Gate Park.

Based on the preview videos, I was expecting a linear progression – the dance would start in the museum then a transition to the performance venue. What they gave me was much more interesting – scenes in the museum would seamlessly transition to the dance studio, then back, as if the dancer was stepping into or embodying a piece of art, then returning to their pedestrian existence. The final transition from the stage into the woods was accomplished by the dancers stepping through a frame-like set piece.  I liked the surreal quality created by these transitions, it really created a theatrical feeling and accomplished something that you wouldn’t have been able to if the work had been presented traditionally.

SANDPAPER BALLET – MARK MORRIS, 1999

The final work was Sandpaper Ballet. I am a big Mark Morris fan and maybe even more so now. In my mind, Mark Morris is the dance-world analogue to Isaac Mizrahi, and I mean that in a good way. They are both sort of irreverent, but don’t underestimate their skill in their craft or the seriousness of their intention. Later when I read the program notes I learned that Isaac Mizrahi had designed the costumes for this ballet! Am I psychic? Perhaps.

As for Sandpaper Ballet, this work is serious dancing presented in a lighthearted manner. One element of the choreography that stood out for me was the lusciousness of the por de bras. This piece was light and jazzy and technical and complicated and so wonderful.

Your day will be better if you watch this one minute clip of Sandpaper Ballet, trust me.

This program was an excellent counterpoint to Midsummer Night’s Dream and the three works represented a great diversity within the contemporary, abstract dance sphere. Overall, I would say that the virtual ballet season is off to a strong start. Myles Thatcher’s work was very insightfully presented and the Mark Morris piece was exquisite and timeless. Even Rhoden’s work was more interesting than previous work that I’ve seen by him.

Have you had a chance to check out the virtual ballet season? Program 3 will be launching soon, hopefully I can remember to watch it before the last minute this time and give you a chance to check it out.