Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Boyle, senior moments, and other stuff I’ve been thinking about

I hope you’re not sick of Susan Boyle yet because I have to share it again. She has blown the music industry open. The entire incident revealed how completely intertwined the music and beauty industry have become. You must have noticed that contemporary singers are Barbie clones: skinny, skinny, and at least passing pretty. I’ll bet there are hundreds of Susan Boyles out there, and I for one am tired of being denied their gifts because they aren’t pretty enuff for “The Industry.” Screw them.

It would be all to easy to become cynical about Ms Boyle. The media can suck the life out of anything. But this unexpected, wonderfully surprising event in the midst of widespread social failure should be savored, not perverted. We are undergoing tremendous change in our social, cultural, economic, political structures. Its painful and its confusing. Why not take pleasure from the few moments of relief afforded us. In that spirit, here’s a wonderful dance video.


Senior moment:
I don’t know when I turned 57. Oh, I know the date of my birth but it turns out I’m not 57. I only found out by accident. I was at a doctor’s office reviewing my records and I pointed out that they had me as 56 and 11 months but I’m 57 and 11 months. We did the math: May 1952 from May 2009…56 and 11 months. Sometime in the past year, I added a year. How the hell did I do that? I know I’m a pessimist but really. So I’ve decided to take a do over. I’ll be 56 for 2009 then I’ll turn 58 in 2010…or maybe 55. Benjamin Button effect and all that.

A few words about technology and experience:
1. I have no photos to show you of my SITA performance. I don't know if anyone in the audience took snapshots. I had only a few personal friends there so no one had any compelling reason to take a picture of me. And that's okay with me. Here’s why.

A few weeks ago my husband and I drove down to Big Sur which is about a two hour drive south of where we live. Big Sur is one of the most beautiful locations on the planet and I'm not kidding. It's something that everyone should see. You can't help but pull out your camera and go snap-happy taking pictures: and it's hard to take a bad picture at Big Sur. (See example.) Its even more fun with the digital cameras because you can just click away without worrying about whether or not you're really getting anything good. It’s so easy, in fact, that taking pictures can become compulsive, a compulsion I try to moderate. Because if you don't stop and look, your experience will be completely mediated by the technology. As soon as I got home I uploaded my photos onto my computer and admired the nice pictures that I got. Later that evening, I realized that what I remembered of my trip to Big Sur were images from the photographs and not the place itself.

So when I realized that I would have no friends in the audience at Cypress Raks to take pictures of me performing, I also realized that that would mean that my experience of dancing would not be mediated by any photographs of me dancing or any video clips of me dancing. I danced. That was then. The next dance is to come. And I’m just as glad to leave it that way.

2. iPods as rehearsal source. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am learning how to hear music in a new way. As a result of anxiety and a lower level of development, I struggle to have a bodily experience of the music itself when I’m dancing. But I wonder if my listening-in-the-moment troubles are also affected by the fact that I've done a lot of my rehearsing listening thru my iPod.

The iPod is a very practical instrument for practicing. I can load only one piece of music and let it repeat over and over, playing directly into my head. It doesn't disturb my husband and whatever is he might be doing. And the music is so intimate it is easy to hear and discern musical layers. It is then easier to respond in movement. But then when I get out on the stage, the music seems remote shifting in and out of my awareness. So I wonder if using the iPod becomes a detriment to my ability to listened to music when it is physically remote.

I’d love to hear what you all think about these random thots.

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