05 November 2013

It's Go Time



Hi, peeps. It's time for a little talk. As you may know, I am all up in the Israeli culture. If you give me half the chance I will be sending you Terry Poison links here, suggesting that L-E-V should be part of your 2014-2015 season there. As you also may know, the reason I am this way, that is to say, my gateway drug in my early 20s studying abroad in Tel Aviv was Batsheva. I was totally like, Wow.

So, let's fast forward several years to 2012 to me writing a story about Barak and Tomer Heymann as a journalism student. You with me? Ok. I interview both Heymanns, watch some of their films, do some research, and learn they are doing a film about Ohad Naharin, Batsheva's artistic director. I cannot wait.

Should I make a side trip here to explain Naharin's significance? Awright. Of the American premiere of Naharin’s Virus about ten years ago, New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff wrote: “This is not dancing you will see anywhere else.” This is why I became obsessed with Batsheva in the 1990s. I didn't articulate it thusly the time, but I was done with pretty-pretty dance. Batsheva was not necessarily beautiful or heroic. The dancers' release was neither light, nor beautiful. The work was very demanding, very intense, very disconcerting, even. And I loved it.

So, naturally, I was very excited about the Heymanns' film about Ohad Naharin. I hoped every month their newsletter would announce it had been completed. When I stopped by their office in Tel Aviv this past June I, of course, asked Barak how it was progressing.

Then today on Facebook I see a really awesome announcement about the film. Not the one I was hoping for saying the film about Ohad Naharin was ready for my viewing pleasure. But rather one asking me to give them some money so that film would be ready for my viewing pleasure. I'm like, Ok, that seems fair enough.

And today I contributed to my first ever Kickstarter thingie. I was the first donor! Yay, me! I signed up at the $150 level so I could see my name in the thank-yous.

So, I'd like to ask you to contribute. Whatever amount you can spare. I can't fund this movie on my own. Or I would.


29 September 2013

Israeli Dance Is Gorgeous



A productive Sunday following Israeli dance links has revealed that Renana Raz, whose gorgeous mug I saw for the first time on Friday in Fill the Void, is a dancer.

I am currently working on turning the paper I wrote about Batsheva ten years ago for a dance history class at The University of Iowa into a zine that should be finished in mid-October. Of course, since it's a paper about dance I need photos, right? Rather than rip off Gadi Dagon, I got the idea to use the photos of Ian Robinson, a current Batsheva dancer.



25 August 2013

What I Read for Summer

The Edward Said did not pan out, I'm sorry to say. So, what I have read this summer was Life on Sandpaper, by Yoram Kaniuk, may he rest; "The Real Thing" and most of "Rough Crossing" by Tom Stoppard; and The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif, which I think fell down in not making the 1900s characters less perfect. And I did read "Heathcliff" by Orly Castel-Bloom waiting for the bus to Jaffa. I usually read more, but I was working full-time this summer.

There's no doubt I missed out on some reading opportunities last week. At Woodland Pattern, après-museum, I fumbled buying a volume of Mizrahi writing. Flicking through the table of contents and recognizing none of the authors' names, I realized that all the Israeli writers I read, save Yehoshua, are Ashkenazi. (Yes, Castel-Bloom is also Mizrahi, according to Wikipedia, but I've only read the one story by her.) Hmm.  

And also, convoluted library logistics (Why was College Library closing before 5PM last week, if you please!?) thwarted my attempt to read something by David Mura. 

With one week left before classes start, I have to read something else. A mystery would go fast, maybe an Agatha Christie.




15 August 2013

Body Culture!!!



I started writing a poem about Tel Avivi DJs this week.

I have been thinking about the body culture  a lot of late. And I am just so excited that I need more than one exclamation mark in the title.

Earlier this month I gave my presentation at work about Israeli culture, which led me to reflect on how in my early twenties I was obsessed with whether there were some "Israeli essence" that gave Ohad Naharin's work its unmistakable look and character. (I hope it goes without saying that some 15 years on the idea of "Israeli essence" is not only specious, but also doesn't interest me.)

Last week I read an awesome article about Israeli dance in Dance Research Journal. I loved this article sooo much because it was just what I needed. I was thinking that there had to be something about Israeli culture that produced its (sorry about this) "edgy" contemporary dance. Duh, right? What I mean there must be something about the way Israeli dancers and choreographers relate to embodiment that is a result of factors of Israeli society like intense collective experience and the historical preoccupation with the creation of the (Zionist project of the radically different Jewish) Israeli body. Which also makes me wonder how Israeli conceptualizations of embodiment impinge upon Israeli DJs.

Last week I also found a paper I wrote for a dance history class taught by Rebekah Kowal at The University of Iowa some ten years ago. As you would expect, it was pure, unstoppable brilliance. One of the things I find interesting is that I was like, Everybody hold on a minute; Ohad Naharin is not necessarily a genius. Nowadays I'm like, Ohad Naharin is the god of dance; duh.

The Heymann Brothers are finishing their documentary about Naharin, you see. That's why I went searching for the cache of research materials I'd used for my dance history paper that I knew I'd never have thrown away even ten years on. Among the goodies was a VHS tape (!) of Kyr I'd gotten from some dance historian in New York and all the BAM promotional stuff for Virus.

And I finally saw Tomer Heymann's first documentary about Naharin Out of Focus, which went miles toward demystifying him for me. I never imagined Naharin smiled (why would he need to?); he had been an impregnable enigma to me.

And I'm going to a Gaga class on Saturday! I hadn't thought about this in ages and remembered it as I was preparing my Israeli culture presentation: the semester after I returned from study abroad at Tel Aviv University Batsheva performed at my school. Talk about felicitous coincidence. I was in a modern class taught by Muriel Cohan, and Ohad Naharin came to our class. Crazy, right? I was in my twenties and didn't have the modesty or self-awareness to be intimidated into a boneless pile of mush in his presence.

13 August 2013

Parading Shoes



This song has been going through my head when I'm out running, so it's worthy. Ladies and gentlemen, Ran Nir...

Unambiguously Gaga


 I've been thinking about dance a lot lately, noodling around watching videos of Batsheva, L-E-V, Kibbutz Dance, and Vertigo.

In my noodling, I happened onto the Gaga (by which I, of course, mean "Ohad Naharin's movement language) site yesterday night. And there's a class being taught in Chicago on August 17!! Totally affordable!

This is unreal! I cannot wait! Happy birthday to me!

05 August 2013

Wrong Demons Are the Right Demons As Far As I'm Concerned



Hey, looky here, music lovers! Here we have the dudes who used to play with Asaf Avidan and some additional dude, I think. They all got together and made themselves a music video. This song sounds like it was written and recorded in the ten years before I was born; I'm guessing this is the effect they were going for. That sound is sorta not my bag, but I really like the lyrics.

I was trying to work out who was singing. I supposed it was Ran Nir since he wrote the song, and I guess that's right.

Since I'm American, I feel uneasy if I don't point out that I do not condone underage drinking in any form or the immoderate use of alcohol. Or keytars.

22 July 2013

It Has Recently Come to My Attention that I Love Israeli Culture

I am doing a brown bag presentation about Israeli culture at work on Aug. 1.

And I have poster for it. What's up??

Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Steel Wagstaff on InDesign...

18 July 2013

Israeli Music Pops, Part II: I Was Like, These Are Not Love Songs



I'm not gonna lie: I did not like Asaf Avidan's voice when I saw his Tedx Tel Aviv thing last year. And I was childishly disappointed he didn't speak English with an awesome Israeli accent.

But I did listen to his Different Pulses album on the flight back from Paris last month. (Thanks, Air France!) I was like, Wow, I like this, and proceeded to listen to "Different Pulses" and "613" several times in a row. To me, they sound like the beach at Jaffa. So, I was bummed to find that Different Pulses won't be released in the U.S. until 2014. On the other hand, I should have some sweet interview questions by then. Meanwhile, Asaf Avidan tours Europe--mostly France, it seems--endlessly. This makes me feel resentful.

So, I bought Different Pulses online at the end of last month and finally got it yesterday. I read the liner notes and was like, These are not love songs. I was thinking about this song yesterday and found this great live version.

I need your help, dear reader! Hip me to awesome Israeli pop music you know about. I've been listening to Rinat Bar on SoundCloud. I listened to the Balkan Beat Box at work today. Leave your suggestion(s) as a comment. Also, let me know what you think of this song. Thanks!



13 July 2013

Israeli Music Pops



I'm so uncommitted to music that I don't even have a tag for it. But I'm really excited about this song!! I heard the "teaser" TYP posted somewhere and was like, Mizrachi realness. Cannot wait.

I have mentioned before that my attitude toward Israeli pop music, as someone who grew up with American pop music, whose breakthroughs in the 20th century have been the result of African-American innovations, was one, well, markedly lacking in enthusiasm. Pop culture in Israel has shifted since the 1990s. Maybe I'm getting my head around the music more lately because the dudes whose stuff I'm liking like Ivri Lider are around my age--and we've probably had some of the same musical landmarks.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for IsraPop. Appropriately enough, I heard one of Aviv Geffen's songs in English on the way to Ben-Gurion. It was melancholy enough for a cab ride to the airport at 4AM. And I listened to Asaf Avidan's album on the flight from Paris and liked it enough to order my own copy ahead of the its 2014 (!!) release in the U.S.

If this is the first Israeli pop song you've heard, Mazel tov! It's awesome. 


19 June 2013

It's Time To Have A Talk About Women Who Have Short Hair

Swinton. Of course.
This topic is much on my mind because I have a salon appointment today, and I know I'm going to tell the stylist to get the clippers. I, unfortunately, often leave the salon unsatisfied with my 'do, so I spent yesterday scrolling through hundreds of images yielded by Google searches.

Despite photographic images that prove, in my mind, at least, that I am more attractive with more hair, I can't and won't do it anymore. A bunch of hair on my head feels weird to me. I don't like wearing my hair "out." I feel as if it's always in need of securing via twisting or braiding, and I just don't have the stamina and creativity for the full-time job that is a black woman's hair. (Also, depressingly, the texture of my hair is actually fine.)

Even writing that I lack the motivation and energy to face down the decades-long career that is managing black girl hair is cause for shame. That I would give up the sacred struggle! That I would opt for ease: of exercising, sleeping, showering, styling. It's proof that I am not only a failure, but also a traitor, a deserter of the black women's hair cause, the struggle.

Being, existing, as a woman with short hair is rather emotionally taxing. Other people treat you differently; you at times doubt yourself for looking different from other women. There are entire aspects of culture (like some dances, for example) constructed around the normativity of women having long/gobs of hair to face down. 

What's the big goddamn deal with a woman having short hair? Why was I forbidden to cut my hair growing up? Why does my mother think to this day that I'll never get married (god forbid!!) if I don't let my hair grow? Why are there guys who feel free to tell me (unsolicited, of course) that I would be pretty if or that I "need to" let me hair grow?

Obviously, this is sexism. Long/gobs of hair is not a universal good. Just like dresses aren't.

This morning I was texting a short-haired female comrade, quizzing her about her methods. It turns out that her visual inspirations for her hairstyles are male models.

Last month I was telling someone that I had reached the conclusion that if a guy ever asked me for haircut advice, I would tell him that he should find a Bowie style that works for him. (Duh.) As I've been writing this post, I realize that's advice that, as Swinton illustrates above, applies to women as well.

The photo above and my own experience make me realize this is bigger than hair. I've long lamented the fact that shoe stores carrying both men's and women's styles feature sneakers and oxfords for men, but, usually, mostly ridiculous heels for women. Like women don't want to wear oxfords or cool sneakers? Like women, who are most likely to need to flee assault, don't want shoes that allow them to be fleet-footed? And I don't want to get started about men's cologne...

Also this morning I was thinking that sometimes it seems as if ways of being that are comfortable or less troublesome get coded "masculine," when they're actually simply comfortable and less troublesome.