GEC stands for Mr. George Elliott Clarke

slide2

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the honour of coming to know one of Canada’s most esteemed poets, Mr. George Elliott Clarke, as GEC.  Cuz that’s the name of the folder that carried all the drafts that helped produce the latest two poetry videos on the lyw Youtube channel.

Nevertheless, I always address him directly as Mr. Clarke. It was a privilege to work with his poetry in my own version of a creative universe.  Lots of ways to get to know people but I doubt any compare to the layers and weaving of one’s creative work on another’s.  Mr. Clarke very graciously approved and supported the idea of letting me illustrate two of his poems through video.

The first video, Everything is Free, is a gentle poem that lets space and breath build into a feeling of hope and renewal.  Amazing dance photography seemed the best way to illustrate this poem. Both demonstrate clean, powerful, precise and beautiful movement even though everything is actually static — everything is actually free ;).

slide1

The 2nd video is a little more mysterious because it isolates two poetic fragments from a larger poem, from a larger series of poetry.

Both poetry videos show verses from the book, Whylah Falls, which tells the story of lovers in southwestern Nova Scotia in the 1930s, through dramatic monologues, songs, sermons, sonnets, newspaper snippets, recipes, haiku and free verse. [info c/o en.wikipedia.org]

But a small piece of poetry can sometimes feel very big, and I think the isolation of these fragments actually frees the reader’s imagination to fill in the missing gaps with their own lives, memories … recipes and songs.

When I read Each Moment is Magnificent, I interpreted it as a person who reflects on a river, metaphorical and literal, that has flowed through and around him all his life.  I imagine a man lying on his back in an open field staring at the stars, while the sounds of the river flow over him like music.  And the music isn’t all peace and harmony and lovey nature – it’s a strong current pulling at a resilient person.

Please check out the two latest additions to the lyw Youtube channel.  I’d like to thank Mr. Clarke again, through this blog, for the pleasure of working with his poetry.

Everything is Free

Each Moment is Magnificent 

 

I have to give props to special contributors for these videos.  Carlo Cruz and Orestis Charalambous kindly donated their stunning dance photography to the first video.  The use of the image of the Sissiboo (aka Sixhiboux) River was kindly donated by the Yarmouth County Museum.  Thomas Hawke allowed the use of the piano image in the 2nd video.  Full credit details are in the video.

Qi Gong and Bellydancing

I am amused by the similarities I have discovered between qi gong and bellydancing as they might, at first, seem polar opposites.

Bellydancing is a Middle Eastern dance form that primarily celebrates the female body.  Qi Gong is a Chinese form of health care that harmonizes the mind, body and spirit.  One seems a physical aesthetic while the other seems an esoteric practice.

Many of the moves in bellydancing are used in qi gong such as hip circles, joint isolations, candle arms vs tea cups (balancing tea lights or tea cups in the hands and winding them behind and around the body).  The vibrations from the various shimmies, in bellydancing, are a direct stimulation to the middle and lower dantians, which are key energy sources according to qi gong.

Many of the movements in qi gong are designed to stimulate optimal circulation as well various organs and systems throughout the body.  This often involves twisting, compression, stretching, and specialized mental focus.  Bellydance figure eights and body rolls/waves massage all the body organs and systems.

The mental focus may not be optimal health in bellydancing but the dancer embodies and projects beauty, emotion and light.  The bellydancer celebrates her (or his) body, as do qi gong practitioners.

The similarities are so uncanny that it is amazing to think that the movements in bellydancing evolved merely for their aesthetic and creative appeal.  Or did they?  Perhaps there was some deliberation in the dance towards holistic health?

Apparently, I’m not the only bellydance student who has thought so.  Here’s a Google search of various compliments of bellydancing with qi gong practice: GOOGLE LINK

25 Years of Arabesque Toronto

I want to write this public thank you to Arabesque Dance Academy and Company for allowing me to join their 25th anniversary celebration on Saturday night at the Estonian House.

As a Toronto native, I can remembering watching this dance school growing in the late 80’s.  It’s beginning may have been modest but the endeavour was bold and courageous.  Middle Eastern dance, even when marketed as bellydancing, was relatively unknown in Toronto.  Arabesque, today, is world renown with the awards and accolades to decorate the more important fact that Arabesque has developed an arts program and a professionalism that makes the study of Middle Eastern dance and culture certifiable.

Nice stats aside,though, I was simply happy to see my former instructors get together on the same stage and celebrate their history in Toronto bellydancing.  Struggling to get those moves with them at the helm of the class built a life-long affection for this art and those lovely ladies and, of course, my former classmates.  Hello out there to Mary and Saba!   I wish I had seen Emese!  Yasmina’s performance was amazing.  And she is so sweet and grateful in her success.

They certainly brought out the light and energy of this dance onto that stage in all its shapes, sizes and styles.  A true celebration of the female spirit and body.