Photo by the Black Grace crew from their Facebook page
Saturday I saw Black Grace perform in the Schouwburg. Black Grace is a New Zealand dance company led by Neil Ieremia. Ieremia choreographs dances inspired by and drawn upon both his Samoan heritage and the current world of New Zealand. They’re doing a tour of the Netherlands with a show called Verse 3: a collection of five short works and excerpts of various older works.
Pati Pati (2009) was the first. It’s a mix of fragments from four other works using Samoan seated dance (Sasa) and slap dancing (Fa’ataupati). It has pieces from Relentless (1998), Black Grace (1995), Fia Ola (1998) and Amata (2007). I really loved this because of the rhythm and repetition. It’s meditative.
The second was Human Language (2002), a work inspired by the body language of men and women when they start getting romantically interested in each other. It also mimics various forms of mating behaviour. It starts out, for example, by the men blowing up colourful balloons. As the girl parades in front of them they raise their heads so the balloons hang at throat level. Similar to how some birds inflate their necks to show of their vibrant neck and belly feathers. As the girl turns them down, they let go of the balloons in defeat, letting them shoot away as they deflate.
Gathering Clouds (2009) was made in answer to an article in a New Zealand newspaper. The article went on about how Pacific Island immigrants to New Zealand had the lowest education levels, were most represented in prison, most without jobs and so on, basically saying they were bad for New Zealand. This pissed Neil off so made this work to deal with his feelings and show that things aren’t perfect, they evolve and change and unrest comes from that, and helps with that. The dance starts with strong Samoan influences, traditional dancing and traditional music and halfway through morphs into more modern dancing on a number of Goldberg Variations by Bach to show that yes, we’re all different, but we’re all also the same.
Mother Mother (2013) was choreographed on request of New Zealand group Fat Freddy’s Drop. They wrote a song called Mother Mother and wanted Neil to make a dance for the videoclip. Ieremia refused a couple times but eventually agreed. The work starts out with a lot of physical manipulation of the body culminating in the literal raising up of women as a symbol for how Mothers help their kids up.
The final piece, Minoi (1999), is traditional. It is a Samoan song which literally means to wiggle. It starts with a woman singing the song and then blends with the dancers. They appear behind her and take over the singing. Mixing it with slap dancing and turning the song into a round it becomes a mantra.
Wednesday I had another check-up after my surgery earlier this year. I took the bus there, and as such got there early. I had breakfast at the cafe in the hospital. Bread with ham, pineapple, grilled cheesse and apple chutney. Very tasty 🙂 Then I headed for the clinic for the appointment. The scars look really nice, the nipple grafts look good. The left one is even responsive. The only thing that bugs me is that the end of the scar, under my arm, is pointing outwards. The doctor agreed and we decided to get that fixed. Luckily that’s a small job that can be done at the clinic with just some local anesthetic. Just have to wait a while for it to be scheduled.
I then went to work for a few hours after which I met up with Gert to go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I really enjoyed the movie. I’ve seen the other Star Wars movies once, years ago. I can’t remember everything anymore but I know enough to be aware of the general story. Plus, with Star Wars being so ingrained in pop culture, it’s hard to miss.
The new movie introduces new main characters while leaving some room for golden oldies to return. I like Rey and Finn and I love the new robot. I’m definitely keeping the BB-8 plushie from last year’s Nerd Block 🙂 The sequences with the golden oldies, Leia, Hand, Chewie, were charming and I hope we do see more of them in the next movies. I’m less impressed with Kylo, he seems too wimpy. But maybe he’ll grow into his boots. Other than that it was a fairly straight forward story with fun action sequences and good visuals.
Then yesterday Ingrid and I went to the Oosterpoort for a concert show by The Kik. We’d been talking about going to this, and then Ingrid gave me the ticket for my birthday. I’d not heard of them before, but the description of what they do sounded fun. They’re a band that plays music from and inspired by the fifties, sixties and seventies. They write their own stuff, but also cover existing songs from that time. The show wasn’t just a concert but a way of walking through their inspirations.
The stage was dressed with a handful of doors in the back, and a cabinet with vinyls at the front. They would pick a record from the cabinet and tell something about the artist or the song and then play a song by that artist, or something of themselves inspired by. Occasionally a doorbell would ring and there’d be a cutout of an artist behind one of the doors as an introduction to another song or bit of talking. It was an energetic and fun show, and I got to hear a new side of Dutch music.
Thursday Mom and I were going to see The Kilkenny’s perform at MartiniPlaza. The Kilkenny’s are an Irish folk group. I’ve got their songs in my Folk playlist on Spotify and I really enjoy them. They have a distinctive voice both as a band as well as individually and pick songs that aren’t all that traditional. Of course there’s always a few, but they also play original songs and traditionals lesser known outside Ireland.
Unfortunately, during the day Mom had to cancel on me as she wasn’t feeling well. She’s been having some flu-like symptoms for a few days now so it wasn’t completely unexpected, but still a bummer. I asked Nienke and Ingrid if one of them wanted to come along, but neither could make it so I went alone.
The concert was great. They were energetic, played fantastically and managed to get the room full of stodgy northerners to move. No dancing, but there was foot stomping, clapping and singing along when requested. I had a front row seat and managed to shoot some video for Mom.
After the concert and encore were over I checked the time. The bus back to the train station only came once every half hour. If I could catch the next bus, I had an excellent connection to the train. Then the boys came back for an extra encore. I wasn’t expecting that, and neither were a lot of other people as many had started leaving.
I stuck around for a while, but I had to slip away before they finished that song. If I didn’t catch the bus, the next one was half an hour and then I’d have to also wait for the next train and so on. So I grabbed my coat and picked up the pace. Walking as fast as I could I raced to the bus stop only to miss the bus by a minute. Because it was early.
I wasn’t really in the mood to hang out there for half an hour so I checked the map and ball parked that I should be able to make it if I walked. So I went, and I did make it! Even though my leg wasn’t in agreement with this. 🙂
Yesterday at work during the daily meeting we all got a present for St. Nicholas. Every one got a personal poem (mine about my Pikachu hat), plus candy. It was a very fun meeting and quite a nice surprise.
After work I found a package waiting for me. It was the Goblin Zeppelin of the Warcraft lego I had ordered. Of course I spent the next two hours or so building it. It is a beauty.
I hooked up the laptop to the TV and I’m spending a lot of time in my comfy chair watching the panels. With an occasional cat as decorative lap ornament.
Bring on Legion!
I also found this awesome Kickstarter: Music for Cats. It’s this dude, David Teie, who’s been spending his time figuring out what kind of music animals like. He started with dogs, but is now working on music for cats. He’s been doing research into how cats hear and what sounds they like and then composes pieces based on his findings. With the proceeds of the Kickstarter he wants to record and release the pieces.
So far, the Kickstarter is only a week and a half old and he’s blasting through his goals. I pledged to get a CD set with the music. One regular CD and three CD’s that have the music with silence in between so I can put on a CD in the morning for the cats and it will play throughout the day.
One of the shows for this year’s theater season was a performance by Irish folk singer-songwriter Luka Bloom. I’d mostly heard of him, instead of music by him but when I saw he was doing a show here, I was interested. So was Mom, so we went together last night.
The support act was this Belgian group, or duo really, called Byron Bay. They played a short twenty minute or so set. I liked the songs, but the music was rather loud. I couldn’t really hear the lyrics very well, which was a shame.
After that, Luka came on stage. He played a full show with some older songs and some songs of his new album interspersed with anecdotes. I really enjoyed the whole thing. He’s of the same make as Boudewijn de Groot. His songs are melodious and the lyrics generally meaningful. The evening was a great success.
Tonight, Nienke and I built a fancy dinner with toast, meats, cheeses, pizza, deviled eggs and cola 😀
Yesterday was my Parent’s 44th anniversary. Yesterday was also the day Nienke and I had tickets to see the North Netherlands Orchestra perform movie music. To be able to celebrate the occasion and still go out with Nienke, we decided to order in food. We went with spare ribs and to make it easier on the delivery guy, I had it delivered at my place. When it came, Nienke and I went over to my Parent’s place to eat together. Then after dinner, Nienke and I went back home to get our things and head for the train.
The show was beautiful. They started with a medley of music from Frozen and I love that movie so much. I could see each scene in my head when they played the music and it gave me chills. The various pieces were introduced by Eric Corton, a radio DJ. He would tell us a bit about the movie, the music, the composer.
After Frozen, and before the break, they played some classical pieces from Beethoven and Chopin that were used in movies.
Then after the break they focused on well known composers Hans Zimmer and John Williams. I generally like Zimmer and Williams, and these pieces were no exception.
When the show ended and the orchestra had left the stage for the first time they came back for an encore. They played, in honour of the release of Spectre, the James Bond theme.
The first cake for my birthday party tomorrow is in the oven. As good a time as any to put up a new blog post 🙂
Yesterday I went to the Oosterpoort for my birthday present to myself. I saw, well, listened really, to the Sinfonia Rotterdam and the Laurens Cantorij performing the Requiem of Fauré.
I’ve heard the Requiem performed before by a local amateur choir and I really liked it then. However, that time the accoustics weren’t great, and the musical accompaniment was a solo piano. When I saw this performance on the list with a full symphonic orchestra and a professional choir, I knew I wanted to go.
Before the show I attended the introduction. There, the choir conductor told us about some key pieces of the Requiem. He had brought along a part of the choir. They performed small sections, a few lines at most, to show what the conductor meant when he discussed the pieces.
When the actual concert began, they started with the Ouverture from Cosi fan tutte by Mozart. This was followed by the Suite from Midsummernightsdream by Mendelssohn. After the break it was the Requiem’s turn.
As I had hoped, it was spectacularly beautiful. The accoustics in the Oosterpoort are very well suited to classical music.
Earlier this week, I also bought myself another early birthday present. I’d been thrift store shopping a few weeks ago and spotted there a spinning wheel. I looked at it, but decided to leave it. I was tempted, especially considering I want to do more traditional crafting, and more re-enactment. But it wasn’t priced and that usually means expensive and I just wasn’t sure.
Then Elfia happened. There, watching Margreet work her spinning wheel, I realised I really did want it. So Wednesday I went back to the thrift store and got lucky, it was still there. I got one of the sales associates to price it. She barely knew what it was, had to ask me if it was complete.
I don’t know much about spinning wheels either, but as far as I could tell, it was complete. I said so, and she priced it at € 12,50. I immediately agreed, cause that was a steal. The wood is in great condition, and once I figure out how all the loose bits attach, I’m sure it will be a working machine.
Bananaaaaaaaaaa! Thursday I went to see the Minions movie with Ingrid and Nienke. I love Minions 🙂 And to keep in the spirit of things I had a kid’s snack pack to go with it. Tiny packet of popcorn, tiny packet of candy, a capri sun and a tiny toy.
Friday, Gert and I went to the Oosterpoort. A little while ago Gert showed me an announcement for a free concert at the Oosterpoort. It was a graduation performance for the National Master Orchestra Conducting. The two people graduating each conducted two classical pieces played by the North Netherlands Orchestra.
The first candidate was Huba Hollóköi and he conducted Bela Bartok’s first violin concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet fantasy overture. Then, after the break, Konradin Herzog conducted Dutilleux’s Sur le même accord for solo violin and orchestra and Schumann’s Symphony no. 4.
The pieces were really good, but I preferred the works chosen by Herzog.
Yay, my Oosterpoort & Schouwburg theatre tickets for the coming season have arrived! I have eight shows in the Oosterpoort and the Schouwburg to go to, and then there’s also two shows in MartiniPlaza this year.
Last week I went to see La Famille Bélier with Gert. I’d seen the trailer among the previews before Wild a week earlier and I was fascinated.
I loved the movie, and was so touched by, especially, the ending that I cried. I can’t quite put my finger on it why, though. So I’ve spent the past few days thinking about it, but I still can’t place it.
The movie shows us the Bélier family, father, mother, 16 year old daughter and a 14 or so year old son. Both parents and the son are Deaf. The son was born Deaf, and it is implied that the parents were, too. The daughter, Paula, is hearing, and it is from her perspective that the movie is shot.
The Béliers run a dairy farm. They have a number of cows and sell cheese at the local market(s). As the only hearing person in the family, Paula is the one fielding phone calls to and from suppliers and other contacts. She also serves as a translator for her parents in situations where they interact with hearing people face to face.
Besides that, she works at the farm, and has school, which is rather far away. Suffice it to say, her days are full, and there’s always something she has to do.
We get snapshots of Paula translating for her parents at the doctor’s office, and working the cheese stand at the market where her parents can’t hear a customer’s questions.
As the movie is billed (at least partially) as a comedy, these situations are extrapolated and magnified for comedic effect. The doctor’s visit has Paula having to tell her parents they can’t have sex for three weeks to allow her mother’s infection to heal. The cheese stand scene sees Paula quip that it’s the division of work: her mother smiles, she talks.
I can imagine these situations can come across as insulting to Deaf people, but I feel they are justified here based on the point of view. It is Paula that we follow, and Paula who is often exasperated by her family’s antics, as teenagers generally are. She doesn’t always want to be the one that has to do this or do that, she wants to do her own things, grow up some. And her parents like to keep their little family as is, safe and home.
At school, it’s time for the students to pick their extracurricular activity. Paula and her best friend Mathilde are waiting in line when they see Gabriel, the boy Paula is crushing on. He’s from Paris and seems to be the odd duck at school. When he picks choir as his activity, Paula promptly follows suit.
During choir practice, the teacher makes them sing songs by Michel Sardou, a French singer-songwriter who’s been singing for about 50 years. He’s not very popular with the younger generation, but a bit of a legend among older ones for his work in the 70s. Reading his Wikipedia page, I’m getting a bit of a Boudewijn de Groot vibe for that period.
The Parisian, as the boy is referred to, has a good voice, so he gets to sing a solo at the end of year recital. During practice, however, it turns out that Paula, normally fairly soft spoken, has a really good voice.
The teacher turns the Parisian’s solo into a duet with Paula. They agree to practice at her house, which results in a (for Paula) embarassing scene involving herself, the boy and her parents. Mortified she decides to keep her involvement with choir a secret from her parents.
The teacher also tells her about a singing competition in Paris. The winner gets to attend a school for talented singers, in Paris. He wants her to enter, and Paula wants to, as well. To get her ready, she practices at her teacher’s house every evening singing Je Vole, also by Michel Sardou. Je Vole is a song wherein a teenager tells his parents that he is about to leave. It’s not fleeing, it’s flying away, without substances, without other influences, the teenager chooses his own path and he begs his parents to accept this.
So between all her other duties, she now has to practice her singing both solo and the duet. And then, to make matters worse, her father decides to run for mayor. Leading to Paula being needed even more to translate.
When she finally does tell her parents she’s singing in the choir, she is met with resistance and a fight. Paula’s desire to follow her own dreams clashes with her mother’s fear of losing her. A fear she’s had ever since she learned that Paula could hear.
Her parents come to the recital at school and during the choir performance you can see they don’t really get it. Why would they, they’re all born deaf, they never heard music. They’ll be able to feel vibration, but they can’t feel that from a choir sitting in the audience.
So they look around a lot, talk to each other and keep busy while they wait for the rest to applaud to signify the singing is over.
Then, Paula and Gabriel sing their duet. As they start to hit the chorus, the sound fades and it remains silent for the rest of the song. A very powerful method to give some sort of clue to the hearing part of the audience as to how her parents and brother are experiencing it. They can, of course never fully replicate it, as hearing people will remember how music sounds, but it does make you realise how weird it must be for them to see her enjoy something they can never fully participate in.
It’s a chasm between them and it scares her mother more. Her father seems more understanding and later, when they’re back home, he asks her to sing for him as he places his hand on her throat. She sings for him, and he seems to see her passion, but ultimately can’t experience it in the same way.
Paula, who had decided against leaving her family, changes her mind at the last minute and her parents ultimately support her. They drive her to Paris and she makes the audition just in time. Her parents sit in the room to watch as Paula starts to sing. Even though they might be able to read lips (they don’t really do so during the movie) they still don’t fully understand. But then, as she starts the verse, she starts to sign along.
The lyrics are adapted slightly to better fit the actual story in the movie. And she sings about her mother’s sad face and her father’s smile and how she loves them, but she has to go and fly. It’s not a running away, but she is leaving, and they will no longer have a child. With the help of the signing, her parents finally understand, and accept.
There are some other story lines that are partly shown but get no neat endings, like her father’s mayoral candidature or her brother’s interest in Mathilde, just as life itself keeps going for others when you go a different direction.
If you can, watch this movie. It’s funny, entertaining, and deeply moving. The actress playing Paula, Louane, is also a singer (she was in the French version of The Voice) and the song is available on her album on Spotify. I’ve been listening to it non-stop since I saw the movie.
I couldn’t find a Dutch or English subbed version, so this German one will have to do 😀