Monday, December 31, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Defection

Three principals from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba have defected and crossed the border to the US while on tour in Canada. Hanya Gutiérrez, Taras Dimitro Suárez and Miguel Ángel Blanco are all quite young and promising, and they have decided to leave their country to "dance in freedom and reach new styles, new things" said Miguel Ángel Blanco, who added "We are young, this is our opportunity. In Cuba, time has stopped"

We will of course remember the defection of Nureyev and Barishnikov from the Soviet Union in the second half of last century.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Back in the limelight


The wonderful Luz Casal has managed to wack out the tumour that was diagnosed in her breast earlier this year, and has a new album out in Spain. It's already Disco de Oro (40 000 units sold)
Rock on girl! Short hair suits her well by the way!

Find out more about her new album Vida Toxica and her forthcoming tour on her website!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Carbon Myths

Awesome article in the Guardian about several carbon-saving myths, telling us why some of the best-known carbon-saving actions are not that efficient, and what we should do instead.

1. It's ok to buy some low-energy light bulbs, but those big fashionable plasma TVs or game consoles consume A LOT of electricity and would outweigh any energy savings. So keep your old tv and buy a more efficient fridge instead of a new TV.

2. Plastic bag and food packaging are almost irrelevant to climate change. What we need to do is waste less food, as food rotting in landfill produces methane, a far more serious cause of global warming.

3. Food miles are only a small part of a meal's carbon impact. Reducing the amount of meat you eat has far more effect than deciding to buy locally. Remember: it takes 3 kilograms of cereals to produce a kilo of pork, 8 for a kilo of beef!

4. Generating your own electricity is a good idea, but what's the point if your house is badly insulated. The most cost-effective way to reduce your house's carbon footprint is by insulating it. British houses are the worst insulated in northern Europe.

I have to say I like this article cause it makes me feel less bad about having a lot of plastic bags in my kitchen drawers, having an old TV and complaining about my flat being draughty (it shouldn't be!)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Spain (un)censored @ the BFI

La Caza (the hunt), Carlos Saura, 1965

Very exciting season this January at the British Film Institute on the South Bank: a selection of films made by brave film makers under Franco's dictatorship. From Carlos Saura to Juan Antonio Bardem and Victor Erice and Luis Bunuel, the names are huge. Expect to see some amazing movies! I am going to 6 screenings in a week, and particularly recommend The Spirit of the beehive (probably the best Spanish movie ever), The Hunt, Viridiana and Welcome Mr Marshall (a funny one!).

All those movies cleverly manage to criticize and denounce the regime they were made under and convey the state of Spanish society at the time. Some are inspired by the Nouvelle Vague techniques, others are more classical, but they are all strong pieces of film making that have influenced Spanish cinema up to now. We looked at quite a few of these when I studied Spanish cinema in Granada, I can't wait to see them again, considering few of them are available on DVD in the UK. Book now!

The Spirit of the Beehive, Victor Erice, 1973


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bye Bye

The French choreographer Maurice Bejart is dead, at the good age of 80. His choreography to the tune of Maurice Ravel's Bolero is of course his most famous.

Marianne debunks the view of Sarkozy as an inflexible president who will not give in to strikers etc. Examples? It only took medicine interns a few days of strike to make the government change its mind on a reform that would put an end to a grant they get if they go practice in rural areas. The fishermen managed to gain 6 months free of employment tax and charges after only 12 hours. we're gonna be so disappointed.

Oh la la and another dead, that of the terrific Spanish actor and director Fernando Fernan Gomez. I can hear his low voice in my head right now, in the movie El espiritu de la colmena. He was 86. Reading the El Pais article, I found out he also wrote plays, including Las bicicletas son para el verano, a classic that a lot of French students in Spanish have to read! What a man.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ole


The Toro de Osborne started its life 50 years ago as advertising for the 'Veterano' brandy of the food company Grupo Osborne. Today it has totally transcended its status and role, and is one of the most recognised Spanish symbols today. When you see it, you know you are in Spain.
An exhibition is being held in Madrid to celebrate.

Feliz cumpleanos!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More Dolly

She is really quite funny that woman! 2You'd be amazed just how much money it takes to make a person look so cheap!" hahaha Enjoy


Friday, November 09, 2007

Random

The Economist goes to Dollywood (Dolly Parton's theme park in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee) and says you can learn a lot about real America there: "People do not fly to Dollywood; they drive there in big cars full of squabbling children. East-coast accents, let alone foreign ones, are rare. The park is thus an excellent window on what people in this part of the American heartland like". And they are patriotic, feel strongly about God, celebrate their own folk culture and music. But they are tolerant too.

Love the Bad Science section in the Guardian, where Ben Goldacre fights against spin and madness and champions good science and research. "In the media, you get one expert saying one thing, and another saying something else. Who do you believe? The devil is in the detail" and he looks at the details and looks for the truth. An good example is his thoughts about the figures used by anti-abortionists. Go reason!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cloudspotting

Argentina, October 07


Thanks to my brother, who took this on his holidays in Argentina!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tar Sands

A very very good article about the environmental and social impact of tar sands exploitation in Canada. The black gold is proving a mixed blessing for the frontier town of Fort McMurray.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cloudspotting

Montreal, September 07

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dead squirrel

As my friend Sara publishes her recipe for Squirrel Stew on her blog, I thought it would be fitting to publish one of the pics I am most proud of, taken in NY.



Yes, it's a dead squirrel - it looks beautiful no? Maybe I should enter the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition next year. hehe

Music

The new Britney Spears album is out, and apparently it's good. The scary thing is that the Guardian goes as far as publishing a "In praise of..." section to her. "The new album is often brilliant. And what is most brilliant is its musical risk-taking (...) Pop is almost unique in having commercial successes who go on to use edgier sounds. In a small way, Britney Spears continues that long, chequered tradition." Who would have thought?

A big article on the Quebec band Arcade Fire in the Guardian too. Their second album is one of the biggest selling of the year. Here is one of the paper's explanation for their aversion to celebrity: "There is the shadow of the French Quebec pop scene, packed with artists unknown outside of its confines, but who apparently "sell as many records as Arcade Fire do worldwide, just in Quebec" [says the Arcade Fire singer]. "In Montreal, we're not celebrities at all, those people are celebrities," says Butler. Parry nods. "Occasionally, we've noticed that people are kind of surprised, like, wow, you've done really well, you're nearly as big as Jean LeClerc." HAHAHAHA

Some great fado singers will be at the South Bank Centre on Thursday. Let's hope there will be some tickets left on Wednesday when I get paid, otherwise, I won't be able to go.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Poum

Being away from France, I didnt follow very much the Cecilia-Nicolas Sarkozy break-up, so I am quite happy the Guardian has written a long piece about it!

Also on the Guardian's website, a podcast from the current Tate Modern exhibition of Louise Bourgeois' work. Everyone loved it, except me and my friend Nicolas. We totally failed to be moved by what we saw. We didn't even find it ugly or awful, we just found it unimpressive. Either we are not educated enough or are pointing the lack of clothes on the Emperor, though that would be too good. I have to say she still looks chirpy for her age (95). I have just read that she is the last Surrealist to be alive, so I might go back and look at the show from that angle, and maybe I will understand what she is trying to do.

Christopher Wheeldon's dance company Morphoses debuted in New York, and the great Aesha Ash was spotted by the New York Times: "Ms. Ash stood out for the resonance and power of her dancing in William Forsythe's “Slingerland Pas de Deux". You go girl! Here is a pic of her dancing with Trevor Nunn and William Trevitt (aka The Ballet Boyz) in a new ballet, "Mesmerics".






Monday, October 22, 2007

War

Some hoop-la in the US about a new War and Peace translation. I read a long version, and I loved it.

A portrait of Anderson Cooper, a CNN journalist who is very cute for his age (40) and likes reporting from war-torn countries and might be gay though he won't say.

In France, teachers are meant to read the famous lettre from Guy Moquet, an emblematic heroes of the French resistance and of the Communist Party, who was shot by the Germans at the age of the 17, on the 21st of October 1941. The lettre is his final, written to his parents and brother, just before his execution. Nicolas Sarkozy's first decision as president was to make the reading of this letter compulsory in every high school in the country. Some teachers are refusing to read it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

NY City Ballet

The New York City Ballet is coming to London next March, which is very exciting cause they are very good and haven't been here for 25 years.

The problem everyone is excited about this and the promoters know this, so tickets start at... £20! £20 for a restricted view in the Balcony, or a standing position! Argh! It goes up to £95 in the stalls. I hate rich bastards!! So it will have to be restricted view for me...

Oh well!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Flash mob / Mobile clubbing at Tate Modern



Went to the Tate Modern yesterday evening after receiving an invite by email for a flash mob event. Basically you turn up to the place with your ipod and at the said time (here 19h01) you start dancing like mad. There's no loud music, you just dance to whatever is playing on your ipod. It was really funny, and a bit strange!

Found some pics online. Michael and I can be seen! Clap your hands say yeah!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Random

La Bayadere was brilliant yesterday evening at the Royal Opera House. The ballet tells the story of an Indian warrior in love with la Bayadere, a temple dancer, but he is set to be married with the Raj's daughter. Tension tension! Total orientalism and slightly camp (Marianela Nunez made a great threatening bitch out of the daughter's role!! Love her!) it was really good. Carlos Acosta is a mighty hunk and he makes it look so easy.

Michelle Pfeiffer is back, and always so pretty.

I have to look for another job. Bye!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Oh Angelique!

What a concert yesterday night for Angelique Kidjo at the Barbican! She was just a-ma-zing!
The power, the energy, the aura she exudes... We were on our feet dancing away. She sang many tunes from her latest album Djin Djin, which I am bound to buy after such a performance!
She runs around, she dances madly, she sings like no one else, she makes us laugh in between songs, her musicians are awesome, and her music is so uplifting! This is one of the best concert I've ever been to!

This was also partly due to a very good supporting act, the beautiful Mayra Andrade. Her music is close to that of Cesaria Evora (Mayra is from Cape Verde too) but I also found a hint of fado and bossa nova in it. Her voice reminds me of Astrud Gilberto and Amy Winehouse. Her stage presence equals Mariza's: she is very magnetic, and chats happily with the audience. She also sings in French sometimes, like Susheela Raman. As you have guessed by now, I think she is great and she joins my group of Queens of World Music! Gotta buy her album too!

Also, Angelique invited members of the audience to join her on stage for her last two songs! I jumped on this occasion and was first on stage! hehe We all danced around and I shaked my booty with her at one point. Brilliant! It was totally a "Love the people, Love the world" moment though, quite cliche really: all those people young and old of different races dancing together on some African tunes. I felt like I was in a Michael Jackson video or a Benetton advert. hehe

Here is a review from a professional reviewer from the Guardian, who obviously wouldn't have been there by himself otherwise, and who certainly is not a fan of African music: "She has a fine voice, but her songs were often brash and furious" That's the whole point! You gotta scream with her and get it out of your system, your joy, your pain, everything you have in you, out it goes!

Below Angelique Kidjo's version of the Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter. Angelique Kidjo is angry that Africa is always portrayed in a bad light in our media, but when things are that bad, she supports the cause, here the plight of the Darfur refugees. This song makes me dance around though, but hey: Love, sister, it's just a kiss away!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Adolfo Suarez is 75 / Morphoses review

In 1976, a few months after the death of Franco, the new head of the Spanish state, the King Juan Carlos II, named Adolfo Suarez president of the government. his task: bring democracy to Spain.
Today, Adolfo Suarez is 75. El Pais celebrates his birthday by asking some of his colleagues to remember his best moment, in what is a good portrait and informational article about the Transition. Read on!

Went to see the show of new ballet company Morphoses, set up by Christopher Wheeldon, one of the most successful living choreographer, and it was really good. The reviews were pretty mixed (The Guardian loved it, the Financial Times not at all) I really enjoyed it, though you could tell the company is new and it is quite a financial gamble: the programme was rather short (4 ballets of 20,7,27 and 20 minutes respectively) with many Pas de Deux (ie less ballet dancers to pay!), costumes borrowed from other companies and little stage design. But the pieces were very good and the dancers amazing. Wheeldon gave credit to the choreographer he is inspired by (Balanchine and Forsythe) before presenting a new ballet, Fools' Paradise.


One of the member of the company is Aesha Ash, a great ballerina, tall, with shapes, really long legs, and black! And there aren't many, as this article from the NY Times reported a few months ago. She was great, in a William Forsythe's Pas de Deux. Can't wait to see more of her.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The reviews are out!

The reviews for the stage adaptation of All about my mother at the Old Vic are in the papers today.

The Times says "Samuel Adamson’s adaptation of Todo sobre Mi Madre can’t be and isn’t a wholly satisfactory substitute for the original film. Yet you soon overlook such minor irritants as the bustling scene shifters or the falling curtain that allows them to whizz about the furniture while gratuitous monologues occur at the front of the stage. And, yes, you’re absorbed in Tom Cairns’s production, which sticks to the basic story, adding little of importance except the intermittent appearance of the eager, watchful ghost of the young man whose death starts the proceedings."

The Guardian is less happy with it "The result is a sincere attempt to re-invent a great movie. But who would want a copy, however well done, when they can have the original?"

The Evening Standard says it is "an adaptation that improves upon the famous original" but reckons there are "fussy scene changes and film projections".

I actually loved the scene changes, as they leave you time to breathe and the music of Alberto Iglesias (from the movie) draws you even more into the world of the play. Acting-wise, it was great. I had trouble adapting to Mark Gatiss's Agrado. The accent was weird, but it really improved in the second act, and his last monologue was very very moving. The most famous sentence from the movie, "Una mujer es mas autentica cuanto mas se parece a lo que ha sonado de si misma", was told in Spanish.

The appearance of the ghost of the son after his death worked well for me too. As he reappears, the son becomes the writer he wanted to be, and I think in some cases he expresses the words of Almodovar, the writer. The girl who plays the nun (played by Penelope Cruz in the movie) is ok but her Spanish accent when she says "Mama" or "Papa" is very very bad. It actually sounds italian! (she stresses the first syllable instead of the second one) OK, it's a detail...

Lesley Manville and Diana Rigg are great. Incorporating Lorca's Blood Wedding at the end is a brilliant idea too. I was very moved, and was 'floating' for a while afterwards, and had to wait a little before I could discuss the show with my boyfriend. Bref, it's not the movie, but we knew that, it's a play. Does it work as a play? Absolutely.



In other areas, David Duchovny, the Mulder from X Files, the TV show I religiously watched as a kid, ha signed up for a second X Files movie along with Gillian Anderson, who played Scully, and Chris Carter, the creator of the show.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cloudspotting

Chesil Beach, September 07

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What da f!


Read here about the Chinese cyber police people and their gentle reminder to Chinese people that they are being followed by having two little avatars appear on the screen every half an hour on specific websites.

Paris

A little tip if you ever go to visit Paris...

This organisation arranges guided tours for maximum 6 people at a time with people who live in the neighbourhood you are visiting. It sounds really nice!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The power of Wagner

Ha Wagner... ca fait peur!

But no, it shouldn't! I am not really a fan, but, a Wagner opera live, as I saw last Sunday at the Proms, can be amazing!

A short and insightful introduction to Gotterdammerung here!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cloudspotting

It's back! Took a while...


London, August 07

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Jacqueline Du Pre - Elgar Cello Concerto 1st movement

Am quite poor this month because I have to save! save! save! money for my holidays next months (in 4 weeks now!!) New York will be miiiiine!

An article on the young people of Japan who are a bit lost, have no money, and can't afford a place to live.

Being poor, I haven't been doing very much. Anyway, here is a piece of music I really enjoy.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Great bit from Almodovar's Matador

Hilarious, clever, difficult: genius!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Famous in Sweden

Sorry, been a bit lazy/busy these past 10 days. But I'll try to make up for it today!

First, I am famous in Sweden! Kind of! My neighbour, the artist Tuija Lindström, filmed me rehearsing some flamenco steps in my patio and turned it into a video installation, which is shown as part of her exhibition Roman Road at the Galleri Sprinkler/Nasby Cafe in the island of Öland, a very pretty place apparently. Here is pic of the vid at the gallery.

Tuija Lindström, Benjamin Lalague. (Yoohoo! I am a muse!)

Tuija is a great photographer too, here is a pic shown at the exhibition. She's also done some great work based on flowers and photoshop. Unfortunately, she is moving back to Sweden at the end of August. :-(

Tuija Lindström, Blue Eyes


3 big ETA arrests, something we can only be happy about. A long article about how they did it in El Pais, which says it is the biggest blow to the terrorist organisation since 2004

I haven't written about it, but the Ballet Boyz gala at the Royal Festival Hall was really really good. Wayne Eagling's Duet (to the music of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde) was beautiful. I also loved the freshness of Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan. If those names sound off-putting, I am sorry, it's not intended! The evening was also very funny, thanks to the video links of the Ballet Boyz backstage. Read some reviews. A pic of Belinda Hatley dancing Five Brahms Waltzes


Went to my first Proms of the year on Tuesday, to listen to Verdi's MacBeth, which I really enjoyed. The director has a bit of a mad vision (the witches are gypsy girls), it had a lot of humour, which made easier to follow. I tried to watch the Orson Wells movie and had to stop, it was just so heavy. Here, as an opera, with Verdi's music, it was much easier to digest!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

C'est so Paris!

A great campaign to attract Londoners to Paris...

This poster is great! A fantasy almost coming true! hehe

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Princess Die

I talk about drag artist Russella's show Princess Die ages ago when I went to see it.

Just found out a video extract from the show! I hope you like it. I think it's hilarious.

If you want to see the whole show (and I think you should!) it will be running at the Etcetera Theatre in Camen between the 6th and 9th of August!

The Etcetera Theatre
265 Camden High Street
NW1 7BU
Tel 020 7482 4857 www.ticketweb.com
10.30pm, 6th-9th of August
All tickets £7.50



Friday, July 06, 2007

Music and dance

Went to see La Vie en Rose yesterday. Great performance from Marion Cotillard! Mixed reviews: I was a bit moved, Michael not at all, and our friend Simone cried for the final 20 minutes. You?

Dancer Carlos Acosta is one of the best around. And he is hot. The Guardian wonders why he is not a bigger star. As some people say in the comments: maybe simply because he is a dancer, and dancers, male in particular, are just not that famous?

What is the future for music retailing? I wonder. The last CD I bought was a Miles Davis classic for £3... A good article on what is going on here in the UK.

And finally, Angelique Kidjo is coming to the Barbican in september! Am really really excited! Here is a vid of her live, singing Tumba, a song that always brings me up when I am feeling a bit low! So much energy. Might be the tune for my first dance at my wedding, but I need to check with Michael first...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

ha la culture 2

So the Dali exhibition was really good. What a painter he is. So skillful, so detailed.
I enjoyed watching his collaboration with Walt disney studios, Destino. Haunting and not scary at all, as I was expecting.

A lot going on in the world these days... too much really. I feel a bit disconnected, but I am trying to finish off War and Peace this week, so no time for newspapers! hehe Found a very good restaurant near Victoria Park: The Empress of India. Highly recommend it. Their meat is always so well cooked!


Watched Claude Chabrol's Le Boucher on Sunday. What a movie! The characters are quite funny really... it is so 60s French you know... little village, the well respected 'directrice de l'ecole', smoking gauloises, 'no garlic with lamb! never!', the 'certificat d'etude', the 'dictee'... made me feel quite nostalgic! But really scared too.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

ha la culture...

Day off tomorrow, with a tour of the Dali exhibition at the Tate Modern planned, and maybe a movie?

The Spice girls are back. I don't know if that is going to work, but then, were they ever gone? They are almost everyday in the papers here, and their songs are still heavily played. Will they fill stadiums? Apparently some people have trouble...

Monday, June 04, 2007


British ballerina Darcey Bussell is retiring from ballet this Friday. She is the most popular ballet dancer in the UK, and her last performance will be transmitted live on BBC2. Don't miss it! Earlier this month, she also did several "Farewell" performances at Sadlers Wells theatre.


ETA is apparently ready to strike again. :-(

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cover art

The very good French mag Courrier International is presenting some of the best magazine covers from around the world on its website. Colourful!

My favourites:




Find more covers and info about the publications here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Queen's new portrait


This is a 1789 portrait of Queen Charlotte by Thomas Lawrence.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz updates this painting in her portrait of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, which was unveiled last week. This Guardian columnist loves it, and I like it too. I find it humane and touching. The light is so amazing (what you can do with filters ad photoshop these days!) Do you like it?


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Israel Cachao Lopez - Barbican - review

A brilliant concert from the creator of mambo! Yes! The CREATOR of mambo! He is 88, and, in the 30s, introduced African rhythms to the Cuban danzon, creating a new sound, the mambo. Lopez still plays the double bass with aplomb and fun. I feel so lucky to have seen him play live.
His entire band was amazing, playing masterfully and being very entertaining, obviously enjoying being on stage all together.

Check out this video I took towards the end!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pulitzer prize for Photography


Oded Balilty won a Pulitzer Prize yesterday for his photograph of a lone settler woman defying Israeli security forces.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Total Eclipse / The Rose Tattoo

Saw 2 plays last week, unfortunately, neither of them amazing.

Total Eclipse tells the story of the Rimbaud/Verlaine couple. The direction was very good, with the long stage in the middle of the room, with rows of chairs for the audience on both sides, allowing more freedom in the positioning of the actors. Daniel Evans was a very good Verlaine, caught under the spell of the younger poet. Jamie Doyle's Rimbaud was a bit one-toned (always sounding rebellious and condescending) but gave out a little sexual aura, despite the absence of even a little kiss between them in the play. All in all, a good night actually, thinking about it...

The Rose Tattoo was very disappointing to me. I loved reading the play a few years ago, it was all so crazy and dramatic. Apparently though, I misunderstood it totally because it is "a buoyantly comic celebration of life". What? the story of a superstitious woman overcome with grief, who finds solace in a man after 3 years of not getting out her house. Anyway. Sorry about that, Tenessee Williams, I misread you! I feel awful. Anyway, in my view, the high drama and camp would have come across much better than the jokes that were made. Plus some strong monologues got lost. When Seraphina says she is not a slut like other women, she repeats "I am happy just to remember! [what it was like to be in bed with my husband]", but we don't notice. When she says that, unlike other married women who send the double beds to the cellar, she was always happy to satisfy her husband: "it was like a religion". when I read the play, I found those bits quite moving, I mean, the despair of that woman... but here, people chuckled. Failing to really get into it, I thought it lasted ages, but finally, it ended, with Zoe Wanamaker running joyfully around. Seraphina is pregnant again, her life is back, mine too thank god!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Russella is Princess Die


Went to see this show by this drag artist I have met once, Russella, who is really funny. Her show is called Princess Die: "Once upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of being a ballerina... Russella as Princess Die chronicles the life and death of the Peoples Princess through a montage of lip-synching, song and dance. This is no fairy story"

I had a really good time. There's an hilarious moment where Sarah Ferguson interviews Princess Die. Sarah asks her silly questions "What was your favourite slope on that ski trip?" and Princess Die gives mad answers (while spitting pieces of cake out of her mouth) "I can give love to anyone" or stuff like that.

My favourite bit was the video of Princess Die trying to order a taxi on the phone and giving her name "Diana... Princess Diana... Lady Spencer... Ms Windsor... Queen of hearts... People's Princess... Bulimic... Victim... ha you know who I am now" hehehe There's also the video of the Queen coming to stab Diana in the shower, a la Psycho. Or the song Russella sings "I could do worse than that", brilliant lyrics.

Anyway, if you'd like to see more of Russella, or some other good drag shows, don't hesitate to go to the great place that is Bistrotheque, in East London. Russella and her group The Lipsinkers are doing a show there every Saturday in March.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Janet Baker - Absence (nuits d'ete, Berlioz)

Ha, how I like YouTube... it makes posting so easy when I cant be bothered! I just need to find a video I want to share and hop!!

Here, the magistral Janet Baker sings the fourth song from the cycle Nuits d'Ete (summer nights) by Berlioz (1840)

Done!


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Isabel Bayon - Sadlers' Wells - review

Went to see my second, and last, show of the Flamenco Festival, which goes on until next Saturday. It was called "La puerta abierta", the open door, and starred dancer Isabel Bayon and catalan singer Miguel Poveda.

La puerta abierta opened at the Seville Bienal de Flamenco where it won the prize for Best show. For 1 hour and 15 minutes, Isabel Bayon stays on stage, getting changed between number in front of the audience, in a room at the back of the stage, with a door as the focal point. She starts moving to the sound of a recorded martinete (sung by a classic singer apparently) and the Goldberg Variations (think piano, think Bach) Daring, but it works. The singer Miguel Poveda and the band then come onstage, and we can hear a solea, a great milonga and some alegrias.

Poveda is a catalan singer, but you wouldnt know, I mean, he is just great and might as well be from Cadiz. Bayon dances lightly on her feet, I found her very refreshing and enchanting to look at, quite wonderful really.

A paso doble is then sung, and Poveda and Bayon start dancing together, holding each other, ballroom style. This great show then ends, too early really, with a great buleria.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Eva Yerbabuena - Sadlers' Wells - review


Eva Yerbabuena, one of the best flamenco dancer in the world, opened the Flamenco festival this week end, with an interesting show, if a bit weird at times. She won the Flamenco Today prize three years in a row and the Spanish national dance prize too.

Yerbabuena is at her best when she is alone, dancing away, filling the stage of her great presence. Her footwork is amazing, so quick, so precise. The last scene, a solo of over 10 minutes, was brilliant.

There was a recurring scene of this contemporary ballet dancer, with a big white dress, dancing about to the singing of a solea. I failed to get the point, and it was the same in Eva's duet with guest choreographer Patrick de Bana. It was quite contemporary, a lot of arms, and stretching, and leaning but worked well. In a sense, that duet wasn't long enough, and I felt that he was underused. The same with one of her lead male dancers, who got a solo of about 2 minutes, wowed us, and then nothing else.

Oh I am sounding very negative, but these are really little remarks. Overall, a very good show!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gute Nacht



From Schubert's cycle of songs Winterreise.
why did we never study such things when I was taking music lessons?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Claire Danes dancing

Claire Danes is my favourite actress, I've loved her since My so-called life. I knew she had studied ballet before taking acting, but I didn't know she has recently been performing dance in New York.

She seems to be into contemporary ballet. A family friend of hers is the choreographer Tamar Rogoff (no clue who she was until now) who created a barefoot solo for Danes last year, and now put together this duo for the actress and her friend Ariel Rogoff Flavin (the daughter of Tamar!)

The piece was actually choreographed 17 years ago by their teacher, Tamar Rogoff (Ariel's mother), and has been adapted into a work called Edith and Jenny, in which the two friends interact with each other and with old images of themselves on screens, acting in their first-ever film roles.

It all sounds very post modern, I'll let you read a full review here. I am just happy my favourite actress has passion and character and is able to do exactly what she likes. There's an interview of her here.

The blind woman who discovered the sea

Sweet feature in El Pais today about Maria Basilia, the mother of the Ecuatorian Carlos Alonso Palate, one of the 2 victims of ETA's bombing of the 30th of December (30-D).

It's been quite a month for her: her son died in a terrorist attack, then she had surgery to her eyes, and, after 30 years thinking she was blind, her cataract was sorted ad she could see again. She flew for the first time, to Spain, to be reunited with her 3 other children. She took an escalator for the first time. She took a train for the first time. And, in Valencia, she saw the sea for the first time.

The sea! The sea! What a feeling it must be to see the sea for the first time at the age of 60!

"Where does all this water go?" she wondered. She also pointed that "the water smells weird". :-) and, the most beautiful of all: "My husband had told me the sea was very sad".

A nice piece, if a bit cheesy sometimes, but nice. I am moved.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

La Fille du Regiment

I never thought I'd have so much fun at the Opera!

This "opera comique" was very "comique" indeed, and I was really happy to see something light hearted, witty, and full of slapstick fun too. There is nothing bad to say about it at all, and the singers were so amazing! Juan Diego Florez, obviously, hitting the high Cs effortlessly, and Natalie Dessay, just brilliant actress as well as singer. She put so much effort into making it funny, she is great! The Independent says: "Never has a woman of forty looked more like a Quentin Blake cartoon. Dessay pings her braces, pets her battalion of adoptive fathers, and "Bouf!"s and "Merde!"s her way through the mountains of military laundry, channelling the great comic heroines of children's literature, and making scintillating sense of Marie's idealism, her terrier loyalty, her despair, her wit and her music."

Loved the decor as well, made of giant map that rise and crumple towards the back to take the shape of mountainous slopes.

Salut à la France! A ses beaux jours!
A l'espérance! A nos amours!
Salut à la gloire! Salut à la France!

hehehehe

Almodovar talks about the future

Very interesting interview of Almodovar in El Pais today.

On his absence at the Goyas (the spanish cinema awards): "I've been travelling more than my body can handle and I am psychologically saturating with award ceremonies. (...) The simple thought of seeing me sat down with a camera on my side broadcasting all my reactions was very uncomfortable to me. For once, I thought about myself, because, also, the film wasn't left alone, my brother [Agustin, producer] was there"

On Volver not being nominated at the Academy awards in the foreign film category "It was like a cold shower"

On his next film: "[Penelope Cruz] will be the character in La piel que habito, a film about vengeance. But I am also writing a movie full of intrigue about the movie world, about the manipulation of images. (...) For the first time in my life I feel tempted to do something about the spanish civil war or the post-war. I am doing research"

On working: "After 3 years of isolation, I am in a cycle of openness, both as a person and a writer. For the first time, I have spoken with someone - I keep the name to myself - about sharing my universe and my writing with him/her"

Spanish speakers, the full interview here

Monday, January 29, 2007

Volver wins plenty of Goyas

The Academy of Spanish cinema awarded Pedro Almodovar yesterday evening. His movie Volver won the best director, best soundtrack and best movie prize. Penelope Cruz won best actress, and Carmen Maura best actress in a supporting role.
Almodovar has always had a tempestuous relationship with the Academy, but, the night they love him, he isnt there! Oh well...

Pan's Labyrinth won most prizes though, and is up for more Oscar nominations, it must be said.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Save the Blue Rigi!

The Blue Rigi, JMW Turner, 1842



Do you have a lot of money lying around? OK... do you have at least £5? Please help the Art Fund and the Tate museums to buy Turner's masterpiece The Blue Rigi, a view of the Rigi mountain from the Swiss city of Lucerne, at dawn.
I would be very grateful if you would help, because the Blue Rigi has been bought by a private foreign collector at auction last year, but the government has given the Art Fund until the 20th of March to raise the money to match the offer. Otherwise, they will grant the painting an export license, allowing the buyer to acquire the watercolour, and say "fuck off!" to the thousands (millions) of us who would have liked to see it on display in a big (and free!) museum.
Two other Rigi watercolours (the Red Rigi and the Dark Rigi) are already on display at the Tate Britain museum. A special exhibition with the three paintings together (for the very first time!) is on at the moment: do not miss it! and help us raise some cash to make this exhibition permanent by keeping the Blue Rigi in the UK!

The Red Rigi, JMW Turner, 1842

The Dark Rigi, JMW Turner, 1842

Cloudspotting

Oaxaca, Mexico, January 07
(via Riccardo)

Ryszard Kapuściński dies

The polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapuscinski died yesterday, at the age of 74.
He had quite an impressive life, witnessing many conflicts around the globe, especially in the Third World.

I really enjoy his writing so would like to take this opportunity to advise you to read The Shadow of the Sun, a collection of several dispatches and stories from Africa (his account and explanation of the 1994 Rwandan genocide is very good). Another book is about the regime of the Shah of Iran, which has been in my reading list for ages because I dont know anything about it. I might get round to it today...

Of his writing style, the NY Times says:

"He spent his working days gathering information for the terse dispatches he sent to PAP [The Polish news agency he worked for 20 years], often from places like Ougadougou or Zanzibar.

At night, he worked on longer, descriptive essays with phantasmagoric touches that went far beyond the details of the day’s events, using allegory and metaphors to convey what was happening.

“It’s not that the story is not getting expressed” in ordinary news reports, he said in an interview. “It’s what surrounds the story. The climate, the atmosphere of the street, the feeling of the people, the gossip of the town; the smell; the thousands and thousands of elements that are part of the events you read about in 600 words of your morning paper.”

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mercedes Sosa in Europe, soon!

My favourite singer, the Argentinian Mercedes Sosa, has recently announced a tour of the U.S.A in April, and that she will soon "be coming over to Europe, where they have been waiting for me for a while now".

Mercedes Sosa is 71 (she was born in 1935) and was in poor health for a while, but, after losing weight, her health and her voice are back! On the 28th, she will be performing in Cosquin, Argentina, at the National Festival of Folklore, with Leon Gieco and Victor Heredia, two singer-songwriters who wrote tunes for her.

Sosa sings some traditional songs but also became famous for her involvement with the nueva cancion movement of the 60s, which combined "traditional Latin American folk music idioms with progressive and often politicised lyrics" (I am quoting Wikipedia here)

My favourite CD of hers is Mercedes Sosa en Argentina, a recording of concerts she did in Buenos Aires in 1982, when she returned from her 3 year exile (At a concert in La Plata in 1979, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage, and the attending crowd was arrested) This CD includes some pure classics of the Latin American repertoire, written by the greatest: Silvio Rodriguez, Bola de Nieve, Antonio Tarrago Ros, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Leon Gieco and more... Her voice is at her best, and the reaction of the crowd is wild. I get really moved everytime I listen to it!

I cannot wait for her to come to Europe.

I may have posted this already, but here is a video of her singing Violeta Parra's beautiful "Gracias a la vida"

Saturday, January 13, 2007

EL Roto

We would make people laugh if we were not scaring them.
El Roto, 10/01/07
El Roto draws daily in El Pais

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Giselle - English National Ballet - review

Headed down to the Coliseum yesterday to enjoy a sweeping romantic ballet, Giselle, performed by the English National Ballet.

This was basically the 1841 version, so bring on the miming! Which is something that I am not keen on! The first 5 minutes are miming "oh flowers! oh I knock on the door! oh! love!" argh! Just dance, will you!! Maybe I say that because they were miming cheesy things and I found it boring. The best bit of the first act was Giselle dancing crazy, moving that sword around to the sound of threatening violins. Quite gripping.

The second act was great. The Wilis (the spirits of abandoned brides who force men who cross their path to dance to their death) were really spooky with their veils on, and running around in a whirling wind kind of way, hiding their faces, attacking men. I find the ENB to be great at group works, they are all so perfectly together. In this second act, it really made the Wilis more threatening. Sara McIlroy was a powerful Myrtha (Queen of the Wilis), I loved her.

In the lead roles, Agnes Oaks (Giselle) and Thomas Edur (Prince Albrecht) were really good too. Amazing technique, with some pretty grand jumps and intricate footwork.

The music and choreography of this ballet were written side by side, and I like the way they reveal all the politics that exist in a ballet company. "Ok now Adolphe [Adam, composer of the score] we need to write a little pas de deux for those two guys who have nothing to do with the plot because they are Principal dancers and we have to give them something to do. Oh and in the second act, we will have to write something for the 2 special Wilis who will have some solos ok?" hehe

So, overall, the dancers were great and the ballet too. It's just the miming really, it annoys me, though I guess they have to convey the plot haven't they?

You can read the Guardian review here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Bath Fairy

Bath, UK, Dec 06

Cloudspotting

Don't know where I took that, 2006

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Yone Minagawa

Yone is 114 years old today. Happy birthday!

We don't really care, but, look at the cake!!! LOVE IT!