Thursday, January 29, 2009

Abbey School of Ballet Salvage

Here are some wonderful, rare, and never-before-seen (well, in recent history anyway) images to help us reclaim, and salvage the lost and neglected history of the Abbey School of Ballet, founded by Ninette de Valois and WB Yeats (1927 - 1933), in Dublin's Abbey Theatre. That's our national theatre. I discovered these images, 'gold-dust', through my long and extensive research in the area, and specifically through my book "Irish Moves - an illustrated history of dance and physical theatre in Ireland". I am really excited at the prospect of sharing them with a wider public, and raising awareness of our considerable dance legacy with an exhibition of them, and other Abbey School of Ballet memorabilia. If you know of any likely sponsors or avenues for funding such a celebration of our considerable cultural heritage - I am all ears. Please let me know! This would be a great project to be associated with as patron. The proposed exhibition will be in tandem with a broadcast of a fantastic interview with Doreen Cuthbert (pictured in many of the adjacent photographs, and starring in many of the Abbey School of Ballet shows, 1928 - 1933). Her first-hand reminiscences of her time with WB Yeats, Ninette de Valois, and Lennox Robinson - to name but a few, are heart-warming, enlightening, and extremely historic. Let's celebrate, and hence build upon what is already ours - our considerable cultural heritage. Your thoughts and suggestions on this great project are most welcome.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Abracadabra!: Another thing about India...

(Yup, that's me on the "Diana Seat" in front of the Taj Mahal - as seen in Slumdog Millionaire!). I hope it wins the Oscars, if only for the fairytale Bollywood Dancing at the end! What does the Jantar Mantar of Jaipur predict, I wonder?

Superstition is big in India - as you will see here from the incredible "Jantar Mantar"
of Jaipur. The ruling class consulted these giant zodiacal/astronomical sculptures to figure out
how to rule their kingdoms, and how to do pretty much everything, basically. I think this one here is the sculpture for Capricorn, so you could really walk around the movement of the planets in live-action shadow figuring out what the future held in store for you ... Incredible! Here is a quote on the Jantar Mantar (great name), from Wikipedia:
"The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Maharaja (King) Jai Singh IIat his then new capital of Jaipur between 1727 and 1734. It is modeled after the one that he had built for him at the then Mughal capital of Delhi. He had constructed a total of five such labs at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur. The Jaipur observatory is the largest of these.
The name is derived from yantra ("instrument"), and mantra ("formula", or in this context "calculation"). Therefore jantar mantar means literally 'calculation instrument'. In local Rajasthani dialects, it is often seen that 'ya' syllables are casually pronounced as 'ja'. For instance, 'yatra' (journey) will often be referred to as 'jatra'. Moreover, the way locals interpret the name is not as its literal meaning, it is suspected that by 'jantar-mantar' they mean 'magical words', 'abracadabra' or 'tantric incantations'.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Seeing the fantastic 'Slumdog Millionaire' made me think of my time in Varanasi, and Agra (where you'll find the Taj Mahal), a few years ago. I also got to Delhi, Jaipur, and Udaipur, enjoying Oberoi opulence everywhere except Varanasi. What a trip! But Slumdog looked so familiar... More images from that trip on the next post.
The women are preparing offerings for pilgrims (gazillions of them) to use in the Ganges river, en route down there...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hot Nerds - dreaming up the Double D book club.

Seen as with the advent of Obama "smart is the new cool" this must be
the year to start a book club. Yes, a book club! Why not sign up to
be a 'hot nerd' with the Double D Book-club? (Double D 'cos it's run by
two Deirdre's). All going according to plan, we plan to land in Dublin's
coolest clubs once every 6 weeks, starting at the end of Feb.

So watch this space, boys and girls. & step right up!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Re-reading The Great Gatsby.

Elevator Repair Service's awesome "Gatz" at this year's Dublin Theatre Festival reminded me what a magnificent book this is. I finally got around to re-reading it over Christmas, savouring every syllable, and visualising the characters from the theatre production. (Hm - is regurgitating the right term here?). Even better that we hung out with the actors at the theatre festival club afterwards - including 'Gatz', and his real-life heart-surgeon father... So when I saw "Gonzo - The Life and Times of Hunter S Thompson" in IFI the other week, it made total sense to hear that he re-typed out The Great Gatsby word for word to absorb and learn its wonderful rhythms, cadences, and master-studies in character by osmosis when he was teaching himself to write. Kind of worshipping at the altar of F Scott Fitzgerald. No wonder Baz Luhrman is making a new movie out of it. Look around you and see how timely it is. Daisy, Tom, Nick - know them?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Speaking of Coffee...

PS: Did you know that if you want to rid yourself of cellulite,
just rub a little coffee into the afflicted area (a trade secret, shared by the aforementioned Laura of "Fix my Body"). Hey - it's worth a try!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dropped in on a Blessington Lakeshore Bootcamp...

Well - bootcamp is an interesting way to kick off the New Year. I dropped in on Laura Gibson of "Fix My Body"s inaugural bootcamp at Avonri Hotel on Blessington Lake. Interesting! Tons of good food (no deprivation here - except maybe for coffee, oh yes, and egg yolks). A 7.30am a pre-breakfast gym session followed by breakfast. Another circuit session in the gym, followed by a great big walk by the lakes. That was nice. Juice, recipes, lunch, pilates, "ball-work" for the abs... Dinner, nutrition-talk, and then, alas, I had to split. Everyone (mostly trying to lose weight) will re-unite in 6 weeks time to check in on how they got on, loaded up with advice and good example. For more info check out: