Archive for June, 2011

Angels and Foxes

June 19, 2011

It continues to be a time of rehearsing and preparing for this and that performance. I am doing my best to embrace the activity, the sharing, the anticipation. Doubts visit me at times, especially when I think of singing for an audience. Yes… Once again the voice is called upon to dance its way into existence. In the coming performance at the Mary C, which is to be a celebration of America (the 4th of July), I shall be singing – re: the vietnam war era – “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”. I shall need angels to buoy up my confidence  and to clear the conduit from soul to sound.

The angel in the photograph was finished this Monday. In the midst of all the involvement, I found some evenings to re-acquaint myself with the wire and to summon a confident and soaring angel. Thankfully, she came willingly to my awkward hands, easing my struggle by her readiness to be. By opening her arms, spreading her fingers, and allowing her torso to flow into dancerly legs, she convinced me of my own readiness to soar again. But not with out a balancing  element.

I guess, for me, the balance comes from daily life: The often tedious business of living where I am, the endless tasks that can distract but also ground one for the less tangible reality of making art (in whatever form). Tedium and sweetness come from these tasks, and though they sometimes leave me depleted and having to summon the will for creative projects, they serve that old necessity of yielding to gravity’s pull that I might rebound.

After seeing my wire angel lifting free – nearly dissolving into the ether of infinity – I decided she needed a balancing element, a little extra weight to balance her flight. I thought of a dragonfly, but no: a dragonfly is surely more of the air than of the earth. Think, Leify… What creature is clearly of the earth: at home in the glory of created matter, yet fleet of foot – mysterious in its nature? Is there such a creature in your own environment that attracts your interest on a daily basis, coming and going in a fascinating and unpredictable manner? What creature can you imagine hitching a ride on the large spread-fingered right hand of your soaring angel? A fox, of course…

There are indeed foxes afoot in the woods surrounding my house. I first became aware of them as I walked the dogs at night. An unearthly scream pierced the air and – not knowing its origin – my imagination created a banshee, with me in mind for a feast. It seemed to be matching our pace, coming closer, getting louder. My heart quickened and bounced in my chest as my own pace increased and I yanked the dogs from their fascinated sniffing and their urge to pursue. It was some time before I discovered who this infrequent and frightening visitor was. By that time I was catching glimpses of the sleek russet body, the distinctive pointy nose, the marvelous tail so like that of my orange cat. Ah yes… The cat… Sunny seems to have made some agreement with the fox, some sort of mutual admiration – at a distance, of course. I have seen my fat orange cat recline on the bricks of the entranceway to my home, while the fox sits only a few yards away. Their gazes are joined in an unfathomable communion.

So I follow my cat’s example, have decided that acceptance of this frequent yet somewhat ephemeral visitor – albeit at a respectful distance – is the way to go. I have even grown accustomed to the screams that penetrate my nightly slumber. I can lie there in drowsy awareness as she makes her way through the underbrush and onto the path to my house. I listen as she lingers, sending her cries forth in an agony of wanting. My heart seems to recognize these cries, and in my mind I speak to her through the darkness: Dear little fox… What do you long for? What do you cry for night after night? And why do you search my woods every night, yet seem almost content when I see you in the light of day?

So as I have allowed the fox to hitch a ride on my daily life, I have invited a foxy image to accompany this moment of creative soaring. I have decided that foxes and angels can be compatible – in life and art.

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A Furtive Tear

June 5, 2011

“A single furtive tear

From her eyes sprang:

As if of those playful youths

envious she appeared to become.

What more need I look for?

What more need I look for?

She loves me! Yes, she loves me, I see it. I see it.

Just for an instant the beating of

her beautiful heart I felt!

And my sighs became as one

fleetingly with her sighs!

Her heart beating, her heart beating to feel,

our sighs confounded as one…

Heavens! Yes I could, I could die!

More I can’t ask, I can’t ask.

Oh, heavens! Yes I could! Yes I could die!

More I can’t ask, I can’t ask.

Yes I could die! If I could die of love.”

 The above is the English translation of Una Furtiva Lagrima: a romanza taken from Act II, Scene VIII of the Italian opera, L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti. This was sung by my singing teacher, JT Englund, on Friday night as part of an opera performance in Gautier, Ms. I was priviledged to participate, not as a singer, but as a dancer. It was a memorable experience in so many ways.

The pictures were actually taken at the Thursday rehearsal by my granddaughter, Livvy, and her friend, Dana. They – with my daughter and grandson – were an enthusiastic audience as this grandmother forgot the frailties of age and danced with complete abandon and joy to this glorious music. Later, driving toward home and stopping to eat in a restaurant, they all encouraged the high I could not descend from.

The next night’s performance was equally joyful, though that might not be quite the word to describe the experience. I basked in the reality of being a performer. This was my natural place; I belonged in this world of nervous anticipation – the necessity of summoning the courage to truly stretch those wings that were made for soaring. And on this occasion I was with my peers. Their songs were my dance and my dance was their songs. The wholeness of the experience was epitomized by the fact that all of us stayed in the tiny backstage space just off the stage. Folding chairs were set up in the wings and as one performed the others sat listening, feeling, nodding, beaming at one another. As he or she “fell” from the stage, comrades were there to catch and embrace and cheer his/her accomplishment. The usual isolation of artistry was so thoroughly shared that it became unity.

And then there was the magic of a most unusual pas de deux. To step through the curtain and find him waiting there, to feel each gesture buoyed up and enriched by partnership. Perhaps I should call it a pas de troix because there was also the pianist, sharing our stage and accompanying – with a sensitive and attentive touch – the song, the dance. Guy Bowering was a capable angel through the entire program. Live music is like having an extra lung, and the power of JT’s magnificent lungs allowed me to surrender and become the sound made movement. How sweet to dance and find that “…I could die! If I could die of love!”