"Do I dare disturb the universe?"
~T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

To read, write, dance or sleep, that is the question...

SO much going on here at the Dance Village on Kibbutz Ga'aton!

My parents came to visit last week, which was awesome.  The couple times I've seen people from home it feels almost strange (great, of course, but strange) to see them here...like they've just rocked my little MASA-dance world, and it's a bit mind-boggling.  Having my parents here though, didn't seem strange at all, even though I expected it to be a clash of worlds.  It was almost as i had been imagining their presence all along, or perhaps, with regular Skyping, it was as if they actually were here.

They spent some time in Jerusalem, and then came to visit me at the Kibbutz.  The class they observed was a good one to see, because there was lots of action--It was a Rep rehearsal, putting together a section from "360." They seemed to enjoy wandering around the kibbutz and enjoying the beautiful, flowering, sweet-smelling scenery (Can scenery be sweet-smelling?).  And I think found the cafe as wonderful and delicious as I do. :-)

We went to Tzfat that afternoon, which is probably my favorite city in Northern Israel.  It is home of Jewish mysticism, the center for jewelers and artists, and the location of beautiful old synagogues.  The covered, cobblestone ally where the artists sell their work reminds me a bit of the Old City of Jerusalem, and I absolutely love the atmosphere and the picturesque view of the Galilee.  From the first time I was here on Birthright, I fell in love with this city!  I’m so happy I got to share it with my parents.
Ally in Tzfat
My dad’s birthday was actually that day, and we celebrated that night at Café Café in Nahariya.  What a great place.  Delicious as always.

View from cafe in Tzfat
We then drove to Tel Aviv along the coast, getting a bit lost while trying to find our way around the handle of Haifa.  But everything eventually worked out, and we arrived in Tel Aviv in time to walk through Shuk HaCarmel (the main market in central TLV) to end up at Nachlat Binyamin (one of the main streets that hosts an arts/crafts/jewelry fair, created by local artists, every Tuesday and Friday).  Wandering through the market, grabbing a bite to eat, and browsing the art fair is one of my absolute favorite things to do in the world, and I'm glad my parents experienced it as well.

Our hotel, the Hilton, had a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean.  My dad and I took a walk along the coast, north to the Port after dinner; it was fun to see everyone out and about, even on a Friday night here (which is Shabbat, but Tel Aviv is a pretty secular city, so tons of cafes/restaurants/bars are still open).

View from the Hilton Hotel
The next day, I took them to my favorite places around the city....my favorite cafe (called Zorik, on Yehuda Maccabi a little east of Ibn Gvirol), which has a fun, lively atmosphere, comfy chairs/couches, friendly service, and taim maod (delicious) coffee, lemonade, and all kinds of food.  We traveled south to Rabin Square, which I thought my dad especially would like to see.  I think my mom was a little underwhelmed with the memorial.  I never really thought about it, that he deserved more than a corner dedicated to him, which a plaque, some stones, a flag....I don't know though, for some reason it seems fitting to me.  There is a wall with preserved graffiti and newspaper clippings...pictures of Rabin and Arafat shaking hands, with Clinton in the middle.  The feel of the whole corner is informal, ordinary, or even run-down in a sense.  But it seems to fit the fact that he was fighting for the common man, the ordinary Tel Avivan, to live in peace, and it also fits the irony of those dreams having been shot down, right there in that spot.

We also (of course) went to Neve Tzedek, the beautiful, artsy area in south Tel Aviv where Suzanne Dellal is located.  I showed them the studios where I take Gaga class, where Batsheva rehearses, and the shops...I love this area so much.  The residential area is so picturesque, and the theatre area is just beautiful.  Most of the shops were closed, because it was Saturday, but the theatre area was still bustling, and the famous ice cream shop, of course, was open for business.  Well, that about sums up their visit!

I absolutely need to write about the book series I just finished which I became...well...pretty much obsessed with over the last 6 weeks or so. It's the trilogy, the Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  I brought the first book with me, and started it around the time that we went on our trip to the south.  Literally, I could not put it down.  I love reading, but seriously, I have not been so fully captivated and all-consumed by a book, probably since I became enthralled with the world of Harry Potter (circa age 14).  Anyway, I was so drawn to this book that we were hiking Masada and I was honestly thinking..."I wish I was reading right now..."  I ordered the second and third books online, and literally, when I finished the second, immediately picked up the third.  I don't know how to categorize them; think 1984 meets Enders' Game meets Harry Potter.  The premise of the books is: in a dystopian future-North America, the government imposes it's power over the people by creating an annual lottery, where the "winners"--all children between 12 and 18--must participate in a fight to the death.

It's technically Young Adult series, but honestly, they are so dark and disturbing at parts, I don't agree with that categorization. But they really resonated with me in the present time and place.  I was reading the second one around the time of Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day; the books seemed to speak directly about my life here and now, about survival, retaining our humanity, the will to sacrifice, embracing love, and choosing life.  I finished the 3rd book just last week.  My roommate had gone to bed, and I was starting to get choked up, so I finished the final pages outside my apartment door.  Then I took a 1am walk around the kibbutz because I was crying my eyes out and couldn't shake it.  I won't give anything away, but it's clearly a very bittersweet ending.  Very fitting though, in my opinion. Anyway....very powerful...read it!

Much of this entry was written in a dark theatre, as we are in tech for Nizotzot ("sparkles"), which is our choreographer's showcase.  After many technical difficulties involving making a projection of screen captures of Skype conversations, and some complex editing of music, I think I've thoroughly been a pain to the people running my lights and sound....There were still a few lights/sound/movement cues that weren't in synch today, but I hope it goes better during our dress tomorrow.  We had our last studio rehearsal last night, though, and my dancers made me very happy!  Dance-wise, I think it's really come together, and I hope that the final product will prove that as well.

In general, we are just dancing harder than ever.  At the beginning of last week, we started working intensely on a section from "Screensaver."  I kid you not, it's the most physically challenging piece of choreography I have ever encountered.  In this section, we are dancing (rather, jumping, pas de bourreeing, arching, flinging, and falling) on mattresses.  The mattresses absorb all of your weight, so you sink down as you land, and finding the momentum to jump again is the most difficult thing, muscularly and cardiovascularly.  The piece is essentially about war--We were given the image of being shot to hold in our mind, as we struggle to keep going.  "People keep pushing you down, but you want to live," Mika told us.  The emotion of the piece, combined with my will power to want to prove that I can do it, that I can beat my body's limitations, is what keeps me going.  Still, it's so incredibly hard, and I haven't been able to get all the way through yet.  After the last run-through of the day, I went up to Mika to explain my frustrations--I want to do it so badly (and for me, being so physically strong, it's weird to find myself in a situation where I really can't do something), but no matter how much I tell myself to keep going, my body doesn't obey.  It kills the quads the most.  And about 3/4 of the way through, I get to the point where my muscles literally stop firing.  Of course, I ended up tearing up as I explained how frustrated I am, but I was comforted by the fact that it's difficult for everyone, even all the company members who have done this part before.  It will get easier, I was told, and I hope it's true.  I really want to be able to do this part, if only just to accomplish it for myself.

So after the Nizotzot show in a few days, this is what I'll be faced with...sore quads and a stiff back. But I'm ready...bring it on. :-)

So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So goodnight, dear void. -From You've Got Mail

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