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Posts Tagged ‘syracuse’

Cosmopolitan‘s Heather Wood Rudulph recently presented an interview with Lisa Mara about the path that led to Mara starting a dance company.

“Mara, 29, founded DanceWorks Boston as a creative outlet for people just like her: skilled dancers who also have full-time jobs and never pursued dance as a career. A handful of friends dancing together turned into hundreds of dancers, a second DanceWorks location in New York, and a new career that marries her love of business and her passion for the art form.

Mara: “Since I could walk, I was really active — I played soccer, tennis, I swam, I skied. I kind of went kicking and screaming to my first dance class. I didn’t like to join things when I was younger unless a friend was doing it. But I was dancing around the house 24/7 in my older sisters’ dance costumes. …

“In seventh grade, I was hugely influenced by Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and *NSYNC. I learned all the dances and sent in an audition tape to MTV’s TRL. I was asked to dance on this Britney Spears show. I think in a dream world I thought I wanted to be her backup dancer, but it was also my first taste of what these glamorous Hollywood red-carpet events are like. It’s like hurry up and wait. You never see the celebrities. And everyone hates it. I was like, This is kinda not fun.

“I went to the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and studied PR. … I fell into PR because I thought that’s what I would be the best at.

“Syracuse has several options for trained dancers. I chose the student-run organization, DanceWorks. After a fairly competitive, strenuous audition, I joined the company my freshman year. By sophomore year, I was on the executive board, and by junior year, I was the co-director. Everything was run like a business. I choreographed dances, organized workshops for up to 300 dancers, led auditions, ordered costumes, managed budgets. I wanted a hand in everything.”

After several years in PR, Mara moved back to Boston and thought about what she wanted to do next.

“I had a network of about five Syracuse alumni in Boston. I said, ‘Hey, I’m thinking of starting a DanceWorks Boston. Would you join if I did?’ They said, ‘Yeah, where do I sign?’  …

“The target audience I was reaching was high-caliber dancers who wanted to continue dancing and choreographing into their adult lives. Many of our dancers have full-time jobs. Many of our dancers are dance teachers, but this is their opportunity to dance for themselves.”

Read more at Cosmopolitan, here.

Funny thing: I myself went to the Newhouse School, not in PR but television and radio. One assignment was to interview a classmate in the TV studio. I asked a classmate who had always been a ballet dancer but had stopped dancing to come to grad school. I interviewed her about dance.

After we were finished and were walking away she said to me, “Wow, this interview really makes me want to find a dance company in Syracuse and keep dancing.”

Photo: Joyelle West

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Photo: Nathaniel Brooks/NY Times
Lyle, Miles, and Ty Thompson have ignited a scramble for Native American recruits at lacrosse programs.

Maybe everyone who follows lacrosse knows that Native American players of the game that Indians invented tend to go to Syracuse University for college sports, but I didn’t.

I read the sports section only if there is a human-interest story, and today a NY Times front page article about a family of exceptional lacrosse players drew me in.

Zach Schonbrun writes, “The Albany lacrosse coaches stared at a small projector screen, searching for the black streak of a three-foot-long ponytail swooping toward the goal.

“They were watching Lyle Thompson, an Onondaga Indian from upstate New York, who has become a Wayne Gretzky-like figure in collegiate lacrosse. …

“He is a strong contender for this year’s Tewaaraton Award, lacrosse’s Heisman Trophy, which has never gone to a Native American. If he does not win, it could easily go to his older brother, Miles, who scored 43 goals in 12 games for Albany last season. And if Miles does not win, their cousin and teammate, Ty, has a chance.

“The Thompsons, who grew up on a reservation in upstate New York, are more than exceptional athletes thriving in the sport of their ancestors, a sport that is still endowed with deeply spiritual significance to Native Americans. They are trailblazers who have upended the athletic world and reservation life, and their success has ignited a scramble for Native American recruits at lacrosse programs across the country.” There’s lots more to the story here.

I especially liked this part, “One recent afternoon, Lyle Thompson, 21, took out a rattle made from the shell of a snapping turtle he had caught while golfing with his oldest brother, Jeremy. He uses the rattle to make music, part of the way he stays connected with Indian culture. Learning the Onondaga language is another.

 Art: Smithsonian Archives
What began as stickball, a Native American Indian contest played by tribal warriors for training, recreation and religious reasons, has developed over the years into the interscholastic, professional and international sport of lacrosse. See Federation of International Lacrosse.

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Do you ever look at ArtsJournal? It has the best links!

Today there’s a fun link to the Post-Standard in Syracuse about a library in a phone booth.

Writes Maureen Nolan: “The Little Free Library credo is ‘take a book, leave a book.’ That’s pretty much the only rule. Every Little Free Library is supposed to have a volunteer community steward, and Mother Earth, whose given name is Taywana James, is a natural. She lives barely a block from the library. She is a mother, poet and artist involved in a number of projects to better the Near West Side, and she loves books.  …

“Rick Brooks, co-founder of the Little Free Library movement, estimates there are 300 to 400 little libraries in 33 states and 17 countries. He doesn’t know if most people bring books back. In the Little Free Library movement, the return rate doesn’t seem to be a critical data point.” More here on Little Free Libraries.

I am reminded of the Uni Project, which I blogged about here. It’s a portable reading room, first deployed in New York City last September.

One of the founders of the effort, Sam Davol (also a cellist in the band the Magnetic Fields), writes about the Uni Project here: “On Sunday, Sep. 11, the Uni was put into service for the first time. Lower Manhattan residents joined us to inaugurate the Uni by gathering to browse and read our small collection on a difficult morning. While most of the surrounding blocks were locked down and public libraries in Manhattan were closed, the Uni began its journey among good people who came out to visit a public market and meet the Uni.”

(That was the same day Suzanne and Erik startled the guardians of the people by renting a small boat and going sailing in New York harbor.)

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I never met my Syracuse grandfather. He was an osteopath and died before my time. But I often heard about his avocation, a remarkable alpine garden.

A garden needs a gardener, and it is understandable that the garden would fall apart after my grandfather’s death. But in recent years, neighbors got together to reconceive a garden on the site. In June 2007, their efforts paid off, with the mayor announcing the dedication of a memorial park.

“The Dr. James P. Burlingham Memorial Park will be officially dedicated on Saturday, June 30, 2007 … This park, formerly Gray Park, was originally a 2 acre meadow behind the house of Dr. Burlingham, which he slowly developed into flower gardens and a world famous alpine plant region in his spare time in the 1920s. … A small group of individuals from the neighborhood … decided to bring the park back to its original appearance with flower gardens and plants. … As part of the dedication ceremony on Saturday one of the doctor’s daughters, who is 94 years old, is expected to attend.”

That would be my Aunt Maggie, seen here with her daughter Claire.

There’s a passage on the garden in Remembering Syracuse, by Dick Case.

A gardening gene runs in the family. My son has it, both from my side and his father’s. As part of John’s interest in identifying mystery plants in his own yard, he came up with a crowd-sourcing solution. Today, if you upload a photo to Mister Smarty Plants, you can see if someone on the Internet knows what your plant is. Check it out.

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I am taking a playwriting class at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education with Peter Littlefield, who also does a lot of directing. Here is an opera (Handel’s “Partenope”) he co-directed at the English National Opera. I wish I had a real video, but this is what I could find on YouTube.

I just had one class so far, and it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. The students are an interesting mix of ages and backgrounds, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone. One woman, as it happens, teaches in a Boston elementary school where I volunteer.

I really like Peter’s sort of associative approach to playwriting, in which you mess around with images and ideas that interest you, then set them aside while you play with different images and ideas, and ultimately see how they converge. To me the attraction is that you’re less likely to get bored with what you are doing than if you were trying to force an idea into a structure. (I really am sick of writing coaches who harp on “structure.” I believe a structure will emerge.) We did a really funny exercise for openers.

Although I have often tried to write plays, the only actual class I ever had was in writing for TV, which I took while getting a master’s in communications at Syracuse’s Newhouse School. It was all about the formula: one, two three, gag (joke); one, two three, gag; one, two three, gag. Spirit crushing.

For fun, watch the first few minutes of opening-night comments on my teacher’s production of Partenope.

Comments may be sent to suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com. I will post them.

Asakiyume comments: I’m so excited about this playwriting class. You must have such a great sense of theater from *watching* so many plays, and you’ve definitely got stories to tell. I hope you’ll share any scripts that you do write.  (Your thing about television screenplays, with the “one, two, three, gag” made me laugh because of the alternative meaning of gag–which is what, of course, someone with an artistic vision and free spirit must surely do if trapped with such a formula.)

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