The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving realities and The Wideman/Davis Dance PROJECT

I write to you today, several pounds heavier, with a house half decorated and a heart full of Thanksgiving and Holiday joy.  Yes, joy.

Like many of you, we spent Thanksgiving Day (although Boiter-Jolley Thanksgiving happens on Wednesday rather than Thursday, allowing the Beer Doc to tend to turkey injuries and domestic disputes in the ER on the sacred Thursday) embroiled in the preparation of far more food than any one family should ever sit down to eat.  It takes us so long to cook our Thanksgiving meal that we start early in the morning (BJT*), everyone pitching in with several toasts to our blessings throughout the day, and finally get around to eating around 9 or 10 pm, listening to Handel’s Messiah and slipping goodies to the kittens beneath the table.  It’s a good and happy day.

Afterward, we clear the table only to find that we could feed many more families many more meals with our leftovers alone.  Several microwaved plates, turkey sandwiches, and turkey nachos later (seriously, nachos = the best way to use that leftover bird), the green beans get a little too soggy, the stuffing a little too scary, and we begin to clear the fridge of the leftovers left too long.  A few things can go into the compost, but most have too much cream or butter or some other kind of indulgence, and these food items just go into the trash.  The trash.  We waste creamy cole slaw, sautéed mushrooms, and precious pecans.  We throw the dark meat, which none of us favor, to the cats.  The cats — the same ones who think skinks taste pretty yummy.

My point?  You’ve already figured it out on your own. Your family is probably not very different from mine.  We live in a land of pretend abundance — at least those of us communicating via the Internet, for sure.  Thanksgiving is just like Christmas — we have so much that we celebrate by having more.

No, I have no interest in being the blogosphere’s version of a Sarah McLachlan neglected dog commercial.  You’re all adults — many of you with better human kindness records than me.  But for those of you who either daily or seasonally hitch your wagons to the do-good train — and for those of you who sometimes come to this cyber-space curious as to what kind of arts nonsense I might be blubbering on about — I do offer an elixir to slightly abate the  over-indulgent miasma that those on our side of the monitor may be feeling this time of year.  The Wideman/Davis Dance Project.

I promised you this information in my November 19th post, and here it is.  There are no donors or patrons for the Wideman/Davis Dance Company — but there are partners.  This is what the company is about; this is what you can be about, too.

Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you or direct you to people who know the answers better than I.  There’s excitement in the air in the Columbia arts community — the Wideman/Davis Dance Company and the Wideman/Davis Dance Project is part of it.  You can be a part of it, too.

Read on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Interested in being a part of an arts endeavor that also places a priority on making the world a better place?

Join the Wideman/Davis Dance Project.

Joining as a Charter Project Member before the December 4th final performance of Balance – Influenced by the Testimonials of the Homeless of Columbia, South Carolina, will guarantee you a free ticket to the performance of your choice December 1st – 4th; admit you to a post-performance reception on Friday, December 4th, during which you can chat with the company and other project members; record your name as a Charter WDDP Member; and designate that 10% of your contribution be donated directly to the needs of the homeless in Columbia, South Carolina.

Joining is easy.

Go to www.thefield.org

Select “Contribute to a Sponsored Artist”

Select Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis: Wideman/Davis Dance

Enter an amount of $50 or more then click “Contribute”

Select “Checkout Now” at the bottom of the next page

Enter your name as you would like it to appear on our records, then select “Continue” and fill in the requested information before selecting “Continue Checkout”

Upon completing your contribution you will immediately be issued a personalized thank you letter which you may print out for your records.  (WDDC is a not-for-profit arts group.)

Now here’s the important part – FORWARD a copy of your letter to me at CindiBoiter@aol.com and I will have your ticket waiting for you at the performance of your choice.

Thank you for becoming a Charter Member of the Wideman/Davis Dance Project.

Thank you for putting your passion for art into action.

Cheers,

Cindi

Cynthia Boiter

Acting President, Wideman/Davis Brain Trust

 

 

*Boiter-Jolley Time

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November 19, 2009

In Memory of Serge Lavoie

Filed under: writing — cynthiaboiter @ 14:29
Tags: , ,

I think the world of Kerrie Anne Dunn Sparks, as well as her new father-in-law, Barry Sparks, so I’m so pleased to share with you the following information about Kerrie Anne’s labour of love in honor of the late artist and educator, Serge Lavoie.

Both Annie and Bonnie took classes from Serge when they were students at Columbia Conservatory of Dance, and Bonnie took private lessons with Serge and danced in the Nutcracker as Clara when he and Mariclare were the fairytale couple of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.  I’ll never forget how thrilled she was when, during the curtain call, Serge lifted her into the air like a tiny doll.  “Point your toes!” Mariclare quickly whispered.  We all loved watching the romance between Serge and Mariclare rise and rage and flow — It was like watching a fairytale come true for all of us.  They were a beautiful couple.

Kudos to Kerrie Anne Dunn Sparks for creating such a special event Friday night.  Please read her press release below.  And here’s to Serge!

The Columbia Conservatory of Dance will present the Serge Lavoie Dance Showcase on November 20 at 7:30 pm at Drayton Hall.

The performance will raise money for the American Heart Association and will feature students of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance, as well as dancers from Columbia City Ballet.

The showcase will honor the memory of Serge Lavoie, principle instructor for the school and principle dancer and ballet master for Columbia City Ballet. Lavoie, who died in 2004 of a heart condition, trained several of the dancers who will perform in the showcase.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to honor their beloved teacher,” said Mariclare Miranda, co-director of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance and widow of Lavoie. “I have been so touched by the students’ excitement.”

The professional dancers of Columbia City Ballet are also excited about the show, said Regina Willoughby, principle dancer of Columbia City Ballet and colleague of Lavoie.

“Serge was such a profound artist,” said Willoughby. “He shared his talents on the stage and by passing his insight to future generations of dancers. I am thrilled to be part of this showcase honoring his life.”

Tickets for the Serge Lavoie Dance Showcase are $10 in advance, $12 at the door and $8 for students. Cash or check will be accepted. Please make all checks payable to American Heart Association. All of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go directly to the American Heart Association. Tickets may be purchased at the Columbia Conservatory of Dance at 1545 Main St., or by calling 252-0555.

The Columbia Conservatory of Dance strives to provide the highest quality dance training to young dancers, while fostering a love of dance and promoting artistic development in an environment of passion, dedication and excitement.

For more information, contact Kerrie-Anne Sparks at kerrieanne22@aol.com, or call 803-760-2925.

Wideman/Davis Dance Company at City Art, 7:30 during Vista Lights TONIGHT

The buzz in the Columbia dance world is definitely about the new professional company that has chosen our increasingly arts-friendly city as their new home.  Wideman/Davis Dance Company isn’t really new though.  They’ve been around for several years, forming after Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis got tired of living married life in different cities while Tanya danced as principal dancer at the illustrious Alonzo King Lines Ballet in San Francisco, and Thaddeus, heavily in demand as a dancer and choreographer, flitted from city to city creating his own personal style of Thaddeus-magic.  In fact, Thaddeus and Tanya aren’t really new to Columbia anymore, having been here throughout the year teaching at USC’s sky-rocketing-to-fame dance program, with their full company in residence for the month of November.  From their performances at 701 to Drayton Hall to the Koger Center to Mark Plessinger’s FOM series last month, more and more people are getting a glimpse of the blend of exacting technique with soul-stirring emotion, coated with a lovely layer of social consciousness, that these people bring to the stage — wherever they choose their stage to be.   And tonight, you can get a glimpse of the glory that is the Wideman/Davis Dance Company during Vista Lights.  As their early holiday gift to the city, the full company will be performing (for free, no less) at City Art at 7:30.  And from what I hear, darlin’s they will be rocking it out, treating you to excerpts from Rock and My Soul — yes, rock and roll music like you have never witnessed it before.  Personally, I’m pretty psyched.

And while we’re talking Wideman/Davis, mark your calendars for the nights of December 1st through 4th, when the full company will be premiering their new work at Drayton Hall on the campus of USC.  The new piece, entitled Balance, was created in response to the couples’ experiences working with the homeless here in Columbia.  Wednesday night, the 2nd, they will be hosting a group of the same homeless individuals and families — actually their students whom they have been teaching at one of the local shelters — as their guests for the performance.  This beautiful gesture of respect and appreciation will be preceded by a complementary dinner from Pasta Fresca, arranged by USC senior, the sweetheart, Margey Bolen.

Then, on Friday night, December 4th, it is your chance to get involved.  And I mean that literally.  Because WDDC is not your typical performing arts organization, they have chosen to forego the usual method of growing their supporters, (asking for donations at different levels of commitment, with different levels of rewards), by inviting any and all to become Partners in the Wideman/Davis Dance Project at a single level of $50 per person.  The smart cookies who join the Wideman/Davis Dance Project early, (prior to the beginning of the performance on Dec. 4th), will also be offered a free ticket to the Friday night show, as well as an invitation to a reception in their honor Friday evening, and future dancebill listing as charter Wideman/Davis Dance Project members.

I’ll have complete information on how you can become a part of this amalgam of socially conscious art supporters soon, but feel free to leave your contact info in the comments section below, or email me at caboit@aol.com, if you’d like me to follow-up on getting that info into your hard-working hands post haste.  In the meantime, come and see the Wideman/Davis Dance Company perform tonight at 7:30 at City Art during Vista Lights. I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

November 13, 2009

Super powers, football, Jesus, SC Progressive Network, Confederate Fagg & Alternacirque

I used to think that my chosen super power would be the ability to fly.  Convenience aside, what a kick it would be to literally see the world from the perspective of Google Earth.  I won’t even go into the power of spitting on people from above.  But I’ve been re-thinking my super power selection lately and decided that, instead of flight, I might want to focus on the ability to be in two places at the same time.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this when my kids were little — it would have made dashing between viola and ballet performances so much easier.

Saturday is one of those days when being in more than one place at a time would come in unusually handy.  If you live in Columbia and you’ve been out of bed this week, you know that USC plays the University of Florida in football tomorrow.  Florida is ranked #1 in the country and they have this Tim Tebow Jesus figure QB who evidently has the ability to make grown men throw their panties at him.  So despite the fact that, as Bonnie says, “we’re going to get our asses handed to us tomorrow,” (to which her Dad replies, “well, yeah, with that kind of attitude”), our family of sports fans (and recognize, please, that by sports fans I mean anything between people who obsess over sports and people who merely tolerate it for the tailgating) will be attending this game.  All day.  Because that is how football works.  Far more hours are spent in preparation for the event than in attending the event itself.  It’s like a wedding that way, except at the end of a wedding most people go home happy and drunk — with football you just go home drunk.

I used to make fun of families who engaged in this kind of addictive behavior, yet here we are.  I take responsibility for it, though.  I knew it was a slippery slope when Annie came to USC  and I suggested that we tailgate for one of her college games.  Though not a big recreational drug user, I can only imagine that Carolina football is something like crack or crystal meth.  Do it once, then you find yourself doing it again, and again — hating yourself and going broke in the process with nothing to show but lost hours of your life and the empty shell of a fan.  Go Cocks.

But if I could be in two places at one time tomorrow, I could go to the game and blah, blah, blah, but I could also do so many other things, starting with an interview I’ve been trying to get set up with Andie MacDowell all week.  After that I could go to An Argentine Affair at 7 pm at the Big Apple, participate in their silent auction — ask anybody, I am a silent auction animal — and possibly win that awesome satirical portrait of our much beloved governor painted by Alejandro Garcia, or that Stephen Chesley watercolor,  or a funky coffee table by Art and Iron, or any of the many items donated by Swiftwater Beads, Hip-wa-zee, Bert Easter, and others — and I would know that my spontaneously spent cash would be going to support one of the most important groups in our state, the South Carolina Progressive Network.  When that closes down at 9 pm, I could then go over the river to New Brooklyn Tavern and, starting at 8:30, see Columbia Alternacirque open up for Confederate Fagg, quaff a few suds, and watch the parade. What an amazing day half of me would have!

But just because I have to load up the van on Saturday morning doesn’t mean that everyone else will.  Go have yourself some big fun at the Big Apple — tickets are $25 for a single and $40 for a couple and can be reserved by calling 803.808.3384.  Then when you’re done, if you don’t know how to get to NBT, just follow the trail of cigarette smoke and awesomeness.

If on the way over you get spat upon from above, don’t look at me — I’ll still be at the game.

November 12, 2009

Zen & the Art of Being Busy, plus Ladies’ Night Out at the Columbia Museum of Art

I like being busy — doing different things all the time, dipping into the arts, politics, travel, intellectual pursuits, and even sports (but only for Gamecock athletics and on Super Bowl Sunday when I arbitrarily pick a team and cheer for it as if my brother were the QB.  I also like to hear when Clemson loses, but I don’t really care who beats them, and I sure as hell don’t want to watch the game.)  I’ve never been much for going to bed early, which is why I often write these posts in the wee hours of the night, and I resent the fact that I have grown to need between 6 and 7 hours sleep.  Sleep feels like lost time to me.  I don’t mind the demands of teaching a couple of classes at the university, writing freelance articles, and working almost constantly on the beer book which has turned into behemoth, but what I hope to be a nerdy beer-drinker’s dream.  (Did somebody say edit?)  But when I get too busy to do all the things I want to do, that’s when I’m sad.

Tonight is Ladies Night at the Columbia Museum of Art, and I’m going to be a big girl and do the right thing and stay home and keep working.  I’ll be honoring the zen of going out by staying  home, chained to my computer, getting shit done.  But that doesn’t mean that You have to.  Here’s the blurb, fresh off the museum’s website — go have a drink for me.   Cheers, Y’all.

Ladies Night Out
11/12/09
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

The 5th annual Ladies Night Out – one of the most talked about events of the year celebrates the Museum’s fall exhibition, Ansel Adams: Masterworks in style with beauty products from Pout! boutique, Nana by Sally purses, Jewelry from Unforgetable, Children’s apparel by KD’s Treehouse and Swift Water Beads & Jewelry Supplies. Enjoy gourmet cupcakes from Cupcake in the Vista, libations and entertainment by DJ Peter A.

Call 803.799.2810. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

Cost: Admission includes hors d’oeuvres and wine/beer and is $20 or $10 for members. Admission fee can be used toward the purchase of a new membership at the event.

November 10, 2009

Here’s to a seat at the Nick, The Cellar on Greene, the TRUSTUS Tasting, birthdays, family and food — cheers Y’all!

As some of you may be aware, this time last year I had just celebrated the inauguration of the Year of Wine — or the year of wining and whining as the Beer Doctor is so fond of saying.  I had chosen the occasion of my humphth birthday to embark on an intense study and appreciation of all things wine, having known just enough about wine initially to know that there was oh-so-much more to learn.  Well, much to my dismay, the months on the calendar whisked right away in the wind, and before I knew it, the same date rolled around once again, sadly bringing the year of wine to a close.

I’ve learned quite a bit.  My travels have taken me to several of France’s wine destinations where I’ve wondered through the Champagne district’s chalky caves, gotten lost in Burgundy’s enumerate vineyards, and immersed myself in Alsace’s spicy Gewurtz’s, Rieslings, and Pinot Gris’s.  We’ve traveled twice to California’s beautiful rolling hills and, happily, I only broke my nose there once.  I even gave the wines of Virginia a shot and found that, though inconsistent, they did present a brand new quality of delicacy to my palate — which shouldn’t be dismissed just because it is so different from most other wines.  We had hoped to also travel to Argentina, as well as back to Italy — just for the wine — but just as it did with the Bob’s Year of Beer, time got away from us — so these countries, and more, are still on our to-do list.  Our cellar is far fatter than it ever was and has taken over our fairly large walk-in pantry — there is literally nothing edible in there at all anymore — and will soon be spreading to the closet under the stairs — thanks for that idea to my friend, who will remain anonymous because she is having her closet converted into a cellar for her beloved as a birthday surprise — hmmm … wonder if I could score a little trompe l’oeil on my closet door, too? The one casualty of the Year of Wine, other than my nose, is the reality that bad wine is far more difficult to stomach than it ever was — and in many ways I have Ricky Mollohan, Kaitlin Ohlinger, and the rest of the good people at the Cellar on Greene to thank for that.  There is no such thing as bad wine at the Cellar, and my palate has effectively been spoiled.  Thanks guys, thanks a lot.

I celebrated my birthday on Sunday this year, and rather than the fairly immense blow-out wine tasting party that we enjoyed last year, I was more in the mood for a quiet family gathering at Muddy Ford.  It was a decision deliciously well made.  The Beer Doc created for me a beautiful Chateaubriand with bernaise sauce, my second favorite liquid — next to vino — in the world.  Annie put together a phenomenally rich potatoes dauphinoise and her lovely signature sauted vegetables.  Bonnie even got into the kitchen (she found it on her own and all!) and whipped up a scrumptious asparagus and mushroom saute — a dish of which she and I share a love.

If you’ve ever been to a meal at the Ford, you know how long it takes us to cook.  But that’s ok, because we have to also take the necessary time to fully enjoy the wines we are drinking in the process.  We started our Sunday in the kitchen off with a Clicquot Yellow Lable bubbly, followed by a 2003 Schramsburg Brut, which we much preferred.  With dinner we vertically tasted one of Helen Turley’s 2001 Magnificats — which was glorious — alongside an amazing 2006 Darioush cab — easily one of the best wines I’ve tasted this year.  Presents were served with red velvet cake — and I’m happy to say that everyone shopped locally this year, with an emphasis on jewelry and assorted creations by local artists.  My favorite (and most highly requested) gift, however, was my very own seat in the Nick’s new theatre on Main Street.  So, Larry, if  you’re listening, I’d like to take my seat as soon as possible, dear.

Even though the Year of Wine is officially over, I can promise you that the wining and whining is not.  Just for one example, I will  happily be attending the TRUSTUS wine tasting benefit at City Art in the Vista on Tuesday night, killing two very important birds — the drinking of good wine & the support of TRUSTUS Theatre, one of the most important arts institutions our city can claim — with one only slightly tipsy stone.  You can be there, too.  We’ll be tasting 8 wines — two bubblies, 2 whites, 2 reds, and 2 ports — for a cost of only $45 in advance, or $50 at the door.  I hope you’ll join me for a taste and a toast — to all good things – wine, family, food, friends, and art.

Cheers, Y’all!

November 7, 2009

USC Dance, Stacey Calvert, Kyra Strasberg, live music, my kid, and more

As I wrote earlier this week, the USC Dance Company performed last night at the Koger Center starting at 7:30, as they will again tonight.  They are calling this program American at Heart — for reasons I’m not sure I understand.  Three distinctly different pieces have been assembled for the audience’s pleasure and, this time, there is a nice variety of dancers performing, rather than seeing the same old same old as we often do.  And yes, I realize that my own kid has probably been the most same old of all the same olds for the past three years.  Still, fair is fair, and good is good.  The program has grown through the roof with better and better young dancers showing up every fall to enroll in the Bachelor of Performing Arts degree program.  Now we get to see quite a selection of very good young dancers on the stage.  Good job USC Department of Dance.

The show starts out with one of George Balanchine’s most  beautiful ballets, Serenade. Now here’s something that not a lot of people realize.  The only way you are going to legally get to see a Balanchine piece performed in Columbia is if you have someone who has been approved by the Balanchine Trust  to stage it.  They have to meet exceedingly precise standards in regard to the application of the Balanchine style and technique, and they have to document their procedures and provide film of the performance for the Balanchine Trust to approve.  There aren’t a lot of those people just hanging around Columbia, or South Carolina, for that matter, but USC is lucky to have Stacey Calvert as their Associate Artistic Director, who is.  Stacey was a former soloist with the New York City Ballet.  Although we don’t get to see her dance anymore, I can attest that just watching her teach a class is the equivalent of watching a wonder in the dance arts.  Her movements are beautiful; her physique, which she carefully tends, is a work of art.  Stacey is one of South Carolina’s treasures — we are phenomenally fortunate to have her here and at our university.

This performance’s presentation of Serenade is a testimony to Stacey’s work in the studio and Artistic Director Susan Anderson’s work in growing her program.  Bonnie performed the same role in the same piece three years ago when she was a freshman here at USC.  But watching the performance today, compared to then, is like watching a different company.  Of course, most of the dancers are new, with the older dancers having graduated or moved on.  But the difference is in the quality of the corps and the maturity of the lead dancers — Bonnie, Sara Caton, Olivia Anderson, McCree O’Kelley, and Keith Mearns.  Even taking into consideration the bias that I probably have when watching people I’ve grown to love dance, I can say with certainty that the members of this program,the members of this company, are some of the very best dancers you’ll have the opportunity to see in South Carolina.  I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees.

There is a brief pause in the performance after Serenade, followed by a dance in six movements choreographed by Luis Dominguez.  The piece is titled after its music, the Bach Cello Suite.  Live music is wonderfully provided by cellist Kenneth Pruitt, who sits on the corner of the dancers’ stage.  This is a bit of a minimalist piece, and it is lovely.  Keep your eyes on dancers Ashley Johanson and Lauren Shankle.  They are significant parts of the future of the dance program at USC.

After intermission you return to the audience for Thaddeus Davis’ and Tanya Wideman-Davis’ choreographic work, If At First We Dream, set to the music of Andre Previn.  The violinist is Ashley Horvat and the pianist is Rosemarie Suniga.  Kyra Strasberg, Columbia native, distinguished artist in residence, and former principal dancer at Boston Ballet, celebrates her return to the stage with this piece.  Carolyn Bolton, McCree O’Kelley, Ryan Thomas, and William Smith also offer exceptional performances.

Come out to support your local university and take advantage of some truly exquisite dance and innovative choreography.  The USC Dance Company is on its way to being one of the top companies in higher education in the country.  Come see it now, so you can eventually say that you remember seeing it back when.

November 6, 2009

Feedback on Frame of Mind

You guys know I don’t usually do reviews, but I do want to give a little report, if you will, on the Frame of Mind series tonight on  Main Street.  There was a wonderful turn out, and with a free showing from Miriam Barbosa and Serguei Chtyrkov from the SC Contemporary Dance Company, Erin Jaffe Bolshakov from Vista Ballroom, Mimi Worrell and John Whitehead’s Carolina Ballet, Dale Lam’s Columbia City Jazz Company, and the beautiful Ashley Bennett and Sherry Warren — not to mention Evelyn Wong’s visual arts — why wouldn’t it have been?

Sure, there were a few glitches and things started a little later than expected.  But you know what?  They started, and that is the only thing that matters. Thanks to the artists who put themselves out there and performed under significantly less than ideal circumstances.  Their muscles were cold, the stage was raked — they were dancing in the street, for god’s sake.  But the gift that each of the performers gave us cannot be underestimated — they let us get a glimpse of what it looks like when someone fulfills their heart’s desire.  I often find the intimacy of this exchange overwhelming in the best of circumstances — but to see people who love their work so much that they will take the risk of letting complete strangers witness them perform it under less than ideal circumstances — in the freaking street, for example — it just blows me away.  I don’t care what anybody says — that is art.

Big fat kudos to Mark Plessinger for taking a chance and putting this stuff out there.  Thanks to the industrious and kind hearted Robert Michalski for helping Mark make it happen, as well as to the tech guy from White Mule, whose name I admit I just don’t know, for doing his quite significant part, too.  And thanks to all of you who came out to support local art — in the community and on the street.

November 5, 2009

Shop Tart — KUDOS & Thanks!

Filed under: writing — cynthiaboiter @ 16:53

Congrats to the Shop Tart for winning Free Time’s Best Of Award — and thanks for the very kind shout out to The Reluctant Writer.  Read this woman’s blog at http://www.theshoptart.com folks — like you aren’t already.

addendum to FOM post — Bill Guess — aka Billy G

Filed under: Bill Guess,Frame of Mind — cynthiaboiter @ 13:54
Tags: ,

Just found out that horticulturist extraordinaire Bill Guess, (Billy G to some), will also be providing some of his on-site works of flora-rific art.  Look for them — they’ll be hiding in plain sight where you least expect them– and they’ll be ingenious, innovative, and glorious.  Love this stuff!

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