approaching 1 wk

in boston. felt like a very long week. i’ll move in officially to the new apartment tomorrow. will be unpacking to tosca probably. some random thoughts:
sooo glad to be able to walk home. what a wonderful feeling. i’m beyond happy to not have a car. every time walking to the apartment, i am alive with a true belonging feeling. how is this move compared to my first move here or my move back to LA? i think every move has the same structure where the first couple of years you can be a bit lost and lonely with no friend base. it took me 2 years to make more than 3 friends my first time in Boston. Of course you have to take into account the fact that i slept in my office the first 2 years of school and didn’t know where the Boston Harbor was :-D. i missed my friend greatly on my move to LA mainly because LA was so spread-out, so on top of the fact of missing friend, i also felt i was lost in the city. This time around? all friends had left already (that’s what people do here in Boston after they finish school).

sunrise in woodshole

the weekend is rolling in and i won’t be able to just call sisters and have the kids over for fun, or won’t be able to just call my newly-made white-shirt friend and have her+partner over to grab a bite and watch some operas. The way you make friend here, at least, is different than in LA. Over there, frankly, i have no idea how you can meet friend. it’s so spread out, everyone is into their own thing, apparently the things i enjoy doing are considered “extreme”. Here, i think the proper thing to do is to sign myself up for some club, starting with the outing club and perhaps the ballroom dancing team 🙂 . I’ve talked about Boston being a nice city. Part of it is of course the cultural facet (NEC for example). A big part, however, is the people. Here, having a Ph.D. is the norm. probably the next person you meet has both a Ph.D. and an M.D., or a Ph.D. and Law degree, or some crazy combinations. Oh, and on the side, they might be competing at a national level dance competition or trekking the Andes or have a musical concert for friends next week… If you want to go for a 10+hr hike? just put your name down on the list! car-pool is also organized. what about biking boston to provincetown?? i wouldn’t be surprised if there are people doing it this weekend. last summer i was here for 2 weeks working and managed to get myself into such a biking tour (shorter distance) with some guys in the office, soo much fun (and pain). it’s a long winded way of saying anything i want to do here, there’re already many groups somewhere and i’m most likely a beginner.

that’s not to say that it’s that easy. i admit life in the office here is somehow quite different than at my old work place. there, we get together everyday for lunch, very friendly. here i’ve been eating lunch alone in the office for 1 week now, and that might continue for a while.  still haven’t found a good noodle soup place yet… in fact what would be very good now is some home-made soup from younger sister! somehow this environment has the tendency to put me in a rather asocial schedule. i’m already slipping into one in fact. the worse schedule is of course when you go to bed at sunrise and wake up at sunset!

alcina ad in Vienna subway

that was my schedule for much of graduate school! the first few years were fun though, because best friend had the exact same schedule. We ate “breakfast” around 7pm, went for ice cream at 24-hr supermarket at midnight, worked until sunrise, pushed the cart into kitchen to cook dinner, then closed the blind and went to sleep :-D. not a desirable schedule now i have to admit, as asocial as you can get. at least the nice thing about late schedule is that i can listen to music.  finally got around to listen to alcina again.  this is now my home-key.  need to tune in to get my balance and serenity 🙂 .


About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

25 Responses to approaching 1 wk

  1. Eyesometric says:

    Hope you and Alcina have a warm and balanced weekend.
    Do you have space to dance to this music in your new home?
    I’m surprised you get any work done at all in your office with a view like that !

    • thả diều says:

      oh Eyes, i come to the office with a camera everyday :-). wait until the spring when the sail boats are out! that’s when i get edgy sitting in the office. now the river is entirely frozen. i’ll walk across the bridge tomorrow on my way to the NEC, hopefully will catch some nice picture up close. Thanks, alcina was great, did a wonderful job. am now tuning to my 2nd home key “capuleti-in-dresden” while waiting for tosca. the apartment is not good for dancing because of carpet. but no worry, school has PLENTY of practice space. the question is more how to find a partner, and whether i should learn how to lead even though i can’t count 😀

  2. This is what messed my tango practise. I was progressing as a follower, then I moved to Toronto, where the tango scene exploded, I sampled various teachers, ended up attending two or three, where I’d inevitably end up leading due to dearth of men. So I started re-learning tango as a leader. Now I’m completely messed up as a dancer. Need to take a rehab tango course which will either set me straight in one of the roles or make me comfortably bisexual (hee) when it comes to lead-follow in tango.

    But actually I wasn’t gonna talk about that. I was gonna say: how incredible that Rameau was waiting for you there. When are you seeing Les Indes?

    • thả diều says:

      ah, but why won’t we talk about tango? i love talks of dancing :-). I agree, very soon, you have to decide if you just want to lead or follow. otherwise, it gets very confusing. and you have to be insistent too. otherwise, if somehow one day the class has more guys, the teacher might have the tendency to ask you to be a follower. now even if there’re more leaders, i still stand alone and wait for my turn with the lady :-).

      and of course we can talk about wonderful Rameau. it’s May 6 at the NEC, performed by boston baroque. not sure yet which choir / soloists.

  3. I’m sure you came across these videos, So, you want to… (So, you want to get a PhD in Humanities, So, you want to write a novel, So, this that and the other). There’s one called So, you wan to learn to dance tango… hilarious. Some of it is def true, the lack of good leaders wherever you go, for example. Some women among the followers should simply switch to leading where there’s demand, but they don’t want to.

  4. Eyesometric says:

    I find it strange that dancing teachers and choreographers are so obsessed with counting. Every choreographer I have worked with always counts in…. 5,6,7,8 in a very loud voice even if that’s not the metre of the music. Some singers and instrumentalists get bogged down with counting instead of listening and feeling the music.
    Anyone who listens so attentively as you to so much powerful music must be able to feel tango music rather than think of numbers ( imho ) Do you learn to a piano or recorded music?

    • thả diều says:

      oh, i’m not dancing tango, that’s DtO :-). i’m learning the simple rumba and salsa. i can feel the music, but the problem is when leading, i have to give her the clue where to start. that i don’t know how unless i count, there are certain songs that just kills me. if i don’t have to think of step, lead, all that, i can catch the beats. here’s one that got me toasted during my first ever attempt to lead at a beginner competition. i was hoping they wouldn’t play it, and of course they did!

      • Eyesometric says:

        Oops, sorry for the mix up – can’t keep up with you girls and your dancing! Love those Latin rhythms, they are very satisfying to play in a band, you can lay down some interesting bass patterns.

      • thả diều says:

        ah, no need for apologizing! those rhythms are irresistible indeed. if i were exposed to them when i was 3 yr old, this counting problem wouldn’t have surfaced :-). but you’ve worked with choreographers? so i know absolutely nothing about music, so excuse this elementary question: isn’t counting the basic thing? i know you have to feel the music too, but i thought it’s like language: u can have the feel for the it, but if your basic grammar is messed up, eventually it’ll catch up with you in more complex sentence/context? (should i mention here i don’t know how to read music or count? :D)

  5. I’ve never heard of counting in tango, but maybe some people use it, dunno. The most important thing, I kept being told, is capturing the beat with the walking, but counting would just distract you in this endeavour.

    I even had teachers who insisted that the main and only thing about tango is *learning how to walk.*

    In fact, it is your prerogative as a good leader if you suddenly want to double the counts (say, do two quick steps per one beat, or half looong step per one beat etc), you can do it, and the follower must adjust, and good followers don’t get surprised by anything. Good followers, otoh, can affect changes in a leader… ugh, I should really go back to it, I miss it — and go back with a friend. It’s the sitting in the corner waiting to be asked bit that puts me off.

    An illustrative clip from the film by the aforementioned Sally Potter:

  6. Eyesometric says:

    This video is GORGEOUS ! – and you do this stuff? wow.
    Yes, I work with choreographers when there are specialist dancing sequences in a show I’m doing. It’s not unknown for a choreographer to be a pain in the a** when I have just got a singing number right and they come along and give difficult steps that the chorus find too hard and the music goes out the window. By the same token I could singlehandedly wreck a dance number by setting the tempo with the band differently in performance! So guarded respect for each other is a good idea, if not complete cooperation. If the dance is more “movement” then it’s usually done by the stage director.
    As to counting being the basic thing – I guess it is in the very early stages and some dance teachers insist on counting at every available opportunity ( it drives me nuts! ) but as soon as a student becomes familiar with the music then I think they should listen out for rhythm & instrumentation and relate a movement to a musical sound rather than a number. Come to think of it, if you are counting in your head how can you listen properly?
    I also find it interesting how your two teachers (latin & tango) have different approaches. If I was to learn to dance now I’m certain I could not be a follower!

    • Excellent. Please proceed to the nearest tango milonga, madame, where you will be in high demand.

    • thả diều says:

      good morning gals. only 6 more boxes to go before i declare unpacking done. the 2 bikes arrived just fine, except somehow one very important nut was missing for the handlebar for my blue bike! so for now the handle-bar is free to move as it wishes, better take it to the shop to find the nut :-).

      Which approach of following are you referring to Eyes? I have a couple of teachers during different time. when i was a student here, we had a professional guy teaching rumba and the aim of the lessons for 2 years were to learn how to walk (as DtO mentioned above). I like his teaching the most: that regardless of who’s leading or following, your goal is to walk upright, in balance, and to communicate well with your partner via good hand connections. That’s all we did for 2+ years, everyday walking lesson to warm up, then more walking to the music (he counted, very likely because many of us, i included, were off beat :-D). the last 1/2 hour was then focused on connection: not to tense, no spaghetti arm, just firm but flexible. then for leader, the focus is on leading: to make sure you move your body center, hardly any arm movement. it was very fascinating of course, that we learn to lead by varying our body center of gravity, not by pulling/pushing. Then, the last 10 min or so is coupling up. The goal there is that everyone is an independent person, stay focused on your own balance while feeling what leader is signaling and following through fully.

      That type of teaching, i enjoyed greatly. I was very happy as a follower. there was always mutual respect. it’s in the leader’s interest to not pull me off my balance because we’re connected after all, so once i’m off balance he’d be as well. For the social dance, i didn’t like very much the attitude (which we were always told to repeat) that “the guy is in control”. (It became “the leader is in control” after i joined the guys 🙂 ). but there, you’re told to just let the leader do everything, your job is just to follow. this gave rise to all sorts of pulling/pushing as the guys with bad leading claimed that they couldn’t get the girls to move, etc. The social dance teacher did teach us to listen just to the music. But it turns out that’s the only thing i can rely on for salsa because somehow, i can feel the music but just CAN NOT get the “1” :-).

      and ja, that tango thingy is fabulous isn’t it! in the 5 standard dances, tango (just simple tango) is the only one i just don’t manage (yet) :-).

      • Eyesometric says:

        I should have known that making a sweeping statement about following/leading would prompt justifiable questioning and then I would have to sit down and figure out what I did mean! If I’m honest it’s to do with control- in my career I’ve always been in a controlling role & I guess I’m not very good at handing it to others. Perhaps it’s a lack of trust, putting oneself into the hands of others.
        On a lighter note – I have been looking and listening to salsa on YT and I figure the music is so busy, so many rapid little beats in the percussion that actually the ONE beat is not distinct at all, unlike chacha for instance where is is clear in bass and drums.

      • I clicked the link to the number that Thadieu finds difficult, and I can’t figure out how one can dance to that. It could be my tango chauvinism… but no adequate movement came to mind. Maybe TD will find us a video of the actual dance to that kind of music?

      • thả diều says:

        coming right up :-). this is a repost from Sep 23 of the clip. i don’t know why but i can’t take my eyes off him! (yes him, not her!) . (between 2.06 to 2.09, he has this very cool shoulder movement which you can see from Anja Harteros in this clip at 4.40-4.46 🙂 )

      • This is rumba???!! I had no idea.

        OK, these two are either completely choreographed… or they’re completely choreographed. Was there any moment of spontaneity there? Wow. Tough music.

        Why does ballroom insist on hilarious glittery costumes, beats me.

      • thả diều says:

        Actually most of the time the music is very easy to read. it’s just sometimes, they retardedly play these kinds of songs which totally trip me up. At the end of the above clip, there’s a link where they dance the most basic rumba steps to the most easy music (in term of counting). i saw them once live and he was truly amazing. she changed clothes 5 times and i didn’t like any of them! his was more like in this link. for shows/competitions they choreograph everything to the minute details. but they’re really capable of dancing to anything. his chachacha dance is also amazing :-). Actually one year i saw a same-sex competition. the guy-guy couple was AMAZING! These competitions are really sports, in which case i think it’s not fair to have 2 women compete against 2 men. the woman-woman couple was quite boring to watch sadly. i wonder if there’s such thing at higher than collegian level…

        ohhh, i found! look here!! i think when u take 2 dykes against 2 gay guys, we re just NOT flexible enough to compete with these guys 😀

      • Holy smokes, this was in Montreal and I didn’t know about it! The two men look great, though I’m sure we can beat them.

  7. Thadieu, do you know of the Handel & Haydn Society? Recently they appointed a fab queer Torontonian violinist as their Concertmaster who will split her time between the two cities:

    Oh so fetching, Aisslinn is:

    • thả diều says:

      yes, i know them! but didn’t know about the fab queer Aisslinn! i off to check on their schedule right now! i did come across them at the NEC search, but haven’t fully check the symphony hall schedule yet. (and ja i was surprised i was asked to moderate! must be the queer content ;-), this being the US and all).

  8. (Oh that is bizarre. My comment is awaiting moderation because I included two links.)

  9. thả diều says:

    Ah, all these talks of dancing… i’ve just emailed to ask if i can join the school team again 🙂 . it’s always a scary thing picking up again after such a loooong lay off.

    DtO, u should definitely go back to the dance floor!

    Eyes, you should pick up leading! there’ll be a line of women waiting for you! (that sounds funny somehow…)

    • Eyesometric says:

      This has been a fascinating conversation 🙂

      ” there’ll be a line of women waiting for you! ” Hmmm ….. might have to trade in baton for dancing shoes!

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