dance + modernism + work

pole

It is coming up to a year since I started studying dance. Last night, coming home from class, I think I finally figured out why I like it so much. I understand that the umbrella term – The Arts- encompasses not just visual art; but dance; music; and performance. That knowledge, although logical, always felt disconnected from me physically and emotionally.

Understanding visual language, in its many forms, is second nature to me. Line, colour, texture, function, material, form, light, is a language that made sense to me before I knew it had words. Developing the skills to work with this vocabulary was never in question as my mind, manipulation of motor skills and vision were at home when engaged.

But dance was something other people did. A year ago I decided to take a pole dance class. I knew nearly nothing about it. I didn’t know anyone who did it. My first class was a fine balance between why –am- I -here –and- I –might- really- enjoy- this.

I did really enjoy it. It engaged me in a way that felt familiar. Unlike many other forms of dance, pole is a form of exercise akin to weight training, resistance, and gymnastics. The poses use one’s body weight, gravity, momentum, flexibility, agility, coordination, endurance and contortion to execute. Pole is a full body hybrid of poses, transitions and rhythm, which may or may not include fluid, off pole, floor work. Hella sexy or straight up fitness.

The ways in which I am able to draw a simple or complicated line using a range of tools, feels and looks like what my entire body does on the pole. Each fragment of my body, when aligned correctly, can create a line, in space, that I can manipulate in time. And to do this, I need to access the same parts of myself as I do when working visually. But the reason it feels so at home is because it removes the tool. I become the line. Technically not a line I can see, in real time, but feel.

The twerk and burlesque classes I take are similar- the lines just look different. Like a Pollock or Richter, they are deceptively difficult to execute. The ability to move isolated parts of one’s body at high speeds is anything but skill-less, child’s play.

I don’t speak, in detail, to many people about dance. I don’t discuss what spins I am working on. I’ve only ever taken one friend to a class with me. And that’s because she spends as much (free) time at her studio as I do at mine. The time I put into this practice is entirely mine. And it’s entirely for me. I don’t want to share it. I am greatly appreciative of my instructors and connections; the ways in which they’ve contributed to my experience is immeasurable. But ultimately the work is mine to do. The boundaries are mine to push. The results are mine to celebrate.

The grace, strength and beauty that come from this work have the ability to echo in so many other life facets. There is no grace and beauty if one is treating people poorly or consuming products that are ill designed to lack concern for their function or life span. But there is much strength in being more conscious in daily rituals, even if they are as simple are walking with better posture and purpose. It is these connections, between seemingly disparate things, that never cease to amaze me.

photo source; Pinterest / Milan Pole Dance Studio

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Embracing

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I am entering month 6 of  condo living. My daughter, dog, and I moved into this space at the end of April. I have been embracing  the change from large( r ) house to small condo ever since. All the details which I thought may be annoying or harder to get used to have not been an issue. Our life has changed in very positive ways.

The reduction of space (2100 sq ft, on a 30ft x 100ft lot to 700 sq ft) has forced us to have less possessions. Not only in what we already had but in what we buy/ bring home. And since there is less of the stuff and less of the space, it is easier and much faster to clean up and tidy. Out of sight, out of mind does not exist here. I don’t spend a lot of time looking for anything either since there aren’t many places something could be. 

Having my car, not in the driveway, but in an elevator accessed garage means I am better organized in what I need to bring for the day to avoid running back and forth. It also means I tend to drive less as it is easier to leave a ground level condo than wait for elevators etc. And so nice to not get snowed or rained on when I do use the car. 

My daughter currently has her bedroom in a small den, which has no door. I have used simple, white curtains to close off her space when needed. And for a little person who is nearly 6, this works well. Out of all the bedrooms she has had (this being her fifth) she says this one is her favourite. It is in proportion to her body. It also means that less accumulates as space is restricted. 

The space layout and size, shape my daily routines. Clearing the kitchen after meals happens quickly, with dinner clean up happening before my daughter goes to bed. I can’t be clanking dishes around, as it would wake her. Once she is asleep, my evenings are quiet and not full of chores. I don’t let stuff accumulate on surfaces, as they are in use all the time. We have one small table which we eat at and one kitchen counter for prepping food. 

The other lifestyle decision I made when moving into the condo is to not have a tv. We never subscribed to cable prior and only watched Netflix or dvds. (and Coronation Street is a free channel!) I also didn’t want my furniture arrangement to revolve around a tv screen. The solution was to use my desk top monitor to watch dvds (which is in the living space) and primarily use an iPad for Netflix. It is such a pleasure to not have a tv set on in the background and easier to reduce how much screen time my child has when the iPad is out of sight. 

I did miss my garden this summer, however. I missed seeing all the changes and new growth. But I do have a patio here which has two large planters full of lavender. 

The plan is to live here for the next 2 years or so, while the other condo I purchased gets built. Although the square footage of both of them is the same, the other one will have a bedroom sized den, which my then 8 yr old will appreciate. Knowing that this is our home for a limited amount of time has been freeing in the decisions I made setting it up. I have been able to play more with ideas, knowing they can been easily changed or altered. Not needing to do extensive renovations has been refreshing as well. As much as I love an old house to work on, the break from renovating has been good. 

The best thing of all has been comments from friends and visitors. I wondered how my home-in-a-house would translate to my home-in-a-condo. I recently had a friend, seeing the space for the first time, remark that she felt she was walking into a house, not a condo. 

For more images and details, please see my latest home feature in Covet Garden Issue 49, September 3, 2014 http://www.covetgarden.com

For images of my previous home, please see my home feature in Back Issues- Issue 23 http://www.covetgarden.com

good change

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Lots of changes. I sold my house this past December. It was a great house and a big house. But  in thinking about my lifestyle and how much space my daughter and I actually need and use, I decided to focus on the following; less space; less stuff; and less mortgage. High 5 to that!

The new project is a challenge in an (un)familiar way.  I bought a small condo. (Actually 2, but more on that in later posts) I am no stranger to living in buildings- spent the better part of my childhood living in them. But I don’t like condos as  a rule. I like houses. But I  love a challenge. And in keeping with my less space, less stuff and less mortgage mantra, I am excited!

Over the next little while my work will be to turn a generic, cookie-cutter unit into something that  has a personality.

I have in mind the following in no particular order; gold; perpendicular stripes; pale pink; tape; mint green; Shaker; grey; black + white; and can we throw in a new washer and dryer for good measure?

Coming up is another edit of my possessions. Thinking of what is essential to my life(style).

Sneak peak 2- Olive’s room

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Nearly done with Olive’s room. She came home from her dad’s this weekend and said, “You moved everything, Mommy!” Yes. I. Did. That’s what this mommy does.

Her dresser is one of two which I had fun spray painting. The wall colour was her request for purple. I struggle with this colour. I turned to Farrow & Ball initially as they have several lovely versions; Brassica or Pelt. But in the end I opted for a vibrant mid tone purple that looks fantastic with pops of other colours. The exact name and brand escapes me. The family paper doll artwork is one I did using Black Apple’s book. The bear stuffie is by Bookhou. The paper star is one I bought from a street vendor in London before she was born. Then we have the My Little Ponies. Rainbow Dash being the favourite, which I admit is my fave too!

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In previous years, some of Olive’s books were on the shelves in the dining room. This was because I did not want them to turn into colouring books and they were always handy when I wanted to read to her. Now that she is nearly 5, all her books are in her room. I am crossing my fingers they don’t turn into colouring books (all colouring tools MUST stay upstairs) and I am hoping she can enjoy them more in her room. Painting of houses by Jennifer Harrison. Blackboard artwork with bunny done by me. Encaustic letter painting by Natalie Waldburger. Both wooden animal toys bought in Prague. All other animal figurines from Schleich Toys. Alphabet garland from Swipe Books. Shelving colour is close to Hague Blue (Farrow & Ball)

Noticed and noted

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I am a big fan of Jaime Hayon’s work. The finished pieces and the sketches are equally very compelling; an absolute pleasure to look at.

However, this post is about his wife, Nienke Klunder. In images of the couple,  she manages to rock whatever she wears, without fail. Even when heavily pregnant. I am a big fan of ladies who make an effort. It doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. 

Of course this is not to minimize her work in favour of how she puts herself together. But like good manners, coming across someone who understands  the extension of visual pleasure, is more rare than you’d think.

house 3

house 3

This is the living room in the current house. The wood burning fireplace is functional but requires some work and as a result has not been used by me yet. The original tiles were original, yes, but awful. Replace by tear drop marble (Ciot) Pillow is a favourite by Donna Wilson. Votive candle holders on fireplace were found at the cemetery where my grandmother is buried (Poland). Yellow children’s chair (1 of 2) is a sidewalk find. Drawing of Olive above yellow chair is one of mine. Tord Boontje light shade. Wood bench under nearly visible tv was a gift from friends (Manchester). Cowhide on floor was an Ikea as-is purchase. Fireplace painted in Pitch Black, Farrow & Ball.

Post reno, I have some other plans for this room. The wall will most likely be painted black or other strong colour. This is in place of the Cole & Son Cow Parsley wall paper I really, really, really want. Bookshelves will move from dining room to this one. Rug is now jute. The furniture placement is a huge challenge in this room. Each wall has some feature on it and because the room has generous proportions, the furniture has a tendency to get lost in it. Status for now is “Under Construction”.
Photo credit: Ashley Capp (Covet Garden Issue 23)