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Archive for October, 2009

Paloma Herrera

It’s dans: season, and I really wanted to watch some of the performances. Dunas was one, and An Evening with Paloma Herrera was the other. Growing up I often, and in my even younger days, always, watched dance with my Mum. And this is something I hope to keep up, even though now I’m busier cos I’m working, a wife, and a mother myself. Still, I think it’s definitely worthwhile making time to be with Mummy, just the two of us, going for a dance performance, spending time together.

Pre-performance we went for dinner at the Peranakan restaurant at Esplanade. Guess who we had dinner with? PM Lee! :) He was at the next, next table. Ok lah, that’s quite close already. We were wondering why there were so many people waiting outside when the restaurant looked like it still had capacity. PM and Mrs Lee sat in a corner of the restaurant, and seemed very comfortable there. That was something my Mum and I observed – nobody really hounds our politicians and celebrities in Singapore. Both categories of people can go out and live a decently normal life even though they have technically high-profile jobs. And that is something I appreciate about Singapore. Why make a big fuss over these people? It was nice to see Mrs Lee being comfortable enough to even take off her shoes under the table ;) As they left, they quietly waved and greeted everyone on their way out :) Perhaps they were there to watch the performance as well.

Anyway, back to Paloma. She is the principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, and has garnered accolades from, well, everywhere. It was a mixed bill, and dancers from other companies performed as well. Paloma herself did only 3 dances.

My take? Perhaps I expected too much from her, but I felt disappointed. She did not live up to the hype. I suspect, though, that she really is as good as everyone says she is, but the dances that were chosen to be performed did not show off her technique and flair that well. She seemed very good, but not inspiring and moving.

In fact, it was another dancer that inspired me more – Iana Salenko, a principal dancer with Staatsballett Berlin (the Berlin State Ballet). She a had grace and spirit that filled the theatre, and which, I felt, connected with the audience.

I love this pic!

At the end of the day, the other thing I realised – I don’t really enjoy watching mixed bills. They are too disjointed for my liking. I’ll stick mainly to full-length performances from now on.

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Dunas

My mum kindly agreed to help watch Asher tonight while Terrence, Sharon, Jon and I went to watch Dunas, a collaboration between flamenco dancer María Pagés and Belgian-Moroccan contemporary choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Held at the Esplanade Theatre, it was the world premiere of the performance. And it did not disappoint! There have been few performances where I felt this moved, and the message of the dance so clear and resonant!

Dunas basically refers to the sand dunes, and in this performance the two dancers explore their heritage and the interconnection between their Spanish and Moroccan cultures, as well as the history that the two countries share.

I thought that there was excellent and a most innovative use of media in the performance. At one point, a moving image of lines being drawn was shown in the background. These lines were harmoniously in synch with the movements of María. It was only after a few moments did I realise that the lines were being drawn by Sidi Larbi, and he was doing so on piece a glass, under which a video camera was placed. And it took a few moments more before I realised it was sand that he was using to draw on the glass! Basically there was a pile of sand, and he used his fingers/hands to draw images in the sand. It was dynamic and riveting because after an image was drawn, he’d sweep the sand across the surface and draw another image. Each time, developing the story further. His drawing was also impeccable! Truly, it must be experienced to really feel the awe of the moment.

Besides media, the use of stage props was very good too. It was simple, yet marvelously effective. There were large swathes of cloth hanging from the ceiling, and these they used at times to portray the separation between them, and at times to portray the binding connections between their cultures. At the end, the cloth envelopes their bodies and showed, I thought, the image of perfectly smooth, undulating sand dunes – the title inspiration of the performance.

The exploration of the themes was also deep and comprehensive. They went through how coming from their own cultures there were boundaries to navigate in discovering a new culture, there were new elements that they were not used to, the stepping out of boundaries. There was the historical element of subjugation under Spanish rule, and then the rising of Moorish influence. Then there is the eventual intertwining and inseparability of the two cultures, that ends in the iconic image of the sand dunes, which to me signified the continuing change and evolution of the relationship between the two cultures, just like how sand dunes are not static, but always moving and changing.

And then there was the dancing! Oh, the dancing! María Pagés is absolutely riveting to watch. Her passion effuses from her and penetrates the soul! Her footwork, her technique – perfect! To me, Sidi Larbi was less exciting a dancer to watch, but I think his main contribution to this work was the use of media, and the modernising of the collaboration. Together, though, the unlikely pair create a beautiful and stirring work, worth every cent, and worth another watch. Even Jon was all praises for the dance, and that speaks volumes!

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Josiah celebrated his birthday with a bang, a SUPER bang!  The theme was ‘superman’ and he, his parents, and their doggie all wore superman motifs, and Josiah himself was dressed suitably in a superman outfit, complete with ‘boots’ that Joanne had creatively made from socks :)

Having just started walking not long before, Josiah was happily kicking an empty sprite bottle around, in and outside the function room :)

Asher busied himself with pushing chairs around cos he’s learning to walk, and that means I busied myself following him around to make sure he didn’t take a tumble.

There were a few other babies, and besides Josiah, Emma was another familiar face.  She was absolutely adorable in her pinafore outfit, and as gungho in chasing Maeby (is that how it’s spelt, Jo?) around.

Between all their busy pursuits, the kiddos did find some time to interact :)  Here’re the pics that Jo took, and that I’m ripping to post here.

Emma and Asher playing catching

Deep in conversation

Mummies and babies :)

Daddies and babies – notice how they seem to be noticeably more fidgety? :O)

But the babies all cooperated in the end – well, in Asher’s case, somewhat :)

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Took the train and a bus from home to get to the old Bukit Timah Firestation. Brunch with the cousins again :) Asher was making eyes at a baby girl on the bus on the way there, so I think the trip was enjoyable for him :) The only downside was that it was such a hot day! Even though the walk from the bus stop to the cafe wasn’t that far, I felt like I had melted away by the time I got there!

As usual, ordered Eggs Benedict. Think I’m unconsciously on a mission to find the best Eggs Ben in Singapore. How did this one fare? So-so. The Hollandaise sauce was not too bad, but the rest of the dish was forgettable. Nothing special to remember about it.

I think Anya and Asher’s antics were far more memorable! They were happily chomping on Hoegaarden coasters :) I don’t think we’ll be seeing babies do beer endorsements on print adverts any time soon though.

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Asher’s Dedication

For me, Asher’s dedication was one to remember. During the usual morning greetings after the worship segment, the speaker for the day – Matthew Lo – shook Asher’s hand, and after that Asher kept waving at him. Matthew said, “He’s very friendly ya”. Asher was in a very good mood that day, and because of that we had a really funny dedication session.

He can’t stop grinning while waiting for the dedication to start :)

We parents were given a slip of paper on which was printed a paragraph that Matthew was going to read out. It was basically a promise that parents were supposed to agree to regarding raising our children in the Lord, and after Matthew read the paragraph we were supposed to say, “we do”.

Before he started reading the paragraph, Asher took the paper and started waving it around. Matthew saw Asher and said into the mike, “Yeah, you’re eager huh? Waving your dedication about!”, much to the amusement of the congregation.

After Matthew had read the paragraph and in the split second pause before the parents were supposed to say “we do”, Asher said loud and clear, “Aye”, which got the congregation all tickled :)

When the parents finally said “we do” and were walking back to our seats, Asher started to babble again and wave excitedly about. Then Matthew said, “this one, can be pastor!” :o)

Asher! Is that your destiny? Haha, who knows! But I sure did enjoy myself on his dedication day!

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Went for lunch at Rider’s Cafe with the cousins again.  I loved the drive to get there.  To me, it really felt like we were driving in a different country.  And it was especially amazing because we were just a stone’s throw from the busy Bukit Timah Road, yet it was so tranquil with no tall buildings in sight.

The food was alright.  I had eggs benedict, as usual, but found that it was a little rubbery.  Can’t beat the one at Prive Cafe which still tops my list of the best eggs benedict around. 

Anyway, the children were entertaining us with their antics.  Asher was sharing some corn rings with Anya, and while she seemed to thoroughly enjoy them, Asher took his corn ring and started rubbing it in Anya’s hair!!  The sweet girl just happily continued eating her corn ring.  But eventually, she decided she had enough of Asher’s nonsense, and started tugging at his shirt – “stop it!!”

Then they made up.  Asher fed Anya some of his corn ring – yes the one he rubbed through her hair :)

But the real story is that Asher was just resting his hand for a while and Anya stole a bite :)  She continued to eye his corn ring for quite a while thereafter hoping for another little nibble.

After our meal I brought Asher for a walk around the stables to look at the horses.  Actually, we sneaked in cos it’s technically meant only for members, but I figured no one would really object if I was there just to show a baby what horses looked like!  I think he was quite intrigued. It would have been more fun if he could pat the horses though, but I didn’t want to do that since they were someone’s prize horses.  Didn’t want to get blamed should the horse not perform well, fall ill or something…

Anyway, as a random side note, the vicinity of Rider’s Cafe is really lovely for taking wedding pictures if you like wide, green, open spaces.  Don’t think I’ve seen anyone’s wedding pics taken there yet.

Well, I think Rider’s Cafe is definitely somewhere we can go back to again just for the ambience.  For a good eggs ben, I’m sorry, I’ll be headed to Prive Cafe again :)

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