Thursday, October 18, 2007

When you've got to dance - fly!

A few weeks ago, I had an amazing photo shoot with a few members of the Only Human Dance Collective. They're a dance group from the University of Toronto. It was a great experience, with some wonderful people. I finally got around to editing some of the photos, only a couple of days before my next shoot with them. I can't wait until Sunday for the next round.

This my favourite photo from the first shoot.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Look carefully...

"There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."

– Ansel Adams

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gotta Dance!

I went to three dance classes this week, and two dance-themed aerobics classes:

Monday was Jazz for an hour and a half at the dance studio
Tuesday was a day off
Wednesday was Ballet Bootcamp for an hour at the gym
Thursday was an easy hip hop class for an hourat the gym
Friday was Tap for an hour and a half at the dance studio
Saturday was a difficult hip hop class for an hour and a half at the dance studio
Sunday will be a day off (well deserved)


I loved it, it was an amazing week. I'm very very tired now, but I hope to do it again most weeks.

Taking these classes as a lowly burlesque dancer has been very illuminating. I may get in trouble for saying this, but I now fully understand why real dancers do not take burlesque dancers seriously. The classes are HARD. To be a dancer you have to be an athlete. You have to have flexibilty, strength, endurance, and amazing cardiovascular conditioning. But dancers are also artists. To be a dancer you have to have grace, musicality, and emotion. And to dance in front of people you also have to be a performer. You have to be focussed, brave, and have presence onstage.

I have very little of the first two categories. I am not an athlete, nor an artist (though I may be considered slightly athletic and a little artistically inclined). I have a little more of the third category. I'm a fairly decent performer. The thing is, being a good performer with some artistic ability is all I've needed to be a good burlesque dancer. But I need much more to be a good dancer.

I don't want to slag burlesque. I still love it, I enjoy performing it and watching it, and I think I always will. I want to make my own performances better any way I can, and I think the dance will help. But in addition to this, I have discovered something new that really challenges me. Something that maybe I can continue to grow with even after the boobs and ass have sagged beyond recognition (heck, maybe it will prevent or slow said saggage).

I've been bitten by the bug! I'm a convert. I've gotta dance! I'm gonna go to class and work my butt off (literally) until I'm slightly more athletic, and slightly more artistic. Then I'm going to keep going back again and again, and maybe after years of training, I'll be able to be both a burlesque performer and a dancer.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Never noticed... and it was right there!

Garamond f-i ligature
(from Wikipedia)
It's amazing... little things. I've been writing my thesis for the last few months using the wonderful typesetting language LaTeX. It does a great job of putting graphs and figures in the right places, producing beautiful equations and numbering them correctly, and providing accurate and well-formatted cross-references and endnotes.

It also does great typesetting. Little things that I've never noticed before--not until coming across this page completely randomly.

I got to learn about something completely new to me: ligatures.

Ok... It's not that I've never heard of them before. But I've never really put much thought into what they are, where they come from, and how pervasive (it seems) they are in my life.

So I opened up the PDF of this gargantuan document that I've been working on all summer. Lo and behold, there they are... All over the place! I zoomed in on the text and stared wide-eyed, like a child, at these little compound characters that had completely flown under my radar until now.

The really fascinating part is how things like this develop. Language--spoken and textual--grow and mutate over time. For different reasons things change. Sometimes the reasons are political or religious (in this case, dropping characters from an "out of vogue" pagan tradition or two) . Sometimes, it's just to make life easier (like developing compact characters so that scribes can transcribe more efficiently).

The cultural impact of evolving languages is an interesting one. I grew up in Quebec, where language has always been an issue--the mainstay of a culture that feels marginalized. The internet and SMS brings a whole new transformation of language (bastardization to some, innovation to others), and until today I wasn't sure how I felt about it all.

But now, the way I see it, it all fits into a grander societal and cultural growth. The kids of today--tapping away on cell phones and in online chat rooms--just took the same license as monks in the middle ages. No longer a stylization to simplify the reproduction of illuminated text, this new economy of typographic language means an immediacy to communication that is less accessible when you're worried about every punctuation mark and extra syllable. The dynamism and information content isn't lost, and the only downside is potential miscommunication as the norms of the new language structure develop. (But that's nothing new. Just look at some of the ligatures on that Wikipedia page. There are a couple of those that, if I saw them in a text, I wouldn't know what they meant. For example, the "ss" ligature looks like a "beta" to me, the science geek.)

I sense a parallelism here deserving of inquiry: A critical view of l33t speak as a modern-day echo of the middle-ages development of accepted typographic ligatures. Could be interesting.

And I wonder: What is the link between modern SMS texting and the shortcuts we take to write text messages quickly (and with as few characters as possible) and, say, the acceptable shorthand of scripting ligatures that allowed a monk to reproduce a ready-to-distribute manuscript just that little bit faster?

Miracle weight loss!

There's an interesting link via Boing Boing today about a reference kilogram that seems to have lost weight. It's the weight of a fingerprint lighter. Even stranger is that though a series of these reference kilos were made out of the same material, at the same time, and stored under the same conditions, the weights seem to be ever-so-slowly drifting apart. It's a real mystery and it's got physicists mighty confused. (To say "this one included" makes me sound a far better physicist than I know I am... not that the statement isn't true, however.)

The kicker: If reference kilos are losing weight, then, by comparison, we're all gaining weight. (I'm only about 500 micrograms heavier than I thought, but that doesn't mean I won't at least think about going to the gym later today.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No time for work (or play)

I just finished compiling my schedule for September, and it's looking like a doozy. Between dance classes, a show at the end of the month, classes for school, and my day job... well, let's just say I hope there's another one of me to help me do it all...

Why do I do it? Because it's fun (no really). Am I going to get stressed out about it? Hell yeah. Am I going to do it anyway. Probably forever.

I couldn't do it without the support I'm given every day by the generous soul of a partner I have (Thanks Sammy) But most of the time, I don't think either of us would have it any other way. Now I just have to find a way to practice burlesque and do homework at the same time! Then my life will finally be complete!