Wednesday, December 15, 2010

stuff to look at

Just a quick post before dashing off to the train and Booksmith.

1. We have new designs up at Fable & Tale. Shan posted some pretty pictures (featuring the lovely Emily Jones) over at the Fable & Tale blog. Our newest design is a mermaid who reminds me of an old fairy tale book I once had with black and white woodcut illustrations.

"The mermaid met your grandfather at the Santa Cruz County fair. There was a parade, and a contest, and all the young ladies wore tails and fins of sequins, satin, pailletes, glitter, and papier-mâché. Your grandfather was so young that you would never have recognized him. The mermaid was so beautiful—he might have told you this—that looking at her made him feel like he had been caught dancing to the most shockingly fine music, played so well that it would have made you cry."
2. The fabulous Mira Cook, who is a dancer, singer, musician, and all-around awesome individual, has just posted a music video for her song "Drum Machine." And, yes, she really is that adorable in real life.

3. Emily Jiang, who is one of the brightest, kindest people I know, has a poem up at Strange Horizons. It's called "Life Lessons" and you should read it.

4. Keffy Kehrli's story, "Advertising at the End of the World," is now available for your LISTENING pleasure at Escape Pod. I love this story. I've loved it since Keffy sent it round the critique table at Clarion, and I get ridiculously excited any time it appears somewhere else.

5. Paul Berger's lovely "Stereogram of the Gray Fort, in the Days of Her Glory" got picked up for a year's best anthology. He lists the entire table of contents here, with links to the online homes of quite a few of the stories. I'm linking to that, just in case you have need of any holiday reading.

And now I have to run for my train. And the post office. And the bookstore.

xx. M

Monday, December 13, 2010

caught in the act

San Francisco video blogger, Diane Harrington, posted a small video and review of our show here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

on why dancing is like being a time lord

If you had asked me, perhaps when I was eight, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would probably have said:

"A zookeeper."

Or, maybe: "The person who swims with Shamu."

Or: "A paleontologist."

When I was about ten, I might have said, "veterinarian" or, "jockey."

When I was thirteen, it was a foregone conclusion, and the only thing I wanted to be was a dancer. I didn't want it desperately; I wanted it with steadfastness. It was the only thing I wanted to be, the only thing I could be, and the only thing I imagined I knew how to be. Everything else was either a pleasure, an irritation, or irrelevant.

I said no to lots of things. Horses, nice guys, invitations. A four-year scholarship to the University of California. Skis, hobbies, summer vacations. Dancing was so huge and complicated and wonderful that it took up all available space.

I sometimes wonder how I could possibly have been so sure, such an absolute and fervent believer.


I'm reading a book right now about memory. It makes the point that time seems to speed up as we get older because things are less new. We have done so many things for so long that our minds have less novelty to savor. The edges wear off and the seconds and minutes and days slide past us.

When dancing is going well, time does funny things. Sometimes it feels like the most perfect special effect. The suspended water drops. The muffled pause inside an explosion, with every piece of debris hanging still in midair. The only other time I've felt the same endless expansion was one evening when I drove down the freeway and a car in front of me lost control, spectacularly and ridiculously. It spun the way cars do in movies, actual elliptical twirls that carried it across the entire spread of lanes, first one way and then the other. It struck the central divider and pinwheeled off again, and everything looked so gentle and so inevitable that when it swung towards me, it seemed to drift along an obvious curve and I had all the time in the world to twitch my own car the smallest degree to the side and watch it slide past. Time suddenly opened up, every edge of it unfolding, like some sort of weird, reversed version of origami.

And that, I think, is one of the reasons why I still dance.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

spaces for dancing

The piece we're performing tomorrow (tomorrow! OH MY GOD.) has a really beautiful set. The stage, which is unusually deep, is divided into four rooms, each one containing a rectangular slab of white floor. The exterior borders are defined by tall panels of milky, translucent paper, and the interior ones by scrim fabric that turns green and blue and transparent under the lights.

Our tech rehearsal was an epic ordeal. For a 45-minute piece, our crew has to deal with at least 40-something lighting cues. The lights guide the audience's attention, change the pace, intensity, and flavor of the environment, and hopefully make us more beautiful than we deserve.

The audience is meant to walk between the rooms of the stage, making the choice to look at one thing or another. It should be interesting. It's both an extremely formal, artificial construct and a more casual experience than most performances that involve a proscenium stage. There will be wine and the element of chance. We're wearing white silk dresses splattered with grey and little ankle socks. We dance to stories about resolutions, sex, regret, women who turn into trees, women who turn into stone, carrying coal to Newcastle, boardgames, and petting cats. We have a crackling, insidious score.

I am so curious to know what this piece says to people. I'm not sure what it's saying myself. There's a lot of pretty movement, an interesting conceit, an appealing landscape, but what am I trying to say? I'm not sure...