Monday, January 28, 2008

A question for you:


This is Soft Bear. He has been my pillow for twenty plus years. But Soft Bear has a problem: Soft Bear smells. Do any of you have any suggestions on how to clean him? I don't know if you can see from this photo, but he has lost some fur next to his right eye- so I am wary of just throwing him into a washing machine for fear that he would lose all of his fur...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another Workshop

Do you guys all remember CREATE? That is the organization that I helped out with that developmentally disabled kids’ workshop for a couple of months ago. Some of CREATE’s funding is from an organization trying to promote volunteerism amongst 16-25 year olds, and since I am both an eager volunteer and fall within that age range I am now helping out with a project in the Canary Wharf area with two primary schools.

This Wednesday I rushed from our morning session at Bonner School for the Globetown project down to Bygrove Primary School for East Meets West. East Meets West is a project that takes two primary schools (Bygrove and Holy Family Catholic Primary School) and divides their 2nd and 3rd years into two groups so that half of the Holy Family kids trek over to Bygrove to work on music and half of the Bygrove kids trek over to Holy Family to work on the dance half of the project. There are three musicians leading the Bygrove half of the kids. They are Lucy Forde: a flautist who is actually on our GSMD tutor list but whom I met for the first time at Bygrove; Alison (another flautist); Tony (trumpet); and Jon (percussion). My flatmate Meredith is another one of the music volunteers along with a cellist named (I think) Kate who is studying at another school doing a program similar to the one I am on.

Kate played her cello and had the kids try to figure out what instrument it was. My favorite part of that interaction was when the group had figured out that it was similar to violin and one of the kids shot up his hand and said, in a totally confident ‘of course I am correct’ sort of way “It’s a trombone!”

Lucy had prepared a melody and rhythmic accompaniment to it that is going to be the basis of the kids' piece. She started the process by having them imagine a land that no one had ever been to, that hadn’t been discovered yet and asked them what it would look like, like what temperature would it be? They started off a little shakily saying it would be really warm, freezing, hot, very cold and any other variation of an extreme temperature that they could think of. Eventually Lucy was able to get them to move away from temperature (not even weather, just the temperature) so that now the mystery land is pink and white, has lollypops growing on trees, and all the animals are people. Once we had an idea of what the land looked like Lucy suggested that we should think about what it sounded like, at which point the musician leaders played the melody and accompaniment that Lucy had written.

We then divided the kids into three groups and gave everyone hand percussion so that the kids could get involved both in playing and in helping to figure out what the world was going to sound like. One group ended up making a rhythmic pattern based on the names of the kids in the circle, our group ended up with a lot of metal and shaker instruments and based most of our stuff on a rain stick, I’m not sure what process the third group used but it involved wooden xylophones.

We were just finishing up the first session getting the kids to write words about the mysterious land (I think it ended up being named ‘Dream World’ ) to set to the melody Lucy had written when one of the kids suddenly started vomiting all over the floor. We then had to figure out how to distract the rest of the seven year olds so that they would keep writing the words and let the poor sick kid alone. It was sort of like waving a birdie and saying “look kids, look at that!” while physically blocking their view of the little boy who continued to vomit as he was being led away. Aren’t kids fun?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Maharashrian saris

These are all very typical Maharashrian patterned saris, we think. (Anne and I were conjecturing) This is Smita, my favorite of Aunties. She wore 4 different saris on the day of the wedding. Check out the irridescent peacocks.
This is Anita, she speaks English. This was very much apprecitated by me and the rest of us Americans. Orange was a very popular color for the aunties' saris.
Sushima, this is Desh's mother. She was the first of a long line of women who heard that I was taking pictures of saris and decided I should take pictures of theirs. I had already surreptitious pictures of this sari because it is gorgeous.

Grinding Wheat

video

Apparently the songs are about grain, but obviously I don't know for sure. This was one of the pujas the day before the wedding. Cool, huh?

Wedding preparations or Cricket?









Clearly, Cricket.

India beat Australia on the fourth day of the match, yay India!

All about the mehndi

Mehndi is both totally cool and a massive pain in the butt. Reena here did my hands. Did I mention that she is 10? She was a little pushy with suggesting which designs to choose from the design book (it was clear that either a: she wanted to do certain ones or b: she was more comfortable with those designs) but whatever- I didn't have strong opinions anyway. She and I got along very well for two people who don't speak the same languages. (Even hand gesture wise- I would wave hello and she would walk towards me because apparently waving hello means 'come here' in India. Oops. I did this to many children over the course of the 5 day trip. You'd think I would have learned.)
Desh wanted pictures of the mehndi against a white background, so I crouched on the floor to oblige him. Then he took this remarkably attractive photo of me, thanks man. Once the henna paste is on your skin you are pretty much immobilized until it dries, and more specifically flakes off. I only had the henna on one side of my arms, which gave me an advantage over Sarah who had it on both sides. Until it is dry you also can't touch anything and you really shouldn't bend any joints that it is on for fear of smearing. This meant that Sarah spent a lot of time with her arms above her head or resting not very gracefully on her elbows. Desh was pressed into service feeding us dinner. Anne, Sarah, and I sat in a row on the couch/bed (which probably has a more specific name) while Desh sat on a stool in front of us with a plate and alternated who he was spooning food into. It was one of the most awkward experiences of my life. Oooh, but there was this really amazing tomato salad thingy that was divinely delicious. We ate a lot of it while discussing ways that various cultures immobilize women.
So you know how we couldn't move until it dried? Once we could move a bit we then still had to wait for the henna to flake off. It itches as it flakes off, so this combined with my astounding number of mosquito bites made for an uncomfortable night. Here is my side of the bed the morning after the mehndi had been put on. Sarah's was even more ridiculous, so itchy flakiness and then you get to sleep in it. Surely there is a better way of doing this.
The next morning one of the aunties, Smita (spelling? My favorite of the aunties) gave us coconut oil to get the last of the henna off. I can't even begin to explain how happy this made us to finally have some mobility. And our hands! We had our hands back! This photo is from right after the last of the paste came off, the color darkened considerably by the end of the day. My hands are pointing to the left and Sarah's are pointing to the right. Anne was exhausted because the night before the water tank at the apartment we were staying at overflowed. I slept through this, but Anne didn't so she didn't get much sleep at all and was taking a nap during these photos.
Our feet, I couldn't stand having the henna on any longer, so I oiled the last of it off, but Sarah didn't really mind- so you can see what it looked like to have some of the paste still on. I'm pointing up and Sarah's feet are pointing down.
Today I had my first Bonner primary school day for the Globetown project. It went really well, but what was interesting was how the mehndi gave me an automatic in with most of the girls in the class. "Oh, that's beautiful" "May I see your mehndi?" "My mom does that"

Basically, India was awesome



What we've got here is a photo from the interminable photo reception directly following the wedding. Pretty much every relative Desh has even vaguely heard of and all family friends etc. had to have their pictures taken with the newly married folks. The *best* part of this was that not only was there a photographer taking pictures, there was also a videographer (did I make that word up?) slowly panning across each group of people. So that is going to be a totally exciting video- showing exactly what the photos showed but taking longer to view.


Left to Right: Anne- Sarah's sister, she's studying to be an archaeologist and is super nice; Desh- aka Vainateya or Sohna (spelling? Means golden boy) he's the one getting married...; Reena- the 10 year old who did the mehndi on my hands and Anne's hands- she was my favorite (well, one of my favorites); Sarah! aka Wylder (though now Wylder Deshpande, which is more of a mouth full) she now has a lot more jewelry than before her wedding which I guess you can't really tell in this picture; and me- in my super snazzy salwar kameez that I kind of just want to live in.
I'm working on getting pictures up on flickr and facebook and will update you as soon as that goes through.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Wedding

Was wonderful. My hands are fine. I am covered in mosquito bites and my camera is full of pictures and the battery needed to be recharged two times today alone. So so so so much more coming soon. I fly back tomorrow morning. So so so not a long enough trip.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

India!

I have arrived in India, safe and sound. The trip was fine, I was sitting next to a very nice couple who helped to tell me what the bollywood movie was about when we weren't getting any sound. Not that it mattered much as I was reading the subtitles anyway- but it was nice to have someone to make little comments too. Fortunately the sound in our headphones kicked in just in time for the first song. I think it was called "Jab se we met" Which means how we met, I think. Anyhow the female lead was annoying but the songs were fun and the scenery was beautiful. Then I tried to sleep, which was not as successful as I was on an aisle and my seat didn't lean back. I slept a bit, but have been quite tired all day long.

The big drama of the plane ride happened just before we landed when an old man died of a heart attack. I wouldn't know this (they were very subtle about the whole thing) except that I was in the last row and all of the flight attendants talked over our heads with a passenger who was a doctor who kept saying "There is nothing more we can do, he is dead already" So that was exciting.

Customs was painless and Sarah and Desh met me right outside the airport and Sarah and I jumped up and down when we saw each other, it was great. We went shopping this afternoon/evening and I know own two salwar kamees-s (spelling?) Also, am very very very tired, so am signing off now. Desh has a dial up connection, so even though it is slow I will do my best to keep you updated over the next four days!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A couple of things make typing this post difficult

We had our first day back at classes today, which was lovely if long. We prepared a bunch of material for the Globetown project which launches tomorrow at Morpeth- the secondary school we are all working together at. Paul, one of the two tutors leading this project (the other is his wife, Sig) really wanted a rock sound so he sent Nick back to Sundial to get his electric guitar and I volunteered the electric bass that I have been teaching myself how to play these last two weeks. So even though I don't totally know what I am doing yet, I played electric bass all day.

Frankly- I feel about 145% cooler playing the electric bass, it has a certain flair.

So I was able to keep up with everything we were doing- I found the notes easily and had Paul show me a couple of things during the break regarding my left hand technique. It turns out that in order to get the sound to be short and spicatto it is easier and more effective to lift your left hand rather than to try and dampen it with your right hand- at least in the context that we were working today- so that was really helpful to figure out. Anyhow the electric bass is a success except that I haven't played that quickly, that loudly, for that long before and now I have blisters on all of my right hand fingers. In different places too, because I'm using a different part of the pad of my fingers from what I use on the upright. I blister easily, so this is not really a big deal- probably a good thing I wont be playing for 5 days though.

The other thing that is making it difficult to type is that was I was opening the door to the basement computer/tv room, a perpendicular door was flung open and my right hand was caught between the two. So, ow. Fortunately the bar was still open so I got a big bag of ice. I'm kind of hoping for a nice bruise, I haven't had any really spectacular bruises in a while. I'm about due for one.

The reason today was so long was that we had another MAPmaking project meeting, but this time the Royal College of Art students came to us. These meeting continue to be remarkably inefficiently led, so I spend a lot of time mentally editing the directors' spiels and reorganizing the running order of the meeting. But since there was so much random down time during the meeting it did give me a fair amount of time to meet and talk to a bunch of the artists as well as some of the other musicians I hadn't met yet.

The theme for MAPmaking is climate change and equator countries which lends itself to depression. Not being one for depression, my perception of the various videos we have watched so far (both the presentation about climate change at the last meeting and the various art works presented today) have led me to feel quite frustrated at the defeatist/alarmist sort of attitudes I was sensing. I brought this up at the end of the meeting with one of the artists and we talked about how all sorts of bad things are probably going to happen (one of the works was about a country in the Pacific that is going to be under water completely in 50 years) and we don't really have any control over that so focusing on those things really doesn't help. What does help is focusing on what we can do- perhaps all of this catastrophic weather will pull disparate peoples together to work for a common cause, or we can figure out how to relocate the 11,000 people living on Atlantis (I don't remember the actual name of the country) to another island so that even though their home will be gone (it will be, we can't do anything about that) at least certain aspects of their way of life can be preserved and paralleled.

This isn't terribly coherent yet, probably it is a good thing that I am thinking about it. Interesting meeting in any case.

I'm off to India tomorrow! See you in five days!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Super Super Coolness

video

Have I mentioned that I want one of these? This is also from the American Style New Years Day Parade courtesy of Andy's new favorite toy.

The Grand Experiment

video

I don't know if this is going to work or not, but in case it does- it is one of the numerous videos that Andy took during the American style parade on New Years day in London. My favorite.

Pictures of my Room. Part 2

My bed. What a lovely quilt, thank you Grammy. In spite of the rest of my room being a mess (think it hasn't been yet? We haven't gotten to my desk) I do generally make my bed. Mostly because I really like the quilt and the duvet cover together. Who needs spring time with that around? (Me, I do. But this is good for now.)
Remember all those Instruments? This is where I store their cases. In that corner, not on the chair. The chair is apparently where I store all sorts of random bits of paper. So much paper. So little seating.
My desk. Piles mean that I know what is in them...okay. Not really. The box on the left is Laine's Christmas present, see how on top of things I am?
A picture of my sink and assorted other piles. That is the box/bench I mentioned earlier with my bow case sitting on it. The sink would normally be really handy, but I currently get no cold water at all and the hot water is scalding rendering the sink a bit useless. The poster in the upper Right is from one of the Maryland Institute College of Art printmaking shows that I helped to organize at Peabody. Mostly I just really like prints.
And here is the photo I probably should have started with- what my room looks like from the door. Yet another print up there on the Right. This time it is from a portion of Trudi Johnson's work (PJ's wife) that says "War does not determine who is right, it merely determines who is left" Or something along those lines...

Thus concludes the tour of my room. Hope you enjoyed it.

Pictures of My Room. Part 1

I was going to clean more, honest. Oh well. I didn't want to keep you waiting forever for all of those photo collections I promised to post. So without further ado- This Is Where I Live:


Starting out with the most important: here is my bookshelf. I was really very restrained in terms of how many books I brought. Up there on the top shelf is a stack of music, a stack of files, a box of files, programs, a theory book, and usually cook books, but those are in the kitchen right now. The middle shelf has CD and books I actually own (9 of which are about London). The bottom shelf is where I keep my library books and a heating pad and apparently some assorted computer stuff. Also, please note the Harry Potter poster from the night the 7th book came out.

This is the wall I look at from my bed. It looks so sparse and empty in this picture, but really it is quite lovely. Please note the Sons of the Never Wrong poster, they're super cool and I bought the poster in Seattle which made it even cooler. Please also note the print out on the Left of my father teaching people to "Crank That" Pure Hilarity.
This is my window. I would make some quip about how it gets dark so early here and how I am in what amounts to a tunnel so I don't get very much light, but this picture was taken at 11pm and that wouldn't really be justified.
My instrument corner! It is really quite a spacious room, but that gets significantly less spacious once you put a bass, an electric bass, and an amp in there along with all their assorted cases. I have a picture of a gamba from the Royal College of Music museum up on my door to remind me that I do (or at least did) play early music too.
Another view of the instrument corner. I rotate out my stool for when I'm playing the upright (I store it in the kitchen, where, in return for storage space, I let people sit on them. Them because they came in a pack of two from Argos.) and a little box/bench for when I'm playing the electric. I store the box/bench over by my sink.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I get a bit bored before school starts

But fortunately people are arriving back! Which is lovely, because I missed them. Everyone is now back in my flat, which you can tell because the kitchen is a mess. I say this like it is their fault, when in reality about 50% of the dishes are totally mine and I am just being really lazy washing up wise.

Yesterday Latana and I went to The Portrait Gallery to see their exhibit of Pop art portraits. The Portrait Gallery is just off of Trafalgar square where there were a bunch of people standing with signs that said "Free Hugs" So I bounded over and got about six hugs. What a wonderful idea, I want to stand on street corners and get hugs all day.

The exhibit was pretty cool. Latana and I shared an audio guide (I hadn't known you could do that) which was half a good idea and half not a good idea because we had to stand within two and a half feet from each other and then move at roughly the same pace. Oh well.

Latana then decided that what she really needed was a frying pan, so we took the bus up to Oxford circus where all the shops are but for some reason our search for the frying pan took two and a half hours through the rain and went quite a long way off of Oxford circus and in to some Arabic portion of town which was neat because then Latana (who is half Algerian) started reading the signs and getting excited about the food, but was also very far away. Never fear though, we did eventually end up with a frying pan. So, you know, whew.

Today I met up with Cat in Covent Garden because she works at the Opera house and we had lunch and then a nice walk down to Trafalgar square. This time there were no free hugs, but there was a giant tent and a ton of people for the Russian Winter Festival, which probably would have been cooler if I had actually learned Russian in High School and could understand what was going on.

School starts on Tuesday, and I'm chomping at the bit.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Andy's first batch of pictures

Can now be found on flickr! http://www.flickr.com/photos/10933141@N07/2185650827/

Also I got my Indian visa today. I was worried that I hadn't heard from them, and I wasn't sure what the procedure for picking up my visa (and passport...) was so I decided that I needed to get there early enough to get in the lines for applying for a visa (just in case). So I woke up at 8 and convinced myself that getting out of bed was actually a good idea (never an easy task) and ended up walking through pouring rain to the tube and then from Temple station to India house. I was so wet by the time I actually got there. Fortunately it was totally easy and I asked the people at the door which window to go to and it took maybe 5 minutes. It turns out it my visa has been ready since January 4h, oh well. Then I went home and climbed back in to my dry pajamas and bed. It was nice.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

For my buddies


I found this sign in Cheltenham and thought is was so snazzy that I took a picture.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I get asked questions:

An email from my mother:
Has school started again? Or your job? Nice to have the place to yourself? Did your plane ticket get sorted out?
Love, Mom


I've been hiding in Cheltenham (a charming little town) at my friend Jon's house which is actually a movie set. He lives kitty corner to chippie shop, and across the street from a pub. The corner is so stereotypically British. I loved it, but I'm back now and here to answer queries! School starts again on the 14th, and I'm looking forward to it. I haven't heard from Finsbury Health care for a few days, but they have my schedule for January and I hope to be hearing from them imminently about when I get to work. It has been lovely having the flat to myself, though now *someone* is back. I don't know who- but there are sausages in the fridge that clearly don't belong to me and weren't there before. Also, all of the lights were on when I got back.

I did get my plane ticket all sorted out, which is a relief. For those of you who don't know: I'm going to India! For five days for my friend Sarah Wylder's wedding. Assuming my visa comes through, actually I should really call back about that... Anyhow- I'm leaving on the 16th (in roughly a week) and flying to Bombay. Sarah's fiancee Desh's family lives in Thane which I understand is a suburb half and hour away from Bombay. So that is super exciting!

Clearly life will get more interesting in a week. Look for these exciting features coming soon!
*Andy's photos from the Christmas/New Year's trip
*A photo tour of my flat
*A photo tour of the surrounding areas
*A photo tour of Guildhall (assuming the building opens again soon and I can get pictures of the annex which is really where we spend most of our time)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A short selection of photos




Nancy and her new hat from Covent Gardens.
Me and food from Wagamama- our go to place for emergency meals.
A photo of Tower Bridge during the most ridiculously dense fog ever. What an awesome day.
These photos are all from Andy's new favorite toy: his camera. They are from before Christmas because I haven't uploaded his newest pictures yet. (Including some ridiculously high number, like 100, from the American style new years parade) Later on in the trip we figured out that I could take pictures too and then both Nancy and Andy could be in the photo, but by this point we hadn't figured that out yet. But he is a happy clam! I swear! You just can't tell that from these particular pictures.

Stuff We've been doing here in London

Others things we’ve done:

*The American style New Year’s day parade with 1,200 American cheerleaders and a bunch of American High School marching bands. It was pretty cute- most of London’s boroughs entered floats and there were borough beauty queens who looked bored and cold, a giant kinetic sculpture of a tiger, an Indian Scottish pipe band, Harley Davidson clubs, a fire engine from Bethesda, MD (we understand why the WWII trucks and tanks are in the UK, but a not terribly historic fire engine?), historic bicycle clubs, a bunch of clowning groups, and my favorite: a group of miniature steam engines. Basically I want one.

*The Soane Musuem: Okay, so maybe he was a great architect but what a trippy museum. He had a special act from Parliament that means that the house is in the same state that it was when he died in 1837. It is interesting in terms of seeing how museum curating has changed and how different museum aesthetics are now. There is virtually no explanation of any of the artifacts, and there are tons of artifacts. The walls are *covered* and some of the walls swing out on hinges so that more can be displayed on the walls behind the first walls. The sheer volume is overwhelming, and a bunch of the artifacts are just creepy. There is so much stuff in the house and the hallways are so narrow that at times my shoulders would be touching the walls. My shoulders and I’m not that big. Nancy and I decided that we were both happy that we have never had to live with Sir John Soane. Also it was totally cool to see Hogarth’s The Rake’s progress, not the prints, but the paintings.

*The café in The Victoria and Albert Museum. This was my discovery (I only mention this because it means that someday I might get to be as good as Andy at finding out of the way, cool stuff.) I remembered it from a book that I read at Mical and Dan’s house called “Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite” and it had a slogan that the V&A used at one point which was “An ace Café with quite a nice Museum attached.” It turns out to be the first museum restaurant in the world. Quite tasty food too.

*A puppet version of Cinderella at The Little Angel Theatre in Islington. The UK’s leading puppet theatre. The most abstract version of Cinderella ever. There were stick puppets and marionettes and the whole story was told through the music and the puppets movements except for a few bits where the puppeteers spoke in French. A number of extra characters were represented simply by shapes without faces. The kids seemed to be following the story more easily than the three of us were. Andy said later that they could advertise by promoting their ability to speak a language that only children will understand- the parent’s will be flummoxed. This was the first thing we went to that Andy found and then a few days later Time Out magazine wrote a big spread about. The second thing was The Young Ones

*The Young Ones was a musical at a theatre called “Upstairs at the Gatehouse.” The theatre is located on the second floor (first floor, whatever) of a pub in Highgate that has been there more or less since the 1670’s though there are arguments to be made for an Inn being on that site as far back as 1337. (1337!) The musical was a fringe theatre adaptation of a 1950’s movie of the same title that starred the UK’s answer to Elvis- Cliff Richard. It was pretty charming, and in such a small theatre we were practically on the stage. It was cool seeing such classic musical theatre choreography so close up. They played it very straight and without irony, which was sweet but also highlighted how incredibly predictable the plot is.

Some Points I’ve been wanting to share: 2/1/08

*Tomorrow there is supposed to be some snow. Want to know why? Because there is a cold front and wind coming in from Siberia. Siberia. I always forget how far away the US is from everything else. When we first went into Tesco’s on our 1994 trip to England: there were eggplants, which were for some reason called aubergines. They were a beautiful shade of rich dark purple and they were from Zimbabwe. I remember that fact just astounded me, but of course Zimbabwe is much closer to London than it is to the US. And we have California…

*There is a small charcoal grey mouse that lives under the Northern Line platform at King’s Cross Station. It was scampering around the platform and there were a number of us watching its progress. I was quite concerned that someone was going to step on the mouse because the platform was so crowded. Eventually, right before the train arrived; he climbed down to the tracks and raced into a hole on the far side. I was then concerned that the train had squished him, but I think the little mouse has a handle on this whole city life thing because he was there on the platform again the next day.

*I am working my way through “The Complete Electric Bass Player” which I am using to teach myself how to play the electric bass. Anyhow, what I hadn’t expected was how difficult it is to stabilize the instrument- any time I want to shift I find my body moving in the direction of the shift (a higher note and my whole body swings forward and to the right and vice versa). Anyone got any tips?

New Year's Day: Billy Elliot the Musical

I wasn’t all that impressed with the movie when it originally came out. I think I was in the midst of Interlochen and all of that business with “Am I a musician?” and there was some scene at the beginning where Billy was banging out a tune on the piano and I got miffed that they weren’t giving him music lessons and that sort of spoiled the rest of the movie for me.

When I was in London last April Billy Elliot the musical was sort of on my radar. The theatres for Billy Elliot and Wicked are across the street from each other and away from the rest of the West End, so I knew it existed and I remember hearing good things about it, maybe I read a review in Time Out? I don’t remember, but I do know that when Andy and Nancy showed up it was one of the shows I requested to see even though, you know, the movie had miffed me.

Anyhow, whatever the movie- the show was AMAZING. I spent the first half hour of the show with my jaw literally hanging open. It opens with this totally powerful anthem and oh, am I a sucker for anthems. And the choreography! Inspired, awesome, powerful, abstract, and direct. The cast is split about 50/50 gender wise- but the men are all adults and most of the girls are around 12 years old and in Billy’s dance class. The girls are funny. They bumble around a lot until there is a dance with the whole cast and then you understand that they were cast because they can dance.

There is this one scene where the police and the striking miners are clashing and that scene is happening at the same time as Billy’s dance class and the entire cast is weaving in and out and suddenly all the girls are lifted into the air by the miners and there are chairs being passed overhead and then the police and the miners are sitting in a row passing their hats down the row- that is a very poor description of a very cool dance.

The music is phenomenal- so good that I went out and bought the CD during the intermission, which is when I figured out that Elton John had written the score. He’s good, I gotta say. There was one song where Billy had brought a letter to his dance teacher that his mother had written to him before she died. Billy begins singing it and then passes it to the dance teacher who sings it as a duet with his mother and then the mother finishes the song by herself. Every single mother in the audience was crying. Audibly. The woman next to me sniffled through the whole song and then during the reprise as well.

The song that made me start crying is when the Billy’s father is about to cross the picket line and go back down to the coal mines in order to pay for the bus ticket to London for Billy’s audition. He gets stopped by the rest of the miners who won’t let him lose his integrity like that and there is all this pain in the song because he doesn’t understand what his son is doing and he knows he needs to support him and give him a chance to get out of the town that is so clearly dying and the only thing that he can think of to do to help his son is to go against everything that he himself and his community stand for.

I laughed, I cried, I had my breath taken away by the dancing. Oh yeah, and the whole thing is carried by a 12 year old boy. He had to dance in a bunch of different styles (dance very well), sing, act well enough to have an entire show hang on his shoulders, and do all of this before puberty. I was totally impressed, and don’t think I’ve ever seen such a heavily muscled 12 year old before. There are 5 Billys actually because child labor laws mean they can’t do more than two shows a week or something like that. Think about this though- that means that they didn’t just find and train *1* boy who could carry this show- they found *5* (Only one of them per show though, they don’t switch half way through or anything like that.)

Okay, actually I am listening to the sound track again while writing this and I can’t listen to more than one song at a time because I get so worked up over them. Elton John, be my friend please? I really like your work.