A long time ago, back before the age of Twitter and Instagram, while Facebook was still in its infancy, I took a creativity course in college. Yes, a creativity course. In that course, we used several books, one of which was Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Considered a “self-help” book to aide people with artistic creative recovery, it helps them make a spiritual connection with their creativity. I have always thought that there was an innate spiritual connection to creativity anyways. The book just helps people unleash their inner creative child. Those of us in the arts, especially acting, have a deep connection to our inner child. It’s a 12 week course that I did, twice in a row because I used the book at Circle In the Square Theatre School. Each time helped me notice something different about my relationship to my creativity.
Recently, I have been referencing it more frequently, writing down ideas in a journal in the morning, and having artist dates by doing something that makes me happy creatively. I have been working on more monologues, writing more blog posts, working on writing my play, and staying creative because I am scared of losing my passion. Even if you are not in a creative field, I think it’s important to have an outlet. I recommend the book to anyone, no matter what their profession is. If you liked to draw as a kid, do it now. If you liked to play the guitar, pick it up again and strum. Do what makes you truly happy. Art in any form, can be therapeutic. It can help you find your way.
A Few years ago, I saw the 2006 documentary called Ballerina. The film features profiles of five different dancers of Russia’s Marinsky (Kirov) Ballet throughout the piece. One dancer in particular caught my attention: Diana Vishneva. She was rehearsing the ballet Manon with the Paris Opera Ballet. Instantly, I was moved by it, and thought that if I ever got a chance to see it live, I’d go. Well, it just so happens that Vishneva is also be a member of the American Ballet Theatre. Last night, I got to see Manon performed live with Diana Vishneva, Marcelo Gomes and Misty Copeland.
I arrived early (like always) and good thing I did, because it immediately started to downpour the second I stepped into the lobby of the famed Metropolitan Opera House. I have lived in NYC for 7 years, and it is sad to say that I had never seen a show at The Met. I had seen a few operas at NYC Opera at the David H. Koch Theater, but nothing at The Met. Over the past few years, I have frequented Lincoln Center as if it were an extension of my home. Friends and colleagues have worked there, and to be honest, I find a sense of peace whenever I sit next to the fountain. Despite the tourists, I think in NYC, it is my happy place. I waited for an hour for the house to open, but it was totally worth it. For once, I wasn’t at the Met in the middle of the day. My seat was at the very top front row, and for $26 I got my workout for the day. Granted, I could have taken the elevator, but I felt like going through the maze of red carpeted stairs and walls in my red dress–it was fun. As I took my seat before the show, I also came to realize that it has been years since I heard a pure unadulterated orchestra live. Mind you, I have seen numerous musicals, but to just hear the orchestra throughout the show without singing gave me quite a thrill. Hearing the violin section warm up gave me such a sense of happiness in my heart that I haven’t felt for some time. I was never the greatest violinist, but I did find great joy in playing it growing up.
Once the ballet started, it was amazing just how fluid and at ease the dancers were. The Corps de Ballet was just as entertaining as the Principal dancers. The second that Marcelo Gomes made his entrance there were cheers, but it was nothing compared the the overwhelming reaction to when Diana Vishneva finally took the stage. The beauty and grace of both of them together was magical. You could see the history they had together as dance partners, and it was one of the most amazing things that I have ever witnessed. It’s difficult to put it into words the type of energy they had, and the emotions I felt when they were dancing. On a lighter note, Misty Copeland added some much needed fun to a rather dramatic ballet. For those who are unaware, Misty Copeland is the only African-American Female Soloist with ABT and the second in its history. For what it’s worth, after seeing her performance last night, and the fact that she recently made her NYC debut in Coppelia dancing the lead role of Swanilda, she needs to be promoted to Principal dancer–STAT.
The entire cast was amazing and I’m so glad I got to see Diana Vishneva and her flawless technique. What was even more surprising was the reaction at the end of the show. During the curtain call, it started normal, but the reaction to Diana Vishneva was so palpable that it had an energy all its own. People stood and cheered for close to 10 minutes without stopping. The entire curtain call seemed to last about 20 minutes as a whole. That experience alone was worth the price of admission.
I needed to see that show last night. I needed to see an art form I have respect for. While unable to dance myself, I needed to feed my artistic soul. I needed the let the creativity that is in me live through those dancers for a night. I needed to see the beauty of movement, lightness, and grace. The artist in me needed it like food for my soul. And boy, was it a good banquet.
Oh, and Happy Anniversary Diana Vishneva! She celebrates her 10 year anniversary with American Ballet Theatre this year!
Below is the quintessential scene from the ballet Manon, danced by Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes at the Dance Open in 2011:
There’s a site that provides creative commons music to the public to download and listen to for free. Sometimes, you can even use it for your YouTube videos and film projects depending on a particular artist’s regulations for distribution. On the website, the artists will put something that lists how they want their music to be used; like this:
You can copy, distribute, advertise and play this track as long as you:
Give credit to the artist
Don’t alter, transform or build upon this album
Don’t use this album for commercial purposes
It’s a great tool for singers and stand-up comedians to use to share their music.
For example, one of my favorite artists is ProleteR. He’s an artist based in France who fuses jazz, hip-hop, instrumentals, and electroswing that’s energetic and super fun to listen to. You can download both his LP, Curses From Past Times, and his EP, Feeding the Lions, for free. Jamendo is not only a wonderful resource for performers, it’s great for audiences to discover new and interesting music from all over the world.