Friday, August 9, 2013

London Premiere

This week I received the wonderful news that my film will be premiering in London next month at the Portobello Film Festival. It took awhile for it to feel real. I kept thinking that at any moment I would get an email saying that they had made a mistake, but instead I received a confirmation email that read it was all real.

The first email I got asked me to send stills from the film to the program designer and nothing about my film being played (but, really, why else would I be sending stills directly to the designer). Then an email requesting an exhibition copy. Irregardless, I did not believe it until I saw that email with the date, time, and location of when the film would play that I could get excited. And breath a huge sigh of relief that my film will an awesome premiere.

How cool is it that Portobello Rd runs through Chelsea District? That makes me pretty happy, too.

 (Picture Sources: Top, Bottom)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Four-Year-Old Dancing DJ

My daughter has become the new DJ in the house and she is always putting music. I am not sure how she picks the CDs she just seems to grab one out of the cabinet, but it is so fun to just listen to whatever. It is all music that I bought at some point so I like everything. The other day when I just something soft and peaceful; she put on the Doors. Not quite what I was thinking and immediately I was thinking of ways to switch the CD without her getting upset. The thing is, by the second song my toe was tapping and my mood was better. So now I just go with it and, beyond simply music, I enjoy many, many dance performances throughout the day. My daughter has an amazing sense of rhythm and each dance is truly inspired by the musician she chooses. It is wonderful to watch.

Friday, July 19, 2013

For Your Listening Enjoyment

CAKE "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" from Grady Sanford on Vimeo.

My daughter was putting music on in the living room and yelled to me that she wanted to listen to Short Skirt/Long Jacket. As I was preparing lunch I yelled back that she would have to wait a minute so I could finish up before finding the proper CD. She walked into the Kitchen holding up Cake's Comfort Eagle and said, "Isn't this it?" Then I think she might have rolled her eyes. Do four year-olds have that ability?

I am not sure if I should point my finger at her saying, "don't you roll your eyes at me," or if I should just pat myself on the back for instilling a good musical base in my daughter. In reality I think I just mumbled, "Yeah, that's the right CD." I mean she is four, how did she do that?

By the way, this video is awesome.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sunday Mornings

I have decided that getting up early on Sunday morning and heading down to Pearl Street is one of my new favorite things to do. The parking is free and there are spots galore. No line at the coffee shop and barely any kids on the rocks (though on mornings with no kids, my daughter is slightly disappointed). Colorado mornings are nice and cool so I don't get overwhelmed by the heat either.

A few mornings ago as we were leaving we happened upon a  group of bagpipers preparing to march. We hung and watched them warm-up and then head on down the mall. You never know what you are going to get on a Sunday morning. I guess there are still surprises in this town to be had; sans huge tourist crowds.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday Dance Video

Justin Peck and Janie Taylor, The Block Magazine from Justin Peck on Vimeo.

I watched this video a really long time ago and there is something about it that stays with you. Perhaps, it's her hair or something about her presence. It isn't perfect; the digital color grading bothers me a little or perhaps a lot. The feel that they are going for is interesting - I just miss when people use to do things in camera and I think they could have done this in camera with lights and it would have been better. Unconsciously color grading feels as though it isn't real and couldn't be captured with actual light. Even if something is meant to feel magical and mysterious it needs to be rooted in some type of reality or else it just feels false.

I understand that this is a fashion video and it, perhaps, succeeds in that way, but I have seen fashion videos or commercials that rise above their purpose and I wish this one was able to do that. I feel it is really close. The filmmakers are competent, but it feels as though they don't have a grasp on what they are creating. This is painfully obvious after reading this interview with Janie Taylor where she points out that they just wanted her to "dance around" and she had to bring Justin Peck into the production because she thought if she just danced around she would look stupid. I so love that the ballerina is the one who truly made this piece work and not only by her presence on film, but also her artistic knowledge and valuable insight.

To me the idea that it begins with the man being viewed as if he is merely a sculpture is really intriguing. The woman comes in and begins to interact with this object, she brings him to life, but then the piece just ends with no conclusion or understanding of the power of the choreography. That is the failure of the filmmakers because they had something that they could have really plugged into and created something amazing, but they don't appear to connect with what is going on in front of them. It is really disappointing when something has such great potential and it isn't realized.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stress Eating

For the past week I have been working on getting the film out of Final Cut Pro (the editing software I use) and creating a Blu-Ray disc. The film has gotten into the White Sands International Film Festival in Las Cruces, NM. It is very exciting because it is very close to El Paso, TX, where Traci Gilchrest, one of the subjects of the film, is from and her friends and family will be able to attend.

The sort of work I have been doing has completely tied up my computer. Some of the compressing that I had to do took 18 hours and if I opened any application other than the one I was using the compressing would stop. It was a difficult week and it is not over yet. I still have not made the Blu-Ray that I want. Sigh.

When I get completely stressed out I tend to resort to eating sweets and to be completely honest drinking slightly too much wine. I made these cupcakes a couple weeks ago, but on Sunday when I wanted to pull my hair out, I took a break and made some more. Sometimes it is the baking process itself that calms me down a little bit.

These cupcakes are just the basic chocolate cupcake from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with the vanilla butter cream and some pink sprinkles. Yum.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Zach G and Fiona

Zach Galifianakis is popping up all over the place to promote The Hangover III. For some reason I keep thinking about how I was first introduced to him with Fiona Apple's video (included in the specials of Extraordinary Machine). It still cracks me up.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rainbow Cake

For my daughter's birthday we had a rainbow themed birthday complete with rainbow cake. I don't know why I was so intrigued to make this cake, but at times I wish I had just gone with the chocolate princess cake that my daughter requested at first.

Most of the recipes I saw on pinterest and the like where often from box mixes or this Martha Stewart recipe that did not appeal to me for some reason. I chose to use this vanilla recipe from Smitten Kitchen - I pretty much love all the recipes from the Sky High recipe book and I need to get myself a copy soon. Fairly quickly I decided that I could not stomach using traditional dyes in the cake. I had bought the dyes and just stared at the box thinking that there was no way I could eat something saturated with it. It is one thing to have the frosting be dyed, but the whole cake was too much for me.

I ended up using the natural dyes you can get at Whole Foods and some of them ended up pretty faded (particularly anything that involved red), but once it was all together it didn't seem to make a difference. There were many times during this process that I thought it would be an epic fail, but it turned out good and tasted awesome.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday Dance Video

Awhile ago I was worried that all I would end up posting on a regular basis was dance videos and now it seems I haven't posted one for too long.

I became aware of these videos by the Royal Ballet after this post a week or so ago on this blog. I love Alicia Markova (I read her biography when I was in 5th grade and became obsessed with her. I tracked down every dance video I could find of her) so I was immediately intrigued by the post.

These videos seem to be from a lecture and there is nothing uniquely special about how they are filmed. Most live events are shot similarly. What I love about these is the purpose behind sharing them and creating each short video. So often dance companies seem to post random shots from rehearsals or a performances into a montage video and it is really boring to watch. I love how these videos are giving us information about pioneer ballerinas by showing us how and what they danced. It is such an interesting way to learn about ballet history without just spewing facts out at a viewer.

I really loved watching the Fanny Essler piece - the dancing so interested me. I also liked the dancing in the Anna Pavlova piece, but the costume was a bit too much.

Of course it would also be fun to do something of the same purpose by not just shooting a lecture, but making short films. Hmm...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Music on Pearl Street

A few weeks ago we had the chance to watch a friend and his quartet perform on the Pearl Street mall. One of the loveliest parts about living in Boulder is watching all the buskers perform downtown. When I was a teenager (or perhaps preteen?) I was able to dance with my ballet school on the mall and it was by far my favorite performances ever. I don't know what it is about being down there, but I love it. Even just spending an afternoon with my daughter playing on the rocks and a busker playing music - just a man with a guitar (or banjo) is rather idyllic to me.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cinco De Mayo Cake

I know I am really behind on posting pictures of the cakes I made last month, but I still want to share them. For this particular cake I don't have the greatest pictures of the final cake, but I love the pictures I have of me while baking.

I used this recipe with just a little more cinnamon to bring out the Mexican Chocolate-ness of it. The filling didn't work for me at all and I had to re-do it using this ganache recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It worked perfectly and even added a little cinnamon and substituted honey for corn syrup. I am not big on whipped cream frosting and was worried about it holding together a triple layer cake so I used my go to buttercream recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but adapted it by using Amaretto in there. It was fabulous.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The New Orange

For awhile there I was doing pretty good at regular posting, but then we all got sick in the house and I fell behind on everything. My daughter has also started taking swim classes three days a week so I need to figure out how to revamp our daily schedule. I think this is sort of how it goes with writing a blog though. Unless the blog is your main source of income; there are times in our lives that we have to focus our energy elsewhere.

Our neighborhood has been abloom with oriental poppies. During walks to the park I have noticed some backyards that are completely covered with them. They seem to grow almost like weeds around here. I don't recall ever seeing them, in a substantial way while in North Carolina (daffodils/jonquils were predominant there) and in Denver we didn't live in an area with yards. In the past few years orange is becoming a favorite color of mine. It started with a painted chair, then a rug, and now I even have an orange shirt. Who'd have thunk it?

Friday, May 31, 2013

On Pearl Street

For the past for days my daughter has a cold nothing to bad, but sick nonetheless. Now I am not feeling so hot today either and have spend the day sort of dazed. Oh well, does anyone get a lot of work done on a Friday anyway?

Last week we were hanging out in the sun on Pearl Street Mall. It is an outdoor mall and I played on the same rocks that my daughter plays on now. The only difference is that now they have this sort of soft cork like padding around the rocks and in my day it was just pebbles. There are also lot's of buskers on the mall and this particular day there were a couple of nouveau hippies and they sang my daughters song! It was pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dance on Wednesday

I know I should be posting a video right now, but I couldn't find any that I thought were worthy of commenting on. At least where I would be saying something new. I only spent time looking last night so by next week I should have more to comment on. Instead I thought I would share some wonderful photographs of ballerinas. These are of Alessandra Ball (featured in my documentary!) from the Ballerina Project. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I hate that I disappeared for a week or, perhaps, longer. I don't know the exact length and am not sure that I should count it; I might not like the number. My official excuse is that we had family visiting from North Carolina. I have also revamped my film festival strategy and it is considerably more time consuming. Though I think I can take a week break from it while I play catch-up in other areas - like this blog.

When I did get a few minutes on the computer last week I have to admit I spent them somewhat wastefully looking at blogs and perusing pinterest. If anything though I just needed a little time to relax and that did the trick. I only started a pinterest account a few months ago, but am starting to see the benefits (check out my boards here).

Recently, I keep coming across homes with pianos in them and I have been really wanting on (like in the above picture, found here). The new thing seems to be to paint the pianos and I really love how they look and they seem to be a great accent piece. I don't play the piano so it might not be practical in that regard (maybe my daughter will?) yet I think it can add a lot to the house. Plus, if anyone ever visits that does play it will pay-off. Maybe, I think they are a pain to move. So I hear.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rainbow Cake Breakfast

Today was a beautiful day. Apparently there were record temperatures all over the state, but around our house there were threats of a storm and it never seemed to get to hot. I made my daughter a rainbow cake for her birthday this past weekend. The colors are not quite as vibrant as some rainbow cakes because I used natural dyes. It still looked pretty good and it tasted good as well. The cake is six layers. I have pictures of it the day of and will post them soon. This is just a tease.

We have been eating cake for breakfast and today my daughter thought we should eat outside and she set everything up for us. It was pretty wonderful.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Back to the Doc

Now that I have two birthday parties under my belt. I really need to focus on finishing up the very last, last edits on the documentary (see the trailer). That will be my goal this week. I also need to paint my desk and write a piece for DIY Dancer. At some point in time I hope to have a day with nothing major on the horizon. I wonder how long that will take?

Last week amidst all the party planning I was also revising my festival strategy for the documentary. It has not gotten into anything, yet, which isn't as awful as it seems. So far I have only heard back from fairly big festivals (not the biggest of big, though, I don't apply to those because it is nearly impossible to get into those by simply just sending your film and paying the application fee - there is much more to it), and I had very, very small chance of getting in to these festivals as well. I believe I needed to give it a go anyway so I will have no regrets about my festival strategy.

Now, I am working on sending to regional film festivals. The sad thing that I have learned in the past few months (from comments that have trickled in from festivals and the like) is that people really do have a stereotype against ballet and even if they like the film it gets categorized as for dancers. Unless a documentary is a social issue documentary, which I happen to be tired of watching (so many of them veer so much into propaganda), I feel as though I am always watching categories - fashion, running, art, pet cemeteries. I watch them all and learn something from each one. So why can the attitude not be the same for a documentary on dance? I can't help thinking it has something to do with the female aspect of the field.

I am taking all of this and trying to adjust my strategy accordingly. I have been contacting programmers before sending the film to gauge their reaction to a ballet film. Some have been surprisingly honest and admitted they can see how the stereotypes of ballet may alter their perspective. Seeing as how they are engaging in a dialogue with me about it makes me believe they will be more open when they watch the film.

I do have to say it surprises me how many festivals simply don't reply to my email. It seems extremely unprofessional. At least I now know that sending my film to those festivals is a waste of a submission fee! To get me back on track with this documentary I thought I'd share some photos from the film today. What do you think of them?

Lastly, I am trying to work out the layout of the blog so forgive me for all the random buttons and whatnot - it should look better soon. Hopefully.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Biscuit for My Thoughts?

 I am getting overwhelmed. So is my daughter. May is a big month for my family. We have two birthdays and Mother's Day within a week of each other. Every year. Just this week I realized I hadn't gotten any presents for my daughter, yet. That is remedied as of now.

Since I have been doing a regular themed Wednesday post I have this great fear that I will end up with two Wednesday posts back to back and it will be oh so boring. When I have thought about the blog this week all I have thought about is that I need to do a Wednesday post and that I don't want a Wednesday post to back up to Wednesday post. Fun stuff.

At some point in time I got so far behind on everything I need to do that I can't even fathom how I will get back on schedule. Or at least not having something looming in front of me that needed to get done a month ago. My house is at an acceptable place, sort of, that is an accomplishment. I still don't have a desk and I need one of those. I have one that needs to be repaired and painted, but it won't stop snowing/raining/threatening either.

At some point during my mom's surprise party I was convened with others in the kitchen talking about flour storage. I actually love this topic - I use a lot of flour. Back in the day, like my great-grandparents, they had built in sifters in cabinets and furniture because using flour was more than likely a thrice daily occurrence. I may not use as much flour as they did, but I never sift when I more than likely should (I whisk the flour). If only I had a built in sifter.

I write this now because for some reason it comforts me to know that in the midst of all this confusion and things left undone in my life, food is often baked in our house nearly every day. I think that is an accomplishment. Yesterday we had scones for an afternoon snack and they day before we had egg biscuits for lunch. This afternoon I will make a cake for a four year-old's birthday. Rainbow themed.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday Dance Video

    So I know I have been a real slacker this week about posting, but in fairness to be both my mom and daughter have birthdays this week. This video isn't really a dance video, but I think it is so awesome. I want to make a documentary about an flamboyant Italian man. How fun is that to watch? I love how they just march into New York City Ballet and take control. Everything will be about the dresses. And really everything has to be about the dresses because those creations are insane. I particularly love the re-invisioning of the tutu.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Music Memory

Tonight I went to see my friends dance performance and one of the dances included John Prine's "In Spite of Ourselves." I listened to him A LOT growing up, but that is okay since he is pretty awesome. My sister and I have discussed this and he is the only they overplayed that we didn't get sick of. For instance I'd advise never playing Lucinda Williams for my sister; particularly Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Depending on how she feels you'll get either an eye roll or an earful. I wonder what band/artist will drive my daughter crazy in the coming years? So far she likes everything I like. I know it won't last.

Years ago I saw Patty Griffin and John Prine in North Carolina. It was good. Patty Griffin came out and sang with John Prine. An audience member taped half of them singing "In Spite of Ourselves." It's just as I remember. In that youtube kind of way.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wednesday Dance Video

Waterdrops (longer version) from Altin Kaftira on Vimeo.

I really like the beginning of this piece, but it starts to fall apart for me with the effects toward the end. When it appears that there are multiple dancers it feels as though it might be going somewhere, but then you realize that it is just an effect. There is a notion out there that if you label something experimental or non-narrative you can just put a bunch of cool images together and that's it. That is not really the case. There usually is an idea that the filmmaker is working through or they are experimenting with something and seeing where it will take them.

Experimenting with effects is really boring. I know that everyone has to do it once, but that should be the only time. In an editing class I made my students use as many effects as they possibly could and by the end they hated effects and realized that shooting in camera and using straight cuts was the most powerful. They passionately hated the assignment and tried really hard to get out of doing it. I think it was the best project I ever gave. From that point on they were constantly asking themselves and each other, "Why are you doing that? It doesn't seem to mean anything. It looks cool, but...what does it add?"

If the maker of this piece had asked the same questions then his video may have gone somewhere and kept me engaged.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Little Sunlight

All day I have been challenged with wanting to write something here, but have just stared at the blank space. A started my day off with a dance class and while it wasn't a class where I wanted to cry at the end; it did leave me feeling as though I am somehow getting worse instead of better. Sometimes it is hard to return to something you did when you were a teenager because I always think how I used to be able to do that, why can't I anymore? Then I get in my head and everything is downhill from there. My goal in class is to find a way to get out of my head and just dance no matter how awful my technique may be now. I think it will help me in more ways than just in ballet class.

In the last few minutes of this day I should try to remember something positive about this day. It was a sunny beautiful day and my daughter played in the sprinkler. Before I left for class my daughter was curled up in my dad's lap and they were reading the Little Mermaid. That made me happy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Thing About Being From Colorado...

 AHeirloom's Colorado State Shaped Cutting Board

Whenever people make a special item that is shaped like your state - you kind of get screwed. Sigh.

Of course, I do have a North Carolina shaped cutting board. And, in reality, I could say that all of my cutting boards are shaped like Colorado.
AHeirloom's North Carolina State Shaped Cutting Board
Find your state here.

(picture sources: Colorado, North Carolina)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday Dance Video

Deep End Dance from Conor Horgan on Vimeo.

Making Deep End Dance from Conor Horgan on Vimeo.
Sometimes I start to feel as though I just hate everything. But, when something good comes along it only feels that much better. I really love this short dance film. It has a fully realized concept and a very sweet story.  Most importantly it needs no dialogue.

Along with the short film there is also a making of documentary. Even though it is a little annoying when people make these for short films (particularly when it is longer than the actual piece they are referencing). I did love how the director called dance films "cinema at its purest."

It is not quite fair to call silent films silent because there was always sound in film it just wasn't synchronized sound that allowed for peoples voices to match the movement of their lips. Often, it is considered that the art of filmmaking was greatly hampered by the advent of talking pictures in the 1920s. Just prior to 1927 the camera was really free and being used in amazing creative ways. Once sound came along it forced productions into sound studios and, since cameras were so noisy, they were sequestered into boxes and rooms and treated as though they were a problem (instead of the tool of the artist). This hampered the experimentation and exploration that was going on and it is often thought that filmmaking has never artistically recovered from that moment.

I love the idea that dance films could become the new way of connecting to this gap in our artistic growth. It also makes it understandable why it is so hard to make dance films, and even simply dance moments in films, truly great.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Snow is Beautiful

We have been having another spring snow leaving us with nearly a foot of snow. I know lot's people are not enjoying it as much as me, but I love spring snow. It comes down in huge flakes and covers the grass quickly. Trees become coated in white and everything is quiet. The roads stay nice and don't become dangerous.

This afternoon the sun is coming out in full force. The sky is blue and the snow is rapidly disappearing. Already the roads are completely dry and the icicles are dripping. For the rest of the week the temperatures should be in the sixties and by tomorrow snow will be a distant memory, perhaps for only a few days if I am lucky.