Archive | June, 2014

A Bemusement

6 Jun

During a recent stint as a poll worker, I walked into Lilah Belle’s, an establishment on Divisadero Street near Eddy in San Francisco for my supper break. The City and County of San Francisco has recently refined the break system for poll workers; no more combining of fifteen-minute breaks with lunch or dinner. It’s all down on one’s job card; probably a good thing, particularly for the field supervisor in charge. My particular one was Betty; she was simply stellar with two students and me, the students, Andrew and Gabriella, speaking Mandarin and Spanish respectively. The other refinements were the bags to store ballots, provisional and otherwise; no more plastic sleeves with seals that one numbers. These now are multi-colored, the precinct number appearing underneath a plastic protection pocket. The precincts themselves have been divided, so I didn’t meet up with voters from Mid-Town Terrace or familiar from a particular block of Scott Street and one block Beideman Street lending its name to the neighborhood association.

I do recommend Lilah Belle’s for take out, full meals ranging from $12: salmon, sirloin, chicken, vegetables, vegetarian fare also. I ate cheaper,$6, a wonderful salad made with orzo, tomatoes and cucumbers. But the piece de resistance was a heavily chocolate brownie from The Inspired Cookie, titled Brownie Bliss with the following advantages printed on its label: gluten free, egg free, dairy free, wheat free. Its 3.7 ounces for $3 was quite worth it. However, the biggest kick was a quotation on the reverse beneath the required Nutrition Facts,reading: “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors to you where there were only walls.”

You guessed it; the quotation is from Joseph Campbell, a brownie celebrating one of his amazing directives.
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USA IBC Update

2 Jun

Last reported, the official United States International Ballet Competition was listed as having 109 entrants. The current listing numbers 90, 19 originals deciding not to appear. Thirty-one will represent the United States, ten of them seniors, seven women, three men, ages ranging from 19 to 26. The twenty one juniors, 15 to 18, fifteen are young women, six young men. Japan follows next with seventeen. Of the eleven seniors, seven are women, four are men, the remaining six are all junnios. South Korea and Brasil are each represented with nine aspirants. For South Korea three are women and four men in the senior category, and one junior male and female. Brasil has two senior women and three senior men, three junior women and one junior male entrant. Cuba and the Czech Republic are each sending senior women; so are Mongolia, Panama and the Philippines. Senior Women from the People’s Republic of china will be two and the Russian Federation three. Single Senior male entrants will arrive representing Australia, Chile,People’s Republic of China, Colombia, France, Mongolia, Poland Portugal and South Africa. Cuba and the Philippines each will be represented by two senior men.

Amongst the junior contestants, single medal candidates will arrive from Chile, the People’s Republic of China, Mexico and Peru. And the young men will have one aspirate from Brasil, two from the People’s Republic of China and one from Mexico, Daniel McCormick-Quintero, an advanced student at the San Francisco Ballet School.

The smaller number of competitors represents something of a God send for jurors and audiences. In 2010, over a hundred competed; despite the marvelous clowning of hostess Evelyn Hart, who was a full performance every time she stepped to the podium to introduce a contestant and the number danced, there were just so many classical variations one could observe, particularly the Don Quixote pas de deux with the Diana and Acteon a close second, before the eyes glazed, searching for something to rivet the attention. But this is what makes a competition a competition — how clean can you dance, how well do you phrase,with the music – on top, ahead, or slightly en retart? How smooth are your transitions? Do you look as if you’re enjoying yourself, are the fouettes in place or do they travel, and are they requisite number?

During the competition, bets – not often monetary – start on who will advance to Round Two, traditionally the contemporary one. Veteran observer and occasional juror Olga Guardia de Smoak will have sized the roster up by the end of Round One. She will take her program, appraise it and calculate. Remind me to ask her and report how frequently she comes up dead on accurate. This year, she will be interviewing Jury Chair Edward Vilella at one of the special lunches planned for Competition enthusiasts.

Claudia Shaw will return to record each performance, selling copies of the variations during intermissions, working overtime to deliver DVD’s to dancers seeded and choosing to return home, not watching the remaining sessions, taking classes with the International Ballet School faculty, possibly joining the massive entrance piece devised for opening the Gala, a practice first created by Dennis Nahat.

And in the press room, Vicki Harper Blake will answer questions, computer space, provide special copy, hand out tickets to the press-related folk.

There may be a thunderstorm or two; all part of a June Jackson, Mississippi international ballet competition every four years.