A New Revelation – I

A video that a friend shared on Facebook this morning (which I will put up on a separate post) reminded me of one of those occasions that brought pure joy in the theatre. A joy that was about the energy of sharing something with a group of performers and 900 others that I fear may be a thing of the past. I can only hope with all my heart that fear doesn’t become the reality of the future.

Willy Or Won't He

At the end of last week’s performance of Revelations by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre I joined the rest of the audience at the NAC in the ubiquitous Ottawa standing ovation – a tradition which I abhor with all my being. But in this case the pure energy that this marvellous troupe gave off as they launched in to the joyous dance that Ailey created to “Rocka My Soul” more than 50 years ago had  me on my feet clapping and swaying along with the rest of the audience.

Indeed the whole evening, that had begun with Streams – another Ailey piece, was an energizing experience.  But the company, recently revitalized under new artistic director Robert Battle, doesn’t rely on energy alone: the Ailey tradition of a solid ground in the techniques of ballet married to the modern, Broadway and ethnic dance forms was evident in all the dancing.  Ulysses…

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Throwback Thursday


Looks like I missed the 198 anniversary of the death of Napolean on May 5. However in looking at my monthly stats for the blog I noticed that someone had gone (on the 5th) to a post I wrote back in 2012 about St Helena and his exile there.

My friend Gary’s association with St. Helena has given it a special significance in my mind. His fascination with the place was contagious and we often talked about taking 5 day journey on the RMS St. Helena from Cape Town to the Islands. He had decided that if we were going that far we might as well see Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

Much has changed since I wrote that post. Gary died last year without ever getting to St. Helena except in his imagination. The much need – and much delayed – airport finally opened in October 2017 and is serviced by a weekly flight from Johannesburg. The RMS St. Helena, one of the last Royal Mail Ships, made her final voyage from the Island on February 10, 2018 . The occasional cruise ship now includes St Helena on it’s scheduled stops.

In rereading the post for one fleeting moment I paused and thought … hmmm the 200th anniversary of Napolean’s death is only two years away. Maybe … just maybe.

Willy Or Won't He

The approach to St Helena as recorded by James Wathen on a three day visit to the island in the summer of 1812.  From his A Series of Views of the Island of St Helena published in September 1821.  It is said that the view, save for the sailing ships, has little changed today.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death in 1821 of Napoleon Bonaparte; he died in exile, a prisoner of the British, on St Helena – a 47 sq mi volcanic island 1200 miles from Angola in Africa and 1800 miles from Brazil in South America.   Uninhabited when it was discovered by the Portuguese in the 1500s it was to become an important outpost for the East India Company and other English ships on the voyage to the Indies and Australia.  Like many other isolated locations it also served in its early years as a place…

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Throwback Thursday

I thought I’d take one final look at that magnificent Bronzino exhibition that so fascinated me back in 2011. Though initially I was touched by the painting of the Holy Family with St John I find now the image that I recall in my mind’s eye is that powerful and simple Crucifixion that he did for the Panciatichi. Perhaps because I feel it sums up the religious strife that defined so much of the history of that time in that place.

March 14 is – yes I know Pi Day but more importantly it’s National Potato Chip Day! Let’s get our priorities straight here.

Willy Or Won't He

I thought I’d posted more of the enchanting observations on a few of the paintings that were in the Bronzino exhibition that just closed in Firenze. You may recall that Italian author Roberto Piumini wrote doggeral verses in the style popular with the painter and his friends at the Academia and Konrad Eisenbichler used them as his inspiration for English verses. They thought of them as “ways to look at Bronzino”.

I think this is perhaps one of the loveliest paintings I have ever seen of a sleeping child – you almost feel John’s kiss awakening his little cousin.

*“Dear Mary,” Joseph says, “if in a while,
Our little Jesus should awake
And want to eat, I’ll light this little pile
of sticks so you might cook a meal or bake,

But note,” then Joseph adds, “his cousin John
has come to play with him, and when they’re done

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Throwback Thursday

Since I started to revisit the Bronzino exhibition a few weeks back I thought I’d continue.  I particularly enjoyed the symbolism that he used in his portraits – something perhaps lost on us today but that spoke volumes to the original viewers.  And of course the dogs – he could have made a fortune today just doing portraits of people’s dogs.

Oops… March 7 is actually Crown Roast of Pork Day and yesterday was Dentist’s Day.  But since I spent two hours in the Dentist’s chair today I’ll simply switch the two.  I mean who really knew, right?

Willy Or Won't He

In his portraits of the rich and ruling, Bronzino would include props that indicated the various virtues and achievements of his sitters. Take as an example the dog in this painting of Guidobaldo II della Rovere, the first official portrait painted by the Florentine artist in 1530-32 during his stay in Pesaro. No doubt the dog was a favourite of young nobleman but he is also a symbol of his station in life. The animal would reflect his noble origins, hunting being the pastime of aristocrats. And notice how he draws our attention to two things very subtly: Guidobaldo’s hands lead our eyes to the helmet, indicating his military position and to his faithful companion, his hunting dog – there is no doubting his caste. The purpose of the large codpiece was not necessarily to suggest an actual physical feature of the 18 year old heir to the Duchy…

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Throwback Thursday

I was reminded of this post from my second visit to the Bronzino Exhibition back in 2011 when Nicky woke me at 0714 this morning with one sharp bark. This is the norm around here and like Bartolomeo Panciaticchi’s fine hound he is simply reminding us that he is here. Though in Nicky’s case we are being advised that the morning toilet has to be seen to and that canine hunger must be assuaged. Nora allows him to do the dirty work and then she, as senior dog around here, will then partake of his efforts.

February 28 is National Tooth Fairy Day!

Willy Or Won't He

The second visit to the Bronzino exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi was as delightful as the first. It was a chance to examine closer many of the paintings and related works and to read, more extensively, the fine explanations (in Italian and English) that put the works in context. An added feature was the burlesque verses in the style of Bronzino, again in both Italian and English. As a member of the Academia the painter was expected to excel in more than one of the arts. He was a writer of poetry – serious, burlesque, doggerel and limerick poetry all of which circulated among his friends and some of which was published. The exhibition included a display of his literary works including this page, at the right, from a book of his burlesque poems.

In the spirit of this really remarkable exhibition curators Carlo Falciani and Antonio Natali – to…

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