After the Show: the Many Faces of the Creative Performer
Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific American
“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” ― Pearl S. Buck
“Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” - Walt Whitman
Recounting his recording sessions with the young Michael Jackson, famed record producer Quincy Jones remembers that “Michael was so shy, he’d sit down and sing behind the couch with his back to me while I sat with my hands over my eyes — and the lights off.” What a contrast from his onstage extroverted, charismatic and bold performances!
In the CNN.com article “The confusing legacy of Michael Jackson,” Todd Leopold discusses the perplexing combination of seemingly contradictory traits displayed by Michael Jackson. In explaining his many sides, Jackson biographer J. Randy Taraborelli essentially throws his hands up in the air in exasperation as he tries to make sense of the apparent contradictions:
I think that when you’re talking about Michael Jackson and you try to analyze him, it’s like analyzing electricity, you know? It exists, but you don’t have a clue as to how it works.
Creativity researchers aren’t so confused. They have long-ago accepted the fact that creative people are complex. Almost by definition, creativity is complex. Creative thinking is influenced by many traits, behaviors, and sociocultural factors that come together in one person. It would be surprising if all of these factors didn’t sometimes, or even most of the time, appear to contradict one another.
“Third Age” Education
by Gail Packwood
The concept of the “Third Age” in education started in France in the early 1970s with a focus on keeping seniors “intellectually and socially stimulated.” The movement spread throughout Europe and eventually came to Canada.
The cornerstone of this ideology is the availability and accessibility of continued learning and higher education and was the impetus behind the movement to offer free or very low cost university level courses and programs to seniors, something which is now available in many communities across the country.
Simon Fraser University was the first to champion this idea and began its renowned seniors’ education program 30 years ago. They currently offer 15 credits in 5 core curriculum areas with all fees waved for those 60 and older. These courses are entirely populated with seniors as students. In 2009, over 800 people were enrolled. Through this program, seniors can receive a university degree free of charge.
The Université de Sherbrooke was an equally early adapter of this concept and today offers one-day workshops and 10-week courses at 27 locations across Quebec. While these are not full degree programs, with 8200 people enrolled in 2008, it is definitely a huge success!
Here is a small sampling of what else is offered across the country:
York University offers free tuition for those 60 and over as long as you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. This is for both undergraduate and graduate level (masters) non-professional programs. Though if you wanted to attend law school or get your MBA, you would get a discount to do so (but hefty fees still apply).
Ryerson University has a similar offer for its four-year degree programs.
McMaster University requires that you be 65 years of age or older but additionally offers 50% off any of their continuing education courses as well as some degree programs.
Guelph University offers free tuition to those 65 and older but there are some other fees charged. A bonus is that you do not have to meet all of the entrance requirements for all their programs. Additionally, they have a Third Age Learning Series of lectures and workshops that are offered for free or for a very low cost (presently $6 per lecture).
Concordia University in Montreal allows Canadians 55 and over to audit courses up to nine credits per year free of charge. You don’t receive a degree, but you also don’t have to write the exams!
At most institutions, tuition is waved for one degree only. Some restrictions apply and each institution is different so check with each university for their rules and regulations and how to apply.
There are many universities across the country and most offer some sort of free or discounted tuition to seniors. What better time to explore something you had always wanted to learn more about?
Your Public Library
By Gail Packwood
We have mentioned in several previous articles some of the resources available at public libraries across the country. The modern public library has so much more to offer these days than just books!
Obviously, you can borrow books of all kinds from every public library, from adult fiction and non-fiction to books for children and young adults. Many libraries now also carry audio books (books on tape), newspapers, magazines, DVDs (documentaries, movies and even some television programs) and CDs – all that can be taken out for free. Often some materials will also be available in languages other than English. In most cases, if the book or other material you are interested in is not available at your local branch, it can be transferred from another branch and brought in for you – no need for you to go chasing after it.
Within the library you will have access to computers and the Internet, as well as people to help you should you need assistance using them. Community message boards will let you know what is going on in your neighbourhood in addition to the programming that the library puts on itself. Many library systems hold “meet the author” talks and readings, as well as other lectures and workshops on a huge range of topics – many aimed specifically at seniors. Some will also have book clubs and writing groups that you can participate in on a regular basis. Other common programs include adult literacy classes and foreign language programs.
Libraries and librarians are great resources for what is going on in your community and around your city. Librarians can offer reading suggestions, information and advice on government services as well as let you know about how to use the resources available through the library.
And remember, libraries are air-conditioned! Which makes them a good place to stop in to on a hot summer afternoon. Libraries are fully accessible and so your visit should be barrier free.
Today libraries also offer a wide range of material available electronically – from ebooks to magazine subscriptions. For some of them, you’ll need to be at the branch to make use of them, but many ebooks can now be borrowed just like an actual book, only online over the internet through your e-reader or hand held tablet device. This is a great option if you are busy and won’t be able to get to the library to pick up and return your books or if you have mobility or health concerns which perhaps make the trip to the library challenging. At the end of the borrowing period, the ebook will just disappear from your reader, no need to return it – though it can be renewed just like a regular book should you want to keep it for a little longer.
Larger communities will likely have public libraries with more resources and services to offer, however a library in a smaller town with be truly integrated into the community and will have programs that fit the needs of the area. Check out your local public library and see what it has to offer!
Why Should We Dance?
Christina Devereaux, Psychology Today
In the aftermath of a tragedy such as what occurred just one month ago on April 15, 2013 during the 117th annual Boston Marathon, for most of us, our body was left vibrating, questioning, confused, dysregulated, and perhaps disoriented. It is important to acknowledge that even those of us who were not direct victims or physically present at the event, collectively, were still affected. Our bodies take in these experiences and respond to such events. Trauma exists in many forms.
According to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder “a traumatic event is something life-threatening or very scary that you see or that happens to you…. Trauma also includes witnessing someone being killed or injured.“ Media broadcasts showing film footage over and over of traumatic events such as the Boston Marathon bombing are not only mental images but they become bodymemories that for some, can be extremely difficult to process and make sense of.
Traumatic events can threaten our sense of environmental and bodily safety. These experiences need to be processed through the body. Research advances have emphasized the importance of including the body in treatment of any type of trauma. According to dance/movement therapist Claire Moore, ‘‘the sensations and actions that have become stuck in and after a traumatic event need to be integrated in the treatment process, so that the person can regain a sense of familiarity and efficacy in the body.”
This knowledge broadens the options for how people can receive support in order to move forward from common patterns of immobilization that often is experienced by victims of or witnesses to traumatic events. This means, rather than turning inward or self-soothing via means that disengage ourselves from our bodies (drinking, drugs, excessive binging, zoning out in front of the TV), our body can be an expressive vehicle utilized as an active resource to processing feelings.
Studies have shown that dance, in particular, can decrease anxiety and boost mood more than other physical outlets. In a study at the University of London, researchers assigned patients with anxiety disorders to spend time in one of four settings: a modern-dance class, an exercise class, a music class, or a math class. Only the dance class significantly reduced anxiety.
To read the full article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meaning-in-motion/201305/why-should-we-dance
Heroic Theatregoer Smashes Cell Phone, Gets Thrown Out
We can't count the number of times we've wanted to enact vengeance on some inconsiderate audience member whose cell phone goes off during a performance. But, like most people, we just bottle that fury up deep down inside and take it out on the break room vending machine later. Not Kevin Williamson. Last nightthe National Review writer was in attendance at the marvelous new musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 when one theatergoer's incessant cell phone use finally drove him over the edge... into vigilantism.
The stellar production—a swinging cabaret-type musical adaptation loosely adapted from Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace—takes place inside a luxuriant carnival tent nestled next to the Standard High Line. The audience is closely clustered at small tables throughout the room, and while there is food and beverage service before the show and during intermission, the performance itself takes place with zero table service interruptions, and the atmosphere is as quiet and attentive as any other conventional stage play. At least it's supposed to be.
Although each table is explicitly told that photography and cell phone use is strictly prohibited during the performance, the people seated around Williamson were, he says, unbearable. "They were carrying on a steady conversation throughout entire show," Williamson, who also writes a theater column for New Criterion, tells us. "They had been quite loud and obnoxious the entire time. There were two groups, one to the left and one to the right who were being loud and disruptive."
During intermission, Williamson's date complained to the theater's management, but he says he didn't personally witness the theater managers admonish the disruptive audience members. And once the performance resumed, the woman sitting to Williamson's right on his bench would not, he says, stop using her cell phone. "It looked like she was Googling or something," Williamson tells us. "So I leaned over and told her it was distracting and told her to put it away. She responded, 'So don't look.' "
To read the full article: http://gothamist.com/2013/05/16/heroic_theatergoer_smashes_cell_pho.php
$10 million donation will establish Dal performing arts school
Elissa Barnard, The Chronicle Herald
Fred and Elizabeth Fountain have donated $10 million to a new school of performing arts to open July 1, 2014, at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
Accompanied by their daughter Katharine, a singer-songwriter and McGill University student, the couple gave the arts and social sciences faculty its largest donation ever at a festive reception Tuesday in the sculpture court of the Dalhousie Arts Centre, home to the performing arts school.
The $10 million is for programming. With this investment, Dalhousie University has agreed to upgrade and expand the deteriorating Dalhousie Arts Centre, which opened in 1971.
As chancellor of Dalhousie University and a longtime arts supporter, Fred Fountain said he didn’t want the arts left out of Dalhousie University’s Bold Ambitions fundraising campaign, which ends Thursday.
“A lot of areas of the university have achieved very large support from Bold Ambitions but nothing dramatic for theatre and music,” he said.
“The funding for the arts tends to be last on the list.
“Elizabeth and I want to do something special for Dalhousie. We want to do something that will impact the whole community.”
He said Dalhousie’s music, theatre and costume studies departments, which merged into a school of performing arts this winter, are “starved for material support and renewal.”
He also told the gathering, including Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leonard Preyra, that “our governments, provincial and municipal, should support the arts more than they do, and I include in that both performing and visual arts.”
Dancers' campaign launched to improve working conditions
Nicola Merrifield, The Stage
A campaign has been set up to inform commercial dancers about their rights within the sector and to improve working conditions.
Dancers United UK, a campaigning body that has been founded by working artists in the industry, wants to put a stop to unpaid work, which is often advertised as “good exposure”, and to establish guidelines for minimum rates of pay.
The founding members also want to tackle issues such as guaranteed lunchbreaks, the availability of drinking water on sets and payment for overtime.
Reimbursement for transport costs and for dancers expected to wear their own clothing while performing also need to be looked into, according to the organisers.
For its campaign, It’s Up to Us, Dancers United UK has joined forces with union Equity to help secure better standards.
Shannelle Fergus, one of the founders of Dancers United UK, said that commercial dancers, who will appear in promotional films, at festivals, in music videos and live shows, do not have the same regulations available to them as other dancers, such as those in the West End.
She said that rates of pay have decreased “dramatically” over the past five years for commercial dancers and that if this continues it will be “detrimental” to their careers in the future.
“The fact that payment has gone to a standard that is lower than before, to possibly no payment at all in the future is potentially really detrimental to what is a career for us.
To read the full article: http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2013/05/dancers-campaign-launched-to-improve-working-conditions/
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