Tuesday, September 22, 2009

African thunderstorm

Hi All,

Stumbled out of bed Monday morning at the crack of 10 with sleep still in my eyes, turned on the computer, scanned my e-mails and played this video that a friend had sent to me...

African thunderstorm

Shared via AddThis

Wow! Play it now, if you haven't yet. I'll wait...

It's magical, fun and uplifting; isn't it?

It really set a positive tone for the rest of the day.

As I mentioned in the last post. I can't sing to save my life but it reminded me that although I can't reproduce a melodic tone I sure can appreciate one. My ear has perfect pitch it's my vocal cords that are demented.

My body can't sit still once the music plays - actually that's a fact that I discovered years ago...

Life drawing class for animators at Sheridan College gave our instructor, Suzanna Wald, the opportunity to expose her students to the finest in music and culture. Classical music often drifted in the background, intended to free our spirits so that our artistic genius could emerge.

Unfortunately for her, many a classical masterpiece has been forever wired into every animator's mind (including mine) with images of Bugs Bunny, dancing hippos or some Warner Brothers lunacy which would set her class into fits of giggling or smirks. Having come to Canada later in her life she did not share the same childhood cultural reference and it took her aback.

So one day, when I was modelling for her class, she decided to change things up, play something we would have no reference to so she put on the Gipsy Kings. Suzanna had spent much of her teen and early adulthood in Argentina and had a passion for all things Latin. So much so that I thought she was Spanish but in fact she was born in Belgium. (In fact I found out a few months ago that she was the author for Spanish for Dummies - I kid you not. I was perusing the book in the ongoing effort to find the best resources with which to teach myself Spanish and lo and behold there it was, her name in black and white.) Anyway, the Gipsy Kings, whom I love, but the frikin' Gipsy Kings!?

Gimme a break!

It was nothing short of torture for my kinesthetically dominant self to endure the hours of heart rending, foot stomping, imagery inducing, passionate music of pure ALIVENESS. Music's vibrations dance within every molecule of my being. Every muscle in my body was cramping up under the strain of trying to remain perfectly still. During the breaks I'd have to run around, shake my limbs, jump up and down to releive the tension. If I remember rightly, I threatened her with severe bodily harm in the future if she ever played anything more stimulating than a waltz.

This video also made me realize why I became a cheerleader in highschool. I know this sounds unrelated but it's really not. Sure there was all the "Yea Bob. Yea Smith. Yea yea Bob Smith" stuff, the running around with pom poms, getting the crowd stirred up to a frenzy but I became a cheerleader because this was the closest I'd ever get to singing and dancing.

It's paradoxical really. I was painfully shy and couldn't bring myself to mingle with the crowd at the end of the game - instead I made a bee line straight for the change room. For a kid that spent most of her time alone drawing, working out, lifting weights, doing yoga (before it was cool) cheering made me seem "normal", gave me the chance to be somebody else and was an incredible outlet for vibrant expression.

The "silent" cheer came into vogue when I was cheering. It was simply the use of snapping fingers, clapping of hands, stomping of feet in rythmic patterns while moving into and out of formations - interspersed with jumps here and there - with the voice used minimally to maximum effect. We spent hours working out those patterns of percussion and perfecting the synchronicity of our movements. And, when we went on centre court to debut these "cheers" we were more than cheerleaders - our bodies sang and became music itself!

So, as I watched African thunderstorm, the stunningly creative, simple beauty of the singers as they used their bodies and voices to create sound and invoke image - my heart sang.

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