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I'm caught up, really! I made two hair clips that I forgot to photograph because they were in my hair, so they'll have to wait until tomorrow. I'm also minutes away from completing one of my super secret surprise things so the photo of that will have to wait until it is delivered to its intended recipient. Here is what I have gotten done in the past few days:

Most of the beads in the orange necklace likely date from the 1960s. I thought the short strand was original, but as I look at its asymmetrical bead pattern, I begin to suspect it may have been restrung before. The long strand is made up of original beads, plus some loose gold beads I found, and glass beads I salvaged from another broken necklace. I don't wear orange much, so this one is likely to go to the church bazaar.

The red necklace was one my daughter made me for Christmas when she was little, supplemented by some beads from a little glass bead bracelet of uncertain origin, crystal beads left over from the last hair clip I made, and a few tiny beads from a Dollar Store find. I'm glad to have it back in use, even if it isn't quite the way she designed it.

The blue necklace came about when I found another little prize token of blue pearl with a couple of beads. I used similar ones to make earrings, so this odd pearl cried out to be made into a single something. Then I found a string of silver beads that sort-of matched the beads that came with the pearl, and decided to use a dollar store batch of beads to make this necklace, instead of using them in a multi-strand pearl necklace as originally planned. I still have a bag of Dollar Store glass beads in other shades of blue, so that necklace will happen over the next few days.

Random thought - why do so many foods come with recipes printed right on the package these days? Is it because people no longer learn to cook on home economics or from parents? In this case, the food is a pork roast. It came with detailed instructions on how to make a pot roast pulled pork. For the record, even though I had already looked up a pulled pork recipe, I decided to test this one for a 4 lb roast, in the slow cooker:

Mix together 2 Tbsp paprika, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp coarse sea salt, 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper, and 1 tsp ground sage. Rub into the pork roast and then cook in slow cooker for 8 hours. Remove meat from slow cooker, skim off fat from the drippings, and add the drippings to 4-500 ml of barbecue sauce (I made my own rather than using a bottle, as recommended on the package). Heat through. Use two forks to shred the pork, then combine with sauce in a pan. Serve hot on buns (though we used it on rice).

Tonight I got to watch my girl perform a dance she has been working on for months. She was listed in the program as a special guest performer, which had both of us giggling. She and her partner danced very well, and it was a pleasure to see her dance with real joy and expression on her face, as the two tossed the dance lines back and forth. No pictures were allowed during the performance, of course, and she had peeled off her pointe shoes before I could grab her for a photo afterwards, but I'm still pleased to have a nice picture (even without the joyful smile).

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At my ballet school, we are blessed with having live music to accompany our classes, even in the leisure programs. This is the ultimate luxury, to me, because we don't have to find the right spot on the CD player, and exercises are not dependent on how long the music is. What this means, of course, is that the musician has to have incredible adaptive skills.

Teachers will set an exercise that isn't square (ie a tidy set of things done in multiples of four or eight bars that match standard classical music phrasing). Teachers won't know the exercise before-hand, so they figure it out as they go along and then have to suddenly invent additional bits or cut the music suddenly. Teachers will ask mid-way for music to speed up or slow down. They will set the exercise one way, counting it in fours and then suddenly realize it works better as a waltz or 6/8 and start over, with the musician expected to find new music in about 5 seconds - no exaggeration! On better days, we get through the exercise once but aren't bouncy enoughm, so the musician has to find something that will encourage us to jump, instead of slogging through to the old music.

Beyond the mechanical challenges, musicians need to know an incredible amount of repertoire. They seem to know all the important pieces from the standard ballets, plus an endless supply of classical, some folkloric, popular and even Disney. Last week, we did an exercise to "I Feel Pretty". Two weeks before, it was the incredibly sensuous tango from Scent of a Woman. I have danced to Chopin, Delibes, Tchaikovsiky, and the theme music from The Friendly Giant (Early One Morning, an English Folk Song). On top of this, our musicians write a lot of their own music. This week, our substitute pianist, Elena, played something quite lovely at the end of class. It turned out to be something she had written herself.

When I was a young music student, I thought I would like to be a professional accompanist for dance classes. I had seen pictures of such creatures, but had never met any. I'm not sure I believed they were real. Having gotten to know quite a few of them over the past eight years, I am convinced they are quite magical.


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December 2016

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