Greetings all, its been a while! Wanted to share a few morsels of art and information for you to keep this blog fire alive. First, lets warm up with a reminder of the amazingness of tap dance:
Next, I was asked to share it…and so I will: an article about Eco-living which features some content by little old me. See link below! My blurb is about saving shower water (an idea I credit to my Grandma) and is below the photo of the bee. I’m not sure how I got on the radar for this Real Estate blog, but I appreciated the opportunity to write and share ideas with a wider audience. Boop! https://www.redfin.com/blog/living-sustainably-at-home/
On the subject of eco-living, I also came across an article recently about mobile phone energy saving tips and thought it interesting that turning one’s phone off vibrate is a way to save energy. Its the little things! If we all pick just one of these little things, we can help the world just a little bit. If we pick 2, so much good will ensue. Plus, ringtones can be fun! See article if you wish to learn something: https://earth911.com/eco-tech/mobile-phone-energy-saving-tips/
That’s pretty much it for now. A very belated Happy World Chimpanzee Day, year 4 to you all! The special day was on July 14th. I didn’t manage to properly commemorate it this year, so look out for next year’s festivities.
How bout some music to close us out. Here’s an artist I have been loving for the past few years. Her name is Sierra Ferrell and she started out as a busker and is really starting to make it big. So cool!
It is quite unlikely but entirely possible that you’ve all been gripping your seats in anticipation, wondering what would happen with all that e-waste I had stored in my apartment for the past few months. Lets pretend that has been the case, for the dry humored among us.
Well, prepare to unclench those fists and breathe a sigh of relief, for I found a free drop off site in Astoria that took everything, all 20ish items listed here. The company, Green Chip – E-waste and ITAD Solutions. Glorious.
Huzzah! So exciting, I know.
No idea where the items went after I left them. A subject for further exploration as the EWAP develops.
Haven’t been seeing as much e-waste lining the streets this past week. Save for a printer I encountered during a long walk through Queens the other day. Unfortunately it was too hot, and the item too heavy, for it to be salvaged. Alas, I cannot close the e-waste loop on my own.
I am curious, dear readers, if you are reading this, might I call upon you to take a tally of electronics you might be holding onto at home, ready for disposal. What are the barriers preventing us from recycling e-waste? Are there any? How do you dispose of your unwanted electronics? Do write in if you have any thoughts on the matter. I’m collecting data and here to help.
And now, onto other topics of import perhaps to no one but myself –here is a list of tap dancers today that are quite spectacular, each in their own special way. I’ve broken them into categories. Mind you, there are a lot of amazing dancers that have been left out here, this is merely a list of dancers that have struck my personal fancy. I am including this list to showcase the variety and versatility of tap as an art and entertainment form and to introduce some of today’s best tap dancers for those who are interested in delving in to the world of contemporary tap.
Most entertaining to watch//best stage presence//most likely to end up on the big screen:
This is an essay about tap shoes and tap practicing surfaces. It is written for those interested in tap dancing and looking for some pointers to get started. It also loosely applies to any musician looking for their first instrument.
First, lets discuss shoes:
Like any instrument, tap shoes come in a variety of qualities and styles. What works for you will ultimately depend on your personal style, what sound you are going for, and your budget.
Ultimately, you really need an instrument that makes you want to play it. One that calls to you and feels good to hold, wear, listen to, and play.
Thats why, if you have the means, go ahead and treat yourself to a decent quality instrument. Also, research what is out there. I made this article to help.
It is possible to sound good with any quality instrument, and its definitely tempting, with the uncertainty of just starting out, to go for the least-expensive option, but let me just advise from experience that reaching for that mid-range instrument is soooo worth it. Its so much more satisfying to play something that is well crafted, stylish, sturdy, and capable of producing a rich sound. That quality will call to you from the corner of the room and beg you to practice. In the long run, you will be happy if you go for a better quality instrument because you will have a quality instrument. And anyway, you may end up spending just as much time and money leap-frogging and experimenting as if you just dropped the extra $100 on the good stuff to begin with. Treat yourself.
For myself, I started off with the cheapest ok-quality pair of tap shoes I could find. As I recall, there was only one option at the store that I went to, so it wasn’t much of a choice. I had no information about what else was out there, so I ended up with a pair of Bloch Oxfords for ~$80. Not bad. I didn’t particularly love the way the looked, but since they were tap shoes and I didn’t know of any other stylish options, I was happy with them.
I could have also gone with these, a real cheap-but-cute option from Payless, but I didn’t:
Eventually, I lost my Blochs in a international shipping blunder in which I threw away my postal receipt before the package was delivered. I’ll never know what came of these or the Cajon sent along with it, *tears. Lesson learned – keep tracking number until delivery is confirmed.
All was not lost, however, since I had already purchased another pair of slightly higher quality tap shoes from a fellow student when I was WWOOFing and studying tap in Berlin. They were made with leather inside and had a thicker “build” – the layer of wood under the sole of the shoe, which made for a richer sound. They were Capezio, purchased in San Francisco, I think model K543, about a half-size too big for me, but they worked.
These felt good on my feet, were sturdy, and sounded nice. Like my previous pair, I wasn’t crazy about the way they looked but I wasn’t aware of other options so I remained content.
Once I got to NYC, the cloudy tap shoe skies opened up and shined a golden, sparkly light of wonder upon me. I saw white shoes and green shoes and gold shoes, embellished designs, custom designs, a whole new world of tap shoe styles I never knew existed. Not to mention the dancers in the shoes and their styles of dancing, I had never seen so many tap dancers and such skill. It was amazing. I had stepped into a whole new world of tap.
I remember once when I visited NYC (pre-Berlin) during a port stop when I was working as a lunchlady on the TSGB, I took a tap class at Broadway Dance Center on one of my days of liberty. It was an overwhelming experience, but fun. After class, I checkout out the shoe shop on site and tried on what they had, which were Miller and Ben tap shoes. I had to use a shoe horn to put them on. They were $300. I guffawed and stuck with my Bloch’s.
Eventually, once I moved to New York and my Capezio’s started to wear out, I moved on to the J-Sams by Bloch. (Jason Samuels Smith model, named after tap dancer Jason Samuel’s Smith). They were the best quality pair I’d had thus far with a solid sound capable of being quite loud since they’re a heavy shoe. These shoes are what I would consider medium range shoes, meaning, they aren’t the top of the line in terms of materials, sound quality, or cost. These ran ~$175 and for that cost, they are amazing. So much better than the ones I had started with, which were kindof ugly and had an obnoxiously tinny, flimsy sound. If I could start over again I would start with the J-Sam shoes and skip the crappy beginner shoes. These shoes sound great, look great, and made me want to dance.
The one downside is the material on the inside doesn’t absorb heat well. It gets dirty easily and thus can get smelly. I learned to periodically wash the inside of my shoes to keep the smell away. Its annoying, but I don’t like dancing with socks so it is what it is.
I have also tried So Dança tap shoes. There was a pair in the shoe bin at my dance studio so I tried them a few times. They were these, which run ~$200:
These are a lighter weight shoe than the Jason Samuel Blochs, their sound is lighter and brighter. They are comfortable, sturdy, and made with quality materials. I was already accustomed to the J-Sams so decided to stick with them, but maybe if I’d started with So Danças I would have preferred them. I consider these two shoes to be in the same mid-range category of goodness.
I have yet to try the tap shoe of all shoes, The Capezio K360s. I’m pretty sure, with customization, they are around $500. Maybe someday. This seems to be the preferred tap shoe among the more advanced dancers. This is their site for custom shoes: Capezio Custom Shoes. There are about 1,000 different color options. Its overwhelming. Miller and Ben also seem to be of the upper echelon of tap shoe. I’ve heard are very stiff and difficult to break in but did try on a used pair once that looked and sounded great.
All this being said, perhaps if I was to start all over again I’d go with the Chloe and Maud tap shoe by Bloch, they’re cute and ~$70. This is the shoe I would recommend for beginners.
As for heels, the whole reason I am writing this today is because I finally found a decent pair of heels! Like the oxfords, I have purchased at least 2 pairs of crappy heels before discovering what is now my favorite tap shoe, the So Dança Chris Matallo Pro TA830. I bought mine 2nd-hand-but-never-worn on Poshmark for $50. I think they normally run ~$200.
This is a great, sturdy heeled shoe made with high quality materials and is built up to create a nice, solid sound. They are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and don’t even really feel like high heels. I had never heard about them before seeing them on Poshmark.
As far as other pro-level, high heeled tap shoe options I’ve glimpsed and heard talk of, there is La Coquette by Miller and Ben, LaDuca Dance Shoes, and Capezio has some, very pretty:
but I haven’t seen where to buy them other than on the Dancing Fair website. Heads up, Dancing Fair is apparently a good resource for someone who wants to get custom shoes.
Below is what I had tried before and would say don’t even bother. I tried Capezios both times, their cheapest heels. The shoe felt and sounded ick and didn’t breathe:
And these below, FYI, are a very common beginner shoe. I would stay away from these or anything remotely resembling them. Do yourself the favor.
Alright, on to tap practicing surfaces. I’m just going to be brief here because ultimately, I have found a good ol’ cardboard box to be the best practicing surface if making noise is an issue. Otherwise, there is the Fasfoot boards, Omara Sprung Dance Floors, and a slab of Masonite or any scrap wood you can find.
As some of you may recall, I introduced the Monkey Lung Cancer Awareness Association (MLCAA) early in this blog and have yet to provide any further updates, because, quite frankly, there were none!
A stunning development in the MLCAA has been made, an actual case of monkey lung cancer has been reported. Riveting.
Potentially a tall-tale recounted by a mischevious co-worker, this is the story of Riad, a Chimpanzee in Saudi Arabia kept by a young man who we’ll call Mohammed, 21 years old, a friend of a friend that Jeremy, my co-worker, met in college in Kansas.
According to Jeremy, the Chimpanzee was purchased as a baby and was 1-2 years old by the time he developed his smoking addiction and lung affliction.
Apparently, Mohammed at first shared cigarettes with his Chimpanzee pal, but over time Riad learned where to find the materials to roll his own cigarettes, and even learned how to light them himself and ended up chain smoking all day. Eventually Riad had to be chained up to prevent him from stealing and to curb his habit. It is reported that he preferred spliffs.
Not much information was given on Riad’s ailment, but apparently his health soon began to suffer, perhaps losing weight and appetite. Signs point to lung cancer but I have no further information to back that up. His health condition could also be due to loneliness, not having other Chimpanzees around, or malnutrition, among other things. In general, Chimpanzees are NOT recommended as pets because they are wild animals and have complex emotional and physical needs that the regular human, ie Mohammed, are not trained to know about or address. Also, purchasing a Chimpanzee is illegal and supports the Illegal Pet Trade which is responsible for the mistreatment of many wild, endangered animals.
Let this story serve as a lesson that #1 Chimpanzees are not meant to be pets, and #2, feeding them cigarettes can make them sick.
This message has been brought to you by the MLCAA, Brooklyn-Santa Cruz Chapter.
Up late after a relatively short day of work and a trip up to Harlem (I swoon) for an Earth Day art show put on in a fancy apartment, showcasing the work of another garbage artists named Daniel Lanzilotta.
He makes work using all sorts of plastic bits he finds strewn about the streets of the world:
This piece in particular includes Tropicana orange juice bottle caps (the orange disks) among other items he has collected around Brooklyn and melts down into funky shapes.
Lanzilotta uses art to speak about plastic pollution and how it is affecting our oceans. He mentioned lighters as being the number one harmful litter he finds due to the butane and other chemicals inside which leak out onto the street when they inevitably break, eventually making their way into our oceans after rains and such.
He is collecting 1,000 lighters for an upcoming piece which he described briefly and which I’ll keep an eye out for and report back about. Coincidentally, lighters have been on my radar lately, as I have been collecting lighters and Juul pods (e-cigarette butts) during my walks around Brooklyn and Manhattan. I recently assembled these colorful items a canvas (also found in the garbage). One man’s trash is another’s treasure, no? Take a look:
Ok, enough about me. The takeaway point I got from Lanzilotta as he spoke about his work is #1 don’t use plastic. Is that possible? Hope so!
As a group, the gallery attendees were encouraged to discuss ideas of things we could DO to raise awareness in society about plastic waste. The main idea I heard was to try to have a plastic free day, and to invite others to do so as well. May be harder said than done, considering most of our clothes, our shoes, our brooms, our toothbrushes, etc etc have plastic in them. I even heard plastic is now being found in salt chrystals…so we are eating it. Oy vey.
Well, lets stay calm. Remember, it’s all about baby steps. Identifying the items in our lives that are made of plastic and slowly replacing them with non-plastic products is a good way to go. Doesn’t have to be an overnight transition! Baby steps…
So, to close for the night I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Earth Day.
This year marks the 49th celebration of Earth Day. To commemorate the day, Jane Gooddall released a video wishing everyone a happy day. In the video she thanks us for even thinking about Earth Day and encourages everyone to think about our “blue and green planet” everyday, to “make a commitment as individuals to do all we can to get together with other like-minded individuals so that we can ensure a healthier planet for future generations.” So, here’s to doing that for the rest of 2019 and beyond!
And now to really close it off, some tap videos!
Leo Sandoval, Artist in Residence at the American Tap Dance Foundation and member of Dorrance Dance at the Something’s Afoot New Choreography Showcase this past Saturday:
And me and my teacher Christina Carminucci at ATDF last week, working on a piece Christina is choreographing for this class for the adult showcase in June. The song is called Stormy Weather by Oscar Peterson. Enjoy!
Oh, and I saw this the other day and liked it as a message to stand up, sit down, speak up for what we believe is right:
As soon as we all unloaded from the bus from Jordan and waited in another line to cross the boarder into The West Bank, I could tell something was up. There was tension in the air as we queued up to have our documents reviewed and to proceed across the boarder. It was taking forever.
A Palestinian man waiting behind me made disgruntled comments about how long it was taking for the officials to review another person’s documents ahead of us. I nodded as if I understood his sentiment, even though at that point I hadn’t witnessed any injustice. Beurocratic processes are notorious for being painfully slow everywhere, I thought, so I wasn’t that disturbed by the hold up. I did notice it was a Palestinian person the man was referring to, but again wasn’t sure if it was a coincidence or discrimination and didn’t have enough experience in the land to pass judgement.
Inching along, I finally made it to the counter to present my documents. The officials were Israeli, I came to find, which is strange since we were entering the West Bank, a Palestinian territory.
Technically the West Bank is part of Israel, so I suppose it makes sense to have Israeli government controlling the boarder, but its still a strange situation if you think about it. Usually when you cross into a country, the officials are of that country. Like I said, the land is technically Israel, but we were passing into Palestinian territory so it would have made sense to have Palestinian officials at the boarder. Just sayin’. Especially since the Allenby Bridge is the only border crossing point Palestinians can use to enter the West Bank.
If a Palestinian travels abroad, they are not permitted to fly to Tel Aviv and enter the West Bank from the Mediterranean Sea side like Israelis and other human beings. They do not have the same privileges. Palestinians are only permitted to pass through the Alleby Bridge, which is only accessible by way of Jordan, so Palestinians are restricted in how they can travel abroad. Its a pain. They cannot go through any other border crossing point from the Jordan side either, which there are two of, one in the South via Eilat, and another in the North near the Sea of Galilee. No, all Palestinians have to come through the Allenby Bridge, where I was at the moment being described.
Its a bit confusing but I digress, when it was my turn to step up to the window and present my documents in order to pass through, I was surprised at the way the officials conducted themselves. There were two officials, young military women. The official took a long time to review my passport, passing it to her colleague and the two of them talking between themselves without cluing me in as I stood there, wondering what the issue was, waiting for further instructions. It wasn’t very human, but I suppose any country could have grumpy, jaded border patrol employees. I wont count that as a strike against Israelis, but its worth noting. They were not friendly.
After deliberating and having another soldier come look over my passport, the officials directed me to a waiting area. I didn’t know how long I’d have to wait or why. Apparently, I was not in the clear to pass through and I had no idea what made me suspicious. As I sat there waiting for the next step, the seats around me filled with Palestinian families. Eventually, Hanan came to meet me, as she was also sent to the waiting area for further review. I was glad to have met her, otherwise I would have been much more anxious and confused waiting there alone.
It was a half hour before my name was called. I went into an office with an Israeli man who questioned me about what I had been doing in Israel and what I would be doing next. In the end I think the questioning was related to my visa, as my re-entry into the the country from Jordan would result in my visa being extended another 3 months.
Since I already had a plane ticket out of Tel Aviv a few weeks later, it was a non-issue and I was allowed to continue through the boarder. Simple fix.
So I went through, first stopping to confer with Hanan. I told her I’d wait for her on the other side, not knowing how long that would be. And guess how long it ended up being, by the way….
With no clue where I was, no idea where to go, and no gumption to set off on my own, I waited the entire time for Hanan to pass through, even though I barely knew her.
While I waited, I observed the people passing through. I had never been in a Muslim country before, save for Jordan, and was mesmerized by the clothing people wore, especially the women covered head to foot in black, with only slits for their eyes to see. I found it strange, but that’s just the way things are there.
During my hours of waiting, two noteworthy things happened. First, I met a man from South Africa on his way to Mecca with a group of 13 others. I had never met anyone from South Africa before, and never met anyone going to Mecca, a pilgrimage I had learned about in religion class back in my Catholic School days. The concept had seemed quite mythical, but turns out lots of people really do that, including my new friend, the South African.
The man was wearing a funny little pillbox hat and a white linen tunic and was very nice to talk to. I sat with him for about two hours as he waited for his party to pass through security and collect their bags, one by one. I asked him about South Africa, the wild animals there (chimpanzees and monkeys, of course). He entertained my chimpanzee fantasies and gave me pointers about good beaches to visit, but I forgot all that information because I didn’t write any of it down. Eventually everyone in his party made it through security and they moseyed along, leaving me with my bags to wait in the figurative dark for Hanan to come through.
It had been several hours already and I was beginning to doubt if she’d make it through. Of course she would, but it was taking so damn long the worries began to creep in. I staved them off as I continued to observe the flow of people coming through.
The second noteworthy thing to happen was among the funniest scenes I’ve witnessed in this life. Funny in a peculiar and irreverent sort of way.
It went like this: I had my big backpacking backpack propped up in a corner and was sitting a bit away from it in observer mode. Then all the sudden a pair of devout looking Muslim folks laid down mats in front of my pack and started bowing to my backpack. Well, actually they were doing their prayer ritual in the direction of Mecca, but it looked like they were bowing to my backpack. I found it very funny and wanted to take a photo, but didn’t because #1 my camera was in my backpack and #2 that would have been oh so rude.
I’ll draw a picture and include it here someday.
Finally, after 7 hours of waiting, Hanan came through. She was surprised and glad that I was still there. It was dark out by that time and we took some sort of bus van out of the terminal to where Hanan’s parents were waiting for us. They had arrived hours before, not expecting to have to wait until 9 pm to pick us up. No one expected it to take that long.
In the drive to Hana’s parents house I gazed out the window into the night as Hanan’s father talked about life in Palestine. I got my first glimpse of the wall and learned that inconvenience and waiting are not at all unfamiliar to Palestinians living in the West Bank under the Israeli occupation, which is what the situation is, I was learning for the first time.