I had the pleasure of going to another London Jazz Festival gig last night (my 2nd within a week – first one being Herbie Hancock last Sunday!) I went to see cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdez and his band the Afro-Cuban Messengers. I enjoyed the gig (though I think I prefer Herbie Hancock as a pianist) but what stood out for me last night was the support act Ibrahim Maalouf. His song “Beirut” just blew me away. It was so powerful and so emotional – going from heart-wrenching & hauntingly beautiful to heart-pounding, gut-wrenching emotionally charged power. As I listened it conjured in my mind floating images of the war torn streets of Beirut from the eyes of 12 year old Maalouf.
Before playing he explained the story behind the song, which was a journey – it was in 1993 as a 12 year old that he was able to return to Beirut alone for the first time (his parents having fled to Paris during the war) and he wandered the streets with his walkman, earphones plugged but playing no music, instead composing music in his mind and looking at the bullet marks in the walls of homes which had been rebuilt so many times over during the war that not much of the devastation was actually visible.. but after walking for a while, he sat and rested for some time.. and then suddenly when he got up again he noticed a street in front of him completely devastated and abandoned – something that he had actually been looking to see – but in that moment he was listening to (having just discovered) Led Zepplin and the combination of seeing the devastation and the music actually scared him and he ran away. And so this song tells that journey.
This video is good and in HD, but it doesn’t quite compare with what I heard last night. It simply does not capture to the raw power of hearing it live. And when the song built into a massive crescendo of distorted guitar I could actually feel my blood pounding in response. It was quite an unforgettable experience.Posted on Friday, November 19th, 2010 in Arts | No Comments »
Under The Sperlonga Sun
So FINALLY I have gotten around to sorting through the nearly 900 photos I took on our summer holiday in Sperlonga, Italia in July this year! Only took me all of 5 months. :/ I managed to pick just over 200 photos (believe me it took a long time!) to upload to facebook.
However I decided that my readers/followers on the interwebs also deserved to share in these wonderful memories so I’ve brushed the cobwebs off my old photo gallery on Kazzart.Net, given it a bit of a revamp/design tweak, and have uploaded the photos there too. Below are a select number of photos (45 to be precise!) that I’ve chosen to highlight in this (rather long) blog. You can view the whole album too.
(Note: My gallery was getting inundated with comments spam so I have made comments for logged in users only – I also turned on auto registration so now you can easily register yourself if you wish to make comments – don’t worry I won’t be using your email address).
So let us begin. We stayed for 2 weeks at a wonderful residence called Residence Florenza half way up the town (and cliff side) of Sperlonga. We were only meant to stay for 1 week and then move on to another part of Italy but due to disorganisation we hadn’t booked the 2nd week. In the end we loved it so much here that we stayed the 2nd week also (and luckily they had 1 last apartment available!)
As you can see Sperlonga is just beautiful.. full of bright pink flowers, cobble stones & old faded white/beige buildings.
Every day and night was baking hot. I spent the first few days either soaking up some much needed sun on the beach or exploring this quaint Italian town which was beautiful both in the day and the night.
Of course I spent LOTS of time on the beach, every day, lounging on the beach beds, soaking up that sun, swimming in the clear waters of the Mediterranean sea. Was sooooo relaxing. I absolutely ADORE the feeling of the sun baking my skin. 🙂
I also quickly discovered my favourite cafe in town (which unfortunately happened to be furthest in the old town from our residence). But they served amazing coffee and granita. Yummmm… There was also a fairly decent pizzeria in town with a traditional woodfired oven. Margherita con mozzarella di bufala per favore!
We didn’t spend the whole time in Sperlonga. One afternoon took a half day trip to the nearby Suio Terme in Campania – natural hot sulfuric springs. Yes with the smell too.
Sometimes we explored the town next to Sperlonga, which is called Gaeta. Its a bigger town so it was nice to have a change of scene. We even found some salsa there one night and had a bit of a dance which was cool. There actually was a salsa party on Friday night at this outdoor restaurant/club on the beach between the two towns. We went there twice – one time with a live band. Its great dancing outdoors in summer! Back in Sperlonga, we took a boat trip one afternoon to explore the surrounding coastline and caves and even swam into one of the caves which had a beach inside! Like from a James Bond film. So cool!
Back in town, sometimes I would take walks to explore the tiny streets of this old picturesque town and take photos of random things. 🙂
I really wish I could have stayed there forever! But alas the holiday was over all too soon. On our last morning, I just had to go for one last dip in the sea. And of course get myself some purely awesome gelato!Travel | 4 Comments »
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”
So I recently discovered that the hip-hop company I was a trainee with (during the earlier months of the year) just did a major showcase performance at a theatre in London, in which the trainees also performed. I missed out on this due to my being absent from training over the past couple months (due to work and then being away on holiday). I felt a bit disappointed at first, but after reading up on some details of their performance, it occurred to me that actually maybe I wasn’t really that fussed about missing out on this performance opportunity. I mean I really do want to perform – it’s what I’ve been working at so hard since the beginning of the year – but after reading about some details of their perfomance, like their outfits being hoodies and basketball shorts, it made me realise that perhaps their performance wasn’t really my style… and maybe this company is not for me. It is something I had been thinking about even in the first few months of joining. The nagging feeling that I didn’t really fit in there.. that it just wasn’t ME.
Dance is supposed to be something that comes from within, a reflection and expression of your person, the hidden language of your soul, the song of your body. And I think I never really felt that with them. I mean I love hip-hop and I want to learn much more of the various hip-hop styles (popping, locking, breakin, house, waacking etc) and be able to use them in my own dancing and freestyling – but the one thing that annoys me is the overriding masculinity of much of this dance form. So call me a big girl, but that’s what I am! And when I dance, I want to express myself.. as a girl. I feel so much more freedom in expressing the girly side of myself than trying to force some masculine aggression out of me because that’s what the dance is supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong, I know not all hip-hop is “gansta” and I even think there is a place for the fierceness and raw energy of hip-hop for a girl. I like incorporating aspects of that in my own dancing because there are times that I feel it too, but going the whole hog and dressing in hoodies and basketball shorts and looking and dancing identical to the boy next to me is just too much for me. I enjoy being a girl. I prefer to celebrate my femininity. Why hide it in baggy shorts and hoodie? I think baggy pants CAN be worn in a tasteful & feminine way, say if teamed with a fitted top.. but I digress *cough*. I just do NOT EVER see myself wearing baggy basketball shorts. Ever.
On the flipside, I’m also not completely on the other end of the spectrum, as one salsa dancing girl friend of mine is – refusing to do any hiphop, or any move looking like hiphop because she considers it “too masculine”. I think there is a happy medium. I think aspects of hiphop can be danced in a way that celebrates being a female (eg there’s waacking). But it’s true that one of the reasons I loooooove dancing latin forms of dance (salsa, bachata, merengue, samba, lambada, reggaeton, dancehall) is because these dances really celebrate femininity and make the most of how a female naturally moves, enhancing our natural body movement to the best of our abilities.
Hm… so what’s my point here? I guess my point is that I choose to stay true to myself. I’m not entirely sure where this is yet. I love aspects of hiphop… but at the same time, it does not fully define my personal expression of dance. I love salsa and other latin dances.. but sometimes feel restricted by the role of girls as “follower” or frustrated by having to be constantly “lady-like” to the point of it being a bit stiffling. Guess that’s probably why my favourite style of dance is reggaeton. 🙂
[Blog title quote from Martha Graham (1894-1991)]Posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010 in Arts, Life | No Comments »
Bloggers Paradox : Version 2010
Every so often I get reminded of the importance of keeping my online persona separate from my real life person. And its becoming increasingly harder in this highly social-media-obsessed age where many people simply do not understand this concept. For them, facebook and twitter is synonymous with other normal social activities like txting your mates. But a few years or more ago, when terminology such as “tweeting” were not mainstream nor common place, it was actually quite the norm for us online bloggers and vloggers to keep a bit of a “low profile” on our online activities in our “real life”. Of course we interacted with fellow bloggers/vloggers/tweeters in the blogosphere but when it came to friends or colleagues from real life, it was as if our online persona’s did not exist. Like we had secret identities. Hence the choice of username was quite important as it was a representation of one’s identity. (Facebook had to go and fubar that idea out the window with their standard of using your real first and last name in your profile.. now ppl even sign up to twitter with their real names. Fools.)
I remember the days of regularly tweeting in secret, knowing that most people around me I interacted with on a regular basis had no idea about this cool little thing called twitter (and before that, it was blogging) which I used to blip (or blog) out random brain farts about anything and everything in my life to strangers-yet-somehow-friends from all over the world, and gain insight in return as I tuned in to their thoughts. It was refreshing. There was a liberating level of honesty gained by anonymity. I’m not talking honesty as in, here’s my address, my personal details, my bank details etc. But honesty in thought and emotion. What I “really” thought about something and how I felt personally. Sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly in a way that people rarely seem to share about in real life (or if they do, they do so foolishly – lamebook is a perfect exhibition of that). Particularly when it comes to the bad and the ugly. 😉
So before I get too carried away with nostalgia, where am I going with all this? Is this about the blogger’s paradox once again? I have visited this issue over and over again.. way back in 2003 and 2004 I blogged about this paradox. It hasn’t really been too much an issue the past few years, but maybe I have been lulled into a sense false security. I am aware that I have broken my own cardinal rule left, right and center. (This being, never to share anything identified by my username with people I meet in real life.) And with everyone around me being blatantly open about their online presences, it’s quite hard to maintain that kind of discipline. It’s all too tempting to want to share my creations, be it video or text, with people I meet IRL. Afterall, I am quite proud of some of them. But I am glad that I have held back sometimes. And I am reminded again of the importance in holding back, even when you feel that you trust a person, you never know. Because this is what I am discovering currently in a certain situation with a certain friend. I thought this person was trustworthy but now I am discovering she is not quite as.. reliable a friend.. as I thought. And I am quite glad I did not share my “online persona” with her. I am glad I have kept that line between online and offline. Yes it’s more work and maintenance, but I think its worth it and I think, for now, I need to remain disciplined.
(Edit: I just realised my last blog post was in January. Really.. how does 6 months go by just like that..)Posted on Monday, June 14th, 2010 in Introspection, Life, Rant & Bitch, Tech Talk | 9 Comments »
Happy (Belated) New Year
Hm… 6 months no blog. Oops. Bad Kazzart! Well I wanted to continue with my tradition of writing a happy new year blog post. Granted this one is somewhat belated, but hey, better late than never right? 🙂
So.. Happy 2010 one and all! Hope people are having a good start to the year. Actually (if anyone is still reading this blog) I’d be very interested to hear about your new years resolutions. I’ve been giving mine a great deal of thought and I’m not sure I’ve come to a concrete resolution yet. Maybe by the end of this blog post I’ll have a better idea?
One thing I am sure of is the general idea of what I want this year. My focus for 2010 will be on quality of life. To prioritise my life so that I don’t end up ignoring what is important to me because I’m spending so much time on things that creep and take over my life. For example, last year I ended up working late much too often and that had a negative impact on my health and body – I was tired and sick a lot, and I never had time to exercise (which is really important for my back problems), either because I was too busy, or too tired, or sick. Well, enough of that!! I’m not getting any younger, having just turned 31 (argh!!), and I refuse to give in to age. I refuse to settle for a mediocre life with mediocre health & mediocre fitness. I refuse to spend most of the year trying to combat my colds and/or combat the pain in my back! (Actually I’ve become quite good at back pain and cold management now).
To help me flesh out my idea of having a better quality life, I recently purchased a book called Brilliant Life: How to live a brilliant, balanced life. I’ve only just started reading it, but will report back on it when I’ve read more.
For now, my idea of having a better quality of life includes achieving some (hopefully all!) of the following:
- No more workaholic Kazz! More focus on personal activities (the things I actually love), less focus on work.
- Get fit, get healthy.. stay fit, stay healthy! This includes regular yoga, cardio/training, and swimming at the gym. I know I can’t do it all straight away, but the plan is to gradually increase my workouts from once to twice to three times a week.
- Dance more often with more variety – keeping up my samba and salsa, getting back into hiphop and jazz and hopefully lambada (if my back/neck issue gets fixed by improving my fitness)! Of course I can’t do it all every week, but over the first month I hope to attend a good selection of different dance classes to start, and then I’m sure I will settle into a regular pattern of those which I enjoy and benefit from most, interjecting them every now and then with something different to keep me on my toes (so to speak ;))!
- Get back into playing piano – and then later this year, start some sort of music project (either by myself or with other musicians)
- Sleep earlier on work nights – VERY IMPORTANT! I can’t function if I don’t get enough sleep which renders the 3 previous points incapacitated
- Make vlogs again – I have been looking over some of my old video blogs and the creativity I put into them. I realised, I don’t want to stop being creative! I enjoy it and I take pride in my creations. So my youtube viewers should be happy with this one. 😉 But yes, I want to continue to create videos.. especially now I have a shiny new 16:9 digital camera to play with.
- Nuture and develop the few female friendships I have. I don’t have many friends in London, and I realise now that it is unrealistic to expect the same wide circle of friends that I had in Sydney, seeing as I spent 20 years of my life growing up there. So my aim instead will be to nuture the rare friendships I *have* made here – at the moment there are 2 or 3 girls with whom I plan to make sure I spend time with and get to know better. Maybe even organise a regular girls night out with the 4 of us. Oooh.. maybe even a girlie club of sorts.. à la Jane Austen Book Club.
All of these should be made easier now by the simple fact that I have just moved in with the boyf. Yep big news! We did it the first weekend after NY. I’ve now moved into a house recently purchased by my boyfriend, in central London. This will make my life SO much easier – no more going back and forth between my place and his, splitting my time, packing overnight bags.. no more daily commute from the outskirts of London. I’m now much closer to work, to my dance classes and to the salsa nights we attend. 🙂 Of course it’s not gonna be all smooth sailing – we have a myriad of home rennovations to complete – we’re re-doing the kitchen and bathroom, we have to furnish the living room and tennants room (we’re renting one room out). I’m up to my eyebrows in home improvements right now. Learning all sorts about kitchen laminate work tops, cabinets, where the boiler can and can’t go, the inordinate cost of modern bathroom sinks and ceiling halogen spotlights etc etc etc. So that is the main reason it’s been a slow start to 2010 for us. But believe you me, I WILL achieve what I want this year!
This is Kazzart, signing out. See ya’s in the blogosphere. 🙂Posted on Friday, January 22nd, 2010 in Introspection, Life | 2 Comments »