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Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

Being A Creator

I’ve been contemplating the concept of creativity lately. My theme for 2019 is Create. One of my ways of being (ie how I most want to show up in the world – a concept I learned in The Holiday Council) for both last year and this year is “creative”. Thinking back, I have always had the urge to create and to express myself through my creations. It could be writing a blog, creating a video blog, making music, dancing, taking photos for my instagram.. there’s always been something.

But in the most recent years, I feel like I’ve lost a bit of that personal touch. Perhaps I simply turned inward for some time, as I delved into the last 3-4 years of personal development and growth. Perhaps it was that I was swept up, along with the rest of the internet, in the whole social media persona game. Only presenting my very best curated self to the world. And being real somehow became scary. What did I have to offer that was relevant or worthwhile in today’s competitive information-overloaded world, where everyone and their pet has a blog/insta/snapchat/twitter? I’d like to recapture the charm of my old blog posts, but does anyone in the blogosphere really care about what I ate or how my workout went anymore? It’s hard to compete with “Top 5 Ways To Live Your Best Life” (or insert any other topic of self-improvement / life hack / body sculpting / career coaching etc) type of blogs out there. But perhaps it’s not about competing at all. Creating is simply about courageously offering what only you can offer. As Elizabeth Gilbert puts it, “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

Serendipitously, whilst chewing on the self-doubt that crept its way into my mind, I discovered a mention on twitter from 2 months ago which I’d completely missed.

Apparently, my anecdotal personal creations and overwhelming desire to share my life with the world-wide-web inspired someone and changed their life for the better 9 years ago. Wow. That was an emotional moment for me. Especially when they told me I make the world a better place. Nobody has ever said that to me before – whether about my online creations or in real life!

Well.. if that isn’t a sign from the universe that my creations matter to someone..

I guess I have the answer to my doubts. I guess I will keep being a creator.. both because of the positive effect it can have on someone’s life and because it is inherently part of who I am. We are all creators deep down.

more » Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2019 | No Comments »

Ibrahim Maalouf

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.

more » Posted on Friday, November 19th, 2010 | No 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. πŸ™‚

[Blog title quote from Martha Graham (1894-1991)]

more » Posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010 | No Comments »


Hm.. I really need to update this blog more often than the once-every-one-or-two-months that’s currently happening! I mean seriously, you know you’re a lazy blogger when your blogging software gets updated more frequently than your blog posts.

So I was playing with my blog recently, and during some updates I decided to have a play with the Last.Fm Records WordPress widget. I didn’t like how it was displaying the recent tracks album art (bit buggy too).. and seeing as it was written using jQuery (my hands-down fave javascript library), I customised it with a bit of css & js magic to fit better with my blog style. I also added a bit of extra functionality to display the song title/artist info as text (on mouseover). Quite happy with the results now (its the box in the right side bar called “Kazzart Tunes In”). Also I’m quite happy with the fact that doing this sort of thing is now relatively easy for me, due to the amount of experience I’m getting at work. I’m rather enjoying creating cool jquery animations and impressing account managers, designers and flash developers alike. πŸ™‚

So.. enough about work/tech talk. It’s been taking over more and more of my life ever since my recent-ish move in the past few months onto this current client account (which will remain nameless). I am enjoying the work though, which is interesting, creative and challenging (all must-have’s for me to not get bored at work), so I guess I can’t complain too much.

In other news.. got back recently from an amazing week in Sardegna, Italia. It is so amazingly beautiful there and the weather was perfect every single day – blue skies, sunshine and a perfect low 30’s deg C. I am made for the heat. Every day was spent in the sun, either relaxing in the Mediterranean sea or by the enormous pool of our apartment residence. I really wish I were back there right now. Le sigh.

More pics and a holiday vlog to come soon!

What else.. well, I’m still dancing both cuban salsa and zouk lambada. I love both. I’m more experienced with salsa – now I can dance that quite confidently with any partner in the club now, or participate in a rueda de casino. Gone are the days of nervous anxiety, fear of screwing up the steps or worrying about not being able to “follow his lead”. I still screw up sometimes of course, but I recover much better as my sense of the clave “timing” is much more instinctive and natural. I even get son timing. (This is where being a musician becomes an advantage πŸ˜‰ ) Lambada however is not quite at the stage of being able to confidently follow the lead of a partner. However I don’t have the “hang ups” I used to have when I first started salsa. I also have yet to try a proper night out dancing in a lambada club. Not just “have a couple dances after class”. I’m going to try this tomorrow at the London Dance Congress! Going to do the workshops and then go to the party night afterwards. Should be fun!

On the music front.. it’s been a bit quiet, other than jamming with the trumpet player in the London street piano’s festival. However this morning I just managed to arrange a date The Sheridan Trio’s first gig for summer 09 – on Saturday 15 August! I’m really looking forward to it – I really enjoy playing with our trio and it’s been too long…

Another new thing is that I’ve recently completed a 10 week italian language course! (Beginner Plus level). I’ve signed on for the next level (elementary) and classes start next week. It’s tough learning italian, and I don’t practice nearly enough. But I am learning loads, and hopefully will get to a stage where I can start having conversations with the boyf in italian. Not quite there yet!

Well, that’s the latest on the Kazzart news front. Ciao e ci vediamo presto. πŸ™‚

Now playing: Milk & Honey – Didi

more » Posted on Friday, July 17th, 2009 | 5 Comments »

Zouk Lambada

I’ve recently started learning a new amazingly beautiful dance from Brazil called Zouk-Lambada (a bit different from the old 80’s lambada). I’ve only been taking classes fora month but I think I’ve fallen in love with the beauty, passion and grace of this dance. It is different from salsa in many ways, and IMO, physically and technically more challenging.

Below is a video recently taken at my dance teacher’s birthday celebration performing a birthday dance with her husband (who is also a Lambada teacher). They look so amazing together!

She is my inspiration in this beautiful art form and as you watch her dance, I think you’ll see why!

Get Adobe Flash player

(Btw notice the shiny new video player I’m using? I’ve decided to start hosting my own videos.. it’s only a bit of extra work after the video editing – flv compression and incorporating a flash video player into my blog… but seeing as I have the tools and the know-how… PerchΓ¨ No! Why not!)

more » Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2009 | No Comments »

Epic Greatness

I had the pleasure of going to see the great jazz legend Herbie Hancock performing live in London last weekend. He played at the Royal Festival Hall in Southbank as part of the London Jazz Festival. It was very awesome and quite intense. An experience I won’t forget for a while. Being able to see such epic greatness in person (I was 3rd row from the front, in direct line of the piano!) was really.. inspiring. Don’t quite know how to describe it.. but it kinda changed the way I percieved music and my own piano playing efforts.

They ended their set (pre-encore) with this old famous tune, Cantaloupe Island. I was very happy. πŸ™‚

(Sorry for the incredibly dodgy shaky hidden camera work. I had to hide my camera under my scarf the whole time which, as you can imagine, made it rather difficult to keep things steady and in shot. Especially as I wasn’t able to look at the camera screen very often to check the video frame was ok. But the audio is clear and not distorted, so that’s all that matters.)

more » Posted on Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Ain’t Misbehavin

A video clip from our second gig at Piada, which was on Saturday 27th September, 2008. The song is an old jazz classic called “Ain’t Misbehavin”. Enjoy!

more » Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Music makes my world go round

I’ve been getting a rather large dose of music lately. Be it listening to music, performing music, watching people play live music, learning more about music, writing music, arranging music or playing music. And it’s been rather hard work sometimes, especially with trying to balance a full-time demanding career, but I gotta say I’m really, really enjoying it so far. Every aspect.

This week is London Jazz Festival, and I made sure I made the most of it over the weekend by attending two (very different) gigs on Friday and Saturday night. Friday night was opening night, with a fine concert named “We All Love Ella” which was a tribute to the great Ella Fitzgerald – my favourite jazz singer. It was held in the swanky new Royal Festival Hall on Southbank of the Thames River. Me and Kwai had box seats (WAY cool!). There was a full orchestra and big band, and a host of various singers performing songbook Ella classics. Saturday night we went to see Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends of Fania (from New York) perform at the Roundhouse, near Camden Town. The crowd was very, very south american oriented.. the majority seemingly from Columbia (judging by the mass reaction everytime Columbia was mentioned), with smatterings of Venezuelans, Spanish, Brazilian and Cubans I’m guessing. Basically.. the whole gig was pretty much in spanish. The band spoke mostly spanish, with the audience responding in spanish!! I felt like I’d been transported to another country really! But the atmosphere and vibe of the gig was very awesome. Everyone there was just SO into it, and there was heaps of interaction between the band and crowd. There were even people in the crowd with percussion instruments – like shakers and claves. Oh, and this crowd had rhythm. There was no clapping out-of-time simple 4/4… no this crowd could clap not just on the beat, but expertly managed 3-2 clave! I took video from both gigs, so hopefully I’ll get around to uploading something at some point so you guys can get a bit of a listen and looky for yourselves. πŸ™‚

I’ve also now played TWO gigs in London! Yep.. I had my first official gig on Sunday 28th October, 2007. So it wasn’t paid, just a friend of a friend’s party, it was only 4 songs, and I played a bit crap coz the sustain pedal wasn’t working and there were a few stuck keys down the bottom of the keyboard, oh and it was only 67 keys.. but hey, its a start! I got it on video – check it out:

My 2nd gig was another friend of a friend’s party, the weekend before last, but I felt much happier with this one. For a start we had a pro double bass player playing with us – made SUCH a difference. I hate playing without a bass player. We also had a singer for some songs, who also played congas on other songs. AND the venue had a beautiful grand piano for me to play on…. just lovely. We also played about 8 songs this time.. so a much longer gig. I have heaps of video footage, but I still have yet to edit it coz the venue was really dark.

And finally, I’m also really loving music college at Goldsmiths University of London. I’m doing a part time, 6 hours over two nights per week course called Certificate in Music Studies. Its quite cool – I almost feel like a uni student again, except I have full time work on top. But yeh.. it is great.. I love what I’m learning, the teachers are awesome and I’m meeting heaps of great people from all walks of life.. fellow musicians with a common love for music, who are just so supportive and encouraging. It’s really heaps fun, even with the cramming – homework – on – Sunday – night – at – 10pm each week. I mean, the person I’m gigging with at the moment, I met him through Goldsmiths at my Jazz Improv Class last year. So it’s good for networking too! So this year the two classes I’m doing are Musicianship Level 2 in Jazz & Pop and Performance Ensemble in Jazz & Pop. They work really well together – and I actually really enjoy the musicianship class.. probably more so than the Performance Ensemble, even thought the Perf Ensemble is meant to be a more practical class. I actually enjoy the homework for musicianship.. no it’s not boring theory.. it’s basically been all composition.. or various aspects of composition. Writing simple 12-16 bar pieces of jazz & blues music (following certain guidelines which we learnt about in that weeks class).. and I’m loving it.

Ok I should stop rambling coz its nearly midnight, and I’m going to an Ajax training conference tomorrow (which I was at today too). And I have class tomorrow night. Ugh.. Monday and Tuesday’s are always a killer for me.. I’m always totally shattered by Wednesday, and often fall sick too. I was got sick the wed before last, and have only just recovered. *sigh* Methinks I may have too much on my plate. Haven’t even been to dance class in a month (though I still am going) nor have I done much exercise (but I have recently joined the Virgin Active gyms near work and home using corporate discount.. w00t w00t). I just need MORE TIME in a day!! And my body ain’t getting any younger… 8 hours sleep a night is becoming more and more a necessity rather than just a “nice-to-have”. On that note.. good night all. πŸ™‚

more » Posted on Monday, November 19th, 2007 | 3 Comments »

Just to fill in the blank space

Um.. yeh.. been a while since my last blog entry. Life has been a whirlwind of activities. Many of which can be found on various web 2.0 community web sites. Biggest news of the moment is that I got a new job offer from one of London’s top digital agencies. I’m pretty excited about this as I’ve been wanting to work for them since I contracted with them for a few weeks in 2005. They have some really big name clients and the work they produce is always of the highest quality and cutting edge in technology and design.

Ok enough about work. I’m going on holidays soon! Yay! In July, myself, my boyfriend and my brother will be heading off on a big self-drive holiday round Italy. Starting off with flying out to Cologne, Germany then driving down to Venice, then to Florence, then into the Chianti region staying at the World Heritage listed San Gimignano, down into south Tuscany to the hot springs and fine restaurants of Saturnia, then up the Mediterranean coast to the summer holiday town of San Vincenzo, then further north to the Liguria and Cinque Terre region staying a few days at Riva Trigoso, and finally back up to stay in Frankfurt, Germany and visit some old friends. I can’t wait! Italy is my absolute favourite european destination (and not just because of the awesome food). And I really need a holiday!!!

I’ve also been really getting into my piano playing. We had our final performance for the year for my jazz improvisation class last week. I thought this was my best performance and solo out of three we had. I recorded it again and made another video which you can watch below.

I’m also going to be (most likely) starting part time studies at Goldsmith college next academic year. I’m going to be doing the Certificate in Music Studies, which is a modular, part time course equivalent of the first year of a degree in Music. I figured, I would do the modules anyway as I continue to do courses here, so why not get a cert out of it whilst I’m at it? Gonna have to ship my keyboard over here though first.. bit hard learning without a piano or keyboard at home to practice on.

more » Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2007 | 7 Comments »

Oye Como Va

I’ve started a new Latin Piano course at Goldsmith College. It’s great fun!! I had my first lesson last night. There are about 10 people in the class and we take turns on the piano. But whilst one person is on the piano, the rest of us form the band taking on various percussion instruments – clave, bongos, bell, casara, congos. There is a bass player too in the class. It’s awesome! I’ve always wanted to learn this latin style of playing – this class has opened up a whole new world of latin music and rhythm. It’s quite different from jazz. πŸ™‚

One of the songs we did was “Oye Como Va” by Tito Puente – a king in the world of latin jazz. He plays the timbale and he is truly amazing! I found a fair few clips on YouTube, but this one just blew me away. It’s of him and band jamming on the streets of the Bronx, playing for his people.

more » Posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2007 | 1 Comment »