edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Horse Walks in to Cavalia… September 22, 2011

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 11:32 pm
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O: Outings

Of Horse, Men and Women

Of Horse, Men and Women

…Why the long face? If horses could do more than whinny, might they say they love the applause of the audience? Might they actually be smiling, but us humans just can’t tell? Might they confess they get a deep satisfaction of what I suspect would be grueling hours of training and traveling? It was too late to stay up and ask these questions of the knowledgeable trainer who stuck around after the Cavalia show last night. After all, 11:00 was getting late for an eight year-old.
 

Even though my date for the night, Ava, enjoyed the show from the edge of her seat, she was left wondering why the horses looked so sad. I shot back: how do you know when a horse is happy? Do they have a lot of expression? These are things I just don’t know. I think they might be sort of neutral on the whole thing, really. They seemed to like their trainers and they’d nicker (sound a horse makes when they see a human who gives them food) quite a bit when the athletic, bedazzled performers came around. If they were feeding them for reward, I didn’t notice.

Scary Backdrops in the Big Tent

Scary Backdrops in the Big Tent


 

Normand Latourelle, the founder and artistic director of Cavalia, says he’s not a horse guy, but talked with trainers who persuaded him to use a gentle approach to training the horses called ethology. Meaning: they ask the horse to do what they would do in nature. “We don’t abuse or punish them. We don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do. We don’t ride them like they are only machines.” I call this out because I know there are differing views, but want to offer that the horses, like humans, are challenged to the limit. And until I can talk to a horse, or see something that proves they’re miserable or being treated unjustly, I’ll take the stance that the horse show is on the up and up.
 

The show in review: The opening had a series of questions and answers displayed in text on the screen. They listed three possible answers to each and asked the audience to give a show of hands for the right answer. I won’t give them away, but say that learning the information about the Cavalia team of horses in this way was inventive and much more inviting than reading it in a show program. Clever. Most insightful – – now if you go you’ll be sure to get these right – – there are 42 horses, 11 breeds and no mares on team Cavalia. They’ve performed in over 20 cities and work on a one night on one night off schedule.

Ready for the Late Show!

Ready for the Late Show!


 

Everyone is so concerned about the horses – maybe we should be worrying about the performers too. Some of the stunts are performed on the horses at top-speed without much room for inaccuracies. Good thing they were perfectionists –  even in the dirt and sand stage (actually very curious about the actual materials in that mix – we got up close, but I did not want to touch).
 

One of my favorite acts was Le Miroir, where the horses and riders mimic each other in perfect synchronization, as if looking in a mirror. Truth be told, I was relived not to be on the edge of my seat worried about a performer being stomped by a horse. Similarly dreamy and relaxing was La Vida where two horses and their riders circled, catching and releasing the fair maidens who swirled above them via wires. In contrast Poste Hongroise transported me to Medieval times. Fairland Ferguson exuded such a confidence in reigning six horses at top speed, in pairs of two, a foot on either of the last pair. Then just add a small three foot jump. Wow, what a ride! A gasp from Ava.
 

There was spring, fall and winter; desert, leaves, rain and snow; all before it ended and power and grace throughout. We compared it to Ovo, which we saw in June. Ava preferred Ovo, mostly due to the fact that she just couldn’t get a read on the horses’ happiness in Cavalia. Ovo was more silly with outrageous costumes as well. And me, ever the indecisive, diplomatic one, said that I liked them both equally for different reasons.  I will say that Cavalia is definitely worth a visit! And if you do make a trip to see the equestrian ballet, let us know if you’re able to discern the contentedness of horse with the long face.

 

Afternoon at the Improv September 12, 2011

O: Outings

Cupid Shuffle Instruction

Cupid Shuffle Instruction

Fret not Frodo, now there’s a way you can see the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in 8 minutes. In fact, numerous types of dance and theater were fast-tracked in shortened performances at the Cowles Center Grand Opening Weekend, September 9 – 11, to give the community teasers of what the Minnesota dance community has to offer. Impressive!
 

Tree Pose

Tree Pose

Our family ventured downtown on Sunday the 11th for community day at the new center to see what the hype was all about. We saw two performances, participated in two workshops and ate our share of cupcakes. Patrons of the arts in this community might have been on day three as performances were held both Friday and Saturdays nights. There was buzz and excitement to experience the new Cowles Center, a merger of three buildings to create a unified space for dance.  Its long-awaited opening now pairs top dance companies in the state including Zenon, Minnesota Dance Theatre (MDT), and Illusion Theater with a state-of-the-art venue for performances.
 

My daughter, Ava, now eight, had taken classes recently at both MDT and Zenon. The entrance off of 6th and Hennepin was just a way to get from A to B. Now as you enter The Hennepin Center for the Arts, home to 20 leading dance and performing arts organizations and one of the three buildings in the new Cowles mix, you feel as if new life has been breathed into the old space. And although nothing structural has changed for that building, you could simply attribute its revitalization to the connections and the energy that the new USBank Atrium, Target Education Studio and new Goodale Theater (formerly the Shubert) have created.

Owles (cut off C)

Owles (cut off C)


 

At the Grand Opening, James Sewell Ballet gave the audience some insight on the making the difficulty of dance look effortless in Body Mind Wellness. We tried to mimic the performer’s moves and make a smooth circle outline with our left hand and a straight line stop and go movements with our right hand (which no one could do). We got a taste of the mind and body connection of dance. Next LiveActionSet performed The Lord of the Rings Trilogy in 8 Minutes. Even though the kids – ages six and eight – had never seen the movie trilogy, the performance held their attention, all the while LAS stayed within their blue masking-taped box on the stage.
 

We then exited and found Studio 5B where all four of us did the Cupid Shuffle workshop with Colleen Euland, followed by the kids joining LiveActionSet performers and the director in a theater workshop. This was really cool. They thrive on improv and took three ideas from the group of 12 or so and loosely directed them with ideas from (1) forming a tree with birds, (2) enacting the aging process and (3) going on a journey from sand to sea to forest and mountain. I captured a bit on video of what I’m calling Tree Bark, based on the coming together to form a tree, additive chirping birds followed by an encroaching wolf (aka Calvin, my son) that scatters the birds with his bark.
 


 

We arrive home and practice a little improv of our own, inspired by the community of dance we have access to in Minneapolis. We’ll be taking Zenon up on their hip hop class one comp workshop offer and perusing the inaugural season catalog, knowing that whatever you choose to see, these companies can deliver dance.

 

The Balloon Gusher Experiment September 2, 2011

U: The Unknown

Do It Calvin's Way

Do It Calvin's Way

Boom Splat Kablooey, the Explosive Science that’s a Real Blast and The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself books were two recent book reward purchases for summer reading. Ava, our third-grader, had reached her reading goal of 10 books over the summer. Calvin, our kindergartner, just happened to reap the benefits as well. I thought she might come home with something more along the lines of Junie B Jones and the Fudge Series she’s been amped about. It was just her and her Dad, the program’s enforcer, on the bookstore outing to Wild Rumpus.
 

As she perused her new book, she seemed a bit disappointed, I didn’t know it was a book for boys. It has stuff only boys would think to do in it. We sat down together and gave it a once over. There was Map Your Neighborhood, Make Your Own Greeting Cards, Freudian Ink Blots, even a Girls Rule comic strip. Not intriguing enough? Then she pointed out sections on the boyish side: a clean version of Would You Rather, a list of Totally Awesome Practical Jokes, a page to List Your Injuries.
 

I had to agree with Ava, this was mostly boy stuff. Calvin was eating this up. Bonus: Ava also got the scientific experiment book for him. Nice sister. He immediately tore into the kit (launchers, high quality balloons, other small gadgetry) and perfected the art of balloon blowing. We failed one experiment where you added vaseline to the tip of a skewer and poke it through at a spot near the tie where the balloon was the least stretched. Then it was supposed to come out on the opposite side and leave the balloon intact. It popped. Then we talked about sound waves and how the compressed air in the balloon, once popped, cause the bang sound we heard. A little advanced.
 

We gave the experimenting a rest for a bit. An hour later, water is flying all around the kitchen. The rug and my child are soaked. I raise an eyebrow. The experiment moves into the bathroom. Ava joins in. I hear squealing. The entire bathroom floor and rugs are now soaked too. Then it moves outdoors. In and out of the house several times. They have my full attention. What is going on? They are filling up one little red balloon over and over with water and letting it loose. In case you’re wondering, see the video to see what happens (sorry, it needs to be rotated 90 degrees).
 

Calvin might have used the book as inspiration but the Balloon Gusher experiment was all his own. Even more fun! For all of Ava’s hard work to complete her reading challenge, we’ll continue to be in search of a better suited book for her reward. Ideas anyone?
 

 

 
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