Striving to be Agile of Body and Mind

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/agile/

Today’s Daily Post Word is Agile.  This is a word that until this mid-point in my life would have made me think immediately of my dancing adventures.  I have, after all, been dancing in living rooms, at local dance studios, university dance departments, big-city dance studios, at social dance soirees and quirky indy venues for for four decades.

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Tango dancers in Montreal

As I grow older, however, being agile of mind seems even more important.  I’ve always had a good, restless mind.  I manage change well and enjoy learning new things.  I love travel- the ultimate learning activity- and as a result, have extensively explored cities in four continents.  International travel certainly requires agility.

First time on a camel

Me. on a camel in Qatar- photo credit Berdj Mora

Now I’ve come to the point where I realize that learning new things is about more than beefing up my already solid resume or repertoire.  It is about staying agile, remaining mentally alert, challenging myself, learning more about myself, keeping myself interested in life and not succumbing to the drudgery of the daily grind.

Cheers to Agility!

On the rocks

Me at Dukhan, Qatar, Photo credit Kim Sturgess

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Non-Verbal Conversation

Conversation — Prompts – The Daily Post

As a lifelong dancer, I propose that dance is the ultimate non-verbal form of communication, as it requires no verbal or written language, no technology or instrument other than the human body.  It produces conversations that can transcend languages, borders and centuries.  It can soothe, incite, problem-solve, entertain, arouse, affect, remember, etc, just like conventional verbal conversation.   Dance is elusive and hard to photograph, but here are some of my favorites that I have managed to capture over the years.

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2017: New Ways of Seeing

When 2016 ended, I was happy to see it go.  It was a confusing and somewhat turbulent year for me personally, and the general mood in my city did little to soothe.  Now that we have turned the page on 2017, I can say that personally I had a much more positive year.  Myself aside though, in 2017 it seemed as if my city, my country and the world as a whole was losing its footing.  To put some positivity out into the blog-o-sphere, I feel inspired to share my own year in review, through my favorite photographs.  In 2017 found myself in a search for beauty and new ways of seeing .  I hope that you enjoy this journey.

JANUARY

A decades-long awaited reveal- the first stations of the Second Avenue Subway open.

FEBRUARY AND MARCH

The darkest months don’t keep me down.  I take advantage of a mild winter with my camera in tow.  An art exhibit on the life of and influences on Georgia O’Keefe at the Brooklyn Museum is the beginning of months of exploration for me artistically.

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APRIL, MAY AND JUNE

New ways of seeing: a photography course at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden pushes me to look beyond the cityscape and scenes directly taken from urban life.

JULY AND AUGUST

Continuing to focus on new imagery…

SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER’

I turn my attention back to New York City, but with a fresh perspective.

NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER

With the turning of the seasons, the light softens and colors mute.  Dry weather all summer even dulls the fall colors.  The mood darkens but there is still great imagery to explore in New York City.

Transformation: Real to Surreal

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As I was walking down a street in Soho recently, I was struck by the reflection of myself and the scene around me in the open door of a commercial truck.  The metal-lined door was shiny and acted as a mirror.  The effect was interesting so I quickly shot a self portrait.  I realized later that the reflected scene was not true to life, but transformed in a surreal way.  The folds in my jeans were exaggerated along with the the length of my legs and there is a Frankenstein-ian distortion of my my face too.  Similarly, the street scene around me was washed out by tricks of the reflected light or stippled by the pattern on the truck’s metal exterior, and the door and I appeared to be floating.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/transformation/

 

 

 

 

Chords for the Eyes and the Ears

20171104_144959https://dailypost.wordpress.com

Yesterday I was lucky enough to encounter beautiful music in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park. The pleasing chords trilling through the fall air caught my attention in what can be an overly noisy scene. The shiny grand piano in the middle of a path drew me closer.

I listened happily for a while to Chopin, Glass and Rachmaninoff, then started to walk away when I noticed the piano’s inner workings and shot the chords as I peeked under the hood.20171104_215002

 

A Whirlwind of Change: the Essex Street Market and the Lower East Side

Rapid change seems to be factor in any highly populated area.  New York City’s tiny barrios, sections, and areas seem to especially prone to it.  For every stalwart surviving building or business, there are dozens of shiny new additions.  I don’t travel to the Lower East Side (located south of Houston Street, north of Canal Street and East of Broadway) often, but when I do, I am struck by its rate of change.

Every building is a potential canvas, every storefront a quick-change artist.  Old, grey housing blocks await demolition and already-planned replacements warm up in the wings.

Here are a few photos that I took on Open House New York Weekend (October 14-15) of the Essex Street Market and nearby streets.  There has been a market at 120 Essex Street for more than 100 years, but this too will change next year.  The market will move from its basic but cheery building to a new “mixed use” development around the corner.  I can only hope that it doesn’t lose its charm in the process.

The Essex Market

Finding Lightness at the World Trade Center

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

 

A View from Above: an Urbanite’s Guilty Pleasure

If you have ever spent a significant amount of time in a large metropolis, you will know that there are at least three major ways to view a city: at street level; from a distance (think skyline); and from above.  While each of these vantage points have their charms, for many urbanites, a high perch from which to observe life below qualifies as a guilty pleasure.

I have lived in several Brooklyn neighborhoods, in apartments steadily rising: first at ground level; then a few floors up; later on the eleventh floor and now to an even higher floor.  I relish the view, which encompasses a wide variety of neighborhoods and landmarks.  I also appreciate the distance from the din of traffic and commerce, and the ability to see weather systems approaching and the setting sun.

Now I will share some shots with you, see if they bring you pleasure!

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Finding Humanity at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Having visited museums on three continents, I still get a thrill out of calmly strolling in to my “local” great art institution- The Metropolitan Museum Art.  I come in with an idea of exactly what I want to see, fresh feet, and (some) sense of direction.  I have the luxury of having visited many times.  I have carved out this time for a visit and am not just checking this “site” off my list.

I’m not knocking tourists- it is not always an easy job- sensory and muscle fatigue are common.  My most recent visit to the Met put me there in the height of New York City’s tourist season.  Tens of millions of tourists flock to the City and of these, a large percentage pass through the Met’s doors.

I decided to isolate myself from the throngs of selfie-takers by focusing on HUMAN elements in the museum.  For this reason, statues attracted me.  Here are some poor quality mobile phone shots that I think are still splendid in their human-ness.

I look forward to my next visit!