Blogging Bi Day, Dance by Night

All things Bi, Dance and random musings for our edification


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My Ode to Joy.

What I learned last month is that in Japan they are very keen on Beethoven’s 9th symphony, (with the 4th movement  Ode to Joy in particular).   I have no idea why though. In terms of the how, the influence of German soldiers stationed there during WWII had something to do with it.  It is certainly worthy of love, adoration and have enjoyed playing it on the piano.   What I have been pondering these  many nights and days  is the relationship as you know between sex and dancing, between love and joy.  The amount of love I receive (sexual and otherwise) is pretty much out of my control but the amount of  joy and love I have in my heart,  and share with others is  my own business.   Have kvetched endlessly for days (or is it decades?) over the amount of  shtupping that has come my way on earth but I do not believe I’ve been shortchanged at all in receiving love from family and friends.  Not a whit.  NO doubt my accusers will state I have not traipsed through a half century on earth quite joyful enough.  No way. Not by a long shot have I moseyed in this our life’s journey with sufficient joy to the world.  I stand convicted in the docket.  Hell, I accuse myself!  J’accuse!  I am now trying to redress that wrong, that imbalance.  Too late? Maybe.

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Perhaps at my graveside in 47 years mourners will say that a la the reborn Ebenezer Scrooge he knew how to keep the feast. This will be the case if they have met me once I came out as bi.  And especially my dance friends would not know me in any other capacity except this enthusiastic hail well met fellow. Once my beautiful bi sisters and brothers were telling me how  positive I am and I had to look around to see who they were talking about.   My dance teachers love my attitude, perspective and energy that I bring to the dance studio.  It is very easy to be so upbeat around them as I am having so much fun learning different Latin and ballroom dances.  I am always going to think of the relationship between coming out as bi and taking up dancing in the new year. Absolutely one has lead to the other, because one gave me courage, that I needed to tackle  the terror of the dance floor.   I was not afraid to think of myself as bi, it was just not on my radar,  not in my way of looking out onto the world.  Thus, insofar as this great a-vocation has brought me so much joy (and not even four weeks into it) I have to thank my sexuality.  How odd but true!

Notes_2_Preview_PIf I had to pick one word as a tattoo on my body that resonates with me vis a vis being bi, it would be the opening word of Homer’s Iliad.  Menin in Greek means “Rage“.  As in the rage of Achilles. which is one of the main themes of that great  epic poem which I love so much and have read in so many translations in the last year.  My levels of  that feeling and emotion  have decreased 95% since I came out.  For dance, the tattoo  I would choose is the treble cleft-musical note (above)  to illustrate.  Remember as a kid for piano lessons having to  draw that symbol and how I enjoyed it.  4 decades later I am back to where I started in some ways.  How curious! My daily pentathlon for the soul is this:  blogging, reading, running, dancing and playing the piano.  Two dear people have said to me,  first coming out, now dancing,  I cannot wait to see what is going to happen next.  Stay tuned!

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Rudolf Nureyev 1938-1993

Growing up in the 1960s he was THE dancer people knew about.   Wiki sites that he did have several heterosexual relationships as a younger man. while for the final quarter century of his life, he had an on-off again same sex relationship with his partner, ergo I am going to claim him as bi for my blogging purposes.   I suspect after a long study of dance, which I have only just commenced,  I shall have a sense if there are more bi people in dance than the general population.  My hunch is  yes.   Saw a sign: “The human person fully alive is the glory of God”.  The body fully alive is the glory of the  person.    Ever since my early 20s I have felt that the fit athletic body is something to be cherish, celebrated.

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Two things that struck me  in reading and learning about him were his emphasis on the part of the Male in ballet and the  intersection of classical and popular dance.  Insofar as it is still a man’s world out there, patriarchy  still in power,  in ballet previously the male was considered an auxiliary, an adjunct whose main role was to support the female.  Nureyev wanted to change that and when he later had the power to do so, he choreographed the male role into more prominence in productions he worked on.   I shall leave it to other to decide if this was a good or bad development in the history of ballet.   My lay opinion is that it was positive evolution, bringing out a fuller expression on stage of the sexes.  Something about the male lifting, spinning, supporting females that makes me think of women on a pedestal which is not good. Chivalry,  being a knight errant,  is one thing but making anyone less than a participant in life is not cool.

Below, what is up with another John Boy Walton look on his face? Which makes me think maybe Richard Thomas was bi, the actor who played that role in the tv series.    Love that ancient microphone being thrust into his face.

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Wiki on his influence  and personality below:

Nureyev’s influence on the world of ballet changed the perception of male dancers; in his own productions of the classics the male roles received much more choreography.  Another important influence was his crossing the borders between classical ballet and modern dance by performing both.  Today it is normal for dancers to receive training in both styles, but Nureyev was the originator and excelled in modern and classical dance. He went out of his way to work with modern dance great, Martha Graham, and she created a work specially for him.  While Gene Kelly had done much to combine modern and classical styles in film, he came from a more Modern Dance influenced “popular dance” environment, while Nureyev made great strides in gaining acceptance of Modern Dance in the “Classical Ballet” sphere.

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Nureyev did not have much patience with rules, limitations and hierarchical order and had at times a volatile temper.  His impatience mainly showed itself when the failings of others interfered with his work. Most ballerinas with whom he danced,  paid tribute to him as a considerate partner.

He socialized with Gore Vidal, Freddie Mercury, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol, Lee Radziwill and Talitha Pol, but developed an intolerance for celebrities.  He kept up old friendships in and out of the ballet world for decades, and was considered to be a loyal and generous friend.  He was known as extremely generous to many ballerinas, who credit him with helping them during difficult times.

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il bacio della morte = the kiss of death

A couple of months ago a woman I am very sweet on was telling me that I was “thoughtful”. Oy veh! At least she didn’t say I was “nice”.  All I could think of was that this was the kiss of death from her. Naturally this spurred on the padrinophile  in me (lover  of the first two Godfather films   and novel) .   Thought of the  passionate embrace-kiss full out by the Al Pacino character (Michael Corleone)  in Godfather part 2, to his brother Fredo (John Cazale)  in Havana on new year’s eve at the gala party as the Cuban revolution is at hand.    Plus a scene in the movie “The Valachi Papers” when the mafia don in prison gives said kiss to the Charles Bronson character  (Joe Valachi).   So I go visit my dying 71 year old F cousin,  first in the palliative care unit, then in the hospice and for whatever reason, when i said goodbye, kissed her on the lips.  Something about death staring down your gullet, piercing your soul that makes you NOT want to hold back.  Her doctor at the hospice came in recently and said she must rest more. Why?  So she can die one week later?  I cannot pretend to fathom what it is like to be dying (though Socrates would say I am dying right now even as I type these pithy words).  One area of interest I have always had  is capital punishment and I have read-studied the issue a great deal but do not have the foggiest notion what it is like to be on death row.  Zilch.   Sympathy, empathy, the vicarious, by proxy, walking in  another person’s  shoes only takes one  so far.

quote-the-kiss-there-are-all-sorts-of-kisses-lad-from-the-sticky-confection-to-the-kiss-of-death-of-ruth-gordon-343581The pizza (below) looked so delicious with garlic, oregano, basil, olive oil, tomatoes,  cheese.  Something life giving was needed with all this death talk.  Still remember the pizza in Boston that was out of this world with fried eggplant on it as a topping. Yumissimo!  Above = when is a kiss a kiss? What if I volunteered at a hospice or palliative care unit, would I be galvanized daily to seize the day at  every opportunity?  I thought in the summer after coming out that I would grab at a sexual opportunity but the problem is there has been nobody to grab.

the-kiss-of-death-pizzaThe good news   is I realized I had some sheet music for the Marseillaise, so I played it today at the retirement residence while visiting.   It sounded alright (ok quite rusty).   I am so easily satisfied in life sometimes. Naturally this made me think of the French Revolution, the storming of the Bastille and especially “The Waltz” which I am learning, because as noted,  that dance  was called “The Marseillaise of the heart” because it was considered a social-political dance. The more I live, the more I see the interconnectedness  of all things,  of the Plato-to sausage- game in six  moves (that I believe Umberto Eco refers to in one of his novels).  It is possible some gentle readers are disappointed that I don’t have bi this and that all over the place in every post.

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I want to see my first girlfriend once more before I die and tell her that I have never stopped loving her even though we have not seen each other since 1987.  When I lay dying in 47 years (or next week if I am run over by a dump truck, while running and either scenario is quite possible) I will think of her with immense fondness.  Well this post started off in death, breathed life and now is dying once again.  The haunting words of the poem “In  Flander’s Field”  by John McCrae about  trench warfare of the Great war  resonates  here:  “…we loved and were loved”  even though  it is a poem of death.


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Mishmash

Wonderful salsa class today. Lots of people in it, maybe 20 and only one extra male.  Lucky me,  I got to dance with the instructor a bit who is so lovely.  Some indie doc. guy wants to interview me.  They are dragging people   off the street, looking for interesting, different bi male perspectives. I have NO idea if I fit that bill. Maybe I do.   I am not sui generis.  My only claim to fame is that I attract virgins as girlfriends for whatever reason.  Four in a row at this point. It is a trend.  As noted, Joan Baez had one important same sex relationship when she was young (early 1970s?) and came out as bi, when there was absolutely no need to.  It was not some marketing ploy.  For me the same sex activity has been  limited as an adult with one person, though spread out over almost a decade on three different occasions.

If i ever come across a dance style-step I think should be for bi people, I shall let the devoted reader know asap.  What would such a dance be?  There would be change and fluidity.

Yesterday was the first day of 2014 I felt the old, pre dance persona return. And it did with a vengeance.   I was pretty much an ogre for 24 hours.  Cantankerous, querulous, morose but also maudlin, mawkish, melancholy. Perhaps my mediaeval humors were out of balance and I had a sudden attack of the vapours. Who knows.   I was not pleased but reflecting on the pre-coming out person I was for decades  when every single day was this gotterdammerung on earth I counted myself happy to have trimmed my down time as it were.

Must post about Nurevey very soon.   For the bi calendar project, in terms of males have come up with a quartet (I want more women than men).  To wit:  Nijinsky and Nureyev  as dancers and then film stars James Dean and Montgomery Clift.   For  women thinking of;   Brenda Howard (the great bi activist, mother of pride),  Lady Gaga,  Isadora Duncan (mother of modern dance),  Joan Baez,  Krysten Sinema   (first openly bi  congresscritter from Arizona), Gillian Anderson,  Maria Bello,  Amber Heard.

Saw Nebraska (film) yesterday and liked it. A curious intersection of road-buddy movie meeting small  town usa and what to do with the aged.  The age old question.

Keep thinking of a great scene in the original  film version of  “All the King’s Men” when Broderick Crawford (Willie Stark = Huey Long) is chewing out some underling, flunkey  because he embezzled, took graft etc and   Willie belts out to him: “Don’t you think if the good Lord had intended you to be rich,  you would be rich by now?”  If I was destined to roll around between the sheets I would have had that more by now.

The Law and Lord of the dance is this:   Dance as a way of life.  Dance is now my master, and I am it’s subject.  Dance for me is about JOY  and communication-expression. That which previously was submerged inside of me shall be revealed.


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This is the most romantic story I know

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A friend told it to me years ago and every time I think of it,  there is a big smile in my heart, being a very romantic person.  It goes like this.  Once upon a time a young kid was away at a summer camp and fell madly in love with a young girl.  He asked her out for a date (whatever constitutes a date at camp) and  they hit it off but at some point he found out how old she was.  Evidently much younger than she looked.  Happily the young boy had sense, propriety, decorum  and re-evaluated the situation.  At the end of the  summer,  when all were to go their separate ways he told the girl,  that he liked her very much, but at present she was simply too young for him  but that if she wanted,  he had an idea.  The plan was to rendez-vous at a certain location in the city (a well known landmark) several years down the road on the day of her 18th birthday at sunrise.    She didn’t   react much way one or the other, it being such a fanciful notion.  On  the appointed day, our lad gets up extra early,  washes, changes into something nice and prepares to go and meet the girl, with zero knowledge   if anything will happen.  They had not seen or communicated to one another ever since camp several years before.  As rosy fingered down was rising from her bed of golden slumbers in the east and starting to paint the sky red with her nails,   the  girl showed up at the appointed place  and time.   The boy (now a man)  rejoiced  in his heart.  They   had a long tender  embrace having not seen one another in such a long time.   They dated,  fell in love, got married and lived happily ever after for decades.  This is a true story.

At top is  Juliet’s balcony in Verona, that I was fortunate enough to visit several years ago when I was in Italy (on a ski trip actually).

Above,  nothing to do with love and sex per se except that it is to my mind, one of the most sublime and beautiful pieces of music  ever composed.  I have no idea why the music does not start until 17 seconds into it.  Enjoy!


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Being Bi is Beautiful!

kells2Above is a manuscript from the Book of Kells.  I was lucky enough to see a page when I was in Dublin decades ago where it is housed.

DivineComedyFresco14,000 plus verses of the terza rima is an astonishing accomplishment in the field of human endeavour.  The architecture of this great poem is scarcely believable.   L’altissima poeta.  1265-1321. Was fortunate to visit his house in Florence in 1987.

Michelangelo's_Pieta_5450_cropncleaned_editSculpture to me is one of the  greatest art forms.  Something about the creative process in which you take away and then the work is revealed. It was a Michelangelo I believe who said about the finished work “the lion was always inside” (it just needed to be revealed).

rodinI still think with absolute fondness the day in the fall of 1981 in Paris going to the Rodin museum.

secretariat_belmontRemember June 1973 watching Secretariat win the triple crown.  Belmont stakes photo, when he won by 31 lengths, set records etc. Have watched this race on you tube many times since, often with a tear out of sheer joy at the beauty of it all.

Alhambra2I visited the Alhambra in Spain in March 1973.  The attention to detail plus the size of the structure was quite overwhelming.

David_von_MichelangeloMore otherworldly sculpture:   David by Michelangelo.

Iznik_ceramic_in_the_Blue_Mosque_(4)The Blue Mosque (popular name) in Turkey.  The intricate patterns, work covering such a large area is a miracle. Would like to see this and the Hagia Sophia one day.

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iliadMy favourite translation. I wanted to pick works of art etc. that for me are so transcendent.

Fabulous dance lessons (private and group)  tonight at the school and wanted to share my elevated spirit somehow.  Consider this post an ode to joy. Homage to beauty in all its manifestations. I could just as easily have picked scenes from nature, music, or  so many other art forms. I am going to practice the samba all weekend because some Brazilians are visiting.  My dance teacher coaxed a smile out of me tonight. Not because I was unhappy.  Far from it.  I was joyous inside but in rapt attention to the task (dancing) at hand.  I believe our own dear Ludwig Wittgenstein went through life as a grump but was actually quite happy inside. V stands for Victory!


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Nijinsky

1913

Once I was in a Greek area of the city for dinner with a friend (from out of state) and he saw a shop and quipped “Wow! The Parthenon is now a jewelry store!” And indeed it was, at least by the storefront’s signage. That always struck me as funny (which I guess is a comment on my sense of humour).  If an equine lover stumbled upon this post, they might shout out ‘Amazing, Nijinsky the racehorse is being lauded!’  Close but incorrect. Not quadruped time but Nijinsky the great Russian dancer of the early 20th c.  He was celebrated as the greatest dancer of the early 20th century.  Growing up my family were very interested in horse racing and culture so I was familiar with each and the juxtaposition made me smile.  As the diligent readers of this humble blog have noted, I have gone wild over dancing (3 weeks tonight I started my first lessons)  and am trying to make a study of dance and learn as much as I can.

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The thumb nail from wiki:

Vaslav Nijinsky (also Vatslav;  was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer, cited as the greatest male dancer of the early 20th century.  He grew to be celebrated for his virtuosity and for the depth and intensity of his characterizations. He could perform en pointe, a rare skill among male dancers at the timeand his ability to perform seemingly gravity-defying leaps was legendary.

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As a dancer, Nijinsky was extraordinary for his time. He is responsible for changing audiences’ perspective of the male dancer. He was a sensual performer and although he wore revealing costumes, he looked androgynous.

When I perused wiki  his personal life   struck me, that in terms of behavior over his entire life he was bi.   Given the era in which he lived (1890-1950) that framing-conception was not in use.   When I read a biography of him down the road,  I will write in a more informed fashion.  Kvetched to a friend the other day, stating “how many times must you have sex with both genders over the course of a career to be elected to the bi hall of fame?”   There are NO hard and fast rules.  Bi nation is making it up as it goes along.

More than 3 decades ago I read about how Stravinsky’s “Rites of Spring” caused rioting in the audience when it was performed in Paris.  Now I am reading how Nijinsky pushed the frontiers and limits of dance.

At the premier of Le Sacre du Printemps (1913) fights broke out in the audience between those who loved and hated a totally new style of ballet. 

I do not think of myself as pushing the limits of sexuality because I am bi, but perhaps in my  own small way I am doing that.  When Nijinsky married, his employer fired him from the ballet company   because essentially he was jealous, envious.  Nijinsky proposed to his future wife in broken French and used mime  because that was the  only language they both understood to a degree.  How charming is that!  In terms of his dancing career though, it was a disastrous move.  She was told by gossips that he was a homosexual, so she prayed he would be converted to heterosexuality.

Wiki again:

Nijinsky became increasingly mentally unstable with the stresses of having to  manage tours himself and deprived of opportunities to dance, which had always been his total obsession.  After a tour of South America in 1917, and due to travel difficulties imposed by the war, the family settled in Switzerland, where his mental condition continued to deteriorate. The rest of his life was spent suffering from mental illness which incapacitated him beyond the ability to dance again in public.

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Nijinsky spent the rest of his life in and out of psychiatric hospitals and asylums. During the last days of the Second World War he danced in public for the last time. He encountered a group of Russian soldiers decamped outside of Vienna, playing traditional folk tunes. Inspired by the music and his reunion with his countrymen, he leapt into an exquisite dance, astounding the men with the complexity and grace of his figures. The experience restored some of Nijinsky’s capacity for communication, after having maintained long periods of almost absolute silence

Below, 1907  a pretty androgynous  Nijinsky reminding me of John Boy Walton (Richard Thomas)  of that tv show (which I loved as an adult much later in life,  compared to growing up when it was on originally  I actually hated it)

Nijinsky_(1890-1950)_photographed_at_Krasnoe_Selo,_summer_1907

For me coming out has been emerging from   a shell,  out of a self-imposed exile.   Think of those wwii era  Japanese soldiers in the jungles fighting, not realizing the war is kaput. Hostilities have ended for me too with the universe.  I made peace and the terms of the treaty were   fair  and just for both sides.  Dancing has been  a second  coming out.   One certainly lead to the other.   Feeling comfortable in my own skin gave me courage to do something so public which previously terrified me.