Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Are You Really Hungry For? Really?

Overnight Oatmeal is full of nutrients and is tasty hot or cold. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

By Janet Cook, NYC HEALTHY CHICK

STOP!
Put the plate of cookies down.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you were depressed, or your self-esteem was low? Then you walk in the door, go to the fridge or cabinet and just go on a food binge? No amount of food will fill you up despite all that you are putting in your mouth.

Regular exercise, especially with a partner, can help take the mind off of mindless eating. Photo from Ovca.org

This is called a Primary Food Deficiency. You are probably scratching your head and saying, “OK, NYC Healthy Chick, what the #$%&@&! are you talking about here exactly?” In my workshops, I teach that what we consider nutrition today is really just a secondary source of energy.

Think back to a time when you were head over heels in love. Everything was exciting and exhilarating. Colors were in technicolor (or hi-def depending on how recent it was). You completely forgot about food and were high on life.

Remember that time when you were really involved in a juicy-good project. Your belief in what you were doing created a lot of confidence and stimulated you. Time flew by, the outside world didn’t exist, and you didn’t feel the need to eat until you were reminded.

Meditation is a primary food that aids in relaxation. Photo from Maya Telford.

Think back to when you were a kid, playing outside with friends. Your mother would call, “Come in, it’s time for dinner.” You rushed in, gobbled down just enough food to meet your mother’s approval and then you ran back outside to play until it was time to come in. Food never crossed your mind during that whole time. Right?

Primary foods feed us but they don't come on a plate. Elements such as a meaningful spiritual practice, an inspiring career, regular and enjoyable physical activity and honest and open relationships that feed your soul and your hunger for living are all primary foods.

As children, we all lived on primary food. So do those who are deeply in love or who are working passionately on a project. The fun, excitement and love of daily life have the power to feed us so that food becomes secondary.

Salmon and Spinach Salad with Flaxseed Dressing is a secondary food dish that will stick to the ribs. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

The more primary foods we intake, the less dependent we are on secondary foods. The opposite is also true. The more we feed on secondary foods, the less appetite we have for primary foods.

Clear on primary foods? Good. What of secondary foods? Not to worry, NYC Healthy Chick is here to share her secondary foods daily regimen. It’s simple: Eating three balanced, planned meals a day will help sustain the energy that comes from primary food practice. Let’s get started.

Breakfast: Start the day with a bowl of Overnight Oatmeal (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/345">http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/). It is a good source of protein, whole grains and fresh fruit. It can be eaten hot or cold.

Steak with Piquant Italian Salsa Verde can help on those days when nothing can hit the spot like beef. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

Lunch: Keep fueling your furnace with this combo of heart-healthy ingredients full of flavor and zest: Hmm, yummy Salmon and Spinach Salad with Flaxseed Dressing (http://www.recipe.com/salmon-and-spinach-salad-with-flaxseed-dressing/). Your tummy is sure to not rumble for hours.

Dinner: Bold flavors satisfy even the hungriest man on the planet, not to mention the fact that we all have a craving for a little beef every now and then. OK, at least I do! Try Steak with Piquant Italian Salsa Verde. (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/985).

Yes, even NYC Healthy Chick still has “one of those days” every now and then; remember it’s a journey, not a destination. One thing I do each day is to get hugs and kisses from loved ones around me, plus I exercise or mediate to relax just a little bit more.

Those chocolate chip cookies look good, but may not be what you really crave. Photo from Master Life.

So, the next time you find yourself in front of the fridge or cabinet getting ready for a food binge – stop. Instead, go get a hug; take a walk around the block, or call a friend to just talk. Chances are you will feel much better after allowing the energy from these primary foods to feed you and your soul.

See, you really don’t need those cookies after all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Think You Can Dance to Tune of Paul Taylor?

James Samson, Robert Kleinendorst, Amy Young and Sean Mahoney in the Paul Taylor Dance Company's "Three Dubious Memories." Photo by Tom Caravaglia.

BY TAMARA BECK

WANTED:
Two good dancers.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company, in association with Talenthouse and Self Magazine, will award two scholarships for the Paul Taylor Dance Company Summer Intensive in New York City.

Dancers who think they have the moves should submit a video no longer than 90 seconds that conveys their love of dance and explains why they deserve to attend the summer intensive. The competition is open to all genres.

Paul Taylor will lead the panel of five jurists that will choose the winners. Among them are Matthew Diamond, dance director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Dancemaker” about PT and the company. On the panel, too, are PT dancers Michael Trusnovec and Annmaria Mazzini. One male and one female will be selected for the summer intensive.

In "Spring Rounds," dancers mimic butterflies and birds. Photo from West Coast Intensive.

The submission deadline is 14 April; voting begins on 15 April, and winners will be announced on 27 April. The summer intensive is 5-29 July.

Visit http://www.talenthouse.com/ to learn more about the summer intensive scholarship and http://www.ptdc.org/ to learn more about Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty, and Many More!!!
Aretha Franklin, left, blowing out the candles on her birthday cake Friday night at the Helmsley Hotel. At right, The Queen of Soul with Smokey Robinson. Photos by William Sykes/AP.

WITH reports of her death, an incurable disease and a surgery that she says “resolved” health problems that led her a few months ago to cancel a series of concerts until May – with all of these travails behind her, The Queen of Soul is back in form.

Surely, there is need to further identify Her Majesty. Those still scratching their heads should tramp over to GOOGLE.

Over the weekend, she visited the Big Apple to take in some theater – specifically “Driving, Miss Daisy” starring Morgan Freeman and Vanessa Redgrave.

After the play Friday night, she and 100 or so close friends repaired to the Helmsley Hotel to celebrate her 69th birthday. Yours Truly was not on the guest list. Seemingly, the Associated Press was the only media outlet allowed in. See video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhebbyIrmFg

A number of marquee names were in the house: Smokey Robinson, Bette Midler, Tony Bennett, Clive Davis. Word is Oprah was invited but did not attend. Gayle (King) was there, though.

Her Majesty was noticeably thinner. She looked a bit tired, too, but otherwise she looked swell. Judging by reports of the few bars (“The Way We Were”) she sang with Dennis Edwards (Temptations), she is in fine voice too.

Long live the queen! – By Yours Truly, Vevlyn Wright

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In 'The Whipping Man,' Also Freeing Hurts

Jay Wilkison, Andre Braugher and Andre Holland as three men at a crossroads in "The Whipping Man." Photos by Joan Marcus.

BY TAMARA BECK

AS Matthew Lopez’s “The Whipping Man”
begins, a badly wounded Caleb DeLeon (Jay Wilkison) creeps surreptitiously into his pillaged childhood home.

When Simon (Andre Braugher) discovers him in the house he blesses him with a Hebrew prayer.

“The Whipping Man,” at Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center Stage I until 10 April, explores the relationship between a Jewish Confederate soldier returned from the war and the freed slaves of his household. In doing so, it showcases subtle truths about decency and dignity. (See audience interviews and scenes from “The Whipping Man” at http://www.manhattantheaterclub.org/current-season/thewhippingman/media.asp)

Jay Wilkison and Andre Braugher in "The Whipping Man."

The rest of the household has moved on to safety elsewhere. Simon has remained in Richmond to guard the property from further damage at the request of Caleb’s mother. He is also awaiting the return of his wife, Sarah, and their daughter before moving on as a free man.

It is April 1865. Simon and John (Andre Holland), another former slave of the DeLeon household, are newly emancipated. Since they were brought up in the DeLeon household, they, like their former masters, are Jews. Passover is late this year, and Simon intends to celebrate with what little they have in the house. For Simon and John, the Passover ritual this year will reinforce the joy of their liberation.

While the seder is a happy occasion, it is also rendered bittersweet by certain realities. The war has tested Caleb’s faith and has ravaged his body. He must rely on his former slaves to save his life.

But John is more than a former slave. He and Caleb are contemporaries. As boys, they were inseparable, almost like brothers, as Simon says. However, their relationship as men is fraught with the ugliness of master and slave. In fact, all of their relationships are tainted by their past.

The entire cast of “The Whipping Man” is suitably fine, but AB is inspired. He makes clear that Simon’s pride at his new-found freedom has only added to the dignity with which this man has always lead his life.

In "The Whipping Man," the truth is revealed in subtle ways.

The drama is enhanced by the graying darkness in a richly sparse set by John Lee Beatty. The designer has fashioned a twisting staircase in the gloomy house that adds a surreal quality to the darkness that is the heart of “The Whipping Man.”

Visit http://www.manhattantheaterclub.org/current-season/thewhippingman/default.asp to learn more about “The Whipping Man.”

‘The Milk Train’ Stops Longer Than Planned
“The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore” is stopping a little longer at the Laura Pels Theatre – until 10 April. The Roundabout Theatre Company production of the Tennessee Williams play set in an Italian mountaintop villa stars Olympia Dukakis as the outsized Flora "Sissy" Danforth who is dying and writing her memoirs. (See review at http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/03/fear-and-foreboding-in-milk-train.html).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Earth Talk at 2nd Global Sustainability Forum

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the opening speaker at the 2nd Global Sustainability Forum. Photos from Getty Images.

IN a few hours Arnold Schwarzenegger will be jawing about “Public Policies for Sustainability.”

Shortly after his speech, director/producer James Cameron will join the actor and former California governor to answer questions on the subject.

The two men are in Manaus, Brazil – in the heart of the Rainforest – for the 2nd Global Sustainability Forum, (Fórum Mundial De Sustentabilidade). It opens today and closes on Saturday (26 March). The main theme of the meeting is "Economic, Environmental and Social Sustainability of the Amazon and of the Planet."

The objectives of the Global Sustainability Forum are threefold: disseminate successful practices and mechanisms for the sustainable development in the Amazon and the world; show the economic and environmental value of a standing rainforest as well as its implications to the region and the world as a whole, and build political and entrepreneurial commitment for the sustainable development of the planet.

Richard Branson appears at the 2nd Global Sustainability Forum to speak about decreasing the size of carbon footprints.

Lofty objectives all. This is only the second year of the forum, therefore too soon to gauge whether Brazil and the world at-large are sincere about preserving the Amazon and other vital egosystems throughout the world or whether this is another occasion for paying lip service and backslapping.

The Brazilian government – which is superintending the world’s fastest-growing economy at the moment – seems to be signaling its commitment, on the surface anyway. It is represented at the meeting by Environment minister Izabella Teixeira who opens the proceedings.

Two others – former president Bill Clinton and Virgin Group founder and CEO Richard Branson – well-known to the masses and with a stated interest in the health of the environment will also add their voices to the conversation.

Bill Clinton speaks about humanism and sustainability at the 2nd Global Sustainability Forum.

Attendees will no doubt listen with some interest as RB holds forth Friday on "Entrepreneurial Strategies for De-carbonizing the Economy." During the Q&A following his talk will it be any surprise if he is asked whether he took a commercial or private jet to the meeting? In fact, that is a simple question to be put to all 600 of the entrepreneurial, political and environmental leaders expected to attend, including the former president. BC will consider the subject of "Humanism and Sustainability" on closing day.

Global Sustainability Forum closes with Earth Hour at 8:30 p.m. Brazil time. For 60 minutes, the lighting in the meeting venue will be extinguished. The forum will also close with fireworks – actual fireworks. Hmmm …

To learn more about the2nd Global Sustainability Forum visit the English- or Portuguese-language site: http://www.forumdesustentabilidade.com.br/en_US/ and http://www.forumdesustentabilidade.com.br/pt_BR

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Maggie the Cat: A (Super) STAR Is Dead

Elizabeth Taylor in an MGM publicity photo. Photo courtesy of Fan Pix.

“ELIZABETH Taylor is dead?!,” I exclaimed in disbelief to all who had ears while in a neighborhood Chinese restaurant absently watching the TV screen and awaiting my lunch of sesame chicken. CNN delivered the bad news.

Oblivious, the workers in the restaurant stared at me, bemused/confused, likely thinking Yours Truly was out of her mind.

Why is it that we are always surprised when someone dies? Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor (27 Feb. 1932 - 23 March 2011) had been ill for some time and has had more than one close encounter with the grim reaper. Still, the news hit like a punch in the chest.

Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in a poster from "Giant." Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Myriad thoughts raced through my basil ganglia. The first was a reminder to tune into TCM to learn which, if any, ET films will be airing tonight or in the very near future. The next thought was her tireless work in the AIDS fight after good friend and costar Rock Hudson became ill and later died from the disease. A co-founder of amFAR, ET was the first Hollywood A-list star to join the fight.

As I stood drumming my fingers on the counter I fondly recalled her stint on “General Hospital.” Who knew that Anthony Geary would disclose during a recent appearance on “Oprah" that he and ET were an item back in those days? Gallantly, he confirmed it only after Oprah inquired and he stressed that he was only doing so because ET was the first to go public with it. She liked the show and she liked him, explained AG, so it was the most natural thing in the world.

It is difficult to think of ET and relationships without thinking of multiple marriages – two to Richard Burton. They, too, were costars – most famously in the spectacular “Cleopatra” (yes, yes, ET played a rather pale version of the African queen) and the formidable “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” for which ET won her second Best Actress Oscar. In the last few months both have aired on TCM. The chemistry between ET and RB is electric in the two films for different reasons.

QUEEN ELIZABETH: The actress as "Cleopatra" in the film of the same name. Photo courtesy of Fan Pix.

Elizabeth, what an apt name for a little girl born (to American parents) in London. She hated being called "Liz."

Last year, TCM also aired "Little Women,” “Suddenly Last Summer” and "National Velvet." ET campaigned like a seasoned pro to win the role of Velvet Brown in the blockbuster which propelled her to stardom at the age of 12.

Reflecting on a film career that spans nearly three-quarters of a century can take a considerable amount of time. No doubt, ET fans around the world will be tramping about the corners of their brains in search of their favorite ET film. Appreciations will abound. Speaking of which, The New York Times film critic A.O. Scott does one of the most affecting video tributes I’ve unearthed so far: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/.

My favorite ET film? I don’t have one, but two that are perennials on my Top 5 list are “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Giant.” See “Cat” trailer: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000I5R96A/ref=atv_feed_catalog&tag=imdb-amazonvideo-20.

Elizabeth, thanks for your talent, beauty and philanthropy. Rest in peace.

Sauvignon Blanc: Taming a Savage White

The Sauvignon Blanc grape can produce wines with various characteristics depending on the soil in which it is planted. Photo from Wikipedia.

BY TAMARA FISH

GO
into any restaurant that has a few wines available by the glass and chances are your white wine choices will be a Chardonnay or a Pinot Grigio.

If restaurant wines-by-the-glass provide most of your exposure to different wines, a beautiful grape is most likely off your radar: Sauvignon Blanc.

Oh, the slighted Sauvignon Blanc. It can’t get no satisfaction. But why not?

Because Sauvignon Blanc is a wily little weasel, refusing to be slotted into any one single box: fruity or mineral (http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/03/sardinian-vulcan-wines-born-of-happy.html), sweet or dry, uncomplicated or superbly elegant, it can be any one of these things. Try putting that as a generic wine on the menu, and watch the customers squirm.

Chocolate Cake of Wines
As varied and as variable as they can be, Sauvignon Blancs do have a common thread, an identifiable core taste, with particular flavors (notes) infused throughout.

Think of it this way: There’s no mistaking chocolate cake for carrot cake or red velvet cake. Chocolate cake is chocolate cake. But there are also dazzling varieties of chocolate cake: double-fudge chocolate, Sachertorte, raspberry-filled, German chocolate … The permutations and possibilities are endless. All the same, nip just one bite of any one of those cakes and the basic fact jumps out: chocolate cake. The variety is in the details. Lovely details, but details all the same.

Such is the case with Sauvignon Blanc. There’s no mistaking Sauvignon Blanc for anything else, but it does come in a fascinating array of styles.

[15 minutes later] Sorry for that break. I got hungry. Slipped out for a piece of chocolate cake and tea.

Basic Sauvignon Blanc
Now as I was saying, Sauvignon Blanc is the chocolate cake of wine: there are many different ways to express the core grape, but a core grape there is. Used to drinking Chardonnays? Chances are that Sauvignon Blanc will seem less sweet and less fruity (drier), and even a bit more like salad (herbal, vegetal). A subtler wine, it may leave you pondering, “What was that? What am I tasting?,” but pleasantly so.

Like chocolate cake – here a tiered chocolate buttercream cake – Sauvignon Blanc has many variations. Photo from Food Network.

Used to drinking Pinot Grigio? Sauvignon Blanc will seem a bit richer (more robust, heartier, fuller). The snap, the tartness will be there (crisp, acidic), but a touch more intense. Take a glass of Pinot Grigio and imagine either a quick swirl of a green pepper slice (vegetal) or perhaps a few drops of grapefruit juice, and that’s the sense of the possibilities of Sauvignon Blanc.

In short, Sauvignon Blanc tends to be on the drier side of most white wines, more reminiscent of vegetables than fruit (without eliminating fruit altogether), and with a nice full flavor. Its aroma is always intense, ranging often from floral to fruity or even, frankly, stinky (pungent), but don’t let the nose turn you off. The wines can be rather beautiful.

Taming the Savage White Wine
How is it that Sauvignon Blanc can express so many different characteristics? Let’s go back to the beginning. From the French, Sauvignon Blanc derives from the following three words: sauvage = savage, vigne = wine, blanc= white. Sauvignon Blanc is truly a savage white wine, but readily tamed by a team of farmers and winemakers.

Plant Sauvignon Blanc in chalky-flinty soil, and a smoky, wonderful taste results. Plant it in clay-based soil (marl), and a fruity, rather citrus taste comes out. Ferment it at a slightly cooler temperature, more fruity notes develop. Ferment it at a slightly warmer temperature, more vegetal tones emerge. Keep the grapes on the vine a little longer, a more concentrated sweet and fruity flavor unfolds, perfect for dessert wines.

Pluck the grapes off the vine as soon as possible, a more vegetal, even grassy note appears, producing a bone-dry wine. Age it in oak, a milder tastes evolves (smooth, possibly buttery). Keep it in steel, its sharpness (acidic, tart, crisp) remains.

With so many possibilities, how can one choose? Don’t think so much about it. Take the plunge. Just try a few. Find what you like – mineral, vegetal, fruity, or all of the above – and drink it. It’s really as simple as that.

Matanzas Creek Winery 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Helena Bench has lots of grapefruit and a little pineapple. Photo from Matanzas Creek Winery.

To get things started, here are some drop-dead gorgeous but very different Sauvignon Blancs. (France’s Pouilly-Fume is not among them; it deserves a column of its own.) Nevertheless, keep the basic idea of Sauvignon Blanc in mind (the chocolate cake), and on top of it, layer on these characteristics as nuances (the different flavors of chocolate cake). In that way, the descriptors of grapefruit, melon, mineral, etc. might make more sense. And Sauvignon Blancs might get some satisfaction:


Elegant Sophisticated Complex

Matanzas Creek Winery
2009 Sauvignon Blanc Helena Bench
Sonoma, CA
$38
A boutique vineyard off the beaten track in Sonoma, Matanzas Creek’s Helena Bench is worth risking getting lost on the drive there. Truly one of the most elegant Sauvignon Blancs I’ve ever tasted, its nose jumps up and out, parading strong grapefruit and a hint of pineapple. The first sip is a revelation: despite the fruity nose the wine presents as dry, even as impressions of cantaloupe and peach amuse the mouth. Then gently, the taste falls off slowly (long, middle finish) leaving a tempering hint of green (vegetal) until it evaporates completely. The last impression is a whisper that proclaims: this is what Sauvignon Blanc is meant to be. Available directly from the vineyard: www.matanzascreek.com/wines/sauvblancHB.asp

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2010 pairs well with seafood. Photo from Oyster Bay Wines.

Vegetal-Mineral
Oyster Bay
2010 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
New Zealand
$15
One sip would transport anybody to a crisp rocky coastline, begging for a morsel of scallops. With its characteristic sharp pungent nose, a far more mineral flinty taste than most, the wine’s potential harshness of the minerals is tempered by a touch of citrus – a hint of lime – making the wine refreshing and dry. Perfect for any seafood dish, including sushi. Available at many wine stores and online from wine.com: (http://www.wine.com/V6/Mulderbosch-Sauvignon-Blanc2009/wine/103809/detail.aspx)

Mulderbosch Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2009 has a complex aroma, including various fruity notes. Photo from Mulderbosch Sauvignon.

On the Fruity Side
Mulderbosch Vineyards
2009 Sauvignon Blanc
South Africa
$20
Mulderbosch’s complexity in aroma is matched by the complexity in the mouth. Reminiscent of melon with a hint of a tropical fruit and just enough of that flinty earthiness to let you know in advance that this is indeed a Sauvignon Blanc, the first taste of fruit becomes surprisingly even fuller. A touch of mineral then rounds out the flavor (middle finish), never distracting from it, falling away leaving a lovely aftertaste (long finish). Be careful though – this wine is so good that it could make one an alcoholic. Available at many wine stores and online from wine.com.

Next: Kosher Wines Today: It’s Not Your Bubbe’s Manischewitz

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Martha Graham Closes With Powerful Weapon

Lloyd Knight in Sophie Maslow's "I Ain't Got No Home," which is part of the Martha Graham Dance Company's "Dance Is a Weapon" montage. Photos by Kerville Cosmos Jack.

BY TAMARA BECK

MARXISM
and Socialism have been dirty words in the United States these last 60 to 70 years. In the 1920s and ‘30s, they were a vibrant part of the political dialog.

The montage, “Dance Is a Weapon,” presented at the 85th Anniversary of the Martha Graham Dance Company as a reprise of its “Political Dance Project,” shows how artists contributed to that conversation, turning their art from a comment into social action.
(See video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut9XjQ8RESE.)

“Dance Is A Weapon” is a composite of five polemical works framed by a film and narration created by Victoria Geduld with Ellen Graff and narrated by the latter.

Each dance is a statement demonstrating strength and solidarity. The film sets the historic context of these dances, created between 1924 and 1941, all short and each by a different choreographer.

Isadora Duncan is arguably the first “modern dancer,” using the whole body in motion, rather than focusing on steps and arm positions for expression. Her “The Revolutionary” from 1924, in honor of the proletariat’s struggle in Russia and restaged by Lori Belilove, has muscular force, as if the dancer were one of those Soviet-era statues come to movement.

“Tenant of the Street,” by Eve Gentry and re-staged by Dr. Mary Anne Santos Newhall, is a poignant slow-moving look at homelessness and hunger. The solo female dancer moves deliberately to the sounds from the street, which are the score for this piece.

The music for “I Ain’t Got No Home” is by Woody Guthrie. The lively dance, by Sophie Maslow, restaged by Lynn Frielinghaus and Abigail Blatt, is “dust bowl” Americana, performed with verve by Oliver Tobin.

Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch in Eve Gentry's "Tenant of the Street" from "Dance Is a Weapon."

“Time Is Money” uses a hypnotic poem written by Sol Furnaroff and read by Margaret Klenck as background for the limber and acrobatic movement of dancer Maurizio Nardi. Choreographer Jane Dudley, in this piece restaged by Martin Lofsnes, presents the worker’s perspective on the monotony and meaninglessness of factory work.

Martha Graham’s “Panorama” closes “Dance Is a Weapon.” MG’s anthem to the power of people for change is optimistic. Restaged by Amelie Bernard and Oliver Tobin, the dance uses a group of 30 student dancers as it did when it was created in 1935.

Also on the program was MG’s tribute to the spirit of America. Aaron Copeland called the music he wrote for this piece “Ballet for Martha” and MG renamed it “Appalachian Spring.” The work, commissioned in 1942 and completed in 1944, was MG’s simple gift to a nation about to come out of World War II.

The stylized sets of a farm with a rocking chair on the porch are by MG’s longtime collaborator, Isamu Nogiuchi. MG designed the elegant and high-style costumes for her pioneering characters. “Appalachian Spring” reflects innocence and hope in the fluid movement of the dance and the story of a young couple (Miki Orihara and Tadej Brdnik) on the verge of married life.

This latest season of the Martha Graham Dance Company has come to a close in New York City, but a tour is not out of the question.

Visit http://marthagraham.org/ to learn more about Martha Graham Dance Company and to sign up for its touring schedule.

Monday, March 21, 2011

In New York, Two Showcases of Asian Art

Makoto Aida's "Harakiri School Girls, 2002" is part of "BYE BYE KITTY!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art." Photo courtesy of Mizuma Art Gallery Watai Collection.

ASIA has been even more in the forefront of the public conversation since the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and continuing nuclear radiation fallout.

The conversation reaches near fever pitch on an upbeat note as New York hosts two important Asian-themed art bazaars. Both have added "Help Japan" components.

The rechristened Asia Week New York continues through Saturday (26 March), while Asian Contemporary Art Week commences at 7 tonight at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) with the film series, “Modern Mondays: An Evening with Mariam Ghani.”

MG, an American of Afghani and Lebanese descent, uses video, installation, photography and other disciplines to explore notions such as identity, dislocation and interpretation of cultural moments across borders and generations. After a talk some of her work will be screened.

Gold and and ruby nandi (bull), South Deccan, 17th century or earlier from "Exhibition of Jewels from Mughal India and South East Asia." Photo courtesy of Sue Ollemans Oriental Art.

The two overlapping art “weeks” compare and contrast nicely. ACAW is more of a presentation by the city’s leading museums and galleries of the broad spectrum of work by an even broader demographic of Asian artists on the continent and abroad. It meets its mandate through performances, lectures, exhibitions and receptions.

AWNY née Asia Week too, hosts its share of the above events. In addition to contemporary art though, it showcases classic and ancient art from mainly China, India&Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea. It is also more overtly commercial, bringing together museums, galleries, dealers, specialists, Asian cultural institutions, as well as auction houses. All have a commercial mandate.

The biggest event of AWNY is tonight’s (6 p.m.) “Gala Benefit and Dinner Dance” at the Asia Society. It is billed as an elegant evening of “art, fashion, cuisine, music and design from across Asia in one festive setting.” Honorary chairs Renée Fleming and Naeem Khan will welcome well-toned guests with a Silk Road-themed cocktail party, followed by a dinner prepared by the formidable Hemant Mathur. Also on the menu is a live auction.

"Pink Lotus on Pink Background, 2010" from “Contemporary Chinese Ink Paintings, Featuring Lotus Paintings by Shi Ze. Photo courtesy of M. Sutherland Fine Arts, Ltd.

The Asia Society is also the venue Wednesday for what ACAW calls a signature event. Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian,who now lives in her native Iran after 10 years at New York, discusses her life and art work. A reception follows.

During AWNY there are a number of auctions through Friday Fine Japanese art will be on the block tomorrow at Bonhams. Meanwhile, at Sotheby’s is a morning preview, “Informing the Eye of the Collector Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art from J.T. Tai & Co.” The preview is followed by an afternoon auction.

At Sotheby’s on Tuesday evening as part of ACAW is a talk, book launch and reception. Rashid Rana and KHOJ director Pooja Sood provide insights about the state of the contemporary art space in South Asia. The event also marks the debut of “The KHOJ Book,” which explores contemporary art practice in India.

The individual interested in Asian art, but mainly in the form of exhibits will not feel neglected. Naturally, works of ceramics figure prominently in Asian Art, and AWNY has much to offer. Worthy of a visit is the non-traditional “Birds of Dawn: Pioneers of Japan’s Sodeisha Ceramic Movement.” The pioneers of the title are Suzuki Osamu, Yagi Kazuo and Yamada Hikaru. “Birds of Dawn” is on view at Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd. through 29 April.

Suzuki Osamu's "Umagata; Horse Form, 1982" is among the objects in "Birds of Dawn." Photo by Richard Goodbody courtesy of Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd.

ACAW participant Chambers Fine Art hosts an opening reception Thursday for “Layers: Recent Works by Xiaoze Xie.” XX uses paintings and an installation featuring Chinese books and newspapers to comment on the “historical dimension” of recorded events in that country.

The notion of comparison is explored in “Micro-cosm.” The first show from Gallery Korea’s “Call For Artists 2011” campaign showcases the work of emerging artists, Yun-woo Choi and Ankabuta. While they purportedly have similar aspirations and philosophies, they use vastly different means to express them. It opens on 29 March.

At M. Sutherland Fine Arts, Ltd. through AWNY (26 March) is “Contemporary Chinese Ink Paintings, Featuring Lotus Paintings by Shi Ze. Visitors may wish to inquire about SZ’s talk on Sunday during which she spoke about how Buddhism influences her work.

Themes of memory, exile and cultural dislocation inform the work of the multimedia group exhibition, “Erasing Borders: Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora.” Organized by the Indo-American Arts Council for ACAW, the eighth annual group exhibition opens Sunday at Queens Museum of Art.

Uupekha Jain as Kali in Srinivas Krishna’s installation, "When The Gods Came Down To Earth." It is part of "Erasing Borders: Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora." Photo courtesy of Srinivas Krishna & Divani Films Inc.

The group exhibit, BYE BYE KITTY!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art, purports to go “far beyond stereotypes” to arrive at works that rely on traditional styles to comment on today and tomorrow. It is among the major events during ACAW and opens at the Japan Society on 29 March.

There seems to be a spirit of cooperation between the 15-year-old AWNY and 9-year-old ACAW for good reason. Both have some of the same boosters/supporters, particularly Japan Society, the Guggenheim Museum and Asia Society. The latter played a major role in creating ACAW. For its first three days ACAW, which has no qualms about switching the month it starts in any given year, only has one event a day. Multiple events are on the program by Thursday when AWNY is on the final stretch with three days left and most of the larger events out of the way.

Of course, from a practical point of view as little conflict as possible makes sense: why divide and oversaturate the audience/market unnecessarily?

Visit http://www.asiaweekny.com/ to learn more about Asia Week New York and http://acaw.net/acaw2011/ to learn more about Asian Contemporary Art Week.

Artexpo New York Rolls Out 2011 Chapter
"
A World Without Him" is one of thousands of works to be presented at Artexpo New York. Painting by Ronex Ahimbisibwe
.

THE longer one views “A World Without Him,” the more abstract many of its elements become.

It is at once a scene of outdoors and indoors. One glance and the dog at the bottom right is sitting on a white towel inside a basket. Look again and the dog is an image on a coffeetable or sidetable.

One element that remains unchanged, though, is the enigmatic woman at its center. She has something draped over her head. She is simply, chicly dressed in a sleeveless shift. The woman is reclining. Her legs are crossed. It is not clear whether she is melancholy, contemplative or simply weary. Her downcast countenance commands the attention.

Ronex Ahimbisibwe’s “A World Without Him” is one of thousands of works by both established and emerging artists from around the world to be displayed during the 32 annual Artexpo New York 2011 from 25-27 March (Friday-Sunday).

“A World Without Him,” a 24″ x 35″ mixed media painting (it is also available as a giclee print in 18″ x 26″/ 20″ x 28″), is one of several paintings by the Ugandan, the theme of which is the empowerment of women in African society. How fitting during International Women’s Month.

Artexpo New York is a perennial hot ticket for the art set for several reasons. Obviously, its stature as the world’s largest fine arts trade show is a draw. It also hopes to do something other than sell, sell, sell. To that end, on the agenda are art education classes, which brings up another point. Artxpo New York wants to attract marquee names. One is Jane Seymour, who not only acts but paints and designs jewelry.

Jane Seymour (center red outfit) and New York City youth at last year's Free Arts Saturday.Photo from Artexpo New York.

On Saturday (26 March) – Free Arts Satruday – JS returns to ArtExpo New York to help NYC kids paint an Andy Warhol-inspired mural. Panel discussions and performance art are also events on the three-day calendar. Conveniently all of this activity unfolds in one location: New York City’s Pier 94.

Further, Artexpo New York attracts an international audience of dealers, collectors and buyers in search of something simply exquisite, investment worthy and/or the next big thing.

To learn more about Artexpo New York 2011 visit http://artexponewyork.com; to see more works from Ronex Ahimbisibwe visit Wet Stone Fine Art: http://www.wetstonegiclee.com/.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Transcending Human Bounds in 'Limitless'

Eddie (Bradley Cooper, left) is about to have his life changed by former brother-in-law, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), in "Limitless." Photos by John Baer/Dark Fields Production, LLC.

“I wish there were a pill I could take to make it all better.”

It is human nature to wax thus in the face of various and sundry unpleasant circumstances, not really expecting that there is really such a thing.

Now there is: MDT. Where we humans normally use only 20 percent of our brain power, MDT allows us to use all of it! The pill synthesizes everything thing we have learned/seen and catalogs it to be recalled at the just the right moment, enabling us to become perfectly proficient in endless ways.

This is precisely what happens in “Limitless” to Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), a down-on-his-luck New York writer who goes from a bum’s existence to living extra-special large. Based on Alan Glynn’s “The Dark Fields,” it opens nationwide today.

With MDT in his system, Eddie can speak Mandarin and Italian fluently. His facility of karate and boxing are on par with that for Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali, respectively. It spawns in him mathematical genius. It enhances his organizational skills and increases his motivation. On MDT, he wins his ex back. He becomes a perfect version of himself.

Eddie is walking aimlessly down the street one day after his girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish) breaks up with him. He runs into his former brother-in-law, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), a former illegal drug dealer who now deals in legal drugs, some of which are awaiting FDA approval. A creature of habit, he is dispensing at least one – MDT – without benefit of a seal of approval. He leaves his card and one MDT ($800 a pop) with Eddie.

Under the influence of MDT, Eddie encounters his landlord’s wife outside his door. She is not happy. At first, she is far removed from him, a series of bulging eyes and gaping mouth – as if she is talking to someone else – before she comes back into focus. He was blind, but now he sees.

Lindy (Abbie Cornish) out to dinner with a new and improved Eddie (Bradley Cooper) in "Limitless."

Repurposed, Eddie recognizes one of the law books she is carrying. He is familiar because his ex-wife studied from the same. How did he remember that? Eddie advises the landlord’s wife about the book, writes a paper for her, beds her and she goes on her way. Back rent is forgotten. Meanwhile, Eddie is a new man. He addresses his filthy, dingy, dirty apartment and completes several chapters of his book, which he places on the desk of his dubious and dumbfounded editor.

BC is tall, fair and good-looking. He has the face and bearing of a leading man, yet there is at the same time something slight about him. Here is a man who would let his woman see him cry, though maybe she wishes he wouldn’t. He’s more pretty than handsome. Virility does not ooze from his as it does, say Daniel Craig, Christian Beale and Matthew Matthew McConaughey, who also has a film opening today (“The Lincoln Lawyer”).

As Eddie, though, BC is a competent lead. He is also likable and credible. It is easy to imagine him as a writer whose life is about to undergo a cataclysmic change. BC comports himself admirably in one of his strongest roles to date. In “Limitless,” he also has an executive producer’s credit which explains in part why he has top billing over Robert DeNiro who probably appeared in the film as a favor to the kid.

To complete his book, Eddie realizes he needs more MDT because the breathtaking brilliance he had yesterday is gone today. In its place is the familiar block. He goes in search of Vernon and finds him at home with bruises on his face and an air of nonchalance. Before he will give Eddie more MDT he sends him out to pick up his dry cleaning and breakfast. Eddie returns to find Vernon’s apartment ransacked and him murdered.

Financier Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro) sees Eddie (Bradley Cooper) as a cash cow in "Limitless."

While Eddie is freaked out, he had the presence of mind to both call the police and to look for Vernon’s MDT stash. He finds the stash and some cash in the stove. When the police arrive he goes with them to the precinct to give a statement, but that is not quite the end of the matter.

Eddie returns to being his best self. He finishes his book and renegotiates his advance. A makeover transforms him into a replica of a GQ cover model. New threads on his back and a few bucks in his pockets, he embarks on a brief, successful career as a poker ace. Eddie's desire to make more money faster leads him to an Eastern European and/or Russian loan shark (Andrew Howard).

He makes swanky, new acquaintances whose idea of going to the beach is not to Brooklyn or The Hamptons, but to Mexico. One MDT a day, and this is some of what life has to offer

Do not take MDT, however, if you are not already smart; it won’t work for dumb-dumbs.
MDT may cause/lead to
1. dizziness
2. vomiting
3. temporary memory loss
4. premature aging
5. manic behavior
6. promiscuity
7. stalking
8. coma
9. death
10. murder

Eddie (Bradley Cooper) makes a deal with the devil (Andrew Howard) in "Limitless."

It is through one of Eddie’s acquaintances that he comes to the notice of Carl Van Loon, a wealthy, (naturally) ruthless, hardscrabble business magnate played with the expected amount of vigor and swagger by RDeN. He and BC play off of each other well. Van Loon wants to exploit Eddie’s talents for defying the odds on Wall Street, which helped the novice amass $2.3 million in 10 days.

As he rises nearer the top, though, Eddie is in increasing danger both from MDT and those on his tail who know he has the drug and want it for themselves. Surely, his fall is imminent because his meteoric rise is as artificial as a ponzi scheme, no? He’s a drug addict. No doubt, he’s going to crash and burn – yeah?

“Limitless” is a thrilling ride with a satisfying end that leaves the door open for a sequel.

“Limitless” is rated PG-13 for thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who Is This Woman? And What Is She Wearing?

Stylist Jene' Luciani, left, shows off her bra dress and a copy of "The Bra Book." Photos by Lynda Renee.

Jene' Luciani knows how to grab attention. Really, just look at her!

In any case, to promote the e-book version of her tome, The Bra Book (BenBella Books, 2009), she collaborated with costumer/“Project Runway” contestant/fan favorite Chris March to create a dress made of bras.

JL, who has dispensed style advice far and wide on lifestyle shows/segments from “How Do I Look?” to “CNN Money,” will appear in the latter’s BRAVO series set to roll out this summer.

Fast forward to a recent rainy Thursday night. Eyewitnesses and BRAVO cameras were present when JL turned up at her e-book release party at Restaurant at the Charles Hotel turned out in a sleeveless gown with white bustier top embellished with bows and hoop skirt of white and pink color gradation with red sequins.

Paul Johnson Calderone and Jene' Luciani at the launch party for the e-book version of "The Bra Book."

The skirt is made from 200 bras. The frock is reported to be the world’s only “bra dress.” Not sure of the size of each but they look like B cups.

While the dress is a one-off – at this writing in any case – the book is available for all comers, and not a moment too soon.

With spring on our tails and more than 80 percent of women (and perhaps a fair number man-queens) still putting the wrong guards on the girls … Well, throngs should avail themselves of guidance on how to buy, where to buy, which one to wear under sheer, silk tops, etc. – and of course – the perfect little affair to deal with what JL terms “mountains and molehills.”

To purchase the e-book version of "The Bra Book, visit http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/jene-luciani/the-bra-book/_/R-400000000000000282011.

85 Years of Martha Graham Dance Company

Miki Orihara, Mariya Dashkina-Maddux and Blakeley White-McGuire in "Snow on the Mesa. Photos by Sinru Ku.

BY TAMARA BECK

THE
85th anniversary of the Martha Graham Dance Company is a momentous celebratory occasion, not only because of the legacy of Martha Graham, but also because of the resiliency of the company in the face of staggering financial difficulties.

The Company is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s home at the Rose Theater through Sunday (20 March) with a roster of programs that honor its founder, as well as, Robert Wilson, and guest choreographers. For the series the artist, director and choreographer RW has created a tribute to MG called “Snow on the Mesa.” It was performed at the season’s gala opening Tuesday night and will be performed again at Sunday’s matinee.

Martha Graham Dance Company alum Grace Hightower De Niro at the opening night gala.

Tonight's program is a celebration of the collaboration between MG and sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Dances include "Cave of the Heart," a 20th-century take on the Medea myth, and "Embattled Garden," an exploration of contemporary marriage inspired by the story of Adam and Eve with erotic undertones.

MG choreographed 181 dance pieces and also collaborated with the likes of Aaron Copland, Gian Carlo Menotti, Donna Karan, Halston, among others.

Her distinctive style, which has left its influences on the works of Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor and many other dance-makers, grew out of a willingness to experiment with basic human movements. MG was a definitive American voice in the language of dance. Her pupils include Margot Fonteyn, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Liza Minelli and Gregory Peck. All sought her out to help broaden their artistic capabilities.

In “I Am A Dancer,” MG said, “I think the reason dance has held such an ageless magic for the world is that it has been the symbol of the performance of living.”

Her uniquely American dance constructions are full of the vibrancy and rhythm of American life, the spirit of which she explored in all of its freedoms. MG created dances that frankly investigated social, psychological, sexual and political themes.

Martha Graham Dance Company Executive Director LaRue Allen with Artistic Director Janet Eilber at the opening night gala.

Today, Martha Graham Dance Company – the oldest modern dance company in the world – presents not only the classic Graham repertory but also new choreography both at home in New York City and around the world.

Look for more on the company from this reporter who will attend the 19 March matinee. Included on the program is the “Political Dance Project” featuring “Dance is a Weapon Montage” with dances by Isadora Duncan, Eve Gentry, Sophie Maslow, Jane Dudley and MG.

Visit http://marthagraham.org/ to learn more about Martha Graham Dance Company.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Your Healthiest, Juiciest and Happiest Ever

Spring is in the air, and the beach is calling. Photo from Gateway Community Health.

BY Janet Cook, NYC HEALTHY CHICK

IT'S
that time of the year again – Yep, you guessed it – SPRING TIME!!!!

Days are longer with the promise of warmer weather. With higher temps come bathing suits and shorts.

Oh, baby do I love looking at all those men in Central Park who have taken the time to hit the gym this winter. I just wanna lick them like a delicious frozen popsicle on a hot summer day. Oh la la! … My bad.

There is a healthy recipe for losing those last, stubborn pounds whether it is 10 or more. Photo from Salt Lake Accident doctor.

So many of you probably already revisited that New Year's resolution.

Does this scenario ring a bell for anyone?
“I will be my ideal body weight this year. I'm going to lose that last 10 pounds, that's it. I want to be tight, toned and super H-O-T!!!!!”

Well, what's stopping you? Chances are it's probably Y-O-U.

It's O.K. Now is the time to access all the ingredients needed to be your healthiest, juiciest and happiest ever.

So what's been missing from your program? Discipline? Exercise? Variety of healthy food choices? Lack of inspiration? What’s your WHY?

Well, have no fear, NYC Healthy Chick is here to get your assets off the couch and into action – of course, after you read the rest of my article.

"Self-compassion is the missing ingredient in every diet and weight-loss plan," says author and Harvard psychotherapist Jean Fain. In her new book, The Self-Compassion Diet, she stresses the importance of cultivating awareness and self-acceptance wherever you are.

The tools are practical and holistic and include guided visualization, meditation, positive self-talk, cognitive restructuring, writing and journal exercises. Three strategies used are 1) Satisfaction, 2) Gradual Change and 3) Wisdom – meeting your inner diet coach. Most important, the use of self-kindness takes away the shame component that is part of traditional diets while also creating a healthy and harmonious relationship with food.

Proper diet, exercise and meditation are all key components in a lasting weight-loss plan. Photo from Akili Tea.

In my health coaching practice, I tell clients that they are amazing and perfect already. Plus, I stress how important it is for them to love the body they are in right now ... not just the body they imagine or achieve when they reach their goal weight. Some days I have to remind myself of this practice.

Another important lesson is the one about our relationship with food. There are no wrong or right, good or bad choices. I teach the importance of mindful and balanced eating while focusing on consuming healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and a little animal protein.

When the body is balanced it craves nothing. Bodies tend to be out of balance when they work too much, when we don’t have enough quality relationships, when we don’t have a physical or spiritual practice in place. When we are out of balance our stress levels skyrocket, not to mention cortisol levels. This creates that spare tire around the midsection, and food cravings can be off the charts!

We can’t have that, so here are NYC Healthy Chick's five questions to ask before you eat anything.

1. Am I really hungry or am I dehydrated?

2. If yes, what am I hungry for?

Curried Chicken and (Brown) Rice Soup does the diet good. Photo from Food Network.

3. Is what I am about to eat going to support me in meeting my health goals?

4. If it doesn't, am I self-soothing or self-medicating myself so I can feel better about some area in my life?

5. If I make the choice to eat something that doesn't support my goals am I'm fully accepting of myself and where I am now?

Below are some NYC Healthy Chick-approved springtime recipes to test drive:

Stuffed Chicken Divan with a Sherry Dijon Sauce
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/stuffed-chicken-divan-with-a-sherry-dijon-sauce-recipe/index.htm

Curried Chicken and Rice Soup (Use Brown Rice Instead)
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/curried-chicken-and-rice-soup-recipe/index.html

White-Bean Chili
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/white-bean-chili-recipe2/index.html

These dishes are guaranteed to put some spring in your step.

General Daily Guidelines for a Balanced Diet

Fruit: 1-2 servings – remember it's still sugar even though it's all natural.

Greens and Vegetables: 5-10 servings (broccoli, bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, water cress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, dandelion, green cabbage, arugula, endive, chicory, dark leafy greens, mesclun, wild greens, spinach, swiss chard and beet greens)

White-bean chili is an interesting twist on a traditional dish. Photo from Food Network.
Grains: 1-2 servings (oatmeal – not instant, quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat – kasha, amaranth, barley, bulgur, cornmeal – polenta, cousous, kamut, millet, rye berries, spelt, wheat berris & wild rice)

Nuts and Nut butters: 1-3 servings (brazil, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, coconut, pistachios)

Beans: 1-3 servings (adzuki, anasazi, black, black-eyed peas, cannellini chickpeas, cranberry, fava, great northern, kidney, lentils, lima beans, mung, navy, pinto, split peas – make sure to get them dried and soak them as canned beans have a lot of added sodium)

Animal Protein: 1-3 servings (meat, fish, chicken – be sure to eat a variety all the time)
 
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