Wednesday, September 29, 2004

News from the past

What a weird day. I got a phone call from a friend I haven't heard from in at least three years. He said he was in town for a short while and asked if I'd have the time to go and meet him. I did and so I went to see him. He couldn't come to my place since he's driving a huge semi and well, it doesn't exactly fit into a normal parking space... We had a nice little chat on a super market parking lot. He's a guy I used to visit with my friend Satu and we'd go out and party. There'd be a big bunch of us (Satu and I originally met these people in a chat room on the net) and we'd usually have a blast. But my gosh, that was something like eight, nine years ago, almost. When I told Satu about the visit today, she nailed the feeling I'd had right to the point. It was like news from the past. From the time me and Satu were barely 20-year-olds and just graduated from senior high. Good grief. I'm so glad I've grown up a bit since that. Or at least I think so. Hope so? Well, the clothes I wore back then won't fit me anymore, that's for sure. :) (Yeah, yeah, I know that's not what it means...)

Oh, oh, this I've got to mention. My car should be all fixed up and good to go again! I called the repair guy and he said there had been a broken fuel hose (aagh, more terminology I'm not at all familiar with in English - please excuse any mistakes and funny choises of words). So not at all a big thing. Except for the fact that the poor car has been leaking gas all around lately. The only thing for me to do now is to get to Nousiainen to pick the car up. Which I'll have time for on Sunday at the earliest... Oh well, at least I know it should be ok now. The nice repair guy has even fixed the door handle that has been broken for almost a full year now. I may actually be able to get out of the car without any problems from now on. Isn't life wonderful? Dad and Lauri, however, are already planning on ordering a car for me from Germany. That sounds good, but it'd sound even better if they said they'd pay for it too! (Slim chances of that ever happening, I'm afraid...)

And before I go to watch Stargåte, a few Somethingrathers of the Day, just for fun. Best Buy of the Day: a small bag with a picture of a cute cartoonish giraffe. Pretty and useful. I had to buy it when I saw it. The Question of the Day: "Is this eight supposed to be as fast as the ones last year?" This was asked in dance class today, referring to a dance move. How am I supposed to know which eight from last year she actually meant? We did hundreds of them. Of various sizes and "speeds". Which naturally brings us the Answer of the Day: "Well, let's say this isn't quite as fast, shall we?" The Surprise of the Day is a tie between a phone call from an old friend and the fact that I actually enjoyed the Finnish dialect -lecture today!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Friends and neighbors

Today my neighbor learned to play the piano. Or someone who already knew how to play moved in this weekend while I was out of town. Either way, I had two kinds of music to listen to (in addition to Nightwish) today. First there was someone playing sort of poorly, trying to learn a boring and very melancholy song and a bit later there was someone playing freely and merrily and way better than the first one. Then someone (maybe the first player?) tried to play a very beautiful classical piece I myself had to learn when I still played the piano. And this person made the exact same mistake I used to do quite often - tried to play quicker than his/her skills would actually allow. It didn't sound very good.

I envy Maarit (once again), because she has a neighbor who plays songs from the LotR soundtrack. Quite beautifully, too. I'm thinking of hanging some good sheets of soundtrack music downstairs on the notice board. Maybe the player or players would take a hint? I hope it would be the player who actually knew how to play. (But what if they are the same person after all and I would end up having to listen to poorly played themes from my favorite movies? Oh dear. I think I'll visit Maarit instead and listen to her neighbor play.)

Oh, I totally forgot to mention that on Friday, I finally got my dear old car into a bit more cooperative mood! I was actually able to drive it to Nousiainen - straight to the yard of my regular car repair man. I so hope he can still fix the poor vehicle and I'll be able to drive it one more year. It did seem a bit ominous, when I called him up and asked if he'd still take a look at my car, there was a moments silence and then he asked "It still runs?" He sounded so surprised that it was funny. I told him that was the problem, that it doesn't actually run that well at all... Ok, so when I got to his place and hopped out of the car, his daughter was outside (I'm friends with the whole family) and the first thing she says is "You still drive that thing?". My gosh, I think I really have to start saving up for a new set of wheels. Although this seems to be a good way to entertain people. Even my old teacher said she remembered that particular vehicle quite well and did sound a bit amused when she learned I still had it.

On to other things, then. Grandpa had his 83rd birthday yesterday. Isn't that something? It is sad, however, to see how his Alzheimer's is progressing all the time. I talked with my brother after we left from Uittamo, about the fact that it would, in a way, be good if he got to sleep away before he becomes completely demented. It's the saddest thing to see a mind crumble like that. Grandpa has always been very stubborn and opinionated, but nowadays he seems to live more and more in a world of his own. He isn't able to follow discussions that well anymore and his short term memory is sometimes very poor. It makes it difficult to follow his trail of thoughts too, since he can suddenly (after a long silence from his part, during which the others have moved well on in the discussion) comment on something that was discussed quite a while ago. There's a moment of silence when everyone is trying to figure out what his comment was about and then everyone nods and usually patiently agrees with him.

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease. Not only for the one who has it, but also to the people close to him. I can't even begin to understand how grandma must feel. Her husband of many decades is little by little fading away, his personality changing. She has said to mom that it is sometimes hard to keep in mind that grandpa is really sick and can't help "being difficult", when she gets annoyed with him. Luckily grandpa does nowadays take his medication regularly and has better days, too. And he still remembers for example all the names of the closest family members. And they still drive to the super market once a week. Which I think they shouldn't be doing, however. But letting go of driving must also be extremely hard, when you have been driving almost all your life. I talked about it with dad the other day and as he said it, it must feel like yet another step towards death. Or in any way, it's a good-sized chunk of independence to give away, the ability to drive around and not be dependent of anyone else's schedules, for example. I hate the idea myself, which of course is one of the reasons I so desperately try to hang on to my car.

Goodness, I didn't plan on getting this somber and dark today, because this was a good day. I managed to begin working on my poetry analysis, the lesson plans on the US presidential elections and I even got around the research books for my thesis. I read about Henry VIII's relations with the nobility, interesting stuff, although written a bit too much like a list of names to be a truly captivating research. I decided I'd pick sir William FitzWilliam to be the Name of the Day. A nice name, isn't it? While I'm at it, I'll pick Higher Than Hope (by Nightwish) to be the Song of the Day. A beautiful song, a very touching melody. Oh, and the Word of the Day is demihakes. I have absolutely no idea what it means. I came across it in the research I was reading and it had something to do with the military (some sort of category of foot soldiers, perhaps?) but I wasn't able to find it in any online encyclopedias. I did find the word "hake", which was some sort of fish, but somehow I don't think Henry VIII had any kind of half fish in his army... So anyone who can clarify the meaning of this military term, please do so. Much obliged.

Oh, and the "friends" part of the topic of today. I sat down to have a cup of tea with a friend today. I hadn't seen her in quite a while, although she lives downstairs to me! Isn't that just plain sad, how I've managed to stuff my days so full that I don't seem to have the time to invite friends for a cup of tea in the evening? Well, today we did sit and talk for three hours straight. It's so nice to talk with her, since she is in the same situation I'm at, trying to get her thesis done and at the same time doing substitute teaching. Talking really was some sort of therapy for both of us, I think. It's so good to have friends who you can share your thoughts with. I'm lucky to have quite a few friends like that.

Ok, that's it for the day. I'm off to watch Conan O'Brien. Ta ta.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Fabulous Entertainment

First of all, I had a terrible day today. Most of the day, that is. I woke up tired (nightmares again, thank you not so much, Mr. Sandman) and carried on to having an angst attack of some sort. While still tired, naturally. Not the best possible way to start a day, I tell you. I was angry and frustrated about a million things, mostly my car and my impossible schedules for the upcoming months. Luckily a short chitchat with a couple of friends on the icq helped a bit.

What didn't help was the lecture I had to go to. It was about the Finnish dialects. I do love the Finnish language and I do think I could end up being also a Finnish teacher, but honestly, I could not care less about the darned dialects. I love semantics, discourse analysis, writing, reading, rhetorics and what have you, but the dialects. I don't even know why I have such an irrational attitude towards them. I think I have to try to rethink this bit or I'll be bored to death during this course. It'll be a whole academic year long too, for crying out loud. Lectures till Christmas and then some sort of exercises after that. Gaah. I'm so not excited about it. Funnily enough I am excited about a course on pedagogic grammar (exactly...) and I'm sort of annoyed that I'll miss half the lectures on that course during my substitute teaching job later this fall. I'm not a bit annoyed that I'll miss half the dialect lectures... Oh well, I hope I pass the exam, that's my goal in life now - to get that done.

That and my master's thesis. And a poetry analysis essay. And a few choreographies. And about half a dozen articles for Spin (which, if someone out there doesn't know, is a fanzine published by Turku Science Fiction Society - which I may end up editing next year, yay!). And a presentation about the presidential elections of the United States and and...

You see why I had an anxiety attack after a poorly slept night? Exactly. It's really not that impossible to get everything done when I get to it, but the amount of work looming ahead of me is a bit overwhelming at times. So there, that was todays rant-session. So good to get that out of my system.

Which then brings me to Fabulous Entertainment. After getting back home from Parainen (and from grandma's & grandpa's - my car wouldn't start today either, sigh) I was so sweaty and tired that I just took a shower and sat in front of the TV. I didn't even have the energy to quickly drop by my brother's place as I had promised, it would've meant more biking. So instead of sitting in front of my brother's nice big tv I sat at home and stared at my own tiny box of moving pictures. And what was on, you wonder?

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I tell you, I want those guys, the Fab 5, here in my apartment. I want them to redo my livingroom and bedroom in a stylish manner. They'd probably throw away 95% of my old clothes, but hey, I wouldn't care if they took me shopping to some fancy designer boutique. Today's show had a handsome young man (a city cowboy, they described him, I think) who wanted to propose to his girlfriend in style. So he did, eventually. After visiting a Ralph Lauren boutique, a beauty salon, a stylish restaurant (men can't shop without food either, it seems) and (gasp) a chocolate shoppe (at this point I was drooling on the floor, yummy). Meanwhile the interior designer gay guy had done a few miracles at the apartment. I just can't believe they try to tell me it was all done in a single day. No way. New paint on the walls (all of them!) and new furniture and so on.

What reality (or part of time/space continuum) do they live in? As far as I've been able to tell, renovating one's apartment in such a way is at least a several days worth of work. Unless, of course, they had about 20 professional people working on it. Which is possible, I suppose, in this kind of a program. Anyhow, they did a very nice job. And the best part? The poor straight guy cried when they showed him the Maroccan tent-thingie they had built outside. How cute is that? Aww.

Well, I suppose the proposal was sweet too. Although I think the effect of a man kneeling down in front of you loses a bit, when you're sitting down on a bunch of pillows and he seems to be half crouching instead of gallantly kneeling...

Ok, I admit it, I'm a sucker for men kneeling down. Or elves kneeling down (oh, the day's looking infinitely better - I was able to bring elves into the picture!), for that matter. I still can't watch the coronation scene in the Lord of the Rings - Return of the King without crying when all the men and elves alike bow down to the hobbits. And earlier on in the trilogy, when Aragorn kneels to Frodo and offers his life to protect Frodo on the perilous journey - why can't I have someone kneeling down before me like that? My life is seriously lacking chivalrous men. (Well, men altogether at the moment, if I'm completely honest...)

Oops, a bit of a side track there. :) So, what I was going to say about the QEftSG-program was that it was good entertainment and made me feel better. It wasn't one of those reality shows that try to be nasty in some way, it seemed to huff and puff positive thoughts. Unlike, for example, the Top Model reality show I bumped into yesterday. Talking about bitchy queens there. Which doesn't mean I won't watch next weeks episode of that model show too, but the reasons will be different. I'll watch the Fab 5 because I think they were positively entertaining and the models because I do want to see when one of the girls "can't handle it anymore" as the teaser so gently put it. All in all, the production companies probably couldn't care less for my reasons, they have a watcher.

So there. Today seems to get better when midnight draws closer, so who knows, maybe I won't have nightmares tonight and I'll be happy the whole day tomorrow, even without reality tv. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Raindrops keep falling

There's no end to this rain, it seems. It has rained practically all summer long and now that the Finnish fall has settled in, it's keeping up the wet work. I don't mind the rain, usually, but now that the days are getting shorter and darker anyway, couldn't it be sunny for a while? I'd love to have a few of those pristine, beautiful days of fall, when the sky is bright and although it's cold, the sun makes all the colors in nature more vivid. But no, someone up there has decided that here in Turku we don't need anything but grey and rain. Depressing. I wonder if it's the weather that makes me especially tired these days. Well, it is the weather in the sense that I have been waking up a few times a night because of the sound of the hard rain.

The other thing waking me up are the power tools of the construction workers who are renovating our apartment building. I'm beginning to think that they have to use the power tools between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. due to some kind of union regulation or something. The earlier the better. And these guys have really decided to dedicate themselves to this regulation. Yesterday, for example, I woke up a bit after 7 a.m. to the delightful sound of some kind of drill that was used to make huge holes in some kind of metal pipes. Or that's what it sounded like. A screeching sound so awful that I immediately fell back to sleep... :) Ok, I have to admit I had stayed up too late and at that time in the morning I was still so tired that it wasn't even too difficult to sleep in the noise. Lucky me.

Today I have to face the instructor of my master's thesis in the seminar session (mustn't sleep there!). Yikes. I've decided that despite the substitute teaching jobs I'll have this fall (that I already know of), I'm going to have to be able to present the first sample chapter in December. Which means I'll have to get some serious work done in the near future. Starting today. I have a huge pile of resource books and materials on my desk all ready and waiting, but from now on, I really do have to start using them too. You'll be hearing from this project quite often, no doubt. The blog will be a perfect way to let out some steam or whine about not being able to get anything done, and I'm sure I'll find myself in both of those situations sooner or later...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Night Wishes

I'm beginning to understand my friend Maarit, who is a huge fan of Nightwish.

I've always thought Nightwish had some nice songs, but since I'm not that excited about the heavier stuff (in general) I've never really listened to them that much. Or the other bands some of my friends so enthusiastically listen to, the kinds I tend to categorize under the title "awful noise with no melody and lots of angry men yelling". Well, that's quite an exaggerated statement, but serves my point. When I was asked to come to this gig, I thought I'd be curious and go see what the Finnish music industry so proudly exports. A good decision, I must say. I had the best of time tonight. Nightwish proved to be well worth getting to know. I think I have to borrow some of their albums from somewhere now.

Music is best enjoyed in a live situation, though. This was true also in this case. Maarit ran to the front row with me in tow and so I ended up in second row with perfect view of the stage. (I was also wearing my high heel boots, so I towered over most of the crowd anyway...) The warm-up band (Twilightning, I think) was ok, but when Nightwish came on to the stage the crowd went wild and I had a strange feeling of chills. It might have been the intro though, it sounded like the theme from King Arthur - I felt like I was missing a sword (or a bow) and a horse and the chills were a sign of something big coming my way. Wow, I must say.

I don't like to pretend I know anything about the music I heard tonight, I'll leave that discussion for the ones that really know their Nightwish. For a Nightwish-beginner like me, the concert seemed just great. It was nice to hear material from their new album (the songs that I know from radio...) and also some old favourites, like The Phantom of the Opera. Which of course isn't a Nightwish original, although it sounds amazing when Tarja and Marco sing it together.

I said I'm beginning to understand Maarit a bit (or a lot) better. One of the reasons for that is watching her favourite, Tuomas, perform. He plays the keyboard and my goodness. Some major charm at work there! He seems to flirt not only with the audience (oh, I'm sure he looked straight at me many times - and so think probably all the other girls, too, in the general direction I was in...) but also with the instrument he plays. His expressions ranged from a crazed stare (the kind you see in old vampire films, when the vamp looks down on its prey) to a cute grin. I couldn't help but laugh when he crouched behind the keyboards, took a sip of wine and peeked from under his instrument into the crowd. That would've been a perfect photo moment. :) Other would've been any of the times he played while wildly throwing his hair about. I don't understand how can anyone hit any right keys when they do that at the same time.

Which brings me to another thing I had time to ponder about tonight. Men and long hair. I've always been jealous of men who have longer and prettier hair than I do. Well, tonight I saw plenty of that sort. I wonder, since not all guys look good with long hair, is it some kind of a requirement for getting into a band of this sort, that the guys need to look good with long hair? If they happen to have short hair when they come to the job interview, do they have to present a photo manipulation of themselves with long hair? The lead singer of Twilightning, the visiting guitar player of the same band and well, all the guys in Nightwish (Tuomas above all, I think) were prime examples of men with annoyingly pretty or long hair. One has to say, however, that Tarja also has beautiful black (&long) hair, so she really doesn't stand in shame beside her fellow Nightwishers.

Well, I suppose I have to let the experience sink in a bit, right now I have a night wish myself. A wish for sleep for the rest of the night. Preferably with some pleasant dreams of cute men with long hair. :)

Nighty night.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Grandpa's car and other ways to move around

Grandpa has an old, small Peugeot. It's a cute little thing that moves surprisingly swiftly when needed. I have an old, not so small Skoda. It's not that cute and doesn't move that swiftly either. And today, it was totally and utterly in an uncooperative mood. Well, actually it was in that mood already a week ago on Sunday, so I didn't even bother to try to negotiate with it today.

But since I had to get to Parainen (I teach a dance class there) somehow, I had to borrow grandpa's car. Which is fine, although I hate to drive without having something to listen to. Like the radio. I'm addicted to music. Grandma & grandpa don't like to listen to anything while they are in the car, so the radio is old and broken. If I turn it on, I risk driving off the road at any second. It (the radio) does this thing where the volume goes through the roof all of a sudden and basically gives me a heart attack. So no radio. Oh well, radio is such a small luxury compared to the fact that I can get into grandpa's car without any problems, I can get out of the car without any problems and I can start the car without any problems - who gives a damn about a radio anyway??

Yet another car related matter. Dad had just bought a brand new SUV. Silver-colored Honda CR-V. Very nice. Very big and shiny. I can't wait to borrow it! :) I loved the old CR-V too, it was an automatic like this new one, too. I love not having to shift gears. Wonderful. I don't mind a stick shift either, but give me an automatic any day and I wouldn't even think twice about which I would choose. Although I must admit that I am somehow attached to my "Skodillac" and I'm sort of sad to think that it really doesn't have that much time on this Earth anymore. I've always thought that it's got the right attitude for car of a history student. After all, it has been made in a country that doesn't exist anymore. However, a new car is on my list of things to buy as soon as I can get a steady income...

So. Dance classes began today. What fun it was after a long break. I had a huge group in Parainen, there were 30 names on the list. Only 24 or so came to practice today, but I suspect the rest of them are coming next week. Yikes. That's a lot of people. But as always, the very first lesson of a beginners' oriental dance course is just so much fun. People seem to come to the course thinking it'll be very easy and that they won't have to sweat at all. How wrong they are... ;) Oriental dance can look deceivingly "light", but the amount of strength and coordination needed is quite surprising to many.

It's not like I require Riverdance-like precision from my students, that's not the point, but I think that one of the best things people can learn from oriental dance is the control of one's own body. I know it's one of the reasons I love it so much. I was an unsecure senior high school student when I began dancing and dancing gave me a lot of self-confidence and, well, posture. I so hope some of the teenage students I had in class today are going to feel a bit more comfortable in their bodies after this course. Or at least remember to stand up straight. There's nothing more annoying than beautiful young girls who look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame when they hang around with their friends. As a history teacher I probably can't do much about it, but in the dance rehearsals I'm in a bit more appropriate situation to tell everyone to tuck in their tummies and bottoms and lift up their chest. :)

I wonder how many students I have tomorrow in Lieto - I hope that the groups there will be as nice as this first one seemed to be. It always helps me motivate myself when I know the group is enthusiastic and happy. Because in just a few weeks time I'm going to be muttering about having to drive around to teach dancing. It takes all my time and I'm going to be tired and annoyed. But that's only before the class. Usually when I drive home, I'm all smiles and I feel great. The energy I get from the students - I feel like a vampire sucking it in. Some sort of natural high, I suppose. :) What I said about the relation between the performer and the audience earlier when I pondered the Riverdance show, applies quite well here too.

Oh, but now I need to get something to eat. All this dancing and writing about dancing made me hungry. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Another one

Congratulations and lots of hugs to Shimo, Petra and Iria, who now have a newborn baby girl in the family! Such wonderful news. Shimo now has three ladies in his life and I'm sure the newcomer will keep her daddy just as busy as her big sister has. :)

Moving pictures

It's really quite interesting how quickly my body has returned to the old routine of "I don't have to wake up early in the morning so don't even try to think about it". While working at the university this summer I had to be at work at 8 a.m. which is totally too early for me. But after about a month or so, it didn't feel that bad. I managed to get up 6.40 a.m. without too much effort. In fact, I'd wake up at (exactly) 6.40 a.m. even without my alarm. Though that was after I had finished my job at the history department and could've slept in as long as I wanted... Go figure.

This was a week ago. I don't have any problems sleeping in anymore. Sigh. I suppose I have to set my alarm tonight just so that I can actually get something done every day. Ever notice how much shorter a day is, if you don't get up before 10.30 a.m.? A lot shorter. And on days like these I rarely get anything done. It must be because I've overslept or something. Which is actually a bummer. I love sleeping and it does this to me. Thank you ever so much, Mr. Sandman...

Went to see King Arthur last night with some friends. Kinda liked the movie. Lancelot was yummy. (See, I've got my priorities set right, heh.) I've heard quite a lot of negative comments about the movie, though. I think it does deserve some of them. The story wasn't a masterpiece of any kind and when a movie is said to be "the truth behind the myth", I tend to cringe a bit. Whose truth? The directors, of course.

I'm not saying this particular movie was a total failure of "historical accuracy", in fact it was one of the best Arthur-movies I've ever seen. It was set in the time I've understood to be about the right time for the birth of the legend (at least according to some sources) and not to some romantical medieval world that existed about 700 years later. The mythological pieces of the story we all know so well (the sword in the stone, Merlin's role in all of it etc.) were either explained reasonably well or anchored to a reality of some sort. No huge magics or lightning bolts, very good. Fantasy has its place in my heart, but this movie was refreshing in its attempt to be realistic. And the Grail wasn't even mentioned, hooray!

What I've been thinking lately, after seeing some of these new epic movies, is the role of history in the storytelling. Especially when the medium used to tell the story is the "moving picture". As a history major and a future history teacher I probably should be very critical and try to find all the mistakes the movie makers have made when building ancient Troy or Hadrian's wall, designing the wardrobe for the actors and so on. But I'm just not. Why then, you may ask.

Well. First of all, I don't think Hollywood movies should qualify as historical documentaries. These movies are made to entertain, not to educate. Naturally a well-made historical movie will tell the audiences something about history, but I simply don't see the future curriculum in history classes consisting of nothing but Hollywood movies. It won't happen. Directors use their right to bend the truth and so be it. If someone wants to learn all there is to learn about the Trojan War or the Roman Empire's doings in Britain, they should find a few good research papers. Read a dozen good articles. Read some more books and all the time stay critical of the sources and the motives behind the texts. Or maybe they could watch a few documentaries. But please, please don't come to me and tell me how many details were wrong in this and this part of such and such a movie. I can find those mistakes myself, if I'm interested. Mostly I just want to be entertained when I'm at the movies. And last night, I was entertained. If by nothing else, at least by a well cast role of Lancelot. Nice job, Ioan Gruffud! :)

On the other hand, if a movie got you interested in any period of history so much that you went and found out more about it, lots of brownie points for you! If there's to be an educational side to historical Hollywood epics, let it be this. Some fuel for imagination and curiosity is all that is needed sometimes. If a movie gets you thinking "Was it really like that in the medieval days?" or "Why would they do that in those days?", it's a good start.

I'm just saying that history at best is an artificial creation. We can never truly find out with absolute certainty the objective truth about, say, the legend of King Arthur. The sources available are limited and to claim something or other on the basis of any sources is always just an interpretation of what was. So why not let the movie people have fun with history too. If you are an educated movie-goer, you'll understand that you probably shouldn't believe everything that is said in a movie and if you're not... Well, just have fun. You can always ask about the facts later from someone else.

Oh, I'm beginning to sound just a bit too much like I'm giving a lecture on the nature of history, so I'd better stop yapping about it. :)

Finally, all the best to the Suntila family - Iria's going to have a baby brother or sister today. I hope everything goes well and I'll hear soon which one it was... :)

Monday, September 13, 2004

Splashing about

Here goes nothing. A blog. I've been thinking about this for quite some time now, but haven't actually had the energy to find out what needs to be done in order to begin blogging. Not much, as it seems. Now I just need to find out whether or not I have the energy to keep posting...

So, welcome, friends and strangers alike, to the Shallow End of the Pool of Thought.

Dancing away

I went to see the Riverdance show yesterday. Wow. One cannot but admire the precision and skill of the dancers. Not to mention the obvious joy the whole troupe shines out to the audience. This is what dance should be, in my opinion.

As I know a bit about dancing myself, I kept thinking about the amount of hours that has gone into the rehearsals of the show. Of course these people are professionals and when something is your job, you really should put some effort into it. However, I couldn't help wondering how many times the dancers have bumped into each other before the group choreographies have become the smooth, flawless string of motion I saw on stage.

Oh, and the music. I haven't had the pleasure of dancing to live music myself (in a performance situation, that is), but it must be a thrill. The Riverdance orchestra played beautifully and the powerful rhythms almost got me crying at times. (That's me, quite the cry-baby sometimes - I get so moved...) Especially the drums. Oh, how I love drums, like the bodhrán in the case of Riverdance. The power of the drums is amazing. I just wanted to get up and dance myself, but was forced to sit tight, since there would've (no doubt) been a lot of angry fellow audience members behind me...

Which brings me to the other thing that bothered me about the show. (The first being the fact that I couldn't dance along, that is.) The Finnish audience. Imagine this. There's a hockey arena full of Finnish people watching a dance show. They sit quietly, not moving a muscle. They clap their hands a few polite times for the soloists' performances and when the troupe itself encourages the audience to clap to the rhythm of the music, the Finns keep it up for about a minute or so, and then they fall back into a silent mode. They won't allow themselves to show any signs of excitement. So what's up with that, then?

I know from a personal experience that this doesn't mean that the Finns don't like or enjoy the show, but it could be a surprise for a performer who hasn't seen a Finnish audience before. For a dancer on the stage the audience is a huge reserve of energy that seems to disappear with the Finnish silence. I found myself clapping enthusiastically many times whereas the elderly couples sitting right next to me, well, didn't. I was a bit worried they might try to silence me down (since it's obviously not appropriate to clap and cheer in the middle of the dance), but luckily they didn't and I got to enjoy the show my way.

I'm so happy I spent my last euros and went to see the show. It was an inspiring performance and gave me a few good ideas too. Oh and by the way. Our next show will have a visiting star, a young, talented boy who has rehearsed with the Riverdance group in Ireland. It'll be very interesting working with him and get to know a bit more about this type of traditional Irish dancing. The show will be an interesting mix of oriental and Irish dance - but you'll hear about it more later, I'm sure.