Elevate Difference


Literary Readings: Margaret Atwood (9/20/2010)

Have you ever overheard such a riveting, witty conversation that you simply had to eavesdrop? Listening to Margaret Atwood and Valerie Martin quibble over every possible tangent to Atwood’s latest paperback The Year of the Flood felt much like playing the part of an enchanted voyeur.

Form, Balance, Joy

It is an irony of contemporary aesthetics that accessibility is not considered a virtue. A degree of alienation between the general audience and the creator is a given, and a work of universal appeal is suspect. Any creation that is an uninhibited celebration of color, shape, and motion would go begging in a world of minimalist forms or conceptual constructs. Humor as a quality is particularly suspect. Alexander Calder not only produced work based on these elements, he made the first mobiles as a young artist in Paris.

Sex in Mommyville (8/19/2010)

For feminists marriage and motherhood have always been gray areas. While feminists of the seventies were quick to write off these roles as domestic slavery, some contemporary feminists have embraced these roles, finding that one can be an independent woman and still be a loving mother and wife. However, finding a balance between the roles of independent career woman as well as wife and mother can be a struggle. This struggle is at the crux of The Flea Theater’s production of the one woman show, Sex in Mommyville.

UK Feminista Summer School (7/31 - 8/1/2010)

UK Feminista was started by Kat Banyard, the author of The Equality Illusion: The Truth About Men and Women Today, who gave a particularly inspiring speech during the first panel, "The Importance of Feminist Organising." The enormous strength of the first day of summer school was its focus on practice.

The House Of Bilquis Bibi (7/2010)

Making her UK stage debut is veteran Indian singer and actress Ila Arun who plays the formidable lady in question. As the Pakistani mother of five unmarried daughters (Ghizala Avan, Vineeta Rishi, Shalini Peiris, Mariam Haque and Youkti Patel), Bilquis Bibi rules her house with an iron rod, almost literally.

Florida Supercon (6/18 – 6/20/2010)

Since I live in Miami, a city of fashionable sameness, it can be difficult to find alternatives to the mainstream culture. So I was convention curious. Yet all I knew about anime was what I’d seen on Adult Swim or the Syfy channel: doe-eyed, borderline pornographic girls in their miniskirts and ponytails. I can never get past the not-so-subtle little girl fetish.

12th Annual Allied Media Conference (6/18 - 6/20/2010)

This weekend I attended my favorite conference: the Allied Media Conference (AMC) in Detroit. This year was way more subdued than the last two years I’ve attended. There were fewer people of color present; I didn’t go to very many sessions; I was on my period, feeling real low energy; and it was still amazing and transformative, and once again reminded me of what I’m here to do in this world.

The Fatal Beauty of Tajooj (7/15/2010)

My artwork offers a glimpse into my world. I hope that it inspires your imagination and leaves you with a lasting impression. - Suzanne Hilal Last Thursday, in a small cafe in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, guests sipped lemon juice and lattes and listened to a number of young men perform modern love songs as Suzanne Hilal transported a sizable audience hundreds of years back to an isolated place in East Sudan through her collection of print works.

Mangos with Chili (7/11/2010)

I was thrilled to be able to attend a special Mangos with Chili show on Sunday night at Bluestockings in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I was thrilled not just because I consider the founders, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Ms.

A Parallelogram (7/1/2010)

In Euclidean geometry, parallel lines never intersect. In post-Euclidean geometry, all parallel lines under specific conditions—for example, placed on a globe—will converge. In Bruce Norris’ new play, A Parallelogram, parallelogram is the term used to describe a window of sorts in space and time. The protagonist’s future self visits her through such a passage and discloses details of her life and the world to come.

Black Pearl Sings! (6/18/2010)

With their current production, Black Pearl Sings!, InterAct Theatre brings a powerful story to the Mainstage of Philadelphia’s Adrienne. The intimate performance space, where third row is a mere six feet from the floor-level stage, helps one feel immersed in the story. Written by Frank Higgins and directed by Seth Rozin, the two-act play stars C. Kelly Wright as Alberta “Pearl” Johnson and Catharine K. Slusar as Susannah Mullally.

Xenogensesis II: Intergalactic Beings (4/30/2010)

I purchased a copy of Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild at a secondhand bookstore and let it rest on my shelf for years as next-to-read. Fortunately, it was in my bag when I was shuttled from the ER to a hospital for a week-long stay: I possessed a means of transport away from a battered attempt at sterility and the monotony of crisis to an intense, sparse yet beautifully rendered world. I was reading Octavia Butler.

Prophecy (6/6/2010)

Forty years ago, Edwin Starr’s “War” was a Billboard Top 100 hit, an explicit denunciation of armed conflict. “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing,” he trilled. Karen Malpede’s Prophecy takes this sentiment as her starting point. Her latest play, an ambitious, layered look at the damage wrought by centuries of strife on the battlefield—and in the personal relationships that ensue once military action is over—is bold and dramatic. It’s also shrill. Numerous stories unfold simultaneously.

Reclaiming the F Word Book Launch (6/3/2010)

I went to the launch event for Catherine Redfern and Kristin Aune's book Reclaiming the F Word at The University Women's Club.

Kanyadaan (5/14/2010)

It is with much anticipation that I attended the opening night show of Kanyadaan, a play written by Vijay Tendulkar and directed by Pratidhwani’s Agastya Kohli. The reasons for my enthusiasm were multifold; for one, I’ve been a fan of Agastya’s (and Pratidhwani’s) work for a few years now, and second, I had personally worked with all members of Kanyadaan’s talented cast in last year’s incisive political satire, Ek Tha Gadha, Urf Aladad Khan.

Endgame (04/13/2010)

The final stage of chess, the endgame, is a stage of the game in which few pieces are left on the board and pawns increase in significance. Endgames often center on trying to promote a pawn by moving it to the eighth rank. The king, typically sheltered from checkmate, changes into a strong piece that can be brought to the center of the board for attacks.

MILK (5/1/2010)

Emily DeVoti’s provocative two-act play, MILK, opens in a spare farmhouse kitchen. It’s 1984. Ronald Reagan has just been elected US president and local newscasters seem to have nothing good to report. Meg (played by Jordan Baker), a former mathematician who loves precision and order, and her husband Ben (Jon Krupp), a former investigative reporter, are sitting at the table and talking, but it’s the kind of tense conversation that can quickly turn from controlled anger to fierce argument. Things are bad, very bad.

Joe Frank (03/13/2010)

To presume to review Joe Frank is somewhat to akin to being a happy floating paramecium—although I do tend to fancy myself more of a sleek euglena, and in reality might more resemble an amorphous and permeable amoeba—to be such a creature, swimming giddily or cluelessly drifting in a little globule of ooze, and to attempt to gaze up through the tensile surface of the liquid from beneath, through the intervening air, up through the lenses of the microscope in their black enamel encasement, although such microscopes may be but a relic of my youth, and then attempt to

Second Annual International Body Music Festival (12/5/2009)

Body Music is an inherently populist art form. You just need a body, your hands, your feet, your mouth, the ground, a sense of rhythm, or any of these elements in any combination. Body Music has been around forever, created and passed down through generations of people from all parts of the world, and often serves as an expression of freedom in the face of oppression. The Herbst Theater, on the other hand, is a fancy schmancy theater decorated in ornate European style, whose very architecture denotes class and spectacle.

Kaija Saariaho and the International Contemporary Ensemble (11/19/2009)

In the LeGuin novel The Left Hand of Darkness a character notes the dearth of female composers. Thus, I was delighted to learn of the music of Kaija Saariaho.

Elizabeth Gilbert (01/25/2010)

I fell in love with Elizabeth Gilbert’s smart, poetic, humorous and utterly authentic voice while reading Eat, Pray, Love.

Emmylou Harris (10/27/2009)

No matter how many songs Emmylou Harris sings or how many chords she strums, this legendary artist consistently sounds fresh and vibrant. At the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin, I had the pleasure of seeing Emmylou and her Red Dirt Boys, along with special guest and opener Buddy Miller.

Decibelle (10/15 -10/18/2009)

The Decibelle Music & Culture Festival was a mixed bag, so I’m going to break it down for you, Clint Eastwood style. The Good Me'Shell Ndegeocello is a blessing. My plus-one and I attended her 10 p.m.

Sins Invalid (10/04/2009)

As a dancer, I feel most alive when I'm present in my body; when I breathe hard, feel the power of my feet on the ground, and sense the weight in my head and arms.

My Life in a Nutshell (10/10/2009)

Obie award winner Hanne Tierney’s latest work, My Life in a Nutshell, doesn’t shy away from big themes. Death, friendship, jealousy, love, lust, mourning, and carrying on in the face of life’s abundant whammies make appearances in this innovative, clever, and totally absorbing forty-five-minute puppet show for adults.

Mortal Plush: I Am Not Your Toy (08/2009)

As soon as I walked into the gallery, I became a former version of myself: a little girl who was absolutely giddy upon seeing so many wonderful stuffed animals. Each lovely creature was mounted and labeled (it is an art gallery, after all), but I wanted to reach out and touch them all, as though they were living creatures, like I used to believe my stuffed animals were. The pieces were exquisite. With masterful detail, each artist had projected precise human emotion onto their works of felted wool, cloth, or other fiber art medium.

Musicfest Northwest (9/19/2009)

If you ever hear anyone doubt that women can rock you should tell them to shut up and listen to Team Dresch. One of the most influential bands from the mid-90s riot grrrl and queercore movements, Team Dresch released their first album Personal Best in 1995, stopped playing in 1998, reunited in 2004, and have only played a handful of shows since. So I knew this show in their hometown of Portland, OR was going to be a good one!

States of Union (09/2009)

Artwork can rarely be separated from the artist. The two inform each other. At least that is the case with photographer Alix Smith, whose latest exhibition, “States of Union,” recently opened at the Morgan Lehman Gallery in New York City. A common theme of Smith’s work is identity—the perceived notion of one’s identity and one's actual identity. The identity that was most challenging for Smith is her own as a lesbian. She always had a feeling of wanting to fit into the norm.

Lizzie Borden (09/10/2009)

How do you spin a nursery rhyme into a full-length musical? In this case, the uber-creepy poem in question is, thankfully, based in reality: the eponymous Lizzie Borden who reputedly “took an axe” and “gave her father forty whacks” was a real life New England girl accused—and acquitted—of murdering both her parents in the late nineteenth century, so there’s more than enough material to mine.

Clit Fest (8/7/2009)

Clit Fest Los Angeles: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I didn’t know what to expect leading up to the event, which featured bands and documentaries on day one and workshops and more bands on days two and three. I obsessed about it for weeks: what if the ladies present thought I wore too much makeup and perfume; what if they were feminists that looked down upon that kind of thing? How would they treat the male friend accompanying me? Would he feel unwelcome?