Posts Tagged ‘sair’

Gonna Send Five Copies to my Mother!!


That’s SAIR on the left.

In the New York Times!

The photo is from a couple of years ago; it’s just the coolest photo of the Merlitons and Lambs.

EDIT: to add some text, cos the Times is sometimes tiresome at people. Here is most of the text.

Critic’s Notebook

The Smallest Dancers Steal Their Own Show

[photo here]

Lester Leong/Berkeley Ballet Theater

Mirliton lambs and shepherdesses (Sarah Walsh, left, and Fiona Brodie) at Berkeley Ballet Theater’s “Nutcracker” in California.

Published: December 22, 2010

Something romantic about the 19th century made it a great era for artists to enter into the imaginations of children. Thanks to Tchaikovsky’s music — with its blend of fantasy, humor, suspense and vehemence, and its “Gulliver’s Travels”-type changes of scale between the miniature and the colossal — it’s not too much to place the “The Nutcracker” ballet among the many great 19th-century depictions of childhood. It takes company among E. T. A. Hoffmann’s original “Nutcracker” tale, “Jane Eyre,” “David Copperfield,” Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, “Huckleberry Finn,” the “Alice” books and the opera “Hänsel und Gretel.”

And something about America in the 20th and 21st centuries has embraced “The Nutcracker” and has made it, in scores of places around this country, a civic tradition. The child heroine sees her world change size and her Nutcracker doll come to life, participates in a battle between mice and toy soldiers, and undergoes a great journey into realms she never knew, realms with Paradise-like qualities. Like the Gospel according to Mark, the ballet says, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

All around America children go onstage (85 per performance at San Francisco Ballet, 83 at Boston Ballet), often taking the central narrative roles, and it seems as if the whole nation takes them to its heart. In many cities money has been lavished on special stage effects: the Christmas tree that suddenly grows immense, the snow that falls for minutes on end. But people don’t go to “The Nutcracker” to applaud lavish display. At the story’s core lie innocence and faith, and children have given some of the best performances I’ve been watching.


At Berkeley Ballet Theater in California on Friday evening Clara was 15 — both less and more vulnerable. In this production, choreographed by Sally Streets and Robert Nichols, Clara and Fritz are homeless orphans; Christmas is something they desperately want as outsiders. Many of the big roles (Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Butterfly) were played by children; by contrast Fritz and the Nutcracker were adults who’d been performing their roles for many years.

My own favorite characters here, the tiny Lambs in the Act II Mirlitons divertissement, were among the smallest children. Often, I’ve discovered around America, the Mirlitons dance is played as a pastoral number with adult shepherdesses and child lambs, but what made me laugh out loud here was that when these shepherdesses held out their staffs horizontally, their lambkins knew just what to do: They grasped them like ballet barres and did battements tendus (sliding the foot from flat to point).


A traditional “Nutcracker” builds up to the Sugar Plum Fairy. Everybody knows the tinkling celesta music for her solo — this month alone, I have heard it used in a car commercial and a Jimmy Kimmel bit — and yet, in context, it’s still the special effect that it was in 1892. But the ballet’s biggest surprise is the sensational grandeur Tchaikovsky gives to the adagio she dances with her cavalier. This, with its huge array of slowly cascading scales, is music that seems to envisage Paradise through a tragic filter, and just what it expresses is among the greatest ambiguities in any art form.

It’s a great challenge for a dancer, and so far — I saw my 24th production of this year on Tuesday evening, but still have more to go — there have been several ballerinas who have matched both the adagio’s grandeur and the solo’s radiance. In Seattle (back in November) Carla Körbes was perhaps finest of all. Recently, though, I’ve been much impressed by the poised, super-elegant and calmly dazzling Vanessa Zahorian (San Francisco Ballet) and the luminously youthful Jillian Barrell (Ballet Arizona). In other productions Ms. Barrell would fit in as Clara. But this versatile artist finds different colors in different choreography. (She was a rapidly explosive Dew Drop at a matinee.) And when she dances Sugar Plum, her light, crystalline purity led me back to the ballet’s central kernel: innocence.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 23, 2010, on page C1 of the New York edition.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1….

And OMG indeed.
We fly out Tuesday morning.

To add to the jolly mix of tasks below, there is a new one.
Just when I thought I had at least gotten all the travel plans solid…

We booked our trip to London via Dublin, to visit Tom's relatives.
(The ones who are relatively nearby in case Sair has some kind of awful emergency whose nature I cannot even comprehend.)
And they are lovely people.
Then we take the ferry across to Wales (cos I love ferries), a full day in Wales (cos it's Wales), then the train to London, hotel in Bloomsbury, near Sair's college, and five days to hang out before dropping her off.
Sounds great.

Anyway, yesterday I was Googling around with other questions, and


it appears I have messed up Sair's student visa.

It's a UK visa, so the customs people at the Dublin airport don't entry stamp it, because they are the Republic of Ireland and not the UK.
They went to some difficulty to achieve this, and aren't going to undo it now.
But even so, apparently  British Isles, all of them, Skye and the lot, are inside of some kind of free travel group, so going from the Republic of Ireland to the UK doesn't provide an entry stamp either.
So they are separate, but not all that separate.
Who knew?

I've been madly phoning and emailing people on the question.
It may be that we can find some guy in an office in London who can see that she is there and stamp it.
Or if nothing else works, I suspect she could grab a cheap flight to Paris, turn around and come back and be entry stamped over the weekend.
 But it may also all be moot.

We applied for her Irish citizenship back in January, and we told to expect it to take at least 18 months, or more.
It came last week.
We can now apply for an Irish passport, and are told that one will take 4-8 weeks.
Apparently when one has a dual citizenship like this, what happens is that the US passport is for  entering and exiting the US proper, but for traveling within, and staying endlessly, legally, in the EU the Irish passport is used.
So I think she can just stay happily in London this fall (though I mail her the Irish passport when it arrives here, as insurance).
She can come home for Christmas on her US passport, leave in January on the US passport, but use the Irish one on arriving in London again, to enter the UK.
And it won't matter whether The US one was entry-stamped in August or not, because she can be in London on her Irish passport perfectly legally.

I think.

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Why I haven’t been posting much lately

Sair has homeschooled since kindergarten.
We went through lots of permulations of this – from charter schools to completely unstructured.
And last fall we had to pull the whole act all together, and do the college application thing – SATs, transcripts, letters, AP testing, financial aid aps, and the lot.
Having actually gotten Sair into the school of her choice, now we're in the last leg of things, getting her all packed up and otherwise readied for her freshman year in London.
Much sorting of clothing, acquiring of xl-twin sheets, and hunting out used copies of books.
Normally my position would be to travel light, and just track down everything there, but the exchange rate sucks soooooo very badly that instead we are bringing everything we can pack.
I know she'll have to spend a lot of those weak dollars, but I'm hoping to limit it to specifically London stuff – theater tickets, food, travel – instead of essentially paying double for things that we already own.

And there's been getting Sair herself ready.
Passport, yes; student visa, yes.
And, of course,  as soon as we'd done all that paperwork, another long-term project came through.
Sair's grandfather was born in Ireland, which makes her eligible for Irish citizenship, and we sent off that paperwork in January.
(Because applying for colleges really wasn't enough busywork, you know.)
They said it'd take a year and a half to process, but dang it, it just turned up last week.
So, YAY, she's an EU member now.
We will get the paperwork for her Irish passport going too, before she leaves.
Of course, if we'd had this is May, she wouldn't have needed to do the whole UK visa thiing, and we'd have missed all that lovely paperwork.
She also had two sets of health forms, the regular one for the university itself, quite short, and one for their global program, which ran to ten pages and required an actual physical exam by her doctor.
Who had to be a new doctor, because Kaiser had just kicked her out of pediatrics into adult medicine.
But it all went well, and now her shots are caught up.
It's not that they think London is that much of a health threat, but rather that they have  programs all over the world, and one form for them all,.
So now she is pretty much prepared for anything
We were all set to get her last two wisdom teeth out as well, but the surgeon decided at the last minute that they really weren't quite ready yet.
So at least she's not spending her last week at home with massive holes in her jaw.

So I'm off now to rent off Tom's aunt's house.
(Because sometimes I wear my landlady hat.)
I had a tenant set up since July 20th, visiting faculty from Norway who had a slight issue with the availability, but took it anyway: "We're committed to renting your house, and will work out some place to stay for the week before it's available."
Sounds fairly solid, yes?
But when I emailed them the lease on Saturday, they said they'd found a place, sorry.
They could have told me, instead of just sitting on it.
It isn't that I will have hurt feelings, or try to hold them to their word.
It's just that we leave on the 12th, and my summer tanants leave on the 15th.
Slight panic.
But I've found some nice graduate students, also from Norway, but I don't hold a grudge.
So all is well.

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I need some girl advice here…

Okay, I am aware that I am seriously challenged when it comes to girl stuff.
I own an eyeliner for glamorous occasions, but not a singe shoe with any heel.
When my hair starts bothering me, I pull the ends around and chop them off.
Other than that, it is clean.
For the most part I am perfectly happy with this.

I have, however, an eighteen year-old daughter.
We've already dealt with the more conventional mother/daughter uncomfortable discussions: periods, the sex talks, and the like.
But now we've reached areas where I have to retire baffled and silenced.
Here's one: Is my leg too hairy; do I have to shave all the time?
And, even worse, how do I get my hair to do that?
You might as well go ask your dad, dear, because I am clueless.

We survived learning how to put up ballet buns (shudders at the memory), produce French twists for special shows, and the like.
We figured out how not to have huge hunks of tangles in long, thick and curly hair.
That's been enough for me.
Up until this spring Sair had never cut her hair, but part of the whole suddenly she's really an adult thing going on here included her taking some scissors and having at it.
(She did ask first if we would mind – I think just for information – and of course no problem.)
Now she's got  about three inches of hair around her face,, lengthening out to not-quite shoulder length at the back.
It is quite curly, and really looks cute.
But, sadly, cutting it is only the beginning.
Now she wants it to do things..
If she washes it and brushes it, it makes soft waves.
When she wakes up it stands straight out in spiky bits..
For ballet she can tame it to lie flat with the application on hideous amounts of gel.
But I think she wants to be more in control of how it manifests itself.
And I am completely useless on the subject.

At the drug store there are rows and rows of hair junk all making different claims, and frankly I don't even understand what it is they say they do.
There is an entire technology here whose existence I never even suspected.
And it is not just the bottles, but it seems there are procedures involving brushing, combing or whatever at work here too.
But this is all way, way beyond me.

So, what do you guys do with your hair, why, and HOW?

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