Monday, January 14, 2013

Figure Skating Versus Ballet

When I returned from visiting my great grandma in Canada for the last time, I was four years old.  During that year I began to take numerous activities:  Kindermusic, ballet, tap/jazz, figure skating, and Irish dancing.  I loved taking all of these enrichment classes, but eventually I had to quit some activities because of how busy I was becoming.  One of the activities I quit was Irish dancing, but I kept on taking figure skating and ballet.  When I was eight, I had to choose between keeping ballet, or figure skating.  It is extremely hard to do both of these activities, once it starts to get serious and competitive.  Both ballet and figure skating take up the majority of your time, and require a lot of energy and devotion.  It was pretty impossible for me to continue both.  I ended up choosing to keep ballet.  That was a big mistake.  And that is what I am going to talk about in this post - the differences between ballet and figure skating.

Traditionally, ballet requires a tall, willowy, and graceful body structure.  I'm not saying there can be no good ballet dancers who don't fit this description, but I am saying it helps a lot if you do fit this description.  It is also true that this body type is more suited for ballet.  I am not the tall skinny type.  I am just below average height and slightly stockier than what a typical ballerina should be.  I also have slightly thicker ankles than what would be considered good for ballet.  If your ankles are thin or delicate, ice skating is probably not for you.  In other words, I am far more adapted for figure skating than for ballet.  I was also far more natural at figure skating.  It seemed to click for me.  I enjoyed practicing and I practiced nearly every day.  I loved to skate.  I enjoy dancing as well, but I'm not quite as suited for it.  It's not as natural for me as skiing or ice skating is.  I suppose winter sports are more my sort of thing.  I think I will always regret quitting figure skating when I was eight.  I know that if I had continued it, I would have been pretty good (I realize I'm sounding very boastful right now, but I don't want to have fake modesty either.  If I think I would have been a great figure skater I might as well say it. :P).  Ballet, on the other hand, was much more complicated for me.  I began to improve my dancing skills more and more, but for some reason, when I reached the fifth level of ballet, I began to go backwards instead of forwards in terms of progress.  That was when I remember it began to get pretty competitive.  I think I couldn't handle the psychological intensity that came with the competition, especially since I can be a very self-conscious person.  Figure Skating is also a competitive activity, but I felt more confident with figure skating than I felt with ballet.  So after ten years of ballet and two and a half years of pointe shoe classes, I quit ballet as well.  In some ways I miss ballet.  I miss dancing; I like to dance.  But in other ways, I'm glad I'm not doing it any more.  I tried out skiing during the Holiday break two years ago, when I went to Quebec.  I got the hang of it in four days, and it was really fun.  I love the feeling of freedom when I'm skiing quickly down a steep slope.  I plan on skiing again next year in Quebec.  I feel that in a way, skiing has replaced ballet for me.

However, just because I didn't have the best experience with ballet at times, doesn't mean I don't still love it.  I love classical ballet.  I think it's a beautiful dance form that, to quote myself, possesses the talent of story telling.  Here is the Odile solo from Swan Lake, a classical ballet I often went to see when I was little.

Below is a figure skating duet.  As you can see, ballet and figure skating could be seen as similar in some ways, but are very different in many other ways.  They have different movements and a pretty different style altogether.  Some movements may seem similar at first, but they are executed very differently.  For example, ice skaters do not turn out or keep their position the same way a dancer would.  Although, it is of course obvious figure skating would differ from dance, since it is a performance art form that takes place on ice rather than on a stage or the wooden floor of a dance studio. 

I really like this duet.  I think they're excellent skaters.  Their movements are very well executed and very graceful.

I really like this duet, as well.  I think I may like it even more than the previous one.

I prefer the Russian style of figure skating to other styles, because they often cross-train in ballet and think of ice skating as an art form rather than just a sport.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Amy Lee is Awesome

The title of this post 'bout sums it up.  Just wanted to put that out there.   

Anyway, I really like this live performance of "Your Star".  Your Star is one of the best songs from Evanescence's album "The Open Door".  Actually, all of the songs from The Open Door are good.  So never mind.  Your Star is still particularly good, though.  Amy Lee first sings Lithium before she sings Your Star in this video.

I also really like this song.  It's called "Broken".  I've been listening to it a lot recently.  

Note:  The first video I shared doesn't seem to work well on my blog, but it will work on youtube.    

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Period Drama Challenge

I have decided to join in the "Period Drama Challenge" that Miss Laurie at Old-Fashioned Charm is hosting.  It sounds like a very fun challenge and I can't wait to review the eight period films I am going to watch.  I made a post about joining in the challenge here, on my period drama blog.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Guitar

When my grandparents visited my family during Thanksgiving break a while ago, my grandpa bought me a guitar.  My grandpa is a guitarist (he also sings and plays the harmonica).  He has made two albums.  Whenever my family went to visit my grandparents when I was little, my grandpa would play the guitar and I would dance to his music in the living room.  That was when my mom realized I liked to dance and thought of putting me in a ballet class, but that's a whole other story.  

I had wanted to play guitar for a long time, so I was very excited about getting one.  That's my guitar in the picture below.  It's a "Taylor" guitar.  My grandpa thought I should get a nylon stringed guitar to start, but I wanted a steel stringed guitar.  I used to play violin, so I'm used to having calluses on my finger tips.  My fingers will just toughen up again anyway.  

I'm learning to play a lot of Taylor Swift songs on it.  "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was the first song I learned to play.  Now I'm working on knowing all of the chords, and I'm teaching myself how to play "Hurt".  

Here is the cover of Hurt by Johnny Cash.  The original song is by Nine Inch Nails.

This song is just so heartbreaking.  I feel especially sad while watching the music video because it somehow reminds me of my great grandpa, who I miss very much.  Although I am very impressed by the talent of Trent Reznor, who is the writer of this song, I still personally prefer Johnny Cash's version.  I feel that Johnny Cash has the emotional power to convey the message of Hurt.  Johnny Cash is amazing.  He will always be my favorite country singer, along with Patsy Cline.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Hobbit

From the moment I saw the first trailer for The Hobbit, I could not wait to see it.  I spent the whole year looking forward to seeing this movie, and at last, a year later, I have gone to see it in theaters.

I saw it twice; the first time with my mom and my brother in 2D and 24 frames per second, the second time with my mom, my brother, and my dad in 3D and 48 frames per second.  The second time we went, we went to a different movie theatre that showed The Hobbit at the faster frame rate.  It was raining incredibly hard when we left the movie theatre.  My dad was even afraid our car would get stuck in all of the water that covered the roads.  It was literally a full-on flood.  I looked outside the car window and it seemed like a lake out there.  People were trudging through the water on the sidewalks with their pants rolled up!

Anyways, back to The Hobbit.  

Truthfully, I could not tell much difference between the 24 frames per second and the 48 frames per second.  I still wonder if we really saw The Hobbit in the faster frame rate or not, because it didn't seem very different.  It said on our ticket that it was in the faster frame rate, but I still wonder.  Moving on to the subject of 2D vs 3D:  I have decided once and for all that there is not really any point in seeing movies in 3D.  I would prefer to see a movie traditionally, in the 2D 24 frames per second format.

Anyhow, enough of all the formats.  What about the actual movie?  I loved this movie from beginning to end.  It has become one of my favorite movies.  Something that I do not agree with that I've heard from other people, is that the beginning takes too long and that the film spends too much time in the Shire.  I thoroughly disagree with this.  Let the film breath, let it develop its atmosphere and personality.  Let the audience become introduced to the characters, give the film some silent moments to dwell upon.  I really liked how much The Hobbit took time to breath in this way.  The scenes with the dwarfs at Bilbo's house are some of the best in the entire movie, so I appreciate Peter Jackson's decision to stay in the Shire as long as he did.  I also appreciate his decision to include Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit.  I thought Sylvester McCoy was great as Radagast.  

The scenery was absolutely breathtaking.  The acting was very very impressive as well.  Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Andy Serkis as Gollum for instance, were wonderful.  I really felt as if Martin Freeman was Bilbo - he became Bilbo Baggins.  The riddles in the dark scene was one of my favorite moments in this film.  I think it was everyone's favorite.  It was brilliant.  Another favorite scene of mine was of course, the Misty Mountains song.  I love the soundtrack for this film.  

Two other personal favorite scenes of mine were "That's What Bilbo Baggins Hates", and the scene near the end, when Thorin is taken up by one of the eagles and they are carried by the eagles with the beautiful scenery in the background.  Richard Armitage was magnificent as Thorin Oakenshield.  He truly is an amazing actor.

Here is one of the scenes I mentioned above, "That's What Bilbo Baggins Hates".  I can never tire of the bright upbeat music in this scene.

In conclusion, I loved The Hobbit.  I look forward to when I can watch it again for the third time, then even more times in the time to come!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Favorite Color: A Becoming Shade of Green

If I were asked what my favorite color is, I would usually answer either "green" or "green and blue", or something along those lines.  But if I were to delve further into the idea of what my favorite color is, my answer would be more specifically, a certain shade of green.  

When I was little, I loved to read story books.  One of my favorite story books was The Fairies' Ring.

A certain shade of green pops up in many of the illustrations throughout The Fairies' Ring.  Most of them show a fairy in a green gown.  The exact shade of green the fairies are wearing is my favorite color.  I like it more than any other color.

Below are two of the illustrations that show this shade of green.  It's a very rich green, and it isn't very dark or very light.  It's more in between;  it reminds me of how clovers look after it has rained.  

I have always really liked the introduction of this book.  It says:  
"Are fairies real?  No.  If you are a scientist who needs proof beyond faith, beyond anecdote, beyond mouth-to-ear resuscitation, there are no fairies.  If you are modern, if you are an adult, if you cannot remember childhood, if you need irrefutable facts, there are no fairies.  Yes.  If you are from the nineteenth century or earlier; if you are a storyteller, a peasant nurse, a grandmother, a flower lover, a child, then there are fairies."

So where does the phrase "a becoming shade of green" come from?  Well, it's kind of a long story...

The first time I ever saw Babar:  King of the Elephants (1999) was when I was either three or four years old.  My favorite scene was when Babar sang a song called "I Can Take Good Care of Me".  During Kindergarten I memorized the entire song from start to finish and performed it in front of my class (and at the end of my performance I posed and shouted "Yeah!" as if it were a Jazz number).  Anyways, the suit that Babar wears is described throughout the movie as a "becoming shade of green".  If you have never seen this movie, you most likely have no clue what I am talking about.

So, what does this story have to do with the topic of this post?  I dunno.  

Okay, just kidding.  

The real answer is:  not much, except that this song and this movie come to mind whenever I think of my favorite color.  I think the reason is because I associate this particular color with my childhood memories. T
o me, green is also a symbol of life and rebirth, as it is for many other people.