The other day in CP, my friend Starr turned to me and asked, “Have you memorized your mono…logue?” Oh, the irony.
Here are the monologues I’ve workshopped with Dr. Sandley.
From Under Siege:
The baby’s rights? That’s bullshit. Listen, I don’t care who you are or what degrees you have. And your “insight”? What insight? You say I’ve had a “bad experience”. Sure. Hundreds. My whole life. And the drugs. You want me to tell you about my drug problem. All excited. You know what? Maybe you’re the one with the problem, and you want me to sit here and tell you about mine. Listen, I’ve been through this before. It’s like rape. The first time, it hurts. The second time, you know it’s coming, and you can handle it.
From I Ate the Divorce Papers:
I ate them. I ate the divorce papers, Charles. I ate them with ketchup, and they were good. They were really good. I know you want me to take our divorce seriously, but let’s use some logic here. If you never took our marriage seriously, how could you expect me to take our divorce seriously? I mean, wasn’t it just last week your dad asked you why you let me walk down the aisle and you said, “for the exercise”. That’s funny. That’s hilarious! Do you see me crying? No, I’m laughing. You are a funny guy, Charles. To be honest, I ate the divorce papers because I couldn’t stomach the thought of loosing you.
Very contrasting, huh? We’ll be performing them in class on Friday.
Contrary to popular belief, I am still alive and
barely functioning. Here’s my photographic proof. Excuse my lack of makeup and untamed hair. Mono hasn’t given me much initiative to look presentable.
I’ve spent the last few days snuggled in my bed, re-reading The Bell Jar and occasionally going to class. However, I have been keeping up with assignments and alerting my professors of my absence. I have a doctor’s excuse until the end of the week.
Being ill has taught me a few things.
1. I am surrounded by some wonderful people. These are e-mails from Dr. Sandley and Dr. Villaverde.
“I am so sorry to hear you ill. I had mono when I was in college and thought I was going to die. Listen: I know you are still new here and trying to settle in, but, please let me know if you need anything. If you need transport to the doctor or just medicine from the Wal-mart, I will be happy to help. We are all thinking of you and are eager to have you back in full health.”
“I just left you’re a voicemail. Although mono would not be directly contagious, your recovery time will be greater, if you do not rest this week. I ask that you stay home this week and let your body heal. If you are feeling stronger on Sunday, you should come to class. Please notify all of your professors and make copies of the doctors note to give us. I have already notified Dr. Lawhon, Ms. Rene’ and Ms. Kim.”
2. Coughing is the worst thing you can do to your vocal chords - it bangs them together.
3. I have some really great friends.
On another note, I’ve really been keeping up with assignments. I have a paper due on Friday to my ballet professor, so I’ll post it here for feedback. E-mail me with corrections or improvements at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Petite Morte: An Analysis of a Contemporary Ballet Piece
“To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.” – Hopi Indian Saying
The piece begins gradually, fully displaying a tangible, haunting hesitation before the male leads gracefully delve into the art of dance. Pausing only to shed light upon the symbolism of props, the audience is immediately engaged in the dual tones of the work. Not only does the dance speak for itself, but the use of props and distinct style propels the theme beyond mere choreography and provides valuable insight into the soul of Jiri Kylian’s “Petite Morte”.
Before dissecting the choreography and evaluating the choreographer’s choices, the audience must understand the meaning behind the title. The French term, “Petite Morte”, can be translated as “little death”, but has also been recognized as a metaphor for “orgasm”. The dance itself can be viewed in several ways as the choreographer allows the audience to interpret the art form individually, but this form of dance is not designed to explore the sexual facets the translation seems to indicate. Rather, it distinctly shows transcendence, or movement from this “little death” to a place beyond our physical world and into a realm of utter freedom. Through an understanding of the core of the artists’ intentions, an audience member can more clearly appreciate and value the movement. In addition to the concept captured by the dancers onstage, the piece is a portrayal of the choreographer’s personality and attitude towards his craft. For instance, his dancers are not concealed through elaborate costuming or drowned in overpowering music. Flesh-toned fabric that clings tightly to the body allows the movement of muscles to be seen most clearly. This fully depicts Kylian’s attraction to the simple and the powerful.
In addition to Kylian’s style shown through these aspects of the piece, the concept of aesthetics is revealed at a full proportion through the use of contrast. Firstly, the contrast between the male and female form is shown through an aesthetic lens. Male dancers are constantly held upright, comparable to starched puppets on a puppeteer’s strings. On the other hand, the female dancers are allowed a certain freedom in movement, only to be lifted from this transcendence by their male counterparts. These aspects are held underneath the net of transcendence, moving from the ordinary and the familiar to thrilling risks. In addition to the contrasts of these human forms, series of pointed and flexed feet and contraction and relaxed movement add to the idea of beauty in contrast.
Throughout these contrasting movements, the dancers onstage keep every muscle engaged. As this is a defining point of classical ballet technique, the use of it throughout is not noticeable to a general audience, especially one whose recognition of technique is limited to pieces such as Coppelia, Swan Lake, or The Nutcracker Suite. It also holds glimpses into an edgy, modern style through the use of unusual props and sudden switches in attitude involving segments with numerous male and female duets. However, the classical ballet technique is fully shown in the core of “Petite Morte”. Muscles are engaged at all times, lifts are supported by plié’s, thumbs are hidden by the third finger, feet are turned out, and the body is held in a straight line, concealing curves and accenting the beauty of symmetry.
Jiri Kylian uses flawless choreography and a daring style to present this timeless and seemingly effortless mix of talent and creativity. Through this, an audience is shown the full concept of a “little death”, ranging from the emotions associated with death itself to the transcendence into an existence beyond. The ability of a choreographer and dancers to portray this challenging idea in eight minutes alone proves the talent of these artists.
“I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better.”
- Samuel Butler
I have lost my voice, and ninety percent of my classes are based on vocal performance. How’s that for an update?
I also pulled a muscle in ballet this morning.
Now that I’ve gotten my complaints out of the way (and taken some maximum strength Suphedrine PE), I’ll list the quotes of the week.
While describing hand position during class piano:
“Everyone hold up finger three.” - Mrs. Shinn
While encouraging a student to perform a scene from Antigone:
“Let us take a Quaker silence and wait for God to lead someone to read Creon.” - Dr. Whitt
While giving a lecture on theatre history:
“Satyrs would play tricks on people - stealing little children - you know, harmless tricks like that.” - Dr. Sandley
While carrying an amplifier down two flights of stairs:
“What in bloody hell is this? I should have warned you in the syllabus - you will lift things over fifty pounds.” - Mark Castle
While collecting quiz papers:
“Join the cult. Be exhilarated by the International Phonetic Alphabet.” - Dr. Lawhon
I am hearing the cheers of the “Red Sea”, the scales of a violinist in Buchanan Hall, the laughter from the green room in Bolding, the clack of my heels against the floor of the University Center.
I am seeing a glorious sea of red and blue washing over the football stadium, tail-gaiting tents spread across the quad, hammocks hanging between Vail’s trees, a wishful driver searching for a parking spot along “Miracle Strip”.
I am feeling alive. September announced its presence with a gust of chilly wind, and the temperature change is an encouragement. While the work increases in quantity and difficulty, I don’t loathe the late nights or the early mornings, the two-hour classes or the restless days. I struggle with difficult courses, but I enjoy the challenge. This drastic change is so welcomed - I am challenged artistically and intellectually and am watching myself develop as an artist in such little time that my excitement is exemplified through my work.
I am feeling comfortable. I have noticed myself referring to Samford as “home”. The “home” in my GPS is 800 Lakeshore Drive. My roommate and I were commenting on the beauty of the campus, and when she mentioned another school, I said, “It will never be Samford.”
That being said, Rex (the Samford bulldog) can never replace my little Mandy.
Moses prepares to part the Red Sea. You have permission to giggle.
Class was canceled on Tuesday because of a tropical storm.
The rain leaked through the ceiling of the parking garage and soaked my little car.
I spent the afternoon in the Buchanan practice rooms rehearsing Italian arias.
Since the weather was clear for the rest of the week, we splatter-painted t-shirts.
We’re headed to the gym for a
We’re in the midst of a tropical storm and watching Monty Python.
Rain is cascading down the gutters on the side of the building. I haven’t ventured across campus or far into Birmingham in the downpour, but have had the opportunity to finish a rough draft of my class voice essay.
Earlier today, Jules and I spent a couple of hours in the practice rooms of Buchanan Hall. I rehearsed “Alma Del Core” and “Gia Il Sole Dal Gange”. Attending an art school is so exhilarating. I walk through the hallways of Bolding or Buchanan and music fills the air, so much so that you can feel it flutter across your skin. I feel like I’m in Fame.
On a more serious note, this is a rough draft of my essay. It cannot exceed 500 words. This has 540 and is a very rough draft. If anyone (this includes you, Mom) can offer suggestions, email me at email@example.com.
Imagine sitting in the final row of an opera house. The lights are dimmed and a spotlight is cast on the sole performer, grounded into the stage with a firm stance, breathing deeply before producing a note that reaches the final seat with as much richness and volume as the first. Composers and vocalists have examined the mystery of producing such a sound for centuries, but the Bel Canto technique has taken the art of singing to an entirely new level. Through research of the technique’s origin and its subsequent widespread popularity, the components of producing “beautiful singing” are revealed at their core, including the technicalities and unwritten rules.
The term itself was first employed by Italian operatic composers and vocalists near the end of the seventeenth century, but later gained a more precise meaning as it was crafted into a model for vocalists worldwide. Through the work of composers George Frideric Handel and Gioachino Rossini, the opera was nearly reinvented through the lens of Bel Canto. The goal of this technique is pure projection and resonance without straining the vocal chords. Professional performers, regardless of era or style, struggle to sing healthily but sufficiently onstage. The Bel Canto style allows a vocalist to do just that, which prolongs their voice without reducing the quality of a performance. Currently, many masters of this method have retired their careers or passed on, and the term has lost much of its meaning. Furthermore, some deem it invaluable to today’s art, or merely a lost technique.
Although it has lost much of its popularity in the eyes of today’s artists, the technique was revolutionary in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Not only does it promote the health of the human voice, but pushes the boundaries of sound and make the vocal chords the most beautiful and versatile instrument. The technique focuses on four preparatory steps that take the utmost advantage of the vocal chords’ abilities. Firstly, the position of the mouth largely impacts the sound produced. The jaw should be relaxed, yet open, in order to allow the sound to move through the airway. Secondly, the sound must be directed towards the hard palate or teeth. The sound bounces off the hard surface, creating projection, whereas the soft palate will absorb the sound. In addition to the direction of sound, a vocalist must support from within. The diaphragm must be held in a downward position and the air controlled while singing in order to support the sound with breath. Finally, the key aspect of the Bel Canto singing is inhalation. The sound is brought into the body and passed over the vocal chords to produce the sound. Because air does not pass through the vocal chords, they are not strained during singing.
All of these aspects play essential roles in producing the final vocalization. As it is so multifaceted, few master the technique. Famous soloists partial to singing Bel Canto are Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, Luciano Pavarotti, and Richard Bonynge, who are featured in special interviews and share their most valuable insight. Bonynge profoundly closes an interview with, “I firmly believe that there is no instrument in the world that can touch the human voice for communicating from one person to another.”