Tuesday, November 30, 2010

German-Canadian Cooperation

Earlier this month we went to see a modern ballet put on by Frankfurt’s new choreographer, Crystal Pite, and her company, Kidd Pivot, now a German-Canadian cooperation. Crystal is no newcomer to Frankfurt. She danced with the Forsythe Ballet for several years in the late Nineties. Later, she was a resident choreographer for a jazz ballet company in Montreal and then founded her own dance company in Vancouver. Frankfurt managed to snatch Kidd Pivot away from Vancouver with a contract that allowed Pite to hire dancers full-time. The ballet was called “The You Show”. Here is a blurb from the sponsors: “THIS IS A PICTURE OF YOU, FALLING. KNEES, HIP, HANDS, ELBOWS, HEAD. THIS IS HOW YOU COLLAPSE. THIS IS THE SOUND OF YOUR HEART HITTING THE FLOOR. You are invited to locate yourself in the dancer, to recognize your own dramas translated into fierce physical language, and to see yourself falling and flying as the hero of your own existence. Life, whether you are superhuman or simply human, is epic.”

The ballet took place at the Mousonturm, an intimate setting in one of Frankfurt's favorite cultural centers.  Crystal Pite was six months pregnant and sitting at the end of our row as the performance ran. The performances were pretty good. Some of the choreographed group movements were quite dynamic, occasionally even breathtaking. Some of the individual performances also were world class. Pite channels an incredible energy that sometimes comes close to plunging the dance into chaos. Is this intentional? Several critics I read after the performance have regarded it as a weakness of hers. In any event, I thought it was a fine evening and look forward to seeing more of her work. Frankfurt desperately needs to attract more international dance performances.  I've seen a lot of top companies, and Crystal Pite's group is quite good and has potential.  Afterwards, the entire crew sat in the cafe next to (and part of) the theater where we and our friends had retired for a bite to eat.  The cafe also has an interesting selection of wine at reasonable prices.

The You Show already is Pite's second production in Frankfurt. I missed the first one.  Check out this website for information about and a video interview with Ms. Pite.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

To all readers stateside (and expats everywhere), I wish you a pleasant Thanksgiving weekend.  I can almost hear the country shutting down for a rare four-day rest.  Take a break.  You deserve it.  This is a time of year when even the most die-hard expat has to fight at least a twinge of homesickness.  Of course, this year the turkey is not the only thing that's being patted down.

"Das in den USA und in Kanada gefeierte Thanksgiving (englisch für ‚Danksagung‘) ist eine Form des Erntedankfestes, weicht aber stark von den Bräuchen des europäischen Festes ab." (Wikipedia)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Demographics 101

Shortly after we returned from summer vacation, I had a strange experience. A neighbor died. He was up on 90. We were not close, but we have been neighbors for a long time. He never married and did not have kids or close relatives, so, in the blink of an eye, his worldly belongings ended up in front of the apartment house where he lived before being carted off by the local disposal folks. In the next blink of an eye, the belongings were gone. In addition to the city disposal workers, numerous scavengers, including well-dressed and affluent neighbors and a family/band of eastern european "professionals", dropped by to carry off anything of interest.

There is something ghastly and unsettling about the whole process.  The ghastly part is having all of your belongings on display for the world to see.  The unsettling part is the urban equivalent of watching a carcass in the savannah being picked apart by scavengers.

Germany's population is aging quickly.  "The precipitous drop will be accompanied by a dramatic shift in the amount of elderly people in Germany. Of the country's current 82 million inhabitants, some 20 percent are now aged 65. But in 2060, that percentage will increase to 33 percent."

Hardly a Trace Left of a Neighbor's Existence

Flashback 2


The weather has been pretty grey these past few days.  I took this pic in the Palmengarten this past Spring.  Kinda refreshing.  Don't forget to click for an enlargement.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bois de Vincennes

One bright October weekday morning when Fräulein Bloggerboy was otherwise occupied, I took a walk in the Bois de Vincennes. Although I was familiar with the park I had never bothered to spend time there.  It is a huge park.  At almost 2,500 acres (10 square kilometers), it dwarfs Central Park and Hyde Park.  By comparison, the Frankfurt City Forest is roughly 48 square kilometers in size.

These guys made me wish I had a bike along. I tried to rent one of the numerous bikes available in the park at public stands, but the machines would not accept my plastic.

I would be surprised if the riders were professional, but they already had passed me once, and they were moving at a good pace.  I saw numerous other smaller groups riding.  Only eight more months to get ready for the Tour.

Belleville Walk 4

Get a load of those giant zucchini

Friday, November 5, 2010

Belleville Walk 3

As we headed up towards the Parc de Belleville, a great view of the city began to emerge.

Heading uphill towards the Parc de Belleville

Parc de Belleville with Panorama View

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Belleville Walk 2

A couple more interesting displays near the rue Belleville.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Belleville Walk

We took a walk in the Belleville area of Paris after a morning visit to the Père-Lachaise cemetery.  Belleville includes one of the city's chinatowns, and a lot of artists live there as well.  We found some interesting wall art.  I particularly liked the votive offering (is there a better term for this?) embedded just below the plaster surface of the wall -- shown near the downspout in the picture below.

  The Wall

The Votive Offering

I don't know whether the votive offering was part of the original wall art project or whether it was added by someone else.  I thought it was pretty nifty.  I'm pretty sure that the picture was taken on or near the rue Dènoyez, which is where graffiti artists re-spray the walls frequently.  Check out this blog dedicated to the art at rue Dénoyez. 

Belleville is Edith Piaf's birthplace, too, and I certainly will spend more time there on my next visit.  There is a great view of Paris from the top of the Parc de Belleville.  We also visited Piaf's grave at Père-Lachaise, even though the children were only interested in seeing Jim Morrison's final resting place.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Anglo-Saxon Cultural Hegemony

Parisian Costume Shop Near Place de la République

"Seulement quelques enfants espèrent une réelle progression de cette fête mais pour le reste Halloween est devenue une fête complètement dépassée" (Wikipedia)

We didn't have any trick-or-treaters at our place in Frankfurt, but there were Halloween parties.  Fräulein Bloggerboy attended one.