Shall We Dance? (English Version)

3 11 2010


In the movie “Shall we Dance?” Richard Gere discovers his life is missing something and that something is ballroom dancing. The film had really amazing dance scenes within it and there was a great deal of chemistry between Gere and Lopez during many of their dance scenes. I was surprised at how talented and graceful Gere was in this movie. I felt the movie had a great message and really interesting choreography but the plot was lacking. It seemed most of the movie focused on the dancing and how much freedom Gere felt once he started learning how to dance and realizing his talent, but the strange relationship between Gere and Lopez and also the relationship with Gere and his wife (played by Susan Sarandon) was also lacking. He explained he was happy in his marriage and that is why he didn’t want to explain to her that he was feeling unhappy and needed to find something to fill the void, but then why was it so secretive? I also didn’t particularly like the relationship between Lopez and Gere, I felt like there was a little more than friendship there and that his wife wasn’t made aware of it. I did enjoy the message and the dancing but the storyline really did not add up for me.


Shall We Dance? (Japanese Version)

3 11 2010

Shohei Sugiyama, is a bored and restless accountant in Japan who decides to take ballroom dancing lessons in order to add enjoyment and excitement into his life. The plot for this film was very similar to the english version which was made after this film was made but there were a few differences between he films. Similarly in the Japanese version, Sugiyama takes the dance lessons and becomes enthralled by the fire that dance brings out inside him, also he sparks a friendship with many of the other people who are dancing in his class, such as a coworker (who secretly dances) as well as the woman who inspires him to start dancing, Mai, who he becomes infatuated with when he sees her standing in the window of the dance studio.  He learns later in the film that his dancing skills and how the dancing makes him feel actually outweighs his feelings for Mai, and he discovers his true passion for the dance. His wife does not know he is dancing and finds his behavior very strange and hires someone to figure out why he is acting so differently. ONce she discovers it is just dancing she attends an amateur dance competition that he has entered (he does not know she or his daughter are there ), and when he missteps and trips during the routine, he discovers them there in the audience. It seemed the main difference with this film rather than the english version for me was the strictness and sheer distance between the dancers. It seems that within this culture the expression of dance or closeness can be seen as embarrassing or not culturally acceptable so even most of the dances were less passionate or emotionally driven then in the english version. I did not enjoy this movie much, but it was interesting to see the differences in the versions based on cultural norms and values (the United states vs. Japan). In the end Mai, explains to Sugiyama that it was his passion that reignited her passion in pursuing her career in dance and that she is forever grateful for that!

Billy Elliot

27 10 2010

In this film, Billy Elliot, is young boy who is taking boxing classes, and when a dance teacher takes up space in his boxing studio, he becomes mesmerized by ballet and in turn joins the dance group. Although Billy find much joy in taking these dance classes his brother and father are not to excited he is so interested in ballet. Instead they ban him from even going to the classes anymore. In spite of his fathers orders, Billy continues to take the dance classes in secret, and once his father actually sees the talent Billy possesses, he no longer judges him but encourages him. In the end Billy takes a trip to london to try out for a ballet school, and is very concerned about getting in, but he does and the whole town is so incredibly proud of him. This movie was really great and I think that the best part about the film was the way it was cast and how it challenged current gender roles in dance as well as in society. By having a gruff, very masculine young boy play Billy, it gave the film a way to connect dance to the regular man, and to break the stereotypes that usually accompany male ballet dancers. I also really loved the ending where Billy performed in Swan lake and how graceful and amazing he was. It was important to show how supportive his family had become by the end and taken away they were with his performance. This movie was a great delight and I really did enjoy it!

EVENT # 3: Concert: The Blues Denial at Choices in Recovery Fundraiser

19 10 2010

On Saturday October 2nd, 2010 I was lucky enough to be able to be a part of the Choices in Recovery Fundraiser. Since I am sociology major at CSUSM, I have been lucky enough to be able to work at an internship within the social services. For my internship, I have started to work at a residential drug treatment facility in Vista. For my first big project I was required to set up and help promote a fundraising event to bring more money to the program, since so many social services budget have been drastically cut lately. I arrived quite early and started with setting up the food and the prize tables. This was a very casual event where many people just came and went as they pleased. For most of the day we were entertained by Steve Bruggard’s jazz/blues band. Steve is the owner of choices and also the program director. It was really amazing to watch this band perform such great music, especially since me knowing that many of the members had been through recovery, and had really changed their whole lives. The music that was played was mostly very famous blues and jazz tunes that most everyone could relate too. The age range of this function was very diverse, as there were many children as well as tons of elderly people who attended. The turnout was amazing, as at least 300 people showed up in order to support the program and just to enjoy the concert and food. The best part of the day was when the band decided they needed some backup singers and the asked for a few women volunteers to step up and learn some background lyrics. A few women decided bravely to participate and it really made such a great dynamic between the performers and the audience. It seemed the women were a bit nervous but once the music started they seemed to become lost in the music just as the artists in the band and it flowed so naturally it almost seemed rehearsed. I really enjoyed myself at this function and it reminded me of how much I enjoy being around live music and how much jazz and blues music really evokes emotion out of the audience.

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision

13 10 2010

Maya Lin was an artist from Yale University that entered the contest for the making of the Vietnam Memorial. Her simple design and moving depiction of the names of the massive amounts of men and women that gave their lives in order to fight for our country created a huge stir. Not only because of the sheer simplicity of the memorial but also because of the artist herself. Maya Lin was a 20-year-old student at Yale, who was of asian descent and a woman was not the clear-cut choice for the winner. Throughout all of the controversy, Maya was the one who came out on top though. Not only did she create the Vietnam Memorial but has since created much other art work that has created a huge respect among the artist community. This movie was an interesting portrayal of the story behind the artwork but I wish that they would have given us more information about her as a person, because it would have created more interest in the film as a whole for me.

The Buena Vista Social Club

29 09 2010

The Buena Vista Social club was a really great film and not at all what I expected. I enjoyed the music that streamed throughout the movie but it was the personal stories of each of the musicians that really caught my attention. It was amazing to see these people who have been through such rough times within their Cuban country having so much faith and positive thoughts. The most meaningful part of the movie was when one of the older musicians was showing the camera man his home. It was modest but you could tell he was very prideful in what he had. He explained the idea of the Lazarus, and that he would give offerings to him every day, he even explained that his wife would sometimes bake meringues for him. He explained that if he were to put his value and his happiness in the material world he would have had nothing so instead he put his faith into God and Lazarus and he knew that there was something bigger and better after this life. He explained that if he was grateful for what he financially had he would not have had anything to be grateful for but that he was thankful for the things you cannot see, like family and health and those were what made him feel lucky. These gentlemen were such amazing musicians and yet were so humble about their talents. It seemed that their Cuban culture was not just a part of them but a part of their soul. I think that is what connected people to their music, was that it was driven by emotion not just by melody.

Event 1&2: Basket Weaving Sept 21st

23 09 2010

I attended the basket weaving seminar on Tuesday Sept 21st and 12 and was surprised that I had a really great time. I learned so much about the art of basket weaving and how important it is culturally for the people who practice it. The seminar was led by two women, Lydia Vassar and Rose Ramirez. It was incredible to see these women making such intricate baskets right before our eyes. The process of making a basket from start to finish is extremely tedious and takes loads of hard work. First the women pick two different types of Jungus from the earth one is the stronger and used almost as a base and the other is more flexible and used to wrap around to make the basket. The women spoke about all of the incredible mathematics that go into making these beautiful creations and how you must see the picture of the completed basket in your head at all times as the basket is constantly growing. They spoke about how in ancient times this tradition was looked at by the settlers as so hard to understand. They couldn’t wrap their minds around how such beautiful and complex baskets could be made by such savage creatures. This is important to remember because it sets the tone for how the natives were treated later by these settlers. It was if because these people were somewhat different then they people they had encountered before that this somehow could mean that their intellect and skill level was not as advanced as them. This is such a very biased way of looking at people who are different and it is even somewhat ironic that these “savages” were the ones finding the medicinal plants and living off the land in a sustainable way for centuries. Obviously they must know something and are doing something right in order to have thousands of years of ancestry in this country. I really enjoyed the presentation that touched on the different medicinal and edible plants that grow native to this region. The one that really sparked my interest and made me even want to try this food was the Chia. The women explained that the same Chia that is sold with a Chia pet is actually a super food that the natives have used for centuries. This chia was a primary food that has incredible nutrition and could really sustain you well for very intense labor. Since Chia regulates your water intake and keeps you hydrated for a longer period of time you do not need to drink water as often and it can be used in hiking or other extreme labor intensive activities. It also can help with sugar intake levels and therefore would beneficial for people with diabetes. The women explained the difficulty in finding this Chia natively in California. It grows in abundance but can be hard to gather. The women said it took 12 people working all day in order to only gain 1 pound of Chia. Overall I really enjoyed learning about native culture at this event and was pleased at all the knowledge I gained!!