Live on the Green

I have had a few days off from blogging, and even though I LOVE writing it is so difficult to get back into the swing of things! The fact that our Internet has been down since I woke up yesterday morning (thanks Comcast!) doesn’t help. Anyhow, my weekend was AWESOME!!!

On Thursday we (friends and whatnot) went to Live on the Green in downtown Nashville to see Michael Franti and Spearhead perform for FREE. Live on the Green is a series of free summer concerts held on Thursday nights at the Public Square Park. There are three performers each night, the last being the most popular, obviously.

I have loved Michael Franti for ages now, but have never had a chance to see him and Spearhead in concert. We got to the park at the beginning of the second act (The Delta Saints). They were great and we sat in our lounge chairs relaxing and eating Subway. The concert is surrounded by dozens of local food trucks, but we came prepared with drinks, sandwiches, chips and a dog.

The park was completely packed with local music lovers, hippies, families, puppies and surprisingly, people of all ages. One of the best parts of outdoor concerts are all the hula hoppers, poi ball swingers and hippie dancers. I don’t know what it is about concerts that bring out these unique talents, but it is so fun to watch.

As soon as Michael hit the stage the entire crowd got to their feet. Michael Franti and Spearhead is kind of like Jack Johnson in the sense that he sings about happiness, peach, good times, loving everyone and bringing people together. His music is a combo of hip-hop, reggae, jazz, folk and rock. I think everyone knows him best from “Say Hey”, but he’s been around for much longer and has much better songs.

Personally I love “Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong”. Its less dancey and fun, but such a good message. Michael is very involved in multiple charities and always finding ways to give back. He’s just an all-around impressive good person.

Everyone seemed to be having a blast as we all danced, swayed and sang along with the band. Towards the end of the concert, random people began walking around with giant trash bags and almost everyone instantly began helping and picking up all the trash around them. That is something I have never witnessed before.

It was a wonderful night and I have a feeling we’ll be back for more in the coming Thursdays. If you are in the Nashville area and wanting to check it out here is the site for Live on the Green and the schedule for the last few weeks. Have fun!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cheers!

Quidam Reivew

Quidam is a traveling Cirque Du Soleil show about a young girl named Zoe. Zoe is bored, looking for adventure and something outside of her mundane life. Her parents ignore her and are wrapped up in their own lives. Her Father is lost in the newspaper. Her Mother is distant and consumed in her own thoughts. Zoe becomes lost in her own imagination where she meets new crazy characters who teach her and her family to be free and to become a family again.

Most Cirque story-lines are hard to follow, this one is only slightly easier than most. The acts in Quidam are all fantastic, but also done in Cirque shows we’ve previously seen. Except maybe the jump rope act…I don’t think I’ve seen jumping rope in any other Cirque shows.

skippingropes

 

Husband and I arrived to the Bridgestone Arena a few hours after watching the rehearsal (and this time I remembered the correct footwear). Our seats were perfect, minus the guy sitting behind me who felt the need to give everyone around him a play-by-play of the entire show. I loved the show, but Husband was a little tired of the similar acts he has seen several times already. Like the German Wheel…

bridgestone our seats

germanwheel2

 

And the muscle-bound “statue” act…

handtohand

I, on the other hand, can never get over this act! These people must be magicians! How on Earth is anyone really this strong!?!?!

The aerial hoops, the aerial silk contortionists, the diabolos and the hand balancer have also been done before, but they were extra impressive in Quidam. “The Diabolos”, or the Chinese yo-yo, was sooooooo good! I may have like this performer better than the little girls who perform in La Nouba! He was so fast and smooth that I could barely tell he was using the Chinese yo-yo at all.

cerceaux

The Banquine act is a wild acrobatic routine. These performers build insane pyramids and then proceed to throw the most advanced tricks from one persons hands into another. It kind of looks like Olympic floor routines, crossed with a cheerleading competition with a dash of modern dance.

banquine2

The act that surprised me the most was the Clown. The Clown was the funniest act I have ever seen in a Cirque show, and I  don’t even like clowns. He pulled 4 random people from the audience on stage and forced them to perform for a movie he was supposedly filming. I don’t want to give away the story or the jokes, but I will tell you that I was laughing so hard I was in tears.

clown

 

Overall, Quidam was not my favorite Cirque show, but it was still a show worth seeing. I’ve never seen a Cirque show I didn’t love. If you are in the Nashville area this weekend then checkout tickets prices here. If you are not in Nashville, then checkout the  tour schedule here. Let me know what you think!

Cheers!

 

 

Backstage at Cirque Du Soleil

Yesterday was a dream come true. Yesterday I got to not only review the traveling Cirque Du Soleil show: Quidam, but I also got to attend rehearsals and interview a couple of cast members!!! I’m walking on clouds right now! I must be one of Cirque’s biggest fans. Husband and I have seen ten different Cirque show since we have been together. They never get old or cease to amaze me. I leave every single show feeling inspired and envious of the incredibly talented and unbelievable strong performers. Seriously, how do they do that?!

cirquedusoleil

When I arrived to the Bridgestone Arena this afternoon I was so excited and nervous that I actually forgot to put my shoes on, or at least the shoes I meant to wear. See, I left the house in a hurry (big surprise) with some cheap old bright blue flip-flops on, and stilettos in my hand. I planned to change shoes once I arrived. It wasn’t until after my first interview that I realized I still had on my bright blue flip-flops. I immediately blamed Husband for letting me get out of the car like that, but he claims he assumed I was trying to “keep it casual”. Whatever.

mei-mei

I was the first “reporter” to arrive to rehearsals which means I got to watch the performers up close and have them all to myself. The first group rehearsing was the Spanish web, a group act, who climbs up and down ropes, swing around wildly and basically look death in the face everyday. I could sit and watch them maneuver on the ropes all day. These performers are in such incredible shape. Every move looks so smooth and easy. I can’t even walk in heels as easily as they flip around doing aerial stunts.

rehearsal reviewing upsidedown emptyarena costumes

My first interview was with Andrei Vintilov, one of the Quidam coaches. He was an original members of Quidam in 1995! Andre is from the Ukraine, was an acrobats world champion and has worked with Cirque for almost 20 years! Here’s what he had to say about his job and life in the circus.

interiview

Me: When you were in Quidam in 1995, what was your role?

Andre: I did banquine, an acrobatics number with lots of human pyramids.

Me: What did you do after starting in Quidam?

Andrei: I started here for three years doing Quidam. Then I did Saltimbanco with my first wife and my children. After Saltimbanco, I moved to Zed. I did four years with Zed, from the creation to the close. Then I did a couple of months doing Iris in Los Angeles.I took a year break and now I am back working with Quidam.

Me: I’ve seen Zed about four years ago, in Tokyo!

Andrei: I was definitely there.

Me: Hey, we go way back! So when did you get involved with acrobats and this sort of artistry?

Andrei: When I was seven years old I did gymnastics then moved on to sport acrobatics when I was 15. In 1989 I was the European world champion of sport acrobatics, but you cannot make money doing acrobatics so I had to move to the circus. I joined the Moscow Circus. I was in Tokyo actually, performing with the Moscow Circus when I first saw Cirque Du Soleil. One year later I began working for Quidam.

Me: How long does it take to train for one Cirque show?

Andrei: It takes about 8 to 9 months during the creation of a show, but it also depends on the director. For example, after Quidam I said I would never do the creation of a show again. I was always exhausted. Franco, the director sees the entire world upside down and everything is crazy. The director of Zed was a movie director so his creation was smooth and easy. But, even though Franco was crazy, the show, for me…yes I was tired… but it was a more interesting experience working with Franco.

For example, the opening number is the German Wheel and there is Ukranian music and a Ukrainian dance. I created the dance because Franco said, “Where are you from? Do you know how to do a Ukranian dance?” I started to show him and I danced for two hours non-stop. I was sweating, tired, felt like shit and when I stopped he said “No. No, continue.” The next day the Ukranian dance was on the schedule for everyone!

We also learned the Brazilian drums for 9 months, 4 times a week, 2 hours every lesson. There is only 20 seconds of Brazilian drums in the show.

Me: Wow, that’s intense. What’s your favorite part of the show?

Andrei: I don’t know… maybe the Ukrainian dance because it is of my heart.

My next interview was with a young girl from Florida named Mei. Mei began dancing at eleven years old. One day an aerial artist came to her studio to teach, and Mei immediately fell in love with this new artistry. She began taking more and more classes in aerial work, and eventually auditioned with La Nouba in Orlando (Yay! La Nouba!).

Me: How long have you been working in Quidam?

Mei: I’ve been performing in Quidam for two years.

Me: What is life like being on tour with Cirque for two years?

Mei: Great! We travel as a big family and we do everything together. We have a lot of fun!

Me: Do you ever get time to explore the cities you travel through?

Mei: Yes! We actually get every Monday and Tuesday off. This week we went down Broadway, listened to live music, ate Mexican food with margaritas and I bought a pair of cowboy boots. We have plans to go line dancing at the  Wild Horse Saloon before we leave too!

My interview with Mei was short and sweet because she was quickly called to rehearse a jump rope number. I took the rest of the time to explore the backstage area where the props are stored and the cast warms up.

backstage stretching hatsandwigs handbalance

Before we left, we got to see this woman practicing her hand balancing routine. After a run-through she slumped over to her coach and said…”I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s not that I’m tired. I just feel off. It’s like I have no muscle”.

no muscle

This lady with “no muscle” then went back to work and did this…

 

 

strong girl

 

I mean, seriously, the girl should probably start working out.

I loved my time at rehearsal and backstage. Huge thank you to Jessica, Katie, Andrei and Mei-Mei for this experience. Can’t wait to get the review of the show up!

Cheers!

Car Enthusiast? Me!?

Over the weekend Husband and I decided to get a little artsy, or at least feel a little artsy. It’s only been a few weeks, but we’re already missing the MET, MOMA and the Guggenheim. We repainted some furniture, but that turned out to be not very creative work. After we finished our “artwork” we headed to Nashville’s Frist Center to enjoy some actual artwork.

The Frist Center is in downtown Nashville in what used to be Nashville’s very first post office. We used to visit fairly often when we first lived in Tennessee. I even took my classes there on field trips, but it’s been at least four years since my last trip. This weekend was an especially good weekend to visit because the new Art Deco Automobile exhibit just opened. Now, I know what you’re thinking…Hilarie? Cars? What an obvious combination!

viewing

No. I’ve never mentioned any sort of car, because I don’t give a rat’s tushy about cars, however; these cars aren’t just cars. They’re art.

To be honest, when I got the opportunity to checkout and review these cars I was not enthused. I got myself pumped up by dressing up, wearing an art deco style necklace and with coffee, of course. When I arrived, I was greeted by a very friendly woman named Ellen who is the Frist’s director of communications. She was warm, informative and just thrilled to tell us all about the new exhibit, Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles.

ellen artdeco

The cars (and motorcycles) in this exhibit are all from the 30’s and 40’s, influenced by the art deco styles and soooo pretty.

silvercar

They may not be very economical and certainly not gas efficient, but who cares!? Can’t you just imagine Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart being chauffeured around town in one of these?

frontend

If you are like me, and not easily impressed by cars, let me tell you a few secrets (facts I did not know) I learned while touring this exhibit.

-Many of these cars were created in Paris. Now, imagine sitting at a little sidewalk cafe, sipping espresso, smoking a cigarette and watching these cars drive by…nice, right?

cooldashboard

-Some of them had sunroofs! Like this 1936 Delahaye 135m Figoni and Falaschi, for example. Impessed? Who new sunroofs existed that long ago??

sunroof

-Frank Lloyd Wright owned this orange 1929 Cord L-29.

franklloydwright

-These futuristic motorcycle looks like a superhero should be drifing it, but it’s actually too heavy, impractical and hard to ride. Nice to look at though…

1930motorcycle

-The “Xenia” was named after the designer’s ex-wife, after he already re-married. Hmmm wonder how his new wife felt about this? I  liked that this car looks like a rocket ship in the back. Also, there is custom-made luggage that comes with the car! So, you know your suitcases will fit perfectly in the trunk. Genius!

xenia luggage

-Some cars have a speedometer in the backseat so the people being toted around can very easily annoy the driver and tell him he’s going too fast, or too slow. I wonder if this is when the phrase “backseat driver” was coined?

speedometer

-Many of the cars were inspired by aviation. This van, which looks it has a cat face, has mobile seats and a card table. It’s meant to feel like a flight, but actually looks much roomier. It was also designed to look like a scarab. Several cars had some Egyptian influence.

catcar

Husband’s favorite car is the 1914 Chrysler  “Thunderbolt”. Only five of these cars were made, and only 4 of those have survived. It’s very rare. It has a fender that goes around the entire car and looks like it belongs in a drive-thru.

backofthunderbolt thunderbolt

We had a lot of fun looking at these cars and reading and hearing about their past. If you are interested in seeing this new exhibit then click here for visiting info. The Automobile exhibit closes on September 15th, but the Frist is always offering new exhibits, and activities for the whole family. *BUT, try your best to see the cars Monday-Friday. It gets very crowded on the weekends.

AND: If you check out Sensuous Steel, then you will get a discount at Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum. Just bring your ticket stub!

Cheers!