Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just thought I'd share some New Year's quotes (in alphabetical order by first name). Hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year, and see you in 2010. This year's gonna be good!! With the quotes, feel free to comment and add your own:

  • "An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves." ~Bill Vaughan
  • "We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce*
  • "We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential." ~Ellen Goodman
  • "New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights." ~Hamilton Wright Mabie
  • "I do think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected to begin on New Year's Day, don't you? Since, because it's an extension of New Year's Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system. Also dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment, in order to ease your hangover. I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second." ~Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary
  • "One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things." ~John Burroughs
  • "New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual." ~Mark Twain
  • "Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." ~Oprah Winfrey
  • "The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to." ~P.J. O'Rourke
  • "The only way to spend New Year's Eve is either quietly with friends or in a brothel. Otherwise when the evening ends and people pair off, someone is bound to be left in tears." ~W.H. Auden

*So as you can tell, I provided links to Wikipedia's entries on the people quoted (just in case someone reading wasn't familiar with a name...I know I wasn't, with some of the quotes I found), but I couldn't immediately find anything with regards to Edith Lovejoy Pierce. Not even a Wikipedia entry, I know!!

And as a side note, as a result of some of the classes in AU's Arts Management program (particularly Art, Community & Diversity), I couldn't even begin to think of selecting quotes I particularly liked without considering how the choices might or might not be diverse, whether it be by sex, culture, race, content, mere length, or even the professions and fields of those quoted; on a more fundamental level I wondered what having diverse quotes would even mean. I also started thinking of how, as an Arts Administrator, even in this context and with literature, I could use it as a chance to inform (hence the Wikipedia links, for the curious).

Maybe this is why I stick to dancing when I go out (and not speaking)...most of the things I think about and over-analyze don't make for great conversation :-)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Remembering Willi Ninja

Hey there,

3 years ago, today, Willi Ninja passed away. At the age of 45, he died in NYC of AIDS-related heart failure.

I was watching America's Best Dance Crew a week or so ago, and hadn't really thought about Willi Ninja recently, until I saw one of the teams, Vogue Evolution, continue to make it to the next round of competition.

Now Voguing is definitely not my personal preferred style, and I'll admit I didn't care too much for it for a while but that had more to do with a lack of understanding, or not seeing it done in the spirit of where it come from. I also wonder how much of that had to do with my own personal journey in terms of identity in the LGBT community as well as understanding myself in terms of gender expression, but that's a post for another day.

For now, while I still don't do it myself, I love watching those who do, and do it it well. I've also been fortunate enough to personally know and be friends with some of those people, in the DC area. And I definitely appreciate it for what it is and where it came from.

So, as I was watching the ABDC episode I couldn't help but think not only how long vogue dancing has been around, as Willi Ninja is credited as having contributed to inspiring Madonna with her hit song "Vogue", but also how only recently has it really surfaced in the main stream. I've even known some B-boy friends who've incorporated voguing into their battle vocabulary.

You may have heard of a film called Paris is Burning, in which Willi Ninja was featured. You've probably also seen members of his house, the House of Ninja, in music videos and movies, like Danielle Polanco (formerly of the House of Ninja).

Anyway, I had the fortune of meeting Willi Ninja during 2005's Winter Music Conference.

Barbara Tucker, one of house music's divas, hosts an event called, "Let the Singer Be Heard", to pay tribute to vocalists in the electronic music subgenre, and give them a chance to sing their latest hits.

A friend at the time was close to both of them and I was introduced at this event, and had a chance to see him dance in person. Needless to say, it was a memory which the weight of didn't quite sink in at first.

I'd actually come across his name before, not just through LGBT culture, but in academia. I came across a book called "Microphone Friends: Youth Music & Youth Culture" in doing a research paper on dance, community, and identity. He wrote a chapter called "Not a Mutant Turtle".

This quote from a People article:
"He was tall man, about 6 ft. 3 in.," Sally Sommer, a professor of dance at Florida State University, tells The New York Times, "and God gave him the biggest, broadest dance shoulders in the world, so when he would do those things with his arms it was just so impressive."
For further reading on Voguing and Willi Ninja, I recommend checking out, Voguing: Madonna and Cyclical Reappropriation. Also wanted to link an piece that inspired me to revisit this post, after a friend tagged me in his post on Facebook, Welcome to the Ballroom, where Voguing is always in style.

But I digress.

Meeting Willi Ninja in Miami at the Winter Music Conference...I value this memory more as time goes on, and having met this icon in person continues to be both humbling and inspiring. So I write this note in memory of him. As a dancer and a person, honoring someone who truly had his own style and technique, and lived to unconditionally share his joy with the world.


Updated 3/6/13