Saturday, June 20, 2009


I just read an article in my Time Magazine -- "How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live ... (in 140 characters or less)."

Hey, gee ... whoa ...

Communication in 140 characters, OR less? And IT is imparting opinions, reactions, philosophy, advice that's already got advertisers and corporations studying it, creating new companies to develop tools and markets to sell, sell sell us ... what?

Holy, cow -- and it's getting more popular every day -- tweets are quoted in the news -- blogs are blogging about tweets!

Oxford Dictionary: "... twitter v. make a series of light tremulous sounds. talk rapidly in a nervous or trivial way. noun: [1] a twittering sound. [2] trivial talk. phrases in (or of) a twitter informal in a state of agitation or excitement."

Wikipedia: "Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read each others' updates, known as tweets ... Tweets are text-based posts ... SMS, short message service, was created in 2006 ... daily users estimated at 6 million, monthly visits 55 million, Nielsen rates monthly growth at 1382% ... " (Poor old Facebook is only increasing 228%.)

Thesaurus synonyms: chitter, cheep, chipper, chirp, chirrup, pipe, screech shrill pipe up, peep, peeping ...

Okay, the internet is changing communication. Bloggers ("hybrid diary writers" according to Wikipedia), blurt out personal private stuff in an essay form, while Tweeters, in 140 or less characters, are briefly conveying a thought.

Okay, it's progress ... But Tweets are being published, read and taken as significant ideas, careful thoughts.

Shh...Maybe if I change the word from tweet to ...burp, a common reassuring human sound, or another animal sound... oink ...?
And here's a haha -- since web log became "blog," why not drop the "G" and the "B" and call Em's post a LO. Spelled low it's a cow's MOO.

So, BEWARE of the oinking, the moos ... Stop the avalanche ... It's snow. Snow is cocaine, or whipped egg whites on a dessert, or white stuff that shuts you in --"snow" is deceiving, persuading, glibly charming a person. I don't want to be snowed in.

Friday, June 19, 2009


The front curtain rose. The clapping was rhythmic. Someone yelled "Bravo!" From the balcony there was a deluge -- programs -- little white airplanes flying in, bombarding me as a uniformed usher appeared with a huge bouquet of long-stemmed roses from the management.

As he lay them at my feet there were catcalls, hisses, people yelled "Geyhen heim, go home." Others were yelling, "Brava, bravo!" With a nod, thanking them, I bent, took one rose from the bouquet, stood up straight, and looking at the audience, held the rose to my heart. The curtain came down again.

The curtain stayed down. Sound from the warring crowd faded. "Why did they boo?" I asked the Dresser who helped remove the caftan. She shrugged, and disappeared before I could ask her to unhook the hooks on my bodysuit.

I sent a smile to the Russian folk dancers in the wings, getting ready to go on next, but no one smiled back. Climbing the stairs up to my dressing room, I passed the Nigerians who were performing after the Russians. Engrossed in adjusting their costumes, they didn't even glance at me.

In my dressing room, I stuck the rose in my water glass. Twisting, wriggling myself out of the bodysuit, I heard the applause for the folk dancers on the loudspeakers ... one ... two... three ... four curtain calls, cheers. no boos, no bravos.

I ran a comb through my tangled hair. My chic gold lamé dress for the party, gold pumps, bronze net stockings were waiting. Vanderhoff, the head of the Festival, had personally invited me --"We shall toast you with champagne, Fraulein."

My big blue duffel bag was open. Travel things were laying in it. Elektra's costume, rug, makeup, practice clothes needed to be packed.

Someone knocked. "You have visitors," said Arty, the friendly young Brit -- he'd met me at the airport, chauffeured me to the hotel, and the theater.

The man and woman came in saying, "Bravo! We saw Elektra in New York -- it's fascinating choreography. You were excellent. Wonderful music!" The three of us made cheerful loud conversation as the loudspeakers broadcast the applause the Nigerians -- one, two ... four ... six ... eight curtain calls -- a roaring standing ovation.

The woman murmured something about Cologne audiences being Anti-Jewish. The man said, "I'm sure the critics will rave about your dancing."

I grabbed their words. "Did you notice anything ... I slipped a bit..." (I couldn't ask -- I was dying to ask -- did you see the JIGGLE?)

As they went out the door, they said, " You are wonderful! You remind us what dancing is all about, Miss Frankel."

Mulling over their good words, I did some of the packing, figuring Arty would help me with the rug after the party. Did my hair and makeup, donned my party finery, and clip-clopping in my high heels, I headed down the empty hallway to the Green Room.

Opening a door marked Grün Saal, it took a second to realize that I shouldn't have packed -- everyone was seated, eating, chatting. Where to sit? There was a vacant seat at the Russians table piled with coats. At Vanderhoff's full table, the Ballerina from England was clinking glasses with him.

There was a hush as I clip-clopped in my blazing gold outfit to the buffet. The waiters were busily removing empty dishes. There was no salad, no hot food left. I helped myself to three slices of Munster cheese, a handful of crackers, and black coffee. Stood there hoping someone would wave.

No one did.

I spied a chair near Arty and his friend Hans. Arty nodded as I sat. Hans was describing Fred and Ginger in an old movie he'd just seen. Starving, nibbling on a cracker, I saw Vanderoff stand up. Wrapping my food in a paper napkin, slipping it in my purse, I said, "Arty, my plane leaves at 1 a.m. I need your help. I'll be upstairs in my dressing room. See you in 20 minutes." And hurried over to Vanderhoff, who seemed to be kissing the Ballerina's cheek.

I waited. Finally tapped his shoulder, saying, "Thank you for your hospitality, and the beautiful bouquet of roses." ... No smile, not a flicker of response ...
"Thanks to your very professional crew, I enjoyed dancing on your stage -- I felt I danced well, but the audience's reaction surprised me."

Vanderhoff took out a handkerchief. Polishing his glasses, said, "We pride ourselves on the excellence of our staff." He put on the glasses, clicked his heels, saying "Viel glück. Auf Wiedersehen, Frau Frankel" And turned away.

The crowd in the doorway parted as if I were a leper as I went out. I ran down the hallway, raced up the stairs. feeling as if I were being consumed by fire.

I dumped out the rose, drank three glasses of water waiting for Arty. He didn't show up. Someone had piled the rug outside my dressing room door. It was heavy, hard to cram it into the duffle. Grim, sweating, in my gold dress, and net stockings minus the heels, I had to push, roll, and shove it down, down the three flights of stairs.

Out in the street with my bulging blue duffel bag, coat over my gold dress and sneakers, I attracted attention. A cab took me to the airport, where I changed clothes and managed to board my plane. When I (spur of the moment), stuffed the rose in my purse, I'd soaked the napkin covering my food. It was a six hour plane trip. I ate my soggy dinner and dozed, in between reviewing jiggles, white paper planes, boos, Geyhen heim, go home.

At Kennedy airport, after customs and porters, and rumpled Em was in a taxi, windows wide open, New York air swatting me in the face, I wept.
After a while the cabbie said, "You okay lady?"
"I'm glad, so glad to be home," I said.

JC made me grits, bacon and eggs, and buttered a first slice, a second and my third slice of toast. As I told him what happened, I realized I'd never know ... Was it the jiggle? The anti-Jewish thing, or the outrageous choreography?

I put the wilted bent rose in a glass of water with an aspirin. It never regained its stance. But I did. Hey, being booed is ... not fun ...

But weeping in a cab, glad so glad to be home, having the events of Cologne in your mind/body/soul -- it gives me gut power -- that's a triumph. That's something to brag about!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I was in Cologne, Guest Artist -- major festival -- preparing to perform a Theatre Noir blood and horror solo. They were paying me well; transportation and accommodations were first class. It was going to be one performance only -- the other artists on the program were all recognizable names.

Back then, I was very aware of being an up-and-coming name, quietly excited, tickled, to be there -- and proud that "Elektra," was choreographed by Todd Bolender to dissonant modern music by Hans Werner Henze -- both were names dance and music aficionados would recognize.

Rehearsal: Scary. Huge stage, powerful front spotlights which make balancing trickier. Technicians, other dancers were watching. I was in practice clothes (flattering things, meticulously picked out). I didn't perform, just marked a few movements as I set the lighting and curtain cues.

My costume was a white body suit. The solo began with me wrapped in a white rug, rolling in, unrolling till a torn-looking white cloth rug covered the entire floor. Rising up, in a lyrical adagio depicting Elektra's memories of love, my movements accelerated into passion, then murderous rage. It ended with me in a victorious pose, open-mouthed as if screaming, blood dripping from my upraised hands.

It received good reviews in New York. I figured it would be a hit with the European Press and the Festival's international audience.

I planned my curtain calls. First -- with my bloody hands behind my back, a deep bow. Second -- (it took 20 seconds to slip on my gorgeous, floor-length, white silk caftan), as the front curtain opened, I'd enter from back wall of the stage -- proceed slowly downstage (long walk, 25 feet) to the footlights -- open my arms as if embracing the crowd. Then, curtsy deeply, gracefully accepting the applause.

Additional curtain calls, I'd improvise, depending upon bravas and cheers. I expected at least four or five.

I ate very little before rehearsal, afterward just nibbled on a Hershey bar. Would you eat if you were going to dance in a white body suit? You would not! I'd taken a diuretic (to pee away water weight). Dancers, like models, singers and film stars, do all sorts of things to look thin, crash dieting, taping, strapping, padding to make their bodies look perfect.

Flowers, telegrams wishing me luck were delivered. "Half hour!" the Stage manager announced. It was time to warm-up -- banish scaredy-poops (that's what I call technical fears.) Because of the rug, I had to position myself carefully for the pirouettes. And the adagio was tricky -- I had to balance on one leg with those spotlights in my eyes, and slowly lift and extend the other leg out into a high position -- hold it there like an arrow aimed diagonally upward.

Applause ... there was a welcoming trickle of it as I started the rolling entrance. The packed house was riveted as I unfolded myself -- you could hear a pin drop, as I rose up from the floor, and my body in white was completely revealed.

Even as I write this, I'm getting a knot in the pit of my stomach ...

Pirouettes ... okay. As I started to balance for the extension ... a tiny jiggle, but I did a very high, beautiful diagonal up ... agonizing -- damn tiny jiggle -- when ice-skaters flub a trick, we're eagle-eye watching to see if they'll flub the next one.

Conquering the agony, actress Em found focus and went on to the climax --- found the blood bag (a tiny balloon in a marked spot on the rug), pricked it with its pin, bloodying myself. Then, with the final chord -- full-out, wham -- I hit the triumphant, open-mouthed murderess pose.
Hold it.
Dead silence.

Lights up full ... trickle of applause ... two, four hands clapping ... I sense the audience is stunned, I'd done the ending brilliantly ... guttural low sound ... is it a moan? Bloody hands locked behind me, I lower my head, and bow ...

Is it a boo? ... two, three, more voices ... that dreadful sound.

Curtain closes ... boos ... definitely boos, and clapping hands applauding louder. I rush upstage, wipe my hands on the towel my dresser hands me while helping me into the caftan -- oh God -- the leading lady star's bow I'd planned, choreographed, rehearsed with the stage crew!

Unexpected things -- sometimes we can handle them. Sometimes we can't.

I do it. Head high, enter from the back and do the long walk, proceed to the footlights in my gorgeous glittering caftan, open my arms as if embracing the audience and do my deep, graceful curtsy, as boos and applause are mounting -- warring. Front curtain descends slowly ... so slowly -- will they bring it up again -- will the ordeal continue?

It did.

More about the cheering and booing tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Say the word "Vertigo" and I'm remembering the movie.

James Stewart and Kim Novak in a church tower ...
The beautiful Kim looking head-to-toe exquisitely perfect, and stiff, as if she'd been hair-sprayed all over.

I feel hair-sprayed when I try to remember who was the murderer, was he in love with Kim, what this movie was about.

I woke up day before yesterday feeling very tired. Got up carefully,. When I looked around, I realized the dresser, the television set were moving, the ceiling sort of whirling. It happened to me about seven years ago -- my doctor said it was my inner ear, and would probably disappear in a day or so. And it did.

After coffee (I wasn't nauseous but I didn't feel hungry) I looked up vertigo. "... a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, caused by looking down from a great height or by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve. Origin: Latin, 'whirling', from vertere 'to turn.'

Okay, I've called myself "Dr. Em." I know that it would take an Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, a Neurologist as well as an Internist, various diagnostic tests, and even then it's unlikely that I'd get a diagnosis, or any remedy other than "Take it easy. It can take a few days, a few weeks to pass. Over the counter remedies for motion sickness can help, but tend to make you sleepy."

So am I taking it? Am I taking a vacation from my daily dance exercise?

No. When I do my dancing, I invariably feel better, write better, am zestier, and I've got my sense of humor -- it's like a jolly puffy cloud hanging over me -- keeps me from wondering if vertigo is one of those overly advertised, fearful, incapacitating things?

Fearful, ain't good. But incapacitating is unacceptable.

I'm not in the right frame of mind to ramble on about ailments, but here's a slice of advice. When you don't feel up to par, a curative is to find a cheery aspect of your situation. (like, hey -- take the afternoon off -- go to movies!) And go for it -- an aspect, an element of what you're doing or planning to do, that will be done better than ever because of your heightened awareness of it.

So, in a minute or two I'm heading down our stairs --four flights, 68 steps, holding on to the banister-- I'll enjoy walking -- I may check out the new vintage store on eighth avenue.

If this explanation of handling my vertigo seems jabbery, rambling, convoluted, blame it on my light-headedness. I'm just saying that mentally making yourself feel better is part of the cure!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My actor guy -- I tease and poke fun at his dunce-like inability to handle the computer.

But ...

He's Beethoven ... hunched over the Yamaha, staring at the music paper on his computer monitor, fiddling with the keyboard, inserting grace notes, while wife Em, (he calls me Mrs. Shakespeare) is across the hall putting words into the blog page on her computer.

I'm astounded by the way he handles one of the most complicated computer programs I've ever seen.

Finale ... You can compose music with it, play it, create sheet music, as well as import music from other sources. The composer and lyricist guys who wrote the musical "Urinetown," introduced JC to it.

When the program freezes and he calls the Computer Fixer Em to fix it, I have to wind up my brain key -- it's complicated -- I keep forgetting how to do it. Fingers chugging, I reset the modes and options, as the manual instructs you to do if Finale freezes. And get my thank-you kiss smack, as Beethoven's back to the keyboard.

I remember processes as if they're a ballet combination. (Not tap dancing -- as I've explained in other posts, itty-bitty toe -heel tap steps utterly defeat me.)

Well, my Beethoven CAN do them; AND sing intricate lyrics, hit a G while he's itty-bitty step-stepping, inserting minute details of phrasing, ad-lib verses, double-bar repeats, triplets, sixteenth and thirty-second notes.

importing new pages of sheet music from Hal Prince's "Paradise Found." He selects instrumentation, transposes it, clicks "play" and accompanies himself, as he's getting ready for Monday's workshop rehearsal. (He's playing the part of a sex-starved Shah with a hundred wives.)

All this -- daily rehearsals, a show at night, while Beethoven continues to do most of the shopping, lugs the recycle and trash bags down our four flights, makes his divine, fluffy-whipped potatoes to go with the spicy Chinese veg and scrod entree I'm cooking for our nightly jamboree --him playing his song from the musical --me reading aloud a post I've been writing. Afterward, there's an exchange of family/friends news and gossip, then the last seconds of a Lakers or Mets game while we're loading the dishwasher, and Beethoven and Shakespeare settle down to watch the final edition of the evening news.

Yep, end of our busy, creative day is mostly a festival. When JC played the music, and sang that Shah song he's working on ...
And hit that final note ... wow, I love his voice!

Monday, June 15, 2009


My mind is a calendar, computer, adding machine and I never forget.

Oh yeah? Well, I didn't post the post I had planned for the 15th.

I'm kind of enjoying the feeling that I was so busy writing the next two posts, especially the one for the end of the week, so absorbed in finding a picture for it ....

THAT Em the elephant who never forgets, FORGOT!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Drum sounds, the resonating deep boom of kettle drums get to me. Jerry Lee Lewis on the piano, and all the film and sound clips of Elvis get to me. Willy Nelson, and other guys too, but Elvis and Jerry Lee, more so.

I'm talking about the booming drums that composer Gustav Mahler used in his Fifth and Tenth symphonies. Other composers have killer powerful sounds that get to you (Stravinsky, Beethoven, Bartok, each his own way), but I didn't change my life in order to dance to those pieces of music.

I did change my life -- I jumped through hoops -- in order to dance to Mahler.

Jumping through hoops is what you do when you serve/obey/accommodate someone without question, exert yourself mightily, beyond your limits even, like a trained animal leaping through hoops in the circus.

I took risks, made commitments, because I wanted to dance with that sound under me, around me, surrounding me.

Mahler's Fifth is a seventy-minute symphony. (Authorities, teachers of choreography say: "A solo should be five minutes, ten minutes at most." So of course that made me more determined than ever to do a seventy minute solo.) What worried me was the second movement of the Fifth ... it seemed ... well ... boring to me as a listener. Nevertheless, I spent a ton of money on my Mahler project -- on the choreography and costumes which were created for me. Then, I proceeded to dance the Fifth in some famous, big-time, major theaters in South America, South Africa and New York City.

What next? Mahler's Tenth Symphony. It is rarely played by orchestras. Despite the nose-in-the-air professors who belittle the Tenth, because Mahler died before he finished it, I found the music goose-pimple thrilling.

I spent about two years, writing a two-character dance play -- "Zinnia." Casting an actress for the acting role, choreographing it, working with JC as director -- it was a five month "run" in the Colonnades, an off-Broadway theater.

What I got from dancing to the booms from doing the no-no-don't-do-it project, "Zinnia" -- from our energy, thought, passion, money, expertise, research, study, and endless rehearsals -- is what I get from sitting here and writing -- a full use of myself, brain and body.

So, now you see that I love to jump through hoops. High dive ... climb the stair to the platform, climb beyond it to the highest rung, look down at the pool, the hoop below. I'm not a good swimmer, not a diver, but the bounce on the springboard, the moment up, up, and out out out in the air ... I'm flying ... soaring.