Friday, February 10, 2017


Here's a photo of the space -- it's where I exercise and dance every day. 

In the next picture, you see how the room looks when the black curtains that are on both walls are closed, and the theater lights are on. There are 65 seats.

We don't rent out this space. My husband John and I use it for our own projects. I've used the studio for creating choreography, for rehearsing my dance company, and teaching dance classes; the space has also been used by us for staging shows, plays, play readings, as well as raising funds to produce our theater projects.

A lot of very well-known people have been invited to our studio-theater, and seen our projects. That's what you do if you're trying to make a name for yourself in dance or theater. My husband, Broadway Star John Cullum, has done thousands of auditions and showcase performances in the course of his amazing career. Even now, he'll audition for projects that interest him.

The floor space is 40 x 25. The sound equipment, designed for me by Peter Bartok, Bela Bartok's son, is on a rolling platform. It's powerful professional equipment, that we've used in Broadway and Off-Broadway Theaters. Our lighting equipment is homemade -- John and I scrounged large tomato cans from neighborhood restaurants, converted them, and made tinfoil frames to hold the gels for each light. Our homemade dimmer board sits in the dressing rooms that are next to our two offices.

Above my office is storage space for costumes, props, trunks and boxes with which I traveled when I toured the world, under state department auspices, with my dance company, and toured as a soloist with symphony orchestra.

In the picture above, what you see in the center of the floor are the chairs and portable barre that are the stage set for the dance I perform to "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis," by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Seven days a week, I dance to a four-minute section of this music.

When I'm performing, you don't see typical dance steps such as leaps, pirouettes, and intricate footwork. Instead, dancer Em visits the room and discovers each prop -- relating to each, with curiosity and tenderness, recalling how it was used. In the fourth section of "Fantasia," standing tall on the double set of chairs, dancer Em surveys the room. Then, recapitulating dancer Em's pleasure with these props, with many dance steps, triumphantly I leave the room.

 Dancing has been the major part of my life since I was ten-years-old. I dance -- like people who go to church -- I just go into my studio, warmup at the barre, turn on switches on the rolling table, and the Vaughan Williams music begins.

Listen to what I hear, and perhaps you'll understand how the music gets me revisiting the room, the space, remembering, reliving, and dancing. Having seen the theater we built, and heard how we use this space, we hope you enjoyed your visit. The great Eugene Ormandy is conducting the music. 

Monday, February 6, 2017


What's a GIF?

It's an acronym for G raphics I nterchange F ormat. You pronounce GIF the way you pronounce JIF -- the name on this jar of peanut butter.  

GIFs have been around since dial-up modems. Back in 1987, Steve Wilhite, a tech guy, created the first one. He drew an animated airplane. Connections were much too slow for videos, so Steve created a moving image with hardly any data.

It was this.

Okay, GIFs have evolved into an everyday, easy way of communicating. Blame it on the smartphone with its lovely small screen that you can quickly check and in a second get right to the picture. GIFs are faster than texting, emojis, or icons. If you want to be super creative when you're expressing an idea, click here -- GIPHY.COM. Type any word, and you'll see a bunch of choices.

Here's the GIF of me wondering about my future as a blogger....
Hey, facebookers, tweeters, instagramers, snapchatterers, and smartphoners, if you enjoy conversing with pals, I seriously suspect that communicating with photos (jpgs) and words is disappearing. 

(Why? Because many people, nowadays, needed a raison d'etre -- a reason to get up in the morning, a reason for being. Money guys whose raison d'etre is making money, are raking in billions because we need their help.)

Giphy, one of the most trafficked sites on the web, valued at $600 million, serves up tens of billions of GIFs each month.
Riffsy raised $10 million and made a GIF keyboard that you can download on your phone and type sentences of GIFs.
Daycap stitches together photos you took on your phone throughout the day and generates a GIF that you send to your friends who like to know what you’ve done all day.

It seems as if every generation fears that some new medium will be the end of  intelligence. Twitter seemed that way last decade. In the 80's, cable-TV news alarmed those reared on The New York Times. Hey, in 400 B.C. Socrates lamented because "the written word means people will no longer have to completely remember everything."

Ah sweet progress...

GIF is a present day heirogliph--
A jiggly pic that's gets stiff
In a jiffy of a jif.

It's not g-i-f with a t--  
But a swift way for you and me
To refer to (and prefer),
An impression of what you feel
That isn't very real.

Guys, I fear
What I write is no longer dear--
My blogs ain't gonna be read,
You'll see
Quicki, bitty, vidi's for kiddies
That in a flash,

Blogger Em