art

I chose beauty

People more articulate than me have expressed their shock and sadness at the results of Tuesday’s elections. I wasn’t shocked, I saw it coming a mile away – Brexit turned my dread into conviction. Go me, I get to say “I told you so” to no one.

Grief. My overwhelming feeling is grief. Grief that the glass ceiling remains unshattered. Grief for the end of all hope that Obama’s presidency gave me; Brexit, Trump, Le Pen, Putin, Turkey… worldwide, the trend is towards explicit bigotry and isolationism. The liberal in me despairs. Grief for the wave of hate crimes that have started, and will turn into tsunamis before long. We might be a (not so) ways off from the socio-econo-political circumstances that contributed to WWII, but it definitely feels as though Trump was the latest in a long string of steps backwards. Grief for the inevitable hard times and suffering ahead. The stage has been set, and as an idiotic species that can never learn its lesson, we continue our inexorable march towards our next self-imposed horror.

My father, and many others like him, has said this is a test of his faith. That makes me laugh – I do not see anything about these times to make me doubt in His existence (more than I already do – but that is the topic of another post). Surely God, looking down at us, shakes His head in despair, “My children WHYYYYYYYY? I understand you are part animal and so do not have the same concept of eternity as I, but I promise you, WWII was really not that long ago. Europe barely freed itself of totalitarian regimes in the late 90s and early 2000s, and yet is sliding right back into them. I would have expected y’all to have a BIT longer memories than that!! I am too used to you repeating the same mistakes over and over again, just like fashion, to be surprised at your lack of wisdom, but really, this is exhausting to watch from up here in Heaven. I need a vacation. Next time, try wait at least 100 years before your next f*ck up!” (yes, my God says y’all and thou and uses swear words. My God is hip and ratchet when he is irritated.)

I joined in the collective hand-wringing on social media, and almost got myself into a few arguments with friends and family who do not share my point of view. Yup, I participated in all the noise. I shared some articles that had no value, and some that did. I looked at all of the memes of Obama and Biden. I read everything I could get my hands on. I laughed, was sarcastic, morally superior and smug. I listened to Dave Chappelle on SNL tell us white folks that we are freaking out because we might be at risk of witnessing and/or being subject to some injustices, whereas it is pretty much status quo for everyone else. Our hysteria is rather quaint.

Then I read this editorial.

Eugène Ionesco was French-Romanian. He wrote “Rhinoceros” in 1958 as a response to totalitarian movements in Europe, but he was influenced specifically by his experience of fascism in Romania in the 1930s. Ionesco wanted to know why so many people give in to these poisonous ideologies. How could so many get it so wrong? The play, an absurd farce, was one way he grappled with this problem.

(…)

Evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else.

I grieve, therefore, because of a loss of innocence: I can no longer hide from the evil around me. It has manifested itself, and the time will come where I, as we all, will be judged on how I respond to it. I grieve for the inevitable cowardice I will display, despite my best intentions.


It was a beautiful fall day today. I took a long walk, after my ballet class. Ballet’s history, its music and its dancers are steeped in suffering and horrors. Rudolph Nureyev, George Balanchine, Baryshnikov…to name but a few. The music for Cinderella as well as Romeo and Juliet was composed by Prokofiev who, along with Shostakovitch, suffered greatly because of the Soviet regime. The former chose to sell out and write commercially acceptable works and struggled terribly with his conscience whereas the latter was frequently imprisoned, exiled or blacklisted for refusing to submit to the Soviet’s propaganda requirements. Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare, who did not exactly live in a democratic society, yet whose words still transport us today, 4 centuries later.

It occurred to me that every beautiful piece of music I can think of, and most works of art, is anchored in a place of suffering. Chopin, the king of slit-your-wrists music. Sibelius’ 5th symphony, a work of hope if there ever was one, was written in 1916. Elgar’s cello concerto, a tribute to WWI. Gorecki’s third symphony, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, has an entire movement dedicated to an inscription found in a Gestapo cell. All these written close 100-200 years ago. All testament to the fact that even in times of great suffering, we are capable as a species of producing and recognizing great beauty. These moments do not wipe out the evil of those times, but they shine brightly against it. They remind that even as we are capable of pushing the boundary of unspeakable actions, we are capable of making the gods themselves weep with joy.


My defense against becoming a rhinoceros is to seek out examples of beauty.

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The best part of travelling is coming home

Regardless of the purpose of the trip or the duration of the flight, roughly one hour before landing, I begin to feel a bubble of happiness and excitement at the prospect of coming home that is greater than the excitement at the start of a trip, before the plane takes off. No matter whether I had a wonderful trip, like when I went to Beirut, or this time in France. I like my city, my country, my things, my peeps and my gym.

[Off topic, because I have ADD and writing the word “gym” made me think of this.

You guys. 10 days of French cuisine, and no exercise. I am plump. So satisfied and content, but without any doubt, I am definitely plump. I’m not too worried: losing weight will be easy when transitioning back to Mtl food – nothing will tempt me, so portion control will be easy. In North America, we don’t do bread. Not like the French do. I refuse to eat our bread ever again. Also? I won’t be drinking 3-6 glasses of wine per day, every day. I think my plumpness will settle itself pretty quickly. In the meantime, I feel like a camel, having stored up on the sensation of enjoying food long enough to last till my next trip. (You might suggest that I take up cooking, but let’s be realistic. That will NEVER happen.)]

I walked through places of beauty. Saw sites of incredible historical relevance. Museums with exhibits I can only dream of, coming from Montreal, displaying a breadth and depth of works of art that our museums cannot achieve. Watched what Parisiens consider to be a run-of-the-mill operatic performance, with singers that our Montreal Opera Symphonique de Montréal couldn’t afford to invite here to perform. It was incredible.

But I still was homesick.

What did I do on my first afternoon home? Hang out at one of the free neighbourhood pools, soaking up the sun, watching my friend’s pre-schooler flop about with her wee friends in the kiddie pool. And I was just as happy, if not happier, as when I was walking about France with the ghosts of kings past.

#notsobougieafterall

#itsthesimplethings


Still, let me share some pics from this trip (all of them taken with a simple iphone 6, using the filters available and editing options within).

View of Paris’s north shore, from the roof-top terrasse of the Musée d’Orsay. That green space = Jardins de Tuileries, and behind it on the hilltop is the Basilique de Sacré-Coeur

La Cathédrale de Notre-Dame is located on a wee island in the Seine called Ile de la Cité. When the weather is beautiful, Parisiens go down to the water and picnic on the ledge. What a view. City living at its best.

Reims. Located in Champagne country-side. Went for a tour of the Taittinger champagne house, and their caves where they store their champagne. Built on 4th century Roman caves and the foundations of a famous 13th century Abbey, that was destroyed during the French Revolution.

Strasbourg. Fairy tale scenery.

More Strasbourg fairy tale scenery. All of these pics are taken in their downtown core. Because #urbanplanningwin

No filter, because none needed. This area of Strasbourg is a Unesco World Heritage site, called la Petite France. Funny story, it was initially built in the 15th century to house soldiers returning from wars with syphilis. Most beautiful quarantine possible.

Not a vintage pic. I took it while on a boat tour. Strasbourg = a living anachronism.

This is where my work convention was hosted: a medieval French village in the countryside – the Domaine de Rebetz. NBD.

 

I am not Beyoncé

Breaking news, y’all – I am not Beyoncé. But like Kanye, I refuse to give up. 

As part of a cultural program to foster collaboration between the unionized shop-floor workers and management, my company has encouraged the creation of a rock band made up of a mishmash of employees & managers to play cover songs of rock’s greatest hits during the 3 scheduled lunch breaks on Fridays in the company cafeteria. These concerts take place every 4-6 weeks. When this was first announced, the overall reaction in the company was one of skepticism. However, everyone was pleasantly surprised at the band’s first concert: they were good! 

After the band’s second concert, the band’s leader recruited new members, for guest appearances. My adorable coworkers volunteered me as a singer, despite my voluble protests. Due to my unfortunate habit of singing (loudly) to myself after 5pm, once I believe the finance department to be empty, my coworkers deemed my singing skills to be sufficient to rock on. Publicly.

Of course, all my protests were swept aside and I found myself on the band’s roster for their third concert, in early August. I committed to one song only: Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows. 

I had nightmares leading up to the band’s first practice. When it was my turn to sing, my nerves were such that I couldn’t hold up the printed lyrics because my arms were shaking so violently. After a 1 hour practice, I looked like I’d taken a dunk in a swimming pool because I’d sweated so much. Sexy! 

My new bandmates were delighted at my (conflicted) willingness to join their quest for musical fun. They encouraged me and enthusiastically promised me I sounded great and boy, the guys on the shop floor were gonna love me and this song!!! With their support, I showed up to the 2nd band practice, and by the 3rd I was enjoying myself.

Then I found out that our concert had been moved from the usual lunch time caf jam to coincide with the big celebration of our company’s half-year results. Production would stop for 2 hours, carnival-like activities were planned and the band would cap off the party with a 8-song set list. Not only that, but the entire senior exec team of our global division would be on site, visiting, and what better way to show them our team spirit than by inviting them to our big party?!

I can think of several better ways, actually. Like all of the ways that don’t include me singing in front of a crowd of 400+ people. 

Anyhow, the band didn’t let me quit (“so what if some big shots will be present? You got this!!!”). I put on my brightest red lipstick, my rockstar jewelry and my sexiest shoes. I was ready. There was a minor hiccup when those shoes were deemed a safety hazard on the shop floor. When I protested, I got reminded that, strictly speaking, I should only wear safety shoes on the shop floor, so why not just accept the compromise and change out of my stilts into more reasonable shoes? 

Y’all. Everyone knows that art is not reasonable.

We came, we sang, we partied. When it came time for my song, I decided to distract the audience with my dance moves and charm, because Mr. Jones totally moonlights as a dance song. Apparently I got an ovation and raucous cheers, but I was so nervous, I didn’t notice. I was too busy self-fiving myself for not passing out from terror. In the days and weeks that followed, many people stopped me to congratulate me. I became cautiously hopeful that I hadn’t bombed, until a coworker showed me a video of my performance taken on his phone. 

Conclusion: I am a gifted entertainer. Not a gifted singer. #ICanRelateToBritneySpears

Somehow, I’ve been roped into performing at the band’s next concert, this Friday. Tracy Chapman’s Give Me One Reason. No dance moves this time, just all of my pent-up angst from my dating life. 

Who says accountants are boring?


For those of you who are unfamiliar with blogger/writer Hyperbole and a Half, I highly recommend you check out her work. Her unique drawings have permeated popular culture – you will recognize them, and be delighted to read the original story. The drawing above is an example of her awesomeness. The above picture was taken from Hyperbole and a Half’s post “Expectations vs Reality” – possibly the unauthorized, but entirely accurate biography of my life. I swear, she and I are twinsies.

Furthermore, she has written two posts about her struggle with depression that perfectly describe the sequence of attacks that a depressed mind inflicts on the person afflicted with depression, and the subsequent disjointed behaviour exhibited by the individual. Except, of course, she manages to describe this phenomenon quite amusingly, while not trivializing the subject. I have sent these posts to almost all my friends who did not understand how I, with my priviledged life and successful career, could suffer from depression. Both posts were also trending after Robin Williams’ death last year. Without further ado, I give you:

Adventures in Depression

Depression, part II

 

Gangster ballet: it’s a thing. (In Russia)

Two weeks ago, I watched a live broadcast of the Bolshoi Theatre’s performance of Swan Lake. Below is an excerpt from that broadcast (that video got taken down. This is the best I could find. Older, same company, same choreography) to put y’all in the mood. If nothing about the first 4 minutes of this video interests you (or impresses you or moves you: I am open to any alternative other than bores you), we can’t be friends.

  • The segment starts with the black swan and her evil mentor crashing the prince’s party. I submit the music of the first 4 minutes as proof Tchaikovsky’s genius. Those 4 minutes clearly indicate that the girl is bad news and the guy is getting sucked into the vortex of her spell: listening to that, you can have no doubt that the story is going to end badly.
  • That ballerina, tho. That body, that expressive face. She overcomes some pretty tepid choreography from 1:00-2:39 with her magnetic stage presence.
  • The guys’ jumps. I think Russian male dancers have learned the trick of flying. Elegantly.

Appropriate adjectives to describe ballet

Elegantly. A universally accepted term to describe ballet, oui oui? Another commonly associated adjective is psycho, because of the Black Swan movie, and the stereotype of the starving artiste. Well, ladies and gents, I present the newest word to describe ballet: gangsta.

You see, in Russia, people take ballet very seriously. Unlike the rest of the world, that commits savage attacks in a state of fevered sport partisanship (remember the murders of the cricket coach and the soccer referee?), Russians get worked up over ballet. I’m not making this up.

In 2013, Sergei Filin, the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet, was attacked in the parking lot of his apartment complex, nearly blinded by the sulfuric acid thrown in his face. The attack was ordered by one of the company’s male dancers, Pavel Dmitrichenko, who was displeased with Filin’s artistic vision, leadership and management style.

A union representative, supporting dancers who felt they were treated unfairly in the matter of casting and payments, Dmitchenko seems to have believed it was necessary to give Filin a fright, in order to make him realise the force of dissatisfaction within the company.

So he did what any responsible person would do: he hired a hitman, Yuri Zarutsky.

During the trial, the hitman Zurutsky spoke with cheerful insouciance of his intention to milk the “naïve good, young man” who had first approached him to “rough up Filin”. Beyond the fee he charged, Zarutksy planned to press Dmitrichenko for various favours, including getting free passes to the theatre and a place for his daughter in ballet school. He certainly supported the dancer’s story that acid hadn’t been mentioned. That had been Zarutsky’s own idea, because, as he chillingly commented, more conventional physical force would have been messier and he might have gone too far.

Now that is what I call good planning, and excellent common sense. On so many levels.

My favorite quote out of this whole saga:

At the end of his statement to the court, Yuri Zarutsky apologized directly to Filin – and said he would be happy to offer him his “services” when he was eventually released from prison.

There you go. Without a doubt, this incident proves that ballet can be gangsta. In Russia.

Don’t let the pretty images fool you. Ballet can be, and always has been, ruthless.

 

P.S. For those of you interested in a much deeper analysis of the role of gangstas in Russian ballet, I suggest this article. The ties between Russian mobsters and ballet are quite thick.

 

 

The Nutcracker: bougie beauty

My mother loved opera, I like opera.  I love ballet, she liked ballet. Complementary tastes, with plenty of overlap.

In the last 5 years of her life, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City began its Met: Live in HD program, broadcasting operas, in real time, across select movie theaters across North America for prices ranging from $20-$40 – a steal! Since its inception, the Met: Live in HD program has been wildly popular, periodically selling out in participating movie theaters, with encore performances not uncommon.

For my mother, her failing health preventing her from travelling (she only ever took a plane once, to visit her brother in Boston), this was a true blessing as it gave her access to a breadth and quality of live opera performances she never would have experienced otherwise – the Met is one of the best opera companies in the world, light-years ahead of our local company in Montreal.

She frequently invited me to join her at these performances, hopeful for one of our rare girly excursions. I never once attended with her; I was always too busy, it never quite suited me, I was tired, it wasn’t my favorite piece… the list of excuses was endless. She would attend instead with some of her friends, or alone, or occasionally with my father, despite his not being overly keen on opera. The first time he did attend, he was the only male in the audience, and he wept from the sheer beauty of the music, and several old doddering ladies nodded approvingly at him and my mother. She never complained at my busy schedule, and until her unexpected end, she continued to invite me, despite my string of refusals.

Holidays: a bittersweet dynamic

That pretty much sums up how I feel about the holidays. Bittersweet, with a healthy dose of bitter, spiced with regrets. Holiday season is always a bewildering mix of joyful feelings that somehow squeeze your heart painfully and make you want to cry without always successfully pinpointing the exact cause.

That is why Tchaikovsky’s score for the Nutcracker is the perfect musical fit for the Holiday season. The Nutcracker, a fairy tale about a fantastic dream in Wonderland that eventually comes to an end, has moments of breathtaking beauty that are tinged throughout with melancholy. I never understood why Tchaikovsky included sadness in the music for a kid’s fairy tale, until I realised that the story, stripped of its flashy choreography and distractions, is actually about a girl’s first crush coming to an end. By the end of the ballet, Clara is one step closer to adulthood, and with that step comes a loss of innocence – no matter how glorious her journey, that awakening from a childhood dream is a sad thing. Tchaikovsky is brilliant.

No Christmas season is complete unless I listen to the Nutcracker’s score ad-nauseum; its complex tapestry of emotion counteracts the glib joy of Christmas carols, and lends magnificence to the occasion.

From the comfort of your home: bougie ballet

I told Nene that I was attending today a live broadcast of the Bolshoi ballet performing the Nutcracker: similar concept to the Met: Live in HD, except with ballet, not opera, and not in HD. He told me that was a bougie activity, short for bourgeoisie (new gangsta word! My vocabulary keeps expanding, yippee!).

I have no counter-argument against Nene’s assertion of bougie ballet-love.

So instead, I leave you with a link to Baryshnikov’s version of the Nutcracker – a version I watched with my mother almost every Christmas, on the couch, eating chocolate chip cookies, waiting for Santa to drop by. Yes, the same Baryshnikov that was in the last season of Sex and the City. One of ballet’s greats. Just look at his jumps!!! He soars. Beautiful and athletically impressive. (Yes, yes, I realise that SATC is about as bougie as it gets.)

P.S. I just watched most of it, and I am pretty sure the part from 13:51 to 15:00 negates any possible “ballet is not bougie” arguments. Oye. That part is not ok!

A question of perception

Lately, the question of perception has frequently been on my mind.

It is well documented on this blog that I am perceived as being vanilla by the non-accountants in my life. However, that is not the case amongst my accounting posse. Two stories stand out recently, in my mind.

Story 1: where a love for boxing is incompatible with an appreciation for classical music

This summer, as I was working alongside a few co-workers, someone noted that they could hear the music through my earbuds. I apologized, and shared my observation that classical music (especially trumpets & violins) seems to carry more than hip-hop, assuming constant volume settings, and from there, the conversation devolved into a comparison of various earphone brands, with several of my co-workers suggesting I switch to a less cheap brand, both for their sakes and mine.

A few minutes later, one of the coworkers messaged me, “YOU listen to classical music?! I would have never guessed.” Which is funny, since my ratio of classical music concerts to all other types of concerts is skewed heavily towards classical music. I only discovered Michael Jackson at the age of 17.

Apparently, membership at a real boxing gym precludes any interests other than hip-hop.

Story 2: where I discovered living in the same city does not imply similar experiences

Growing up in Montreal (West Island), I’ve always lived in multi-cultural world, except for a 2 year period in an elementary school in Ile Bizard, a purlaine Québécois community, where there were only 2 other (white) anglophone families in the entire school, and there was 1 (francophone) black kid. The morning after the 1995 referendum, and Jacques Parizeau’s infamous “money and ethnic vote” quote, I was met at my locker by a dozen boys from my grade who surrounded me, jostled me (despite me being on crutches), and yelled that it was my parents’ fault that “they“, the separatists, had lost. Luckily, these kids were making such a racket, that a teacher came out into the hallways and broke it up before it turned any scarier. I’ve never forgotten that moment: boys I’d played with and talked to every day before that referendum, almost overnight, strongly identified themselves with a cause that they weren’t of age to vote for.

The rest of my schooling was in very multi-cultural settings. I attended an all-girl French Catholic high school, run by nuns, where the running gag was that the French Catholic population of the school had the smallest representation: Armenians, Middle-Eastern, Asian, African immigrant families all sent their daughters to this school, and we all were fairly and kindly schooled by the nuns. This melting pot continued throughout college and university.

It is only when I started working in an accounting firm, that I found myself in an environment with minimal diversity. One of my accountant friends recently admitted to me that she “doesn’t encounter many black people, unlike you“. She was referring to my gym, as my source of exposure to other cultural backgrounds; whereas I consider the gym as the latest layer in my culturally rich experience. I’d always assumed that everyone living in Montreal has had a similar reality to mine. Naive!!

Story 2b: where I discovered that not everyone has dated someone from a different background

Amazed, I asked my accountant friend further details about her life in Montreal. One of the things that struck me the most was that she’d only ever dated Québécois boys, except for one dude who’d been American, and how that had been an (understandably) big culture shock.

My first serious boyfriend’s parents’ were Guyanese and Canadian. (Funny story: growing up in small-town Alberta, he and his brothers were the only black kids in any of the neighboring high schools. His football coach always put him on the starting line, because he knew the most of the kids on other team would be scared, never having seen a non-white boy, in the flesh.) Unlike my accountant friend, I’ve only ever dated one Québécois boy; the others have been from all kinds of backgrounds. I don’t seem to have a “type” other than a marked preference for tallish and funny.

Conclusion: the bar is set pretty low for accountants

It’s slightly damning if I brought an element of diversity to an accounting firm, through my unusual choice of hobbies. It is a ridiculous concept, and yet, that is the strong impression I have of my former co-workers’ perception of me. While I don’t buy into the accountant stereotype, I suspect many of them have lived sheltered lives. Seems a pity, given that we live in a city that is famous for its diversity.

I wonder if they would be as taken aback in my perception of them as I was in their perception of me?

Gospel music & un-birthday presents

This past winter, I decided on a whim to go to a Gospel music concert in a pretty little chapel in Old Montreal; the reviews of the choir were good – it had a few awards listed – its credentials seemed legit.

I was a little concerned when I noticed that the audience was comprised exclusively of white folk. Not a single member of any visible minority present; had I accidentally stumbled upon the “Broadening Horizons of White People” night of the year?

The answer to that rhetorical question is: yes, yes I had. Not only was the choir equally pale-skinned, they were primarily francophone. I did not expect to hear “Jesus was a Sparrow” sung with the distinctive Québecois accent. (Linking that clip so close to the mention of a church makes me giggle.)

This award-winning choir reminded me of my youthful participation in my Catholic church’s choir. We were not very talented, and our taste in music veered towards to sappy country hymns. Occasionally we’d spice it up with a Gospel hymn. After service, I would ask my mom “How’d we do? It was cool, no? So much more lively than usual!” and my mom would always give me a dry look that meant “Keep dreaming, child. B+ for effort.”

Un-birthday presents

One day at work, my mom called me, and breathlessly asked me to cancel any existing plans that night – she had a surprise for me. We were going on a girls’ night downtown; I was to meet her at Place des Arts.  I was intrigued: this was a clear interruption of our usual routine, of visiting my parents at their home on the weekend. My mom’s health was wretched, trips downtown were usually a painful and exhausting venture that she tried to avoid whenever possible. So I was very curious to see what could justify such an unusual impulse on her end.

When I met her at the concert hall, she gleefully wished me Happy Un-birthday and gave me a handwritten card with the following quote;

“I mean, what is an un-birthday present?”

“A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.”

Alice considered a little. “I like birthday presents best,” she said at last.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” cried Humpty Dumpty. “How many days are there in a year?”

“Three hundred and sixty-five,” said Alice.

“And how many birthdays have you?”

“One.”

– Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

It is only once we took our seats in the concert hall, that I finally discovered what we were about to watch: the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, from NYC, making a rare tour to Montreal. My mother could barely contain her excitement. This dance company had been the first Black, and then multi-racial, ballet and contemporary dance company in the USA. The programme sounded dark and pompously ambitious: “Revelations tells the story of African-American faith and tenacity from slavery to freedom through a suite of dances set to spirituals and blues music.

Gospel music done right

The curtain lifted, the lights dimmed, and gospel music filled the hall. Little or no props; simple cotton shifts that echoed clothing from slavery times; barefoot dancers. The combination of music and dancing was so powerful, it pushed the air out of the room, replacing it instead with joy, deep and contagious, emanating from every dancer on stage.

I rediscovered my faith in God that night.

Watching them dance, I felt that this is what giving glory to God should always be like;  it should be multifaceted, physical and uninhibited. If God made us in His image, surely this is what we should be doing – combining every skill-set at our disposal for His purpose. One of my favorite segments of the night is the rendition of Wade in the Water, a song my mother used to sing to me as a lullaby. In this version, it is raw and sexy, among other things – a facet to the hymn that is highlighted through the choreography. Thus, through adding the dance to the music, the experience is more complete : we are sexy creatures, us humans, and to deny that whilst giving praise is to deny part of what He has created. A revelation indeed, one I would have never experienced had I not seen this dance company.

When they finished their dancing at long last, there were several moments of silence in the hall, as though everyone was too stunned to react. Then wave upon wave of thunderous applause exploded in the room. As the lights came on in the room, I took a curious look around me. The audience was a mix of every possible demographic in Montreal, united in its experienced joy. A wonderful sight, given that the very history of this dance company and choreography is based on segregation and division.

Best un-birthday present ever.

P.S. I’ve turned into a Gospel music snob: I’ve yet to hear anything as wonderful or transformative as the music of that night.

P.P.S. I submit that the existence of this very successful dance company is proof that ballet is most definitely da realest.