Share with us a few of your favorite books, poems, authors, films, plays, pieces of music, musicians, performers, paintings, artists, blogs, magazines, or newspapers. Feel free to touch on one, some, or all of the categories listed, or add a category of your own.
Amidst the piles of Elle and Entertainment Weekly that sit atop my coffee table, the one subscription that I always read backwards and forwards is Reader’s Digest. The short snippets satisfy my curiosities from Ronald Reagan’s “Marriage in 367 Words” letter to “13 Things aHandyman Won’t Tell You.” I’m captivated by the “100-Word True Stories” of each issue,giggle through the “Laughter, the Best Medicine” features, dig through the eccentric assortment of vocabulary in “Word Power”, and find inspiration in the page of “Quotable Quotes.” I’ve experienced what it’s like to be a chocolate taster, felt the anxiety of a soldier stuck in a Japanese typhoon shelter, and cried with the cancer doctor who couldn’t save his wife from the disease.But furthermore, I’m intrigued by the little episodes – why we can’t tickle ourselves, the best way to comfort someone, a mother that asks for honesty for her birthday. Each month I await the arrival of my Reader’s Digest, not only to be transported to adventures around the world, but also to savor the simple pleasures in our everyday lives.
Many people think of a perfect split in the air or a dancer balanced on her toes when they think of ballet. My favorite piece of art, however, is “Ballet Scene, c. 1879” by Edgar Degas, a pastel drawing that catches dancers awkwardly in between positions. This pastel suggests movement,which is what I treasure in ballet, as opposed to posing. Degas’ ability to capture this movement is incredible because I can tell, just from this drawing, that the dancers are executing an emboîté step. From my painting course at the Art Institute in Chicago, I know that figure painting is a lot easier when the models are still. For Degas to seize a moment from dancers who are jumping across the stage with this effect commands true respect. The theme of movement and Degas’ ability to translate that meaning effectively is what makes this piece of art beautiful to me.
My favorite musician is the Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds, who has written cinematic music for many works including The Hunger Games and Taken 3, and his music is often featured on the show, “So You Think You Can Dance.” His multi-instrumental compositions range in genre from classical to alternative. He notes, “I don’t want to become this predictable artist who always does the same thing.” Arnalds places an emphasis on live performances and highlights that the music the audience listens to is not a dead piece of sheet music. The same piece of music is played differently in different contexts, depending on the setting, audience, time, the performer’s mood, and many other factors, something that I have firsthand experienced as a performer.