It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘art’

The Little Person and the Diva

It was a listening silence. Not like the silence you hear when someone is withholding a thought or waiting their turn to speak or being polite, because that is what you do. The amphitheater had 4,000 people generating electrical waves of openness, of anticipation for the next, a silence set to receive.

And I was asked before I went on if I was nervous. Nervous for what? What was there to be nervous about? Well, you know, hejessyenorman1 stammered this and that, there are all these people, millions more viewing on television, an international commemorative event… one would be nervous. But why, and what good would it do, and wouldn’t it ruin it? I’m excited, practiced, prepared and mindful—fully in the moment to give—to claim the stage and fill the listening silence with a full expression of my breath. To sing.

And so it was… I walked upon the stage, with my body taller than I ever remember it being before, as if my head were being lifted high above, into the atmosphere, by the history of all the brilliant ghosts haunting this place. I was standing on the very steps where Socrates stood, and I was as humbled and humanized as I was embodying grandeur and magnificence—a perfect balance formed from this sublime paradox. I sang.

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,

Whose stern impassion’d stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved,

And mercy more than life!

America! America! May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness,

And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam,

Undimmed by human tears!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

 

So, you asked me what was it like to sing like that, to perform for thousands—millions, and to stand on the very slab of marble where Socrates stood and taught? Imagine being a lightning bolt. Imagine the energy you would give forth, the force and power you would have to summon to create a show as spectacular in the sky as lightening, knowing that your performance is restricted only to one part in a single storm. That is what it was like.

So you asked me about my career as a singer? Imagine having to be a lightning bolt countless times, practicing the art of being the best lightning bolt you can be every day of your life, always preparing for a fresh performance, to be prepared for the next storm when you’re called upon, and the storm may be brief or it may last hours, and you may have a small role, or you may be the entire show, and you must be as prepared for each role with the same level of excellence no matter the scale of your appearance. That’s the job of a singer.

You want me to sing? Sing with me:

He´s got the whole world in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the tiny little baby in His hands,

He´s got the tiny little baby in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got you and me, sister, in His hands,

He´s got you and me, brother, in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He’s got ev’rybody here in His hands.

He’s got ev’rybody here in His hands.

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

 

So, you want to know what I think matters most of all? That humans care about how they treat one another. I am so tired of hearing about how people need to pull themselves up from their bootstraps, when there are too many people who have no boots. As a society we have a responsibility to our sisters and brothers, a responsibility to be compassionate and to lend a hand up, to reach around to your neighbor and ask, “How can I help?” and lend a hand up—no one needs a hand out—they need opportunities, second chances and others believing in them. If only we would learn that it matters most how we treat one another. In fact, it might be the only thing that does matter.

Now, I think it’s time for a little person to go to bed. Oh, one more song? Well, alright. You start singing your favorite, and I’ll join in…

Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night!

Son of God love’s pure light.

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

 

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Stress Buster Series Part 2 — CREATE — 7 strategies to reduce stress

Here are 7 CREATIVE ways to effectively deactivate stress…

There’s no joking around about the seriousness of stress. At the very least it eats away at us, preventing us from enjoying life fully. At its worse, it is deadly—a major contributor in obesity, high blood pressure and other critical health conditions and diseases as well as mental illnesses, including problems with alcohol and other drugs, anxiety disorders and depression. It even has been linked to many instances of suicide. Tame the beast—take action to help manage stress.

  1. Daydream—you may often hear advice about meditation, and that certainly has its place, but… daydreaming has become a lost art by far too many. Stare at the clouds, gaze into the water or just simply stare off into space. Let your mind wander and imagine yourself in dream lands, surrounded by people you enjoy or off on your own to explore and revel in creative bliss… all inside your own skull.
  2. Write—oh stop worrying; no one said you need to publish this, but you just might want to once you’ve done it long enough. Just get the stuff stuck inside your head and your heart outside and take a look at it. Go ahead and write about what’s scaring you, or not. You may choose to write a better story; one where you are empowered and actively achieving all you desire. Or, even still you may choose to channel your inner voice, and give it a platform to express spirit, wonder, gratitude and grace. Or… all of the above.
  3. Draw—I don’t care if your version of a Renoir looks exactly like blotchy, lumpy diseased stick figures. Draw something—groupings of circles, an abstract of the horizon at dusk, a blade of grass or leaves, clouds… anything. The point is to explore expressing yourself non-verbally. We relay far too much on words and give them far too much power in our lives. Here is an opportunity to explore the connections between your eyes and your hands in a creative fashion. Use a pencil, your favorite pen or go wild with pastels, colored pencils or even crayons. Have fun and explore
  4. Sing—whether you’re a nightingale or more closely resemble a quacking duck, put your favorite tune in your head (or go ahead and queue it up on your Mp3), and sing that song! Fill up your body with air and let sounds reverberate through every atom that makes you… you. Don’t be shy and activate your whole self in song. Throw all of your energy into making music—the very expression of your own breath.
  5. Dance—that’s right, get down and get jiggy with it! Or slip into some Ravel and go on point if that’s your pleasure. Experience music as an expression of your whole body. Oh come on no one’s looking. And so what if they are? Make them envy your joy! They should feel so free.
  6. Create—just start and go! Have you ever wanted to sculpt? Play the piano? Paint a mural? Write a story? Compose a song? Choreograph a dance? Just start. You may not like where it takes you at first, but you started! That’s more than most people ever do. Great work! Now, keep doing it, and by accident, if you keep doing it enough and work on doing it a little better each time, you’ll find at some point—you’re actually kinda good. Maybe ever great! But that will never, ever, ever happen… unless you begin.
  7. Pretend—pretend you’re somebody else. If you could be a different type of person… you might walk differently, speak differently, behave differently… dress, attitude, habits, preferences… all different. Even how you choose to spend your day might be different. For one morning, afternoon, or one evening, go somewhere where no one knows you, and go BE that different person. Keep your name, and please do try to keep your sanity and return to reality once you’re done with your “trip,” but also do take note of all being that alter ego taught you. How were you treated? How did you feel? Did you see things differently, value different things and take notice of different things than you normally would? Were your interactions with people different? Overall, how did your experiences differ, and what lessons from this experience can you incorporate into your real life and real personality to be an even more authentic, happier and empowered you?

Activating your creativity helps to deactivate stress by opening a portal for that negative energy, and with you and your creative spirit serving as the conduit, you have the power to turn the negative energy—STRESS—into a very positive energy—ART.

kandinsky - transverse line (copy)

kandinsky – transverse line (copy)

The Black Swan a film by Darren Aronofsky (spoiler alert)

N. Portman

As the house lights came back up, and I looked around at the audience and my date for the afternoon, I couldn’t help but overhear passersby commenting firmly on what they hated and what they loved about the film. No one seemed to be ambiguous, nor did they seem to have the same experience. This is an unusual quality for any film for certain.

Much like Aronofsky’s previous films, Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler… The Black Swan left me feeling mentally agile–as if I had just successfully completed a complex puzzle. Or did I? Listening to and reading others’ vastly diverse thoughts on the film, I think I might be alone in this reaction, which isn’t an unusual spot for me, frankly. It is unusual for this disconnect to be so universal, and so I felt compelled to explore this phenomenon further.

Here’s the thing, critics are crying out that the film was flat. Specifically, while most applaud Natalie Portman’s performance, they cringe at the abuse, neglect and sexist, violent portrayals of the characters victimizing Portman’s character throughout the film. Other critiques are more interested in the plot and character development, or seeming lack thereof, describing the flat, unrealistic stereotypes drawn for each character in the film.

My theory: often moviegoers sit down in a theatre with a certain expectation, and moviegoers familiar with Aronofsky have a very certain expectation–depth.

Aronofsky is known for his intricate characters and complex plot development. Audiences are drawn in to both love and despise the deeply flawed yet intimately familiar protagonist, and often the true antagonist is identified as an internal demon within the protagonist, often fueled by mental illness, substance abuse or some other psychological dysfunction.  Yet, these characters are best known for their depth–portraying the best and worst in the human spirit with simultaneous acts of degradation and redemption.

This is a stark contrast in The Black Swan, as these characters were paper-thin and wholly predictable based on their assigned dysfunctions and nothing more. I do not believe this was an accident, an oversight, a lazy mistake on the part of the film’s creator. Just as all previous Aronofsky films have been threaded with an intricate web of intent, The Black Swan was no different. I am certain that the one-dimensional caricatures that appeared in the film were not in error–a mishap weakening the film. I believe that this story required it.

The protagonist, Nina, harbored every social and psychological problem commonly seen in young professionals in the classic arts: 1) Stage mom; 2) Eating disorder; 3) Dependant personality; 4) Self-mutilation; 5) Arrested emotional development; 6) Emotional and sexual victimization; and 7) A growing psychiatric disorder (possibly schizophrenia with psychotic episodes in this case). This is not to say that these problems are so common that they are the norm in young professionals in the high arts–they are certainly among the minority. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that a single professional would possess every one of these problems, and therein lies the complexity. How do you draw a series of charicature and make the audience believe them?

Nina, is far less a stereotype as other critics have suggested–she is indeed a caricature. Nina was not so much a person, rather she was a chasm–little more than a hole filled with packages of psychiatric and psychological disorders strongly influenced and exacerbated by juxtaposed environments of destructive social problems.

The other characters’ roles were only meant to perpetuate this dance of perfect dysfunction. A death-trap of intertwined problems, choreographed to end in perfect destruction. Depth of character was not the goal–the goal was illustrating the depth of dysfunction, drawing a picture of how this perfect storm will play-out, scored within the beautiful tale of Swan Lake.

Art is not only here to imitate, interpret or serve as an example for life and culture. Art is about inspired creation–taking what’s in the mind of the artist and his or her heart, spirit and imagination, allowing others the opportunity to experience a glimpse of this perspective.

The Black Swan was not intended to inspire or educate on reality–it is the artist’s view of a reality. Aronofsky has handed the audience his kaleidoscope, and he has let us see an image in his head. Enjoy it for what it is or not.  It is an intentional puzzle of characters, situations, dialogue and actions for the audience to put together in a way that fits for them, individually. To critique it by attempting to determine if this is a healthy or realistic portrayal of ballet is flatly silly. The Black Swan is not meant to be a work of nonfiction or something to be lauded and emulated. It is film, and its responsibility ends there.

The Cardboard Stories: community theatre brings messages of hard truths about homelessness with inspiration and hope

The Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless (PCCH) in partnership with Joyeous Productions premiered its first theatrical production, The Cardboard Stories‘ “Blissful Turmoil”, in November of 2010. The brainchild of PCCH Director of Development and Performance Evaluation George Bolden, its mission was to instill hope and inspire action, telling a story of the true faces of homelessness. A bold mission, and I must admit, from the very first show: mission accomplished!

From the Palladium Theatre in downtown St. Petersburg, the setting of the play transported us all right down the street. Down the street and just around the corner to nearby William’s Park. I was struck by the scenery, from the busses to the park benches that had armrails installed down the center to make it difficult for St. Petersburg homeless to stretch out. Then, the people started filling the stage. The homeless, police, a familiar mix.

This scene brought me back to my childhood–memories of attending church at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, right across from William’s Park. Countless interactions with the homeless who have always seemed to be a part of the park’s landscape as far back as I can remember. I remember feeling uneasy around them, watching the uneasiness of the adults around me, watching them avert their eyes, watching them take effort not to acknowledge these humans, no smiles, no hellos and not a word about them following the experience.

It’s as if they were ghosts. Some supernatural entities that we are not to mention for fear that then, if they were to be acknowledged or to come up in conversation, we would ultimately have to face our individual responsibility to do something. Something helpful. Something kind. Something outside of our familiarities.

Children learn through example, but all along, I knew this behavior was wrong. Averted eyes, speeded gates, tugging on their children’s hands to move them swiftly by. Wait!  These are people. We should smile at them. We should say hello. We should be kind. We should acknowledge humanity.

Then, the characters started to come alive on the stage, telling a profound tale of an all too common scene: a young mother who recently aged out of foster care to find herself homeless with a baby, living on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. An original stage play written by a local playwrite, Marvia Joye Watkins “Joye”brought a difficult story to her audience in a balanced fashion that wasn’t too uncomfortably hard yet moving and real.  

Blended into the story was original music brought to us by recording artist and The Cardboard Stories Music Director September Penn. Tears welled up in many eyes as the message came home to us all: Faces of Hope… what about us, we know you see us… we were displaced now we’re searching for faces of hope… For the full song, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upmf56NP87w 

Keeping it real was a primary focus of the production from day one. Several key figures responsible for shaping this production spent Labor Day weekend living as homeless persons on the streets and in shelters in St. Petersburg. They came back with an altered, realistic perspective that influenced the production. Some of the cast members were homeless themselves. The Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless provided well-research statistics of homelessness in Pinellas County, which was integrated within the play (about 65 percent of homeless persons are women and children; less than 40 percent of homeless have issues with addictions). Theatergoers were provided with the facts and some of the realities of homelessness, yet with an overarching message of hope and inspiration.

A closing message: may we remember to at the very least acknowledge humanity. Do not invert your eyes any longer. Just take a moment and have the courage in your heart to look, smile and say, “hello.”

The Cardboard Stories is actually a series of four plays. The curtain has closed on the first, though the production is receiving invitation to take the show on the road and perform encore productions! Meanwhile, the cast and crew are back at work, producing the next in its series, “Sweet Atrocity” to be premiered in the Spring of 2011. I invite you all to stay posted by “liking” The Cardboard Stories on Facebook, and sharing this inspirational story with your family, friends, coworkers and faith-based communities.

For more information on The Cardboard Stories, please visit:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Cardboard-Stories/106224186099865

Web: http://www.thecardboardstories.com

Media (St. Petersburg Times): http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/cardboard-stories-play-about-homelessness-opens-eyes-at-palladium/1137969 

Media (Bay News 9): http://www.baynews9.com/article/news/2010/november/174292/Plays-goal:-Raise-awareness-about-homelessnesso

Slideshow (Tampabay.com): http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2010/audio_slide_shows/cardboard_stories/

Photos: http://hornphotographyanddesign.blogspot.com/2010/11/cardboard-stories.html

PSA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkWs2yYPSjE&feature=related

Promo Ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV-PrXGxk84&feature=related

Innovative leadership needed in the era of the Creative Class (AKA: What’s a Master Class?)

To be a great leader or manager it requires you to learn how to lead and coach. And things have changed–or have they?

Coming from a performance background, master classes are unique events, which publicly illustrate the best in coaching, when done well. In a master class, a master artist works with performers on their instrument in front of an audience of their peers. Several participants/attendees have an oppotunity to work one-on-one with a master performer, and likewise all attendees watch this master teacher work one-on-one with certain performers. It is a remarkable learning experience, charged with energy, opportunity and countless ah-ha! moments.

Unfortunately, it’s unique to the performing arts. But, can we take the concept outside of the arts and apply it to traditional business? It’s far more than role-playing or lecturing or even workshopping. It’s a then-and-there charged experience of performance, exploration and discovery of your craft alongside a master mentor with peers looking on and learning from your experience.

Violinist Maxim Vengerov shows the best in coaching in this video. What can you learn from his style? http://bit.ly/2fp…hgG 

Great leadership requires extraordinary communication coaching and identifying and tapping into unique teaching opportunities.  Regardless of your craft, talent or business, we have a responsibility to continue to explore new ways of connecting with, coaching and mentoring new leaders: artists, thought leaders, the creative class. 

What can we learn from the arts and the concept of a master class? How can a similar experience be duplicated to help cultivate and nurture thought leaders and emerging thought leaders in our culture? Regardless of your particular brand of art, the best is always the best. Only model the best.

Daydreaming for a living: a writer’s perspective

Daydreaming for a living: a writer’s perspective

Daydream

At its best, writing is a perpetual daydream for the author. This is when you stare at the clouds in the sky, and they drift along, morphing into the creation of the most delightful and intriguing characters you’d ever hope to know, and you know them well. The scenery is as vivid as any bright spring day you’ve ever seen while the plot, motivations and story all come to life as if you were living it then and there. And it all springs forth on the page.

 This is true for most types of writing, anything that requires masterful storytelling to engage your readers: from fiction or nonfiction literature, articles, blogs and feature stories, to grants and press releases. Daydreaming can be a fulltime job… with a lot of very hard work, talent and skill, that is

Who is Daphne Street?

Daphne Street

About who I am:

Daphne Taylor Street is a freelance writer, blogger, grant/proposal writer, nonprofit development consultant, communications consultant, public speaker and internet radio personality in the Tampa Bay area. She has been a professional in the nonprofit industry for more than 18 years, spanning everything from fine and performing arts to substance abuse and mental health services. In the summer of 2011, Daphne left her full-time job as a grant writer to pursue her freelance writing and communications consulting business in full-force, and added her former employer as a client.

 

WHAT DOES DAPHNE DO? Daphne’s focus is on strengthening her local community and beyond through dynamic business strategies, creating value for businesses while helping to develop diverse revenue streams.

 

To further this goal, Daphne works hand in hand with small businesses, nonprofits and artists; armed with a background in communications, marketing, private sector funding procurement and nonprofit development; to help them amplify their branding and communications to increase overall business sustainability and growth.

 

RESULTS: Daphne’s grant and proposal writing services have resulted in millions of dollars of local, state, federal and foundation awards and private sector funding, spanning 14 years of experience.

 

Countless new business offerings, programs, products and services have come to life through Daphne’s visionary approach to matching a company’s mission and strengths with opportunities for growth, enhancement and expansion.

 

Daphne is regularly published as an author through a variety of media and has ghost-written, co-authored and written published articles on behalf of many clients, further positioning them as experts in their field. Daphne currently has two books under development, co-authored with a client.

 

Daphne’s copywriting and graphic design skills are engaging and action-oriented, amplifying brands from diverse industries.

 

Combined, these strategies have generated revenue; lead to procuring private investments, grants and contracts; and helped businesses survive and grow.

You can visit Daphne on her blog: www.daphnestreet.wordpress.com; check her out on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/daphnestreet; or contact her directly via email: dts.streetmedia@gmail.com.
A link to some published articles:
Services:
  • Freelance Writing: articles, blogging, grants, proposals, books, business writing, press releases, business plans, strategic plans, communications plans, marketing plans, white papers, copywriting, research, editing
  • Communications Consulting: strategy, implementation, collaborations/community partnerships, media relations, new media/social networking, crisis management
  • Training/Public Speaking: writing for dollars, winning proposals, winning presentations, media literacy, freelance writing, grants/nonprofit development, communications/marketing, community development, personal branding, internet safety, social marketing
  • Design: photo journalism & graphic design: logos, multi-media presentations/PowerPoint, posters, brochures, web design

Please feel free to contact me directly at dts.streetmedia@gmail.com

Dare to be great!  –Daphne

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