As a superstar athlete, Guillaume Côté’s return from injury should be headline news. A year ago, the principal dancer of the National Ballet of Canada fell while performing a solo in the company’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Since then, he’s become a father. His wife Heather Ogden, a fellow principal dancer with the company, delivered their baby girl Emma a year ago, mere weeks after Côtés fall.
Côte had surgery to repair a torn ACL and is now ready to take the stage once more. Tonight he will dance the lead role in Romeo and Juliet.
Red Chronicle readers unfamiliar with this massive talent can catch up on my fangirl admiration here, here and here.
What happens to an artist when they stop performing for a spell? When they become a parent? Côte’s passions have already extended to music composition, film and choreography. Perhaps the most anticipated dance event of next year is the National Ballet’s world premiere of his first full-length ballet, an adaptation of the classic children’s book, Le Petite Prince. Tonight, however, will have no shortage of suspense.
The story of star-crossed lovers may be well-worn. Not so the dramatic backdrop of Cote’s return to the spotlight.
Mid-week pulse check of headlines: some good, some crazy, and a whole lot of curious.
Chris Hadfield has turned Canadians like this writer into science geeks with serious hero worship. Now the retired astronaut has announced he will release his debut album of original music this fall. Production will add in some “special guests” but the essential vocal and guitar tracks were recorded in space. Give this guy the keys to the city-that would be the universal city. He keeps reinventing cool.
“The serenity and grace I felt while orbiting our Earth, weightless by the window, gave a whole new place to write and perform music”
April is poetry month so forgive my exuberant flips over that lovely statement. Can we not all aspire to be ‘weightless by the window’ ? Free of poverty, illness, and sorrow? Just existing with serenity and grace?
I’m listening, Commander Hadfield. Count me first in line for that album.
Hundreds of angry protestors showed up on the lawn of the Ontario legislature yesterday to demand Premier Kathleen Wynne reverse changes to the sex education curriculum, set to begin this September in schools across the province. I’ve written here before about what I’d like to see more of in that curriculum so today, I welcome my other half, as today’s guest blogger, to weigh in.
Sex education should not be the responsibility of the…educators. Today’s kids should learn about sex the way my generation learned about sex, from their parents. No…wait…I mean from their friends. Or from that cousin in Greece, who in the summer of ’76 had to explain why she couldn’t go swimming that week. Or better yet, the Internet! There are some great sites on the Internet where you can find everything you’ve always wanted to know about sex. They even have instructional videos…or so I’m told. So you think kids should not learn about sex in the classroom? Then be prepared for them learning about it under the bleachers in the gym, behind the stage curtain in the auditorium, in the school’s boiler room or between the fence and the last portable on the right. Just hope that one of them stumbled across some information about contraception before they get on with “The Dirty Deed”.
Thanks honey. Now can you get to the dishes?
Why did Dove give women only two options in their Choose Beautiful campaign? A four minute video— of women in cities around the world being offered the choice to walk into a building through one of two doors— has sparked a backlash and rightly so. There are plenty of systems already in place defining us in broad strokes. Why not just label signs Hot or Not?
Female empowerment is about resisting categories. Full stop. I’m fairly certain the smart folks behind the ad know that already. Why not come up with something cheeky and clever?
Did we have to leave it up the men to come up with a parody?
Rant done for today.
I’m going for a nooner. Walk, that is. Spring is calling.
Here in Toronto, it is also a Sunday, a day many families of all shapes and sizes get to spend a little more time together. For those women in lucky families who are thinking maybe we don’t really need a day to celebrate ourselves, look up. Women are creating wonder and forging new paths in places unseen. They need our help.
Have money? You’re spoiled for choice. Find something to champion in a place far away. This is a global awareness day. Read here seven portraits of strength.
Have a platform? Champion the storytellers and lose the supremely annoying chick lit and chick film categories. One of the trillion times I fell in love with the Friendly Greek was when his tears matched mine as the credits rolled at the end of Jane Campion’s miraculous film The Piano. We are different, men and women, but the same in more ways that count. Support female writers, photographers, editors, film directors.
Movies are our cave paintings, what we leave behind in this world. How can we encourage the next generation of filmmakers if only a sliver of them are painted across the walls?
The next time you judge a women for her work/life/balance choices, know that you are contributing to a tired trope. As one who has juggled work in a busy newsroom with toddlers, to more than a decade of working from home, I’ve seen too many versions to think there is one answer. There isn’t. There’s just what works for you. What works for him/her/the kids/the dog/ cat/parrot/houseplant.
There is an unspoken pact that women are supposed to follow. I am supposed to act like I constantly feel guilty about being away from my kids. (I don’t. I love my job.) Mothers who stay at home are supposed to pretend they are bored and wish they were doing more corporate things. (They don’t. They love their job.) If we all stick to the plan there will be less blood in the streets.
Embrace the men in your life too.
We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are, and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.
-Emma Watson, from her stunning speech on Gender Equality at the UN. If you haven’t seen it, spend a moment today and watch this, with the whole family.
Get rid of little boxes. Most of us don’t fit in them. Women are funny. Their humour can be as raw as the bluest comic. Or not. Here’s a new series from one of our best creative minds, Tina Fey, starring funny girl Ellie Kemper, sure as sunshine to be the next character to fall in love with from the wonderland of Netflix.
It began with a glorious rally of solidarity in Paris where world leaders locked arms and walked together in a stunning show of unity. For a moment, Paris was “the capital of the world”, French president François Hollande remarked proudly, noting the unprecedented crowds, over a million, of all religious persuasion, of all colours, mothers, fathers, children, youth.
Sundays mornings around here are leisurely ones, if we can swing it, with media preferably turned off. Not yesterday. Glued to the screen, there I was, tears streaming, moved by this profound gesture, “defiant joy” said one observer. The rest of the family drifted down, awakened no doubt by the volume turned way up, as I soaked in all this armour against despair at the darkness of daily world news, that familiar onslaught threatening to cloud any flutter of optimism.
Discovering new dimensions to places I love is life affirming. I’ve only been to Paris a few times, the most memorable being a visit to see my husband, years before we were married, while he was a student at the Sorbonne, a visit famous for the near miss of abandoning the second semester of my third year of McGill.
Did I really need to go back home? (No, but I did, sobbing, scribbling furiously in my journal as I flew back to Montreal).
To imagine these same historic streets, filled with signs and placards insisting they will not be shaken, was thrilling. These were people who had just suffered through brutal attacks, attacks sure to expose cracks in their culture. But what’s this? Not cracks but crowds, far more than anyone predicted, with a common message.
“Our entire country will rise up toward something better.”
Hours later, we were back, staring at a different kind of crowd, streaming into the Beverly Hilton, a different planet really. Yet, linked they were, these two crowds, one buoyant, the other botoxed, by a lapel pin, worn by several attending the Golden Globes. Dame Helen Mirren wore a pen to show her support for free speech.
Others held signs of support as they walked the red carpet. George Clooney did nothing to quell rumours that he is considering running for public office as he accepted the Cecille B. DeMille award and used the spotlight to make his own statement of support.
Clooney’s speech was a surprise to anyone who has sat through countless DeMille award winner speeches, often an exercise in ego, as recipients meander over a decorated career. Here he was, throwing it back to the “despicable, spoilt, minimally-talented brats” (my fantasy BFF’s Tina and Amy hitting the host mark once again) and reminding them of their good fortune. Always the cool cat, Clooney melted hearts with his public nod to his new bride, perhaps shutting down forever the joke made just last year at the very same ceremony by the Fey/ Poehler team.
“Gravity is nominated for Best Film. It’s the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.”
Let’s call his a campaign speech, shall we?
In a night usually reserved for silliness, Clooney and company seemed to seize the tone of the day, if that’s possible for a crowd of overpaid celebrities. Other high notes were actor Maggie Gyllenhaal noting the increase of parts for actual women, Michael Keaton’s lovely tribute to his working class background, Kevin Spacey telling the audience he just wants to be better, Julianne Moore’s all you need in life is work and love, and director Richard Linklater acknowledging the 450 people that really should be sharing his trophy for best director of Boyhood.
What won, what lost is for others who follow the awards season as a blood sport. I was happy enough to see Leviathan scoop best foreign film as it will just mean more people see that brilliant piece of work. Just about every winner seemed deserving and there wasn’t a film or performance honoured that I didn’t like, although why The Lego Movie didn’t win best animated feature is beyond me. (For more on my favourites of the year, read here)
My lights go up today, the first of December, a day the excitement of the season edges into the frame.
The rows of little bulbs shine through the long dark weeks of winter, serving up a timely reminder to come up with a Christmas menu that doesn’t end with figgy pudding. It did, for some years, including one ending with burnt hot mitts and hands as the flaming wonder was carried to the table.
Inside, there will be light too, a candle lit for a beloved niece Alexandra, nicknamed Sunshine as a toddler by her grandmother. She and her sister Megan, taught me to be a mom, coming as they did before the birth of my own daughters.
Alexandra is on my mind today, as are all those scientists like her, who toil in the health field, working in the fight against HIV. World Aids Day, observed annually on December 1st, is just one day of focused global attention. Here in Canada, a person is infected with HIV every three hours. (Nine things you should know about HIV in Canada) For Alexandra, an HIV prevention and surveillance scientist for Public Health England, focusing on this disease is an everyday concern and work mission. Forthright and fearless, this young niece of mine likes to dream big.
She’ll hit you up first with a smile, disarming in its sheer open-hearted dazzle, and follow it up with an impassioned speech or story. Quick with a laugh, even at her own expense, Alexandra isn’t afraid to touch.
Her hugs reach right around.
When my kids were little, we lit up Advent candles, one for each Sunday leading up to Christmas. Counting down might also bring a chocolate or two, if somebody remembered to make their bed.
If Advent is about anticipation, this year, I will be counting down the days until the safe return across the pond of my beautiful niece, to join our family Christmas circus, and bring light and laughter to our table.
We need your stories, Alexandra. Forget the charms of London. We’ve got (likely) snowflakes as big as your heart.
My dear loyal Lisa, who knits gorgeous circle scarves with the recipient’s face in mind as she works, who believes go big or go home (why else to explain the giant banner given to my daughter after she won an award at school…a banner Lisa told me she hoped my kid would hang in her bedroom so it was the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes in the morning), I have only this.
Women have never stopped collecting firewood as they march. Read More
I was three when I first visited Parliament Hill. It was Canada’s 100th birthday and we weren’t about to miss the party.
Holding Mom’s hand. Love those saddle shoes!
Years later, before we were married, visiting Ottawa was a ritual for my husband and I. He had studied briefly in Ottawa and had friends there. Politics was their currency, and the Hill was the place to be for fireworks on July 1st.
We took the kids too for the Tulip festival and for several winters of Winterlude.
Every visit included a visit to Parliament Hill-we told the kids this was the most important place in Canada because it celebrated freedom.
They don’t remember much about these visits beyond the beaver tails long the Rideau canal.
One winter, we rode the train from Toronto to Ottawa with my parents and met up with some of my siblings for a wintry reunion of snowshoeing at Rideau Hall, ice sliding in Gatineau and skating on the canal.
On a frosty day, we walked over to the Hill to take a tour.
When we piled through the entrance at the Peace tower, our noisy group hushed down-even the youngest among us picked up on something magnificent about the place.
This week, an assorted group of Canadians showed stunning courage to try and keep it that way. I salute them all, including those who ran to help, instead of running away. To Barbara Winters, who tried to help Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, gunned down moments earlier while standing guard in front of the National War Memorial, I say this: you have made us remember the best in all of us. Winters told reporters this week she tried to talk to Cirillo and hopes he heard her.
This kind of courage soothed my melancholy, one shared across the country. I will admit to fear gripping icy fingers around my heart at the news of the attacks. Was this place we Canadians flock to in all seasons, a place we hold fiercely as our own, where the very idea of our country is nourished daily, going to become armed and gated? What would this do to our open culture, celebrated around the world as one of our cherished values?
I was robbed last year. Thieves broke in and stole my jewellery and for a time, my open heart. No longer friendly at the door, I cowered in the dark at any doorbell, instructing everyone in the house not to answer the door. Police had advised us that thieves had likely been watching our house, that someone doing work at some point inside our house had likely seen a way in. I became suspicious of everyone unfamiliar on the street. Until I wasn’t. The feeling passed, as friends told me it would. Although we are now more vigilant, I have returned to my porch and neighbours… you can’t keep a girl down, after all. I love my street, my community-it’s in my nature.
So too we Canadians must be, will be. As rattled as they surely were, MP’s were back on the job the next morning, hugging one another, showing solidarity of the very best kind.
Criminals cannot and will not dictate to us how we act as a nation, how we govern ourselves or how we treat each other. They cannot and will not dictate our values, and they do not get to decide how we use our shared public spaces.
We will stand up, we will stand together, we will persevere and we will prevail.
Let there be no misunderstanding. We will not be intimidated.
Tomorrow, I will rant. Media coverage truly pissed me off.
Today, however, is a day for salutes and true patriot love.