Texas Ballet Theater is ‘On Pointe’ with Classic Combination

Texas Ballet Theater is ‘On Pointe’ with Classic Combination

(The evening show on Saturday, February 27th)

by: Kelly Fitzharris Coody

 

 

The Texas Ballet Theater, accompanied by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Moricz, put on a brilliant show this weekend at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas. The show featured three short ballets, Allegro Brillante, The Concert (Or, the Perils of Everybody) and a stunning finale, Études.

Never have I had the experience that Texas Ballet Theater’s Classic Combination gave me on Saturday; while the dancing was impeccable and technically sound, it was so full of life and so spirited. The principal dancers and supporting dancers alike blew me away with their performances, keeping me on the edge of my seat.

“Allegro Brillante” started out the evening with principals Katelyn Clenaghan and Jiyan Dai exhibiting electric on-stage chemistry that resulted in a beautifully danced, short and oh-so-sweet 13-minute opener.

“The Concert” (choreographed by Jerome Robbins) was truly a treat. Impeccable timing and strict body control made this unique piece laugh-out-loud hilarious. Each dancer truly embodied their character while principal female Carolyn Judson nailed it over and over again with her fluidity, enthusiasm and technique.

“Études,” choreographed by Harald Lander, displayed the best dancing I’ve ever seen, hands down. Though the choreography was technically difficult, rigorous and complex, Texas Ballet Theater excelled; not once did I see a dancer physically struggle to land or to remain in fifth position while doing a grand plié in the background. In fact, the opposite happened. They danced it so beautifully that they ended up enhancing and enlivening the choreography, not the other way around. Male principals Jiyan Dai and Andre Silva danced in a way that I’ve not seen since Mikhail Baryshnikov. Like Baryshnikov before them, they made the choreography not only look effortless, but enjoyable.

Texas Ballet Theater has found a way to make classical ballet modern and relevant in a way that still maintains the integrity of the dance; which is exciting to watch. The only place I see this company going is up — and not just in their pointe shoes.

***

photo credit: Steven Visneau

 

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March is Women’s Month: Will you be apart of it?

Women’s Month, Women’s Writing Month, Women’s Week, what gives?

We deserve more than a month; we deserve years of appreciation and accolades for all the shit we have to put up with.

Let’s switch gears. 

Isn’t it amazing what you can do when you decide to fly instead of walk?

I say decide because it ultimately is a decision. Right, we can’t actually sprout wings and fly. Imagine if I’d stayed at my old job, as a banker, working 40 hours a week busting my ass only to bring home 300 dollars every two weeks of disposable income. After paying for daycare, the mortgage, meals out, gas, etc, etc, etc, that’s really all I brought to the table.

When I first ventured outside my comfort zone, putting myself out there as a writer, so many people liked my Facebook page merely based on my profile picture. (It was of my face. So shut up before you even say it.) How stupid and ridiculous is that? Not that stupid. Not that ridiculous. And, to my surprise, not that uncommon. When I first started Sick Lit Magazine, I was still just as shocked at how many people visited the page only to click on my “Gravatar” and then leave without reading any of the stellar work we’ve published.

What??

So, can women do serious journalism?

Yes. When we step out of the superimposed box. When we stop thinking of gender in terms of an indictment or definition of self. When we begin to work for ourselves and say what we really think.

We don’t exist just to serve as a face, body or walking caricature of what society thinks we are; nor do we simply exist to serve as baby vehicles and happy housewives, scrubbing that darn pan and selling Mary Kay!!

If you sell Mary Kay and are offended, you’ve missed my intent. When you begin a side project like Mary Kay, Avon, Eyelash Product (insert whatever here) Du Jour, Tupperware or colorful, microwave-safe, BPA-free dishes, you’re still working for the man, my love! You’re still getting a fraction of what you deserve! And look at what the hell you’re selling: cosmetics and kitchenware. All we do is put on makeup and cook and clean, right? (Oh and bleed. And have babies. And apparently, according to every stupid-ass movie I’ve seen, binge-eat ice cream when we break up with someone?!!! WTF? I used to cut my hair every time I had a break up. Fuck ice cream.)

I see so many women who think they’re only worth what’s on their surface;  they become a machination of what corporate America and misogynists alike think they’re worth. Because they can’t see beyond that superimposed box that surrounds them. If that’s all you focus on in life, solely your appearance, at the end of the day when you lie down with yourself at night, you feel that hole in your heart.

Since I happen to have a gender-ambiguous first name, I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of e-mails objectifying and shaming women. (Sorry that you hate your ex; welcome to life, my dear boys. It’s called everyone. Everyone hates an ex or two. Or three. Get over it and move on.)

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I’m in a Starbucks with my husband and kids on a shitty, humid, cloudy Sunday (also known as Valentine’s Day).

I started Sick Lit Magazine just a short five months ago–with no clue as to the direction we would end up going; I just woke up one day and I knew what I had to do. I knew what I wanted to do. And I knew that I wanted to go the opposite of the places I’d been. So, if snotty literary agents turned right, I was going left. If uppity editors owned the building, I was going to do doughnuts in their parking lot.

Inspiration isn’t the kind of thing that you just get–you can’t grab a pre-packaged version at the grocery store on the corner. It, like its close relative happiness, is an intangible. Damn intangibles. So elusive. Plus, when you add the variable relativity to the mix, intangibles can seem impossible.

Intangibles cause so much trouble, don’t they? People go to great lengths in the hopes of reaching one. But, most likely, what’s impeding them from getting there is themselves.

Here’s a hint: Life doesn’t have a guidebook, road map or instructions for a reason. We’re supposed to bump our heads a bit and try again. We’re supposed to learn.

Listen, I fight against my own chronic illnesses and pain daily–I don’t always win. Quite often, I fall down and mess up. I lose my shit and scream and say things I swore I’d never say as a parent, much less an adult. We’re human; each one of us is flawed. Flaws, adversity and loneliness have strengthened each one of us. I may have to remind myself daily to leave the cynicism at home, but it’s still progress. We’re all works in progress, much like our writing, our music and our art.

Please know that I’m one of those people who doesn’t follow her own advice.

I know what it is to pour your soul into a project and have it ripped to shreds in front of you. I know the feeling of getting that hundredth auto-rejection letter from yet another agent. They tell you that your writing is weak. Or diluted. Or whatever. They tell you that you’re not strong enough and neither is your writing. But it is. And you are. Sure, some of the writing may be sloppy, that’s a given. But it doesn’t make you incapable of fixing it and making it better.

Without us, people wouldn’t have art to hang on their walls, books to read or music to blast in their cars or headphones.

I’m more than okay with admitting I’m complicated, complex and flawed. Because at the end of the day, when I lie down to go to sleep at night, I have to be able to live with myself, right?

And I refuse to, as a woman, be taken at face value (“just another blonde”). I’m more than Michael Coody’s wife. I’m more than Nikki’s mom or Jackson’s mom.

I’m Kelly. I have a name. I also had a different last name before I got married. I have depth. I speak multiple languages. I don’t have an easy answer to the conversation starter, “So, where are you from?” That’s okay. It’s what makes me who I am.

I read a quote recently that said, “The person who broke you cannot be the one to fix you.” I hate this quote. No one can break me. No one. Ever. They can try; they can hurt me; but I will persist. I will exist. I will live. They may hate to see my name, my face, but that speaks volumes about them, not me. No one has the ability to break you, either. Take the reigns of your own life back and stop feeling like a slave to the system. Write. Paint. Love. Enjoy. Live your life the way you want to; not the way society tells you to live.

I’ve been through a lot in my 32 years on this planet and I know that I have much more in store for me. Hell, my kids are only 7 and 3 – they haven’t even hit double digits yet.

If you saw me walking down the street in my skinny jeans and Adidas trainers, you’d probably mistake me for some hipster kid (or maybe just a hipster wannabe. I’m not that cool.)

It just further proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to host Women’s Month/Women’s Writing Month. You ladies inspire me daily–you’re a wealth of unique, spirited talent; and proof that the pen is, in fact, mightier than the sword.

Please enjoy some spectacular writing and art this March. I’m keeping submissions open–continue to send in ideas, questions, writing, art, etc, for Women’s Writing Month and all the other remaining themes.

Oh, hell, let me just post the theme schedule again below:

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I’m one of those rare nerds who actually enjoys editing; and I’ve loved reading (almost) every single piece I’ve received for 2016 thus far. You guys are inspirational. So as much as it might be intangible, it is also contagious. An editor who loves her job is happy to have a full inbox. An editor who hates her job snarls at it.

Readers, writers, contributors and SLM enthusiasts, continue doing what you’re doing.

Because you’re damn good at it.

*Just to clarify, we’re staying open to unsolicited submissions until further notice–send everything to kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com*

Cheers,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

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*I may wear many hats, but I always wear the same sunglasses.*

My Name Is…Kate Jones – by KATE JONES

My Name Is…Kate Jones

If you ask the majority of nine year olds, (and often many adults), what superhero power they’d like to have, I’ll place a bet that a lot of them will say invisibility.

An invisibility cloak. It’s a fun idea, right?

I always wanted an invisibility cloak as a kid. I was a bit of a loner at times – I think a lot of writer’s are.  I would wish that I could disappear into my own imaginary world, unaffected by knocks at the door asking me to come and play.

As an adult, think of all the annoying people you could avoid if you could turn yourself invisible. The times you could edge out of a boring meeting or banal party and slip away into the night…

Anyway, when Kelly put out a call for themes for the magazine recently, I knew I wanted to write about invisibility.  I still disappear into my own imaginary world when I’m writing, but my reason for suggesting this theme was much more relevant and urgent than that.

You see, I have discovered, after 42 years on this planet, that I actually am becoming invisible.  More so as time passes, it seems.

I’d been stewing on this issue that has been bugging me for some time now, the past few years actually, and like many writers, the best way I could think of tackling it was by writing a story about it. That was where my idea for ‘My Name Is’ came from.  I ‘wrote’ that story in almost complete form in my head one night, seething in bed because I had been ignored one too many times.  It is totally fictional, of course, but the reasoning behind it is very much non-fiction, unfortunately.

You see, I could be forgiven for thinking I have actually got the invisibility cloak I dreamed of as a kid.

Many, many, (trust me MANY) times, I will be out with my family, and we will bump into somebody we know. They will stop to exchange pleasantries. They will ask my husband how his job is going. We will chat for a few minutes, during which time, they will not once think to ask how my work is going. How I’m doing. Nothing.

We used to run a successful business together, and, despite us having equal roles, I had countless incidents of customers insisting get your husband to call me and discuss it if I refused to agree to a demand. Friends and family always saw him as being the owner of the business, whilst I ‘worked’ there.  This, despite the fact that we had created the business together from scratch.  We were both involved in every aspect of the success of that business, yet I felt that I got no credit for the success of it.

When recently, at a party, I dared to climb out of the shell for a few minutes and join the conversation, mentioning my writing, somebody turned back to my husband and asked: And are you happy with her sitting at home and writing while you’re out working?

What the fuck?

Now, I know this might sound like I’m paranoid or bitter. I’m honestly neither. But the truth is, last year, I lost count of the amount of times this happened. Even more bizarrely, I have lost count of the amount of times I have attended events alone, and people have stopped me to ask how my husband’s career is going. After our eldest daughter did exceptionally well in her exams, I had one woman tell me you must be so proud of your daughter – she obviously gets her brains from her father.

WTF IS THIS ABOUT??

I’m positive this didn’t happen before I had children. I think that, once you take your husband’s name and become a mother, you often lose your own, individual identity. I bet most of the other mother’s at my daughters’ schools don’t know my first name – and to be honest, I don’t know their names either. We simply refer to one another as ‘so-and-so’s Mum’.

I find this so strange.  I love talking to other people about what they do, I find people fascinating. But I know it isn’t just me. I’ve spoken to other women and they have similar experiences, including the fabulous editor of Sick Lit herself, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to write for the magazine in the first place – in response to her rallying cry to women.

I have to add here that I am happily married to a man who is a total feminist.  I mean it.  He is nothing but supportive to any venture I undertake; he never made me feel anything less than an equal partner in the business, as we are in our family life.  Sometimes, I take care of the domestic and childcare more as he is working.  At other times, he has stepped in and been the one to attend doctor’s appointments and school events.  We are supportive of one another – and the benefit is that our two daughters’ thrive in an environment where their opinions and views are listened to, and where they know they can become anything they put their mind to.

The only response I can think of to combat this culture of invisibility is to stand up and stand out.  Say what you think and feel; make sure you get people’s attention (in a positive way), ask questions of other women and make the path clear for the next generation of feisty females to feel confident speaking out.

Oh, and when I asked MY nine year old what superpower she would choose, she said, without missing a beat, shapeshifter. So, there you go – invisibility is out, shape-shifting is the new power to have.

My Name is Kate Jones, and I am a Writer, a Woman, A Feminist, a Wife, a Mother, a Dreamer….and then some.

***

KATEJONES

***Kate is a freelance writer based in the UK who writes articles, including regular contributions to online women’s magazine Skirt Collective, as well as publishing life writing and poetry both in print and online.  She has a passion for flash fiction and short stories, and is usually found lurking around coffee shops, writing and listening to other people’s conversations. Jones has also become a regular contributor to Sick Lit Magazine, and is a 2016 nominee for the Pushcart Prize through Sick Lit Magazine.***

She blogs at www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com.

Find Kate on Twitter at:  https://twitter.com/katejonespp

 

They Wait – by JOANNE SPENCER

They Wait

 

In line, they wait. Their souls offered up for money that has touched the lining of too many unwashed trousers. Desperate, they trade favors with a god they don’t believe in and compose promises they never intend to keep. Biting filthy nails, picking at half-healed sores or chewing on their darkly painted lips, they wait, marking time with the song on the stage that provides their next meal.  Adjusting what little material covers their oiled skin, they shift from stiletto to stiletto making an effort to forget a family they no longer know.

The music stops, the microphone booms. Collectively they inhale and lift their chins. Unlike cattle headed for slaughter, they know their fate, their unexpected destiny. The next girl goes on as the other descends the rattled stairs, bare, belittled and destitute as the owner extends his grimy hand before allowing her to pass. Head bowed like a child she delivers the bills to him, wrinkled and damp.

He slaps her and the surprise sends her reeling against the metal stage.

She crumbles to the floor.

“Next time do better,” he says and steps over her naked body without pause.

The girls dissolve into themselves, blind to their reality for the sake of self-preservation, and they wait.

 ***

picture for sick lit

Joanne Spencer, who once had her life saved by a naked man, has had work published in Fresh! Magazine, Woman’s World  and will soon have a poem published in Mother’s Always Write. She is a published author of one novel, The Letter Keeper, and is currently working as a contributing journalist for her local publication, The Creekline,  as well as writing reviews for The Review Review. She resides in Northwest Florida where she pretends to cook, clean and do laundry all while secretly writing on a notepad she keeps in her back pocket or her bra, depending on her outfit that day.

AMERICA – LAND OF THE…PERPETUALLY SICK? We’ve given a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Poppin’ bottles” over in the USA.

Sick? American? Read This.

SICK LIT MAGAZINE

I Said Hey…What’s Going on? With our HEALTH?

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Yes, we’re obese, overweight, sedentary…and you can finish that sentence all on your own, I’m sure.

And yeah, so we eat the equivalent of preservatives in our food daily that are also found in dish detergent.

But there are some of us out there who exercise and eat right, right? There, indeed, are.

Disease, chronic illnesses and cancer pervade across all lines of race, wealth and socioeconomic status in our country. And according to a study published in 2013 by New Scientist, America is failing across the board.

So, where are we going wrong? Is it more of our extremist capitalism trumping health and humanity?

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s web site, in 2010 the US came in DEAD LAST among seven countries in “health system performance” based on these measures: QUALITY, EFFICIENCY, ACCESS, EQUITY, and….(ding! ding! ding!) HEALTHY LIVES. 

“So what?” you might…

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Local Band Frontman – by PREWITT SCOTT-JACKSON

Local Band Frontman

 

Lead singer

self-described “Chupacabra Screamo” band

collects abandoned Band-Aids at local playgrounds

 

Day-jobbing RV salesman,

meticulously catalogued desk drawer housing awaits

his morning return

 

/M. Mouse

/Sponge B.

/Pixar paladins

/Faded neon colors

 

Huffing Play-Doh only gets him high on nostalgia

so he

drinks alone at Chili’s in Bedford, TX after long days of frownin’ and dialin’

 

Handmade concert fliers forced upon co-worker after co-worker

in the break room

as microwaves spin the latest 2-minute meal

 

Crushed out on June, the Alpha unit pusher,

he stealthily deposits pink post-it stanzas dedicated to her beauty

in

and

around

her desk…

born a jester, trying to be a prince

 

On most days he surfs the Screamo forums,

drowning in the undertow

crashing against virtual jagged reefs

 

Still riding the pine for the company softball team,

his only upside?

A distant possibility of reincarnating as a trade show throwaway tchotchke

 

When his band “makes it”

everyone will “know it”

 

especially June

 

July never waits

 

***

PSJ Bio Pic

***Prewitt Scott-Jackson’s work is a mutation of sorts, a ménage à trois of poetry, prose and flash fiction. The University of California Santa Barbara alum grew up on Southern storytelling prior to achieving degrees in Native American Studies and Religious Studies. Find Scott-Jackson on Twitter, at: @allsalinitylost ***

*Photo courtesy of Something You Whisper – to find out about them or their music, check out Sick Lit Magazine’s Interview with them, “Scream Along with Something You Whisper.” *

Let’s Not Go Outside – by RUSS BICKERSTAFF

 

Let’s Not Go Outside

By Russ Bickerstaff

Let’s say that there IS a world out there.

Let’s say it’s actually resting out there beyond that door with everything we would expect out of a big, wide world outside. Let’s say that there’s a sun that sets and a moon that rises. Let’s say that there is an ocean, a beach and some tides and things. Let’s say that it’s pounding and breathing with life of every single kind imaginable. Let’s say that it’s all full of the restless everything we would expect in a world beyond the front doors.

What are we going to do about it?

Are we going to open the doors, look up at the sun and simply walk out into the world like we belong there or something?

Are we going to walk out there like we own the place simply because we have finally decided to walk out the front doors?

See–I don’t think that’s a good idea because the world out there isn’t going to move like it does in here. We understand that things are a certain way and we’re okay with it, but once we walk out those front doors, it all changes, doesn’t it?

I’m not saying that we’re not going to leave at some point, but let’s leave when we have a reason to do so. Make no mistake about it, the moment we leave here, the world outside is going to recognize us as refugees from somewhere else. We’ll be outsiders with no definite place out there. They’re going to take one look at us and know this before we even open our mouths to speak. We’re not from around there. We’re not from anywhere near there and it’s not a good idea to try to pretend like we are.

Naturally, the best among them will simply avoid us.

Those who don’t might condescendingly say hello.

If they do, they’re probably not going to be thinking in terms of actually trying to help us out. It’s the ones that will be trying to help us out that are likely to be the worst. They’ll be looking for some kind of angle to work to try to take advantage of us in some way. It may not become apparent at first.

Those who welcome us the most are most likely to be the ones that will be looking to cause us the greatest amount of harm because they will probably be the least concerned about us. They’ll be looking to use us to satisfy their own twisted desires. We are, after all, capable of great things. They will have decided that we could be of some sinister use to them and we’ll be enslaved.

Just like that.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking that if we really ARE better than them we’ll be able to avoid any kind of enslavement; but believe me when I say that enslavement isn’t always so obvious. There are sneaky ways of ensnaring someone through casual requests or worse–friendship. They’ll find some way to get us to bend to their will without us even realizing that we are working for them, but believe me–we will be. There’s no doubting that. It would be the most totally awful thing imaginable.

I know what I’m talking about because I’ve stood at the door. I have guarded that huge gate and watched day turn into night.

Yes, it IS beautiful but they chose me to guard because they knew that I wouldn’t lose my head over how beautiful it was out there. They knew that I wasn’t going to get all weird about it just because it was a million more times beautiful out there than it is in here. I know it’s dangerous out there. I know that without the gleaming, black battle armor that is sealed with its own oxygen source and without the huge semiautomatic rifle and a total respect for the danger out there the world outside will destroy us all without a second glance.

It’s not worth trying to persuade me otherwise.

I’ve already caved-in once this week and I won’t do it again. Actually I guess that was twice . . . see . . . one of those on the outside walked up to me (quite nicely I thought) and asked me for a cup of sugar. Strangest thing I could imagine asking a total stranger with a semiautomatic rifle  pointed at you and everything, but he asked me anyway.

I couldn’t see what harm it would do, so I went ahead and gave him a cup of sugar. There wasn’t any issue there. I had no problem with it or anything like that. I handed over the cup of sugar. A couple of days passed and there wasn’t anything that came of it. It was perfectly normal and everything. Then out of nowhere he came back and really casually asked me if I could open the door for him. This kind of took me off my guard. I mean . . . it really didn’t make any sense them wanting to come in.

I didn’t see any harm in letting the outside in, but see: that’s my whole point. Those on the outside want to come in. It can’t be that great a place out there if they’re trying to come in, can it? Why bother opening those doors again to go out? They clearly don’t even like being out there all that much otherwise, why come in here in the first place?

Where are they? They could be anywhere. They’re crawling around inside here somewhere. No…no…I’m afraid I can’t believe that you’re one of the ones we let in. No I don’t want half a cup of sugar. I’m sorry, I can’t let you out.

***

Bickerstaff headshot

 

Russ Bickerstaff is a professional theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. His short fictions have appeared in over 30 different publications including Hypertext Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Sein und Werden, and Beyond Imagination. His Internarrational Where Port can be found at: http://ru3935.wix.com/russ-bickerstaff.

*Photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito.*