16
Feb
08

The Making of a Show: Behind the Scenes with Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre

Live performance is a gift.  It is a magical, fleeting experience that can never be duplicated or exceeded.  Not even by the most advanced digital wizardry or precise cinematography.

If performance is so momentary, so transient, so impossible to recapture, what on earth makes people want to work so hard to do it?  Why spend all that time and effort for something that will only ever happen once?  And why would people want to go see live shows when they could park themselves in front a screen at home and watch TV?

 Because it is magic.

I grew up in the world of creating shows and I have always been utterly fascinated by how it is so obviously about “making magic happen”; a kind of magic that can only happen when you are there.

I have the privilege of being close friends with many of Vancouver’s flamenco artists and in November 2007, I was asked to join the members of Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre as they took their show “Feria de la Costa” on the road.   We traveled to Sechelt, a community on B.C’s Sunshine Coast, to share the experience of live flamenco as part of Caravan World Rhythms’ new series of dance-related events.

The performers stand beneath their sign!

Click here to find out more about Al Mozaico Flamenco and the Edie Hats Scholarship program.

And so, combining three of my passions – blogging, flamenco and performance – I jumped ship at Edie Hats for a day and a night to hitch a ride with the group led by my friend Kasandra “La China” and to record some of what it takes to put up a flamenco show and create the magic of live performance.

Go here for pictures and videos and tag along backstage as group of Vancouver artists take a flamenco show on the road.

Any live show is built to support and present the performers who are what we might call the point of contact for the audience.

A show arises out of the confluence of skills, techniques, ideas and expectations.  All of the preparation – the years spent studying and practicing the art form, the science of lighting, stagecraft, costume, sound, even the organization of people, equipment and food – is a necessary part of the creation of a performance.  This immense effort is all aimed at coming together for a few brief moments of exchange between the presenters and the audience.

Backstage at Dress Rehearsal with Mozaico Flamenco 

Go here to meet the performers.

What results is a living, breathing, fluid thing that happens “Right Now”.  At its best it is a transcendent in-the-moment experience for both the performers and the audience.  Improvisation and spontaneity, all the so-called mistakes, are vital parts of the visceral magic of live shows and the reason people make them happen.

Mozaico taking a bow!
 

21
Nov
07

The Paris Summer Shoe Sale of 2004

Having earlier exhausted my trusty male assistant at the Paris Flea Market, (he not possessing the killer instinct or endurance needed for shoe shopping). I like a lioness on the plains of Africa set out to hunt. I ventured out alone as I did not have any women companions, nor gay compadres to continue this ritual, in the Mecca  of  one of the most important places on earth to shop for fashion. (Mind you Spain is good to.)

 Edie waving goodbye.

Edie Waving Goodbye to her Family to Shop.

The famous summer SHOE SALES are happening right now in Paris just before everyone leaves and the city for summer vacation. I have reserved a different kind of budget for this, a much different kind of shopping. (Ancient Rome’s markets kept appearing before my eyes). Armies of Parisian women of all ages, social rank, race, religion, attractiveness, political, intellectual and economic level – hit the streets this week to buy their fish.

 Paris is a living, moving art show.

Edie in front of the Eiffel Tower 

Edie in Paris.

It is all before you. Casual, funky, elegant, functional, sexy, chic, understated, tacky, sassy, unconcerned,  arty, expensive, political (yes, it’s possible to make someone shame or guilt with your shoes!). Powerful, outrageous or cute the women of Paris know what’s important and they don’t let you down. Everywhere you look, under every silhouette is the shoe you expect. I followed women all over – taking notes on the “way” they put it all together. African women, to find out where to get the best flats and low heels. Young intellectual middle class girls to see the new “Mary-Jane “, the coifed, elegant matrons (to get that pump I needed for that turquoise silk skirt I had scored). Latinos for sexy, Scandinavians for practical, and then the quintessential beautiful French girls, for every other type of shoe you NEVER would have thought was necessary yourself, but when you see these beauties wearing them – you shrug your shoulders and think “but of course how lovely !”

Edie shopping  

Edie shopping.

We battled together side by side at the sale tables, the ladies of Paris and I. I would like to say that my involvement was purely of research value, (me being in the “retail business”), and to experience the other end of the equation is so valuable …or understanding how to be “inspired to buy” so to speak, but I admit to you all that in fact …….I JUST HAD A GREAT TIME – and deliriously enjoyed my acquisitions. (This where I do some sort of ritual victory dance….and rush home and arrange the things AAAALLLLL over my bed gleefully stroking and trying things on- this is often the BEST part of this experience.)

Vive La Shopping

21
Nov
07

Edie and Family in Paris 2004

Ohhh… Paris and ShoppingWhat a place to perform this basic animal instinct of hunting and gathering. 

  One of my goals here in Paris, is to hit the fleamarkets, and hunt for treasures  for the Edie Hats renovation to start in January when we get back, and with Paris being the main inspiration of the design…we have a budget set for “Paris things”. Paris has always been part of my imagination – my “taste”. Even as a child and still to this day everything I gather around me tends to have a certain flavor, exactly like my mother.

Edie in Paris 

 It is the Edie Hats signature look. Richard and I are going to partner on the design of the store. We are very different. In battling out these differences we create balanced design. My vision is so visceral …explosive almost…and he sees so much more from a pragmatic or balanced view. We have always said we come from different sides of the Dionysian and Apollonian views – where they meet is where we meet. I have a picture of what it’s all going to look and feel like when I put it all together at the store, and that comes from feel and intuition. It stretches Richards limit when spend money with no actual drawn out plan – just what’s in my head. He (and we) need a spreadsheet. So a budget has to be arrived at. Through experience…he trusts that I somehow, understand the right combination of “real” stuff, and the mixed up – junky theatrical wizardry, that intrigues people about the store (and more importantly – interests them  to go inside).  

So in a very ordinary cafe outside the flea market, we talked colors, concepts, budgets (how long would it take to pay off what I spend as we were borrowing the money). Then….armed with all the info I could take in … we hit the endless stalls (for we were in the one of the  biggest flea markets in the world) I searched for the right pieces of “smutz” for the Edie Hats – Moulin Rouge look that we are after. Deep into the market we trek. Past all of the booths spilling forth every possible cheap copy of anything you can imagine. Piles and piles of African printed fabric, bad cd copies, and really really cheesy clothing. We ran the gauntlet past the badgering sellers of stolen goods, to the antique section. And here we find OLD, very pricey art and treasures; mixed in with very old and quite expensive junk. 

 Edie in the Paris Flea Market 

What I am after is the moderately expensive , really old junk. There was every possible perfect thing, that was drop dead fantastic. Five thousand euro for drapes that looked like they came straight out of King Louis’ bedroom, one thousand for a lamp that made you feel like you honestly couldn’t live the rest of your life, never seeing the light shine through that hand painted glass. Seven hundred (a real deal) for what appears to be an ornate 17th century can opener! There was furniture, statues, parts of walls, books, paintings, bowls, clothing….you name it!

There was the MOST BEAUTIFUL MIRROR for the store. It was huge and in a classic  Art Nuevo shape – undulating and at one point the wooden frame which was exquisitely carved came up into a lily formation, holding out the most beautiful glass lampshade painted by the Daume family (very famous family of glass makers in the last century) – and it was a mere 35 thousand euro!(Sigh…..)But what I am searching for, is the broken, dirty, and torn stuff, the pieces that FEWER of the world’s treasure hunters (or at least this is my theory) want.

 Paris at Night 

By that time our sons Isaac and Nick were royally bored ,and ditched us for the Place Pompidu and places beyond. (Richard wishing he could – I’m sure, as following me around as I poke, prod and pull things out from under others, can be excruciating.) But he persevered bless him, (of course there were also things of such beauty to him, that he was stopped in his tracks many times, and at one point he was actually considering buying a small mirror!)

FINALLY!

A dusty, dirty, tattered piece of wine colored “stuff “,  that looks like I’ve had it on the wall of the store for years. I yank it out – and YES it’s in TERRIBLE shape! After much talking, and nattering, and me showing WAY too much that it’s  perfect and I love it,  we strike a deal for a piece of fabric that probably hung over a fireplace in a castle , in the late 17 hundreds. This guy supplies the movie designers (these sources are no secret among designers around the world, like the movie Moulin Rouge)…..so he knew exactly the effect I am after, and pulled out some other stuff for me to look at.

  The deal was finally done, and we dragged the garbage bags of dusty booty (worth 400 euro) back across town on the subway. And except for one mishap in a subway entrance where I got trapped, and a very kind young African man helped me through, we got home hot, tired and thirsty.

 

21
Sep
07

The Car Club.

In 1973 I went to an open air Leonard Cohen concert in Wolfville, Nova Scotia Wolfville, Nova Scotia. That night we had planned on sleeping in the local cemetery – after all, it was 1973! But as we began to bed down, a young woman happened by and, horrified at the thought of us sleeping outside in a graveyard, she took us home. We made fast friends with Dorothy and her husband Joel, and over the next few days they treated us to the hospitality the Maritimes is so famous for. Joel worked at the post office, but his passion was Vintage cars. His garage was full of the ones he was working on, in various states of assembly and disrepair. He drove us around the area showing us the sights; Blomadon, Kentville, Hall’s Harbour and the Bay of Fundy… (home of famously huge tides, where my parents would later buy a rum-runner’s cottage).

At one house along the way we stopped to visit a friend of his. And there, in the backyard, sat a beautiful maroon car. It was a Jag, a ’52 or ’53, with gorgeous brown leather interior aged like spanish boots. The round curves and silver the hood ornament, the dash and wooden trim rolling up over the edge of the doors… I was in love.
jagxk120.jpg
A gorgeous Jaguar.

Right then and there, at age sixteen, with no money and no license I began scheming about how I could Get That Car.
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I would take a mechanic’s course, learn how to fix it myself. I would get a better job and earn the money – just $2000 – I could DO it!

…Sadly, for all those “roads never traveled” reasons, well, it just never happened. 34 years have passed now, yet here I am, still dreaming of my first love, that magnificent maroon Jag.

So I’ve started the Edie Hats Car Club and I spend afternoons wandering the parking lots here at Granville Island and caressing the Jags I find.

I sell Jaguar perfumes and men’s colognes….

Hell or high water, I will have that car.

It will be mine, oh yes, It will be mine.
blackcar1.jpg
I know its not a Jaguar, but its as cute as a bug’s ear.

21
Jul
07

Jack White and the White Stripes visit Edie Hats.

For the almost 20 years that Edie Hats has been on Granville Island, we’ve had the honor of being regarded as one of Vancouver’s Best Landmarks. We have a cherished community of local and worldwide customers/Edie Hats lovers. Many of our “customer family” grew up with the store, having been brought here since they were babies. Now, they are bringing their own.

People also “discover” us, and every day we welcome new people into our special world. Some of the people who discover us are famous. Because I am the way I am, and happily consumed with creating a magical world, I often don’t have a clue with the happenings in the outside world. Famous people come in, and I don’t know who they are until my crew fills me in. They “know” more about many things, each having their own experience they bring to Edie hats, and connections with the world outside. They keep me posted – (especially on what’s “cool”) and together we get a lot covered!

Jack and some of his crew

So, when Jack White of the White Stripes and his crew came into the store last month, at first I thought “How cool, a bunch of people dressed only in black and red…” They looked absolutely awesome – and they were really pleasant. They loved the store and knew exactly what they liked (how fun!). It’s a joy and very satisfying for me to find hats for people such as these, because they so “get” hat wearing as a powerful language. They go directly to the hats that are my favourites: the “Classics”. It challenges me at what I do best. If I have what they want, then I’ve done my job right.

The White Stripes Playing Live

Next, I noticed the film camera and photographer filming him shopping, and I realized – AHHH…very FAMOUS nice person and his crew. Then I looked at the expressions on the faces of my crew, and I realized “AHHH – a very, very COOL and talented famous person.”

I was then informed that he was Jack White, and the White Stripes were performing that night…half my staff were going to the concert.

What was even more awesome were the hats he picked.

Jack White wearing one of our classic fedoras. 

The black fedora he bought is our most popular fedora on an on-going basis, a classic that every one with a real “hat wardrobe” owns. Next, he bought an Akubra “Sydney” that was hand shaped by our own David Yang, and was the exact style that was previously purchased by another celebrity, Elvis Costello.

Jack White

The basque beret he bought for Meg White had just arrived from Spain from Antonio Garcia (a store I do business with in Seville that carries the best available). Then, a couture dress hat he picked for his wife, model Karen Elson, was one designed especially for the production “Cafe de Chinitas” that we had hosted in our store. Lastly, the red and black feather whimsey is again one of the classic pieces we carry as a basic for hat wearers.

Meg wearing her new basque beret.

He then did us the honor of mentioning on stage at the concert, his shopping excursion that afternoon, and they all wore the hats, complete with baguette accessories – (which I have to tell you, is a very cool touch. The hat expert in me was much impressed.)

The White Stripes in action. Meg in her beret, bought in our store.

 Click here to see the video:

01
Jul
07

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