This has been a very classical couple of weeks. I finally finished The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites by J.S. Bach, performed by the already legendary Yo-Yo Ma. Outside of feeling super sophisticated listening to classical music it’s been very inspiring. I’ve been listening to the “Beethoven 9 @ 9” series on NPR at breakfast and have even watched the Oscar winning film Amadeus directed by Milos Forman from the 80’s to maintain my nerdiness. Stay tuned for my final week of classical naked dancing plus some artists I think you’ll love!
These darn hips! Day 318 I was doing some deep stretches in my hip flexors because they get get really tight in the winter time. “Sarabande” in music terms is based on a slow stately traditional Spanish dance and often follows the “Courante” which is defined by short advances and retreats in classical Baroque suites. This was the perfect song to slowly move my hips around. A little goddess pose, a little happy baby, and some hip openers with this song on repeat was just heaven. I find that I repeat songs a lot in my dancing/stretching naked sessions. This one was particularly effective. Below is a YouTube clip of the song. Try it for yourself!
One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to read one book every month. For January I am reading The Samuri’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. A character in the book, Sachi, was afflicted with leprosy as a teenage girl and fled to a nearby mountain town on the coast of Japan to not cause dishonor to her family. She was mainly afflicted by sores on one side of her face which turned into scars in her later years leaving the other half a beautiful portrait of her younger self. Tonight I draw the young Sachi in her kimono. The drama of the beginning of Suite No. 5 takes me to the small beach town of Tarumi at a time when Japan sought to conquer China, and almost did. A time when tuberculosis didn’t have a cure and leprosy was a curse. This was less than a century ago. To think how far we’ve come and the everyday blessings we have is humbling. Below listen to “Allemande” and feel your heart soar!
“Bourrée” and “Gigue” were commonly used in music during the Renaissance or Baroque period to title and describe lively dance compositions. These tend to be the shortest songs in suites. In my illustration I wanted to capture this hurried movement with twirling and spinning. Using quick sketching with my pen I wanted there to be a sense of ease and continuousness of a gesture. Also a whirlwind of images, one leading into the next. Just as I felt when I was dancing. When I listen to these pieces they seem to bounce and never slow. I couldn’t help but bob my head. And then a quickly as it began it was over. The gigue was up!
Today I enter Suite #4 just after #1. I’m not exactly sure why they are not ordered from 1 to 6. Perhaps it has to do with how they all flow together. I honestly don’t mind at all. If you like yoga, this suite is perfect. There are many moments to enjoy and savor certain holds. The music gives you a subtle push to go deeper and the rhythm helps you remember to breathe. Below is “Sarabande” to to give you an idea of how great this would sound when you’re in downward dog or reaching up for a sun salutation!
Day 314 and I emerge into the 4th suite by J.S. Bach. This time I am in Keystone, Colorado. The snow rises with the mountains as the tops of pine trees wade in white dust. As we drive up the mountain we look ever the road edge only to see the ridges and valleys have disappeared into a foggy chalky abyss. After skiing and snow shoeing we return to our cabin and warm by the fire. After a few hours of friendship and libation I retire to my room and dance to my music. Solitude suits me. As I slide into bed I close my eyes, my body at peace, as the snow falls silently outside my window lulling me to sleep.
There are 6 Suites total on this album. They are also unordered. The next suite will be No. 4. The first is very familiar, the quaint essential classical track list. What scholars would listen to while they debated politics and romance over whiskey in a musty study hall lit by candlelight at the turn of the twentieth century. Or a warmup for the company of the New York Ballet, silk slippers gliding across chalky wooden flooring in the growing morning light.
I’ve begun listening to the album when I wake up and prepare breakfast. It lingers in my mind as I sleep. I feel elevated after dancing naked, purpose. The music moves through me, through Yo-Yo Ma, through everyone in earshot and time itself. I mean, this Bach guy was on to something. I think I’ll keep this going. Here’s to the classics!
Day 312 I begin with the J.S. Bach’s 6 Unaccomapnied Cello Suites featuring Yo-Yo Ma! This album is is amazing. It’s just Yo-Yo Ma in a studio playing these historical suites. No big deal. I can hear his breathing at moments, the gentle sliding movement of the bow on the strings, and tiny ambient noise that create the feeling that he’s playing in the room with me. “The J.S. Bach B Sides”. This is an excellent album to relax to, stretch to, or start off your morning with a calm mind before a busy day!