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Dancer Carmen de Lavallade Reflects on Her Career in "As I Remember It"
Legendary dancer Carmen de Lavallade recounts the process that led to the development of her current project, the autobiographical theatre/dance show "As I Remember It."
Carmen de Lavallade has had an unparalleled career in dance, theater, film and television beginning in her hometown of Los Angeles performing with the Lester Horton Dance Theater. While in Los Angeles, Lena Horne introduced the then 17 year old de Lavallade to the filmmakers at 20thCentury Fox where she appeared in four movies, including Carmen Jones(1954) with Dorothy Dandridge and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) with Harry Belafonte. During the filming of Carmen Jones, she met Herbert Ross, who asked her to appear as a dancer in the Broadway production ofHouse of Flowers. Her dance career includes having ballets created for her by Lester Horton, Geoffrey Holder, Alvin Ailey, Glen Tetley, John Butler and Agnes de Mille.
Carmen de Lavallade succeeded her cousin Janet Collins as the principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera and was a guest artist with the American Ballet Theater. She has choreographed for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Philadanco, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the productions of Porgy and Bess and Die Meistersinger at the Metropolitan Opera.
Ms. de Lavallade also has had an extensive acting career performing in numerous off-Broadway productions including Death of a Salesman andOthello. She taught movement for actors at Yale and became a member of the Yale Repertory Company and the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard.
She and her husband, Geoffrey Holder, were the subjects of the filmCarmen & Geoffrey (2005), which chronicled their sixty year partnership and artistic legacy. Her most recent work includes 651 ARTS’ FLY: Five First Ladies of Dance (2009), Step-Mother by Ruby Dee (2009), Post Black by Regina Taylor (2011), and the Broadway production of A Streetcar NamedDesire (2012).
Ms. de Lavallade is currently touring a dance/theater work about her life entitled As I Remember It, which premiered in June 2014. Lauded by numerous institutions, Ms. de Lavallade received the Dance Magazine Award in 1964, an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts from the Juilliard School in 2007, the Duke Ellington Fellowship Award, and the Dance USA Award in 2010. From Broadway to the Metropolitan Opera, Ms. de Lavallade has performed on the world’s greatest stages and with such legendary artists as Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington.
Carmen de Lavallade: My show As I Remember It is not necessarily a dance piece and it’s not a theater piece. It’s a combined piece of theater and — I can’t say dance. I really at this time of my life I move, which is true. No, I have to be honest about this. The idea has been kind of brewing for a long time and I realized I wanted to talk about my journey and the people, the interesting, wonderful people who pass through my life and who made me who I am from — my parents and my teachers and the people that have come into my life. And the places that changed me like, of course, I grew up in Los Angeles, California, I think in a really interesting time. In the '30s so that was a difficult time for a lot of people to live, like Depression babies. And then when I get to New York it was in the '50s which was a wonderful time I think. It was really Oz for me. And then New Haven, which was a — where my whole life changed again because by the time I got to New York, I was mainly a dancer. But when I traveled to New Haven, it became a whole new world with the theater.
The theater and the dance for me, collided for me because I found out I missed — that was something I was missing in the dance world because it’s really like being in the military. It’s very regimented and then at the same time I was very fortunate that my mentor, Lester Horton, was anything but regimental. He was an incredible combination of human being. He had a dance theater, which means it was not a studio. It was a real little theater on Melrose Avenue. And you work with no bars and no mirrors. Your workspace was the stage. It was a small theater that had about 10 rows of seats and you had to learn to do everything. We had to help make the costumes. We had to help with the sets. We had to help change the lights at the performance. We did everything. And even afterwards you had to help clean up after yourself. So it taught you to be independent and it made you think and it kept you grounded I think. You know some kids — where’s my costume or where’s this? No, no, no, no, no, no. We didn’t have that. And to a person that worked in that theater with Lester, we’ve all been grateful, always been able to take care of ourselves.
And I found that later in life no matter what situation I walked into I could size it — I know how to size it up. I know what to do. If I get in trouble I’ll do it myself. And it has to this day I’m still using some of that experience so that when I got to New York City and joined House of Flowers, which was a Broadway — that was a new experience. That was a challenge. As we had the challenges of the dance theater.
And then from there to go to Yale it was — oh, I knew everything about the theater itself. What I had to do was take care of the voice and being around actors who are totally different than dancers, who are freer. I was so fascinated by them because they had a reason for everything that they did and they would break down characters and tell stories about a character that wasn’t even in the script. And I found that fascinating so that when I went back to the dance I thought oh, why are people turning when they’re — what is that for — I was questioning. So that when I went back to maybe choreograph for myself or even work with somebody I’m already thinking in terms of character, but I could always find a way to find a reason for myself that I can make it into something that I could feel comfortable with, if that makes any sense.
For over 60 years, dancer Carmen de Lavallade has performed worldwide in collaboration with legendary artists such as Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington. Still performing in her 80s, Ms. de Lavallade is currently touring an autobiographical show called As I Remember It. The production features Ms. de Lavallade performing with projections of her younger self as well as with films featuring some of her significant collaborators. Stories of her years in California dancing with Lester Horton, in New York with Alvin Ailey and her time spent as a member of the Yale Repertory Theatre frame the evening. In this Big Think interview, Ms. de Lavallade recounts the process that led to show's development.
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.
A time for sleep<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Mt29uUqI" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="931343dee3c02121445e51e94ba22446"> <div id="botr_Mt29uUqI_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Mt29uUqI-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies had already suggested a link between persistent nightmares in childhood and psychosis and borderline personality disorder (BPD) by adolescence, but researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology wanted to see if a similar connection existed between these mental disorders and other childhood behavioral sleep problems.</p><p>To do this, they scoured data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal cohort study that followed approximately 14,000 children born in Avon, England, in the early 1990s. The study followed the children for more than 13 years. During that time, mothers filled out questionnaires asking about the children's lives. Factors looked at included housing, parenting, nutrition, physical health, mental wellbeing, environmental exposures, and so on. </p><p>The cohort study inquired about sleep routines, sleep duration, and awakening frequency when the children were 6, 18, and 30 months old, and then again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years. It also assessed mental health in adolescence using semi-structured interviews, such as the Psychosis-Like Symptom Interview.</p><p>"We know that adolescence is a key developmental period to study the onset of many mental disorders, including psychosis or BPD. This is because of particular brain and hormonal changes which occur at this stage," <a href="https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/psychology/marwaha-steven.aspx" target="_blank">Steven Marwaha</a>, professor of psychiatry at Birmingham and senior author on the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125431.htm" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "Sleep may be one of the most important underlying factors—and it's one that we can influence with effective, early interventions, so it's important that we understand these links."</p><p>After compiling the data, the researchers discovered an association between children with irregular sleeping patterns and teenagers with <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/psychosis/about-psychosis/" target="_blank">psychotic experiences</a>—that is, episodes when the person perceives reality differently than those around them. Even when depression at 10 years old was considered as a mediating factor, their findings still suggested "a specific pathway between these childhood sleep problems and adolescent psychotic experiences." </p><p>Toddlers with shorter nighttime sleep duration and late bedtimes were likewise associated with a <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml" target="_blank">borderline personality disorder</a>—a disorder marked by a pattern of varying moods, self-images, and behaviors—in their teenage years. Depression at age 10 did not mediate this particular association, suggesting a separate and more specific pathway. </p>
A more restful tomorrow<p>While the sample size was large and mental health was assessed with a validated interview, there nevertheless remain limitations to this data. For starters, sleep habits were based on mothers' reports. Because they came from memory, versus a more direct observation method such as actigraphy, these data may be prone to imperfect recollection and reporting error. There are also many confounders that could be secretly nudging the results, such as family conditions, prenatal medicines, and a host of environmental factors. Finally, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024884/#:~:text=Sleep%20difficulties%20in%20youth%20with,fear%20of%20dark%20%5B13%5D." target="_blank">the relationship between sleep problems and mental disorders</a> is both complex and two-way.</p><p>As such, the study shows an association between poor childhood sleep later mental disorders but does not prove a causal link. Parents need not worry that a string of nightmares or the eternal struggle settle into bed will be the first ingredients in a witches' brew of debilitating mental disorders. The goal of the study, the researchers point out, is not to create undue worry but improve our ability to recognize the signs of at-risk children and deliver necessary interventions earlier.</p><p>"The results of this study could have important implications for helping practitioners identify children who might be at higher risk for psychotic experiences or BPD symptoms in adolescence, and potentially lead to the design of more effectively targeted sleep or psychological interventions to prevent the onset or attenuate these mental disorders," Isabel Morales-Muñoz, the study's lead researcher, <a href="https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20200702/childhood-sleep-problems-linked-to-adolescent-psychosis-borderline-personality-disorder#:~:text=Sleep%20problems%20during%20early%20childhood,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry." target="_blank">told Healio Psychiatry</a><u>.</u></p><p>If a parent reading this is worried that their child's sleep patterns are deleterious, the take away should not be despair over an unyielding fate. It should be to seek professional help as soon as possible to begin improving sleep duration and quality. Even if you aren't worried, it's worth remembering that childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of salubrious sleeping habits. It's so much more than beauty rest.</p>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>