26 September 2021

Iconic Dance in Film


This will put a spring in to your step if all else fails… The students at AMDA (the American Musical and Dramatic Academy) in New York studied rigorously for their Fall Dance Concert of 2015. Named Iconic, it was a modern celebration of 20th Century dance on film re-imagined through live performance. Cain DeVore, an independent filmmaker and screenwriter, actor and teacher put this video together to inspire the students.

It is a whistle-stop tour of the best dance in movies from the 1920s up to the present day. Pop Dancin Fool by Barry Manilow over the clips and you get a truly exhilarating few minutes. As well as a reminder of what has been achieved in the past this video, in its own way, lays down the gauntlet for today’s filmmakers – get dance fully and properly back in to the movies now!

The full list is below if you want to see how many movies you spotted correctly.

Caravanserai – Staging Posts of the Desert


There were once thousands of caravanserai, staging posts for the weary traveler, dotted throughout Asia, North Africa and the South-Eastern parts of Europe.  The Silk Road, an important and extensive trans-continental network of routes, was dotted with them.  Many still survive, but more, like the one in the Lut desert of Iran (above) are abandoned and slowly turning to dust.

Modern methods of transportation have meant that the caravanserai, where they are not fortunate enough to be restored and made in to hotels, slowly but surely rejoin the sand of the desert.  However, you can still see the rising columns in the Lut example, above, which one day perhaps looked something more like the interior of the one to be found in Meybod (also in Iran, below).

The Cutty Sark Story


If you might  not get the opportunity to visit Cutty Sark, the British Clipper ship which is preserved as a museum ship in Greenwich, London, then this will get you a little closer, at least imaginatively.  Created by Beakus director Steve Smith for the Cutty Sark, it tells the story of the ship’s years of service as a tea and wool cargo ship, and its record breaking round-the-world voyages. It has been screened on a loop in the actual ship's lower hold from September 2014.

Flawless


Flawless is a short film looking at the loving relationship between a father, Ansel and his gifted daughter, Iniko. One grey day a major incident causes a deep fracture that changes their lives forever, causing Iniko to long for a time when things were perfect. Created by Badshoes Film in February 2014 in Leicester and released on to the festival circuit in June 2014, Flawless was selected for 23 festivals over 18 months including Festival de Cine Lanzarote 2015, Cineglobe 2015 at CERN Institute, Cannes Short Film Corner, CineFiesta 2014, New York Independent Film Festival 2015, Aesthetica 2015 as well as a pretty good run at the BAFTA's too.

23 September 2021

3 online hobbies you should consider trying in 2021


Finding a new interest or hobby can be a fantastic way of developing a new skill, meeting new, like-minded friends, building your self-confidence and having a lot of fun.

There is no shortage of avenues to pursue, which can make the process of deciding which hobby to pursue daunting and not a little confusing. After all, when you live in an age of unlimited information and unprecedented levels of entertainment in the forms of YouTube, streaming services and social media, sticking to one interest is difficult. 

On top of this, there is the very real challenge of fitting your new hobby within your existing lifestyle. If you work full-time, have a family or a busy social calendar, then you may think it is impossible to find time for a new hobby. 

However, as long as you are organized, plan your weeks carefully and are prepared to sacrifice time-sapping pastimes like social media or watching movies, then you will free up more time than you might imagine.

This is why online hobbies work so well. They allow you to participate in your hobby without needing to waste time traveling to a set location or putting it on pause every time you need to travel. 

Here are three great online hobbies you should consider trying in 2021:

Gaming is going from strength to strength

One of the most popular online hobbies is gaming, which has gone from strength to strength over the past decade. Far from simply being a pastime popular with teenagers, gaming is now a thriving industry that offers a variety of immersive thrills.

Indeed, there is no shortage of games to choose from. You could, for example, become involved with esports, which hold both amateur and professional tournaments based on virtual versions of real sports - such as football and Formula One, as well as gaming titles like Dota 2 or League of Legends. 

Alternatively, there is a range of role-playing and sandbox games such as the Elder Scrolls series or Grand Theft Auto, which boast huge online communities. 

Online gaming is a great way to become involved in a passionate community of like-minded people, as well as relax after a long day at work. You can get started relatively cheaply, too, if you find gaming laptop deals

You could start meditating using online resources

Another great online hobby you should consider trying is a meditation app or course. While meditation has been around for thousands of years in various forms and practices, it has never been easier (or more important) to start, thanks to the variety of online apps, tutorials and courses on offer.

This means you can practice meditation easily wherever you are, whether at home, on the train, or even on your lunch breaks at work. Given how stressful and fast-paced modern life can be, meditation offers a rewarding experience, with minimal costs or discipline needed to start.

Learn a new language via an online course

One of the most useful hobbies you can start is to learn a new language. While this is nothing new, language learning is considerably more accessible and easier now that you can engage with online content - such as apps, courses and podcasts - which allow you to learn wherever you go. 

This accelerates the learning process and helps you to master a new language faster, which is ideal if you want to explore a particular country or learn more about a certain culture. 

Image Credit

20 September 2021

Using Interior Spaces and Furniture Improve our Well Being

 

When we decide to choose furniture such as dining chairs to the colours we put on the wall, smart choices improve our well being and general health. To understand why this is, we have to understand how decorating works and how it affects our mood, and we have to look at what our homes mean to us.

An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle

If we consider what home is, it offers both shelter and protection. When you get home you feel safe and warm. This is the place where you bring up your family, and where you sleep.

Whereas in the past, your home may not have been decorated to the degree it is now, it still offered the qualities outlined above.

As the twentieth century unfolded, increasingly people wanted to personalise their homes. As such, furniture design, DIY, and decoration products became highly popular.

As well as having the means, choices can be influenced consciously and subconsciously. This is why we often see a canopy over a front door or a railing. This symbolises a barrier between our homes and the outside world. It is a psychological comfort and protection.

Not every design decision is designed to make us feel protected. Other mindfulness is at work with other decisions.

An Interesting Experiment

Google partnered with the Arts & Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University where they experimented to assess the aesthetic impact of rooms. At the 2021 Salone del Mobile in Milan visitors were bands that tracked their physiological responses as they moved from room to room.

They were encouraged to fully engage with their surroundings and to remain quiet and avoid using their phones.

The results were interesting with around 50% feeling the calmest in rooms they were not attracted to visually. Ivy Ross, VP of Product Design at Google concluded that people have been approaching room design and décor too cognitively and they needed to get back to what feels good rather than what looks good.

Taking Control

Ivy Ross may have a point. When we decorate to our tastes often it is to create a feel rather than a look. If you feel good in your home you are more likely to feel protected and comfortable. This contrasts a room that may look amazing but feels a little cold or you simply can’t relax.

This makes furniture and décor choices important. It isn’t just how it looks and gels with the rest of its surroundings, it is also the feelings it generates. This also extends to the artwork you have on your walls. Some point out that often art that conjures childhood memories are the most comforting.

Healthcare

Some hospitals from around the world have started to employ interior designers and architects to make medical settings less institutional and clinical. Organisations such as Maggie have tried to make the clinical environment come across as more homely. This, they believe provides a better environment for healing.

So, when you come to make furniture and design choices, go with what feels right rather than what looks right. You won’t regret it.

5 September 2021

Bushido


Bushido literally means the way of the warrior and that is (again, literally) what you get here.  We see just a few split seconds in the life of a meditative samurai.  Bushido allows for the violent existence of the samurai to be subsumed by wisdom and serenity.

This animated short was created by Said Ibrahim as his 2013 graduation film.  It’s a great combination of drawing and animation styles and is a great showcase for Ibrahim’s talents as an animator. It is also very, very cool.

Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Gathering or People on the Planet


Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage which attracts, each year, the greatest peaceful get together of people in the world.  The  Maha Kumbh Mela of 2013 saw over 100 million people gather to bathe at dawn in the sacred Ganges River.

Time-lapse Photography and Adventure Filmmaker Rufus Blackwell was there and captured these astounding time-lapse images.

The Golden Rock – The Gilt Boulder of the Buddha

It looks as if it is just about to fall off the edge of Mount Kyaiktiyo and roll down in to the sweeping landscape of Myanmar. Yet the enormous granite boulder, known as the Golden Rock, has perched precariously here for as long as the land’s recorded history.  The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, built atop, is, alone, over seven meters in height. The whole edifice is said to be balanced on a single strand of the Buddha’s hair.

As such, this is an important pilgrimage site for adherents of Buddhism.  It is said that those who visit it three times in a single year will be blessed with wealth and acknowledgement of their goodness. The main legend associated with the rock and the pagoda is that the Buddha, on one of his visits, gave a single strand of his hair to the local hermit, Taik Tha.
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