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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Spring's officially arrived ... and nothing announces it more clearly than the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts ...

Yesterday we experienced another of those signs of a climate change. While other areas of the world are seeing typhoons and torrential rains -- here in the Bay Area we're experiencing a rare rainy season that has reached all the way into late May. Until recent years these were the deliciously hot days that promised summers that wouldn't truly arrive until around the last week of August. Sandwiched in between June and all of July are those cold and damp fogbound days that include a usually miserable Fourth of July.

I can remember my dad's younger brother, Louis Charbonnet, on a visit from New Orleans and an avid baseball fan, being taken to a game in San Francisco where people were sipping hot soup! He could hardly conceal his good-natured contempt for such a practice. Baseball season was the time of beer and soft drinks (preferably red). He could not stop laughing at the silliness of it all!

Having lived my entire life on the west side of the hills in the Oakland-Berkeley area of the East Bay, I had no idea as a youngster that one could simply drive through the Caldecott Tunnel, drive inland about 5 miles and there it would be -- summer! The temperature might never reach 45 degrees on one side of those hills that served to block the fog drawn in by the valley heat -- while only ten miles away in the valley people were sweltering around their swimming pools in 90-100 degrees under blue skies.

Yesterday Alyana and Tamaya were dancing and grandma was duty bound to be in the audience. I have an almost perfect record of attendance over the years. This week was a bonanza, Alyana (fourth grader) and her afterschool dance program made for a very special Wednesday afternoon. I watched her dance with a chair most imaginatively. Yesterday she performed with her West African dance group in a piece I've now seen so many times that I could probably do it myself, but it might take a martini or two. The two little ones are now 8 and 10 and are in their fifth year of dance lessons. Tamaya started when she was not quite three.

Lest you're fooled into thinking that this busy soul's entire life is made up of world-saving, be advised that I also do a fairly good job of grandmothering, too.

This was a very full week. The fourth in a series of Leadership Tours (on Friday) was resoundingly successful. It lived up to expectations and it appears that we will continue them into the foreseeable future. I was expecting to end the series in July, but they are building in importance and interest and the wait list is already approaching its limit of 28 "tourists" with the next outing still weeks away.

But that's for tomorrow's entry ...

Left photo: The instructor with his class of 3-6 year-olds in Saturday's beginning ballet performance. There's nothing lovelier, except maybe the standing ovations received from proud young parents. Interesting to note that this audience -- largely African American, Latino, and young -- responded to this formal European dance form much as we do in the call-and-response tradition of the black church; "... you go baby!" and, "you got it," and shouted proudly mid-performance, "...that's mah baby!" This was probably not what Degas would have seen fit to paint, but was more in the spirit of, "...it ain't all Hip Hop, we can do this stuff, too." (Click to enlarge to full size.)

Right photo: Alyana dancing with her class at Berkeley Arts Magnet school's afterschool program.

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