Saturday, September 09, 2017


Ayodele Solo and with Cast from Really Rosie

Close to two decades ago, I had the honor of seeing tap dancer and choreograhper Ayodele Casel perform in Savion Glover's dance troupe Not Your Ordinary Tappers (N.Y.O.T.).  I was so excited to see a female holding her own in the world of tap, and was elated to see a recent article about her in the New York Times.  There, I learned that she had performed her own one-woman show While I Have the Floor, and was in the midst of choreographing the musical Really Rosie for City Center.  In July, Ms.Casel won the prestigious Hoofer Award for her outstanding achievements in the world of tap.
After meeting Ayodele in person after a performance of Really Rosie, she was gracious enough to do a Q and A for Creative Times.  For more information about Ayodele, visit her website.

Q:  Really Rosie was a cast of young people.  What was your philosophy and/or approach to working with children and teens when it came to choreographing for them?

A:  I work with young people quite often throughout the year and am constantly amazed by their level of maturity and ability to process material that is complex and that even adults have a hard time grasping. The biggest consideration for this process was time. I knew they were capable of a high level of work. The challenge was giving them the right combination of complexity but easily digestible material so as not to overwhelm or overly complicate the City Center Encores! process.

Q:   What did you appreciate, respect, or admire about the young folks you worked with?

A:   I was inspired and floored by their professionalism, their enthusiasm, their talent, and the openness to try anything we threw at them. They had about 6 days to learn an entire production! That's incredible. They learned music, choreography, script, staging, made acting choices, everything in such a condensed amount of time and they brought their joy and work ethic to each and every rehearsal. We were all so impressed with every single one of them for bringing it the way they did. Our show was the only one of the New York City Center Encores-Off Center season to be off book by our designer run. I was and remain so proud of them and we all became very close in the process. I'm still so thrilled when I see their Instagram feeds filled with photos of their recent gatherings. I think it's a testament to Leigh Silverman's superpower ability to gather great souls and energy in a room. The cast and creative team all bonded very quickly!

I'm grateful to Michael Friedman for selecting Really Rosie to be a part of this season's Encores and to Leigh for including me. It was one of my greatest professional experiences to date.

Q:  Can you say a bit about your mantra "I am my ancestors' wildest dreams"?

A:  I love that mantra. It spoke to me immediately when I first read it.  I just try to live my life with the awareness that I am able to do my work as freely (literally and figuratively) as I can and with such vigor because of the work and sacrifice of those who came before me. It is a humbling way of moving through the world for me. I am deeply grateful for the path my ancestors have paved and my successes as an artist, as a human, are their victories as well. 

Q:   What are your thoughts about what it would take to get the respect and recognition due to women tap dancers and choreographers?

A:  I am so inspired by women. I have the greatest respect for how we work, think, nurture, motivate, create, and kick ass in so many arenas on a daily basis. I  saw Wonder Woman recently and so "warrior" also comes to mind. I think we need to keep creating work and taking up space everywhere. Demanding that we be seen and heard.

Q:  You've been tapping for a long time.  What has kept you staying with this art form?

A:  My love and deep respect for tap dancing. My search for understanding on how to dance with it gracefully and accept the challenges head on. I dance to voice the names of the women tap dancers who came before me.  Jeni LeGon, Lois Bright, Juanita Pitts, Louise Madison, Cora LaRedd, to name a few. I dance to expose audiences to the genius of the art form and it is my mission to always do so with the utmost integrity. And I dance because I love it, it's fun and it provides me with an incredible outlet for self expression.

Q:  What advice do you have for young or aspiring female tap dancers and choreographers?

A:  Do YOUR thing. Don't sell yourself short. Have integrity. Study. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Be a warrior. A champion in the ring. All of that. AND be authentic. Authenticity rocks.

Q:  What would you like for yourself both personally and professionally in the next year?

A:  I would love to continue to collaborate with artists and art venues that I respect and admire. It was a dream to work with Leigh Silverman, Michael Mayer, Jeanine Tesori in the past year. I look forward to sharing my one-woman show While I Have The Floor in NYC in the next coming year. I am looking forward to touring with my incredibly talented friends in a different show, teaching young people, vacationing and also, I'd really love a Tesla Model X! Ha ha!

Sunday, September 03, 2017


One of my favorite animated videos of all time!  For more Questlove stories about Prince, read Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove.


For more interviews with amazing artists, please check out Blank on Blank Animated Interviews.


I was excited to see Really Rosie at City Center for multiple reasons:  First, I was familiar in a general way with the musical because a group of my friends had been in a production of Really Rosie when I was in middle school.  Second, it was based on a book by the late, great author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (of "Where the Wild Things Are" fame) and lyrics by the famed singer/songwriter Carol King. Third, the show was choreographed by Ayodele Casele,  a tap dancer who I had seen perform on several occasions with Savion Glover 20 years ago.  Fourth, the show was comprised of a cast of young people, except for Ayodele, who made a brief appearance, and also for the adults who made up the live orchestral accompaniment and background adult voices of the children's parents.

Typical of Sendak's works in general, the themes in the songs and dialogue were often macabre in nature, focusing on death, bodily harm, or the threat of these things.  While the production was clearly aimed at a young audience, the subject matter seemed more appropriate for adults.

There was a touching post-finale piece where the cast came out holding a banner with Sendak's name and dates of of birth and death on it.  They played an excerpt of a recorded interview with Sendak, where he shared his thoughts, including this one, about children and childhood:

I've always been interested in how children maneuver and decide how to live. It’s hard. I’ve always had a deep respect for children and how they solve complex problems by themselves. I think [they do this] through shrewdness, fantasy and just plain strength; they want to survive. They want to survive. 

Friday, September 01, 2017


I swung by the store Books are Magic tonight and found this gem called My Rad Life: A Journal.
Created by Kate Schwartz and Miriam Klein Stahl, the same two women who created Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, this journal contains inspiring black and white sketches of famous women coupled with quotations.  There are also prompts with lined and blank pages for readers to write their responses.

A sketch of writer, feminist and civil rights activist  Audre Lorde is  accompanied by her quotation "When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important wthether I am afraid."

A page about J.K. Rowling shares this message and prompt: " J.K. Rowling was rejected by more than 10 publishers before she found someone to publish her first book, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone.  Imagine if she'd given up? Write about a time when you wanted to give up on something, and kept trying."


Dads play an important role in helping their daughters build confidence in their own physical strength. Here, in Carroll Park, in Brooklyn, New York, Ian helps his 4-year-old daughter Orli learn to skate on the playground.

* This photo is one of a series of posts that I am dedicating to strong girls and women

Friday, August 25, 2017


I am a big fan of the Go for Your Dreams! genre of movies, especially if they feature female athletes. It is greatly inspiring to see female teens, young adults, and women take on big physical challenges in the face of sexism and racism.

Here are six of my faves (descriptions taken from the Internet).  Take a peak at each!

1. Bend It Like Beckham
"Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), the daughter of a strict Indian couple (Anupam Kher, Shaheen Khan) in London, is not permitted to play organized soccer, even though she is 18. When Jess is playing for fun one day, her impressive skills are seen by Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley), who then convinces Jess to play for her semi-pro team. Jess uses elaborate excuses to hide her matches from her family while also dealing with her romantic feelings for her coach, Joe."

2. How She Move 
"Raya (Rutina Wesley), a gifted student and dancer at an elite academy, must return home and attend public school after her sister's drug-related death. She has a bitter rivalry with Michelle (Tré Armstrong),in which the two try to see which is the better dancer. Raya convinces Bishop to let her join his all-male dance troupe as they prepare for an upcoming competition."

3. Salute the Women of Team USA
"Little Mix’s 'Salute' is being used in a promo for team USA Olympics! This features some of the best female athletes in the world like Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin, Allyson Felix, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Kerri Walsh Jennings, and the USWNT Soccer Team!"

"A short film on BMX Olympian - Shanaze Reade. Her life in her own words and her journey to both Beijing and London Olympics."

"Gracie Bowen (Carly Schroeder) is the only girl among her parents' four children. Her brothers and father (Dermot Mulroney) eat, breathe and sleep soccer, and practice the sport every day. When her beloved older brother, Johnny, is killed in a tragic accident, Gracie attempts to come to terms with her grief by petitioning the school board to let her take Johnny's place on the boys varsity soccer team."

"Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) lives in small-town Texas and yearns to break free of her mother's (Marcia Gay Harden) world of beauty pageants and conformity. She sees her chance when she meets the Hurl Scouts, a roller-derby team; she tries out for the team and wins a slot, lying to her parents about her new hobby. Bliss finds friendship and freedom with her teammates, but a conflict between a championship game and the Bluebonnet beauty pageant threatens to spill her secret."

Monday, August 14, 2017


Inspired by the just-completed 13th Annual Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival here in New York, I am re-printing my piece about the LOHHF culminating event - the showcase - from 2012.  For more information anout the festival, please visit their website and consider donating to this fantastic tradition.


For two nights in a row, the audience sprang to its feet to cheer, yell and stomp in a standing ovation for "Paying Homage," a hip-hop piece choreographed by Akira Armstrong for the dance group Pretty Big.  People were psyched out of their minds to see this tribute to female MCs from the last two decades, a list which included Roxanne Shante, MC Lyte, Da Brat, and Queen Latifah. The mood of the piece was joyous and celebratory, but also proud; never over-smiley, the dancers wore facial expressions that read "We are the real deal and we take ourselves seriously."

"Paying Homage" was one of many outstanding dance numbers presented in the 8th Annual Ladies of Hip- Hop Festival, an event brought to New York by Michele Byrd-McPhee.  Women came from all corners of both the U.S. and the globe to compete in a Ladies Battle, participate in two days of dance workshops, and dance in two consecutive nights of performances.  A full agenda for sure, and reflective of the many dance forms that fall under the umbrella of hip-hop, including waacking, krumping, dancehall, popping, house, and flexing.

Ms. Byrd-McPhee gave form to the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival out of an awareness of "the narrow opportunities for women in Hip-Hop" and a desire to create "a safe space, a neutral zone where the art does not get lost or stifled because of complexities of male/female relationships. Spaces were it is okay to be women as you define it, not as defined by others. " (Source: LOHHF website.)

Everything about the two nights of performances showed that creating a space in hip-hop where women can define themselves has enormous payoff.

First, there was the overall spirit/mood/vibe of the performance nights.  The host, Shernita Sofly, put the audience at ease with her hugely funny and off-beat humor, and ability to connect with what the audience was doing and feeling in the moment.  By cutting loose and having fun, she set things up so the audience could do the same.

Then, there was the awesome diversity of how the women presented themselves - playful, raw, rough, angry, sensual, sexual, graceful, defiant, athletic.  Yet all of this never seemed forced or externally imposed; every feeling and image conveyed seemed to come from within.  The dancers fully inhabited their bodies, quite a departure from the way much of dance for females is structured so that we are treated as the vessels for someone else's vision or are put out there just to please or pacify a crowd rather than to challenge the audience emotionally or intellectually.

You could see from the backstage and off-stage interactions between the dancers as well as the interplay between audience and performers that all of this was a team effort; everything in the festival was about women backing other women.  Also: whenever Michele, the LOHHF Founder and Director got up to speak, she made sure to credit all the other women who supported her and were part of her team.  She made it clear that it took a village to raise a festival.

Women from the audience (including other dancers) cheered fiercely and joyfully for women onstage.  Choreographers designed pieces so that dancers visibly pulled for each other while performing.  A great example of that was "Gracefully Strong," choreographed by Valerie Chartier for the krumping crew Buck Swans.  While each krumper stepped forward for her solo, the others would surround her and emotionally and physically validate what she was expressing through her body. The effect was gripping.

In sum, a clearly-defined space for females in hip hop to lead other females and be led by other females looked good on everyone involved - both performers and the audience.  Right there in the theater, I could feel the effects of racism and sexism melt under the intelligence, leadership, and serious artistry of a mighty army of women.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Almost two decades ago, I saw tap dancer/choreographer Ayodele Casel perform in Savion Glover's dance troupe Not Your Ordinary Tappers. (N.Y.O.T.)  I was so excited to see a big article about Ayodele in a recent issue of The New York Times, and learned that she had recently performed a one woman show called "While I Have the Floor."  Here is an excerpt from that show, where she shares what it's like to be a woman and a person of color in the world of tap.

Stay tuned for my interview with Ms. Casel!

Saturday, December 03, 2016


This is one $20 bill I'm not gonna spend. Why? It was given to me by J.D., an elderly friend who I met when we both participated in a health support group at the YMCA. When I told him it was my birthday, he reached through the window of his dial-a-ride van, handed me the bill, and said "Here! Have a malted on me!" I didn't know what to say; it was so unexpected. I said "Thank you," and then I walked into the Y and burst into tears.

I'm going to hold onto this bill to remind me of the beauty and necessity of unexpected acts of generosity and kindness.

May we all have J.D.s in our lives and may we all be J.D.s to others. 

Monday, November 21, 2016


T-REX from ZCDC on Vimeo.


Photo Credit:

During this past summer, I was totally fired up about the U.S. women's Olympics gymnastics team.Loved the Final Five, as they named themselves, and in particular Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.

As much as I loved and celebrated these ladies, I was also aware that there were a lot of female Olympic athletes - including medal winners - whose accomplishments were barely, if at all, publicized in mainstream media news.  And I wanted to know more about them.

That's when I came across boxer Claressa Shields, who not only won a gold medal in this year's Olympic boxing, but also won a gold medal in women's boxing in the 2012 Olympics at the age of 17!  This makes her the only U.S. boxer of either gender to win back-to-back gold medals at the Olympics!

So why did Claressa not get the attention she deserved after winning the gold at the 2012 Olympics? I think it was due to a combination of racism, classism, and sexism.  

As a whole, our society gives more attention to female athletes who fall within what we consider to be "properly or acceptably feminine."  In other words, we are stretched by the idea that a female can be a fantastic boxer and should be fully celebrated for being a boxing champ.

Some important stuff to know about Claressa:  She is from Flint, Michigan.  She had an incredibly rough childhood, which she is open about. She has only lost a single boxing match.  She recently went pro.

If you want to learn more about Claressa, check out the documentary T-Rex.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Dear Friends of Creative Times,

I hope this note finds you well and enjoying the end of summer!

I am currently looking for part-time work.

If, after taking a look at the info below, you have an idea of a person, opportunity, or organization that you think I should connect with, please send an email to I value your creative input!

I would love a job which allows me to use some combination of these talents:
  • Community engagement/outreach and team-building
  • Writing/researching/promoting the arts and culture scene in NY
  • Connecting people of different generations
  • Facilitating hands-on, interactive learning experiences

Specific settings that appeal to me are ones which center around these themes:
  • Arts- and culture (especially the performing arts!) - think BRIC Arts Media
  • Literature/books (especially children's books!) - think Brooklyn Public Library 
  • Local community work - think Borough Hall / The Office of Eric L. Adams
  • The natural environment (e.g. parks and gardens) - think Brooklyn Bridge Park
Here's a little bit about my background: I'm a seasoned community-builder, educator, and Brooklyn-based arts and culture writer/promoter with a Master's Degree from Bank Street College of Education.

Currently, I run a private literacy tutoring practice in Brooklyn. I help elementary school children become more confident, joyful readers and writers.

Here are some sample work projects:

  • Educated parents, caregivers, tourists, and children about the plants and flowers of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
  • Promote the rich arts landscape of NY as Editor-In-Chief of the 11-year-old blog Creative Times. Interview beloved literary and performing artists, including original cast and crew of Sesame Street and Prince's costume designer.
  • Recruited local artists, business owners, and community leaders to participate in GO, a historic borough-wide open studio weekend organized by the Brooklyn Museum.
  • Conceptualized and Co-produced The Brooklyn Blogfest, an annual event for 300 bloggers, journalists, and community leaders.
  • Through Bloom Again Brooklyn, create floral arrangements with flowers salvaged from local stores; arrangements are delivered to homebound seniors and nursing home residents.

Thank you so much for your support! Please feel free to send an email with questions or ideas.

How to Contact Me

Eleanor Traubman

Monday, August 08, 2016


In honor of Len Traubman, on his birthday, I am documenting some of my best memories of him from the first ten years of my life, plus some interesting facts about him.

I Remember When My Dad.......

* Let me and my brother, when we were about 5 and 3, sing "bathroom language" words while he played on the guitar. I don't think I had ever laughed that hard. (And may I say what a smart parenting strategy that was?!)

* Hung out with me at a San Francisco public school playground to help me learn how to ride a two-wheeler bike.

* Took me, as a surprise, to get my ears pierced on my 7th birthday.

* Squeezed one eye shut, puffed out his cheeks, and talked like a pirate, sending my brother and me into rolling fits of laughter.

* Drove our whole family waaaaaaay out into the boondocks to visit the "redhead babies" of one of his patients. The "redhead babies" turned out to be a whole batch of redhead baby dachsunds and we got to pick one out to take home with us. We named her Suena, which means dream or vision in Spanish.

* Left $20 by bed so I would wake up and find it the morning of my 5th grade graduation trip to Six Flags Marine World.

* Showed me how to pass a baton and timed my laps to help me prepare for a elementary school track meet.

* Took me to see Yul Brynner in the live theater production of The King and I.

* Took me, starting from age 2, to Tadich Grill, the oldest restaurant in San Francisco.

* Took me to the deli of a large downtown grocery store to pick out a whole cow brain to study and bring to my 5th grade oral presentation about the brain.

* Taught me and my brother how to make fried matzoh.

Some Interesting Facts About My Dad

* He knows how to make beautiful jewelry out of different metals.

* From his many years as a children's dentist, he has an enormous collection of fun ties which feature bright colors and characters.

* He once dressed as Waldo (as in Where's Waldo?) for his office's Halloween party, and designed his own costume.

* A pro at geneology, my dad wrote a book about his side of the family. He also knows a ton about my mom's side of the family, and stood up at his mother-in-law's funeral service to share interesting stories about her family's history.

* He assembled a ham radio when he was around the age of 10 and can still do a rapid verbal fireout of the morse code (which cracks up his 8-year-old grandson).* He likes melted chocolate chip sandwiches.

* He can play Grandma's Feather Bed, Froggy Went A-Courtin'and many other country and folk songs, on the guitar.

Thanks, Dad, for modeling kindness, curiosity, vision, patience, humor, and appreciation of the arts.


Saturday, July 09, 2016


On Thursday, July 21 at 6 p.m., Eleanor Traubman Tutoring will be leading Bookmark Making for Families at The Old Stone House in Park Slope.

What could be more fun than designing a bookmark for your summer reading?

For ages 5 and up.

Please RSVP to ETraubman(at)gmail(dot)com

For more information about Eleanor Traubman Tutoring: 

Art Blog:
Email: ETraubman(at)gmail(dot)com
Phone: 929-224-4849

Thursday, June 02, 2016



(This article is an edited re-print of a prior post)

Over the past bunch of years, I have had the honor of interviewing a group of long-time cast, crew

and writers from the cultural juggernaut that is Sesame Street. It started with an in-person Q&A with Elmo Muppeteer and Sesame Co-Producer Kevin Clash. 

Kevin suggested I also talk to cameraman Frank Biondo, who has been with Sesame from the get-go, as well as Fran Brill.  You may know Fran as Zoe and, starting from way back when, Prairie Dawn.

While on the set with Frank, I also got to meet Big Bird Muppeteer Carroll Spinney, as well as a young person who started writing letters to Carroll at age five. 

What a  treat to meet Bonnie Erickson, who used to work for Sesame and who also created Ms. Piggy, Statler, Waldorf, and other iconic Muppets, to find out her life story.

I went back on set to watch and interview Snuffy and Telly's Muppeteer Martin Robinson.  While observing Martin in action (from inside of Mr. Hooper's store, no less!), I met Kevin Clash's right hand hand, storyboard designer, and SuperGrover float creator Louis Henry Mitchell.

Most recently, I got to do some Q&Awith Annie Evans, Sesame writer and also wife of Martin Robinson.  (They got married on the set!)  And then went to Elmo's birthday party to help him celebrate 3.5 years!

I feel so grateful to have met all these amazing people and look forward to more Sesame adventures.

If you have a Sesame cast or crew member you would like me to interview, drop at line at

Here are the posts about all the folks mentioned above:

Saturday, April 30, 2016


One desk for analog, one desk for digital.
Back in 2012, when I read Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, I was struck by his idea of creating one space for "analog" production and one space for "digital" production.  He designated one desk for "nothing but markers, pens, pencils, paper, index cards, and newspaper," allowing nothing electronic there.  He reserved a second deskfor everything digital - his laptop, monitor, scanner, and drawing tablet.

I loved this idea of separating the two modes of production, but couldn't wrap my mind around how to do it.  I had everything mashed up on one desk, and always felt cramped by my computer when I was doing something that did not involve it.

Fast forward four years to about a month ago.  I was doing a major decluttering of our apartment, and finally decided to tackle the home office. After getting rid of a lot of books, papers, and supplies, I took a look at my side of the room. (I share it with my husband.)  I ditched a bunch of clunky, random pieces of furniture and replaced them with an inexpensive 4-foot utility table which I ordered online.

I then moved my computer and printer to the utility table, leaving the desk with the larger surface free to do creative work by hand.  I filled the perimiters of the desk with visuals that inspire me - e.g. artist postcards from the Twitter Art Exhibit, pens and pencils, fresh flowers, and my go-to book for inspiration, Start from Where You Are.

I'm not sure why it took four years to figure out to do this, but I am so happy that I did.  I'm looking forward to using the two spaces, especially the "analog" one!

Here are some resources to gather inspiration for creating your space to create. When I look at these books/magazines, I know I'm often looking at spaces of people with a lot of financial resources who do their creative work full time.  I keep that in mind, and focus on using the resources that I have.

* Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces for Extraordinary Women, published by Stampington and Company's Somerset Studio, Created by Jo Packham. This is a magazine that you can pick up at Barnes and Nobles. In the May/June/July 2016 issue, you will find a profile of Stacia Lang, who used to design costumes for Prince.

* Maker Spaces: Creative Interiors from the Homes and Stideos of Inspiring Makers and Designers, by Emily Quinton; photography by Kelen Cathcart.

* A Room of Her Own: Women's Personal Spaces. By Chris Casson Madden; photography by Jennifer Levy.

* Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon.  Check out pages 58-61, where he describes and shows how he created his analog and digital desks.

* A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf.

Saturday, April 02, 2016


One of the daily "Art to Self" pics I get in my inbox each morning.
I know that experts would not recommdend looking at your electronic device first thing after waking up, but I spend a good 45 minutes with my iPhone and earplugs to get my morning started on a note of inspiration.

Here's what's in my inbox that I read or listen to:

A short meditation set to music read by Tama Kieves from her book A Year Without Fear: 365 Days of Magnificence.

A short daily motivation video and message delivered by the featuring the great writer and speaker Les Brown.

Art To Self, "daily cartoons to remind you of your awesomeness."

A meditation introduced by Oprah Winfrey and led by Deepak Chopra.

How do you like to start your day on a positive note?


I'm a big fan of tiny books.  But they often get knocked over by or lost amongst the large books on my bookshelf.  Recently, while I was organizing my home office, I decided to put all my tiny books together in a clear plastic shoebox-sized container. When I need some quick inspiration or bedtime reading, I just grab one from the box.  Instant happiness!