Tuesday, July 23, 2013


If you haven't already, go pick yourself up a copy of Roots drummer Ahmir (aka Questlove) Thompson's Mo 'Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. The stories of how he met KISS and Prince alone are worth the cost of admission.

Music is the prism through which Questlove fashions his life and through which he remembers precise moments in his personal history.  

So, in the spirit of Mo 'Meta and its author, I'm sharing some of my own music memories, mostly ones I shared with my younger brother, Adam.   I treasure these memories and am grateful I had such an awesome partner in crime to experience the music with!

 PS - Feel free to use the comments section to drop a few memories of your own.

1. All Night Dancing
Remember that song "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc.? They had this other song called "All Night Dancing" which went on for almost EIGHT minutes.  One night, when I was about 10, my best friend and her parents came over for dinner.  My parents had this huge, old school slide projector and slide/movie screen set up in the livingroom, probably because we were showing our guests slides from a vacation.

While the adults stayed at the table to chat, my best friend,  my little brother and I peeled off and choreographed this awesome dance to "All Night Dancing."  We turned off the lights and moved in front of the slide projector so our dancing shadows showed up on the slide screen. (Very early MTV, no?) To accompany the sparkly disco lead-in sound, we rolled silver tinfoil into little balls and tossed them in the air as we danced around.  I think my mom had to pick them out of our olive shag carpet. 

Anyway, I am still proud of that dance we made up!!

2.  Breakin'/Beat Street
My mom let my brother and I go in to see Breakin' by ourselves.  I was super excited to wear these hightops I had found.  They were made of this sparkly rainbow weave fabric. I remember people in theater commenting on the shoes.  I LOVED them! My brother and I pretty much went wild for this part in the film where Turbo (played by Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers) danced in a way that makes it look like he brought a broom to life. 

After we saw Beat Street, we got the soundtrack on cassette and memorized the words to stuff like The Treacherous Three's "Santa's Rap." 

3.  Willie Style
How my parents would start out  our family road trips out was by doing this:  Once we hit the highway, they'd  put a  Willie Nelson CD (or was it a cassette?) in the music system of our van, roll down the windows, and crank up the song "On the Road Again" to FULL VOLUME.  My brother and I were so embarrassed that we would hide down on the floor.  (Secretly, I loved this song!)

4.  It's Still Rock and Roll to Me

Billy Joel was big in our lives.  I remember getting Glass Houses and listening to the first side of the record, like, 50 times before we even flipped over to Side B.  

5.  Rollerskating Routines  
I'd find a bunch of extension cords, plug them together, and bring the radio all the way out to the driveway so I could make up rollerskating routines to songs.  So proud of the yellow and orange suede Adidas roller skates I found and the yarn pom-poms I made for them. (I think my brother got a pair, too?) Favorite rollerskating outfit:  Jungle print shorts, leotard, purple sparkly legwarmers my brother gave me, and, of course, the Adidas skates.

6.  Etc.

Other stuff we listened to on albums:

    1. Bob McGrath Sings for All the Boys and Girls
    2. Star Wars soundtrack 
    3. Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack
    4. A Christian album my mom bought from a door-to-door salesman with lots of morality tales built into the songs 
    5. The Perry Como Christmas Album
    6. "Nadia's Theme" (originally written for the film Bless the Beasts and the Children, it was also the theme song for the soap opera "The Young and The Restless") 
    7. Christmas with the Chipmunks 
    8. Rocky soundtrack
    9. Free to Be You and Me - Marlo Thomas
    10. The Limeliters - Through Children's Eyes
    11. Various John Denver Albums
    12. Up With People
    13. Viva Mariachi

    Tuesday, July 09, 2013


    Was just taking a walk down memory lane and came across one of my favorite bits from Beat Street. Anyone else remember this scene?

    Monday, July 08, 2013


    After backing it as Kickstarter project, I was so psyched to get my own copy of Furious Beauty, a film about the dance company Versa-Style.  (See my post about the film HERE.)

    I was so moved by the film that, after watching it, I thought "I should really call the director and tell him how amazing this is!"  I didn't know how to reach him, so I sent this tweet:

    Eleanor Traubman @creativetimes
    Just watched and was blown away by @furious_beauty, the documentary about Versa-Style dance company
    So deeply moved!
     04:58 PM - 18 Jun 13

    A day or two later, I received a friendly email from Calvin Leung, Director of Furious Beauty, letting me know he would be in NYC that weekend to screen his film. Talk about good karma!
    During their visit to The Big Apple, I met up with Calvin and also with dancer Daniel Norwood - aka DSoul - to talk about dance, community, and a whole lot more. 

    Calvin on Dance

    Calvin observes that the dance community, built around the greater good and not just around the individual, has a sort of surrogate family structure that involves lots of mentorship. "To create a family structure," he shared, "you have to make a conscious to look after someone.  Our culture is propagated by sharing it with more people on a one-to-one basis."

    Calvin also speaks to the creative aspect of dance, noting that, like other art forms, it's "interpersonal" and "can cut through our analytical side, which is important in an increasingly digital world."

    Daniel on Dance

    Daniel, who has been dancing for 3 and a half years, is grateful to the people and classes at Homeland (a neighborhood cultural center in Long Beach) who helped him "get past a barrier of feeling awkward, [of] being the white boy who couldn't dance." In dance, he is constantly challenged to expand his comfort zone. When he first started dancing, peers at Daniel's college thought that what he was doing was strange.  His mom, however, was supportive.  And one of the things working in his favor was his familiarity with discipline: Daniel had a history of being a competitive golfer."

    Notes Daniel about dance "It brings us all to the moment; unites us in the moment; connects us to the people around us; connects us with ourselves and with the music.

    Dance on Film

    Toward the end of our time together, I ask Calvin and Daniel about what dance films inspired them
    Daniel appreciated RIZE, a movie about some of the original Krumpers, for the freestyle and non-repetitive aspect of the movements.  Calvin, as someone who makes dance films, noted Dirty Dancing for the way the dancers conveyed affection through their hands.  He also treasures mime Robert Shields' Celebration of Imagination, sharing that  "Shields does what I want to do as a dancer, which is to own the moment."

    Friday, July 05, 2013


    Last year, I supported a couple of dance-based Kickstarter Projects.  One was the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival, the other was Furious BeautyFurious Beauty is a film created by Calving Leung about the non-profit hip hop dance company and organization, Versa-Style.

    It took me a while to sit down the with Kickstarter copy of the movie which Calvin sent to me in the mail.  And when I finally did watch it a few weeks ago, I was totally blown away by it.

    In Furious Beauty, Calvin documents the history of the dance company Versa-Style, as well as the stories of its individual members.  One of the compelling aspects of this film is the way it follows the evolution of a dance pieceabout the fears of each of the dancers and the way they help each other face these fears.

    Given the heavy conditioning that men get hit with to not show fear or really any kind of vulnerability, t was especially interesting to see how the men of Versa-Style came together to talk openly about their fears and then create a dance out of those conversations and feelings.

    The other thing about this film that left a big impression with me was how fiercely its leaders, Jackie Lopez (aka Miss Funk) and Leigh Foaad (aka Breeze-lee), mentor the members of Versa-Style, helping both the individuals and the group to move forward together not just as performers but as people with all kinds of strengths and struggles.

    If you are an actor, dancer, choreographer, educator, leader of a nonprofit, or any kind of arts administrator, I highly recommend this film.   More info about it can be found HERE.

    Here's how Versa-Style describes who they are:

    Versa Style is a dance ensemble that consists of young, committed and conscientious artists representing the diversity and beautiful complexity of Los Angeles.

    We create highly energetic work that fuses dances that are culturally significant to our community. These forms include Hip-Hop styles such as 90s Hip-Hop, House, Popping, Locking, Whacking and Boogaloo, and Afro- Latin styles such as Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Afro-Cuban to name a few. As a reaction to the widespread media misrepresentation of these dance forms, Versa-Style specifically aims to perform for the youth of Los Angeles to instill the roots, history, and social and political issues surrounding the art of our generation.

    Hip-Hop breaks color lines by creating a forum where people come together for a common passion rather than grouping themselves by race or socio-economic backgrounds. Versa-Style demonstrates freedom of expression, freedom of individuality, hard work, self-discipline and dedication to the form.

    Monday, July 01, 2013


    Gowanus Gatsby, a Flapper Fête

    Friends of Douglass Greene Park to present a Brooklyn in the 20s themed
    soiree & awards dinner on October 5, 2013

    Brooklyn, New York -- On Saturday, October 5, 2013, the Friends of Douglass Greene Park will host the Gowanus Gatsby, a Flapper Fête fundraising benefit and its first-ever awards dinner. To be held at the Gowanus Ballroom alongside the canal, it will include celebrity hosts, a buffet dinner with open bar, an awards reception with live entertainment, dance instruction, a dance party with live DJs, aerial performers, slide shows of Brooklyn in the 20s and of Douglass Greene Park and its surroundings. There will be costume and dance competitions, and other activities reminiscent of the roaring twenties. Brooklyn Boulders and Homage Brooklyn will have climbing and skateboarding demo areas on ground floor. Don’t miss out on this historic and fun-filled hipster meets Gatsby event!

    The benefit will celebrate the completion of Phase 1 of the park’s renovation on its Third Avenue side and highlight the ongoing development of this vital and multi-faceted public park located on a full city block between 3rd Avenue and Nevins Street, and Douglass and DeGraw Streets in Gowanus.

    The Douglass Greene Park is used by hundreds of families living in Gowanus, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Cobble Hill. Just a few blocks from the new Barclays Center – the park has a skate area, a children’s playground with a water feature, picnic tables, the popular “Double D” pool, free swimming lessons, basketball courts; and is a cooling center and hosts a free lunch program during the summer.

    The Friends of Douglass Greene Park, a 501(c)(3) organization, works with community and business partners to enhance the quality of life in the area through programming & special activities for all ages, creates much needed green space, works with the NYC Parks Department to assure completion of the park’s renovation, was successful in its appeal to the NYC Council in 2010 to restore funds to keep the park’s “DD Pool” open, and advocates for the renovation and accessibility of the pool.

    The following persons will be present to receive awards for their enormous efforts on behalf of Douglass Greene Park:  Honorees: Bill de Blasio (NYC Public Advocate & former Councilmember District 39/to be confirmed), Brooklyn Boulders/Lance Pinn, Building on Bond/John Kole, Jared Lewis & Phil Morgan, Homage Brooklyn/Michelle Sauer and Jose Portes, Stephen Levin (NYC Councilmember District 33), Joan L. Millman (NYS Assemblywoman 52nd Assembly District), Charlene Nimmons (President of Wyckoff Gardens Resident Association), Sue Wolfe (President of Friends of Douglass Greene Park & former President of Boerum Hill Association), David Yassky (NYC Taxi & Limousine Commissioner & former Councilmember District 33)  and Recognition: Martin Maher (Chief of Staff for Brooklyn/NYC Parks & Recreation), Marty Markowitz (Brooklyn Borough President),  Jo Anne Simon (founding member of Friends of Douglass Greene Park & Democratic District Leader and State Committeewoman for the 52nd Assembly District) and Gowanus Ballroom/Josh Young.

    (Lists in formation) Sponsorship: Boerum Hill Association, Brooklyn Boulders, and Homage Brooklyn; Blues/Jazz: Vocalist Riva Nyri Précil and jazz band; Aerial Performer: Melissa Canella; DJs include: Sharon Taylor; Creative Director: Artist/animator Mac Premo; Producer/Communications: Michelle Karshan; Host: Friends of Douglass Greene Park.

    Please support the Friends of Douglass Greene Park -- and your community -- by making a donation, purchasing tickets, or becoming a corporate sponsor for this event.  

    Choose your tickets to the awards buffet dinner with live music: Champagne Fountain, Jazz FanatiqueFlapper Femme Fatale, Art Deco DaisyTassle Necklace PearlsThe Green Light or the Gowanus Grinder tickets for the dance party only!

    For more info and to purchase tickets go to

    For more information on the work and current activities of the Friends of Douglass Greene Park, go to

    Interested in becoming a Corporate Sponsor of the Gowanus Gatsby event? Please contact Michelle Karshan at Michelle.Karshan@gmail.com

    Editors: For further information or images, please contact Michelle Karshan at Michelle.Karshan@gmail.com or by telephoning 917-853-0433

    Find us on Facebook at Friends of Douglass Greene Park