Z is for zen

Lovely snowflakes, they fall nowhere else!
No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.
Two Zen sayings, or two translations of one saying?

When I was a little girl, taking ballet lessons at St. Mark’s, my parents would take me to see the Nutcracker around this time of year. And like most girls, I would go home pretending to be a snowflake.
(Bolshoi Ballet: The Nutcracker, Snowflakes)

Advent was over on Christmas Eve, and Z, letter 26, falls on Boxing Day, the British day for gifting friends. Thanks so much for your interesting comments and kind encouragement and recommendations throughout the Advent Calendar Alphabet Game. And now: Game over!

Merce Cunningham: The only way to do it is to do it

Merce Cunningham (April 16, 1919 – July 26, 2009) was a choreographer who shaped the American avant-garde arts scene for over 60 years. Cunningham worked closely with composer John Cage, his longtime partner, and with visual artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Bruce Nauman, designer Romeo Gigli and architect Benedetta Tagliabue. His  YouTube channel features “Beach Birds 1”:

Though he was in a wheelchair in later years, he premiered a “birthday” piece called “Nearly Ninety” this April. It was set to new music from Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, Sonic Youth, and Japanese composer Takehisa Kosugi. Art blogger Artravels made a film:

Merce Cunningham:

  • “The only way to do it is to do it.”
  • “I was told that I had to give grades to the students, which I wasn’t particularly interested in doing.”
  • “My dance classes were open to anybody, my only stipulation was that they had to come to the class every day.”
  • “The most essential thing in dance discipline is devotion, the steadfast and willing devotion to the labor that makes the classwork not a gymnastic hour and a half, or at the lowest level, a daily drudgery, but a devotion that allows the classroom discipline to become moments of dancing too…”
  • “You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. It is not for unsteady souls.”

Pina Bausch: The man I love

Pina Bausch (7 July 1940 – 30 June 2009) introduced the fragile, intense emotional nakedess of everyday gestures to dance, and had her dancers make sounds to match. I came across “The Man I Love” by chance and was utterly charmed: Sign language, both with and without speech, as dance.

The man I love – George Gershwin

Someday he’ll come along, the man I love
And he’ll be big and strong, the man I love
And when he comes my way
I’ll do my best to make him stay

He’ll look at me and smile, I’ll understand
Then in a little while, he’ll take my hand
And though it seems absurd
I know we both won’t say a word

Maybe I shall meet him Sunday,
Maybe Monday, maybe not
Still I’m sure to meet him one day
Maybe Tuesday will be my good news day

He’ll build a little home that’s meant for two
From which I’ll never roam, Who would, would you
And so all else above
I’m dreaming of the man I love


Learn numbers 0-20 and the alphabet in sign language.