Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A touching time to be alive

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Last Friday, my friend G and I attended "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing," the summer concert of the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus. It was a lovely and splendored evening at Ted Mann Concert Hall on the University of Minnesota's West Bank campus. Going to and from, all of the electric power was "out" in the nearby 7-Corners neighborhood, including at the Southern Theater where TU Dance had to cancel a performance and re-schedule it for Sunday. The Southern is within a stone's throw of where the I-35 bridge collapsed and is being rebuilt, so traffic in the best of times is a mess. With no stoplights, no traffic cops, and no street lights, it was a wild and woolly time.

Saturday morning, G and I spent three hours working at the Obama booth at the Pride Festival in Loring Park. Steady, non-stop visitors the whole time. After our shift, we walked over to St. Mark's Cathedral where my partner, James, and colleagues were wrestling to keep the 70-foot rainbow banner attached in one piece to the bell tower. They won the battle on Saturday, but on Sunday the whole thing ripped in two.

Sunday morning found James tuning up and marching in the Pride Parade through downtown Minneapolis with the Minnesota Freedom Band. I marched with 100+ others in the Obama contingent. The mayor of Minneapolis led our group down Hennepin Avenue where we handed out 15,000 "Obama Pride" stickers before they ran out. The enthusiasm and cheering that went up all along the route as our banners -- and a life-size cutout of Barack -- proceeded ahead of us was amazing. It was very easy to rev the crowd into chants, "Yes we can!" People reached for stickers with such enthusiasm -- leaning forward to be touched.

Being touched. That's what politics and the arts are all about. And religion, too.

Later Sunday afternoon, James and I attended Mass at St. Mark's along with nearly 100 others from the Pride Festival. A special part of the service was the touch of affirmation and the laying on of hands given to those who chose to go forward.

We ended the day at an evening bar-b-que fundraiser for Zenon Dance Company. The troupe will perform four times next week at Dance Theater Workshop in New York City. I managed this group for five years once upon a time, something like 20 years ago. We wish them well.

I have been touched by quite a few dance performances in the last three months: Ragamala Music & Dance Theatre, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Minnesota Ballet, James Sewell Ballet, Ananya Dance Theatre, Zenon, and a combo of Ballet of the Dolls/Live Action Set/Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre. Also touching were theater performances by Open Eye Figure Theatre and Theatre de la Jeune Lune.

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