Saturday, January 24, 2009

Writers to share

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Allow me to introduce four writers – Brittany Fridenstine-Keefe, Penelope Freeh, David Frum, and Nicholas Nash – whose words I find valuable for various reasons. Collectively, their thoughts fit within the mission of Minnesota Mist: Writings about dance, the arts, politics, and culture. Links to their blog sites are listed in the left-hand column of this blog, under "My Favorite Places on the Web."

Brittany Fridenstine-Keefe pens and posts Empowering Thoughts for Dancers. She also chairs the Dancer Council of Dance/USA, the national service organization for nonprofit dance in America. Currently, she performs as a member of the American Repertory Ballet in New Jersey, and appeared last summer in a solo program in Germany and Italy. I have known Brittany and her husband, Matthew Keefe, for several years; both danced with James Sewell Ballet during my tenure as its executive director. Born in Idaho, Brittany grew up in Seattle where she studied dance at the School of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Her performance credits include Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Ballet Memphis, and Minnesota Dance Theatre. Brittany has developed a dance therapy program for children with special needs and is certified in the GYROTONICS® exercise system.

Penelope Freeh has written Thoughts on Dance for three years, since January 2006. A native of Ohio, Penny started her dance studies at the Dayton Ballet before moving to New York City where she danced with several companies. She came to Minnesota in 1994 to join James Sewell Ballet, where she continues to perform and serves as artistic associate. As a choreographer, her work has been produced by the James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Orchestra, Walker Art Center / Southern Theater, Weisman Art Museum, and Ballet Builders. Penny is the monthly dance writer for TC METRO magazine; she wrote a feature column for Dance Magazine in May 2008.

I have been aware of David Frum since his days as a special assistant and economics speechwriter to President George W. Bush in 2001-2002. During last fall's campaign, some members of the conservative movement branded him as a traitor and persona non grata for questioning the credentials of Sarah Palin and her fitness to serve as president. I wrote to David on Nov. 14, following his appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC:

For a few brief moments last evening, you and Rachel Maddow had very human and real conversation. You and I are not fellow travelers, politically, but I appreciated your quoting of Gandhi and planting a seed with Rachel – whose style I mostly enjoy – regardless of whatever combination of things motivated you. Thanks for making the appearance.

He replied to thank me, and I have since followed his writing. Regardless of the party in power, we need a strong, loyal opposition, one that is reasoned, principled, and civil. David's voice provides that on the new website he edits, NewMajority,com. The site is dedicated to the reform and renewal of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. I do not vouch for the other writers he features, nor do I share his objective of a new majority of the right, but he provides an intellectually honest discourse with his own words.

Born in Toronto, David earned BA and MA degrees from Yale and a law degree from Harvard, and became a naturalized U. S. citizen in 2007. He is a resident at the American Enterprise Institute, the author of six books, and a regular commentator on American Public Media's "Marketplace." Like me, he is a fan of Abraham Lincoln and American Civil War history. His wife, the author Danielle Crittenden, is a contributor to the Here is an example of David's viewpoint from a recent post:

Today's Republican Party is an unhealthy and unhappy organization. ...Parties do not rebuild by shutting out their members – or engaging in tough guy talk when asked basic and obvious questions about past promises. They rebuild with transparency, responsiveness and competence. Let's have some, please.

I have known Nicholas Nash for many years through my work in Minnesota's arts community, and always have regarded him as what "they" used to call a "true gentleman and scholar." Like me, he has had more than one Scottish terrier in his life and household, and that is just the beginning of the good character traits of this self-described teacher, school administrator, professor, public radio program director and broadcaster, entrepreneur, and theater aficionado.

Educated at Harvard, Nick carries the title Le Grand Fromage at The Nash Company where his largest selling products include nose flutes and conducting batons. He is a man of character, conviction, and subtlety who maintains several blogs, including Hobbling Through The Zeitgeist, Islay The Scotty, and Thoughts While Shaving. Here is a sample of this Renaissance man's prose:

You should be willing to discover our own contemporary artists and composers with enough oomph so that whether their time comes now or not for another century and a half, they might believe that their commitment to their art will always have value.

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