Karis had a slow day on Thursday so we evaluated our options…particularly our indoor options. We’ve been wanting to check out a special exhibit by Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away) for their new film When Marnie Was There but sadly, it’s an outdoor museum and it was fricking hot so Karis decided to try out a ballet class instead. Air conditioned. Indoors. I had emailed around earlier to see what was available on a drop-in basis and in English and found a great studio just a few subway stops away (AND past Gotanda where I used to live 23 scant years ago…it actually looked a little bit familiar unlike my trip to Ginza 😉

Architanz is a studio that offers ballet, contemporary and Pilates mainly to dancers age 13+ with guest teachers from all over the world. The students run the gamut from very talented teenagers to company members to those who try hard but suck, ranging in age from 13-50ish. Karis was the only foreigner in the class and the tallest. Minh Pham taught the class–intermediate level for dancers with 5 years + experience. Karis hasn’t done ballet for about six months due to a back injury so I figured it would be plenty hard enough. Class moved pretty quickly and she did well, especially considering she hasn’t taken class for so long.

I hung out in the smoke-filled lounge. Yup, it seems that all the dancers smoke and drink coffee. Also spent a considerable amount of time looking at the Yumiko leos at the boutique in the lobby. Any dancer or parent of a dancer is fully aware of the caché of these custom made leotards. A good portion of the dancers in the class were sporting the Yumiko brand much like dancers at the National Ballet School wear Ainsliewear (Ainslie Cyopik is a graduate of NBS). Speaking of NBS…the most amazing coincidence of all. Karis comes out of class and heads over to a Japanese girl waiting for the next class. The hug like old friends and chat for a moment. I’m completely puzzled as Karis, as far as I know, does not know any Japanese girls. The models at her agency that she interacts with are all international (no Japanese girls) so I had no idea how she knew this girl. It turns out that she attended summer school with her at NBS in Toronto last year. It’s not like they’ve kept in touch as she doesn’t speak English and Karis had no idea she danced there. So of all the days she chose to go to class, at that particular studio to that particular class and she sees someone she knows in a city with the same population as Canada…it truly is a small world.

Culture Club in Tokyo

Incredible detail and imagination...made me think of Enigma Aracana #rayandjane

Incredible detail and imagination…made me think of Enigma Aracana #rayandjane

The Monet painting he had to use as collateral for his rent :-) #mylandlordisanidiot

The Monet painting he had to use as collateral for his rent 🙂 #mylandlordisanidiot

A most excellent day at a most excellent museum…The National Art Centre in Roppongi. Two great exhibitions: Ballet Russe-The Art of Costume and The Birth of Impressionism Freedom in Painting: Masterpieces from the Musee d’Orsay. Both were excellent but I’d have to say I liked the Ballet Russe one a bit better as I’ve never seen anything like it before. The paintings from the Musee d’Orsay exhibit were not any of their major pieces but they still had some of my favourites by Monet, Caillebotte, Cezanne and Sisely.

I learned a few things I didn’t know…always nice, makes it all worthwhile. First, in the Impressionist exhibit, there was a huge painting by Monet that was in two separate pieces. It was styled after Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe as a tribute to both the painting and the artist. The reason it was cut in pieces is that Monet was short of cash and had to give it to his landlord as collateral. When he got it back, it was damaged and he had to cut out the damaged parts and it ended up as two paintings.

In the Ballet Russe exhibit I learned a lot more, as I knew very little about Diaghilev and the Ballet Russe. Most interestingly I learned that a French painter I’ve always liked, Marie Laurencin, was a costume designer for the Ballet Russe. The costumes are the property of the National Gallery of Australia. They’re amazingly detailed and imaginative…not surprising I guess since Ballet Russe was a group of incredibly talented group of artists, dancers, choreographers, designers, painters, musicians who were on the cutting edge of art and culture at the time.