From the onset of the modern day Olympics art and sport were believed to be a perfect marriage. The heart and soul of the Games is to foster and encourage the synchronization of the body and the mind. Art inspires sport and sport inspires art.
As a result of this belief, the early history of the Olympic Games featured competition in the arts as well as sports. Events included architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, and music. Winners of these events were also awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals.
The goal of the Cultural Olympiad is to focus on the harmonies between culture and sport and to exemplify the values of the Games: friendship, respect, and excellence. While artistic endeavors are no longer contested for medals, culture and art continue to play a prominent role. This is most evident in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. However, exhibits and performances serve as precursors to the games and occur throughout the region at the various venues during the Games.
In the 2016 Rio Games this cultural event is called Celebra. It will feature six areas of artistic creation: literature, popular art, music, performing arts, visual arts, and dance. Celebra begins in April and runs through September. Innovators are being challenged to focus on the cultural diversity of Brazil by designing events encouraging audience participation, humanizing public spaces, and bringing inspiration to every day life. All Celebra events are free to the public. The list of events that will make up Celebra has not yet been made public, however below are some highlights of Brazilian culture that may become prominent themes.
Literature: Brazil has a rich literary history dating back to the 1500s. Exhibits may feature the works of well-renown authors such as:
Popular Art: One of the most diverse categories, some of the Brazilian culture and tradition highlighted may include:
Music: Brazilian music has its origins in African, Portuguese, and European styles. The music is full of passion and energy and is a very integral part of the Brazilian lifestyle.
Visual Arts: This category encompasses the art of painting, sculpture, cinema, and photography and may feature the work of:
Dance: Brazilian dance, like it’s music, has its roots in African, Portuguese, and European styles. These dances exhibit soulfulness, sensuality, and passion.
Performing Arts: This category will likely be a blend of many of the aspects of all the others above. The goal is to bring these artistic endeavors to common spaces throughout Rio and Brazil; to bus stations, cafes, parks, open public spaces, trains, and boats just to name a few.
The impact of the cultural events has long reaching outcomes for the host country. Brazil has center stage in the months leading up to the Games and a worldwide audience for the two weeks while the Games are played. For many host countries, these events herald a boost in tourism and in doing so also boost local economies.
Check back monthly for more Olympic updates and commentary as I countdown to Rio 2016! For information on all things Olympic in Rio 2016 visit http://www.rio2016.com/en. To follow Team USA visit http://www.teamusa.org/.
I love Christmas! Ever since I was child, I have watched the Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center on TV. I always wanted to be there! More particularly, I wanted to be there on my birthday! Last year I finally got to cross that off my Bucket List. So as I sit here, cuddled up under a blanket, watching on TV this year, I am reflecting back on what was one of the best birthday celebrations ever!
Two very good friends, Nicole and Sandy, helped make my wish a reality. We took the train down to the city sipping mimosas on the way. I was given a "Happy Birthday" tiara, which I happily donned all day long. When we got to the city we kicked the adventure off with lunch at the Bryant Park Grill, one of my favs. I love the Bryant Park Holiday Market so we spent some time wandering there and watching some folks skate at the rink. Then it was off to stroll down 5th Avenue and take in all the store windows and holiday decorations. My favorite was Lord and Taylor's scenes from an Enchanted Mansion, complete with a library filled with mischievous mice. A very close second was Saks with Art Deco inspired Fairy Tales, of course my alter ego, Snow White, made an appearance.
Visiting Santa at Macy's Santaland was a must! That was our next stop. Despite Nicole thinking the elves were freaky and "just not right," (they were just very happy), we got an audience with the big guy in red. I wasn't prepared for the question: "What do you want for Christmas?" I had no idea what to say! Of course, that was followed up by shopping. Sandy got the buy of the day with an amazing pair of red shoes; perfect for holiday parties.
I had to have a birthday cupcake at Magnolia Bakery. The staff noticed us standing in line, and me with my tiara, and they all stopped and sang "Happy Birthday" to me. It was awesome! We were then off to dinner at Johnny Utah's - still recuperating from knee surgery, riding the bull was out of the question.
After dinner it was time, the highlight of the adventure, the tree lighting ceremony. We actually got lucky and managed to get much closer to the tree than we thought we would be able to. The entertainment consisted of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet, Mariah Carey, Cyndi Lauper, LeeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker, Pentatonix, and Trisha Yearwood, just to name a few. The interesting part of being there in person is that you actually hear more music. Some of the artists do a rehearsal before the actual taping and there is some activity that just never makes it on air. Christmas is my favorite time to be in the city! I loved being there and participating in a wee bit of Christmas magic! It was a wonderful way to spend a birthday and kick off the Christmas season! Thank you Nicole and Sandy!
My heart aches today, not only for the people of Paris, but for the world we live in. A world that has gone mad. There seems to be no end to the senseless acts of violence perpetrated against innocent people. Over 120 people lost their lives, simply because they went out to enjoy living them. They were doing the things we all do on any given day, without giving it a second thought. They had no agendas or motives; they simply wanted to watch a concert, go shopping, catch a soccer match, or enjoy drinks and a meal. It is so difficult to understand the kind of hatred and extremism that would cut these lives short. It is also frightening to know this could happen at any time, at any place, any where in the world. It is crazy this is still happening in this day and age.
Why does it continue to matter what color a person's skin is, what faith they believe in, who they choose to love, what gender they choose to identify with? We are all human. We all breath, we have jobs, we have families. We live, we love, we hurt. How hard is it, really, to respect someone whether you agree with them or not?
Would anyone out there truly want to change a world full of diversity? I wouldn't want to live in a world where everyone believes in the same thing and looks the same way. I would find that so boring! People have stories; we can learn from each other, laugh with each other, cry with each other. A rose is just as beautiful as a lily, or an orchid, or any other type of flower. Think of how much beauty we would be missing if all we ever saw was the rose.
Every life in the world has meaning. Every life in the world matters.
Sometimes looking back gives us the energy we need to keep moving forward.
I reflect on my college days and think this was definitely the best time of my life. I loved the whole experience. There is a freedom I felt when I was at SU that I never had before and have not experienced since. Don't get me wrong, there were certainly ups and downs, but I was always truly happy when I was there.
I traveled to campus for Homecoming. I met up with a friend, Sara, who lives in Syracuse and enjoys football. It had been quite some time since I last visited and I was very excited and happy to be back! As we drove closer to campus, the memories came flooding in. I instantly started pointing out all the places I remembered, peppered now with buildings and changes I hadn't yet seen. While all so familiar as to feel like I was back home, there was so much that was very different. We parked at South Campus and took the shuttle down to the main campus. "There's the street I lived on Junior and Senior year," I piped up, all smiles. When the shuttle dropped us off, and I took my first steps back on campus, I actually skipped from the joy of being there. We made our way across the Quad, "There's my steps!" I exclaimed as we passed by the covered stairs I navigated up and down multiple times a day Freshman and Sophomore year. "And that statue, that was always my Dad's favorite." On and on I went, telling stories and sharing memories on what was just a short walk to the Dome. I have no idea if my friend was amused or bored, but she humored me and listened, and I am appreciative of it.
The Syracuse Orange took on the Pittsburgh Panthers that afternoon. Our seats were amazing (thanks Sara). We couldn't have been closer to the action unless we were right on the field! There was the band, the cheerleaders, the twirler, and Otto! I love the atmosphere of a college game. There is great energy and vitality and being there didn't disappoint. It was a close game, well played by both teams. Syracuse held the lead the entire game and lost it right at the end with a field goal by Pitt in the last seconds. I would have preferred a win, but I enjoyed every minute of it!
After the game I was eager to continue my walk down memory lane and visited the campus news center. I spent time working there as a producer of a news broadcast once a week and on occasion I did some reporting. Back in my day it was called Univeristy Union TV (UUTV for short), today it is Citrus TV. It has undergone quite the transformation since I was a student there! The building it's housed in has been completely renovated; it looks beautiful - as you walk in the door it looks like an art gallery. The studio itself has been completely updated and they now have an actual set. We basically had a desk in a room with black curtained walls. It was fun to see and I'm happy it is thriving. I had the pleasure of signing my name to the Alumni Wall - that was a real kick. The current students were so friendly and accommodating - I enjoyed chatting with them. It was great to reflect back on and remember how exciting it was to be just trying to get yourself launched in a career. Remembering what motivated you and how invigorating it was to do something you were experiencing for the first time. I will treasure those days forever and I am grateful to have the opportunity to go back and relive it a bit every now and again.
These are my thoughts, personal stories, and personal opinions. Often triggered by something that transpires throughout the course of a day.
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