Posts Tagged jig-saw

Now the puzzle’s out of the box.

Mutual incomprehension generates space between people, which allows us to breathe and turn about.

I didn’t do the jig-saw puzzle. No credit, no blame. But it was done at the other end of the table I write on, so it played out in front of me. Four persons, together and in shifts: they were pleased to be finished, a full day later. It was a challenge engaged and accomplished. They fought entropy to a standstill, at least until the thousand pieces were unplugged and returned to the box. If  you like jig-saw puzzles, the only questions are “was it hard, how long did it take?” If you’re not a fan, you ask “why?”

This question comes from one who does daily Sudokos and KenKens and Cryptograms. Except I get my puzzles, it’s yours that don’t make any sense. Okay, whichever strokes folks wish to be struck with. Sure, fine. But, still, why?


cover & finished

A thousand in one.


Here is another puzzle, one of mine, meaning one in which I participated.

Cinderella must have a clock to mark the magic hour, columns to shudder and slide, a backdrop for the palace. Also, not shown here, a mantle for her hearth, and a pumpkin carriage for conveyance, every piece fresh-built. And a godmother, forest friends and fairies, step-mother & -sisters, a prince and a royal court. The performances were the middle week of May, so this puzzle, too, is back in the box. Scores of dancers remember, scores of costumes are returned to hangers, around a thousand persons saw the show. But it is done. All gone, except the elements, the memories, and the video. Dance is as transient as a jig-saw: a thousand pieces must be fit and made to work as one. Then, the box. With luck there’s a picture, or a film.

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Columns and the midnight clock.


The palace drop.

Everything else we do, almost, from the most ordinary to the most wonderful, is pulled through the event-horizon of the mundane world. Meals cooked, lawns mowed, laundry folded, floors scrubbed—all gone, nor any trace. Breathe, sleep, talk; strut and fret for a while.

The big puzzles we take on and resolve can endure a little longer, be seen by many, be remembered; or be cut into a more persistent medium to stand for an hour or a century. As we all attempt to solve each puzzle set for us, the odds go up that someone, someday, gets it right.

A good day for any of us pays something forward, towards the long horizon.

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Nutcracker, truck ready, last night.

There have already been months of rehearsals and practice runs, but this week the focus pulls tight for this year’s performances of Asheville Ballet’s Nutcracker. Here’s how it came together, yesterday and today.

First thing, draw a line: this goes to the theater, this does not. You hope the does-not aisle hides no critical bits. You hope the goes heap does not include any unnecessary clutter. It’s a jig-saw puzzle with thousands of pieces.

Here we go again.

Nutcracker kit: just assemble and add dancers.

This morning: the load out from the studio and load into the theater. Hang the drops, build the tree and scenery, Mother Ginger and the teapot, distribute the costumes and props.

Final studio run-through, this afternoon.

Tomorrow: finish dressing the stage, spike crucial places and routes. Fit the gels, focus the lights, cable everything, coordinate cues for the tech crew and company, pass over the final version of the music for the first theater run-through. On Tuesday, tech; Wednesday, dress; Thursday, absurdly early, the school shows; Friday and Saturday and Sunday, performances. Strike, load out from theater, load back into studio.

Next year, repeat, except there will be a hundred differences, new dancers, new costumes, new dances.

It is an astonishingly complex cooperative endeavor: seventy-some dancers (supported by a couple hundred parents and siblings), dancing a hundred-sixty parts, wearing half a thousand costume pieces. There are a few four to five year-olds, a few sixty-somethings, everything between, peaking from pre- to late-teen. Many seasoned professionals, a few novices, several seasoned teens, some remarkably clever little kids.

We are not equal behind the curtain, a cluster of bossy adults tries to run things, but when the curtain is up, everybody’s on the same stage, everybody dances. We’ve done this for fifty years. If you lined up all the dancers who’ve appeared in our show, end to end, they’d stretch from Albuquerque to Boston. Probably. Something like that.

Tina Covelli's photo.


Asheville Ballet’s Nutcracker opens this week, and there are two other Nuts in Asheville this year, one before and one after ours, plus a few thousand more around the country: classical, modern, burlesque, solemn, and silly. Some are exquisite, some kind of awful. Tchaikovsky rules American stages this month. Also TV ads and malls and elevators. Nothing else even comes close.

You’ll feel so foolish and so forlorn if you don’t come to the Diana Wortham Theatre this weekend for Nutcracker. Don’t do that to yourself.

(I know, we defeated the redcoats two hundred years ago so we didn’t have to keep on misspelling theater and colour; but in the provinces we pretend a sophistication we do not possess and, unforced, give Cornwallis back his sword.)

Joke: What is a city with three Nuts? Oh, probably not funny.

Do come.



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