My Teddy Bear Puppet (and Me) love Ashokan & Music-Dance Camps – Online in 2020!
Ashokan Arts and Nature Center is nestled in the Catskill Mountain of New York – an idyllic setting for music, dancing, hiking, wildflowers, butterflies, and swimming in a natural pool by a waterfall.
There are several camps in the summer, specializing in different types of mainly traditional American music, with classes in singing, music theory, instruments and more – plus different kinds of dancing. Each camp is one week long – plus weekend music-dance hoots and events (like the popular New Year’s weekend).
Attendees include adults, families, singles and couples, with all ages mingling freely , in classes, on the dance floor, and in the dining hall around wooden tables set up for family style dining. Delicious meals are prepared by the gifted chef (with vegan options) and kitchen staff, with produce fresh-picked food from the farm garden near the dining hall. Attendees stay in comfortable dorms, private rooms, and local inns – or bring their own tents. If you attend online, you can relax at home and sleep in your own bed – and it’s easily affordable – with a sliding scale payment option.
Music and dance classes – with evening concerts by staff and campers, plus informal music jams emphasize participation, and a sense of “family”. Campers often return year after year and build life-long friendships with each other and with the owners, a married couple named Jay Ungar and Molly Mason. Jay’s original, but traditional sounding fiddle song “Ashokan Farewell” was featured in the Ken Burns documentary PBS series on the Civil War – and provided key funding to save and upgrade the Ashokan Center as a unique combination of an environmentally conscious, natural setting for music and the all the arts (including, painting, quilting, and a canoe on the rafters of the dining hall).
Building community usually takes in-person interaction. So how in the world is all this going to happen online? There’s a one word answer – Zoom!
It turns out that Zoom is well-suited for classes, concerts, and comments. Featured performers appear in the large middle screen. Attendees can leave comments on the side and appear in small video boxes in the Zoom Gallery.
Many Ashokan “Zoomers” play musical instruments or sing, and some even dance at home -but you don’t have to – you can just enjoy the performers. (I can see Zoomers in the gallery of little video boxes.)
My teddy bear hand puppet can’t play the banjo or guitar – probably because he doesn’t have a thumb. But my own thumb fits nicely in Teddy’s plush arm, and combined with my fingers and hand, Teddy can wave to the Zoomers, emote (with dramatic effect) and applaud with enthusiasm! Teddy can also dance (more or less). He doesn’t have two left feet because… he doesn’t have any feet! And, as it turns out, he fills up a video box and looks great in Zoom!
Dr. Sue’s Funny Review “Mrs. Hamilton the Musical”
“Hamilton the Musical” is a lot of laughs…after the show! I streamed the mega-hit, mega-bucks Broadway show on my computer. Due to the pandemic, Broadway is closed for live entertainment, but “Hamilton” now streams online – if you subscribe to Disney +.
I am in voluntary self-quarantine, so I spend most of my time at home with my computer – or going for morning, solo walks in my New York City park – where I became friendly with the Brookfield Place Security Guard. I always wear a mask indoors, but when I’m outdoors for my early morning, uncrowded walks, I’m less cautious. The Guard is more available before the daytime crowd arrives. We stay six apart and enjoy lively conversations, updating each other on our lives – with encouragement and humor.
The morning after I watched “Hamilton” I encountered my new friend, the Guard. He had not seen the show on Broadway or online, so I summarized the story – with my own comic twist – and here it is!
Hamilton (a US Founding Father), a.k.a. “Mr. Ham” is the lead role. Mr. Ham, immigrates to the pre-USA, fights for independence, invents banking, flirts with his bride’s sister, insults people, and fathers a son – who gets into to a duel to defend his dad’s honor. Mr. Ham tells his son to shoot into the air – which gets him killed.
Mrs. Hamilton is really steamed – especially when Mr. Ham defends his financial honor to his enemies by pointing out that his suspicious check stubs were payments to the hubby of a local hottie for letting Ham and hottie do the nasty in the wife’s bed.
Mr. Ham gets into his own duel, shoots into the air, and gets himself killed.
The musical makes multi-millions – on stage and now…on screen.
The Security Guard and I plan to write a sequel called… “Mrs. Hamilton: I Married a Moron! “
In our version, Mrs. Ham gets the pistol and shoots Mr. Ham in his pee-pee.
She becomes a Founding Mother, and we become billionaires!
Our new, improved version has comedy and a happy ending! We expect it to be a success – on stage, screen and as a sitcom/reality show called… “I Married a Moron!” The married couple will be play by a celebrity wife and a famous US politico husband. Guess who!
We hope to spin-off the sitcom into dance-exercise videos – so you can social distance – and stay in shape! Here is a free sample!
Dr. Sue Interviews Clearwater Captain Positive Entertainment
The Clearwater sloop sails down the Hudson River from Albany, NY to New York City with a mission – a Celebration of the Hudson River and the Resilience of Community. This year’s journey is called “The River Connects Us.”
Launched in 1969 as the brainchild of visionary folksinger-activist Pete Seeger, The Clearwater Sloop has hosted over half a million visitors – and is reaching many more online.
The Covid-19 crisis in 2020 has made visitations onboard unwise and impractical. But you can’t keep a good sloop down – or in port. The Clearwater is still still sailing – with a sequestered crew – and an online presence consisting of interactive live streams (with interviews with musicians, local residents, activists, river workers) and videos to document and share the experience on social media platforms.
I met Clearwater Captain Nick Rogers in New York City at the South Street Seaport, Pier 16. The sloop was heading down to the Verrazano Bridge before turning around and heading back upstate. Nick, a former math teacher-carpenter, has been connected to the Clearwater since 2007. He learned most of his skills on the job, and has a Coast Guard’s license. Other members of the on-board crew include another captain, environmental scientists, crew members, and a cook. The small crew eats and sleeps on board – sometimes below deck – but a navigating captain must be on deck at all times.
I asked Nick what happens in case of a storm. He replied, “We try not to be in it – or to be the tallest point in case lightning strikes. But if we can’t pull into a dock, we point into the storm and sail.”
The Hudson River – flowing through New York State into the Atlantic Ocean – has seen many changes since Henry Hudson, the early 17th Century English explorer, discovered the beauty of the American wilderness. By the time Singer-Songwriter Pete Seeger swam in the river with his family, it had become a polluted cesspool. It took this artist-visionary and a team of activists to to begin the journey to reclaim the natural heritage of our waterways. For a virtual, multimedia journey, visit www.clearwater.org
Dr. Sue Interviews Clearwater Captain Nick Rogers!
Susan (“Dr. Sue”) Horowitz, Ph.D. Entertaining Motivational Speaker-Author-Educator-Singer/Songwriter.
A rose is a rose…except when it has a secret! This rose has a solar battery that absorbs power from the sun!
Actually, all roses (and other plants) are powered by the sun through a natural process known as photosynthesis – turning light energy into plant elements (including flowers, fruit, roots, stems, leaves, etc.)
When we eat the plant, we are indirectly absorbing the power of the sun!
This rose (not the decoration in my hair – the other one) is solar powered. Its battery takes in energy from sunlight all day long. When the sun sets, the hidden lights in the roses turn themselves on and begin to glow in the darkness.
Day Roses – Night Roses…Empowered by the Sun!
Natural Roses are beautiful – we love their colors, aroma, and variety – from wild roses to carefully cultivated hybrids. These solar-powered roses are a fusion of beauty and science that we can enjoy day and night!
Speaking of energy, what do we do with all that energy? One thing I like to do is take long walks and photograph flowers in my local park. On my walks, I encountered a Parks Department Security Guard. We fell into a conversation about our shared interest in flowers and how the park gardeners carefully plant and tend the different varieties so they form multi-colored arrangements that change through the seasons.
The Guard and I formed a friendship over our shared interest in flowers and we began to talk about social issues too – in a spirit of understanding and enjoying each other’s company. It felt particularly poignant because these days, due to the Coronavirus-19 and the need for social distancing, I spend most of my time at home alone. The park offers a chance for exercise, fresh air, sunshine, and sometimes – conversation.
One day, I decided to enhance the exercise potential of my walks and build up my arm muscles (along with my legs), so I started carrying water bottles. Each filled bottle weighs about two pounds. As I lift and swing my arms on my walk, I’m getting a good, full-body work out. What I still miss is dancing – especially with a good partner. All the dance clubs have been closed for months – and not likely to re-open soon. But it turns out that my new friend is … a dancer!
Water Bottle Weights are Free – Companionship and Dancing Joy are Priceless!
Dr. Sue Dance-Exercise in the Park!
Susan "Dr. Sue" Horowitz is available as an Entertaining, Motivational Speaker, Educator, Singer-Songwriter, and Teaching Artist. Please Use Contact Form on Website
Susan (“Dr. Sue”) Horowitz, Ph.D. Entertaining Motivational Speaker-Author-Educator-Singer/Songwriter.
Dr. Sue: “Come to the Orange Bunker-Boy Comedy Cabaret” Positive Entertainment
Here in solo quarantine due to Covid-19, life can be lonely and boring. Let’s face it, human beings need to share food, drinks…and show tunes!
All the theaters and cabaret venues in New York City are closed. There’s no stage, no scenery, no colored lights, no live audience – and worst of all – no cute waiters.
What’s a cabaret girl (or boy) to do? We still want to connect – and we need to stay creative. We need life purpose, we need human company, we need the arts, we need… “Orange Bunker-Boy Comedy Cabaret”!
Some of us live-stream; some of us zoom; some of us youtube, and some of us social media. Some online friends become ongoing friends – who comfort and cheer us through these dark days and nights – minus the bright light lights of Broadway and mini-lights of cabaret. This show is for you.
I call it my Home-Style Comedy Cabaret. It’s not as filling as home-fries, but on the bright side – I won’t have to burn calories at my gym – which is still closed 🙂
By the way, this show is called “Orange Bunker-Boy Comedy Cabaret” – so if you don’t like political comedy – or orange feather boas – and you do like the orange-themed POTUS – don’t watch my video!
But if you do, here we go-a with my boa!
What good is siting alone in your bunk? Come to where rainbows play With orange hair you’ll be quite a hunk Come to Orange Bunker-Boy Comedy Cabaret!
Dr. Sue sings “Come to the Orange Bunker-Boy Comedy Cabaret”
Dr. Sue Sings “Cielito Lindo” Latin Diversity Song in NYC Park Positive Entertainment
New York City offers many pleasures. Some are public and exciting – like Broadway shows. Some are more personal and intimate – making new friends, crossing cultures, and sharing creativity!
Opportunities for Creative Connections are all around us- even in the epicenter of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. A great way to expand your cultural and personal horizons is to visit a city park!
Fortunately, I am able to take walks in my local park, where I often take photos and videos of flowers – and sometimes fish, ducks, and dogs!
I post my photos and videos on Social Media with short remarks and invite my online friends to comment – which they do! This gives a purpose to my walks and keeps me creatively active and connected – even while maintaining social distance.
Walking in the park near The Museum of Jewish Heritage, I encountered an Artist-Protester Elizabeth Abraham, who was displaying her personal creation – a “Black Lives Matter” picket sign-artwork she carries in protest marches. (My photo-video interview with Elizabeth is in another Blog Post.)
Elizabeth, who is considerate, artistic, adventurous, and good company, was looking for a friend – and so was I! She comes to my local park from her uptown apartment in Harlem. She uses the Access-A-Ride transportation service to come to my neighborhood park because she has a has a non-visible disability. Soon we started talking on the telephone to arrange ways to meet, socialize, and do activities together.
One day, Elizabeth told me that she was using Access-A-Ride to bring her 90-year-old family member to our park, and she invited me to meet her. Like Elizabeth, her family member, named Aida Marriott, is Puerto Rican. But unlike Elizabeth, Aida speaks only Spanish – no English – and she has Alzheimer’s Disease (with memory loss). But, said Elizabeth “She sings like a bird!”
This turned out to be true. Aida likes to sing – and so do I. As we were walking through the park, I started singing the Italian song “O Solo Mio” (mainly in English). Elizabeth complimented me on my singing. Encouraged by her support, I tried to think of a Spanish song. I remembered a lovely Mexican song called “Cielito Lindo” (Beautiful Little Sky). Soon Aida and I were singing together on a beautiful day in the park!
“Cielito Lindo” is simple, melodic, and easy-to-sing. Sometimes a simple song reaches beyond language barriers, memory loss, and cultural differences to connect as human beings… and open our hearts!
Here are the lyrics in Spanish – Scroll down for our video!