Sunday, March 05, 2006

Music & Musicians

'La Reina' Ana Gabriel Returns To The Garden For One Night Only
By Leslie De Jesus

A round table with an embroidered off-white tablecloth was positioned stage left far enough from the musicians, but close enough for the performer to walk with ease to it. A small vase was placed on the table with a single red rose. Two glasses of water were soon placed beside the vase.

The stagehands scurried around the stage making sure everything else was in place. Once they exited, three background singers, dressed in black, entered and took their mark, blending in with the musicians who had appeared onstage minutes earlier.

At 8:45pm, the lights began to dim and the crowd rose to its feet. Red lights filled the stage and the crowd began to chant “Ana! Ana! Ana!” Music filled the Madison Square Garden Theatre auditorium and everyone’s attention was directed to the giant screens above the stage. Images flooded the screen rapidly interchanging from live footage to still photographs of the performer enchanting her audiences across Latin America.

The images faded to black and the name Ana Gabriel flashed onto the screen. The crowd grew louder with anticipation and within seconds, the Mexican international superstar appeared on stage before the awestruck audience. She immediately got down to business and belted out hit after hit.

Half way through the performance a young woman rushed the stage. She carried a bouquet of red roses and security dashed to get her away, but Ana removed her earpiece and said, “Let her through.”

At the sound of those words, the young woman stuck out her tongue defiantly at the guards and hugged the Mexican singer. Many soon followed the young woman’s lead and weaseled their way to the front of the stage. Many handed the artist flowers while others held out photos for her to autograph. She smiled and assured the guards that it was fine. She signed autographs as she sang and occasionally asked the autograph seekers to ‘at least remove the pen caps’ before approaching the stage.

Another young woman found her way to the front and was trying to grab the singer’s attention. Ana asked the young woman to speak into the microphone and once the young woman took the mike she went into a long-winded account of how she had met her last year because she was an employee at the Garden. She asked the artist if she could go backstage after the show and Ana lost her nerve and stated, “I don’t care who your boss is or if he’s the owner of Madison Square Garden, the only boss here tonight is me.” The crowd erupted into applause.

The pint-size artist grew angrier as the young woman pleaded with her. Ana continued, “The only people I answer to tonight is this audience. You probably didn’t even pay for you ticket tonight while everyone else here did.” The young woman looked crestfallen, yet continued to ask the singer for lavish requests. Ana finally had enough of her and asked the maestro to cue up the next song.

She performed “Luna” (Moon),“Quien Como Tu?” (Nobody Better Than You) and “Simplemente Amigos” (Simply Friends), among others. “This is for all the Queens,” she said in Spanish before belting out her feminist anthem “La Reina,” and many women in the audience rose and sang along with her, waving their arms triumphantly in the air. Ana closed the evening with her up-tempo hit “En La Oscuridad” (In the Dark). Confetti filled the auditorium as she took her final bow and blew kisses to the audience.

First time concert attendee nine-year-old Lissette, clutching her grandmother’s hand, said, “I liked everything but my favorite part was when the confetti popped out,” she said with a timid smile. For 55 year-old Augustina Muñiz the concert was unlike anything she had ever experienced, “it was like a movie” she kept saying.

Muniz said it had been twenty-odd years since she had last attended a concert. Her eyes sparkled as she said, “It was beautiful, and I forgot all my problems. I was on another planet. She’s so kind and humble and her voice is so powerful. She never gets tired.” Her daughter Rosa wrapped her arms around her mother and said, “I’m so glad I was able to bring my mother to this concert. I knew she’d like it. She’s her favorite artist.”

Exhibits & Events

Get Your Body In Motion Down To BODIES…The Exhibition
By Lauren Mills

“Girls are smarter than boys! Girls are smarter than boys!” a group of elementary girls chant in the school yard. “No way! Boys are much smarter!” a boy screams back in defense. Although neither side has any evidence, BODIES…The Exhibition does.

Girls brains are 2.5% of their body weight whereas boys brains are only 2%. Whether you are a girl or a boy, you will be struck by real preserved bodies doing real life things when you first walk into the exhibition. One body in running stance clenches a football tightly by his side, his bicep muscles flexing as he bypasses the invisible opposing team. Another jumping with a basketball above his head, his eyes look up at a promising shot. And no. That was not a typo. These bodies do have eyes.

Most of them even have nose hair and eyebrows. Yes, it is a bit creepy. It is even a tad nauseating. I would recommend waiting thirty minutes after eating before entering the main doors on South Street to avoid nausea. After this walk through, you will lose your appetite. However, you will gain new knowledge and jog your memory of the facts you learned in high school science class. I found the fun facts on the walls to be the most interesting information that I have read in any museum or show.

Things like “A hip joint often withstands spans 400 pounds of force in everyday activity.” I personally would never think that a hip could endure such mass! Another reads “Every drop of blood in the body passes through the heart once a minute.”

What? How is that possible? Especially after seeing the corrosion cast blood vessels, I know for a fact we have a lot of blood in our bodies. Things must be moving pretty fast inside of us if every drop of blood is passing through the heart at that rate. Science was never and never will be my subject.

I always thought human anatomy was interesting, but I just could not grasp all the terms and processes that occur inside of us. With a little bit of visual aids I could have understood much easier, and that is why I think if I had walked through and studied everything in the exhibition five years ago I could have passed my anatomy exam without even opening the textbook.

As I walked by this year and read each little face card, I was hit with information that I had long forgotten. Facts like there are three types of muscle tissue in our bodies. The skeletal tissue moves bones, and the cardiac tissue moves the heart while the smooth tissue moves food, blood and fluids. Facts like these were once memorized but quickly faded. After my trip to BODIES my mind is revitalized. Each room had something interesting to offer.

Caitlin Holland, a senior at Loyola New Orleans University, had a particular favorite section. “The fetuses! Some of them were so tiny. They looked like little gerbils,” she said. The fetus room had a large sign on the outside, cautioning the disturbing displays. The sign was a good idea, for I was quite disturbed. However, after reading a sign like that I had to see for myself what was behind the wall. It was definitely a sight to see. Like the fetus room, there is another room that seems to spark a lot of discussion. This room displays webs of blood vessels floating in glass displays of water.

A process called Corrosion Casting was used for this display. Blood vessels were injected with colored polymer to harden them. Then the blood tissue was chemically removed, revealing the delicate matrix that transports our blood. The room is dark and each display case is illuminated, showing what looks like fragile blue and red spider webs. It is mesmerizing.

“It’s like a fun science class field trip,” Tyler Wildman, a senior at Gettysburg said. “The pictures in text books could never compare to this.” Unlike other exhibitions and museums, Bodies has something that everyone can relate to, and it happens to be the focus of the whole showcase: The Human Body. Two teenage girls stand over a display case holding bones. One girl points to a bone in the center. “That’s what I broke when I was playing softball!” she exclaimed.

The excitement lit up her face as she retold the tragic sliding incident to her friend. Everyone has a story to tell about their bodies and going to BODIES is a great way to let those stories out. Just make sure to bring a patient friend who doesn’t mind hearing the story again.

BODIES…The Exhibition is enjoyable for people of all ages. You learn an extraordinary amount of new information about your body and you also get to physically see everything that is inside of you right now. After spending a couple hours walking through the exhibition, I had a thought as I hopped on the escalator making my way out: I need to get a full body scan.