Sunday, April 19, 2020

Coping in the Time of COVID-19 -- Samara Adell

From Samara

More time to cook

Happy man...women cooking!

Recipe for Vegan Tofu Scramble

In a medium size frying pan, saute 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, 1 medium onion, or 2 or 3 medium size scallions (I prefer) in 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce or Braggs Amino's (what I use).
When garlic and onions are slightly browned, add 1/3 cup chopped carrots and 1/3 cup of chopped sweet potatoes (both chopped in small pieces) and (optional) any type mushroom (chopped) about 1/4 cup.
In the meantime, take a block of firm or extra firm tofu and drain and wrap in paper towels and squeeze out excess water.  Take off paper towel.
Then take half a block and with a fork start to crush the tofu until it looks like cottage cheese, then do the other half.
After the carrots and sweet potatoes cook and become somewhat tender, put all of the tofu in the frying pan.  Keep smushing it.  Mix it together with everything in the pan.  Add one or two tablespoons of tumeric to taste and then put on top spinach or kale and cover under greens become wilted.  Mix greens that are wilted on top in with the rest of the scramble.  You can add olives if you'd like more flavor.  You can also add grated vegan cheese at the end and cover and let it melt on top!  Delicious!

My friend and student Kaitlin Hines brought to my attention the desperate situation her husband is in up at Harlem Hospital Centers. There are Patient Care Associates, Transporters, and Janitors who are being told they don't need masks, which we all know is not true. Their lives are being put at risk because of the shortage of supplies... like everywhere. These people as we know are on the front lines. They are our soldiers. If we just do a little something to help them it would help keep them safe. These are "lower level employees" who are not being taken care of. I would like to raise a few hundred dollars to buy some masks. I do have a connection to buy masks. I know many of us are out of work now but If everyone just chips in $5.00 or more or less we can get these people masks for the next month. This is an Independent organizing method by Kaitlin and her husband to get items directly to lower level workers.
Please send to my paypal
I would like to get these masks to these workers as soon as possible
Thank You...Let's support each other!

Enjoying spring.

Zoom teaching.

Best wishes to everyone.

Coping in the Time of COVID-19: Morgiana Celeste Varricchio

"mourn, process, create!"

I received an email with the subject "mourn, process, create!"  Those words fit my frame of mind exactly.  We made the decision to cancel Mosaic's March 20-22 weekend of events on March 12.  On March 16, NYC went into lockdown, and NJ followed a few days later.  For about a week, I was busy with putting away all the costumes, props, and accessories that were needed for the show.  Things didn't seem quite real, but the reality hit home very quickly.  

During week two, I didn't do too much of anything, still in mourning for not only Mosaic's events, but also for the cancellation of our entire spring season -- the various festival appearances the Company was looking forward to.  I did make a big pot of Leek and Swiss Chard soup (the recipe is included below).  Fortunately, I didn't fall down the slippery slope depicted in the cartoon at right.

Week three was my week to process, realizing that things were not going to magically reopen by Easter.  The nice weather and need to just get out of the house were what was needed to figure out a new normal.  I finished some long dormant sewing projects, and made time to start a regular schedule of dance. Family and friends started figuring out teleconferencing, so face-to-face, if not person-to-person, connections can happen

And now, the exciting phase of "create" has kicked in.   I am sewing  CDC-pattern masks for familyyy and friends -- as a start, who knows where this will take me. This time at home is the "writer's retreat" I've often dreamed about, and it's a perfect time to put on paper the plan for a new project that's been in my head for years! 

It's a good time, too, to check into any grants for which Mosaic may be able to apply.  There are not too many grant opportunities available for us, so that means a lot of research time to see what is possible.

We have to make the best of things as they are, and not let them get the best of us.  And before you get the soup recipe, who can resist a cat video -- a perfect example of the trials and tribulations of working at home. 

Leek and Swiss Chard Soup

2-3 leeks
1 bunch of swiss chard (green or red)
1/2 cup (about) regular olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
32 oz. chicken or vegetable broth
2 or 3 bouillon cubes
Small pasta (pastina, angel hair bird's nest)
Robust grating cheese (aged asiago, parmesano, romano)

Cut off the root end of the leeks and wash thoroughly.  Slice the leeks in 1/8 - 1/4" slices, including some of the green part.  Leeks are pretty sandy, so you'll need to make sure all the slices are well rinsed.

Rinse the swiss chard thoroughly, tearing the leaves, and include some of the tender stems.

Heat oil in a large stock pot.  When the oil is hot, add the minced garlic and the sliced leeks.  Saute until the leeks are soft, stirring at intervals so things don't burn.  Add the swiss chard, the broth, and then add water to just cover the leaves, maybe 2-3 cups.  At this point, I add 2-3 bouillon cubes (depending upon how much water was added) to flavor the additional water.  Keep the burner on moderate heat until the liquid boils, then cover the pot and lower the heat.  After about 30 minutes, when everything is soft and wilted, puree with a hand blender right in the pot until everything is liquid.  All those stems are now pulverized!  Transfer to storage containers.  Refrigerate or freeze.
When it's time to serve, add about 1/2 cup of pastina, or 1 crushed angel hair bird's nest.  The pasta cooks as the soup heats up.  Garnish with grated cheese to taste.  Buon appetito!

Stay safe and healthy!

Coping in the Time of COVID-19 -- Kaitlin Hines-Vargas

Updates from Kaitlin

While my quarantine began as an early effort (March 12) to avoid public transit as someone with an autoimmune condition, the rest of the city quickly hunkered down with me.  I'm lucky enough to still be working in my job as a Grant Writer for a local nonprofit, and have spent a lot of time balancing work, artistic practice, and the love of my husband, bunny, and cat -- all in a small space.

Here are some of the things I've been doing to live my best life indoors:

1.  I filled out the census -- it was an easy online completion, and I was happy to get information to the government that will inform essential services in my area.

2. I quicklyyy reevaluated my dance practices and tried to find a variety of ways to keep myself active that challenged me and was fun.
  a.  I started by practicing with my old go-to instructional dance DVDs and appreciating the stylistic differences of my favorite dancers.
  b.  I found instructors I used to work with who moved away, and have purchased videos and attended online class with them -- it's a great way to support people you've lost a connection with, like my favorite Pilates teacher!
c.  I signed up for a 2-week dance fitness challenge that keeps in line with my trying to get my AFAA certification (delayed because I need to do in-person CPR/AED training).
d.  I've built at least 1-2 hours into every day to move and be in my body.

3.  I've spent lots of time catching up with old friends from out of the blue -- will be on video chat with my best friends from college this week, thanks to Zoom!

4.  Of course, I'm bonding with my animals much more.  I have cuddle time with each of them, and sometimes the bunny does stretching with me in the early morning.  Here I am in Cobra position with the little guy next to me.

5.  I've been lobbying to get donations of Personal Protective Equipment for all-levels of health care workers.  Myy husband is a healthcare worked who is not a doctor or nurse, and he and his coworkers are often sent into compromising situations with less than appropriate gear.  So far, I've assembled about 6 people who are sewing masks and mask covers for his hospital.  If you have time, money, or talent, I highly recommend finding a way to offer donations in the form of protective equipment to workers on the front lines.

That's all for me from Harlem!

Can't wait to dance with Mosaic again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Deja Vu All Over Again!

The show, unfortunately, does not go on!

MDTC is just one of hundreds? thousands? of arts organizations worldwide that has had to cancel events during this scary time of COVID-19.  We take the responsibility of respecting our Mosaic team -- artists and crew alike -- and our audiences very seriously.  There was no other decision to make, and so our eagerly anticipated weekend of events, Linked by Tradition: Celebrating the Dance of India, Spain, and The Near East scheduled for March 20, 21 and 22 was necessarily cancelled. We hope to reschedule for the fall, and you'll be the first to know the new dates.

However, we at MDTC are a resilient bunch, and while we don't want to make light of this situation, we are not strangers to circumstances of this ilk. Here's a look back at these heartbreakers.

2003. Remember the big NYC blackout on August 14, 2003?  We do! Mosaic Dance Theater Company was a few months away from our first production, and appearing at the NY International Fringe Festival with Caravan to Cairo and Gypsy Tales. The Fringe schedules were all over the place to give artists equal opportunity at the prime times. We had a performance of each of our shows scheduled for two prime slots on..August 15!  Cancelled, but not rescheduled.  Fortunately, we had a few other performances left, so it wasn't a total wash out.

2006. Jumping ahead a few. years, MDTC was presenting The Fisherman and the Djinni and The King of The Ebony Isles in an off-off Broadway venue in NYC, with a 5-performance run over a two- week period. We were sharing the space, and the resident company had performances earlier in the day.  The venue had terrific "vibes" but a not-so-terrific technical aspect. Two shows per day were two much for the systems to handle, and consequently they overheated. One night we lost stage lights, and the next night we lost the sound.  But, we didn't lose heart.

2006 -- AGAIN!. A popular cafe in South Orange, NJ, called "The Dancing Goat"  was home to several gala benefit performances presented by MDTC. We invited two stand-up comics to be a part of the show as a change of pace (one of them had just been in the cast of the above-mentioned Fisherman production). As we were heading toward the Lincoln Tunnel with a van full of performers, guess what? The van breaks down! While AAA could tow us to NJ, there was no way we could make it in time.  Fortunately, we were able to reschedule in January 2007.

2010. Technically, we did not cancel performances, but we might just as well have! We were back in NYC, in early June. An unusual heat wave for this time of year, plus an HVAC system on the fritz, and the nightmare problem of "the part has to be ordered" saw dancers and audience alike soldiering on in the sweltering theater. The AC for our first performance was passable -- after that, we brought the realism of the Sahara to our production.

2012. The phone lines between Morgiana Celeste Varricchio (MDTC's Producing Artistic Director), Samara Adell (MDTC's Artistic Director for Dance) and Jehan Kamal (our co-producer for this event) were heating as we wondered "should we?" "shouldn't we?" We were listening to the pre-emptive closures, everyone awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Sandy,  When then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg closed the subways, we decided we should too.  Happily, we were able to reschedule in February 2013.  There was a snowstorm that day, but who cared!  

2015. A broken water pipe in February 2015 shut down University of Pittsburgh/Bradford, and most of the town of Bradford, PA. MDTC was scheduled to be the highlight of their International Heritage Festival. While there was no opportunity to reschedule in 2015, we were invited back in 2016, and a good time was had by all.

And that, as they say, is show biz!