Category Archives: Art

Return to Practice

By Eileen Kim

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

When I was younger, I understood the concept of practice in the context of the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition: “to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient”. As a child who participated in many sports and played multiple musical instruments, practice referred to the events I worked on to improve my technical skills. At practice, I would learn how to do better through acts of repetition and intentional change. 

Eventually, I chose to centralize my practice towards my passion for dance. With my goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer, practice took on a whole new layer of meaning. I worked daily and repeatedly at a set of physical movements in ballet to improve and refine my technique. This repetition led to growth and mastery within ballet and my practice became understood as a necessary means that would result in self-improvement.

Photo by Nihal Demirci on Unsplash

As I got older, my conception of practice began to evolve. My practice became grounded in the habitual sense of coming back to something. There was still a level of mastery that I was after, but it was more so realized as a continuous and infinite pattern that I felt compelled to return to. Year after year and almost every day, I would start again at the ballet barre where I would repeat the same series of physical movements. But the sameness of this repetition never bored me, because everyday was different and I was different everyday. Every day brought its own joys and challenges, and everyday I came back with 24 more hours of lived experience. Everything surrounding me was in a constant state of change and the stability of my daily practice became like a refuge for me, one that I could always return to and find comfort in.

As I reflect on how I approach my practice in the present, I have found that in many ways, practice is similar to a routine. The habitual nature of both concepts are the same, but practice puts an intentionality to the repetition and implies a sense of growth. The contents of our daily routines can be the same as our daily practices, but approaching our daily routines as daily practices can drastically reframe how we approach our lives. For me, practice no longer only refers to the physical practice I put into my dancing body. My daily practices encompass how I approach my life, what I eat, what time I go to sleep, how I take care of my body, and how I take care of my mind.

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Music: the Universal Language

By Michael Neufeld

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4 minute read]

I get it, learning a language is difficult. Not only do you have to learn the vocabulary, grammar and syntax of a different language, but you also have to discover all of the nuances, idioms, and contexts for word usage so that the things that you say make sense and express meaning. Because learning an instrument holds many of the same challenges, music is often referred to as a language of its own. Not only must you spend time learning to play an instrument or sing, but you must learn to read and listen to it carefully to truly engage with it. There are multiple levels of meaning in music, and a lot of those levels are changed by the perception of the listener.

Photo by William Recinos on Unsplash

The main similarity between music as a language and actual spoken languages is that the content never changes. In the same way “a ball” in English is “una pelota” in Spanish, a D major chord may be called something different in a different culture. However, many cultures still recognize a ball as a round object used for playing games. In the same way, a D major chord still retains the same sound produced; it doesn’t change across cultures. Thus, when orchestras perform the works of Tchaikovsky, they will sound the same. Played with some level of variance due to the styles of each culture (think of it like speaking with an accent).

The sounds that are produced do not change much across cultures, so emotions and ideas can be universally translated. What I mean by this is, what sounds beautiful in America will often sound beautiful in Japan. What sounds bad in Germany will sound similarly bad in Mexico. A romantic song may still carry that romantic connotation in another context. A scary song can still be used to induce fear in other settings. This is the magic of music: it can carry such emotional weight across a variety of cultures and nations, and by doing so it transmits power, messages, and feelings where words cannot.

Photo by Sergio Capuzzimati on Unsplash

An example of this can be found in the popular J-Pop song, “夜に駆ける,” or translated to English, “Racing into the Night,” released at the end of 2019. I personally have a very small understanding of the Japanese language; although, I know enough to hear fragments of words or sentences, I cannot understand the entirety of a song without looking up translations. However, I can still feel the undeniable energy of a song, the compelling melodies in the vocalist and piano parts, and the emotional release during the breaks and key changes at the end. This song in particular has been on my mind since I discovered it for myself, due to its attention-grabbing qualities. Interestingly enough, this song was based on a Japanese short story by the name of “タナトスの誘惑,” or “Temptation of Thanatos.” Thanatos was the ancient Greek personification of non-violent death, likened to a god according to the mythology of the time. Here we can see how the art and ideas themselves have transcended cultures, both spatially and temporally.

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Virtual Games to Stay Connected

By Gina Samec

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

minute read]

Whether you have moved back to LA or have remained at home for the fall semester, we are all adjusting to the disconnection we feel from our friends who may be thousands of miles away. While Facetime or a Zoom call is a great way to catch up with friends, we are severely limited in the activities we can do together. There’s always Netflix Party for when you want to wind down at the end of the night and watch a movie with friends. However, if you are trying to find more engaging activities to do with friends, virtual games are the perfect solution. Below are some virtual games I have enjoyed playing with friends who I do not get the privilege of seeing in person anymore. 

Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

Kodenames:

This game is perfect for friends who are good at guessing what the other person is thinking. This spy game involves two teams which are each led by a spymaster. The spymaster gives one word clues to their teammate to help them figure out the secret identities of agents. However, the spymaster has to be careful that their clue isn’t misinterpreted because one card is the assassin and if guessed by a teammate, it will immediately end the game. Find the link here: kodenames.io

Spyfall:

This game is also spy themed, and any of your friends who are good at lying will master it. In this game, everyone is at a location but one person, the spy, does not know where they are. Each person gets to take a turn asking each other questions to figure out if they know the location without revealing where they are to the spy. At the end of the round, if the spy is not voted out, they win. The game is hosted online at spyfall.app.

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

Among Us: 

Similar to Spyfall, Among Us also involves an impostor and is reminiscent of the game Mafia. Taking place in outer space, everyone is a crewmate except for two people who are impostors. While everyone else on the ship is completing tasks, the impostors will be trying to discreetly attack them. Every time a crewmate is attacked, there is an opportunity for people to discuss who they think did it and for people to defend themselves. If at least one impostor survives, they win. You can find the game on the App Store and play on your mobile device.

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