Michelle Pearson

first_imgby Stacy Chandlerphotographs by Lissa GotwalsDance has taken Michelle Pearson all over the world – as a professional performer, a state department cultural envoy, and a William C. Friday fellow – but she has always had a home at Raleigh’s Arts Together.“It’s kind of like grandma’s house,” she says, “where I come and I’m accepted for exactly who I am.”She grew up dancing with Arts Together, a nonprofit community school just west of downtown that offers classes in dance, art, drama and more for children and adults. And these days Pearson, 42, is back, teaching what she calls a “hard-core technique” class and doing contemporary choreography for the multigenerational Rainbow Dance Company. She danced with it as a child, and now her daughter does, too.Pearson’s roots at Arts Together, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, run deep. But the branches she has put out into the world since her first days there reach even farther.Pearson started taking dance classes at 8, when she moved to Raleigh, and admits it wasn’t exactly love at first plié. But when she started taking classes from Lemma Mackie, who soon thereafter founded Arts Together, something clicked.Pearson’s involvement with dance grew, and by high school she was dancing five or six days a week. She earned a dance scholarship to East Carolina University, but even then she wasn’t completely sold on dance as a career.“I went to school still not thinking I was going to major in dance,” she says. “I was planning on math or something like that.”But she found that dance had crept into every corner of her life, including math. “I figured calculus out through movement back in high school,” she says. “I was one of these kids, as soon as I could get up and see the different revolutions and the lines and stuff, it made sense.”After college, she headed to New York City, dancing with two companies and waiting tables until her big break, a full-time gig with Liz Lerman’s Dance Exchange in Washington, D.C. There, she found that contemporary dance was more than just a way to express herself; it was also a way help others let movement tell their stories, no matter their age, their experience, or their physical or mental limitations.With Dance Exchange, Pearson created dances with children and senior citizens, with shipyard workers, nuns, politicians and the football team from California State University, Chico.The power she can harness from dance to communicate and heal caught the attention of the state department in 2011, when the U.S. embassy in Sierra Leone requested an artist who could help promote healing in a culture dealing with difficult social issues and the aftermath of a brutal war. The war wasn’t something people in Sierra Leone talked much about, Pearson recalls. Slowly, as she worked with artists and citizens in the country, their stories came out.“I realized in my cast (of performers), half of them had been child soldiers. And the other half had hidden in fear from child soldiers,” she said.Pearson with drummers, dancers, and artists in Sierra Leone.Closer to home, Pearson was invited in 2006 to be part of the William C. Friday Fellowship, a program that brings together the brightest leaders in a range of fields to work toward improving human relations in North Carolina. She thinks she was chosen because of her proven success at turning a challenging situation into a creative opportunity: “Being in the room when incredibly difficult conversations are being had, and creating with that. Not dispelling it, not trying to fix it or change someone else’s story, but just bringing it to a place where it can be heard or understood new.”In two years of meetings and brainstorming sessions, Pearson participated alongside the other fellows. But when a particularly thorny issue arose at a weekend retreat and progress was grinding to a halt, she was called upon to lead. She headed up a 30-minute “movement experience” that resulted in clearer heads and forward progress, and dance since has become a regular part of the fellows’ intensive work.Tall and lean, Pearson moves when she’s talking, and even when she’s not – a habit that earned her some good-natured teasing from the more staid lawyers and bankers at Friday fellowship events, she said. She speaks with intensity, in a voice that has retained a subtle Southern lilt amid all her travels. All the while, she locks eyes with a listener, not as a challenge, but as an invitation to engage fully, as she does, with the topic at hand.Beyond the stageSo much of Pearson’s work these days makes dance reach far beyond the stage, past the seats of the theater, out of its doors, and into the wide world.She has stayed connected with Dance Exchange as an artistic associate and leader of the MetLife Healthy Living Initiative, and she is the “artistic curator” for Black Box Dance Theater, a Raleigh group formerly known as Even Exchange. She travels the state and beyond as a guest artist for universities and elementary schools and for sessions with wounded warriors, the elderly – anyone for whom dance can provide healing.But don’t call her a dance therapist.“I’m a dancer,” she says. “It’s dance that’s therapeutic. It’s dance that builds community. It’s dance that’s educational. It’s dance that’s healing. I’m just a dancer. And I have this skill to invite participation and craft what is elicited into something that is recognized as powerful, beautiful.”When she’s applying those skills at Arts Together, she works to cultivate the power of dance over the mind as well as the body.“When I teach my class, I want the material to be hard and to be fun and to be challenging. I want people to sweat. I want them to hurt a little bit tomorrow,” she says. “But I also want them to feel like it mattered that they were here. It mattered that they felt like more than just their body was dancing. More than just their muscles and bones were moving.”She adds: “There’s something uniquely human that is part of their dancing. And I think that’s my mission here at Arts Together. I feel like maybe that’s what I received as a child, that I mattered, and it’s the thing that I want to carry on.”last_img

Dont skimp on the mint Juleps for Derby day…and beyond

first_imgUmstead Summer JulepCourtesy of Kyle Davis, Bar Manager, The Umstead Hotel and Spa2 ounces Four Roses bourbon8 to 10 sprigs mint½ ounce North Carolina tobacco-infused simple syrup1 slice Savannah Bee CompanyhoneycombIn a cocktail shaker, add mint and one scoop of ice. With a wooden muddler, muddle vigorously until ice is finely crushed. Continue by adding Four Roses bourbon and tobacco simple syrup. Shaking once more, transfer all contents into a mason jar or Julep cup using a bar spoon. Complete by garnishing with a generous slice of Savannah Bee Company’s fresh honeycomb and serve immediately. photograph by Juli LeonardDon’t let the mint fool you. That lighthearted, summery herb, equally at home in iced tea and lemonade, is here on a mission. Mashed up with sugar, its oils and essence make what comes next suitable for a springtime afternoon. Because without it, a julep’s just a whole lot of bourbon in the midday sun.At Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Ky., they’ve been serving up juleps to Kentucky Derby fans for nearly a century. It became the signature drink of the track in 1938 when they introduced souvenir glasses for 75 cents, and today, the track sells about 120,000 of the cocktails over the course of race weekend. They don’t skimp on the mint: More than 1,000 pounds of freshly picked green leaves make it all happen.This year, as contenders like Verazzano, Goldencents and Orb get ready for the 139th “greatest two minutes in sports” on May 4, bartenders everywhere are tuning up their own version of the drink to toast them with.At the Umstead Hotel’s bar, a julep comes with tobacco-infused simple syrup, a slice of honeycomb, and homegrown mint. At Mandolin restaurant, Kentucky Colonel spearmint from The Little Herb House in Raleigh makes a star turn.The julep – whose name is derived from the Arabic gulab, or refreshing cocktail made of rose petals – is thought to have originated in the agricultural South as a morning pick-me-up sometime in the 18th century and was first mixed with rye or rum. Needless to say, a morning pick-me-up these days is more likely to include caffeine than alcohol, and a julep is now made with bourbon. Typically, that’s the ingredient that receives the most attention, but it would be a shame to let the mint to take too far a back seat.Hardy perennial  Some will tell you that mint is a weed. They are wrong. Actually, they are right, but the word ‘weed’ doesn’t do this aromatic perennial herb justice. Because while mint may be invasive, fans prefer to consider it simply tougher than most. Plant a little, get a lot. And you’ll need it, because mint is more than a flavorful addition to a cocktail; it’s also a perfect antidote to one. Known to soothe nausea and improve digestion, mint is claimed by some to improve alertness and memory. What more could you want in a daytime libation?So, once you have a gracious plenty of mint leaves at the ready –  put aside a good pile for garnish, and consider your options.The bartenders at Churchill Downs vouch for making a simple syrup and steeping mint in it overnight. They have volume to contend with; you might not. Another way is to soak the mint in bourbon for a short time, creating a sort of spiked extract.But muddling the mint with sugar in the serving cup itself is the traditional method. Using the end of a wooden spoon – or a muddler, which is a bartender’s pestle shaped like a baseball bat – muddling basically means smashing the leaves, releasing enough flavor to stand up to the bourbon.Even here, of course, there are schools of thought. Some abhor the idea of muddling at all, preferring their mint to remain a decorative flourish, not a flavor. Others suggest a gentle pounding that merely encourages a hint of mint to emerge. And a small minority argue for a well-muscled muddle, making for a super-minty cocktail, but one that begins to resemble a Mojito.Most use regular sugar, which acts as an abrasive. Some wouldn’t put sugar in a julep if their lives depended on it. Some insist on a splash of seltzer, others stick to flat water; some pour it all over crushed ice, others allow a cube or two.And as for the bourbon: Kentucky’s limestone water started the bourbon-making business there in the 1800s. Today’s small Kentucky labels like Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Town Branch, and Woodford Reserve draw on that heritage and make a worthy counterpart to a sprig or two of the minty weed.    Mandolin’s Mint JulepCourtesy of Addison Dailey, Bartender, Mandolin10 to 12 spearmint leaves*2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon1 ½ teaspoons raw turbinado sugarcrushed iceIn a julep cup, gently muddle the mint leaves with a little bit of ice. Add in the sugar and a splash of bourbon, continuing to lightly muddle until the sugar has dissolved and married into a mash with the mint. Next fill the julep cup (a little less than full) with ice, and add the rest of the bourbon; stir for 30 to 45 seconds until frosted. Top off with ice, andgarnish with a sprig of mint.*Mandolin uses Kentucky Colonel mint from The Little Herb House in Raleighlast_img

Why Facebook For Work Will Be A Hard Sell To Employers

first_imglauren orsini Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Related Posts center_img Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Tags:#Facebook#Google#google drive#LinkedIn#privacy#Slack If your office blocks Internet access to Facebook, odds are it doesn’t block LinkedIn, too. Facebook thinks that’s no fair. Now, the social network is building “Facebook at Work,” a version of its site for the workplace.According to the Financial Times, the site will look like Facebook proper, but allow employees to keep their work life separate. Users will be able to chat with coworkers, collaborate on projects, and build catalogues of colleague’s contacts, with each of these services directly competing with Microsoft’s Yammer, Google’s Drive, and LinkedIn. A work-friendly Facebook makes sense for the social network so that it can grasp even more of users’ time. CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted in July that American users spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the site. This could be compounded during work hours.However, Facebook has several hurdles ahead of convincing companies to unblock a new work-friendly version of Facebook. First, there’s employers’ beliefs that Facebook is a waste of time. A 2009 survey found that more than half of employers had Facebook blocked. There’s also Facebook’s dismal privacy record. Will companies really want their employees storing sensitive work information in the same cloud that ignores “do not track” browser settings?See also: Facebook Is Going To Start Tracking You Even More CloselyFinally, and most damningly, is the fact that all the services Facebook at Work will offer already exist. Slack, Google Drive, and LinkedIn already do these features well, and have the market for these respective services cornered. If Facebook at Work is going to have a chance of competing, it’ll need to extremely improve on its competitors’ services. And from the little we’ve seen of the service (with Facebook declining to comment), it’s hard to tell if Facebook for Work even has a chance. Screengrab by Facebooklast_img