Gymnastics and Acrobatics Help Performer Rise Above Addiction

Editor's Note:In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle - injury, illness or other hardship - they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week we introduce you to Joe Putignano, the "Crystal Man" in Cirque du Soleil's touring show "Totem.

" He shares his story of how he was a rising gymnast with Olympic potential, who came crashing down into a life ofalcohol, cocaine and heroin addiction.Aftertwo life-threatening overdoses, he finally got clean, and saysit was gymnastics that pulled him back to life.Spotlights drench over me in a warm glow, and in this illumination I can no longer hide my past from the world - any insecurities will be exposed to an audience of thousands.

In fear I hold my breath, binding myself to the bands soft prelude, slowly unraveling myself from a tight spinning ball. Evolutio meansunrolling in Latinand is the theme of our Cirque du Soleil show Totem. Evolution is the common thread in my life, from athlete to drug addict to performer.

The voice of my horrific past sings to me over the live music, and my memories of my life with heroin bleed into my performance. I am reminded of the fine-tipped syringe I held in my hand with the small words printed Use once and destroy. I feel a strong connection to that statement, envious of those who can use once, put it down, and not be destroyed by it.

The stage lights' searing beam focuses on me, refracting off of the thousands of shards of glass covering my body. It reminds me of the solitary point of the needle piercing my vein. Is my past reflecting through my present as a man covered in broken glass?

I wanted my body to become the map of stars over our heads, with my fresh needle holes and track marks to become the very constellations that astronomers search for.My future mapped out in my skin. I entered the needle into my arm and it was painless and sensational.

As I pulled back the plunger, a dazzling display of blood danced into the heroin like a liquid firecracker, as if the two were always meant to be together: A pas de deux. Moments before the high rushed in, guilt forced me to capture myself in the mirror, exposing the boy I used to be.My innocence wanted to remember itself, filling my mind with beautiful images as a young gymnast.

I loved gymnastics more than anything I had ever known and it had become my church. I couldnt believe I used to have such a powerful dedication to the sport, which now seemed inconceivable because now my dedication turned into darkness. Instead of using my body to its full potential, my new purpose became to eradicate all pain and shame.

The memory came crashing down with the walls of this religion as the drug coursed through my system. Seconds after main-lining, I felt a tsunami of fire burning through my body, pulling me back to the present moment as the heat from the stages light warms my costume.The high from heroin was so hot, wrapping me and holding me, cradling me in its grip and swirling to the tips of my tongue with pure exquisite euphoria.

This was the ultimate, the alpha and the omega. This was the key to life and I would never live without it again. I was a fallen soldier at my own war, and I surrendered to the addiction because of the many failed attempts at stopping.

I traded everything I ever loved and cared about for the spell of drugs, and in exchange was guaranteed a life of pain and misery. I would have given back every wonderful high for a moment of sobriety after living years and years of slavery to this cruel existence. I became the victim of my own making, and I was forever trapped in a prison made of syringes.

But like the powerful emanation bursting off my costume, my soul wouldnt allow me to quit trying, and I continued to crawl through hell.The bands music restores me to the show as I am suspended above the stage. I slowly contort my body, trying to push the limits of my flexibility to create hieroglyphic shapes, tapping into the unstoppable force within.

The audience remains unaware of the story I retell myself each night, opening the show and connecting to the long history of my own evolution: athlete to drug addict to sobriety. I try to summon the young athlete I used to be, who was determined to succeed. I connect to the young man I was, trapped in his Sisyphean nightmare, waking up on a sidewalk, freezing cold, shivering and broke, dope sick and desolate, forever relapsing and falling further into hell.

I take a deep breath for the current man I am, who is fighting to change, who still struggles against his progressive and fatal disease of addiction. And I stretch my bones to the four corners of the circus tent to honor the human who still suffers, those who are silently screaming in their own minds, trying to change, but cant.As I begin to continue to bend deeper, I instantly think of my contortion teacher Jonathan Nosan, who trained me for this very moment.

Together we tried to transform a beat-up withering drug addict into a powerful body of strength, flexibility, grace and humility.As the music intensifies, I am drawn back into the performance of the show, into the acrobatics I must prepare for, and my thoughts drown in a timeless state. I return to my parent's basement as a child to the moment I met my God, who bestowed me the gift of gymnastics and acrobatics.

The lights explode, the music howls and I flip backwards against all the terrible things that stood in my way. Within the movement I have no physical body, no time, just pure energy rushing through my veins overpowering and transcending any blissful heroin high I could ever produce. All the drugs on earth cannot compare to the simple grace and joy of the movement.

This is absolute union of mind, body, and spirit.Iam honored to return to my beautiful art that I believed I had lost forever. Like most addicts, I believed I could never stop using drugs.

I believed with pure conviction, that a life lived sober could never compare to the chemical highs of drugs. I was wrong, and all I was doing was trying to kill the human spirit. My sobriety is a living amends to all the angels I single-handedly destroyed.

I stay sober as an example to those who aspire for more, but are pulled deeper into the addiction cycle taking them further from their dreams and goals.We are all connected through years of I could have been, someday and they dont understand. If you are suffering, please dont give up.

You are not alone and there are great lights out there who have traveled down the same path. Together, we can become the wonderful people we were meant to be.Interesting.

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Canada Letter: Stage Lights, Sunlight and Opening Shots
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The Dancers Are Big Stars in the Fawn Chamber Creatives ...
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2021 05 14
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And the Designers Said, Let There Be Ambient Interior Lighting
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The new Lincoln theme of guilt-free luxury combines motifs derived from classic cars like the 1941 Lincoln Continental.The MKRs design was directed by Gordon Platto under the direction of Peter Horbury, Ford Motors executive director for design in North America. The interior, with gleaming accents, dark oak and white leather, has the ambience of an MGM movie set from the 40s. Even the lighting is theatrical; Mr. Horbury gave a name ice blue to the ambient lighting seen throughout the Lincoln.Nature provided inspiration in concept cars from Mazda and Volvo.Mazda introduced a design based on the characteristics of flowing water or windblown sand with the Nagare concept car that it took to the Los Angeles auto show several weeks ago. While the Nagare was presented as a car for the year 2020, the related concept car that Mazda brought to Detroit, the Ryuga, was imagined as a car to be driven relatively soon, in 2010. But it, too, continued to build on the flow theme.AdvertisementIn the case of the Ryuga, a Japanese word that translates as gracious flow, the textured body panels and interior evoke the waves and ripples from carefully raked Japanese gravel gardens, whose waves of stone seem to mimic water. Engineers might snicker, but according to Laurens van den Acker, Mazdas design chief, the Ryugas wavy headlights were inspired by blades of grass heavy with dew.At the Volvo display, the inspiration was more akin to the northern lights. Steve Mattin, senior vice president and design director, moved from Germany, where he worked for DaimlerChrysler, to Sweden to take charge of Volvo design. He has set out to reinvent Volvos design language and turned to lighting as a response to the long days of winter darkness in Sweden.In the XC60 concept for a car-based crossover wagon, lighting emphasizes the Volvo trademark catwalk design the big shoulder that runs the length of the car, along the fender tops and under the greenhouse of the cabin that Mr. Horbury, Mr. Mattins predecessor, helped to establish as a Volvo styling cue. New, wavy taillights emphasize the shape of the catwalk and make the car recognizable as a Volvo, even in the dark.The blue and white interior is like Scandinavian ice. Daniela Rothkegel, the color and trim designer, was quoted in the Volvo literature introducing the vehicle that she sought an interior perception of well-being through ambient light the very special Scandinavian light we get from autumn to spring that shows objects in sharp relief. The XC60s headlights and accents were inspired by ice crystal, the white console and dashboard by a wall of snow, Mr. Mattin said.At the show, not all the attempts at ambience were so high-toned or natural. The new Chrysler minivans have seats and tables that seem ready for family games of Monopoly (or a poker party). Even the oddball Ford Airstream concept, a metal pod with windows framed in safety orange, provides what Ford calls ambient mood settings that include a modern lava lamp and virtual fire. Suzukis gimmicky but fun Flix, an XL7 sport utility outfitted as a rolling theater with pivoting seats and a movie projector, offered L.E.D.s on the floor just like a suburban megaplex.The Bevel, Nissans interpretation of a ride for the empty-nester father, projects the ambience of a grumpy guy wanting nothing more than space for all his junk. The Bevels slit window and boxy rear end is that a touch of the A.M.C. Pacer? are accented with red dotted L.E.D.s.Designed by a team headed by Bruce Campbell at Nissans San Diego studio, the metallic brown Bevel recalls the SynUS, a 2005 Ford concept car that looked like a Brinks armored truck. Shiro Nakamura, Nissans head designer, said the Bevel was a distant descendant of the Cube, the first car done under his administration.But it is a lighthearted effort. Refreshingly, the Bevel is not aimed at the young people with active lifestyles who are repeatedly invoked at auto shows. Nor does it try to evoke an athlete in a tuxedo a current clich about S.U.V.s.No, its ambience is that of dads garage, so full of his stuff that there is no room left for cars or people.A version of this article appears in print on , on Page AU2 of the New York edition with the headline: And the Designers Said, Let There Be Ambient Interior Lighting. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|SubscribeWere interested in your feedback on this page. Tell us what you think.
2021 05 14
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Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra Marry with Hindu Ceremonies ...
After a year of insatiable rumours and another four months of a whirlwind engagement, Quantico star Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas have officially been proclaimed husband and wife twice ! The two paid homage to their respective backgrounds by including a Christian and Hindu wedding ceremony in their festivities which took place last weekend. They were first married in a Christian ceremony on Saturday, officiated by Jonas father, according to Vogue. A Hindu ceremony was held the next day in the historic sandstone Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in Chopras home country of India, ending the week-long wedding festivities with aplomb. People will need vacations after this wedding, Chopra was quoted as saying in an last week. While she probably meant it as a joke, its a sentiment deeply related to by anyone, Indian or otherwise, who has had to plan an Indian wedding. Hindu weddings are known worldwide for their extremely colourful, elaborate ceremonies, filled to the brim with flower decorations, religious rites, social functions that can last over a week. Unlike a Christian ceremony which usually start and end on the same day, a Hindu wedding usually involves a series of pre-wedding rites designed to physically and emotionally prepare the bride and groom for their nuptials : A post shared by (@priyankachopra) on The ceremony is generally the first to prelude any Hindu wedding and usually takes place months before the actual ceremony. Known as one of the most significant pre-wedding ceremonies, its considered as a stamp solidifying the bride and grooms commitment to the marriage. Unlike a traditional Christian ceremony which sometimes includes a question asking if there are any objections to the wedding on the day itself, there are no take backs after the ! Chopra and Jonas announced their upcoming wedding with a ceremony in August. An important part for a girl in an Indian wedding is the Mehendi, wrote Chopra in an Instagram post. A rite that typically takes place a day or two before the wedding, the m ceremony is one of the most coveted by women within the wedding. Here, all of the women in the bride and grooms families, along with guests gather while the bride traditionally has elaborate, intricate henna designs applied to her feet and hands. Apart from its beauty, is known for its cooling properties and is thought to calm the bride before her ceremony. Sometimes, designers will hide the grooms initials within their designs on the brides hands for the groom to later search for. While the ceremony is traditionally women-only, most functions today also allow men to attend. Nick Jonas is pictured laughing with Chopra during her ceremony in an Instagram post, which she captioned, Once again we made it our own and it was an afternoon that kicked off the celebrations in the way we both dreamed. A Hindu wedding icebreaker ! Apart from the , the ceremony is generally one of the most fun ceremonies for guests and families alike. Here, the bride and groom, in separate locations are slathered with a thick paste of , i.e. turmeric powder, rose water and sandalwood powder, by their respective family members and guests. The powder is thought to strengthen and beautify the couple before the nuptials as well as ward off any evil that comes their way. While Chopra held a ceremony as per tradition, Jonas reportedly did not and instead participated in a ceremony afterwards, i.e., a ritual in which turbans are tied for the groom and other male relatives involved in the wedding. A post shared by (@priyankachopra) on Open bar, make way ! The is an Indian weddings extravaganza, that can either be made as lavish as a Bollywood movie or instead modest and toned down. As a Hindu ceremony traditionally does not involve the exchange of rings, couples normally perform the rite during the , the last function to take place the night before the wedding day. As means song or sung together, its a night filled with music and dance and long-practiced performances by friends and relatives of the bride and groom. Chopra posted a sneak-peek of her and Jonas on Instagram. The post included a video of clips showcasing a spectacular event filled with stage lights, Nick Jonas flawlessly dancing in traditional Bollywood style with props, a performance by Joe Jonas and a mother-daughter dance by Chopra and her mother. As guests and relatives slowly wake up amidst the exhaustion and hangovers from the previous night, the bride is already out of bed, showered and in the middle of makeup and hair. , Priyanka Chopra donned a sari in red as according to Hindu custom while Nick was attired in a turban and traditional wear. The day traditionally begins with a ceremony in which the groom arrives on a horse, complete with a throng of friends and relatives dancing to festive drum beats. Reportedly Chopra joined Jonas during his festivities. A post shared by (@filmfare) on While many Hindu weddings nowadays come with their own twists and variations, every wedding at its core will include a , a ritual conducted by sitting around a sacred fire and , which literally translates to seven steps, but in reality means completing seven rounds around the fire in order to become husband and wife. With the exchange of rings completed the night before, the groom instead places a necklace, known as a around the brides neck, officially wedding her to him. Chopra and Jonas reportedly maintained a strict no-pictures policy during their wedding which means us fans will have to wait longer before we can steal ideas from the couples fairytale palace wedding.
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Pop Stars Face Blackouts Under Eu Plans to Ban High-power Stage Lights
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2021 05 14
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Grand Ole Oprys Circle Is Unbroken
NASHVILLE, TENN.Brad Paisley and Little Jimmy Dickens helped a handful of construction workers install the circle in the centre of the Grand Ole Opry House stage Wednesday after flood waters nearly destroyed the precious piece of country music history. The two then performed the Opry standard, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? That is a classic song thats been sung here for generations and its taking on new meaning with all of this, Paisley said. Officials announced the Opry House will reopen to the public with a star-studded performance Sept. 28 and the Oprys 85th anniversary celebration will go on as scheduled in October. Were having a party, Opry president Steve Buchanan said. The circle, made in 1974 from a part of the old stage from the Oprys former home at Ryman Auditorium, was submerged in more than a metre of water during the May flood that damaged the Opry house and the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort in Nashville. Many musicians and fans consider the circle the heart of country music. The wood carries scuffs from the boots of the genres biggest stars and is a destination for aspiring singers from all corners of the world. This is absolutely the one place that matters more than any other in country music, Paisley said. Buchanan said the two-metre circle of oak buckled but proved to be sturdier than the modern Opry stage. It was refurbished by Nashvilles CC Cabinet Inc., and is now surrounded by a dark brown teak that helps the lacquered circle stand out under stage lights. Paisley said hes amazed at how far the reclamation project has come since the days following the flood, which caused more than $2 billion damage in Nashville alone. When I first walked in here everything you see including the rafters and the very top pews were covered in a sort of brown film from the dried mud that had become dust and it was horrendous looking, he said. I didnt know how they were ever going to get it clean and rebuilt, and all of these things that needed done. Associated Press
2021 05 14
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Crews Sifting Through Debris, Search for Answers to Stage Collapse
iReport: Are you there? Share photos, videos (CNN) -- Crews on Sunday sifted through debris of a concert stage that collapsed at the Indiana State Fair, trying to determine what caused the accident that killed five people and injured 40, authorities said.The fairgrounds were closed Sunday as investigators began the search for answers. The state fair was expected to reopen to the public Monday following a public memorial service to remember those who were killed and injured, said Cindy Hoyne, the fair's executive director.Forecasters warned heavy rain and strong winds would hit the fair nearly two hours before the storm moved through, causing the collapse of the stage Saturday night. The National Weather Service estimated winds at 60 to 70 mph.Metal scaffolding fell onto the "Sugarpit," a section usually occupied by Sugarland's most ardent fans, about four minutes after authorities took the stage to warn the crowd to seek shelter, according to a timeline of events released by investigators Sunday."It's not clear to me at this stage how anyone could have foreseen a sudden, highly localized gust of wind in one place," Gov. Mitch Daniels said.Video shows the blue canvas top fraying and flapping just seconds before the steel scaffolding gave way, sending a heavy bank of stage lights and metal onto fans closest to the outdoor stage.Gov. Daniels described the collapse as a "freakish accident."Sugarland, an Atlanta-based country duo, escaped injury since they had not yet come onstage. They later posted a message on Twitter saying they were "stunned and heartbroken for the fans."The group -- along with its opening act, Sara Bareilles -- cancelled their scheduled performance Sunday night at the Iowa State Fair. According to the fair's website, "aside from coping with the magnitude of the accident, the ongoing investigation prevents the band from getting what may remain of their stage equipment."Jennifer Nettles, one half of the Sugarland duo, posted a statement on the group's web site Sunday, saying "there are no words to process a moment of this magnitude and gravity.""There are only prayers for peace in the hearts of the bereft, and prayers of thanksgiving for those who were spared or safe. A piece of our heart is left in that grandstand," Nettles said.Sara Bareilles, who had just finished her performance when the collapse occurred, tweeted Sunday she was still thinking of all those affected."On her web site, she wrote: "The accident at the Indiana State Fair felt like a bad dream. The weather changed in a matter of minutes and the stage collapsed in a matter of seconds. "She called the emergency response "incredibly quick." While most of the injured were treated and released from Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, nine patients were admitted and still being treated Sunday afternoon, the hospital said. Three children remained at Riley Hospital for Children, the hospital said.The Marion County, Indiana, coroner identified the three women and two men who died as: Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah, Indiana; Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis; Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago; and Nathan Byrd, 51, of Indianapolis. Vandam, Goodrich, Bigjohny and Santiago were dead at the scene, while Byrd died later at the hospital, the coroner said.Friends, colleagues and family gathered Sunday to remember Santiago at Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center, a health care organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, where she worked."We have lost a fierce warrior, an amazing activist," said Rosa Yadira Ortiz, board president for Amigas Latinos, a group for lesbian Hispanics in Chicago that Santiago was involved in. "She really brought us all together."The families of two of those hospitalized released brief statements Sunday, each asking for prayers and privacy."Jenny Haskell, a 22-year-old Ball State senior, is very critical at this time," her family said.A fifth-grader, identified only as Jade, is in critical condition, according to her family."A big gust of wind came through. You could see a lot of people panicking," said Aaron Richman, who witnessed the collapse at the fair in Indianapolis. "All the scaffolding and speakers -- all that came crashing down -- and the whole stand just collapsed."Allison Hoehn, another concertgoer, said many attendees rushed to those trapped after the stage crumbled."We tried to get down to help, but no one was moving," Hoehn said. "The storm came on so fast and the stage just snapped like a toothpick."Spectators grabbed parts of their seats to assemble makeshift stretchers, Hoehn said."Everyone rushed to help, and we saw people searching and pulling people out," she said. "(I) saw five people go away on stretchers. It was amazing how many people ran in to try to lift the scaffolding."Capt. Brad Weaver, commander of special operations for the Indiana State Police, said he took the stage at 8:45 p.m. to warn the audience of severe weather.Weaver said he "saw the framework from the stage start to come over."He said he and others took cover behind a trailer, which was also struck by debris from the stage.Weaver said authorities were in the process of issuing an evacuation order, but Hoehn said no one told the crowd at the concert to evacuate.Earlier this month, severe weather caused a stage to collapse before a Flaming Lips performance in Oklahoma.The August 6 incident occurred after heavy winds and rain pounded Tulsa, ending a block party music festival that featured Primus, the Flaming Lips and other acts. A lighting rig fell down and struck audio equipment and instruments. It was unclear whether there were any injuries.And last month, a severe storm toppled a stage when classic rock band Cheap Trick was performing. No one was seriously hurt during the incident at the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest in Canada.CNN's Alan Duke, Chelsea J. Carter, Leslie Tripp and David Williams contributed to this report.
2021 05 14
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