-aka cures for a week of desk jockeying. Partly for a story assignment, partly to treat my bike-crash weary lower back, I went to the sleek, über-hip Barber Lounge South of Market before attending a vocal workshop in Oakland. The dose of aromatherapy, reflexology and massage therapy set me up well for the rest of the weekend, starting later that afternoon. Ukrainian folk singer Mariana Sadovska was in Oakland to perform with Kitka, an astonishing vocal ensemble and nonprofit who I did work for last year, and led me to attend this day of “ritual song.” To my ear, Mariana, and much of Kitka’s singing is a European version of Indian raga and Americana blues. The old world music is primal and taps into something primitive in me that probably has to do with my own Croatian heritage…. Mariana specializes in Ukrainian "white voice" (open throat) singing and physical theater. She led the assembled group of Balkan singers and kitka through a nonstop series of exercises designed to relax our bodies and free our voices. “Do nothing and let the sound happen,” Mariana encouraged us, then led us through “two midsummer night songs.”
Sunday morning was another workshop, this time for the Mysore portion of Tim Miller's weekend of Ashtanga instructing at YOGASTUDIO San Francisco. Nice to see some familiar faces from all the years of practice, and meet up for breakfast with Tracy who now lives in Mysore most of the year, afterward. She's been busy developing and running Operation Shanti, her non-profit currently benefiting India's poor.