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>Nowruz

>Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Nowruz, the celebration of the Persian New Year. The word Nowruz means “new day” and the holiday is observed annually in a number of countries, including Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbajian and Tajikistan.  


Persians living abroad such as U.S. attend a Nowruz party to celebrate the season of hope and renewal.  I was invited to a my first Nowruz celebration at the Rome Ballroom of UConn. campus by a good Iranian friend, Bernadette.  The party started slowly with the welcoming address from the Iranian Association of UConn., followed by a brief poetry reading and a classical Persian music performance on the acoustic guitar.


But when the DJ played the Persian music, it’s the women (and kids) that came onto the dance floor first.  The Persian dance itself is highly individualistic and heavily relies on solo improvisation.  And it is totally normal for women to dance with women.  In fact, it wasn’t until much later and the lights dimmed that the men joined the floor in a group based ensemble setting.  And well into the night, the dance floor resembled one big dance circle with everyone dancing together.


I had such a great time, completely immersing myself in the Nowruz celebration; eating delicious Persian pastries, taking photos and whirling away Persian-style.  Although, it took me by a huge surprise when I was approached by several Persians throughout the night and spoken to in Farsi.  Perhaps it was my comfortableness with the surrounding that led them to believe I was one of them.  Now that I think about it … it must have been my dancing. 

Here’s a slide show of the photos and videos I captured during the party. 
It was really difficult to divide myself between photographing and dancing. 
I wished I could do both at the same time.

Haft-sin, a traditional Nowruz table set up at the party. Each item on the table has a symbolic meaning.
Lit candles are for enlightenment and happiness.
Holy book.
Tulips represent Spring.
Painted eggs are the symbol of fertility.
Dried fruit of the lotus tree symbolizes love.
Bernadette with her parents.

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>The Magnificent Mazowsze

>Directly from Poland, The Magnificent Mazowsze returned to Waterbury, Conn. on Dec.10 at the Palace Theater as part of this magnificent ensemble’s 60th Anniversary Tour. The holiday program included a thrilling display of dazzling movement, vibrant color and stunning beauty.

The show has been critically acclaimed by arts and entertainment writers throughout the country. The New York Times said, “There is nothing greater than Mazowsze!”
Viola and mom pose for a quick photo in excitement for the Mazowsze concert during a flurried Friday evening.
Lobby of the Palace Theater.
The Auditorium fills up with Poles and American alike for the Mazowsze concert.
Intricate ceiling details.
Although photography during the performance was prohibited, I somehow succeeded in taking several photos. 
(Lack of creativity results from the fact that all photos were taken from the same spot and many blindly composed.)
Since 1948, Mazowsze has demonstrated the spirit and soul of Poland’s national dances, songs and traditions. More history can be found on the official web site.
Some of the costumes worn by the dancers weigh as much as 30lbs, making their energetic gravity-defying leaps, twirls and lifts even more impressive.
The choreography and musical arrangements represent 39 regions of Poland with traditional performance styles.
Górale which means highlanders represented common dances and songs from southern Poland.
Sixty-three dancers, musicians and singers are displayed in a seemingly never-ending series of handmade traditional costumes – more than 1,000 in total, one more dramatic and colorful than the next.

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>Wedding: Diana & Mike

>Diana and Mike Fuller tied the knot in an [blank] ceremony on August 28, 2010 at The Mill on the River in South Windsor.  I mean, I’m sure it was wonderful and emotional, filled with joy and laughs … but I wouldn’t know.  As usual I was late for the exchange of the marriage vows part. But, more importantly, I did make the cocktail hour and the rest of the party.  Below are some of my faves from the wedding.

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>The Dozynki Canvas

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During the Dozynki Festival on Saturday I was approched by the Dozynki Committee and asked if I could help them with restoring the old Dozynki Canvas.  The big canvas that’s been displayed at the Falcon Field is 30 years old, weathered, and lost it’s storage space. 
Here’s the photo of what the canvas looks like now.
Here’s what the photo looks like after I did some restoration and enhancement work in Photoshop.  The photo will be reproduced to match the size of the original canvas. And will be printed on weather resistant material for compact storage.
Look for the new and improved canvas at next year’s Dozynki Festival.

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>Dozynki Celebrates 30 Years

>Dozynki, also known as Polish Harvest Festival celebrated its 30th year over the weekend.  Speaking with one of the members of the Festival Committee, I learned that it’s actually its 29th year since it was started in 1980.  One year, the festival was skipped.  At the annual Dożynki Harvest Festival, visitors can find yellow and brown amber jewelry from the Baltic Sea, big selection of Polska-branded hats, T-shirts and other souvenirs and of course traditional foods such as smoked kielbasa, pierogi and gołąbki.  And mine favorite, potato pancakes.

Weather on Saturday was gorgeous for the opening of Dozynki Festival and the day brought many Poles and non-Poles alike to the Falcon Field in New Britain.

Live music performance by Rhythm Orchestra.
A couple dancing an old fashioned Polka.
The Dozynki Festival Committee.
Baltyk Restaurant cooking potato pancakes at the festival.
Other food vendors at the festival also served traditional Polish food.
Random 2-year old Polish girl who was very curious about my camera.
Face-painting is always common amongst the children.
 
Who says you have to be 5 years old to have your face painted?
The Young and the Restless.
The lead singer of The Rhythm Orchestra.
Polska-branded stuff.
Funny quote shot glass. Translating it to English wouldn’t make any sense.
More funny quote shot glasses.
It wouldn’t be a Polka without the piano accordion.
Polish girl making bubbles.
Bella “dancing” to the Polish music heard in the background.
Oliver’s first time at the festival is a good time.
All little kids are fascinated with my camera equipment.  Maybe it’s just me?
As the dusk settles, most people head to the the roofed stage at Falcon Field where the band plays Polish tunes until 9pm.
Zywiec is the official beer of the Dozynki Festival.
The later it gets, the more people get out on the dance floor, the better the band sounds, and the more fun people overall have. I’m sure Zywiec has something to do with it.
Catching a glimpse of myself at a jewelery stand mirror.

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>Twins Days Roundup

>Twins Days is the largest annual gathering of twins in the world. It takes place in a town of Twinsburg, Ohio and it’s open to all multiples; twins, triplets, quads, identical and fraternal, young and old.  Twins Days, Inc. was founded in 1976 and it’s mission is to provide a vehicle for celebrating the uniqueness of twins and other multiples.

Twins Days packs an array of exciting activities for the two-day festival.  There’s a Double Take parade, golf tournament, twins contests, twins talent show, twins research, 5K race, wiener roast, raffle, twins group photo, fireworks display and much more.  And when the sun goes down, adult twins get together for karaoke and dancing, followed by an after party, and an after-after party.

We, meaning Viola and I have known about such festival for few years and always wanted to attend.  Luckily, this year we were finally able to go. We have enjoyed our time in Twinsburg and the festival so much that we plan on making this event an annual destination in the years to come!

Souvenir from the Twins Days Festival: photo pin.

How many pairs of twins can you spot in this photograph?
Putting a pin on the map.
These identical triplets were a sensation even at Twins Days festival where triplets are less common. From left, Becca, Emily and Molly.
Violet (left) and I with twins contest winners of “Least Alike Females 5-6 yrs old.”
Fraternal twins showing off matching tattoos.

The tattoos of course means TWIN in Hebrew.
From left, first, second and third place winners in the “Most Alike Females in 25-29 yrs.” category.
Marco and Miguel came to the festival from Miami.
Every year numerous research companies gather at the Twins Days Festival grounds to perform tests on twins.  Participating is entirely voluntary and nominal compensation is usually offered for participation in a project — possibly a bag of goodies, or a small amount of money.
Biometrics research such as finger prints, voice, hand geometry, face and iris study to help improve Biometrics recognition system and fraud alerts.
Inside the Biometric Research Tent: After my photos are taken, the technician tries to align Violet’s face with mine. The computer image on the right is the combination of both our faces.  All our key facial features; the eyes, nose and the mouth line up almost perfectly.
Violet and I participated in several different research projects.  If was a fun to learn about our similarities and differences while contributing to research.
Below we’re having 3D Photographic Images taken for research on the similarities and differences in skin aging.
Our names and photos might possibly be published in a magazine like these twins who previously participated in the study.
We also participated in Monell Senses Center’s taste and smell test.
Monika during the taste and smell test where tasting alcoholic content was involved. Swallowing was not allowed. 😉

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>Fireworks at Stanley Quarter Park

>The city of New Britain sponsored its 16th annual Great American Boom celebration and fireworks show on Sunday at Stanley Quarter Park.

The festival that began at 5 p.m. included many childrens’ activities like the inflatable gladiator duel. The opponenets equiped with helmets and padded pugil sticks try to knock each other off the base.

Crowds gathered at the Stanley Quarter Park patiently waiting for the fireworks to start any minute.

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>Karmic Justice in concert

>Karmic Justice in concert at Daniels Street Club, May 8, 2010.

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>Karmic Justice Photo Shoot

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When I was contacted by Tony Renzoni of Karmic Justice to photograph his band, I was thrilled.  They are the best cover band I know and are always entertaining to watch and photograph.
I joined Karmic Justice at Daniel Street of Milford on May 8th as they put on another high-energy, eardrum-pounding, roof-shaking, crowd-crazy performance. 
Before they came on stage though, I had a quick photo shoot with the band at the club lounge. Below are a few of my faves from the session.

Top left (Frankie Guns, DJ Edmano, Mikey Roy), Bottom left (Billy Bling, Tony Renzoni)

“Do the rocker face!”

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>Adamek vs. Estrada

>There is only one sport I can tolerate watching. In fact, I actually enjoy it. Ever since I was little, ten, eleven-years-old, I’ve been watching professional boxing with my dad. I think it all started when I saw my dad and his friends watching a Mike Tyson fight. And I think it was the bloody punches and the stunning knockouts that grasped my interest in the sport. But I also like it because there’s nothing scripted about it, nothing choreographed or staged. Boxing is very real and very gritty.

I especially enjoy watching boxing if a Polish boxer is in the ring. I’ve watched and cheered on Andrew Golota’s every fight but now Poland has a new champion – Tomasz Adamek. Tomasz Adamek is currently the best Polish fighter and a holder of an IBF International Heavyweight Title.

The Prudential Center was electric on Saturday night, February 6, as Adamek took on Estrada in a fight to defend his IBF International Heavyweight belt. The overwhelming majority of attendance was there in support of the Polish-born Adamek, waving the Polish flags and cheering wildly for him. Enthusiasm and happiness for seeing him win was outrages. Polish people love their patriots. And in the end, the Polish fans were not disappointed. The bout went to all twelve rounds with the unanimous decision in favor of Adamek.

Crowds of Polish fans cheering and screaming as Adamek makes his entrance into the ring. The bars are barely holding up as the overflowing fans try to reach out and touch Adamek and snap a photo.  I was nearly crushed to death by people behind me.

Adamek fought against Estrada to retain his IBF International Heavyweight Championship in front of 10,000-plus supportive fans, wearing Polish red and white.
Sneaking through two different security guards, I made my way down, as close to the ring as possible.  My great view was short-lived as a roudy Polish fan behind me got us both ‘kicked out’ back to our seats. 
A chorus of A-DA-MEK resounds from what seems to be 90% of Polish fans.

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