My name is Habib Koité and I am from Mali, Africa. My father had 4 wives. We were 17 children living in the same area. I liked that ambiance, it was nice for me. My mother sang for traditional events, my dad and uncles played guitar so music was quite natural for me. My parents were not so convinced about the fact I wanted to be a musician. They expected me to become an engineer. One of my uncles saw my talent and pushed my parents to accept my willing to learn music more seriously and finally they accepted.
I was +/- 20 years old. For sure I remember all the lessons and it’s true that I became a teacher because I was on of the best of my class but also because at the end of my learning, the professor of guitar died… and they needed to find quickly another professor.
In 1991 in Perpignan, France, a French friend of mine who was living in Bamako, got in touch with the festival VOX POLE and proposed me for a solo. They accepted and I won the prize: the recording of 2 tracks. It was my professional beginning.
I could explain the fact the people can appreciate without understand one word by an opening mind, a desire of meeting another world, other people, the interest for other cultures. I can have the same feelings for songs for which I don’t understand any words…That’s the World of Music.
After some gigs in Europe Michel De Bock proposed me to produce an album. All the tracks were played since many years in the clubs in Bamako.
So the work to do was to make them shorter (each of them had a length of 10 to 15 minutes… too long for the European public). After this work we made the recording in 3 days, then the mixing and mastering in 4 days (also incredible) and the CD was ready. It was like a natural birth, so quick, like breathing. In 1996 we made 90 concerts in the world in one year.
I do propose a music based on the traditional rhythms with a touch of Europe because obviously I have some influences by listening and learning other music. At the beginning it was not easy for the people from Mali to agree with this, but little by little I think this adventure was appreciated.
Luo Gang, who was born in a small town in Guangan city, southwestern Sichuan province, disappeared on his way to kindergarten 23 years ago, said his parents. Heartbroken, they did everything they could to find their son, but to no avail. They eventually gave up and later adopted a daughter.
What they didn’t know was that their son had been taken to a city in southeastern Fujian province, some 1500 kilometres from Sichuan. Although Luo’s adopted parents loved him and treated him like their own son, he said the desire to find his birth parents had always haunted him.
“Everyday before I went to bed, I forced myself to re-live the life spent in my old home,” he said. “So I wouldn’t forget.”
But the only memory Luo had of his hometown was of two bridges. He drew a rough map of his hometown from memory, before posting it on “Bring Lost Babies Home”, a Chinese website devoted to locating missing children through the help of volunteers.
Soon afterwards, a volunteer wrote back with valuable information – a couple from a small town in Sichuan’s Guangan city had lost a son 23 years ago. The time matched Luo’s abduction perfectly.
Luo searched for pictures of the Sichuan town and found they looked familiar to him. To confirm his suspicions, he turned to the satellite version Google Maps. The minute he zoomed in on an area called “Yaojiaba” near the Sichuan town, Luo recognised the two bridges. “That’s it! That’s my home,” shouted Luo, in tears.
Luo was pictured in a tearful reunion with his birth parents and grandparents in Sichuan. “In the past years, I couldn’t help crying each time I thought about my son, who could be starving without enough clothes on him,” said his mother. It is unclear whether any criminal charges will be brought against Luo’s adoptive family.
*By Angelina Jolie MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.
We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer andovarian cancer.
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.
Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.
Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.
On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.
But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.
My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.
Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.
Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.
I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.
It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.
I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.
For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.
I acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery. My own regimen will be posted in due course on the Web site of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. I hope that this will be helpful to other women.
Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.
I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.
Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.
*By Tom Allen “That depends on where this company will be in four.”
I’ve used this line whenever I’ve been asked this question, and it’s always gone down well. It’s honest, and it’s an opener to further questions about the company (which are vital – you should come out of an interview knowing more about the company’s trajectory than when you entered.)
It’s also confronting.
Some companies aren’t growing much, and so their answer is that they’ll be roughly where they are now, just a little bigger. This tells me a lot; they’re already successful so the career opportunity is more about earning than learning.
Some companies aren’t able to answer this. If you work for them, and they don’t know the answer four years out, how on earth are you supposed to know the answer another year later? This isn’t always a bad thing however; some people thrive on uncertainty. So do some companies. The best companies I’ve worked for haven’t known exactly what the future holds, but this question has opened them up to articulate their plans and hopes. The best jobs are those where the company’s goals align with your own, and you can both profit from success. If you can discover this alignment (or that there isn’t one!) in an interview rather than only after working together for several months, then you’re in a much better position to choose your path, and in turn, to answer their original question.
If they’ve given their response and still want you to answer theirs, then your final answer is inevitable:
“Well, now it depends on whether you’ve just given me the job…
By Dan Miethke, Firedancer, Cirque du Soleil artist
First & before all else, Coffee. I have long mornings, and make the most of it, doing the majority of my reading, internet etc. going for a run on the trails nearby or a swim if its summer.
If I have a training session or fire rehearsal scheduled for the afternoon, head in a bit early, I live 10 minutes drive from the theatre. I usually like to have at least a 30 minute warmup before my practice sessions down in our training room.
My practice sessions are a scheduled 1.5 hours long. I coach the two other artists in my act. For the fire rehearsals I have to submit a list of props I’d like fuelled and a plan for the session 2 days in advance so they can schedule the necessary technicians.
I generally spend rehearsal time either touching up on moves that might be less than perfect, or working on new tricks I want to bring to the stage.
After practice, shower, eat or gulp down some protein shake, sometimes I have a 30 minute massage scheduled in or a 30 minutes physio appointment with our performance medicine department.
Do makeup. When you first learn it takes you 2 hours. There’s prep and a base layer, setting and then powders ontop. Although they would like us to take at least 45 minutes to an hour on it most of us have it done in 30 minutes (don’t tell!).
Usually I have 20 minutes to spare before the start of show so I snag a couch in the green room and read or browse online. Others play pool or ping pong.
5-10 minutes before show start I get into costume and head to the training room, do some light stretching, say hi to a few people, get on the last bits of costume, head upstairs for my first cues as ‘the Sage’. I watch benevolantly from a balcony as the show comes to life, then run upstairs to get hooked up by the riggers for a flight 30 meters over the audience.
My act is near the end with no cues in the middle so I have the whole show to warmup. I like a 45 minute warmup, unless I’m already warm from a rehearsal earlier in which case I’ll just go over some moves. The training room has a nice soundsystem and we have some music going down there. I’ve been quite particular to dubstep to get me in the mood lately.
Then its time to head up to stage and bust out a performance. My act is 6 minutes of running, jumping, kicking and high intensity martial arts style prop manipulation on fire. This is where the training, the warmup and my mental preparation all comes to a focal point as I run out to begin. I try to embody the strength of my character in the intro section and then allow the muscle memory to take over and my body to flow through the patterns. I try to focus on projecting my character with my body, expressions and voice right out to the people in the back seats. Deep breaths to keep the oxygen flowing and relax as much as I can through the fire and the movements.
This can really be fun if i’m feeling good and we have a responsive crowd. It can be a drag if i’m sick or low energy. Either way I’m usually pumped once I come off stage, I feel alive and usually pretty happy about what I’ve managed to do.
After I get offstage I have about 3 minutes to stretch out, catch my breath and get into my harness before my last cue, a final aerial flight over the stage. Run out for bows. Hopefully its a good audience thats appreciated the work tonight. It really does make a difference to us if the audience cheers, makes it all worth it.
Run offstage, I usually have to give a little feedback to the techs that work on my props for the act as they are delicate and it’s a fiddly process.
Head down to dressing rooms, shower, makeup off. Sometimes head down to the training room to do some weights training and stretching, sometimes head straight home. The show finish’s at 9:30 but if I’m training I might get home by midnight.
Compliment the girlfriend on the (hopefully) delicious meal she’s cooked. Beer, internet, movies, sleep, rinse, repeat.
On my show we have 8-12 shows, 6 nights a week. So it can get pretty repetitive. You have to find ways to make it work for you. Either to stay inspired and teach yourself new skills, or study by correspondence etc.
We dont get much chance to party, one day isn’t really enough to recover and we work double shows public holidays (xmas and new years on stage). But when we do get the opportunity we make the most of it.
Every 4-5 weeks we get three days off which is a dream. Every 4 months we get a week ‘dark’ (no show) which we count down for eagerly, like kids for xmas. Our show is in Asia so most artists fly out for a dark, either home or to holiday nearby in bali, thailand, philippines etc.
It can be physically gruelling at times. Unlike competitive athletes we have no off season, we’re on, performing at high level, every night, often twice a night, so the body just doesn’t get the down time to recover from injuries as quickly as usual.
Good maintenance, plenty of sleep and finding the right pace is the best way I’ve found to keep myself prime and ready to give it all to the stage night after night.