Rituals of Extraordinary Performers
In an often frenetic world, rituals offer a sacred moment of calm and quiet. They are about indulgence – luxuriating in a moment for oneself, taking time to enjoy little pleasures – but they are also about taking care of oneself and restoring vital energy and focus.
For many artists, rituals are an essential part of their performance. Whether their habits help calm the mind or give a boost of confidence before taking the stage, performers often observe unique, deeply personal pre-stage routines. La Prairie sat down with two seasoned musicians to discuss the art of ritual and why it plays an important role in their craft.
Photo: courtesy of the artist; © Marco Caselli Nirmal
ETIENNE ABELIN |Basel | etienneabelin.com
A pioneering violinist and conductor, Etienne Abelin is reinvigorating classical music. Born in Bern and currently based in Basel, the Swiss star started playing the violin when he was just four years old and began conducting in 2011. His audacious ensemble project, bachSpace, is an innovative interpretation of classic music – the trio combines works by J.S. Bach with electronic compositions and remixes.
Etienne is electric on stage, putting extraordinary passion into every piece he plays or conducts. “All performances are different, so the mix of emotions is always different,” he says. “The goal is to get physically and mentally ready to be fully there, right from the first moment on stage.”
Etienne’s preparation for the stage happens long before he steps onto it. In addition to reviewing each piece of music mentally and visually in fast tempo, Etienne connects with his body through stretches and then with the other musicians through conversation. He believes it helps him get into an improvisational space.
Evoking this sense of both formula and fluidity is essential to his music. “I try to be as well prepared as I can without getting stuck and overly perfectionist,” he says. “A performance is like a living and breathing animal, it must be spontaneous and perfectionism is detrimental to that.”
Photo: courtesy of the artist
DEANNA BADIZADEGAN | San Francisco | deannabadizadegan.com
Originally from Massachusetts, this San Francisco-based violist started playing at the age of four and has been performing around the world ever since, from castles in Luxembourg to Carnegie Hall in New York. Now 24, Deanna seeks out performance opportunities that emphasise the joy, human connection and creativity that are the hallmarks of great artistry and shared experiences.
“My absolute favourite part of playing music is to be able to connect with people around me – both the other musicians and the audience – in a meaningful way,” she says. “There’s a special feeling that you get when you start playing and sense the whole room is listening.”
Part of that connection is preparation, she says.
Deanna has several rituals she has adopted over the years to get in the right mental space for the stage. “I like to do some deep breathing right before I go on stage, which helps quiet my mind so I can stay focused on the music while I’m performing.” And if there is enough time, she tries to attend a Yoga class. “It puts me in the perfect zone,” she says. The violist says anticipation for a performance builds over a few days and that small rituals help focus her excited energy and anticipation into concentration.
To integrate a ritual into one’s own day-to-day routine, it is best to focus on a particular moment or context in which distractions can be kept to a minimum. Favour rituals that help calm the spirit, provide a sense of pleasure and well-being and give back time.
Rituals, Indulgence, Etienne Abelin, Deanna Badizadegan, Luxury, Performers, Perfection, Art
Majestic Matterhorn: Behind the Lens
A symbol of eternity and audacious beauty, the Matterhorn is the iconic image of Switzerland — one that represents La Prairie.
Such is the mountain’s breathtaking allure, it has been an inspiration to countless artists for centuries. John Ruskin, the great Victorian art critic and social commentator, declared it “the most noble cliff in Europe”. He not only painted the Matterhorn, he also took the first photograph of it in 1849.
The majestic mountain continues to captivate artists and audiences today.
Nenad Saljic’s haunting black-and-white photographs of the mountain have earned him two National Geographic Awards, and resulted in the honour of being named Professional Landscape Photographer of the Year at the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards.
Nenad, who was born in Croatia, became enraptured with mountaineering on a school hiking trip when he was only 12 years old. Seven years later, he climbed Mont Blanc. But it wasn’t until his 40s that Nenad first set eyes on the bewitching Matterhorn Mountain.
“That was love at first sight,” admitted Nenad, who now lives in Zermatt, which boasts arresting views of the mountain. In 2009, he first began photographing the Matterhorn, a project that lasted several years until 2015.
The fulfilling endeavour resulted in several thousand portraits and his book "Matterhorn: Portrait of a Mountain." It features 43 black-and-white duotone photographs accompanied by a timeline of the most significant events in the Matterhorn’s history.
Photo credit: Nenad Saljic
“There are several aspects of the Matterhorn that have attracted me,” Nenad pronounced. “Artistically, it is one of the world’s most magnificent mountains – with its pyramidal shape and solitary position it could be considered an ideal mountain. The Matterhorn even produces its own banner clouds due to the special atmospheric conditions.”
Nenad is also attracted to its rich history. The Matterhorn had long been deemed inaccessible, and it remained unclimbed long after most of the other great Alpine peaks had been reached. Edward Whymper finally conquered the mountain in 1865, marking the end of the golden age of Alpinism.
“The triumph and tragedy of this feat marks the epitome of our human desire to explore and venture beyond our limitations, simultaneously reminding us of how great and how small we are,” asserted Nenad. “The Matterhorn is a product of geological processes that transcend human beings and our concept of time.”
Photo credit: Nenad Saljic
A trained mountaineer and caver, he has never climbed a mountain that has had such a pull on him. “I think there is a Buddhist saying that the best view of a mountain is not from the top, because once you are on the summit you cannot see the mountain itself. This is a nice philosophical excuse, at least,” he stated.
Eternally captivated, Nenad finds that time gradually slows down when he is working, and eventually seems to stop entirely.
Matterhorn, Switzerland, Photography, Artist, Nenad Saljic, Art, Portrait of a Mountain
Three Types of Wrinkles and What Causes them
The formation of wrinkles – the crepe-like crosshatch lines under the eye, crow’s feet, frown lines and creases around the mouth – are a result of various biological, hereditary and behavioural influences. And while some lines add character, others might appear earlier than expected or seem too severe, robbing the face of its vitality.
Not all wrinkles are created equal, however. To choose the wrinkle-fighting products best suited for individual needs and concerns, it is essential to first understand the different types of wrinkles and what causes them. Here, the three most common types and how to combat them – the starting line for a lineless future.
AGE AND GRAVITY
Research shows that cells divide more slowly as you age, causing the inner layer of skin to thin and become prone to damage and folding. Skin also begins to lose its elasticity. This loss of resilience and bounce results in lines and creases, particularly around the eyes, along the fold that runs from the nose to the corners of the mouth and along the jawline and neck. Over time, the downward pull of gravity accentuates these issues, allowing lines to settle in. Products that work to support the skin’s natural renewal process by promoting the production of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid can help combat the impact of gravity on the skin.
Skin has a memory. Its cells track each smile, squint and frown, and with these habitual facial movements, expression lines begin to form. When facial muscular movements are repeated systematically, these lines become permanent and deepen with time. One way of guarding against expression lines is to impede facial muscle movement, but that requires dermatological procedures in a specialist’s office. Another effective way is to look for products that contain peptides that help to inhibit the signalling pathways of facial muscles, relaxing the surface of the skin and smoothing out existing expression lines – no appointment required.
For healthier, stronger, smoother skin, it is best to limit sun exposure. It is well documented that solar radiation causes skin damage and photo-aging. In fact, scientific studies show the sun causes more than 80 percent of visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging. Overexposure breaks down the skin’s underlying structure and affects its appearance, especially in sensitive, sun-prone areas like the cheeks and neck. Guarding against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays – the ‘aging rays’ – is fundamental to skin health, as both are responsible for long-term damage, including wrinkles. Scientists have also recently learned that within the solar spectrum, longer wavelengths such as Infrared Radiation (IRA) have been shown to alter the collagen equilibrium, while decreasing the synthesis of collagen itself. Choose products that contain an SPF of 30 or more with UVA, UVB and IRA protection to stop premature aging due to sun damage.
Simon, Harvey (2012). MD, Editor-in-Chief, In-Depth Reports; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Skin wrinkles and blemishes.
Flament F, Bazin R, Laquieze S, Rubert V, Simonpietri E, Piot B (2013). Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 2013;6:221-232. doi:10.2147/CCID.S44686.
Keywords: Lines, Wrinkles, Science, Aging, Expressions Lines, Gravity, Skin Care, Line Interception Power Duo, UVA, UVB, IRA, SPF, Sun