Spirit of Joan

Hunting Shadows: Spirit of Joan, Mont Saint Michel.

How else would God speak to me, if not through my imagination? All battles are first won or lost, in the mind.
Joan of Arc

The story of “Agent Bond” began for me from the first days in London. During any casting, to remember my name more easily, the English asked me again: ”Oh yes, you’re Anna Bonda…, like Mr. Bond, right? Wow, great!” Then, as it should be, the smiles came and exchanges of pleasantries. I rented a room from Nigel and Amy in a building in Queens Park for eighty pounds a week. Nigel, an Australian, was in the lighting design business and was planning to open a studio soon. Amy was working as a model and was soon to go on maternity leave. From day one I sensed that Nigel was attracted to me, and I tried to avoid chance encounters with him in the kitchen as I had three more weeks to go and there was no better accommodation in central London. Every day I left early in the morning to go to castings or jobs. It was my first season in London and I was sure I would be lucky! I had enjoyed English at school, but the long-awaited arrival in Britain did not produce the enthusiasm I had hoped for. In a year spent in Paris I had had time to get used to my small, comfortable, furnished apartment, which I rented in the very cozy seventeenth arrondissement from an archaeologist who had gone on an expedition to Egypt. But London, heterogeneous and immense, where taxis were very expensive, was a difficult test. “Don’t worry, you’ll soon get used to it,” said Nigel. “It wasn’t easy for me coming from Australia either, where I had my own car and the climate was much better, but here in London there are so many opportunities! A girl like you will definitely get noticed!”

Nigel made a mini-poster, a collage with my photos and the inscription in English: ‘Meet Miss Bond, Agent 007!’ Indeed, everything went well, I shot a lot for luxury magazines and I was invited to participate in the next season of the fashion week. However, when I was asked to come to Paris again, I was happy to return. After England, France felt like my home and to this day I can’t forget that feeling. Afterwards, whenever I had to leave Paris for a long time, I felt a relief when I came back. Perhaps, the answer to this question should be sought in the experience of past reincarnations in France, which I do not doubt at all.

In the spring of 2011, the British Film Institute screened  ”It’s A Serendipitous Thing” by Cassius Matthias, in which I had a lead role; that’s how I got an agent in London. Jeremy Conway once brought Anthony Hopkins to the big screen. After a personal meeting in his office, the agent told me he had a job for me in England. He wanted me to become the next “James Bond Girl” and immediately arranged an audition in London with the film’s main casting director: “So, it’s not bad at all, if you have prepared all this in one evening. Nice to meet you!” I knew that the casting director liked me. The meeting took place on my birthday and everything went very well despite the fact that the text only reached me the evening before the audition. However, fate decided otherwise, but I did not regret that this role went to a French woman. Ten days before I had already been chosen for a role in another film, where I had to hold a medieval sword in my hands. And when, a year later in the final scene, I saw Javier Bardem blowing the head of the beautiful girl with a gun, I was happy not to have had to die like that on screen!

There is no such thing as a missed opportunity – everything is a rhythm. If a person aspires to universal harmony and constantly refines his receptors responsible for the right rhythm, which is given only by the heart, it is possible that in such a harmonious movement he will grow correctly internally.

One day, right at the start of my meeting with Vladimir Stepanov and his Ship of Fools, he came, with many people, to visit me in Montmartre. The group of followers from various social ranks followed his philosophy and his remarkable approach to all kinds of situations that one can encounter during the complicated journey called A Human Life. I was always amazed at how patiently and mercifully he treated the people around him. At times, it seemed to me that many just didn’t deserve the time that was given to them. I didn’t quite understand why Vladimir saw so many people and I asked him. He replied: ”All this is work for the future and for future reincarnations. In this reincarnation many people rest and may seem to be idle. In fact, they gain strength and wisdom to take a leap forward or a special mission in the future.”

In February, we went as a large group to Normandy. First we went to the picturesque rocky town of Étretat – a place where the impressionist Claude Monet loved to paint. Then we headed out at night to visit the fortified island of Mont Saint-Michel. Many of us were visiting the island for the first time. As we climbed the small stone stairs, people did not feel tired, the atmosphere that reigned was magical and the magical reality in which we suddenly found ourselves, resembled the one that weaves our dreams.  When we reached the top of the medieval chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael, everyone stopped at the entrance of the temple where a statue of Joan of Arc proudly stood. Vladimir could speak in such a way that only the person to whom it was addressed could hear it. Vladimir Grigoryevich changed the density of space in an unbelievable way, pushing time aside and bringing ordinary people closer to the stars. He constantly created his reality in unison with Eternity. I remember how I felt when Vladimir said those words; it was as if I had heard what I knew, what I had expected to hear for a long, long time: “Anna or Anne, almost like Jeanne… This girl looks a lot like you!”

Statue of Joan of Arc, Mont Saint- Michel, France, Normandy

An exclusive book excerpt from Anna Bondareva’s “Making Of: Trusted Chronicles” 

Artwork by Bernard Pras “James”, 2017

 Oil on panel painting by the English Pre-Raphaelite artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, from 1882 and is titled “Joan of Arc”

city of lights

Anna Bondareva, author of ‘Making Of: Trusted Chronicles’,
tells us about the great time she spent in Paris and, meeting inspiring artists, who became life-long friends who helped her remain tuned and creative. 

City of Lights

Life itself is just a brief moment of eternity, which must be taken immediately and from which one must take an advantage to party, whenever the occasion presents itself. Until recently, Paris used to be a great big restaurant where one could partake in a good time. But all the terror the French capital has gone through recently, including a deadly massive attack in the concert hall, Bataclan, on the 13thof November 2015, followed by the big fire that destroyed the flash of Notre Dame cathedral on the 15th of April 2019 have changed the whole ambiance of the “city of lights” forever.

I was lucky enough to live and experience other happier moments, and to meet great characters who have since sadly left this world.  Red cashmere scarf around the neck in black tie ban, always with a hat, always very chic, Yves Corbassière (1925 – 2020), was born a viscount. He never ceased to amaze the bohemian Parisian crowd whenever he appeared in public. His close friends and contemporaries included Charles Aznavour, Robert Hossein, Tino Rossi, Yves Montand, Alain Delon, and Rudolph Nureyev, to name just a few. As well as all those who could not stay in at home, instead they’d preferred the clinking of glasses and the hectic conversations, the beautiful women and the agitation of younger’s, around a big round table covered with starched white tablecloth. To create a menu card for the piano bar of the legendary Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Corbassière was invited at the request of the great actress Marlene Dietrich herself. The Hollywood star had lived many years on avenue Montaigne,  in the building opposite of Plaza Hôtel, and often went there to enjoy a coffee.

Yves invited me to attend the recompose of the Legion of Honor for his close friend, Eric Fréchon, the grand chef of the Bristol Hotel, Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The event took place at the Elysée Palace in presence of then French president Nicolas Sarkozy.  For security reasons, the guest list had to be submitted three days prior to the event for vetting and verification. I had originally traveled from London to Paris for some film auditions and meetings, but then received and accepted the invitation from the artist with joy and pleasure and extended my stay in Paris for a few more days.

Upon arrival to the presidential residence, Yves Corbassière settled down in a comfortable armchair in the ceremonial hall carefully examining his varnished oak cane with a silver handle, as he then began sharing his thoughts. “Yes, often I have no one to talk to about that time, because no one understands the intricacies of old-fashioned humor. The charters, the customs, the particular mode and art of communication and even the aesthetic of models have all changed.” At his age of eighty-five, the artist exhibited much autonomy. He still drove a car, enjoyed tasting rare French wines, and gave etiquette lessons to those newly hired service staff members of luxury Parisian establishments. But above all, the artist continued right until the end to do what was most important in his life – he continued to paint. The French he spoke, we could not hear elsewhere, but only at the cinema! He used phoned me often, and we had long conversations; it was a great fun speaking to him. “I never get bored because I can look at my memories as if watching an endless movie; I can pause, freeze a favorite moments, and even hear the voices of beloved long-gone friends. I should keep making art as long as my hand holds a brush firmly and my eyes require no extra aid. In the universe there is an inexhaustible reserve of themes for an artist, but the charm of a woman is a separate chapter. I can paint the woman endlessly. I draw her everywhere: with a marker on plates, with a pencil on the paper table napkins, then in my atelier on the canvases. The woman, for me, is like an elusive star. I look everywhere for her radiation.”Over the last few years the artist has lived and worked in a comfortable pavilion located in a small, picturesque village, just 40 kilometers away to the west of the Bois de Boulogne. One day I found the time to visit the master in his workshop. As usual, we started to chat. The artist showed me photographs and sketches, telling me he had begun to find it more and more difficult to paint. “I have nothing to regret. The only thing I would like to do is to have had traveled more.” He said with the slightest sadness, which had quickly disappeared as he picked up his speech and changed the subject. “For me, the Slavic countries, as well as the Slavic female beauty, remain under the veil of mystery. There is something inaccessible and a little crazy about Russian literature and the Eastern European folklore in particular. The Slavic soul somehow remains inaccessible to us, we, the Western people of reason and logics, simply cannot grasp its full potential.” Subsequently, the artist went to a nursing home, a hospice from where no one comes back. Once I visited him there, he brought out from underneath of his bed a fantastic bottle of red wine, served exclusively for guests. I asked him what the greatest pleasure and value for a person in his life would be and here is what the artist said to me. “In my opinion, music is the most perfect of the arts. I have played the piano since childhood. Once I could surprise a happy audience with some jazz improvisation. I’ll tell you a secret, I wanted to become a professional pianist but fate made its choice, and I became quite a good painter, a great schemer, and a great lover of music! And what makes a successful film? A talented director? A good cast? An expensive décor, or an unforgettable soundtrack?  Surely, you can make a good movie! That’s a great idea!”

I told Yves about my screenplay because it was him I imagined when I was writing some scenes. Likewise, I was thinking of a character, someone like Pierre Richard, who could have perfectly personified the painter on screen. During one of the dinners organized by Corbassière in a gourmet restaurant with a very musical name, Arpège, I met Richard. Previous to this, another friend of mine, the great painter, Sergei Chepik, attempted to introduce me to the actor Richard because I wanted to talk to him about my script. Chepik (1953 – 2011), who was one of the greatest painters to emerge from the former Soviet Union, painted a magnificent portrait of the French actor who had a very warm attitude towards Russia. Richard’s popularity there grew bigger than it was at home. Indeed, it is there that he felt the love of the public, like nowhere and nothing else. Pierre Richard was kind enough to give me his coordinates and we met right after at the theater during his one-man show where I had also been invited by my agent, Jolanta Bernard.  It was a very nostalgic and touching performance, where Richard read letters he had received from different people as well as legendary colleagues and friends throughout his career. The actor on stage was in his element, retelling funny stories and capturing memorable moments, all while improvising a lot. He truly had the ability to communicate with the public so openly and freely. After the show, I appreciated Pierre Richard even more. Recently, we went to a premiere of one of Pierre’s films, Un Profile pour deux. The screening was being held at one of the cinemas at Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Today, Richard, “The Tall Blonde man with one Black Shoe”, is 87 years of age and still rolling.

 

 

Manoel de Oliveira

Go ahead, Jeanne!

Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have of them.

Marcel Proust

My husband and I arrived in Porto in March. We were invited by the family of the de Oliveira dynasty: the son was a painter and, his father, Manoel de Oliveira, was the oldest filmmaker in the world. He died when he was 106 years old, but his age did not stop him from doing what he loved most – making films. I was very interested in getting to know the only 100-year-old director in the world. My husband wrote a preface dedicated to the works of his son, who is named after his father but with the surname Casimiro.Manoel de Oliveira in Lisbon Story by Wim Wenders

The Museum of Modern Art organized a presentation of the exhibition in which Casimiro’s works were shown. Afterwards, there was a sumptuous reception at the city hall of Porto, where I was introduced to the filmmaker. Casimiro’s grandfather, and Manoel de Oliveira’s father, was the first person in Portugal to make light bulbs.

Nine years before his death in 1932, Raul Brandão wrote the play “Gebo and the Shadow“, after which Manoel de Oliveira made a film in 2011, making the kerosene lamp a hero in its own right. At the end of the film, Shostakovich’s eerie Symphony No. 15 sounds, the composer’s most personal and mournful music dedicated to the anticipation of death.

Nevertheless, when I found myself on Manoel’s film set in Paris in the autumn of the same year 2011, I saw that death had no hold on this lively director. His wife, with whom we spoke in French in the dressing rooms, told me: “The secret of the youth of the centenarian Oliveira is that he has been swimming in the ocean every morning for ninety years! Despite the low temperature of the water, in any season, my Manoel never gets sick!”

Suddenly, I was asked to come to the filming lodge. The director’s daughter, who was the assistant on the set, called me and sent a car to pick me up. I had just finished the last few days of shooting another film, which happened to take place in Paris. I knew that in this adaptation, Manoel de Oliveira was going to follow the original play faithfully, where there were only four characters and none of them corresponded to my age range. All the roles have been cast for a long time: Jeanne Moreau, Claudia Cardinale, Michael Lonsdale and Oliveira’s favourite actress, Leonor Silveira. Gebo, the main character in Brandão’s play, says: “Happiness is when nothing happens.”Similarly, on Manoel’s set, with few actors, time seemed to stand still. There was an atmosphere of quiet family happiness, of the satisfaction that life gave, filled with artistic achievement and wisdom. The whole space of the pavilion was filled with these sacred vibrations. I was absolutely happy to share this rare moment with these incredibly down to earth and wonderful people and I relished every magical moment. They all transported us back in time, they spoke and thought differently. A truly precious opportunity presented itself to me to absorb their unyielding desire for life, their ability to appreciate every breath. All this only comes with years of experience. Jeanne Moreau is my favorite actress. I admire everything about her. I love all her films and her long artistic career has inspired me on more than one occasion to continue making films. At the time of the shooting with Oliveira she was already eighty years old and, despite her age, the actress never forgot her lines. There was something inexplicably majestic about her stillness, because in the film everything happens around a dinner table. When Claudia Cardinale moved from the dressing rooms to the set, you could see that she was somewhat moved. She, a veteran actress, was to play with an even more experienced actress and an absolute star, Jeanne. I know from my own experience that the most difficult thing is to play static scenes in cinema, where the body does not express the action, but you have to, in an unimaginable way, keep the life in the frame.Claudia Cardinale in Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West”.

“Go ahead, Jeanne!”  Exclaimed the director after the camera had started rolling. In Manoel’s greeting there was a very deep recognition. Despite the success and experience of many years, even great actors need constant encouragement during the shooting. And the competition between the actresses and the fight for the director’s attention are part of the routine.

On the way back to the city, after a quiet but emotional day of shooting, I thought about the incredible relationship between Manoel and his wife Maria. It was impossible to look at this couple without genuine affection. In fact, that’s what I dreamed of, a close-knit family, to be able to live together every day in harmony, to look into each other’s eyes and feel confident. No matter how high my career was, it couldn’t quell my deep sense of loneliness, which I felt more and more. In recent months, the relationship with my husband was becoming increasingly difficult due to long separations from each other’s work, unavoidable events and innuendo. In the summer, during the last shoot, the emotional peak reached an extreme point and I hardly managed to finish. Something was lost forever but it was impossible to accept it. There was just the hope that time would put everything back in place. How to go on living, I didn’t know. I had to think about it. In such a state, I could not return immediately to my husband in London.

An Exclusive Book Excerpt from Anna Bondareva’s ‘Making-of :Trusted Chronicles’

Artworks: by Manuel Casimiro & “Jeanne Angkor” by Jean-Luc Blanc

meeting in the train

Voyage, voyage

It takes someone very special to help you forget someone very special.

Erich Segal

The crowded carriage of the Euro star branded train was filled to capacity. While all passengers were taking care of their business, a woman of indeterminate age with a chiseled profile looked out the window but did so somehow differently. Everything was different about her. “As soon as we get on the way I shall begin my approach”, I thought to myself. It is wonderful to be an artist, and it certainly makes it extremely easy to meet women. One only needs to offer to make a sketch portrait and a beautiful stranger is more or less ready to continue the evening, she might even caress you with a gentle flirtatious look. That look will lead you to an inevitable adventure, satisfaction guaranteed! Perhaps that is why I chose this job for myself in the first place. I needed to please women badly. So that they see in me a royal likeness of higher powers, awaking their most secret desires, making them feel sexy like a goddess or a queen Cleopatra. That is how I became a draftsman, seducing everyone for the sake of vanity. Where was the real Eric, and what did he want to say? What could bring new things to this world, what ideals to glorify, and what to fight for?! I did not look for answers to these questions anymore. I just kept moving “forward” without noticing that since some long-time ago, my inner locomotive began to go backwards surely and securely. After the train departed, twenty minutes had passed before I returned to the place where I saw Helen for the first time.  But she was no longer there. Passengers who could be considered as her neighbors assured me that there was never a woman at the window.

“No,” I said to myself, “This cannot be! They must have not seen the stranger mysteriously disappear from the carriage.” I moved to the bar car, and, and whilst waiting for the fulfillment of my order I began hearing a hum of low voices. Listening to the conversation, I recognized a dialogue consisting of a woman and a man. The woman’s voice whispered, with trepidation, that she had lost the most intimate of things, namely, a hope for Heaven, and now, having seen all her sinful fall, it is not clear to her what to do. She believed that her sins were so grave that the Almighty may no longer hear her prayers. The man’s voice answered something, but it was impossible to make out what he said exactly. I turned around and saw Helen standing there. There she was, an unknown splendid blonde with beautiful sensual mouth from my carriage, she set in the company of an extraordinary old man. “Are you going to the autumn salon? Are you invited to take part in Frieze Art Fair?”

This time the man’s voice spoke toward me; it had an inhuman piercing vibration and incredible texture. “Yes, exactly there”, I answered and continued, “Listen, can I buy you something, a drink? What would you like?”

“Just coffee, if you don’t mind”, the woman replied while looking distantly away at the window. The thought of Helen never left my mind since the very first moment I saw her in the train. Now I knew,  it was she who made this speech about “life in heaven”, and I decided to ask. “It is impossible to believe that everything that I just accidentally heard about, in fact, has a place to be”.

“You are right! People rarely rely on someone’s word, although many are driven by their own instincts”, the old wise man gave me a sharp look. I wanted to raise my right hand to undo the top button of my shirt collar, but I couldn’t even move a finger. This numbness lasted for what felt like an indefinite time, it seemed that everything in the world just stopped, and only after the old man invited me to take a deep breath did I return to life and was able to make a move. A feeling of horror gripped me at the thought that “some force” paralyzing me like this, and suddenly I could no longer hold my paint brush in my hand. In that very second, for the first time ever, hitherto unshakable self-confidence, which had been so thoroughly strengthened over the years, fed by various sources from outside, suddenly disappeared.

“Yes, imagine, when this will be happening to you for real!”, the old man seemed to be addressing me with all seriousness, but now he was winking playfully, as he kept looking straight at his charming companion, at Helen. I sat down at the next table and they brought me a beer with pistachios. I wanted to say “thanks” to the waitress, but instead I could only let out an unnatural groan that was more similar to a dog.

“Hope you are doing better now, Eric,” the old man kept smiling. And how could this perspicacious person know my name, is it written on my forehead ?! “Oh, well, of course, he recognized me from the gossip reports”, a thought flashed through my mind. “I’m Eric, a famous painter and so many know me.” But now, I began to doubt it. The freed hand eagerly reached for the cold drink. After the first sip, my composure completely returned to normal, and I continued aloud. “I hope to get a good time out in London, Paris has completely exhausted me.” I did not recognize my own voice, it sounded disgusting.

The old man and the woman did not pay any attention to my pronounced statement. I was about to offer them another drink together, and the woman burst into such serene laughter that I, involuntarily, whined from powerlessness. I fell into a frank stupor. When I was going to say something like “great” again, I inevitably found myself facing an inexplicable internal obstacle that simply inhibited me from building a full-fledged proposal. I closed my eyes trying to stay centered, and fell into some kind of indefinite trance. Time flew by quickly and a message about an imminent arrival to London flashed through the train. My companions evaporated in an unknown direction, and I returned to my seat to collect my things.

At King’s Cross Station, I was met by the driver of the Dorchester Hotel in a dark blue Jaguar. He drove me to my destination without unnecessary courtesies. On the way, I tried in vain to discard the memories of what had happened on the train. But with indignation and shame, my ears were bloodshot. The laughter of a beautiful blonde stranger, continuously sounded somewhere in the back of my cranium.  The face of the mysterious old man stood in front of my gaze, as if alive. Everything he said, and the sound of his voice uttered, seemed to be engraved in my memory.

Will I ever see Helen again?

An extract from My Name is Eric, a novel by Anna Bondareva 

Paintings by Tamara de Lempicka

déjà vu

Déjà Vu

Time moves in one direction, memory in another.

William Gibson

In order to please her aunt and spend one more day with her, Marie decided to visit the fortune teller and listen to a forecast of her future. On a late October morning Marie Lancel together with her aunt, Edita, went to the sixteenth arrondissement of Paris to visit a soothsayer. Was this Paris, or seeing Edita, or something else altogether? But it was the first time in a long time since Marie felt a warm wind of hope in the air and her sense of being was no longer sealed with grief and anger.  As they walked pass the large Avenue Foch, Marie began recalling childhood memories: “My darling, Edita! Do you remember how you used to pick me up from school, before the end of my lessons, under a fictitious pretext… and then we would go to the cinema and watch films starring Louis de Funès?!” Edita felt a swift kick back to her past, and all of a sudden she felt twenty years younger. “And now the cinema has become completely different, and I no longer go to see the films. Everything has changed so much, and Paris is no longer the same city, the one it used to be; I eve stopped following the news, as it simply became unbearable. I don’t believe in politics, you know me!”

“What nonsense, auntie! There is always something to see and discover!” Marie said as she smiled, “We shall be going with you to our favorite theatre in Montmartre, and we will not care what film we will watch, let it be a surprise! No further discussion! After the fortune teller, we will go straight to Montmartre, although I promised myself not to go to this quarter, but I do not fear the past anymore. Now I just feel that all of it does not matter so much. This does not mean that I have forgotten everything. On the contrary! It’s just that something has changed in my perception, and my memories are no longer hurting me. They are somewhat painless, vague dream sequences; like an old diary, which I can look through from time to time if I want to.”

Marie felt comfortable with Edita. She could talk to her for hours and not feel bored; Edita’s voice and the smell of her Chanel 5 perfume did not changed over the years, all reminded Marie of her carefree Parisian youth. The women climbed a spacious circular stone staircase that led to the top floor. The door was ajar and they went into a large living room. Despite the day, the curtains were drawn; only a small floor lamp emitted light at the end of a long corridor. In the salon, oriental music played softly and in the center of the room there was a table full of candles, covered with purple velvet cloth, on which there were numerous wax stains. The whole place looked vintage and shabby; a deck of Tarot cards were laid out on the table.

Marie headed straight to the table and began to examine the cards. At that moment, a woman with dark hair and bright flowery clothes approached Edita to say hello. Marie spoke to the gypsy fortune teller, “ I just have had a déjà vu! I have seen you somewhere, for sure! Wait a moment…that’s right! You were in my dream! ”

Marie was shocked by what was happening, she was sure that this gypsy woman was exactly the one in her visions, and aunt Edita was somewhat worried: “Can it really happen?! My dear Marie! With you, I always have incredible adventures!” The Gypsy gazed intently into the pretty face of Lancel, who stood by the large window and watched the street pigeon perched on the outer window cornice. The Gypsy said:  “Now go and take a card from that table, and I’ll tell you what you need to know.”

Marie heard this phrase in her head and was not sure exactly where the voice had come from; whether it was the voice of a woman fortune-teller, or just a mental call, like hypnosis. The actress, Marie, approached the table in the center of the room and drew out a card from a large deck. On the card of the major Arcana, The Lovers, were depicted by a naked man and woman, staring at a large angel above them. An angel sat on a cloud with arms crossed, multi-colored wings developing behind him.  ”Now get two more cards!” Fortune teller directed her order to Lancel without moving her eye lids. Marie did not try to resist and pulled out two more cards: “Okay, here you are!” The Gypsy looked at the cards for a minute, and continued to preach:

“The Third and Seventh Arcana mean that you have complete control over your destiny; you will be able to direct your life along the path you desire but only on one condition. You must connect the great energy of love, the secret center for everyone and everything, which is conventionally designated as “Omega”. Once you manage to free yourself from your habitual patterns of perception, you will meet true love. She will find you herself. It doesn’t take long to wait!” As soon as Marie was about to ask her question, the Gypsy began to chant in an incomprehensible language, and Edita, noticing the actress’s confusion, went up to her and whispered in her ear. “I told you that we have the right to only one question; she already answered you, now it’s time for us to leave.”

Leaving the building, Marie stopped for a moment and turned to her aunt, and with some confusion spoke: “Omega” is the center of love, a point of universal reference, an exhaustive abundance, in which external attributes lose their properties, dissolving in an unthinkable stream of pure vibrations of angelic beauty. How do I know all this?!” At that very moment, private detective, Mr. Lyndon, was getting prepared in the entrance. He was clearly in a hurry, and Edita instantly recognized him.

An extract from the book series Marie Lancel by Anna Bondareva

quo vadis

Quo Vadis

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Confucius

It is human nature to quickly forget fleeting experiences, ups and downs, passion and indifference, hatred and pain, and sudden joy. Perception is determined by the state of the soul and the free volume of information at its disposal. For example, pathological sadness in some of its manifestations is viewed by many as a great awakening of the spirit, a thirst for enchanting worlds, an inner search, or a subtle arrangement of the soul. Just as night gives birth to day, day gives hope, and night takes day. All kinds of tricks are used to deny recognizing the usual and most common of human conditions- melancholy. “Happiness is a choice. The choice is the whim cake.” This is what people say, without ever considering where they get their variety of choices. The real choice can only be made within your own dreams and by your own sincere goals and transparent awareness.

You have to first have a dream, a big dream that will someday come true but only if you believe it with all your heart. You can adapt your lifestyle to many schemes with which you can justify your weaknesses and failures. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh,” they say, having too soon lost faith in their own strength, and left justifying the fear of doing what they love in making a cherished dream come true. Just take a closer look at yourself and rid yourself of self-deceptions; be nude in front of you. For at least a few minutes, try to forget the image you have of yourself, sometimes false and imposed. To do so, you must first become the slave of your own heart. When the heart is freed from all the filth caused by doubts, everything becomes easy. Only at the border of the conscious and the unconscious, with the help of Mary Poppins’ magical umbrella, can one manage to rise above the irreversibility of dusty everyday life, and the lights of clarity begin to flash. If only we could still talk or think about true freedom, that is, the freedom of the Spirit!

Quo Vadis is a new piano album, an album of great hope.Sometimes our hope consists of many small fragments and some contradictory feelings, but it is still a hope.

”Quō vādis?”  is a phrase in Latin meaning, “Where are you marching?” Sometimes translated as, “Where are you going?” or, poetically, “Whither goest thou?” Most of times, before reaching the designated reserve peak, one has to go through many trials along the way. Courage on the way is necessary, and then a fair wind will blow! Saint Peter asks Jesus, “Quō vādis?” He replies, “Rōmam eō iterum crucifīgī” (“I am going to Rome to be crucified again”). The Apostle then gains the courage and hope and returns to the city; Peter continues his ministry where he is martyred by being crucified upside-down.  In a sense, to achieve your dream, you need to sacrifice yourself. Yes, it’s not easy, but what are we todo? How to keep on with the living? We need to hope to win, all hours of the day!

 by Anna Bondareva 

 

what dreams may come

Initiation in the Black Temple

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars will shine.

Persian proverb

On New Year’s morning in a Dutch castle, I had a dream where Master G. served as a guide to a magical space. Some call him ‘Gee’ or Vladimir.
In my dream, I was chased by two masked men. The figure of Vladimir has grown out of nowhere; with his look and the phrase, which he did not seem to utter, as if his thought were transmitted to me on a subtle plane, “Get ready for constant internal discomfort, and now I invite you to walk with me.”
Master G. did not ask, he inspired the right action. His intent and power were so all-encompassing that it was impossible to refuse.
At dusk, we hurriedly walked along the deserted streets of the deserted city of N and finally turned out upon the square, where there was a low hanging Gothic temple.
On the right side of its main entrance, behind a cast-iron fence and on a small piece of land set aside for a cemetery, stood a centuries-old dais covered
with brown earthen moss coffin.
“A strange place,” I said to G., “It looks like a crypt … Still, I advise you to have a look in there with me, since we are already here.”
G. opened the lowly door, behind which a staircase began. We climbed a few steps and found a second door which was locked and marked with a sign reading “Retreat of the Holy Spirit”.

Without consulting, we decided to knock. After a short pause, a black woman with long curly hair opened the door. She began to speak with us using a language unfamiliar to me. Vladimir, feeling bewildered, slapped me on the left shoulder, and I instantly began to understand the black woman:
“This is the Great Black Temple. On it lies the curse of dead souls. A long time ago, several murders took place inside the temple, and now the souls of the dead do not leave this place.”
“Just don’t be afraid, let’s go with her”,  Vladimir whispered to me.
And then the black priestess threw up her hands in disbelief:
“Oh, didn’t you know? We must pay tribute!”
Vladimir looked from the woman to me, and I hastily reached into my backpack, which, to my surprise, was not empty at all, and pulled out two bananas and a piece of pitch-black bread.
“Great, you can’t imagine better”, Gee said smiling. After evaluating the “gifts,” the stranger made an inviting gesture with her left hand, and we followed her. Inside the space there was darkness; for a minute it seemed to me that I had become blind, and then, somewhere in the distance, the orange-pink lights of a dozen torches appeared. “Is it always so dark in here?,”  I said as I turned to Gee.
“It is better to ask the inhabitants of this temple,” Gee replied.
We continued to move forward until we came upon a new staircase, which now led downward. There was a sharp lack of air, and I really wanted to get out from this sinister place. “Are you still alive, sis?”, asked Vladimir.
Vladimir seemed to have poured the missing energy into me, and my state changed. He said: “There were musicians of the American black jazz ensemble. Impromptu jazz music began to sound from somewhere, with a trumpet as the soloist.
The cheerful jazz atmosphere does not coincide with the traditions of the inhabitants of this place, and they do not particularly respect men,
they have a completely different mission – maintaining the otherworldly fire.” Again Gee posed a lot of new questions with an answer, and as soon as I was about to start asking them, Vladimir said: “Okay, that’s enough for today, let’s go to the exit.”

Medieval Feast

And from here a beautiful connection was created:
the same as any seed contains the tree and the fruit,
the whole universe is enclosed in small man, who’s religion, deeds, health,
body parts, nature, language, words
and deeds – everything sounds in one
tone and one melody according to
God, heaven and earth.
Johann Valentin Andreae
“Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz” (1459)

In the apartment where I grew up, a party was already in full swing. The house was filled with people; women and men, they all had amazing beautiful faces. Suddenly, in the corner of the room I noticed a guitar. ‘How could a guitar from my Parisian apartment in Montmartre move here, to my childhood home?’  Asking myself this question as if dreaming, I kept focused on a thought that this is a dream, where everything is possible. I took the instrument in hand, hugged it tightly, and decided not to let the guitar out of sight. In the grand salon, by the window, there is an old musical instrument brought from Germany by my grandmother. It was a piano from the famous House of Amati; Nicola Amati an Italian Master Luthier from Cremona, the son of the founder of the violin school, who brought the type of violin developed by his predecessors to perfection and became a teacher for many future masters.

“And when will we start playing?”, I was impatiently worried but still opened the lid of my instrument.  “Let each of us write on the beat,” I boldly suggested, without any hesitation or second thought. “This is a great idea, Anna,”  Master G. was delighted. I felt sorry for the writer Gilbert. Again, he was unable to hide his grievances, seeing that Vladimir and I were united. My cat, Musia, seemed to be counting the tension of Gilbert and meowed pitifully, jumping on his lap. Gilbert dismissed the pet’s caress and sat down closer to Vladimir on the sofa. “Wait, just be quiet! Do you hear this?” said Gilbert as trumpets filled the apartment. The sound was so clear that all the fun as instantly silenced. I decided to go to the bedroom, where there was a balcony, to look and check – perhaps this is where the wonderful trumpeters hid. Opening the room’s door, I saw three young maidens dressed in medieval clothes. Their hair was hidden under high cone-shaped headdresses, and their faces shone with kindness and purity; they seem to have come off the old tapestries that I loved so much to see in the Musée Cluny in Paris.

“And let us change you into something decent,” – said one young woman.

The girls began to help me. It turned out that there were several outfits in the closet and all that remained was to choose the most suitable one. I chose a long silk blue dress, put it on and returned to the salon, which was now filled with men who were dressed like the knights in armor. “Where is everyone?,” I asked while looking for Vladimir. One of them, the tallest, came up to me. The man wore a special knightly costume: over the forged chain mail – a white shirt with the image of a red cross; these were worn by the Knights of the Templar Order. He leaned toward me and said: “So, we meet again!”

The knight then dropped to one knee. For a minute I looked at him and could not understand who he was. His sharp gaze was very reminiscent of Gee’s, but this was already another person, with whom I are completely unfamiliar in this life, but at the same time, it felt like we had known each other for all eternity.

 

And I saw seven Angels, who stood before God;
and seven trumpets were given to them.

The revelation of John the Evangelist

Order of the Gray Tunic

Truth is what you think is true even if others disagree.
Richard Matheson, “Where Dreams May Come” *

To meet Master Gee in dreams meant to experience new trials or adventures, which as a rule were of an initiatory nature, contributed to inner awakening, and correct comprehension. They could provide the key for solving problems that the adept is inevitably forced to go through his own way and overcome his emotional constraints and selfishness. By interfering with the pure energy of kindness, that is, to purify, to inspire, and to continuously renew a person’s potential while ensuring that he remains in the correct energy flow, in the ray of light.

“Finally, I found you,” whispered Vladimir tenderly while patting me lightly on the left shoulder, “We have things to do, let’s hurry!” We found ourselves on the stairs of some entrance. “Where are we?” I asked, with great curiosity. “In St. Petersburg”,  Vladimir replied with a smile. A moment later we were standing in a typical St. Petersburg courtyard. Gee suddenly became very serious: “Again we will have to take a taxi, otherwise we may be late for the procession.” He exclaimed. In a dream, Vladimir looked significantly younger. I hurried after him; it moved quickly and smoothly, like a ship driven by the wind of the starry worlds. From around the corner of an empty street turned out an old “Moskvich“, once popular soviet vehicle of light green color. Vladimir stopped the car with a gesture. “Get in, quickly!” Commanded Gee. We got into the car. The driver took off without asking where to take us. Yet, he drove with knowledge of the matter. After reading my thoughts again, Vladimir said: “Be patient. Just a little while and you will see everything for yourself!” Then there was a journey in a changed space and time. Following Gee in dreams, you can get into amazing spheres, subtle, borderless realities, where the usual notions of time are absent – ether reigns there. And everything becomes possible. Unbelievable opportunities open up to the galactic wanderer, and if the master is supportive, then you can count on revelations and discoveries too.

We found ourselves at the foot of the building. The ideal cylindrical structure made out of white stone seemed to have no doors. Gee said: “Now we will enter through there, and you will meet everyone!” In a moment we were transported to the inside of the sanctuary, where men, dressed in gray tunics of coarse fabric, offered prayers, took deep breaths and exhalated. They are all very similar to each other, like brothers. The unusual sounds and aromas made my head spin. “Be patient, dear, “ Gee kept repeating, “Just try to be patient! Your main task is to form the character in such a way that you can combine all four primary elements, controlling fire, air, earth and water.”

Another man has appeared in front of us by this time, his tunic was somewhat different in color; it was blue-gray, embroidered with silver thread, with amazing patterns and secret signs. His unusual belt buckle caught my eye. I heard an inner voice: “If you look at the buckle for a long time, you will forget everything!” After that, a new dream began, with a new plot and new unique experiences.

* What Dreams May Come is a fantastic melodrama by Vincent Ward, based on the book of the same title by Richard Matheson. The film won an Oscar in 1998 for Best Visual Effects.

An excerpt from the book “Freestyle 4 Love” by Anna Bondareva

Artworks By Valery Koshlyakov

fool’s gold

In the ancient world, from China and India to Greece, alchemists struggled to find a universal cure for diseases. This would extend through the ages and later be addressed by alchemists. Alchemy is a medieval chemical science, a type of speculative philosophy focused on trying to alter fewer valuable metals into gold; a magical solution intended to discover a means of prolonging life indefinitely.

Fool’s gold is a substance that is found in rock and resembles gold very much.

Gold is one of seven metals of alchemy. It could also be used by other disciplines to represent other things, such as its use to represent the sun in astrology. But in Alchemy, gold represented the perfection of all matter on any level, including that of the mind, spirit, and soul.

In the game of Tarot, The Fool card is numbered as “zero”, which is associated with the notion of  unlimited potential. Various philosophical meanings could be found in tarot cards. When meditating on it carefully, one could try to imagine how to turn any situation into a positive outcome, by playing it around from a different angle and ‘taking it easy’ or ‘acting like a fool’. This specific technique is also used in some martial art practices, such as pretending to be a drunken body, so that your enemy does not notice you are in fact preparing for the next combat strike.

The Fool Arcana is also considered the Fool’s journey through life, and as such, he is ever present and therefore needs no number. The Fool is always ready to begin everything from scratch, dropping behind all the heavy duties and memories from his or her past, and clearing out the inner space for a new road full of incredible adventures. The new road movie will begin and as does every film, good music is always needed. This meditative approach leads to healing; it can definitely bring tranquility in difficult and anxious times.

People tend to create cages of gold for themselves; building houses, and seeking profit.   Quite often, it takes the best years of a person’s life. We all undoubtedly need to be singled out; we do need to become free as a bird in order to feel all the charm of the flight, to actually enjoy the sky scenery!  We shall leave our cage, albeit incredibly beautiful, but still a cage. Since early times, people have been looking for a sacred meaning in alchemic elements in order to make nature serve their purposes, such as healing.

With the help of music, we have the opportunity to conduct healing rituals.

Yet how can the most unsightly or unpleasant, suddenly turn into something attractive, speaking of human beings? Everything depends on the energy, and all energy is subject to transformation.  When applying a sincere effort, we all are, like the ancient alchemists, potentially able to become magicians.

The poison of negative emotions can destroy the good side of an individual. Therefore, one should carefully tune one’s emotions. The question is similar to the one posed in the Harry Potter world, whereby a magic hat chooses which camp each student will attend, asking the fundamental question of ‘will you become good wizards or vice versa?’

The path is unpredictable, and inspiring music can become very helpful, just give it a try and wait for the outcome.

 

music for movies

Music For Movies  is a piano album that gives everyone space to create their own personal moving image, absolutely free from any criticism and censorship, as an independent filmmaker. So, sit back, turn on the music, close your eyes and listen. You’ll see! A miracle will surely happen!!

Music For Movies, Part One / Official release date 4th of September, 2021

Download & stream : https://iMusicianDigital.lnk.to/Music-For-Movies

human after all

Supermodel Forever is an immense encyclopedic work on fashion industry, with a touching and intimate account.

This is a daring book, offering an insightful author’s take on high fashion, presenting it as something uncommon, tricky, but still human after all. This book by Anna Bondareva offers memoires that analyze and explore this sparkling yet full of contradictory business from all its angles.

Initially published in Russia, and then later in French by the Parisian publishing house (Éditions du Panthéon) under the title Beauté Éternelle.

Having evolved in the world of professional haute couture, and having starting modeling at the early age, Bondareva arrived to Paris in during the 90s. She arrived right in the middle of the big exposure of the supermodel’s era. While being a sixteen-year-old at the time, she came to win over the many temptations of the fashion world.

Anna Bondareva has a story to tell. She shares her personal expertise, her close look at haute couture fashion and those who gravitate towards it. Her book gives us a behind the scenes look that make you question how real television and magazine depictions really are. Or is it such a magical place to be, the house of glamour?

Covering her experiences in Paris, London, Rome, New-York, Havana and Saint-Petersburg, Bondareva delivers to her readers an assessment, while being as impartial as she can and offering a critically philosophical, lucid and sharp gaze at the external thrilling events, at times full of danger.

This autobiography is well documented and rich in the life anecdotes it provides. Behind this seemingly festive, creative atmosphere that sprinkled with glitter and champagne bubbles, hides a darker facade, which Bondareva describes in her opus.

However, one might think that we know and have heard ‘all these stories’ so many times before! Quite a few films dealt with the same topic. The story of becoming a model also once caught the interest of Andrei Konchalovsky, as he went on shooting “Gloss in 2007, which starred director’s wife Yuliya Vysotskaya.

Another example is Angelina Jolie who appeared in “Gia”, a television show about one of the first supermodel back in the nineteenth.

The French leading filmmaker Luc Besson, a director who has always amazed his audience with movies driven by strong female heroines such as “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc”, recently released blockbuster “Anna”. His new film takes up the subject of the Russian model known as ‘Sasha’, and her story of how she was forced to become a superspy.

In “Celebrity”, a witty movie directed by Woody Allen, Oscar-winning Charlize Theron was given the opportunity to demonstrate her exquisite looks as she has been cast to play a supermodel.

Therefore, in Supermodel Forever the author’s inner world is presented throughout twenty-eight chapters. Every chapter tells backstage stories, each of which is guaranteed to whet your curiosity. What could be tastier than going behind the scenes of the fashion world?

The history of fashion, the portraits of figures of this sometimes overestimate universe of catwalks and castings; all of these are taken up in Bondavera’s book. Bondareva warns all those who are vividly trying to be part of this sometimes cruel dimension to remain careful. She casts a lucid gaze on those glossy dreams that haunt so many young girls.

She has worked with some of the greatest photographers, and has been represented by some of the best modeling agencies in the world. Bondareva is a French based and Russian born neoclassical composer, pianist, singer songwriter, film actress and author possessing a remarkable charm that makes her a very distinct character.

The fact that she is so multifaceted, in combination with her image as a diva, inevitably instills in people with refined taste a look full of admiration for her. Bondareva is also an artist who can boast about having recorded 19 albums and many more EPs and singles. She got her first role on the big screen in a French movie “Bunker Paradise”. Lately, she has mainly devoted herself to music.

Her immense work ranges from neoclassical instrumental compositions to songs in pop art style, dominated by the piano, and sometimes mixed with electro-dance trends. It does make Bondareva a composer and authentic songwriter difficult to ascribe to a single defined genre.

For example, in her somewhat fun intended self-deprecating, catchy and humorous track, “Hair Clip”, her lyrics perfectly reflect the credo of a supermodel. A kind of sober black and white, graphically stylish official music video to the song is available on YouTube.

Supermodel Forever brings a new eye to this prestigious but deceptive world. If you haven’t finished choosing someone’s Birthday’s gift yet, I can only recommend this book as one.