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Madonna News - June 2004

Gyrotonic is a real tonic and Madonna does it

Dancers have been using it for years. Chiropractors are starting to use it to compliment their practices. And Madonna does it, Perhaps the final stamp of approval needed for a new exercise craze to burgeon in the Western world.
Gyrotonic exercises the musculature while mobilizing and articulating the joints, simultaneously stretching and strengthening the body with minimal effort. It combines the key principles of gymnastics, swimming, ballet and yoga by working independent muscle groups in an integrated manner, according to Frank Carbone, a certified instructor who opened the first Gyrotonic studio, The Movement Center, in Boca Raton in May.
For those of you who don’t understand kinesiology mumbo jumbo, it’s a great way to get the long, lean dancer’s body that Hollywood celebrities are flaunting.
Using one primary machine, the Gyrotonic Expansion System, lengthens and tones muscles in a set of sequences similar to a dance. The System, which is built around the human body, allows for total freedom of movement, with no restriction to speed and versatility.
The best part, says Carbone, is that you’re forced to use your core muscles during every exercise, the only real way to get definition in the abs.
Every movement that you do all the time in Gyrotonic, even if it’s moving your pinky, you’re totally using your whole body and mind, said Carbone, who just returned from a training session in Germany, where he studied with Gyrotonic founder, Juliu Horvath.
It’s an exercise that is always using constant motion, said Carbone. It’s almost like a dance.
With indie rock playing in the background and the smell of incense wafting through the air, Carbone’s Boca studio is a relaxing space where he says he wants clients to play with their bodies, test their limits and find their own groove.
The one-on-one sessions are highly personalized and designed to work with everyone from the most advanced yogis to someone recovering from an injury. The arch and curl movements, which is the basis of each exercise, helps to elongate the spine, while strengthening the core.
As a professional dancer, Horvath was plagued with back and knee injuries, and designed the equipment to have a rehabilitative quality. European hospitals are already integrating Gyrotonic into their physical therapy programs, said Carbone.
It’s always becoming popular with golfers and other athletes who are looking to increase their range of motion.
Internal benefits touted by Gyrotonic include increase circulation, better coordination, draining of the lymphatic system and increased mobility in the joints and stimulation of the nervous system.
Carbone, also a certified yoga instructor, was first introduced to Gyrotonic ten years ago in New York. After falling away from the practice for several years, he decided to take a private session last year in Delray Beach.
As soon as I got on the machine and did my first arch and curl, my chest opened and my eyes opened up and I realized I had to do this, said Carbone, a singer/songwriter who loves the peaceful side of the exercise.
His clients are also getting hooked. Boca Raton pilates teacher Denise Dorney, who has been practicing Gyrotonic for four months says the exercise has been a great complement to her running and pilates.
I just feel better. I feel more open. It helps me with everything I do, with my hips and shoulders when I’m running. There’s rotation work there that I don’t get from other exercise, said Dorney.
Because she is working Gyrotonic on a more advanced level, (the exercise has seven levels), Dorney is also getting the benefits of a cardiovascular and weight training workout.
The more advanced you get, the more Frank whips you through these movements and it’s like a dance, except you’re also using weights, she said. There’s also a lot of benefits that are going on internally that I’m still learning about, but right now I love what I’m seeing on the outside. People have told me how much my body has changed in the past month.
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Goodbye Madonna, hello immaterial girl

The newly renamed Madonna has joined a long line of women drawn to spiritual life in middle age.
I always thought that Madonna would “get religion” at some point. Partly because she was raised a Catholic, and there is usually something lingering about a Catholic formation even if, like James Joyce, it later turns to passionate hostility. And partly because of her restless need to keep developing in new directions, which is often lightly described as “reinventing herself.”
The third reason that I thought Madonna — who said last week that she now wants us to call her by her Kabbalah name of Esther — would take up religion is that she is a mother, and in her 40s. You don’t expect the unattached Bridget Jones, or the average chick-lit heroine, to be drawn to the spiritual life, but it does happen to a noticeable number of more settled mothers: Suddenly, they want to transmit to their children that je ne sais quoi of a worldview with slightly more uplift than the morals and mores of reality TV.
They want to give their children values. And they quite often feel a stirring of these transcendent values themselves, at about the same time. This may be deepened when they start anxiously trying to get their progeny into faith schools. If you don’t believe me, look at the evidence, and visit a church, chapel or synagogue on a day of worship: You will find that at least two-thirds of the worshippers present are women, and 90 percent of these are mothers.
“Buddhism, the ‘religion-lite’ of so many of the stars … is a charming faith; very peaceable and calm and full of love for all living things. It allows you to affirm that your cat has a soul.”
Stalin claimed that religion was dying out because the churches were full of women, and mostly older women too: What he forgot was that the younger women would one day grow older and eventually take their places among the churchgoers. Faith is a feminine thing, and may even be a feminist one.
It is a fairly well-kept secret that feminism originally arose among religious women in the 19th century: From Hannah More and Josephine Butler in Britain to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the US, feminism was an offshoot of evangelical Christianity, and that spiritual energy still hovers.
But with Madonna-Esther, I rather thought that when she came to her inevitable spiritual awakening, she would choose something like Buddhism, the “religion-lite” of so many of the stars. Buddhism is a charming faith; very peaceable and calm and full of love for all living things. It allows you to affirm that your cat has a soul. It is also agreeably “lite” on matters of sin and transgressions, with no tiresome Ten Commandments or other heavy prohibitions.
I was surprised, thus, when Madonna first announced she was drawn to Judaism, since it is notoriously difficult to become a Jew, and real Jews seldom truly accept the converted goy. But then the lady announced, further, that her religious commitment was towards a particular kind of Jewish mysticism known as the Kabbalah. The children’s books that she has written are encoded Kabbalah messages.
Kabbalah no doubt answers that human — and specifically feminine — need for spiritual enlightenment, and “the path”, as eastern mystics call it. The word is Hebrew for “received tradition”, and the Kabbalah texts are all based on ancient Jewish sacred lore, which means that they are probably wise and sensible, being the accumulated knowledge of countless Jewish mothers telling their rabbi sons how many beans make five.
Kabbalah, however, has been somewhat rebranded and repackaged for a new age, and you can become initiated in its mysteries in 10 easy lessons for ?180 (US$327). (The Kabbalah headquarters in Britain are in Bond Street, one of the best parts of London. The property cost more than ?3 million, to which Madonna gave a hefty contribution. Financial contributions are usually part of the commitment of faith.)
There are those who express scepticism about Kabbalah’s capacity for mysticism, since much of it seems to consist of down-to-earth advice about ways of living: how to find the right man, raise children, get the best kind of job, maintain health — and then how to share.
Some think it endorses capitalism a little too warmly. There is a lot of drinking of water — water as the essence of life and symbol of blessing features in all semitic faiths, including Christianity — and there is religious jewelery, like pretty rosary beads.
Some go further than skepticism, and criticize Kabbalah as a cult. The Jewish British TV personality Esther Rantzen has claimed that her own daughter was at one point near to being exploited by the Kabbalah “cult.”
But if Madonna herself feels — now, apparently supported by her husband, Guy Ritchie, in this movement — that Kabbalah has given her enlightenment and supplied her with “creative guidance,” fair play to her. For many women, some form of religious sensibility is what gets them through the night, and helps them lead the examined life, too.
Annie Besant campaigned with Charles Bradlaugh for atheism and birth control, but afterwards turned to theosophy. Sylvia Pank-hurst became a Catholic in later life. Nora Joyce went along with her husband’s insistent secularism while he was alive, but once he died she quietly went back to church and devotions. It’s a girl thing, you see.
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Madonna reveals raunchy routine

Pop queen Madonna has developed a saucy post-show ritual, she massages and bathes her director husband Guy Ritchie to help her unwind. The American Life singer – currently trekking around the world on her Reinvention Tour – admits she relies on her raunchy bathroom antics to help her get to sleep after her stage show. She says: “Guy’s waiting for me to come home and give him a massage. He talks to me in the bathtub, though. “That’s my ritual. I come home and get in the bathtub and he talks to me.”
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Bill Clinton gives preference to VIP’s!

Bill Clinton may just have lost himself a few readers after he reportedly angered 2000 fans who were waiting in line to get his signature on their copies of his recently released autobiography “My Life,” by giving preferential treatment to VIP’s. According to The New York Daily News, VIP’s were allowed to skip the line and even personally escorted in some cases. His VIP list also included Madonna’s Re-Invention tour crew. The former president has now come under fire for his hypocritical behavior, as he had claimed that he represented the common American citizen, while he was fighting the elections. “I stand for all the people who do the work, pay the taxes, raise the kids and play by the rules the hardworking Americans who make up our forgotten middle class,” Clinton had reportedly said at he 1992 Democratic Convention.
source : ani

Madonna adopts Kabbalah and new wave of controversy

The Jewish Madonna?
As the Material Girl well knows from her many incarnations, the path to spiritual provocation is marked with sacred signs.
On the road with her Re-invention World Tour, Madonna seemingly has moved from the New Testament to the Hebrew Bible, incorporating signs and symbols from Judaism and kabbalah, a mystical and esoteric study of the faith.
On a recent news-magazine show, she discussed her interest in kabbalah and how she has adopted a Hebrew name, Esther. She has worn a red string on her wrist to ward off the “evil eye,” and used sacred prayer accessories and symbolic Hebrew letters in music videos and concerts.
“What Madonna is doing ” whether or not she wants to do it ” is making certain aspects of Judaism more well known in the public,” said Rabbi Barry Gelman of United Orthodox Synagogues. “She is probably the anti-Joe Lieberman.”
As Gelman sees it, Lieberman is an example of Jewish values, and his 2000 vice presidential nomination raised public awareness about Judaism, including rituals of the Sabbath and the high holy days.
For some Houston-area rabbis, Madonna’s contribution as a Jewish representative is cause for concern. There’s the history of men; there’s Britney; there’s the nudity.
“If she were a woman of valor, that might be one issue,” said Rabbi Yakov Polatsek, executive director of TORCH, Torah Outreach Resource Center of Houston. “But she is Madonna.”
Madonna is a student of the Kabbalah Centre, a worldwide education organization with a center in Houston. The center does not require students to be Jewish, and the study can be incorporated into any faith, said Robin Davis, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based organization.
“The aims of the center are to help people navigate through the wisdom of kabbalah and to help them understand it and embrace it and help them incorporate it into their lives so their lives can be more meaningful,” she said.
Madonna has been a serious student for more than eight years, Davis said.
“This is not a trendy thing she has picked up as a whim for the moment,” she said.
But Gelman and other local rabbis are concerned that such study is rooted less in traditional Judaism than in New Age spirituality.
Rabbi Daniel Plotkin of Congregation Beth Tikvah in the Clear Lake area is a self-described child of the 1980s and owns Madonna’s album The Immaculate Collection ” a remnant from a different time and faith. Of course, he has not personally peered into the pop star’s thoughts and deeds, he said, but he doubts she is working on repentance, t’shubah in Hebrew.
Her interest, however, may have a silver lining, said Plotkin, who is leaving the synagogue for St. Louis next week.
“Certainly, anything that causes a young Jewish teenager or an adult to say to his parents or rabbi or her cantor, ‘I saw this. What is it?’ that can’t hurt,” he said. “But at the same time, it is important not to cheapen the value of it.”

Here’s a guide to the Jewish Madonna.
– Esther: A very important woman in Judaism. Esther has her own book of the Bible, and her story is the basis for the holiday Purim. She was a queen of Persia who revealed her Jewish identity to save the Jews within the kingdom from a plot to exterminate them.
– Tefillin: Worn for morning prayers, usually by Orthodox and Conservative Jewish men, as a reminder of the presence of God. Tefillin consists of two black leather boxes containing four portions of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The boxes are attached to the head and to the arm with black leather straps.
Plotkin said he is familiar with Jewish feminist artists who have used symbols such as Tefillin in their work. But to use them in a video or concert is “an odd decision, at the least,” he said. Gelman doesn’t see it only as odd. “To use that in a pop concert or any way is highly offensive,” Gelman said.
– Kabbalah: The study and practice of a form of Jewish mysticism. The origins of kabbalah are disputed, Gelman said. Many date the development of kabbalah to the 11th or 12th century, Plotkin said. It became more widespread in the 13th century, especially in Spain, he said. According to Gelman, kabbalah isa secret branch of Judaism, and those who study it are supposed to be older than 40 ” some say male ” and must have extensively studied the Torah, the Talmud and many other Jewish texts before delving into the mystical practice.
“Kabbalah outside the rooted traditions of Judaism, kabbalah in a vacuum, is not real Jewish spirituality,” Gelman said. “When you have people who are studying kabbalah who don’t know the ABCs of Judaism, you have to really wonder what they are doing.”
– 72 names of God: A concept from kabbalah, Plotkin said. There are also 70 unpronounceable names of God. Those who seriously practice kabbalah meditate on the Hebrew letters that make up the names, reciting mantras, he said. “It is something you would do in a room alone or in the woods or a desert,” Plotkin said, “not on a stage at a rock concert.”
– Red string: Protection against the evil eye. It serves as a reminder to others not to think negative thoughts about the person wearing it, lest those thoughts reverberate and become bad luck, Polatsek said. Some say it protects the negative force of ill will from others.
source : Houston Chronicle

Madonna dishes out gin and kabbalah cocktails!

Guests at Madonna’s Re-Invention tour launch party literally got a taste of the pop diva’s newly adopted religion, kabbalah, as she served them cocktail’s mixed with kabbalah water.
According to, at the “American Life” singer’s party, guests were served with a cocktail called “Damn,” which was a mix of gin and soda lime. However, Madonna made sure that all the ice cubes in the drinks were made out of special kabbalah water.
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Madonna brings Jewish mysticism on tour

The queen of pop has become the queen of ancient Persia – and she’s got the Judaic trappings to prove it.
When Madonna – now also known as Esther (as in the Jewish queen who saved her people) – blows into town Sunday for the Boston leg of her Re-Invention Tour, she’ll be schlepping more than the string of hits that made her 22-year career. She’ll also be flashing the symbols of her newfound faith: Kabbalah, with a capital K, an offshoot of ancient Jewish mysticism.
The Hebrew letters lamed, aleph, vov (which together, as LAV, supposedly form one of the 72 names of God) will light up giant video screens behind Madge’s dancing minions. A red string with seven knots (said to ward off the evil eye) will encircle the left wrist of the ex- (she says) Material Girl. A T-shirt reading “Kabbalists Do It Better” will cling to her yoga-toned body. Memories of tefillin – scripture-filled leather pouches worn during prayer, which Madonna uses in her music video ‘Die Another Day’ – will hover over the turntable that spins center-stage. The house will be dark on Friday night and Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath.
What, we wondered, would local rabbis and scholars make of Madonna’s Jewish routes?
None we asked questioned her intentions, though one did wonder whether she’d been drawn into the fold by the promise of immortality through potential DNA restructuring – a tenet, he’d heard, of the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre, where Madonna, 45, practices. The same kind of molecular magic, performed by Centre leader Philip Berg, is rumored to transform upstate New York spring water into healing pre-Flood Kabbalah H2O.
But the experts did marvel at her lack of scholarship. “I think she’s a spiritual seeker and not just a faddist,” said Arthur Green, professor of Jewish thought at Brandeis University and a Jewish-mysticism scholar. “She uses letters and they inspire her, and I have no objection to that. But I can’t say there’s any knowledge reflected there.”
Moshe Waldoks, rabbi of Temple Beth Zion, an Independent congregation in Brookline, was more skeptical. “It’s a very strange phenomenon to get involved with the Kabbalah without getting involved with Judaism,” he said. The Kabbalah Centre, which boasts 50 branches, including one in Newton Centre, proclaims on its Web site that “Kabbalah is about ‘light’ not religion!”
“I think one of the main issues that conventional Jewish leaders have with the Kabbalah Centre approach is that Kabbalah is historically and most traditionally something that was preserved for scholars who had achieved a fluency in rabbinic thought and literature,” said William Hamilton, rabbi of the Conservative congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline.
Rabbi Hamilton has no problem with the letters LAV being projected on a screen, because, he said, it’s “not one of God’s names that cannot be erased,” that is, one of the seven names that, when they appear on paper, can’t be discarded because they have an “inherent sanctity.” Rabbi Waldoks doesn’t think most people will even be able to distinguish the letters from “pig Latin” or “a design.”
The tefillin binding her arm in the music video are another matter. “That I’d be more critical of because I think that gets into perhaps other associations with leather straps and the like, and I don’t even want to go there,” said Rabbi Hamilton.
“A lot of people must think this is a bondage film,” Waldoks cracked.
Though the pop icon’s brand of worship doesn’t appear to put much stock in the central Jewish principle of mitzvot (good deeds), said the experts, good can still come from her embrace of Kabbalah, which has attracted Jews and nonJews alike for hundreds of years.
“Kabbalah has always attracted very serious followers and trivial, superficial followers, because it makes promises that sound very close to magic, like rewards for study that are not always spiritual but sometimes good fortune and magical powers,” said Green. “That is not at all the true meaning of Kabbalah, but the element has always been there. Madonna is turning out to be surprisingly serious in her orientation.”
“Often it’s the nonJew that gets fascinated who brings Jews to re-examine,” said Waldoks. “Madonna’s interest might ignite more Jews to rediscover. Shabbat observance is not one of the top things Jews do. God works in mysterious ways.”
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Madonna Maniac kicked out

A man who has been stalking Madonna was ejected from Madison Square Garden on the first two nights of the Material Mom’s six-night run last week, The Post has learned.
On the first night of her “Reinvention” tour last Wednesday, security guards found the man just outside the arena and booted him, a Garden source said.
He had been identified from a photo handed out to all guards, according to the source. The next night, the stalker was kicked out of the building itself even though he had a ticket for the concert.
The source said the stalker has pestered the singer with calls to her office. Madonna’s security guards alerted the NYPD, which got the Garden involved.
Madonna does not have an order of protection against the man, so Garden security was only able to eject him. He was not arrested.
“We will not comment on her security issues,” said NYPD spokesman Detective Kevin Czartoryski.
A spokeswoman for Madonna could not be reached for comment.
It’s not the first time Madonna has been scared by a stalker. In 1996, Robert Hoskins was sent to jail for 10 years for violent threats against the singer.
Madonna had testified that Hoskins rang the doorbell at her California home and said that “if he couldn’t have me, he would slash my throat from ear to ear.”
Yesterday, a police squad car escorted Madonna’s three-car motorcade from the singer’s Upper West Side apartment to the Garden. The motorcade wove through Midtown in an attempt to find a clear route to the arena. The traffic finally opened up when the squad car started flashing its lights and blaring its siren.
Police escorts for celebrities are not uncommon, a source said, but Czartoryski said that in this case, the NYPD was merely “assisting her move through traffic.”
Still, it was hardly an isolated incident, the MSG source said: Madonna has had a similar escort on at least one other occasion during this tour.
Tonight is the last show of Madonna’s run.
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