Mar. 19th, 2017 06:04 pm
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I sent a short story out for possible publication in a science fiction anthology last week. I haven't had a story published in ages, so it's high time I get my arse back in gear. I hope it gets published.

I sent out my application for the Canadian ocean expedition on Thursday as soon as I got confirmation from my china painting instructor that she would be a reference. Eeeee!

On Friday, I purchased airfare for my trip to Africa this summer. I'll be travelling through Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia (~1300 km), seeing the Namib Desert (where Fury Road was filmed), the Kalahari Desert, meeting Bushmen, hopefully seeing elephants, lions, zebras, and more, and then ending my tour at Victoria Falls. Eeeee!

Later on Friday, I went to the gym and during my squat set, something freaked out and tried to lock/spasm on my lower back. Different kind of eeeeee. Eeeeeeeouch. I have no idea what happened, there. As far as I know, I wasn't using bad form, and was only lifting five pounds more than I usually do. I tried to find a massage therapy clinic that was open, but none are ever open on the Friday evening of Saint Patrick's Day. I managed to find someone yesterday, but that someone was a tiny sadist who was the roughest massage therapist I've ever experienced. She started with elbows in my back. There was no warmup. I feel just like I was in a fight. I'm pretty sure I'm bruised from head to arse, but I do have mobility now: enough that I was able to go to the gym today and do a full training session. I skipped burpees in favour of jump rope (I didn't want to do fast movements which could have negative impact on my lower back), and all my squats were with an empty bar.

I leave for Toronto tomorrow morning for a week of butoh training. I plan on hitting the gym a couple of times while I'm there. I'm determined to get back in shape. I'm registered to compete in two races this spring/summer: a 5km obstacle course race, and a 14km trail race.

Over the past year, due to health issues and the disruption incurred by buying and renovating a house, my training has been spotty at best. This month was going very well until my back freakout on Friday. I feel strong again, and my endurance is slowly returning. I've been paying much closer attention to what I eat (not calorie-wise, but content-wise), and I'm gradually losing the extra padding I put on. So far, I have lost about ten pounds of fluff and my clothes are fitting much better again. I'm still about twenty pounds heavier than I was when I was competing regularly five years ago, but I have faith that my body will continue to get healthier as I work hard to take care of it.

I had every intention of writing up applications for a travel writing scholarship yesterday, but life and massage therapy got in the way. I hope to be able to get the applications done tomorrow while I'm on the train and killing time in coffee shops in Toronto. If I get the scholarship, I'll be travelling through southeastern Europe (eg. Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro, etc.).

What if I get accepted for the ocean expedition AND the scholarship? I'll be travelling all over the freaking world this year! Eeeee....
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
It's been a while, but this one jumped to my attention. It's not a stellar piece of virtuosic skill. The choreography isn't earth-shattering. However, it is amazing because of all the students who were involved in this production. What a great teacher, to get so many kids interested in dance and the sheer joy of moving.

This is the A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School doing their interpretation of Uptown Funk.

shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Today was made with walking interspersed with a whole bunch of other stuff. Here's a video précis of my day.

My morning:



Now? Now I rest.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
"According to most people who show interest in cultures and especially in the culture of Gouro ethnic group, Zaouli, a popular mask dance, was created in the fifties. The Gouro ethnic group is the midwestern part of Ivory Coast / Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. According to what people say, there are diverse legends regarding the origin of the Zaouli mask and dance; yet, all come to the agreement that such legends were inspired by a very beautiful girl - 'Dzela Lou Zaouli' - daughter of Zaouli." -- Gouro Culture

shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Though past years have turned me more in the direction of athletics, I am still dancing. I've just been doing a lot more study and teaching than I have performances. Today, I received the most excellent news that I'm the recipient of a scholarship to continue my butoh training from September through to April. I'll be studying with Denise Fujiwara again. I hope to be able to put elements of these studies into performance, but venues for such stuff is pretty scarce, and paid venues even more scarce.

I started doing pole dance again as of about a year ago, and am currently in the advanced/masters-level class over at Aradia Fitness, where I also teach belly dance on Tuesday nights. If you would like to try out my class, sign up here ($15 + HST/class, Tuesdays from 6-7).

Tomorrow, I'll be taking a classic burlesque workshop with Sassy Ray. I miss doing burlesque, and hope to be performing at it again within the year.

Later this week, I'll be doing choreography and gymnastics workshops with Natalia Skomorowski.

Next month, I once again take up aerial silks with Stan Sokolenko over at In.Motion School of Performing Arts.

In between all that, I keep my strength and endurance up through regular training at CrossFit Kitchener.

I guess you could say I'm busy.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Upcoming dance classes alert!

Tuesday night classes start May 27 at Aradia Fitness at 607 King Street West, Unit 5A, Kitchener (the strip mall with the LCBO!). Classes run from 6-7 pm. Small classes with heaps of one-on-one attention for total newbies on up.

$15+HST per class, or you can get a 10-class pass for $99.99, good for one year.

Clicky clicky to register.
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Belly dance classes are a go once more!

If you wish to study with me, you have FOUR OPTIONS (wow! Such dance!), all in Kitchener, ON.

1. Tuesdays, 7:15-8:15 pm. On-going. Aradia Fitness, 607 King Street West, Unit 5A. It's at the shopping centre with the LCBO by the train tracks. Classes are drop-in format at $15/each + tax, or you can get a 10-class pass for $100 + tax (pass can be used on other Aradia classes, too, so you can mix it up). If you wish to register for a class using your 10-class card or with cash/debit/credit card, please e-mail or call the studio (519) 577-7653 and leave a message with your name, the class, date and time you wish to attend and method of payment.

2. Tuesdays, 10:00-11:00 am, April 8-June 10. Breithhaupt Community Centre, 350 Margaret Ave, Kitchener. This session is geared toward senior citizens, but anyone 18 and up is welcome. 10 weeks of classes for $64.50 ($53 for community centre members). Registration for Breithaupt Centre Programs is available online using WEBreg or in person at Breithaupt Centre, Rockway Centre, Downtown Community Centre or at all indoor pools. Course code is 158205.

3. Tuesdays, 5:15-6:15 pm, April 1-May 20. Downtown Community Centre 35B Weber St. West. 8 weeks of classes for $45.20 (including HST). Drop-ins are welcome for $6/class. Registration is available online using WEBreg or in person at the Downtown Community Centre.

4. Mondays, 6:30-7:30 pm, April 7-June 9. Breithhaupt Community Centre, 350 Margaret Ave, Kitchener. 8 weeks of classes for $50.44. Registration for Breithaupt Centre Programs is available online using WEBreg or in person at Breithaupt Centre, Rockway Centre, Downtown Community Centre or at all indoor pools. Course code is 157877.

Join us in a relaxed, casual atmosphere and learn technique and improvisational dance. Good for absolute beginners on through to advanced dancers looking for a change from the choreographic approach.

And yes, I do teach men, too.

[Shan dance]
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I'm a full-time student, though I'm not enrolled at any institution, and am not working towards a degree or certificate. I take university courses online, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), through Coursera and edX. Sometimes I drop the course. Sometimes I follow it through completion. Sometimes I do all the assignments and readings. Sometimes I just watch the lectures. I am always grateful for the opportunity to expand my knowledge and comprehension.

My current courses are
  • Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology
  • The Modern and the Postmodern
  • Animal Behaviour
  • The Ancient Greek Hero
I have more courses starting up within a few weeks.

I take classical voice lessons at Maxwell's Music House. Although I've touched on pop, Broadway, and folk, the bulk of the songs I work with are classical. Right now, I'm working on pieces by Mozart and Haydn. It's challenging and fun. Without this training, I'd never have known that I'd be comfortable singing up high.

Typically, I do regular physical fitness training at CrossFit Kitchener. I bust my ass there, and I'm in vastly superior shape now than I was in my 20s or 30s.

I study china painting at the Rockway Community Centre. Community centres are under-appreciated sources of training/education. China painting is a dying art form, and I'm doing my part to resuscitate it. Of all the painting styles I've studied, this is my favourite.

I'll soon be starting a pastels course at the Breithaupt Centre, another community centre.

I'm taking intermediate/advanced pole dance at Aradia Fitness. I plan on alternating between pole and aerial silks, which I study at In.Motion School of Performing Arts.

To top it all off, I take workshops when I can, mostly dance-related, through a variety of organizations.

I also teach. I have introductory belly dance classes starting up this month at the Downtown Kitchener Community Centre, and I may have more coming up at another community centre. This is pending an upcoming interview.

I love to learn. I love to teach. I love to make myself stronger and more knowledgeable, and I love to help others do the same for themselves.


Aug. 5th, 2013 09:32 pm
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
Despite my asthma making my training session this morning slooooow as McDonald's counter staff nursing a hangover, I feel rather bad ass.

Here's what I did today.

  • biked 5 km
  • climbed 20' rope three times
  • ran a mile
  • did 100 m of walking lunges with a 10-lb medicine ball overhead
  • did about 50 m of human wheelbarrowing
  • did 50 wall balls
  • did about 500 m of medicine ball relay tossing
  • biked 5 km
  • biked about 15 km
  • did about two hours of parkour training which included:

    • vaulting fences
    • forward rolls
    • crawling backwards up a flight of concrete stairs
    • Spiderman edge-walking window sills and around support beams the length of a building without falling off
    • pistol squats
    • clutch flags
    • V-ups
    • pull-ups
    • Some failed attempts at kip-ups (I'll get them yet!)
    • Other stuff I can't remember

  • Biked 5 km

Go me!

And just to mix shit up, tomorrow I do a floorwork/lap dance workshop. Haha!
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
This past year has been tricky for me. I recover from one issue just to fall back into another. My hip is feeling pretty good, but my peroneal tendonitis has flared up again and put my training on the back burner. So much for the running I was hoping to do.

Still, I survived the Louise LeCavalier workshop last weekend. Although the choreography with its tic-like specifics combined with jumps and full-body movements eluded me, it was because my brain and choreography don't mix well. Physically, I was fine. I was tired from the intense training, but not as tired as from one of my usual training sessions. I could tell the other dancers were feeling it, though. Although everyone else had the choreography better than I did (no surprises there), I suspect I was the only one who wasn't feeling muscular soreness from the training.

As a note, tricky dance workshops are not a good match for wicked menstrual cramps. That is all. UGH.

In regards to the material itself, we worked on conditioning exercises drawn from boxing. I am not a boxer. However, I have studied a variety of martial arts for over a decade, and know how to deliver a solid punch, and how to use my body mass to drive that impact. There were a few stylistic differences between my trained/natural fighting stance and the stances expected by Lecavalier. She wanted us to put more weight on the front leg, which may work fine for boxing, but for any sort of fighting where kicks or leg sweeps are a possibility, it's not so ideal. I did as she said, because it was a dance workshop, not a fighting workshop. Still, a few things niggled at me. The guard position she touted had the elbows touching or almost touching the torso. This is a weak defensive position, just begging to be jammed. And when we were doing punches, she said I was hitting too hard. This boggled me until the end of the workshop, when we got to do a Q&A period. This is when I learned that although she does a lot of boxing training, she never competed, only sparred once, and hates hitting things.

Ahhh... This explains much.

The choreography she taught was a combination of elements from Édouard Lock and another choreographer whose name I didn't catch. Lock's elements were twitchy and precise, with jumps and arm waves. The other choreographer's work used more space, larger, less specific movements, and incorporated rolling and floorwork.

When it comes to dance, Louise Lecavalier is amazing. She's a living legend who's been accorded the Order of Canada. When it comes to applicable martial arts, though, seek someone else. After having taken two workshops with her now, I think I have no more need to do it again, unless she showcases new content. The material was almost identical for both.

Nevertheless, I recommend her workshops to any dancer who gets the opportunity. She is a sweet, highly-skilled dynamo, and holy heck, she sure is fit. She did two workshops each day, back to back, and did most of the work alongside us. That's some serious endurance. She also has an incredible memory, and called out to each of us by name throughout the workshop with corrections/critiques. To top it off, without introductions, she remembered me and the other student who'd taken the workshop with her two years ago by name. And I look very different now from then, too!


On March 10, I performed at 60x60 again. It went well. Here's a still. )

Drop It

Apr. 9th, 2013 11:02 pm
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Today I'm a bit grumpy because it was cold and rainy out, and I wanted to bike, but knew if I did, I'd be absolutely drenched for my aerial silks class. My shoulder/neck has been overly tight for a while now, and my tendinitis has been tweaking for two days. I have a dance workshop with Louise Lecavalier in three days, and I don't want to have to worry about my neck and ankle slowing me down.

*cue sound of needle being scratched along a record*

Wait a minute. How about some perspective, Shan?

Three months ago, I wasn't sure I'd be able to walk on anything but level ground again without a limp. Any time my foot skidded out on a bit of ice, or I took a step with anything more than a mincing nature, it felt like someone had taken a potato peeler to the inside of my hip joint.

My hip has improved drastically. My worries from not so long ago have already dissipated.

These sore bits are nowhere near as scary as the hip issue was. I'm hoping a tune-up with an RMT tomorrow will do the trick.

In the meantime, here's something I did today, which my hip would NOT have allowed me to do even a month ago. )
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
This is 2012 pole dance champion, Michelle Stanek.



Jan. 11th, 2013 10:57 am
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
So yeah. Finally recovered from the surgery on my leg. Slowly recovering from asthma issues brought on by a seasonal cold. My hip has been a bit wonky for a while, so I went in to get some massage work done on it, thinking something was just a bit twisted around inside and needed a bit of work.

And that's when I get told it's likely I have a degenerative issue that caused tearing in my hip labrum.

I'm going in for a second opinion next week, but after reviewing a bunch of sites on the issue last night, yes, it sure does look like I'm a classic case.

For starters, nothing that puts my hip/leg through large motions for a month. Even walking and sitting down sets it off, occasionally. So that (nonrefundable) aerial silks class I just started up again last week? Gone. CrossFit WoDs? (Though I should still be able to do some exercises at their open gym.) LARPing? Well, I can only be a noncombatant, because I mustn't run. I'm registered for a physically-intense dance workshop with Louise Lecavalier in the spring. I'm registered for Goruck in June (nonrefundable), but depending on how bad my hip is, participating could be a terrible idea.

If this is indeed what is wrong with me, rest might let it heal. If not, I may require surgery to smooth out the cartilage. If the surgery goes well, I should be able to eventually return to my previous levels of activity. Reading up, it seems the recovery time from surgery for athletes to start training again is about three months.

I have a job interview today to lead a fitness class...a class I may not physically be able to teach. Argh.

Well, rather than get completely bummed out, I want to come up with a list of exercises I should be able to do without putting strain on my injured hip. If you have any to add, please share, because there's only so many planks and wall sits I can do without getting sick of them. I appreciate any challenging exercises you can add to this list.

List of Exercises )
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
It's been a while since I've posted one of these. This time, it's a comedy piece: a parody of a belly dance routine by "Sibel Istanbul". I do not know the dancer's actual name. Watch for the unique isolation shimmies. ;)

shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
I was afraid today would be shit. I barely got any sleep last night because my mind kept racing. But after a slow start, my day turned out pretty awesome.

I went to my china painting class, and while I was just getting set up, a bunch of the Powers That Be from the Rockway Seniors Centre showed up, announced that they were singling me out in particular, and then presented me with this: )
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Just me having fun at the KW Bellydance BiZaRrE earlier this month.

shanmonster: (Default)
Oh, hectic month, you sure are hectic: as hectic as longcat is long!

I've ramped up my training, as I said I would before, and am running a minimum of twice a week. Mondays, I run between 8-12 km of hills, and Wednesdays, I do a variety of running drills (sometimes sprints, sometimes intervals, sometimes hills, sometimes distance, sometimes cross-country, etc.). And then I run around the neighbourhood when I feel like it on other days, and run, when it's called for, at my CrossFit workouts. I still do not consider myself a good runner. But I am no longer a bad runner. I'm slow, but steadily getting faster, and my endurance is much better. I think I will be up to competing at Tough Mudder next year and half marathons, at this rate.

I've been training harder and more frequently than ever before, and my recovery time has improved dramatically. For example, Wednesday is possibly my hardest training day of the week. I do a minimum of 30 km of cycling, two hours of kung fu practice (which often includes about 400 squats as conditioning), and an hour of running drills. Oh yes, and the usual pushups are thrown into that mix. When I first started this training regimen, I was absolutely destroyed come Thursday. This week, I felt perfectly fine the day after, and am sure I could have done another full workout. However, I'm ramping down to save myself for tomorrow's race.

Tomorrow, I run the Warrior Dash. It's a 5km obstacle race, and looks like this.

So instead of a giant workout, I did a leisurely one. Basically, I went to the gym to play. I climbed the cargo net upside down just to see if I could. I did handstands. I did pistol squats, weighted (10-lb) glute ham raises, and 10-lb one-legged squats off a 24" box. I played on the rings and ropes a bunch.

The other night, I dreamed I could finally do kipping pull-ups with ease. Previously, I've only ever managed one. So I tried, and though they're certainly not pretty, I can do them singly now. It's a start.

Over the next week, I'll be teaching six fitness and kickboxing classes, and keeping up with my training schedule which goes as follows:

Sunday: push-ups
Monday: push-ups, 1 hour CrossFit, 90 minutes of running
Tuesday: push-ups, 2 hours of aerial silks
Wednesday: 2 hours of kung fu, 1 hour of running
Thursday: push-ups, light training for 1-2 hours
Friday: push-ups, light training

Cycling gets strewn about daily, because it's how I get around. I generally do a bare minimum of 10km a day. I'd do heavier training on Friday except that I'm competing again on Saturday in the Masters division of the UG Series.

I have another Masters competition in mid-August (Masters Mettle), a Strongman training seminar the week after, and then I'm off to hike the Inca Trail in Peru!

I'll be doing my push-ups all the while, except possibly while on the Peruvian trip, because I just don't know how feasible that will be. I'll continue where I left off upon my return, though.

Holy crap.

And yes, there are more competitions upon my return. I'm thinking of at least volunteering at a local zombie race. I'll be a zombie. Braaaains....

I still want to take up rock-climbing, but am not sure how to slot that in. There's only so much of me to go around, after all, and I still do other things, like teach, dance, sing, paint, write, cook, sleep, etc.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
It's been FAR too long since I've done one of these.

Here is Leo Hedman's aerial silk take of the old movie Nosferatu. The piece is called Nocturnal and was performed in 2005.

I would love to be able to do any of this even half as well....

3 2 1 GO!

May. 8th, 2012 02:46 pm
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
On Saturday I did my first-ever timed 5 km run. I'm not going to win any races. I was the slowest person who did the run by far. BUT, I am pleased. I didn't have to stop even once. I didn't even need to slow down. And at the end, I was fresh enough to put on a block-long sprint and finish in 35:51. I know now I was overly cautious in my cadence, but since it was my first time, I didn't really know how to pace myself. Lance, the CrossFit running coach, was impressed by my time, and says I should be able to shear it down to 30 minutes by October.

Here's our running group about five minutes after I finished the course. I pretty much crawled into position.

I was afraid I might run something like this camel, but apparently my form looks pretty solid.

Behind this cut lie photos.... )

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