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. )
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Just me having fun at the KW Bellydance BiZaRrE earlier this month.

shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
For the past week, I spent the majority of my time in Studio E of The Children's Dance Theatre in Cabbagetown. I've been going to this studio off and on for about six years now: as long as I've lived in Ontario. I go there to study butoh, and occasionally other dance styles, as well. This week, I was studying under the tutelage of Denise Fujiwara. The workshop was entitled Embodiment, and the theme was fear.

Every now and then, someone asks me what butoh is, and I always pause. I have a hard time defining it in a way that will make sense. Although I've been studying butoh for about six years now, I think it's only been within the past year or so that I have begun to get a tentative understanding of what it is I have been investigating. Butoh is not like any other dance or movement style I've ever experienced. For the most part, it's not a technique sort of thing. That is, there is no real component of first you put your foot here, and then you move your arm like so. No, it's not like that, at all.

And it's easy to get the wrong idea by watching a performance or two, as well. You might watch this incredibly compelling presentation and think that the dancer was showing us his or her most innermost feelings, or was taking on a character role, but no.

In a fucked-up sort of way, the closest way I can think to describe butoh is akin to shamanism. Or maybe even a strange form of lycanthropy. Let's say the dancer is performing something about trees. The dancer would not be doing a sort of kindergarten approach to trees, coming out with her or his body held out in the shape of a tree, with the legs playing the part of the trunk, and the arms waving about like branches in the breeze. Instead, the dancer might focus on some aspect of the tree and become that.

Obviously, you are not seeing an actual transformation. The human in front of you is not about to start sprouting leaves and producing chlorophyl. But it's not so simple as pretending to be a tree....

Over the years of studying with Denise, I have learned that the progression is not fast. Our warm-ups are gradual. There is a certain amount of repetition. I have done many of the exercises numerous times, and I often wonder just how they will fit into the context of performance. We start with tiny movements. This week, we began with microscopic movements of the head on the occipital joint, and tiny movements of the tailbone. We worked on waking up the entire spine in a gradual fashion, getting larger and larger motions, and then progressed to suri-ashi, the gliding walk of Japanese dance (and Japanese martial arts). This walk, which is the only specific physical technique I've ever studied in butoh, gives a physical focus to practice while mental focus is upon external forces which do not actually exist. It is essentially a moving meditation, and I slip away into a different state while I do it. My mind may wander occasionally, but if I'm in the moment, the only things which exist are the floor beneath my feet and the strings which pull me along.

A string pulls the top of my head to the sky. Another draws my tailbone to the earth. Another string is attached a couple of inches below my navel and extends to the horizon. Each of these strings pulls inexorably, and I am drawn along at a constant speed. Once I am moving with no acceleration or deceleration, other strings are added. They may be attached to the back of my heart, my left floating rib, or the back of my right ear. They may be attached in multiple places, all pulling me along. Which string will pull the strongest? Which will change my direction or speed? I do not know until it happens. The impulse is subconscious. If I make a conscious decision, then my ego is too much at the forefront. The strings are what controls my direction, not my conscious decisions.

In an earlier workshop, we worked on killing the self. Since I'm here now, typing this to you, you know this wasn't a literal suicide. But it was a destruction of ego. If a dancer was caught emoting, s/he would receive a scolding. No choreographing. No showing. No acting. Just being. Embodying.

This week, as often before, we started working on the elements of fire, air, water, and earth. We would sit in a circle and free associate terms associated with one of those elements. For fire, we might hear the following:
  • heat
  • burning
  • scorch
  • incandescent
  • radiating

Then we would become hollow beings, and we would become filled with the qualities of that element. I was filled with fire. My bones were no more. I was flame. My skin and eyes and hair and flesh were fire. Sometimes I flickered. Sometimes I burst in a conflagration. Sometimes I smouldered.

We repeated the same exercise for the other elements, and at the end of the first day, we were given homework: we were to prepare a list of our ten worst fears and bring it into class the next day.

The next morning, we shared some of those fears. Some are ubiquitous: things like losing your loved ones, violent death, cancer, old age. Some were unique: insects indoors, flushing the toilet at night, having feet skewered or smashed.

I was mystified. Here were were, sharing things very personal to us, but studying something which strips the personal away. What were we going to do with these fears? We paired up, and did a descension/ascension exercise while holding our partner's head, and moving it around gently while they relaxed and surrendered all muscular control of it to our hands. This takes a lot of trust and concentration, and is darned tricky. We then repeated the exercise, but this time, the person whose head was being held had to talk about their greatest fear throughout the exercise. This was difficult for multiple reasons. Just on a purely mechanical basis, it's much harder to free the muscles in your head and neck while you're talking. There is also the discomfort of talking about something that scares the shit out of you, and opening up to someone you don't know all that well about something intensely personal. There's the almost inevitable stiffening up that will happen while you think about something terrifying.

But something unexpected happened. Even though the exercise took us all outside our comfort zones, with our heads being supported by our partners, the initial tension melted away. Interesting....

We set that aside and went back to embodying elements. Once again, I was left wondering how everything fit in together.

And on the third day of the workshop, everything started to click. We each chose a fear from our list, and we mapped that fear to an element. My fear is decrepitude. I've sampled this a few times in the past because of sickness or injury. There have been times when I was unable to do simple things for myself, like walk or even get in and out of bed without assistance. The thought of experiencing these things again, or, even worse, experiencing them again without a chance of getting better, gives me the heeby-jeebies. This fear is an enormous stimulus for why I do so much physical training.

My fear of decrepitude is heavy, and weighs upon me like earth, so that is the element I chose. Specificity is key, so I decided upon sand. The way I see it, sand is infertile. It has no life of its own, but is blown by the wind, fills cracks and corners, and gets heavy and sodden. These are the characteristics I embodied. I did not act out my fear, but transformed myself into sand, giving it the same sort of "loudness" engendered by my fear. I was heavy. Everything about me was heavy. I was drawn toward the floor without collapsing. My eyes were blind because they were sand. My skin was heavy. Face. Belly. Legs. Lungs. Everything. I was pushed by a wind. I was pressed against a wall. Sodden with trickling grains.

We became these elements in groups. Some people were able to successfully transform themselves. Others had a harder time, and used their bodies to describe their element rather than to become it. Some had a difficult time divesting themselves of prior dance training, and there were exhortations to get rid of the embellishments and to stop choreographing. Demands included more specificity, no censoring, no hiding, and no expressing. With practice, there were no more frowns or sad faces, arabesques or pliés, and something much more primal, authentic, and unpracticed appeared. Performances became much more compelling, and though the dancers were not using expression of emotion at all, as an audience, what we saw was intensely expressive and deeply moving.

We continued to progress with these exercises for the remainder of the workshop, and by the end, we had three pieces placed together in a group: two fears and one thing which was the opposite or cure of a fear. I decided to go with the decrepitude again, and decided the opposite or cure is self-mastery.

So my three were:
  1. Fear of decrepitude as engendered through earth. Sand,
  2. Fear of tooth extraction as engendered through fire. Radiation and the contraction caused by heat.
  3. Self-mastery as engendered through water. Fluidity and the coalescence of water surface tension.

Our fears and chosen elements are immaterial to the audience. I did not know what fears were obliquely represented by the dancers in front of me, although I could make an educated guess as to what element they might be embodying. What mattered was what I saw. And I saw something beautiful and grotesque and powerful.

I saw butoh.
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
[UnHinged]Late Friday night, as part of the UnHinged Theatre Festival sponsored by Flush Ink Productions, I and seven other playwrights were taken to previously undisclosed locations around the city where we would be given 24 hours to write a play. Each of these places was calculated to be unsettling in some way or another. I was nervous, but not because I'm afraid of haunted houses or anything like that. It's just that it's been a long time since I last wrote for stage: about fifteen years. It's also been a long time since I've written under a hard deadline--maybe fifteen years since I last did that, too. What if I got writers' block? It's happened before. What if my play just sucked? That was a possibility. After all, I'm awfully rusty.

So off I went to the Rum Runner to meet up with all the other writers and the other people involved for the first time. It was confusing. I was trying to go over various story possibilities in my mind while dealing with questions about tech issues. They wanted to do a Blair Witch Project sort of idea, with streaming video of us during the writing process, but the video stream website was confusing. I felt like I was being bombarded with irrelevant material while all I wanted to do was start writing before I got too tired. It was already too late, though. I was tired--verging on exhausted. Although I'm typically a night owl, for the past few months, I've been sliding more and more into a diurnal state, and now I had to mix it around.

We finally received our locations. One writer, who had a fear of ghosts, was being sequestered in a theoretically haunted hotel room. I was a little envious. It sounded cushy. He'd have a warm place and a bed, when he was too tired. One was writing in a creepy, cold basement in an old building. I was being placed in a ramshackle warehouse with a theatre space. Another was in the emergency room of a hospital. I didn't envy her. In my opinion, that is the most stressful of all locations. I don't recall the other locales. My mind was too busy.


This big, black room became my home for the next fifteen hours. )
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
My dance training has jumped up into overdrive. I need a place to keep track of it all, so this will do. Here's what I have this year:


  • Jan. 28: On the Move dance conference
  • Feb. 4: Dave St-Pierre repertory workshop with Karina Champoux and Frédéric Tavernini
  • Feb. 6: Caribbean fusion workshop with Cassandra Fox
  • Feb. 11: Contact Improv class/jam with Tanya Williams
  • Feb. 12: Burlesque workshop with Sassy Ray
  • Feb. 16-March 23 (weekly): 6-week session in Contemporary Dance training with Kymberley Feltham
  • Feb. 19-20: Body Economy and Awareness through Whirling Instruction and Concept workshop with Ziya Azazi
  • Feb. 21, 22, 24: Butoh workshop with Jocelyne Montpetit
  • Feb. 25: CanAsian Dance Festival (I'll be watching, not performing)
  • Mar. 26: Earth Day (I'll be performing at City Hall in Kitchener)
  • Mar. 27, Apr. 3, 10: Contemplative Dance workshop with Denise Fujiwara
  • May 9-13: Making and Seeing Dance workshop with Daniel Lepkoff
  • May 13-15: Ontario Regional Contact Jam (including training)
  • May 19, 20: Training/dancing workshop with Louise LeCavalier
  • Off and on throughout the summer, tribal fusion belly dance with Laura McCutchan
  • Oct. 1: Nuit Blanche poi performance at Habeeba's Studio in Toronto
  • Nov. 9-Dec. 14: Contemporary Dance training with Kymberley Feltham
  • Nov. 13: Folkloric Dance Ethnology with Jaene Castrillon
  • Dec. 17: "Project Five Star" dance improvisation performance workshop and performance with Karen Kaeja, Suzanne Liska, and Kathleen Rea


Interspersed among all of that are the dance and fitness classes I already teach, the personal training I offer, plus my regular physical training. Crazy!

Most of my training takes place in Toronto. So do most of my performances. It would be so much easier if I were living there....
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Nuit Blanche is a fantastic all-night art festival which takes place in Toronto. I performed at one five years ago, and I'll be performing at this year's tonight.

I have the pleasure of dancing amongst numerous wonderful dancers and musicians at Moonlight Tribe. The event is at Habeeba's Studio, located at 179 Dundas St. East (near Jarvis), and is free, so make your way there for the fun! I'm scheduled to take the stage at 10:45 this evening. I'll be busting out a brand-new costume and my army boots. ;)

[Moonlight Tribe]
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
"...dance like nobody's watching..."

I'm a performer. I've pretty much always been one. I love to entertain and/or educate. I love to share. I can't be the only person out there who dances best with an audience, can I? The more energy I get from my audience, the more that goes into my performance. Heck, I'll even dance for my chinchilla or pet fish, if they're watching. I find it tricky to dance just for a video camera, too, even if I know people will watch it later.

So when I dance while no one's watching, it's mostly practice for when there will be someone watching.

[From a performance last year]
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Over the years, I've studied a lot of different dance styles, both in classroom and workshop situations. I've also seen lots of dance performances, and I've noted a few patterns about the relationship of dance to music.
  1. Dance is the visual representation of the music, and enhances the experience by combining visual with audio.
  2. The music is mostly irrelevant to the dance, and if the movements coincide with any part of it, it's coincidental.
  3. The dance is done only to the rhythm of the music, and the music is therefor interchangeable, so long as the music has a coinciding number of counts for the choreography/combination.
  4. The dance is representative of the theme of the song, rather than the melody/rhythm.
  5. There is no music at all, and the dance is performed in silence, or the act of the dance itself creates music.
#1 is something I see very frequently in improvisational belly dance, and is how I generally treat music/dance, when I perform. I do not necessarily believe it is the superior way of doing things, but it appeals very much to my personal aesthetics. Maybe it's a synaesthesia thing, but when I hear certain parts of music, it feels/looks like certain body movements to me.

I have seen #2 in contemporary and butoh performances, where the music and dance sometimes seem at odds with one another. I think this may be intentional for the purpose of shaking up the viewers' perception a bit, and perhaps keeping them off balance.

I have also seen it with bad dancers, who have a wooden ear and/or no sense of rhythm. I've also seen it with inattentive dancers, who are more concerned with going through a series of tricks and combinations, and are completely ignoring the music.

#3 I've seen in a lot of classroom situations, and in choreographies which are based on counting, rather than anything else to do with the music, specifically. It is especially easy to replace a dance done to one 4:4 or 3:4 time signature song with another. Just adjust the speed of the dance to the tempo of the piece. I personally find this the least interesting, but in terms of teaching, it is the simplest--especially when drilling technique.

I have also seen it in square dancing, where the dancer is using the music for rhythm, but the voice of the caller for combinations.

#4 is something I've seen in contemporary dance, as well. I have also used this a few times, while using dance as a story-telling medium. I have also seen it when a dancer performs to dialogue or poetry.

#5 is something I see in percussive dances, like tap, slap dance, etc. I have long wanted to experiment with this in different ways (ie. wiring up parts of my body so that different movements would play different sounds through a computer), but I do not have the technical know-how. If someone wants to collaborate with me on this, let me know!

There may very well be other patterns, but these are the ones I've noted. What are your opinions on the topic?
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
I want to do a dance performance to this song. If my idea goes over like it's playing out in my head, it will be riveting and intensely creepy. I have to do a lot of research for costuming/props/prosthetics before it can ever make it to the stage... not to mention the physical training/conditioning I need to do to let this come to fruition (I have some inversion and suspension in mind).

The imagery and the makeup in this video is intriguing to me, but completely unrelated to the idea I have in mind.

shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
Last fall, when I was looking for whatever work I could find, I found a position for a party facilitator. Essentially, the worker would be in charge of running clothing swap parties. I thought that sounded pretty spiffy. I like clothing swap parties. But then I was reading more about the job, and found something peculiar. No item of clothing was to be more than a year old.

I don't own much that's a year old or less. I do most of my clothing shopping at vintage, consignment, and thrift shops. I find the stuff is both more economical and more interesting than stuff bought at the local Reitman's or whatever. And so I lost interest in the clothing swap party job. I applied anyway, but never heard back. I can't help but doubt it was a real job, anyhow.

Right now, I'm wearing a pair of leggings that I bought within the last year. Everything else is either of unknown age (blouse and skirt from clothing swap parties, one party being over six years ago), or at least four years old. I'm sure I've had these socks over ten years, now. I don't think I look shabby.

[Old blouse]

Link time? Ok.

Fantasmagorie: I'm a movie star! I co-star in this concept art film created by WhiteFeather. Check it out!

How to Make Oatmeal . . . Wrong: McDonald's: "From a marketing perspective, they can do almost nothing wrong; from a nutritional perspective, they can do almost nothing right, as the oatmeal fiasco demonstrates."

Clothing Sewing Patterns: Free patterns, from the very simple, to a bizarre creation of Alexander McQueen. If I ever finish my current project, I might give McQueen's shirt a go.

Forward Into the Past: A day of history brought to life. I signed up for a bunch of workshops, including on tablet weaving and naalbinding. Yay!

"Zombie" Ants Found With New Mind-Control Fungi: Awesomely creepy fungus. Right out of B-movies.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)


I wish I could have seen this show, but I could not afford it. Tickets for the show cost more than the workshop, and that's even before the reimbursement I get through CADA. At least I was able to take a workshop with two of the dancers. I learned a lot from it, including new ways to look at dance, movement, and interpretation.

I have noted that dance performances are often more expensive to attend than are dance workshops by the same artists. This, however, seems to be exactly the opposite when it comes to belly dance. I rarely attend belly dance workshops, as they are invariably prohibitively expensive when taught by "big name" dancers. Yet I can study some other dance style for much less money. Why is this the case?

Today I applied for admission to a certificate program at the Royal Conservatory in Artist-Educator Professional Training. "This 30-hour course offers artists a window into working in schools and in community settings through hands-on, activity-based exploration." If I get accepted, I have to catch the 6:25 AM bus into Toronto every morning, and then stay awake enough to retain all the information. Yikes. There's a course being offered in Kitchener, but it's only on days when I'll be in Toronto for dance training. Go figure.

If I get accepted, I wonder if I get a student ID. I can't help but wonder, because if I have a student ID, I can maybe afford to see dance shows like Dave St-Pierre's. Students receive a heavily-discounted rate.

In the meantime, I'm going through some of my music, trying to figure out what I want to dance to for Earth Day. It's an outdoor gig. In March. In Canada. Gah! I'm trying to think what sort of costuming I can wear, too, and thinking a giant tiered skirt and pantaloons, because I can wear long johns underneath and no one will know. But for the top? Hrm....

Busy!

Jan. 23rd, 2011 08:41 pm
shanmonster: (Default)
I've been busy.

I went to London last week to help out while my sister had her baby in the wee hours of Thursday morning. I am now the aunt of Alexandria Raine. She's fat and healthy, and here she is having her first bath:

[Alexandria Raine]

On Friday, after an eleventh-hour arrival by [livejournal.com profile] knightky, we zoomed off to Cliterature arriving at the tail end of the first act. My reading of Daisy Chain went over very well, I'd say, with most of the audience laughing hysterically, and a few others being grossed right the hell out at my colourful descriptions of man sex.

I'm good at grossing people out. I almost made Kyle puke this morning, just with a few choice sentences. I didn't know that was possible. He has an iron constitution!

I read a pile of poems out loud, and we watched very diverse shows this weekend:
  • 2012 Supernova
  • Varsity Blues
  • Walking Dead
  • The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

I'm looking forward to more.

While I wait for the laundry to finish up, I'm contemplating what to do next. I've been thinking about stopping the progression of the story I'm working on to go back and write the beginning. A lot of crucial information is missing, such as history and character development. As it stands, the reader is plunged into the middle of a developed world in medias res. While I like that technique, there are just far too many missing factors that really need to be fleshed out. Time to work on them, I think.

Then again, I kind of want to do something nonproductive, like play a video game. I haven't done that in a long time. Maybe it's time to dust off my Katamari game.

Apropos to nothing, coriander smells amazing.

I may not have any performances lined up, at the moment, but I do have a lot of dance ahead of me. This week, I'm attending On the Move in Toronto. Next week, I'm taking a Caribbean belly dance fusion class with Cassandra Fox. After that, I have another workshop with Dave St. Pierre (contains nudity), will be checking out the Can-Asian Dance Festival, and will be training with Ziya Azazi, Jocelyne Montpetit, and Denise Fujiwara. I'm really looking forward to it.

Link dump? Sure.

Ancient Transylvanians Rich in Gold, Treasure Shows: Most of the gold jewellery found weighs over two pounds a piece.

Sevants in Heaven, Kings in Hell: A good collection of statuary, most of it funerary art.

Octopus Table: Oh wow. This needs to be my dining room table.

15 Incredibly Beautiful Birds: Gorgeous.
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
I will be reading one of my very naughty stories on Friday, January 20th, at this year's Cliterature event. Please come show your support of local artists celebrating women's sexuality! It's gonna be hottt with three tees!

Doors open at 6, and the show starts at 7 at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick Street, Kitchener. Tickets are $15 for the one night, or $25 for the whole weekend. Buy your tickets soon, because the show always sells out. Proceeds go to Tri-Pride. Tickets are available at Encore Records (54 Queen St. South, Kitchener) and at Gen X (10 Regina St., Waterloo). For more information, check out the FaceBook page.

[Cliterature]
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
I just got a performance photo from the 60x60 show. I love it. The photographer does some awesome stuff. Please check out the photos of the other performers (note: the site doesn't work in FireFox, but seems to be fine in Safari and Internet Explorer).

[Me dancing]
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
The show sold out. It's fantastic to see a full venue. And it was brilliant. It could have been a train wreck. Over 100 dancers, most who have not worked together before, all coming together into a 60-minute long whirlwind performance. But it was brilliant. I'm grateful to have been part of it, and glad to have had friends in the audience. For the most part, I perform for strangers. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] knightky, [livejournal.com profile] amelielee, and [livejournal.com profile] f00dave for being there.

I have no upcoming shows scheduled. I'm still waiting to hear back about whether or not I got the scholarship for the butoh training. My dance classes at the new place have been empty. I expect them to be shitcanned any time, due to lack of interest. The classes I teach at the seniors' centre end next week and don't start again until January. So I'm coming up on a dance dry spell.

Why do I dance? I don't know. I mean, I enjoy it very much. I feel compelled to do it. But I also enjoy writing, singing, sewing, and creating in general. So why dance? Why is it dance that brought me over 1000 miles from my home town? Why dance, and not costume design, writing, or some other avenue? And why do I feel like when I dance at a show like I did tonight, that I'll get called out for not being a real dancer?

I don't know why I keep dancing. My training eats money. It eats into "real job" time. And it eats what little social time I have with friends. I'm always the odd duck in groups of dancers, because I don't have much in the way of formal western dance training (eg. minimal ballet, hiphop, contemporary, jazz background). My own training is atypical and solitary, for the most part, so it's often very lonely. I don't know why I keep dancing. But I know that I must.

It's always sad when a show wraps. Everything is over. Sets are torn down. Everybody goes home. And then what?

Side tangent: Belly dance shows are populated mostly by other belly dancers and their friends and families. Mixed dance shows seem to have a wider cross-selection of the population. Why?

Personally, I prefer dancing at mixed style or variety shows, because I find the shows more interesting, on average, and because the audience is more eclectic. I also find the caliber of dancing tends to be superior at mixed style shows than at belly dance shows. Why? I am not talking about student shows, by the way. That's different.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
This Saturday at The Music Gallery in Toronto, I will be joining more than 60 other dancers in a bit of creative mayhem called 60x60. 60 choreographers from a wide variety of dance backgrounds have each been given a 60-second musical piece (composed by musicians from disparate musical backgrounds). 60+ dancers, including yours truly, will be performing to those songs in 60 minutes. I'm 33rd on the roster.

Tickets are $15, and the show is Saturday, November 20 at 8pm at The Music Gallery, 197 John Street, Toronto.

Please come and see us! Seating is limited, so it is recommended you purchase your tickets ahead of time.

[60x60]
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
These were taken by Gail Bruckner. I love them!

It felt good to shower afterwards.... )

Oh yes... That is the costume I sewed all by hand. I hope I don't have to do that again in a hurry....
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
[Dead. Sexy.]

So yeah. I'm dancing tonight. How do you like my stage makeup? Gonna touch up the lips yet, though.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
I've been sewing like a sweatshop worker, this week. I clocked about 12 hours of hand-sewing yesterday alone, and I'm still not done. The top for my costume is complete (except for ornamentation), but I still need to sew the waistband on my skirt. I hope to be finished that today. I still want to make a couple of armbands, too. I've been sewing all sorts of doodads to my top all last night and this morning. It has a lot going on: tarnished brass buttons, and a variety of charms and pendants, including an itty bitty skull, a feather, a cross, a nice-sized carnelian, and a pentacle. I still have a jewelled cross, more pentacles, and an antique key to add to the mix. It's looking pretty darned nifty, in my opinion. I have yet to add any fur, feathers, or gemstones, but I might. I knew I had all those doodads for a reason!

This project would go soooooo much faster if my sewing machine would deal with this fabric, but it just won't. So it's all hand-sewing. And even that is tricky. The fabric pulls on the needle something fierce, and I have to keep using a bit of alcohol on my fingers so the needle doesn't slip out of my grasp.

And by the way, I discovered I just fit into a hockey bag.

Yes, these things are related.

This weekend is going to be a blast. I'm going to a haunted house thingermabob tomorrow night, then I have my tech rehearsal and performance tomorrow, and Sunday, I hang out with Kyle then go see Gary freaking Numan! I found out that Die Antwoord is playing the same night. I'd have liked to see them too, but Gary Numan wins. I also suspect that there would be a much higher population of douchebags at the Die Antwoord concert. If you're going to the Numan show, let me know! Perhaps we can meet up, since I'm going solo.

I will be participating in a charity art project next month called Wanderlust. I will be making a collage/painting which will be put into a silent auction. All proceeds go toward improving the pathways of Kitchener. I'm looking forward to this. It's been too long since I've done any 2D art. I'll post details as I get them.

Next week, I need to begin preparing for my next performance: 60X60 Dance, in Toronto. Advance tickets are available for just $10.

[60x60]

Link time!

Conan Goes To Car-Exploding Extremes To Promote New Show: Hrm. Not sure what I think, but I didn't crack a smile. Maybe my funny bone is broken?

No Standard for the Placebo?: "Much of medicine is based on what is considered the strongest possible evidence: The placebo-controlled trial. A paper published in the October 19 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine -- entitled "What's In Placebos: Who Knows?" calls into question this foundation upon which much of medicine rests, by showing that there is no standard behind the standard -- no standard for the placebo."

Camelflage: Underwear that gives you Barbie crotch. Now, while I think way too tight pants are just plain uncomfortable, I kinda have to wonder about how messed up people are to decide that the human form is so shameful that some feel the need to go to lengths to disguise our anatomy. I gave up years ago on trying to hide my headlights. The way I figure, we all have nipples. No surprise there. Well, guess what? Women also have labia. Deal. I am NOT going to wear droopy pants to disguise that. Hiphop jeans with all the underwear showing will hide your package, but at what ugly cost? Blargh. Look at the copy on this page: "You will feel safe and secure knowing you aren't 'that girl' everyone is laughing at behind your back." Fuck 'em, I say.

Make Your Own Sugar Skulls: I'm not really into making sugary things, but these are pretty darned cute.

How to Make a Feather Headpiece: Pretty straight-forward tutorial. I just might end up using some of this for my costume this weekend.

Student, 20, named Mexico police chief: Is she really brave, or a moron? I'm leaning toward the latter.

David Suzuki targets 'dirty dozen' toxic ingredients: "The David Suzuki Foundation took aim Tuesday at a 'dirty dozen' chemicals that are found in 80 per cent of the most common cosmetic products and urged better labelling laws to help consumers avoid them. In a report on a chemical survey, the foundation said it got 6,200 volunteers to check the ingredients listed on 12,550 everyday cosmetic products, including shampoo, toothpaste, lipstick and skin cleanser. The volunteers specifically looked for 12 chemicals the foundation says are linked to cancer, reproductive disorders, severe allergies and asthma." 80% of the stuff checked contained at least one of those nasty chemicals. Gah.

Adjustible iPod Stand: Inexpensive, small, and handy. I think I'll be ordering one.

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