Category Archives: cirque

Today’s Preview

We worked in the sphere a bit more today, first at about knee height, then at a more respectable height of 1.25 meters or so.

My bit of the brief duo is essentially nailed down; my partner is adjusting hers since we’re using a span-set rigging that allows her to work atop the sphere.

Got a little video and some decent still shots from there. This is one of my favorites:

This Skin-the-Cat Walkout Dismount works much better a little higher up!

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This is Humid-o-We’en

So I dutifully kept my heart rate pretty moderate during tonight’s performance, but it was still so humid I finished up looking like I’d gone for a swim o.o

Dripping in the Green Room

Also, I just realized that my scars add a dimension of realism to the Sparkle Zombie get-up XD

The Weirdness of Actually Liking This Body

We dancers are notoriously critical of our bodies—sometimes in unhealthy ways, but also sometimes in realistic ways.

I, for example, am way scrawny compared to the vast majority of Pilobolus guys, but a Clydesdale—really, more a Welsh cob —if you toss me in with the guys from ABT. In short (or tall), different companies require different bodies. ABT favors a lean, clean aesthetic. Pilobolus needs strength. The Bolshoi wants powerful, flexible jumpers.

I wrestle with those things, as one does—with the question, when I’m auditioning, of “Does this body fit this company or gig?” I’ll continue to face that on a regular basis as long as I’m working in dance and circus. I’m okay with that.

That, however, isn’t what this post is about.

Rather, it’s about finally looking at myself in a full-length mirror and thinking,”Yeah, okay. is my body.”

I didn’t grasp how very much my moobs got in the way of that, nor to what degree there would be this sharp before/after scenario. Before, I looked and I saw moobs. After, I look and I see this compact, well-knit boy with really nice shoulders (thanks, ballet!).

To an extent, it’s still startling because I expected things to just look a bit weird for a while after surgery. I was prepared for that and okay with it. I mean, I guess the surgical tape and Post-Op Pasties™ look a little weird, but they look like they’re applied to a body that’s, like, just there. No big bruises or anything.

In that same vein, I’ve begun to forget it that it once felt awkward—mentally, that is—to rest a hand on my chest in bed. The skinflaps were always there, waiting to remind me. Now they’re not.

At the Burn this year, I found myself feeling—well, not quite envious, but wistful I guess, over M’s smooth, tight chest and his lovely little pink nipples. It didn’t occur to me that I’d wind up similarly equipped after the skinflaps went, though maybe it should have? I mean, did I my nipples were going to turn purple or what? Yet, still, I feel like I got so much more than I had expected.

Even the scars, where the tape has begun to peel, are mostly ultra-thin. I’m not sure if my surgeonwas extra careful because I’m a dancer and the appearance of my body is a career asset, whether I was just really to work on, or if he’s just always this good. Regardless, I’m immensely grateful.

And tonight I looked at all of myself, stark naked, in the mirrored shower door and I thought, really for the first time in my life, “Yeah, okay. That’s pretty good. That’s pretty nice.”

I’m not going say I’ve lost the voice that says, “You have more than 4 percent fat. You suck.” Maybe it’ll leave, maybe it won’t, but it’s still there now.

But another part of me, on the other hand, finally feels it can speak up with confidence.

Like I don’t have to secretly dread petit allegro because things might shift around and get awkward.

Like when I walk down street the in that flimsy orange tank top and a guy looks at me, I don’t have to look away or shut him down because I think he wouldn’t like me with my clothes off.

Like whenever I get to dance with a smart, hot guy like M again, I won’t do it half afraid he’s going to run his hands down my chest and think, “WTF?”
Like I won’t have to take my contacts out, maybe, to stop me catching sight of myself in the giant closet door mirrors when D and I are playing around in bed because it might make me think, “WTF?”

Eventually, of course, I’ll get used to this actually being my body. Right now, though, it’s rather a marvelous little mystery all my own; a prayer answered slowly but beautifully.

I know it’s not like this for everyone, and I’m grateful, too, for the sheer simplicity of my feelings about all of this. It’s pretty much an unalloyed good in my life.

So me for tonight. Time to sleep.

Back From The Back of Beyond

I’m back from the Desert now, and catching up on life. Today was my first full day home, and I hit it hard—did a bunch of administrative life stuff, then booked it out to a 3-hour rehearsal.

Speaking of which, now that my name’s on the official cast list (or, as Autocorrupt suggests, “the official cat list”) I feel like I can stop being silent about one thing, anyway!

Cirque Louis: Kaleidoscope

I’m seriously stoked about the fact that we’re performing in the Bomhard, which is one of my two favorite local theaters.

Sadly, I missed our headshot shoot (it got moved), so my headshot won’t be in the program, but it’ll be on the website. I’m performing on hammock in this show, in addition to other things, which is pretty exciting. It’s like silks for trapeze people 😀 There will, of course, also be dancing.
Rehearsal today went really well. I’m excited about working with this cat … I mean, cast … and I’m rather a fan of our AD.

That’s it for now. Insanely busy week this week, and next week will be huge if Irma doesn’t completely destroy Fort Lauderdale.

A Relative Dose Of Success Followed By, You Know, Life

Leading up to PlayThink this year, I was bulldozed by a swift and nasty bout of your bog-standard “depressolepsy”—that fierce, crushing, exhausting depression that rocks up out of nowhere and smashes everything in its path. Thanks, Rapid Cycling Type I Bipolar, or whatever the hell is going on with my brain.

That’s been the case the past three years running, so I think it has to do with timing: the time of year; the timing of the onset of Summer Intensives and my inability to figure out how much GoGoGo I can take before I need to take my brain out and put it on ice for a couple of days; the timing of the stressful bit of my non-dance job; the timing of always effectively losing my husband to The Great Wave of Planning that precedes his standing summer plans (PlayThink and the Big Burn) just when I most need someone to help me stay afloat[1].

  1. This bit isn’t really his fault, btw. It’s more that I have a hard time broaching the divide between myself and other people, including D, when I’m struggling, and it gets even harder when he seems preoccupied. It’s something we both need to work on, together, and we’re doing it, but it takes time.

None of this was improved by my lack of security about our performance piece for the Friday-night “FlowCase,” which we hadn’t rehearsed anywhere near enough.

D offered time and again to cancel, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it would be better to get out there and do the show than to back out. This is, for all its friendly down-home atmosphere, a professional gig—and the first rule in the performing arts is and always will be: “The Show Must Go On.”

  1. Corollary[3]: if your name is printed on the official marketing materials, you’re part of the show.
  2. I consistently misspell this word, even though if I stop and think about it for a sec I actually do know how to spell it. Seriously, self: “Corolarry?” Really? Is that, like the cousin of Corojessica, or…? SMH.

Basically, getting out there and screwing up sometimes is part of the business—even Nureyev fell flat on his arse from time to time—but you don’t want to get a reputation for backing out of your commitments.

So I gritted my teeth and accepted that we might totally bomb; that the whole thing might go right off the rails. That life is, after all, pretty much an exercise in walking a tightrope in a maelstrom, for all our delusions of control. That the even inclusion of a twirling beach umbrella and faux 20s-era men’s swimwear might not pull my carefully-crafted little acro-clowning-ballet back from the edge of disaster[3].

  1. I had thought of also including fake moustaches, but forgot about them, so even they could not have saved us if things went south.

So we wrestled our way through a couple more hours of rehearsal rendered incredibly awkward by the lack of so much as a single properly-flat spot in which to rehearse, which in turn made the apex of the whole number—the candlestick-to-diver transition that we basically invented for this show—literally impossible.

And then we went on.

And you know that thing that happens when you get on stage and the whole world falls away and suddenly you’re ON and even if you literally put a foot wrong, you can’t put a foot wrong?

So, that happened.

~

Our performance wasn’t perfect in the literal sense. Because we hadn’t been able to nail the diver transition, we left it out (though we didn’t actually program in something else, just in case it magically came off: I simply sort of rolled out to the side, pulling D up with me).

We had already scuttled the bluebird lift at the end because we need more practice with it before we put it in a show. Right now, its hit rate at home is only about 25%; the rest of the time, I wind up hitting it for about .5 seconds while D struggles to figure out the balance point, then we fall out of it and I yell at him and then apologize for yelling at him.

And, yet, in another way, our performance was a million times better than I could have imagined.

D lit up in a way I’ve never seen him light up on stage (evidently, all you have to do is give him a beach umbrella and let him twirl it[4]).

  1. I actually rather suspected this would be the case, which is why he got to twirl the beach umbrella (okay, so also it fit his character better than it fit mine). D has a lot of natural clown in him. I formulated this thing to play to that strength, and I think it paid off. Choregraphy Rule Number One: when you’re creating a piece on a group of dancers, create it on the dancers you have.

The piece filled up the music exactly (I was incredibly worried that we’d get ahead, finish early, and have to stand there grinning like eejits for 30 seconds or what have you).

Perhaps most importantly, the audience rippled with genuine laughter at all the right moments. It wasn’t that weird, “Uh … is this supposed to be funny?” laughter that we all secretly dread. All the jokes (physical jokes, not verbal ones) hit the mark.

When it was over, they cheered. Lustily. Thrillingly. Authentically. It was awesome.

So, score one for team Dawson/Taylor-Dawson. Not bad at all for a pretty complex bit of physical theater that had a sum total of maybe four or five hours of real rehearsal time and literally no full run-through with music.

Throughout the rest of the festival, we constantly heard how much people had loved the piece.

A few even commented on exactly the thing I’d hoped to bring to the table: the fact that the piece had characters and a storyline, which isn’t something I’ve seen in FlowCase in previous years. Our good friend reported that she was so proud she found herself tearing up. Someone even commented that my ballet (all three-ish steps that actually made it into the final piece!) was beautiful.

Needless to say, the success of the piece and the instantaneous lifting of the pressure of it off of our collective shoulders helped immensely. So did being done, and thus able to go retire to the camper and just read (I did stay for most of the rest of the show, though, until the mosquitoes emerged and began eating me alive).

I also discovered a technique that really helps D and me: right before we went on, we simply talked our way through the piece, back and forth, each of us simply stating the short-hand name for our moves[5].

  1. Except for the ballet part: since I do that by myself, and I sometimes find it quicker not to actually attempt to get the language bit of my brain firing, I just visualized and went, “Balletballetballet, maybe some other ballet” there.

We each went on feeling like the other knew not just the skills required, but the sequence in which they needed to be called up, and it let us both relax. Handy!

~

Anyway, there’s video of the whole FlowCase, but it won’t be ready for a couple of weeks. I’ll watch it, even though I’m not sure I want to (the performance felt really good, but when I watch video, I tend to get hung up in my flaws).

This week, I’m taking two days off to get things back to normal as much as I can before diving back into class and so forth. I am vaguely regretting not signing up for our AD’s master class, because I know a couple of people who are taking it and it sounds cool, but I also recognize that I need a breather.

I need a couple of days to just do day-to-day life stuff. Mentally speaking, I already feel like the summer is more or less over: I’m away for two weeks of July on dance intensives (LexBallet and Pilobolus), then possibly again for much of August and the first week of September (depending on a handful of circumstances) for Burning Man. Because I struggle with time, the idea of those giant pre-planned blocks makes it hard to understand that the rest of the summer, the windows between those bricks, exists.

Inevitably, when I take a couple of days off, there’s a part of my brain that remembers how nice it is to have the whole day to do the things that need doing (or, if possible, to do nothing, or do only things that don’t need doing). Occasionally, a very quiet voice in the back of my head whispers, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to do this than to pursue your insane visions?”

I remind it, of course, that “it makes more sense” hasn’t really worked out for us in the past—that I’m not actually great at predicting what makes sense; that (perhaps more importantly) the pursuit of impractical dreams, Quixotic though it may appear, keeps the wind in my sails.

Someday, I’m sure, it probably will make sense to ease off the accelerator a bit; to drop out of the big ring. Right now, though, I’m riding to ride the hills; I’m dancing to feel the sensation of soaring at the top of the grand assemblé porté.

And, yet, I think it’s good for me, having a life in which something as powerfully thrilling as Friday night’s performance is followed by something as entirely mundane as getting out in the backyard to chop up the branches that are still waiting there for me.

To misapply Jack Kornfield’s magnificent summary of Zen practice: “After the ecstasy, the laundry.”

So there we are. Back to class tomorrow, though I am sure I’ll sorely (ha!) regret jumping back in with Killer Class instead of something gentler.

PlayThink 2017!!!

I just got notification that we’re in for PlayThink’s performance showcase this year! 

It’s official!

I have a couple of months to teach D our choreography and work any kinks, which should be plenty of time.  

My inspiration! 😀

For this act, I’m putting together an acro/ballet/physical theater piece to Charles Trenet’s classic, “La Mer.” I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. The piece is built around a couple of bumbling tourists at the seashore. Since its 100% mine, I’ll post rehearsal clips once we start working on it.
You guys, I’m so excited! This will be our second year teaching, but our first year performing at PlayThink.

I can’t wait!

Remember That Audition Where I Fell Off The Trapeze? 

The most interesting man in the world doesn’t always fall off the trapeze, but when he does, it’s during an audition … and lands him a callback!(1)

  1. Okay, so falling off the trapeze may have had exactly nothing to do with it. But still! I got a callback!!! YASSSSSSS!

Pretty much a perfect depiction of how I’m feeling right now 😀

Work Song: Adjustments 

So, I’m writing this at 3 AM, but scheduling it for Actual Morning. 

We’ve had a late casting change for Work Song. My other boy wound up with a bounty of work projects, and he’s swamped. I’m fine with that; in the gig economy that feeds so many artists, you have to strike while the iron is hot. I love his work, so I’m excited about seeing more of it down the line, even though it means losing him for this piece. 

Last night I asked GM, a fellow aerialist, if he’d like to try jumping in. His formal training in dance is pretty minimal, but he’s a very good mover. I think he’ll be able to roll with it. AM, AS, and I will be able to coach him on technique.

Interestingly, bringing in a less-experienced dancer has helped me to streamline my choreography a bit. I had about five different ideas for the third phrase, and only one of them is something I’d feel confident handing to someone with limited dance vocabulary.

It’s good to work with limitations. They make decision-making easier and help to shape the finished work. Just as the stone tells the sculptor what figure lies within, sometimes the dancers shape the vision of the choreographer. 

We should be able to start rehearsing next week or the first week of January.

 Ultimately, this piece is only about 3.5 minutes long. The rehearsal process will be less about learning the choreography, which shouldn’t be too hard, and more about making it really sing. There’s a lot of partnering in this piece, though it’s largely not of the classical-ballet bent. GM takes acro with me, so I suspect he can handle it. Timing and musicality are the open questions, one everyone learns the choreography. 

I guess, really, this is my first professional project as a choreographer-director. I’m learning on the fly how to cast dancers, schedule rehearsals, teach choreography to four busy performers with very different backgrounds, make costuming decisions, and so on and so forth.

Having done it once,  I feel like doing it again won’t be so difficult. The biggest ongoing challenge will be finding rehearsal spaces on a budget of $Zip.ZilchNada. The nice part in this case  is that rehearsal space is built in. I teach with AS, and this performance is part of the Instructors’ Showcase, so we will be rehearsing at the studio.

Finding dancers isn’t incredibly difficult. I’ve managed to connect with a decent handful of adult ballet students who want to perform, including a fairly advanced core group. My aerials family is made up mostly of very game performers, a few of whom have reasonable dance training.

I might have to learn how to do fundraising stuff. The internets should make that easier.

I’m pretty excited about all of this. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is the cat-herding involved in scheduling rehearsals 😛 

That might not be as bad as it could be, though, because we’re all attached to the aerials studio, and we all spend a lot of time there. 

More to come. It’s weird how far 2016 (the Year of the Dumpster Fire) has taken me as a dancer. No matter what I’ve said, one year ago I wouldn’t have predicted that I’d be staging a piece (for four dancers!) with so much confidence.

Gives me something to look forward to in 2017 (which, hilariously, is the Year of the Cock).

Lyra Photos! 

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