Sunday, June 30, 2013

Paying Attention

The next step for me is to be more discerning with "spending" of time and attention. See, it's not really free, which is why the language uses a lot of money words around it. We "pay" attention and know that "time is money".

Ideally, I'd like to walk the fine line between strict budgeting and free spending. I think I'm pretty good at this with music. I don't try to shut myself out of any type of music, but I also try to avoid music I already know I don't like. And say I hear a super-catchy pop song, when I generally try to avoid pop. I just give in and enjoy it.

But where the money / attention analogy falls apart is that you can't really use up all the attention. There's more available, well, continuously. This is why I don't want to be stingy. Just a little more discerning, I suppose.

Maybe it's more like dieting. If you've "spent" your time / attention on something unworthy, you will end up _______________. The words that fill that blank are the most terrifying attributes - stupid, alone, fat, lame, boring. When I try to modify the tragedy and fill in the blank with less dire outcomes, I can't think of any. Empty is just as scary as stupid. Isolated is not much better than alone. Bloated  is the worst part of fat?

So, yes, it's important to use your attention wisely. It makes your whole world. This is why there must be no more candy-crushing phone games, the Real Housewives must be evicted from my house, the trashy magazines must go.

But back to the dieting analogy again - is it so bad to enjoy a bit of candy on rare occasion? No. It's not. Put the whips away and stop flogging yourself. Maybe you can be focused in one arena, moderate in others, and not care about one at all.

So, it's almost July - is this the project? Spend your time wisely? Okay. Let's do it.

Focus on: media
Moderate on: home and housework
Let it take care of itself: social life

I'm going to have to think about what this means in action. Let me know if you've had any success in this type of endeavor. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tribal Freakout!

I am back from Tribal Revolution (midwestern dance edition) and full of inspiration. I am going to wear 10 scarves at once. I'm going to hand stitch my own costumes, made from fabric I dyed myself (that part isn't entirely hype - I do intend to try that this summer). I'm going to add yoga to my practice and dance every day. EVERY DAY.

This post title is a tribute to the choreography I tried (and tried and tried) to learn from Rachel Brice. But I'm starting at the end again. Just play this music and read on.

So, Thursday night I arrived in beautiful Wheeling (ugh) after 5 hours on the highway. Not because Wheeling is 5 hours from my home, but because I have poor timing and don't believe in rush hour. Kat, my hotel roommate and hometown troupe mate, had wine in the room, so I called Jimmy Johns for some room service, to get ready to roll for Friday morning to learn about costuming from Mira Betz.

Yeah, Mira Betz!! I took the most notes there. We all brought costumes we had made which she then used as examples, and was kind enough to let us touch some of hers. This sounds silly, or perhaps overly worshipful, but I assure you I am a hands-on learner and needed to touch examples to understand. We also observed while she pointed the issues and fit of a regular base bra, on a participant willing to take off her shirt and be observed by 30 women who wanted to learn about bra fit. Biggest take-away: costumes are not meant to be comfortable.

(Underlying lesson throughout the gathering was that we're all beautiful. I know, woo woo, but it's an important lesson. All kinds of bellies were out. I still like a nice long t-shirt, though.) Mira's point was more along the lines of, make your stuff look its best, and you don't need to hang a bunch of fabric and metal on it unless you want to, or it means something to you.

Kami Liddle is my new favorite dancer. I know, I'm late to the game (as usual). I took 2 workshops from her, and found her to be charming and helpful. Can I layer 3 moves at once? Uh, not yet. But I'm going to be dancing every day (see above!) so it could totally happen. She pointed out that not every audience can comprehend or appreciate too many moves at once. I think I am most in love with her hand movements.

And again with the Rachel Brice! I took 2 workshops from her as well. I even worked up the nerve to ask her about my low back grinding sensations when I do a Maya. (She said she has the same thing, and that maybe it's because I'm holding it too flat. Yep. I'm going to try that.) I LOVE LOVE LOVE Rachel because she has the music. I wrote down everything I could, and still my notes puzzle me. I clearly heard "Turkish Freakout" as a suggestion and Two Fingers, "Fools Rhythm". Rachel also tried to tell us we were just like her, but she practices A LOT. I think that's true, she practices a lot more than I do, but I don't see myself approaching her level anytime soon. Dancer namaste, I am not falling for that one.

Donna Mejia was last year's mind blower, and her workshop this year was fantastic as well. I love how stern she is with us, and that she thanks us for lowering our shoulders, or invites us to take steps across the floor. I know that doesn't sound stern, but there's a real authority emanating from her. And she has got a great playlist, too. Last year I took a picture of her playlist from her laptop, but I fear that picture was lost with the technology thefts of my last 6 months.

Shows! The Participant Showcase was a wild ride, as always. Many, many troupes. Lots of beige costuming. At least 20 swords. Move. Hold. Next move. Faux dreads. We're not ready.

But Carrie was amazing! Carrie was my first tribal teacher, and I have always loved her dancing. Sparkly, elegant costume and I always enjoy watching her face as she dances.

The Gala Show was super amazing, despite being unable to see anyone's feet because I was so far back in the hall. I am having trouble even trying to describe it. Highlights were Kami Liddle and Mira Betz for me, and I loved watching the flamenco numbers.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have taken a workshop from Tempest, and a dance workshop from Mira Betz. I would have bought some dance capris and even more jewelry and costume items. I would have avoided the Dan Ryan. I would have had dinner in Chicago on Thursday night. I would have pulled up my tank top and showed my belly. I would have taken more pictures. But I hope that's what I can do next year.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Why do I do this? Why do I endanger my reputation and propriety and expose my belly literally to scrutiny? Well, mostly for the amusement of locals but it runs a little deeper than that. Check out these pictures from the Greek Festival this weekend.

Makeup is fun, maybe. Nicolina tried to help me and showed me what a nice cat eye could do. I even consulted my hair team for a plan (they came up with rollers and setting gel). So, it should have been a piece of cake, right?

Nicolina's job, in the car.

My job, with curlers. Hmm.
Tools: happiness candle, falsies, glue.

The 2nd try went better, the following night. 
Sparkles! So, the make up is on. Gotta get the costume bits together. The most exciting costume this year was for our Tribal Corps group. Lace pants, faux leather vest. Feathers. Tons of jewelry. It was also the only costume that exposed my poor scarred belly, so I wore the belly cover this year, which I have not always done. I know it's kind of cheating, and it doesn't make you look any thinner. But it made me more comfortable, which meant I was more expressive in my dancing. 

And that's really why I do this, to express myself. I love that there's a group of women that want to express themselves this way with me. It's really about sisterhood, and learning more about different cultures, and appreciating independence. 

Full sparkle, pin-up mode. 

Culture: We were performing at a Greek festival, put on by a local Greek restaurant chain. Usually the intent is to do more Greek music numbers (although I have also performed a Bollywood inspired routine and a flamenco skirt dance in previous years). This town has a relatively prominent Greek community, which is pretty cool. So I do consider it an honor to perform there. And I learned something new - it is good luck to begin a dance with your right foot. I also had a fantastic vegetarian platter with olives and hummus and grape leaves and spanakopita. Maybe twice.

Sisterhood: The other culture I'm always trying to figure out is femininity. My brother did not teach me how to do cute things with my hair, or which underwear to wear with thin tight pants, or what is too much or too little to share. That's what I am trying to learn from everyone, really. I've rationalized the dancing in these semi-ridiculous costumes as important because women in other cultures can't dress or dance this way without losing everything. It's my backwards feminist stance - I shall present myself as an object and then dare you to treat me as such. I know that a lot of people don't get it. I don't fully fall for that one myself.

But I'm going to keep doing it, and pretty much because I can. I'm going to dance so that more women can dance.