Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Dead Beat Beach Blanket Bingo

My theatre company is doing a fund raiser this evening. It's $10 a pop with free booze. It involves the greatest summer songs delivered beatnik style. Of course, the song I chose to read as a poem is not a great song. In fact, I think it could very well be the worst song ever written.

So, if you're in the Southern California area and you like booze and bingo and have ever listened to a song, you should attend. Go here for details and directions. It should last about an hour.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Video Junkie

Over the holiday weekend, I watched lots of dance footage. I was on You Tube checking out fan dances since there are no local teachers and I want to learn how to do a fan dance well. I also watched a couple burlesque videos, including a dancer whose class I'm going to take when she stops through town. I watched All That Jazz to bone up on my Fosse and get inspiration for the show I'm choreographing. I also went to my belly dance teacher's apartment and watched belly dance videos with the troupe.

Oh, and I watched myself dance at Dar Maghreb. One of the girls had a friend who brought his video camera. Not bad, but I need to work on my arms. When I watched the group numbers, I noticed my arms were really stiff. Eureka! I compared that with one of the Bellydance Superstars I saw on a video. Her arms were really soft and fluid. I realized that I don't have to hold the pop-and-lock tension in my arms to get the moves down. I went home and tried relaxing my arms and they looked so much better. I think I want to tape all of my rehearsals so I can spot and correct from rehearsal to rehearsal. I also think I'm going to keep watching videos.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Great Deal

I hate solicitors that come to my office. There's a very plain sign on the front door to the building that reads "No Solicitors." That doesn't deter three visits a month from some random partially "dressed up" fellow with princess board books, cheap jumper cables and a "watch me grow" chart. They always want to take time away from my work to explain the great deals, and I go to work so I can get things done and get a paycheck in exchange. I'd rather not sit and humor these blokes for the five to ten minutes that it takes them to try to sell me their crap, knowing I'm not interested nor will I become interested the more they talk.

I make one exception. Two years ago I bought a coupon book for buy one get one free tickets at Dodger Stadium. That summer Andrew and I went to lots of games. For $50, I got four free game tickets and eight coupons for the buy one get one deal. The boys didn't drop by last year, but I saw them nearly two weeks ago and snatched up a coupon book.

Yesterday we saw the Cubs play the Dodgers. In about two weeks we'll see the Dodgers play the Mets from field level seats. Yesterday's seats were in the reserve section, kind of high up, but directly behind home plate. Dude! It's a lot easier to agree with the umpire's calls when you can see the full play. It's my goal to use all of the coupons in the book and get seats as close to home plate as possible.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

I'm Still an Actor . . . Really

I've been so busy with dance stuff that I haven't been hitting the acting scene as hard for a few months. I realized that I probably needed to get busy in that area when I went to the infomercial audition on Wednesday and I didn't have a headshot and resume in the trunk. Oops. I think I have about ten left at my house so I need to order more.

But not everyone has forgotten I'm an actor. I've been asked to do this short play in about a month for two nights of the Write Act Rep fundraiser. It's a cute play, and it's an original written by another company member. I got the script yesterday and I'll start learning lines as soon as I hear that the other role is filled.

Now I just need someone to remember that I like to be paid as an actor.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Number Five on the Hit Parade

Yesterday Andrew and I went out for my fifth infomercial. This product is a ballroom dance DVD series. I submitted myself but put in the submission notes that I'd bring my fantastic and attractive husband with me. This was an audition for the infomercial. The instructor, Michael Kiehm, taught a couple dance steps from two different styles to a handful of hopefuls at a time. Everyone else tried learning the steps from the sidelines, and when they switched groups they switched styles.

We were the only couple on the list when we signed in. I don't know if any other couples arrived after us. Because of our cuteness and coupledom, we were selected to take the night club two-step DVD home to learn some moves and bring back our skills to show off at a later date. W00+ for us. We each got the same DVD, but this means we have a spare. We started working on the moves last night. It's set up on a nice gradient so you don't get overwhelmed. I like that.

Maybe we'll shoot footage for You Tube once we know how to do something.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pasty Chef

I made three more pairs of pasties over the past few days. I made a pair of camo flowers from some fabric Andrew got for me. Then I lost that pair so I had to make a replacement. I bought beads for the edges at Michael Levine downtown. (Awesome store. It's best to visit on a weekday or Sunday between 11 and noon.) Last night I made sparkle hearts from some leftover Christmas card fabric.

I think I've gotten the tech down to pasty making. Now it's time for me to branch out and create new and interesting shapes. I wonder what I should do? Maybe I'll figure out how to make guitar pasties next.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Using the Right Muscles

When I shot my pole footage, I did a thorough warm up before I warmed up on the pole. I don't recall having any muscle soreness after so much time spent dancing. In my pole class for the past two weeks, we've skipped the ab work we used to do at the beginning and we get right to an "all-skate" warm up where we freestyle for around eight minutes while warming up our muscles. It's a fun way to warm up.

Of course, different dance styles use the muscles in different ways. I can't do the exact same warm up for pole, belly dance and tissu. They're all athletic but each gives a different workout. Different moves within each style require different muscles. The "all-skate" warm up I did Thursday night didn't warm up certain parts that I later used. My neck, back and hips got a greater workout than usual with the walks, shrugs and tricks. I know that next week I have to pay special attention to those parts during my warm up since this number really uses them. I have to also be cautious with my fairies so they get the proper warm up and cool down for the muscles they'll be working in the show.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Fosse Fosse Fosse

In my pole master class this session, we're working on cabaret-style dancing. Our first number is "Big Spender," and the eventual goal is to put together a few completed numbers from the various master class sessions to create an evening of entertainment, like a recital. I love performing, so I've been doing lots of homework so I can contribute to an awesome evening.

I bumped everything else out of the way in my Netflix queue so I could bone up on Fosse. I'm in the middle of Fosse and Sweet Charity right now. I recall hearing people saying to "do it more like Fosse" but I wasn't sure exactly what that meant. I knew he did the original choreography for Chicago, but I hadn't consumed any other Fosse. After watching these shows, I've discovered it is an actual style. It's like jazz-ballet with strange transitions, specific hand movements, odd contortions and fluid motions. As a dancer, it would be worthwhile to find a Fosse class somewhere and just study for a month.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dodgers Win!

Last night we went to the Cardinals vs. Dodgers game. It's been a year since I went to the ballpark. We had a really big month at my office last month, so my boss decided the reward would be a trip to the ballpark with all the families. He gave everyone snack and t-shirt/hat money, and we had a rowdy good time.

I love the Dodgers. Heck, I'm a local. But I do have a special fondness in my heart for the Cardinals. My first year in St. Louis, all the major sports teams won the national game. The Cards won the world series. Dude! I was so busy when I was in St. Louis that I didn't have a chance to catch one of their games while I was there. When the Cards play the Dodgers, I root for the Cards. I may be wearing a Dodgers shirt, but I still root for the Cards.

Last night some barely shaved ape got rude and insulting with me and my thirteen year-old pal Christy when we cheered for St. Louis scoring another run. It's one thing to do a little good natured ribbing. It's quite another to pick on the two cute girls who are jumping up and down rather than trying to start some crap with the big guys in the Cardinals jerseys a few rows down. At no point during the game were we cruel. I did shout that we needed a replacement for our own pitcher because the Dodgers kept scoring. I also shouted for my team to win. I was speechless after this jerkwad, who didn't even cheer for his own team, got rude with us. Wow.

He was an oddity at a baseball game. We all had fun, so did the people beside us who were cheering for the Dodgers. After the game a guy from a few rows down apologized for the random ape (even though they didn't know each other). It was that guy that made me feel better about buying tickets for two more games this season.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Have Fans . . . Now What?

Okay, I spent the weekend making these awesome feather fans. My character shoes should arrive tomorrow. I don't have an immediate necessity to learn a fan dance for a project, but I'm more interested in learning a fan dance than I am cleaning off my coffee table.

Of course, I haven't seen anyone other than Jo Boobs advertise fan dance classes, and she's in New York. This means I have to teach myself from what is in the e-book and whatever I can find on YouTube. Once I get a few moves down, I may have to rent a dance studio with mirrors so I can see what I'm doing. I can then set up our video camera and tweak the performance based on what I see.

What next? Juggling? Fire dancing? Yo-yo tricks?

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

My Fluffy Fun Feather Fans

A few weeks ago, I purchased and read an incredible e-book about the how-tos of burlesque. What started out as a small curiosity has become a strong interest in the area. I learned how to create a new "wardrobe" just a week ago (although my current wardrobe just contains the pieces I showed in the blog). This same e-book talked about the fabulous fan dance and how to make your own feather fans.

While the e-book provides instruction for making your own fans from scratch, I didn't want to try to find someone to cut fan staves from a sheet of acrylic that I'd find from who knows where. I also didn't want to get suckered into buying overpriced ostrich feathers from the fashion district, all the while thinking I got a great deal. I followed the author's alternate instructions and bought two Sally Rand junior fan kits from here. For a little more than $40 each, I had mostly complete kits to build two ostrich feather fans in the color of my choosing.

Total construction time per fan was under two hours. I did them while I watched television. The second one was faster, but I figured out some things as I made the first one. I evened up the lengths of all the feathers on the staves before I laid out the fan to attach the staves with a screw at one end and fishing line near the other.

As a heads up for possible fan customers, be sure to use two washers between each stave. They include 24 washers but tell you only to use one between each stave. That's when you're left with 12 extra washers and a lot of screw that doesn't hold your feathers in place very well. My kits were missing the second nuts to secure the ends and the wire ties for securing the feathers. Fortunately, Andrew the puppet master had some wire I could pirate. We'll have to visit a hardware store for the second nuts. I think the Fed Ex tube they were packed in wasn't as secure as expected. Either that, or they just left those things out of the kits.

My baby blue fans are gorgeous and ready for use. Now I just need to learn how to use them for more than posing.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Affordable Entertainment

As an actor/dancer/singer/musician/now choreographer, I need to see lots of shows. I watch plenty of movies and some television, but I need to see more live entertainment. There's a different energy with live entertainment, most of what I do is live entertainment, and I need to support friends in live entertainment so they continue to support me.

The biggest problem I have with seeing all these live shows (besides concerts) is the cost. I don't want to pay more than I would for a DVD box set for me and Andrew to see a show that's really disappointing. We paid a chunk of cash at Thanksgiving last year to see a professional show and we walked away very disappointed by the show. We've paid the door charge at a comedy club to see a hilarious friend of ours, but the overall expense with the required food and beverage purchase plus tax and tip was overwhelming. If I can get a good deal on some aspect of the event (food discount, cheap tickets, etc.), I enjoy it a lot more.

I'd heard people come to the box office at my theatre company and mention that they bought their tickets through Goldstar. When I first priced The Super Sexy Show with the Hollywood Pin Up Girls, tickets were $20 through the venue. When I checked Goldstar, I got tickets for $13.50 each ($10 ticket, $3.50 service charge). Those cheap tickets made it a lot easier for me to make the required food and beverage purchase at the venue without cringing. We have to see two plays with puppets as research. Both shows are listed on Goldstar. This makes it more affordable for us to support fellow artists and what other people are doing.

There are Goldstar events across the country. You can check by major city or by zip code and see what's available in your area.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pammy Dance!

As I mentioned before, I rented a dance studio Thursday night to shoot some pole footage for my reel. We got plenty of footage and I got a lot of dance time put in that evening. I did most of the tricks on a spinning pole earlier in the evening, then we locked down the pole for the last half hour. Dizzy from tons of spinning, I danced out the rest of the Continuum CD.

Spinning on a stationary pole is like playing an acoustic guitar. You know that you have the basics down so when you get the equipment that amplifies your tricks, you'll really shine. I spent my first three months of pole classes just learning on a stationary pole. These tricks are from footage Andrew cut together to the John Mayer song "I'm Gonna Find Another You." All of these tricks were done on a stationary pole.

Enjoy!

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Studio Time

My pole teacher went on vacation last week so I rented the studio for a couple hours Thursday night. I wanted to shoot some pole tricks for my reel. I love this studio and I know how to set up poles there. I'll probably have a little video clip up late today.

The evening wasn't without problems. I wanted footage on a spinning pole (cool for certain tricks) then a stationary pole (better for a lot of tricks for someone with small hands). We tried setting up two different poles in a part of the room that would give us a nicer background but neither one spun smoothly. We had to set up a pole in the corner by the stereo and we had to get the stereo in the background because of the kind of camera we were using.

I shot a little footage in my stripper shoes, but I get bored with them and I don't feel as free when I wear them. I spent most of the time barefoot. I danced for so long on the spinning pole that I was still dizzy a half hour later. I had to slow things down and get some other tricks with the stationary pole, but I was still worn out from so much dancing. I could do a half hour set, but I don't think I could do another hour and fifteen minute set without more than a three minute break.

I do like the image quality. I look pretty fit. I'd like to get one of these cameras for my household so I can shoot all of my performances with this quality.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

A Bit of Silliness

Here is my final belly dance rehearsal video before our performance. We used these videos to see ourselves dance and figure out what to fix. This is just a rehearsal, not the actual performance. I had to choreograph the piece for a restaurant so there's a bit of repetition. Also, my zill elastic was loose so you'll see my zills fly off.

But in keeping with my theme of openness, enjoy.



My first belly dance solo performance is over, but I guess this can serve as a reminder of my infancy as a belly dancer.

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From Auditionee to Auditioner

I spent a chunk of my weekend in auditions for my theatre company's upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I'm usually the person coming in to audition and asking if I can go early. This time I was behind the table with the stage manager and director. That's my privilege as choreographer.

I wasn't sure what to prepare for auditioners for the movement part of the audition. Fortunately, the director had "existential fairy movement" for folks to do with some instrumental pieces. I joined them on stage for the movement so I got a great workout. It was all very organic and everyone seemed willing to play along. That was nice. It's interesting to see how people interpret the music, especially when you tell them not to dance.

We didn't have a reader available for Sunday's auditions so I got to play Puck, Oberon, Helena, Lysander, Demetrius, and probably some other blokes. I spent most of the day reading male roles. It was a great being the reader because I was going just as cold as some of the auditioners for some of the scenes. I had to tackle the language and find the point of each speech pretty quick. Sometimes I did well, other times I missed the boat and realized it part of the way through. That was fun and educational. I think every actor should serve as a reader at least once.

We figured out most of the roles when we finished auditions yesterday. There are still a few more people we have to see and a few more roles we have to solidify. There were a few people who would work in a number of roles but they have to be positioned against the other people who are cast and the vision for the show. Some of the decisions we made could potentially be changed depending on what we see this week. Of course, I don't think I'll be playing Demetrius even though I got that role down by the end of Sunday.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

My Newest Project

Two weeks ago we saw a burlesque show, and while they didn't make any tassels twirl, I found myself wondering how that would work. By that Sunday morning I received a $6 ebook that was filled with information on burlesque, including how to make pasties (with patterns), how to get tassels to twirl, how to do a Sally Rand-style fan dance and even make the fans. I read the entire book within a week, but I had to concentrate on my belly dance costume and dances. That left no time for experimenting with my newfound burlesque knowledge.

However, I did still have time to order supplies for this new art form that revealed itself to me. I ordered jazz shoes and ostrich fan kits and extra feathers to cover my goodies in whatever I would wear. I bought felt and fringe. I'm just waiting for the mail orders to arrive.

Wednesday night, tired from the show the night before, I sat down on my couch in hopes I could sleep. The dogs got rowdy and I was awakened. I decided to work on my first set of pasties. I took some felt and followed the pattern provided in the ebook. I glued the felt to fabric scraps from my belly dance costume. Last night I created the tassels from fringe and a couple spare beads. Voila! My first pair of pasties!

They were really easy to make. I think I may make the next sets a bit bigger because I don't like putting glue on the edge of my nipples. I may give them a little more point as well. Now, you're probably wondering if I got the tassels to twirl. Stay tuned.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

You Can Never Have Enough Pictures!

Here are action photos from the showcase. There are photos of my solo, photos of the group routine, photos with the guy I took home, and photos from the hafla. Yes, I know I'm in all the photos, but it is my blog.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

More Belly Photos

We took these photos of each other in the private room at Dar Maghreb where we got dressed.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

$33

Last night I danced my cute little solo, the troupe routine and the hafla at the end (everyone gets up to dance), and I made $33 in tips. w00+! Last time I only made $2. I guess it helps that I had so much cleavage showing. (Oh, and this is the costume I made.)

Since it was my first time to solo, I volunteered to go first. I figured I should get it out of the way so I could say I did it. I did my first belly dance solo. Huzzah! I made $15 during my solo, but that wasn't bad for three minutes and forty-four seconds of dodging waiters in a completely new space. (In December we danced in a different room so I knew its dynamics. We found out right before the show that they washed the carpets in that room so we'd have to dance in the room right next to the full price patrons.)

The group routine was tons of fun. I made another $18. In December, Jamilla told the crowd not to tip us during the routine so it wouldn't throw us off. This time around we were so comfortable with the pieces that we were able to return to the dance easily after the tipping.

We ended with the hafla. Andrew got up with the camera and took pictures of me dancing with my friend Sierra. Then my friend Janae joined us. I passed over my zills to the ladies and we shimmied for two songs. Then I returned to the belly dancer's lair for a huge meal of lemon chicken.

I plan to do this again when my troupe is ready. I opened my big mouth and said that next time I'd do a drum solo, which is lots of isolations. At least I have the cleavage for the chest pops to look good.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tonight's the Night!

At long last, performance day has arrived. I was awake at 6:30 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. It's like Christmas with less presents and more food. Lots of cash tips are on my belly dance Christmas list.

I feel distracted. I've been working on my dance. We videotaped it during Sunday's rehearsal but one of my zills flew off so I don't know that I'll be posting it. I have to begin my preparations for the evening before I go to work this morning so I'm fully prepared for our photo shoot at 6 PM.

I will post pictures of the official costume now that it's complete. It looks good and it feels good. I'm not afraid of anything popping out when I shimmy. I guess I just need to put my attention on my audience and be sure they have a good time, no matter how noodly my arms may look.

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