Saturday, June 30, 2007

Drop-In

Now that my neck isn't in so much pain (thanks to all the well wishers), I have to get my body moving. I've developed a fairly active lifestyle over the past year, and I feel like I neglect my body if I don't give it interesting activities to stay in shape. I had too much pain to swing around a pole Thursday night and I haven't made it to tissu or Pilates all week due to my neck issues. Last night I did Princess Farhana's Bellydance Basic Workout DVD in my living room, paying special attention to my neck and shoulders so they didn't get overworked. It just made me hungry for more.

Most dance studios offer "drop-in" classes. This means you don't have to buy a package and commit yourself to a specific schedule. You can just show up, pay for a class, take it and leave. I like the idea of drop-in classes because I'm a very busy girl. I also like the idea because it's a chance to try something new and different without committing yourself to a teacher, studio or style you may not like. Drop-in classes usually cost a couple bucks more than a package of classes (per class), but the convenience and freedom can really be worth it.

So today I'm taking the plunge. I did a drop-in class at one studio with my friend Lois. Fun, but I like more structure in a dance class. I'm going to try a completely different teacher today without the safety net of my dance pals. We'll see how it goes. I'm doing an absolute beginner class with a new teacher so I can see where I'd fit and make sure I'm not rusty or missing any basics. I plan to take my sisters-in-law to try out the class with me next week, and I should know what I'm getting into before I drag them along.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gimme a B!

Yesterday I had an audition for a spec commercial. I was going for the role of cheerleader for a ketchup product. This is the first audition I've attended since I started these awesome acting classes. I decided it was time to experiment with what I've learned.

We grouped ourselves into fives to audition. From the moment Andrew left me in the lobby, I decided to "be" a cheerleader. I talked like a cheerleader and moved like a cheerleader. When we went in to audition, I cheered and jumped so my boobs would have plenty of bounce. I became something other than me.

Of course, they put on some music for us to dance as part of the audition. That's when I stopped being a cheerleader and started being a strippy girl. I don't know any cheerleader dances so I wasn't sure how to handle that part of the audition. Go with what you know, right? Anyway, I felt the rest of the audition went really well. At the very least, I was able to apply what I'd learned.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Unhappy Ending

I've been away from the blogosphere for a couple days due to a neck injury. I awoke Monday morning with a horribly stiff neck, and I've been doing everything possible to lope into work everyday to handle whatever urgent task awaits my aching body. It feels a lot like whiplash, but I haven't determined exactly what caused it yet.

When I have muscle pains, I have certain remedies I try. I'll take cal mag if I know I'll be someplace where the diarrhea I tend to get won't be as inconvenient. I use arnica gel, Tiger Balm, heating pads and ice packs. When it's really bad, I shell out the cash for a massage. Monday night I was in great pain so I had Andrew take me to the nearby Korean day spa for a massage.

I've been to this spa before to use the saunas and hot tubs. They even have a hot tub full of tea and herbs. I didn't feel like I could make it to the Valley or afford to pay for another awesome deep tissue massage, so this place seemed like a good decision. I bought a neck, shoulder and back massage for $40. I'd be massaged in the ladies' spa space where naked women are laid out on about eight to ten tables, all getting spa treatments, scrubs or massages.

The massage was a bad idea. They don't speak a lot of English, it seems. I told the clerk I'd buy if they had a table with the little headrest. Yeah, they didn't have one. The gal had me lie face down on the table with my head to one side -- not the best thing for a sore neck. She covered my head with a towel and squirted so much oil from my butt cheeks north that I thought I was going to slide onto the floor. She gave me a very vigorous massage, paying little attention to my neck. It was more like a back & shoulder massage. After feeling like I'd been attacked with a rolling pin, I was told to turn over. 'Oh,' I thought, 'this must be how she's going to handle my neck. She covered my head with a towel and draped another towel over my waxident. Once again, I was hosed with oil, but not just on my neck. She would work on my arms, my back, my boobs, my stomach, my boobs, my hands, my boobs, my boobs. It wasn't creepy, just odd and vigorous. I didn't know if she was trying to help my pectoral muscles relax or if she was trying to slap the girls into paying attention. It was so strange. I figure that's just the way they do it at the Korean spas.

My neck still hurt after the massage. Makes sense since it was a boobs, shoulder & back massage. I don't think I'll be returning for another massage. I guess I can just chalk this one up to experience. Yikes.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Long Live Rock & Grohl!

I couldn't find any footage of Dave Grohl on his way to the Dodgers diamond, but I did find footage of him rocking there. No sound, but you can imagine the bearded mountain goat rocking the house with his trademark wildness.

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Actor Rehab

(I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea here. This isn't about overcoming substance addiction as an artist. There are places that do that and do that well. This is about recovering from past acting teachers and acting classes.)

Yesterday was my second day of school. I really dig my acting class. After the second day, I still look forward to it. We had two different teachers yesterday, but both were great. We did character studies and drills so that we can become any character in under a second.

I'm a big fan of drilling. As a dancer, I drill basics and tricks. I have to drill them so I don't hurt myself. And the beautiful thing about drilling is that you know you can use the skill no matter what comes up. We did various drills over a few hours so we can gain this skill. There's no judgment, no critiquing -- just an acknowledgment that you did the drill. This environment is so safe for learning and experimenting. (Of course, I can't tell you the specifics of the drills. Everything is copyrighted and I wouldn't want the steps to get misinterpreted and used to harm actors.)

There are things in the first tier of classes for actors at any level. You get out of it what you put into it. It's also a great class for writers, directors, dancers, singers and puppeteers. I highly endorse this class.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007


"I Went to The Police Concert and All I Got Was This Foo Fighters Shirt" or "I Love Dave Grohl"

(Let me just be clear about this from the beginning. I love Dave Grohl, but I don't love him love him. My small sister loves him loves him. She's the one who would fling her panties onto the stage at a Foo Fighters concert. I'm the one who took off my pants at another show, and that only happened because I was wearing too many layers and had to get rid of my long johns.)

Okay, so Dave Grohl is rock & roll. Seriously. I bought tickets to see The Police in concert to make Andrew's wildest dreams come true. After I bought the tickets I found out Foo Fighters were opening for them. Dude! Dave Grohl was the highlight of my evening.

I've been watching a DVD about the punk scene in Little Rock when I was a youth. I was peripherally involved in that scene, so I'm in a music state-of-mind. It reminded me of when Kurt Cobain died and how upsetting that was. And out of the punky Nirvana ashes, Dave Grohl rose and formed Foo Fighters. The music is way better.

Okay, back to Dave Grohl. I really admire him because he loves to make music. Whether it's a ditty with Norah Jones or drumming for Tenacious D and strutting around as Satan, he gives it his all. He attacked their set last night like some bearded wild man. He thrashed, he played like he was bruising his guitars, he changed things up whenever he wanted. Of course, his biggest rock god moment was when he jumped off the stage with his guitar, into the audience, and made a break for the pitcher's mound. They had the baseball diamond fenced off but they had seating in the outfield in front of the stage. Dave Grohl hauled ass in a sea of fans. Dave Grohl kicked at the stiff fence chunk and had it halfway down before security righted it. It took several security guards to peel him away from the fence. He detoured to a spot right by third base where he climbed some equipment cases like a guitar-playing mountain goat to rock the house with a solo. Go Dave go!

We were in the second tier of seating so we didn't get to bring home a piece of Dave Grohl to mail to my small sister. All I got was this t-shirt. There goes my hero.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007


Trading Licks

There's something that dancers and musicians can do that actors can't. They can trade licks. These photos I just received of my belly dance sisters reminded me of this. (This was my teacher's graduation brunch. Standing you have me and Lois, sitting below me is Charlene and giddy graduate Fancy.)

At the infomercial shoot, there were salsa champions and West Coast swing champions. One of the infomercial hosts is Cris Judd, dancer and choreographer. Between shots, the champions and Cris traded licks. They'd show some move to one another and mimic, sometimes trying to one-up the other. It was fun to watch. What an incredible way to broaden your dance "vocabulary."

My oldest brother is a guitarist. When I was a youth, our neighbor was also a guitarist and he had the same taste in music as Brett. There was more mentoring than lick trading, but I'm sure Brett still uses some of the tricks he learned. There's no equivalent in acting. What, am I going to show someone how I just cry and they're going to mimic me before they show me something even cooler? Not with 99.5% of the actors I meet. Most people are confused when I tell them I just cry.

Before the ol' Dar Maghreb recital in May, we got together each week to rehearse our troupe numbers. Some weeks we'd show one another our solos. Heck, some weeks we even taped them so we could watch what we were doing and make it prettier. I remember the first two or three times that we traded licks. Okay, I didn't have many licks to trade (my licks were all strippy licks) but I learned lots of little tricks from the girls to incorporate in my solo. I remember watching Lois and Charlene trading licks and helping each other through transitions for their solos. I'm working on learning some new belly dance licks to trade when we get back together. I think it's part of the dancer bond.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

How I'll Spend My Summer Vacation

Today is the first day of summer, which means one thing: Time to get busy. Long gone are the days of lounging away half the summer on the couch and eating brownies all summer. No, my dance card is full.

I have rehearsals for my fairies starting in a week and ending never. Actually, the show goes up in September so I guess rehearsals will end then. I'm hoping everything goes smoothly. The rehearsals won't take up every night of the week, but I still need to learn more tissu for the show. That's going to take up some time.

I also have the day job. Pays well, great people. I'm hoping to make enough bonuses this summer to pay for my SAG card, some bills and a fantastic winter getaway.

Evenings and weekends will be filled with the standard run of classes. I'll continue my incredible acting class and my wonderful pole master classes. I have to squeeze in tissu and pilates. I have two burlesque workshops and a showcase on the calendar for next month. If my belly dance teacher finds a new space, I'll be starting back up with her. Until then, I'll be finding a good substitute class until August when a teacher I really want to study with returns to town. In the meantime, I have some dance videos to keep me occupied -- belly, ballroom and burlesque.

I miss some things about summers spent on the couch, but I don't miss the boredom. I'd rather have something to do than looking forward to the one activity on my calendar in the middle of summer. Now the challenge is to see how well I keep up with my busy life.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dance the Day Away

Yesterday was our big day to show off our skills for the infomercial. We've been cramming the past few days with two dance sessions a day to make up for Andrew's flu time and my busy nights. We have the basic night club two-step down and can do turns to the left and to the right, but we didn't make it to the intermediate tricks. We'll probably work on those now that the pressure is off.

It was a long day but it didn't feel like a long day. They fed us well and taught us new dance steps. The hosts were very lively and they had some professional dancers featured in the shoot. We were all geared up and ready to do a solo of our number, but they decided to teach us a salsa step and turn and we danced with two other audition couples. It was probably a lot easier to do it this way. Andrew and I took the floor between shots to do what we learned at home. We also picked up a West Coast swing pattern. It was a fun day.

So the big question on everyone's mind seemed to be: "Are you really married or is that just for the infomercial?" It wasn't: "Are you going to continue the dancing after the infomercial?" And, of course, the answer is yes. Right Andrew Moore?

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Being the Executioner . . . I Mean, Auditioner

We've held many rounds of auditions for this play I'm choreographing. There are more speaking parts than dancing parts, but we've seen more people for the dancing than for anything else. We have one speaking role left to fill, and we've seen a number of people for it. It's tricky matching someone you already have cast opposite that role.

The dance auditions are exhausting for me because I get on stage and dance with every single person who comes in. Auditions are tiring anyway because you think you find the perfect person and they don't want the role you want to offer or they aren't available for half of the performances. Every time someone comes in you get your hopes up that this person will solve all of your casting problems, and yet you still have several more people on the schedule to see. But back to the dance auditions. I was tired and sore from two nights of pole and a morning of ballroom dancing when I went to audition dancers Saturday. I came home with an aching knee and I felt like my wrist was sprained. (My arm is so awesome that it became a handle for a couple of the dancers. I guess it just looked like it needed to be grabbed and pulled.)

Even with all of the torture I experienced, I like the girls who auditioned Saturday. We still have more to see tonight. The trouble is narrowing them down to the two roles we have left. Then the trouble is their availability since they filled out the audition form on Saturday. I can tell you this -- I don't want to host another dance audition for the rest of the year.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Enlightenment

I've taken a few years off from scene study. Many of the classes are filled with students who raise their hands under the pretense of asking questions who just want to comment on or complain about something you did in the scene. The performance standard becomes what the teacher likes, even if you interpret the scene a different way. Sometimes you're told not to bother bringing in the things you really want to do. Oh, and some classes have the pressure that the class is the most important thing in your life so you become so focused on class that you neglect the acting career that you entered acting class to improve. These are the main reasons I took a couple years away from scene study and started doing plays instead.

There has been one teacher whose presence in my life has really forwarded my career. Specifically, when I take classes with him I feel like I actually have permission to be myself and do my thing. I'm so free as an actor when I study with him that I book work, get agents and have general acting awesomeness. It is Christopher Smith of whom I speak. He and a few others have launched an acting school in Hollywood called The Acting Center.

I have to admit that I was excited to go to class today. I love Christopher. His style of teaching really communicates to me. I landed in the Sunday afternoon class since my weeknights are booked up with rehearsals and dance classes. There were maybe thirty students in the class, but everyone gets up and participates in every class. Some of the exercises were familiar, others were completely new.

Today's class was incredible. If you've ever wanted to hone your craft, take this class. The first level is only eight weeks -- not month after month after month of huge expense. It's amazing.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Last Big Hurrah

My belly dance teacher graduated from college with her literature degree while I was watching John Mayer. She gathered a bunch of friends for brunch at Casa Escobar in Marina Del Rey on Sunday to celebrate. I wore my newest John Mayer shirt.
That's the former Raqettes you see here, now the Raq Stars of Bellydance. From left to right, Charlene (Meira), Fancy (Jamilla - the teacher), me in the John Mayer shirt (Melita) and Lois (Lotus). We ate so much food that I gained two pounds I still haven't managed to shed. We all drank (some more than others). I don't usually drink so my half glass of champagne sent me into an afternoon nap. We're throwing confetti from her graduation card in the photo. I'm sure the folks who had to clean that up just loved us.

The latest is that we'll start up in late July or early August. We all have these fancy silver canes and we're going to add a cane dance to our repertoire. I'm pursuing other dance options until we're back from hiatus. I want to use this opportunity to really improve my dancing.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Great Bingo Fundraiser of 2007

Last night was the drag queen bingo fundraiser for my theatre company. This is where we'll get a nice chunk of funding for our upcoming shows. Since this is paying for part of the show I'm choreographing and part of the show Andrew's directing, I really wanted to make sure we had awesome prizes.

The first prize of the evening was a six-week session of pole dance classes donated very generously by Gabrielle. Ana, another member of the theatre company, won the pole classes. She went on to win the second prize that was up for grabs with her crazy bingo skills. Lucky.

Gabrielle won the fourth round of bingo. She got a bag full of goodies that included tickets to the next show at Write Act and a private V.I.P tour and dinner at the Disney Concert Hall. I was really happy that she won since she donated such an awesome prize. Isn't she adorable?

My friend Amy donated a Razor scooter that looked like a mini Vespa. She won it at bingo on her birthday and didn't have a use for it. Instead of making it a prize, we used it as an auction item. We made $450 off that sucker. Exciting, huh? I didn't take a picture.

The last prize I got donated was a package of five Pilates mat or dance classes at Studio Soma. That went to this guy. Too bad belly dance is cancelled until further notice. It would be fun to see him there.

Even though Andrew and I didn't win (again), we had a fun night. I'll have to ask how much money we raised.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blue Notes

I did a burlesque workshop with Indigo Blue of Seattle's Academy of Burlesque this evening. As you may recall, I did some burlesque study in my pole class in the spring. As I am wont to do, I really research the dickens out of an area when my interest is piqued. I was fortunate to happen upon this workshop.

Tonight was Bump & Grind. We started out with a warm up of our shoulders, hips, back and neck. We covered shimmies and shakes, bumps and grinds. Indigo, a saucy little gal who looks a bit like Juliette Lewis with bigger ta-tas, gave us a little schooling in exaggeration. We learned to frame ourselves with our twirly hands and make our bumps look bigger by using our hands to give the hips something to bump through. We ran a hand from one wrist across the chest to "flick sweat" onto some lucky Joe in the audience. We also tried the same trick to show off our legs, dragging the hands up the armpit and doing the little flick at the top. Tasty.

She taught us a couple walks. I knew one of them from pole class and another resembled the Fosse walk we're using in our latest pole routine. The others looked like they were straight out of the burlesque DVD we watch a couple months ago -- very appropriate. We did a little Charleston and a couple routines combining what we'd learned. We also learned to dance with our mouths open, something I've noticed burlesque performers doing in their YouTube videos.

I had a lot of fun with her. I would've stayed for Tassel Twirling if we didn't have baseball tickets. I will, however, take her Art of the Tease workshop tomorrow night in West Hollywood before our bingo fundraiser at Hamburger Mary's. All of this stuff can help me as an actor, a dancer, and a budding burlesquer.

As a side note, I'm officially registered for two workshops and at least one performance at Stiletto 2.5 in July. I got my registration in the mail today. One of the teachers, Jewel of Denial, attended the class this evening. She announced the workshops and show, and she said that if there was enough interest from the students that we'd do both shows. Huzzah! I'm very excited.

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The End of an Era

I found out last month that the studio where I take Pilates and belly dance is closing down the belly dance classes at the end of the month. The class was like semi-private lessons a lot of the time because new students would come and go. I found out yesterday that we're not finishing out the month with belly dance class. We were supposed to wrap up on June 30th, but my lovely teacher just graduated college and has oodles to do. I do love the studio and the people there so I'll continue taking Pilates there.

It's very strange that I won't have belly dance classes every Saturday in the middle of the day. I've been taking since June of last year. We built all of this comradery and even created a dance troupe. Jamilla has talked about starting up her own classes once she finds a location, but she may wait until summer is over to start. We talked about rehearsing for our next performance (date unknown) but we have to find a location and schedule it. I don't know if the summer is going to keep the four of us from dancing together.

We're all going in different directions right now. Lois is taking two other belly dance classes to gain more skill and more performance opportunities. Charlene has her Saturdays filled with commercial classes. Jamilla just finished a literature degree and may take some time off. And yours truly -- I'm still a pole goddess who's choreographing a Shakespeare play. I've also taken up burlesque classes and workshops where I can find them. I'm probably going to have to hunt for another belly dance class as a replacement for my Saturdays for the rest of the summer. I don't want to lose the skills I've gained.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

My Third John Mayer Concert of 2007: Los Angeles Attitude of Some Attendees Bites But Show (Of Course) Delights

That's right. I went to my third John Mayer concert for the year this past Saturday. It was my fifth JM show total. It was supremely awesome. We didn't take the camera since the Hollywood Bowl website said no cameras, but we did take the digital recorder. This means another project of cleaning up the sound and breaking it into tracks. This also means that the only photo I currently have to represent this show is this one with Felicity begging me to take her along. She's a John Mayer fan.

This was my first trip to the Hollywood Bowl. I thought our seats would be total crap since we only paid $55 each for them. They weren't too bad. They were bench seats where the closer ones had actual chairs. We were maybe 30 rows back. Great view. Andrew kept asking who one would have to "service" to get closer seats. I'd like to know that myself. I tried to get awesome seats for the second night (last night) during the presale, but I kept pulling seats in the same general area where I sat Saturday so I got angry and didn't bother getting tickets. I probably could've gotten some at the box office later, but I spent my money on other things. Oh well.

The shows are always enlightening and inspiring. Maybe he'll do another tour in the fall. If not, Andrew and I will have to wait until February to see him in concert again.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rain on My Parade

It's John Mayer Concert Day! I love this day. I try to celebrate it regularly.

Today, like many concert days before, was planned out. Most of the activities were not concert related, but I still planned out my day. I was going to spend a couple hours working in my office after another plan for my lunchtime fell through. Then I was going to start burlesque classes at a studio just up the street from work. Wow! I packed up my pasties and my glue, my gloves and my stockings, my shoes and my corset. I was ready for action.

I had Andrew drop me off five minutes before class was supposed to start. That way I could pay the teacher and get a quick overview since I missed the first class last week. When I tried to check in, the gals at the front desk said that the teacher didn't reserve a space. I decided to wait fifteen minutes for the teacher or some fellow class member to arrive. I didn't have a phone number to call, so I had to plop down on the sofa in the lobby and wait. No one showed. Frustrated, I started walking back to my office so Andrew could meet me part way.

As I meandered, some random psycho chick started shouting at me. What was strange was that this was the Valley (doesn't usually happen there) and she was looking me in the eyes as she shouted. WTF? How could anyone yell at me? I'm cute! But she did. She cursed me, said I was going to steal her bag and that no one should be put on a pedestal except God. Cool. She was trying to pace me so she could walk a couple steps in front of me or next to me. After I was tired of the abuse (and I didn't want to get into a fight and have to get a rabies shot), I called Andrew. I figured she'd leave me alone if I was on the phone. She thought I was calling the cops and offered (threatened?) to call them for me. She backed off and was a few blocks behind me yelling about God knows what. When Andrew picked me up, he wanted to go back and give her what for. It was tempting, but it's John Mayer Concert Day. This is supposed to be a day of celebration.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Cleaning House

Every once in a while, I like to go through my things and lighten my load. Why keep things I never wear and never use? This week I'm attacking my makeup drawer in my vanity and my two train cases of makeup.

When I was fifteen, I bought an amazing stage makeup kit for $30. I bought a really big case and started filling it with makeup goodies. Sure, there was no way I'd wear all of it. I thought it was responsible of me to have makeup that I could share with other actives. That, and it was really impressive. In college I had a Craftsman tool box full of makeup. That made more sense since I took makeup class and had to do some crazy makeup designs that justified all that makeup. I got rid of some makeup, gave Andrew the tool box, and started keeping things I was more likely to use. I haven't used a lot of them.

I started wearing makeup when I was twelve. I used some $2 Cover Girl foundation from a bottle that wasn't well matched to my skin. That was the extent of my makeup collection for a few months. I had friends that used it so I thought it must be good. I added a couple other things when I had money and the opportunity to go to the store. As I grew older, I was able to afford better makeup. Now I'm a bit snobbish and only get my makeup from makeup stores in the mall. Last week's trip to MAC filled my vanity with new foundation, concealer, powder, three shades of eye shadow, mascara, eye liner, lip liner and lipstick. Of course, the total cost was more than all the makeup I purchased from age twelve to about five years ago. Oh well.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Growth

I've enrolled in a seven week burlesque class in North Hollywood on Saturdays. Of course, I was admitted to the class after the first week so I'm only attending six weeks, possibly five because of another burlesque workshop I already sent my money in to register for. Anyway, there are certain wardrobe items I'm supposed to bring to class.

I don't mind spending money on dance stuff, but I try to keep the costs down where I can. I know I'm going to have to buy a new feather boa since mine was small and I gave it to Felicity. I have to get a pair of gloves that go past the elbow since the pair I bought for burlesque pole class stop right below the elbow. I have to find a bra with three hooks. (Do they make those any more?) I happen to have a pair of three inch high heels that aren't stripper shoes. I also happen to have a strapped corset with back closure hooks. (The corset I got for Christmas is better, but it ties in back and hooks in the front. Drat.) I have pasties, a garter belt and stockings. I may have to buy a couple yards of fabric since all of the fabric I have is intended for use in projects. All this stuff adds up. I knew I'd have to get a few of these things, so I checked the ol' closet for the final item on the list.

I didn't have a back-zip evening or cocktail gown. The long dresses I have are cheongsams and fasten at the collarbone. I have a number of short dresses that slip on. I found a box with two formal dresses (even though they show plenty of leg). The first dress zips below the armpit. The second was my prom dress.

I weigh about ten pounds more than I did in high school. I tried on the dress a few years ago and couldn't zip the waist. I tried it on last night and got past the waist. This time I couldn't zip the chest. This is me holding the dress up with no chest support. Andrew tried to zip it and it wouldn't go. It appears I can't use this dress for class. It also appears that some of those ten pounds went straight to my boobs. Oh well.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Argh! Me Abs!

I don't think it's National Talk Like a Pirate Day, but I'm so sore that I feel like talking like a pirate. I went to Pilates class last night after several weeks off. (It really does get difficult trying to squeeze everything in.) The class was nearly full. She looked around the room and decided everyone could use a challenge so we had a night of advanced Pilates mat work.

I consider myself a good Pilates student because I follow along nicely and know the regular moves. I didn't know the names of most of the stuff we did last night. There was a lot of ab work, a lot of thigh squeezing, and we even worked with weighted resistance poles at the end. I went to class to stretch out my dancing muscles. Not only did I achieve that, I also managed to give my abs such a workout that getting out of bed was almost impossible. But, yes, I'd do it again.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Nepotism

I hear the word nepotism thrown around a lot in reference to the entertainment industry. I can't say I've gotten any gigs in Los Angeles because of a family member, but I can say that I've gotten gigs because the right person referred me. But today I have a little tale of nepotism to share.

My sister-in-law is working production on some series for A&E this summer. The kicker is that it's filming in Malvern, Arkansas. This is maybe thirty minutes from where I was raised. When I was a youth in Hot Springs, I only heard about three productions being shot in Arkansas in time to submit myself. I was called in to work the first one but they only wanted me for my classic Mustang and I made better money at my day job. I never heard from the second one so they either didn't like what I had to offer or it never got off the ground. The third one was a role I got through my sister-in-law when she was still in college. We drove two hours to the shooting location for me to do an under-5 in an independent film only to find out that they canceled production that day. At least gas was a little cheaper then and we got to spend the day hanging out with Chelley.

Back to the story. Chelley is responsible for securing locations, hiring local extras, and tons of other crap. Andrew and I aren't there to help her out, and they couldn't pay us enough to fly back even if they could use us as background talent. I offered up my younger brother and sister. I knew they'd love to be involved in shooting a series in Arkansas. Chelley wasn't sure if she'd be able to use them, but I'd holler from the background every time she called Andrew, "Call the kids! Call the kids! They'll do it."

Chelley lost one of her featured extras over the weekend. He was supposed to play a kidnap victim. Once again, I hollered for her to call the kids. My younger brother snapped a headshot and full body shot with his camera phone (since he's not usually an actor) and emailed them to Chelley. He called me today to tell me he booked three days this week as a paid non union extra to play the kidnap victim. He was thrilled, I was excited for him, and Chelley's problem was solved. She later called Andrew with the good news.

I think part of the reason nepotism seems to be so prevalent in the industry is because you know a family member (or extended family member) well enough that you know if you can rely on them or not before giving them the job. You can also give a family member hell if they disappoint you or try to drop their responsibility at the last minute.

I'll post the news of Bryce's time as a kidnap victim as soon as the deed is done. Now I just need to figure out how to put Kae Ellen to use.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Ready, Set, Fail!

Andrew read a passage to me from Seth Godin's new book The Dip last night before bed. We got to talking about taking risks and being great at what you do. What I've discovered for myself is that you have to be willing to fail in order to grow.

Let me give you an example. My older sister doesn't have strippy classes in her area so she told me she was going to take belly dancing. They had belly dance classes at the studio I already frequented for pole and Pilates, so I decided I'd give the classes a try myself. I'd always had an interest in belly dancing. In the first class, I looked like a five year-old because I was so uncoordinated with the movements. I looked stupid and unskilled. People don't willingly offer themselves up to look stupid and unskilled in front of others. I could've left and never returned. I didn't. Instead, I pushed through months of looking stupid and actually improved while I did it. I danced at Dar Maghreb in December, then looked stupid some more before dancing at Dar Maghreb in May. If I wasn't willing to fail, I would never have had those performance opportunities.

Other people have taken a belly dance class or two at the studio while I've been there over the past year. Most of them come and go, and it seems they're not willing to fail. I believe you have to be willing to go through the awkward stages of anything to get better. It's like puberty for your goals and skills. You don't try to fail but it happens along the way so you can really win.

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