Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Break From Burlesque

I realize that most of my recent posts have been all about burlesque. I figured today I'd mix it up before continuing my series on my camping experience by giving you some pole dancing to watch.

Enjoy.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Back From Camp Burlesque!

I returned from my burlesque retreat in the Seattle area today. It was quite an intensely educational trip! I'll have to cover my experience in bits and pieces since there's so much to say!

These two photos are from my first day. I was picked up at the airport by Jessica, an awesome gal who works with Academy of Burlesque in Seattle. She greeted me with a sign that said "Red Snapper." Awesome! I also met Fleur De Lis from New York and Miss Rosie Bits from Vancouver since we shared a ride. This is a photo of the Space Needle from our trip around the city before we drove out to the wild blue yonder.

Through the luck of the draw, I managed to secure a bed in the restored 1964 airstream trailer. Most of the other girls wound up in tents. I lucked out. This is a photo of me celebrating my awesome digs.

We spent a lot of time getting to know each other, setting up "camp" and discussing famous burlesque performers. It was very educational.

As a heads up, I won't be posting any photos for which I don't have permission from everyone in the photo since that's the agreement we all made. But I do promise photos!

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Departure

My plane leaves in two and a half hours. I have a handful of things to pack, a face to try to make fabulous, yogurt to eat and loved ones to kiss and kiss and kiss. I hope to return sans mosquito bites with another great experience under my belt, tons of photos, and an act that's ready to be performed anywhere.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Packing Time

Packing for a trip is always exciting and depressing. The excitement comes from the upcoming trip and all of the adventure it promises, whether I'm going to my mom's wedding so I can bump and grind on the hood of the wedding mobile while my older sister videos the whole thing or I'm going to follow the John Mayer tour for a couple stops. The depressing part is having to leave my buddies at home -- Andrew Moore and the two dogs.

I finally started packing today. That's pretty embarrassing since I try to plan things so far ahead and be really prepared so I forget nothing. I've just been too busy. I've packed my frillies, my sparklies, my tassels and shinies. I have a suitcase that's nearly full with fake hair, beauty supplies and music. The new problem is that I have very little space left and I have to pack enough clothes to vary over five days so I don't smell too bad from reuse. Eek!

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Pastie Party

I promised my dancers that if they were good and danced their hearts out that we would make pasties for fun during tech rehearsals. We aren't into tech rehearsals yet, but last night seemed like the perfect time to make pasties when we weren't rehearsing.

I managed to make two pairs. Each of the girls got one pair made and some of them had time to trim and rhinestone. I think next time I'll have to throw together a stiffer base so they're easier to cover. We'll be making more during tech rehearsals, and we'll also put tassels in the next pair.

What's really great is that it gave us another chance to bond. It's always good to take opportunities to bond with people.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Burlesque Classes in Los Angeles . . . Finally!

I've been hunting for burlesque classes in Los Angeles since we had the burlesque master pole class. Los Angeles doesn't seem to be as hip and happening as San Francisco, Seattle and New York with burlesque. (I don't understand why L.A. isn't as hip and happening with lots of things, like pro football, especially since it's such a huge population center.) Anyway, through frequent visits to craigslist I found a class in Los Angeles. Huzzah!

The classes are held on Wednesday nights downtown. This is the same class I couldn't find a week and a half ago because of mapquest. I left my house 45 minutes before class to reach this place. I think every block had a red light within eight blocks of the studio. I was parked five minutes before class was scheduled to start. With my show opening in a month and my trip out of town next week, I couldn't commit to the full run of classes so I'm dropping in for $25 a pop. (As a side note, I'm too busy for pole class until the show's running. That's very sad.)

The class I attended Wednesday had two parts. In the first part, instructor Bella Beretta pulled out oodles of costume pieces and feather fans to serve as inspirado. She uses a lot of ribbons in her costumes. Before her class, I'd never considered fastening a bra closed with a huge ribbon. She had simple and beautiful shimmy belts made from ribbon and beaded trim, fringe or tassels. What was most amazing for me was seeing the costumes up close. They looked fantastic ten feet away, but when I got my hands on them I could see the wear and tear, the glue, the safety pins. She said there's a difference between costumes and street clothes. I felt a little bad because my corset required an extension panel and there's no way it would win a ribbon for sewing at the county fair. After seeing her costume pieces at a distance and up close, I don't feel bad about my work and I know I could have a few more errors and no one would care. Rock!

The second part of the class involved posture, bumping and strutting. Everyone bumps different, and it seems that different teachers teach the bump differently. The posture exercise was great. We did some across-the-floor struts in heels (character shoes for me) to music. It was a good gradient for new people and advanced what she said she covered the week before so no one would get bored.

She assigns homework in her classes. Wednesday night she told the girls to return with a boa and gloves next week and start building a playlist for dancing. I already have a playlist in the works for pole and for burlesque. The week before she assigned people to bring in something that is sexy to them. I got to look at all of these books and collages that girls brought in showing what they thought was sexy. Since I missed the class with the assignment, I figured I'd post a couple pics here. The big question is what to do with this inspirado?

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Need Herbal Tea

Some people may consider I have a very active lifestyle. I would tend to disagree because I find that my floors aren't always vacuumed, I don't play sports and I do enjoy at least 30 minutes of television time a day. In addition, I spend most of my workday hours at a desk staring at a computer.

However, the past few weeks have been a flurry of activity. I've had late night rehearsals, early morning chores and weekends full of planning and preparation for my myriad commitments. I managed to take most of a Saturday in the past few weeks to recharge the ol' batteries. Of course, I really ran down the ol' batteries so I recharged enough to recognize that I needed some rest but not enough to have my life in order.

While still in the normal course of weekday events, I managed to feel anxious all stinkin' day. What did I have to feel anxious about? Nothing really. I've just given my adrenals and my nervous system too much work on a daily basis to calm down. I'm limiting my caffeine and sugar right now so I don't have those substances jacking me up and letting me down all day. I just need to cope my way through the week with herbal tea . . . and lots of it.

Almost Done!

I'm almost done with my burlesque costume for the retreat. I spent most of yesterday off from the world celebrating my wedding anniversary. w00+ for me and Andrew Moore!

This is the almost complete version. You can see the corset I made a few weeks ago with the rhinestones on the front. You can also see the gloves I got for under $5 at Kashcool in the fashion district on Sunday and accented with rhinestones. The skirt I bought at Forplay at Hollywood and Wilcox for a party earlier this year. I may still try to make a little skirtlet to put over it before I leave.

Beneath the corset I'm wearing my belly dance bra from earlier this year. I removed the fabric, washed off the glue and added trim to the top and rhinestones to the cups. The black panties I bought years ago from Victoria's Secret and have worn maybe twice. I have to finish tacking the trim to the waistband. I already put rhinestones on the front. Beneath the bra I have pasties made of the same fabric as the corset, the same trim as the bra and panties, and lots of rhinestones. I'm toying with adding tassels, but I don't know that they'd look as awesome as the pasties look now. I also haven't addressed any kind of underpanties or g-string.

Around my neck you'll see the familiar little alligator necklace I wore at Dar Maghreb for my solo. Now I just have to finish the costume pieces.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Pole Break

I've been in pole class every week (except Christmas and John Mayer week) for a year and a half. The past month and a half have been really crazy because I had two injuries to prevent me from dancing and I missed a week because of rehearsal.

My play opens in a month. In scheduling 28 people, there was only so much the stage manager could do to be sure I was off on Thursday nights for pole class. As of this week, I'll have one Thursday night off from rehearsal before the show opens, and the show runs Thursday through Saturday nights. I would take off from the master class and take the advanced class (no choreography) on Sunday nights, but my Sunday nights are consistently booked with rehearsals. Perhaps I can return to Sundays when the show opens.

I'm glad I'm doing a play. Don't get me wrong there. It's just that I've consistently had pole classes for so long that it's going to be strange not to be in them. At least I have the pole in the living room to work with.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Going to Camp

I went to camp regularly in my youth. I was in Girl Scouts for several years, so we had day camp for a week every summer that culminated in a night of skits and camping with the new friends we made that week. As a preteen Girl Scout, we went to Camp Storey way out in the boondocks each year for a full weekend of meal preparation, activities, skits and sleeping in tents. I went to 4-H camp a few years in a row where we stayed in hotel-type accommodations, spent a lot of time indoors and had a big dance each year. I camped on the five acres my parents shared several times a summer when I was a youth, only going inside to use the toilet and steal more food from the pantry to cook on sticks. I even camped at Lago de Garda in Italy when I spent three weeks with a German girl and her family. I'm no stranger to camping.

In less than two weeks, I'll be at burlesque camp. I know it's called a retreat and someone else is doing all of the cooking for us, but it's camp. We'll be staying in cute little trailers, peeing in outhouses and showering outside. With all of the camping in my youth, this isn't too unconfrontable. Of course, it's been many years since I've been camping. Andrew and I don't camp because our dogs aren't good off-leash.

So I find myself having to tap into the recesses of my mind to remember what camping demanded. I was sent a packing list from the retreat hosts, but there are things that aren't listed that I know I'll need. Yes, it says to bring bug repellent. But what kinds of reactions did I have from bugs? What do I need to treat those reactions? Will I need menthol rub to help me survive a more humid environment? Did I get blisters from hiking?

The good thing is that I started packing yesterday so I'm less likely to forget something with so much lead time.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

No Class

After three days of computer hell and finding out that my hard drive was too damaged to recover anything, I mustered up the strength to go to a new dance class. This was a burlesque class in downtown Los Angeles. I had to maneuver things to get Andrew to his rehearsal in time, but I was making it go right. I emailed the gal running the class a couple months ago on myspace through the former school name. I happened upon the new name a few weeks ago and sent an email to them early last week. You see, the program is ten weeks and has a showcase at the end. I'm a sucker for performance opportunities so I really wanted to sign up. Of course, I'm in a play that has some rehearsals during class times and I'm going to the burlesque retreat in two weeks.

I've had to accept that some folks aren't as quick on the emails as I try to be. I check my emails often and try to respond quickly. I emailed the teacher over a week ago asking for a schedule of topics they plan to cover and asking if I'd be able to perform if I can't attend every week. I still had gotten no response when I left for class. At least it was the first night and I should be able to get a feel for it before buying more classes and seeing if I'd fit in, right?

Wrong! I used Google maps to get my directions. Google maps would only map a location on West 2nd in that zip code, not East 2nd. I reached the area and drove around the blocks downtown, parking and checking out a building in the right block of West 2nd and finding nothing but cyclists. By this point, I'd been in the car for half an hour, would be late if I found it, and had to pee like there was no tomorrow. I could've driven eighteen more blocks to try to find it in the area where Andrew wouldn't want me to park at night, hoping the entire time I wouldn't wet myself. Or I could go home, use the loo and see if this address really existed. It did.

Now I'm trying to figure out if I should email them for landmarks in the event I decide to attend next Wednesday, asking the questions about performing and schedule again. I'm hitting a different burlesque class this Sunday just to check them out.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rebooting

I get my computer back in a few hours. I rely so heavily on my computer that it's incapacitating to have it die. I had a loaner yesterday and made it through the day. Of course, I was still very tired. I got enough sleep. It's probably still the stress of having my computer die.

I feel like I've recovered a little from my Monday crash moment. I was able to stop speeding around my office yesterday to run across the street for lunch without feeling guilty that I would get behind. I also picked up some glue and trim to work on my burlesque bra while I was waiting for them to load the operating system into the computer at the repair shop. I took some time out to work on those things last night and that helped calm me down a little.

I've spent my last two evenings dealing with the computer and the last two nights watching Dr. Who -- the first night through the 'my computer crashed' filter. Things will be back to normal tonight with Andrew going to a rehearsal and perhaps me checking out a new dance class. We'll see what happens.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Crash Moment

I had a busy weekend. When I left for work Monday morning, I had a day of activity around the office planned. I was going to get so much done and leave with a clean desk at the end of the day. I even took a handful of cds with me so I could rock while I got my work done.

I came in and my computer was whirring and clicking. No matter how many times I tried to restart it, the whirring and clicking continued.

So yesterday became the day where instead of being productive, I had to work around the dead computer. I had to use the dinosaur computer to do some work, and that computer takes five minutes to open one business email message. Super. Every time someone would speak to me, it came through my own filter of 'My computer crashed.' Of course, this meant I didn't really hear what they were saying until they said it three times or so. I felt tired, foggy and grumpy, all as a result of the crashing computer.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Red Is Partly Dressed!

That's right folks. Red Snapper now has hair and a corset. This is the fabric I bought last Friday night and the trim I bought Sunday morning. I had to add an extra panel below my left arm so I could fit it since it was a smidge too small after cutting the pattern based on the measurements listed and using the 5/8" seam allowance they recommended. I probably could've done 3/8" and wouldn't have had to add a panel. If I had done a mock-up first and pinned it to a dress form (which I don't have), it would've gone flawlessly . . . I think.

The trim really matches the hair. I was able to machine stitch the beaded trim and the frills, saving me lots of time and stab wounds in my fingers. I still have to tack the ends down and apply rhinestones, but the corset is complete enough for the workshop. I probably will rhinestone it before I go.

My next challenge is wearing something under the corset. I thought about making a frilly little skirt. I'm not sure about that now. I have black shoes to go with the outfit, so I'm thinking about using the black bra I had for belly dancing that Felicity decided to strip of its fancy fabric and trim. I washed off the glue from the fabric on the cups so it's ready to go. I hope black doesn't look too shocking with the rest of the outfit. There's a little black in the trim and I have black gloves. I guess I'll figure all of that out over the course of the week.

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The Most Fantastic Acting Class Ever

I really do love my acting class. It's a new school, and they announced to us last weekend that they're going to start having ongoing classes instead of eight-week sessions. Of course, I won't be able to continue with classes until sometime in October or November. My Sundays are just too busy until then.

Last Sunday we did more beingness drills and doingness drills with emotions. We also worked on changing our center of gravity to fit other characters. This was an exercise I did when I studied with this same teacher in his improv class a few years ago. As a dancer, I would change my center of gravity when I did the beingness drills in the beginning. I was very aware of how the weight would shift since I've done so many dance isolations. It was still cool to do the exercise again, especially because I had been thinking about using it with my dancers before we covered it in class.

The neatest part about this new exercise was layering it onto the other drills we'd done. We were all given a location for a scene and had to pull a person that we'd met in prior drills to be. We had to assume that beingness with the emotion the person had when we spoke with them, and we had to shift our center of gravity to match them. Then we had to interact with each other. I chose an elderly poor man who shuffled down the street and was barely alive. I was being him. When other people spoke to me, it was surprising that they referred to me as a girl, especially because I was being this guy. What was fascinating was that my viewpoint changed to match this guy's, so when I was laying on the floor I really got how people don't see the homeless or downtrodden most of the time. It was cool.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Busy Times

I've been really busy this week with work, rehearsal and costume construction.

However, I did find time to seek out this photo from Stiletto 2.5. They are protected by copyright law so I can only give the links. I'm in this photo doing my hair at the far end. There's another pic with all of the dancers from the class, but I'm hidden by the teacher.

I also snagged these photos from the fantastic Richard Lowe. We first met at Dar Maghreb when he and Andrew sat together. He frequents Renaissance faires, belly dance and burlesque events and takes lots of photos. Drop by and visit his albums here.

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