Naughti Gras/Workshop Weekend!

Oh my, oh my… another crazy weekend has come and gone.

I have been really, really fortunate lately. Just this year alone I’ve already hit Sacramento, New York, and now attended a really badass event in St. Louis. I’m extremely grateful, don’t get me wrong… but I’m a little tired πŸ™‚ Traveling nonstop is exhausting, and I’m more than ready to take a few weeks just to get my affairs in order back home.

But I am SO glad I went this weekend to Naughti Gras. And as usual, I learned so much from this experience.

Lesson 1: I absolutely cannot use last-minute panic to get stuff done anymore, period.

This weekend started off a little hectic. Taking the lessons from EPL Month 2, I have been trying all week to develop good training habits that force me to work — I’e been figuring out what dance classes I can take, applying for a gym pass, working in the dance studio every single day for at least an hour, eating right, trying to plan ahead. But it was odd — every single time I tried to sit down and choreograph the piece I would be teaching this weekend, I had dancer’s block (a close relative of writer’s block). So come Friday, the choreography is still not 100% where I want it. I’m a bit stressed.

15 minutes before we leave, I sit down and crank out the whole choreography. And while I’m definitely happy I came up with something,Β  it really drove home the point that I have literally conditioned myself to only be productve when I’m being motivated by last-minute panic. I’m making improvements — ordinarily I would have found ANYTHING else to do than even go into the dance studio (“I should go to the dance studio… but first I need to alphabetize my magazines…”). I’m feeling optimistic that this time around I have made some positive strides toward not procrastinating, but I’ve been a procrastinator so long that I feel like a junkie kicking the habit.

(I also became convinced 15 minutes before I left that I HAD to make business cards. Thank God for Sharpie markers, pretty paper, and Kinkos).

Lesson 2: Always add MUCH more time than I think I’ll need when planning long trips.

I planned on getting to Naughti Gras an hour before I had to perform. Between the snow, bad traffic, and trying to find the place, I ended up running in on Friday 10 minutes before I was due onstage. I figured I would be ok because I thought Naughti Gras would be one of those events where everything was running a bit late, but no, Murphy’s Law: the Naughti Gras coordinator was one of those great coordinators that strives to keep everyone on schedule. As a performer who’s had to wait several hours to get onstage because of delays, I can’t begin to say how much I admire someone who wants to keep things running on track.

Lesson 3: Stretch. Always.

I run in, throw on my costume, and am headed downstairs 10 minutes later. I paid the price for running late — about 2 minutes into my 25 minute set, I go into the splits and pull my hamstring. It’s definitely the worst pulled muscle I have had, and I am hoping it will heal quickly. Dancers: ALWAYS STRETCH. Especially when it’s cold, you’ve been driving for two hours, and you’re going to dancing for a longer set.

Lesson 4: Shit happens onstage. Roll with it.

My iPod had conveniently froze in the car about ten minutes away from Naughti Gras. No worries, I had brought a backup CD just in case. When my music starts, I realize a few things: 1) Something is a little off with the sound — it sounded mono. As a result, you could not hear a lot of the beats in the songs I was dancing too — my drum solo was just dums, no teks or kas. A few of my songs don’t play at all. Just roll with it, just roll with it, I keep reminding myself.

Shortly after I pulled my hamstring but was riding on pure adrenaline to dance through it, the things I’m hearing finally start registering in my brain: “Why do they keep saying, ‘take it off?'” I look down, and there it is: my skirt is falling off my hips, and you can clearly see the red thong I am wearing under the fabulous sheer harem pants that Suzanne VanSickle whipped up for me (In a perfect world, I was going to wear black boy shorts under the pants JUST IN CASE something like this happened… see Lesson 2).

Great.

However, if your skirt is going to fall off in the middle of a performance, the best place you can do it is at an erotic arts festival. I readjust my skirt, pantomime acting scandalized, and continue dancing.

Lesson 5: I think I’m finally figuring out my style and what I want to say.

The workshop was so much fun. We did two hours of stregnthing drills, stretching, and then breaking down and drilling all of the main muscles used in bellydance, sometimes put into some more interesting combinations. I went to lunch with Tricia and Sierra, two of the participants, at an amazing Vietnamese resteraunt for lunch, and then I taught two hours of choreography. As usual, there are definitely things I would have done differently, but overall I had a great time and I hope the students enjoyed it.

But after teaching this workshop, I really got some more insight into what I might be able to offer students that is different from other teachers. I’m really looking forward to getting into the dance studio and start really investigating my dancing and teaching style.

Lesson 6: The Universe rewards you if you learn from your mistakes.

Saturday night dancing at Naughti Gras went SO much better. I got there an hour early, got dressed, put on my makeup and did my hair, and mentally and physically prepared to perform. I made sure my iPod was charged and all my songs were on a playlist.

It went SO much better than Friday.

My skirt stayed on, and even though I had one music glitch (my iPod was still set to “Repeat song” from the workshop), I felt like my dancing was stronger, I connected better with the audience, and I got some good pictures and video (THANK you, Jessica Barnett and Hannah Radcliffe!) I had my business cards ready to hand out and I had a really fabulous time. My hamstring didn’t bother me, and I just HAD FUN.

I am constantly amazed by the burlesque community in St. Louis. Lola van Ella, as always, was an amazing hostess and did a FABULOUS job organizing all the entertainment for Naughti Gras. I hope to work with them again soon… (stay tuned, I’m hoping to have more to report soon on that end πŸ˜‰ )

All right, I am going back to bed to sleep for another billion hours πŸ™‚

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4 responses to “Naughti Gras/Workshop Weekend!

  1. I am so proud of you! I think you have found a good thing with this and I was so sorry to miss it! I hope to attend another one in the future! I am sure your performances were just outstanding! Keep working towards your goal and learning from your mistakes! A wise woman once said “Fate favours the risky!”

  2. Hooray for collaboration between belly and burlesque dancers! I’m glad the weekend went well for you, eventually πŸ™‚

  3. You did an amazing job at the workshop, none of us had any clue that you just finished your choreography 15 minutes before you left. You pulled that off without a hitch, it was wonderful.
    And btw we all procrastinate! I had a paper due that I have known about for 4 weeks now, and just finished before the deadline and turned it in online. I didn’t even start it until today… I know I did a good job on it, but I sometimes wonder how great it would have been if I had put the proper amount of time into it. I guess I will never know until I stop procrastinating.

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