New York Show and EPL Month II

Well, folks, it’s come and gone: This Saturday I performed in the sold-out New York premiere of Bellydance Evolution — over 600 people came out to support Jillina and the entire cast.

What an amazing, amazing experience.

I arrived at the theater at 1:30 PM after an hour ride on the subway– just enough time to snag a makeup mirror in the dressing room and get our costumes, makeup, and props out and ready to go. Around 2, we all meet onstage for a group warm-up and pep talk from Jillina. Almost right away we throw our costumes on and begin tech rehearsal on the stage. That’s right, before the show even starts, we were onstage running the entire show in costume! We have one chance to get it marked right onstage — every minute there’s a yell of, “Our line needs to start on the 2!” “This line is supposed to be on the center marley!” or “Flat line in the back!” I have four costume changes in the show, including several quick changes and a change where in less than three minutes, I get completely out of all my tribal gear and into a cabaret costume. Not to mention all my props…

If I can just make it through the show with my sanity intact…

After the show runthrough, we practice the preshow and then book it to grab some dinner. Thankfully, Jillina had some really healthy, light food catered to the theater — salad, bread, pasta, fish, and fruit. Completely ravenous, I inhale a plate in less than five minutes and immediately start on hair and makeup. Luckily we had practiced stage makeup earlier in the week, so I manage to paint myself up in a reasonable amount of time. Before I know it, I hear the stage manager announcing over the intercom, “15 minutes till preshow.”

And before I really even realized that I was in the middle of the thing that I had trained over 50 hours for, it was over! My props were ready for each piece, I didn’t go onstage naked, and pieces that I was stressing about went surprisingly well. I am really happy with how the performance went, and I think all the girls felt like it was overall a success. After the show, I crowd into a van with Sharon, Louchia, Vilia, Liz, and Faith and head to the afterparty in Chinatown.

The next day I was dead the world. I overslept and missed my first workshop, and then get so turned around on the subway that I miss my second one, too. Oh well. I head back to Brooklyn and end the trip with a huge piece of cheesecake from Junior’s — apparently some of the most famous cheesecake in New York. I think I deserve it 🙂

The show also ushered in the end of month II of the “Eat, Pray, Love” Experiment. This month’s goal was training. I wanted to work hard and see results. I have to say, I feel really successful in this month. Not only did I get some really valuable advice and training on creating art from Amy Sigil, but this show taught me a lot about how much putting your nose to grindstone can bring you. Every single day this month I feel like I was actively focusing on setting training goals and meeting them. I’m excited to say I’m in better shape than I have ever been in, and I lost some weight in New York. After this month, I am excited to try and maintain my health and my weight and continue my training regime — I hope that I can continue to practice the skills I have learned in month 2 throughout the rest of this year.

Month 3… I need a few days to synthesize what exactly I want out of month 3. I’ll be posting more on that later 🙂

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EPL and Sacramento

Here’s a blog I wrote a few days ago when I was still in Cali and never posted:

I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations.

I went into this trip trying not to have any. But the longer I’m here, the more I realize I did have some preconceived ideas about this trip.

After the first month of EPL, I remember having this feeling that the goal I had at the beginning of the month and the result I had at the end were so different from one another. I remember thinking, “Well, in Month 2, there’s no way I’ll be doing anything but training hard. I’m going to California and New York to dance, and I’ll only have 8 days in January when I’m even in Columbia.”

But this trip, while I have danced a LOT and I still have a few days at Shoebox and a day at the mothership with Suhaila, the most important things I have learned so far have been outside of the dance studio. I’ve learned so much about hard work from these women and men. I’ve learned what a healthy, functional dance community looks and operates like. Amy sets the bar REALLY high for these dancers choreographically and interpersonally, and it shows.

Some of the best experiences I have had here have been outside of Hot Pot, even! On Sunday, we went to a Japanese bath house in downtown San Francisco called Kabuki. The first thing you see when you walk in are these beautiful shower stations. Everyone sits down and bathes, and then you enter the main room.  There was a hot pool, a cool dip pool, a wet sauna, and a dry sauna. You’re not allowed to talk loudly and you just slowly drift between the different pools and saunas for as long as you want. When I got out, I felt so cleansed and restored. It was absolutely beautiful. After we got sushi, some sort of crepe-ice cream sundae and walked Haight-Asbury in San Francisco.

EPL: End of Month 1/Beginning of Month 2

January has arrived. Month 1 of my “Eat, Pray, Love” Experiment is officially over.

My goal last month was to foster creativity and become more productive at creating art.

So how did I do, you might ask?

…Well, I have mixed feelings about how “successful” I was. At the beginning of the month, my goal was to really work hard on a large project I’m working on. Now, there’s no quantitative way to measure how much you’ve worked on your creativity, but you could measure it by how much art I’ve created… and if you measured it by that criteria, I did not accomplish as much as I would have liked. I made very little progress on that particular project.

But I do feel like I have accomplished a lot this month: I created a vision board that is currently hanging above my desk. I researched a lot of videos, choreographers, dance styles, movies, etc. and surprisingly, I feel like I accidentally identified really crucial elements that I want to bring to my dancing — both on a performance level and an instructional level. I have felt more goal-oriented and productive recently — I am starting to fall into a regular exercise routine, I’m getting some much-needed “business work” done, and I’m starting to use my time more productively. I definitely feel that this has been a result of this experiment, of sitting down and thinking to myself, “I have one month to focus on one part of myself.”

I think I’ve learned a few things: One, life can sometimes get in the way. Partway through the month I received some news that forced me to slightly change my focus (stay tuned 😉 ). I also learned that goals have a way of mutating into new goals. I went into this experiment with the mindset that if it wasn’t working, I would modify it until it worked — so while I wasn’t as successful in the areas I originally wanted to focus on, I made a lot of personal progress.

But Month 2 I think is going to be a little different.

Month 2 is my training month. I will be leaving on Tuesday to spend two weeks with the incredible Amy Sigil of Unmata. While I’m there, I’m hoping to stop by several other instructors’ studios: Cera Byer, Mira Betz, Ariellah, SUHAILA!, and Fat Chance Bellydance, if all goes according to plan.

To prepare for it, I am working my ass off the next few days so that I will be able to operate optimally:

  • I got a free week trial at a gym. I’ve discovered I do a lot better when I have a place to GO as opposed to trying to work out at home. I’m researching affordable gym memberships or perhaps applying for a gym scholarship
  • Vitamin D supplements work wonders for me. I get super depressed and lethargic in the winter. I think Mark thinks it’s all in my head, but I feel more inclined to work out when I am taking the supplements (I don’t care if it IS me imagining it — if it gets me to the gym, I’ll take it!) And read what the Vitamin D Council has to say: “Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.”
  • Eating right. I’m sick of putting crap in my body and feeling like crap, so I’m not doing that anymore.
  • Drinking plenty of water.

Throughout my travels in January, I am going to make more of a point of trying to blog — even if it’s really short, just blogging SOMETHING. I’m hoping to be more present on the EPL tribe. I’ve been so inspired reading everyone’s individual journeys 🙂

So stay tuned!

EPL: A Little Update!

I haven’t been blogging nearly as much as I would liked to recently, but it’s a good thing. I have been working hard on my goal of creating, and I have made several strides:

1) Inspiration board is up. I finally finished my inspiration board, and oddly enough, a few things on it have come to pass!

2) Focusing on different forms of inspiration, not just belly dance. Since I no longer have access to regular belly dance classes, I have lately been focusing on other dance forms. My ballet, modern dance, and Odissi classes ended for the semester, but I have been working hard on working out every day and working on exercises I picked up in those classes. I also have been trying to research modern and contemporary dance videos lately, some of which I’ve been trying to post here.

3) Reading! I get in this bad habit of rereading books that I’ve read a billion times before. I have been trying to branch out and read more books specifically on subjects that help inform my dance.

4) Learning my creative habits. I have noticed I tend to be more productive in particular types of situations. I have learned I can’t really choreograph at home or anywhere where I can find an excuse to surf the internet. I tend to get a lot more accomplished if I pack up all my crap and go SOMEWHERE to work – usually the Stephens College dance studio (big thank you to the Stephens College dance department!)

5) Building a creative training plan. I sat down one day and made two lists – my physical training plans and my creative training plan. On my creative plan: books I want to finish, research I want to complete, exhibits and shows I want to visit.

EPL… On Hold Due to February Sucking.

I try to stay positive most of the time — really, I do. But can I just say, man, this is my worst February in awhile.

Usually it’s not too bad. Sure, I don’t particularly like Valentine’s Day (I much prefer the day after Valentine’s Day, actually — discount Valetine’s Day candy makes me happy). And by the time February rolls around, I’m so DONE with winter that I want to scream; but usually it’s bearable.

I think the thing that REALLY tipped the scale this month was the fact that I had to completely put dancing on hold because of this stupid hamstring/glute injury. I’m so frustrated that I haven’t been able to train and keep in the shape that I was in when I left New York. But as my mother wisely said, “Injury is the universe’s way to kindly tell you to slow down.”

I felt like I went from working really hard every day to sitting, worrying, and eating constantly. Blah!

It could not come at a worse time, since I finally figured out the focus of my last month of EPL: I want to focus on combining what I’ve been studying the past two months and moving forward from there. In a word, this is my work month. I’ve gotten a lot of new training and life experiences. I looked for inspiration everywhere I could the month before. Now it’s time to create.

However, I feel like most of the month is already gone. So I am changing the rules of my experiment, and I will be tackling my last goal starting in March.

I have some exciting things coming up — a couple of projects with some really great performers, I am teaching a workshop tentatively in Kirksville on April 10, and I will definitely be attending the Amy Sigil workshop in Kansas City. I’m working on getting my big project I’ve been mulling over for awhile into motion, as well.

How have your EPL experiments been going? What are this month’s goals?