5 AM, St. Louis

Ah, insomnia, we’re starting to become good friends, aren’t we?

I still can’t really believe it that I’ve been here in St. Louis a month already. So much of my mind is still in South Carolina, living on a couch in the Circus House…

I have started this blog post countless times over the past few weeks, but somehow I haven’t been able to write down what I’ve been experiencing in any sort of meaningful way. Let’s just start at the beginning:

A lot has changed. My couch surfing has landed me in the abode of Ms. Lola van Ella while I attempt to figure out life here in St. Louis. I’m working at a diner in town. I’ve begun teaching classes at the Dance Co-Op on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 PM (my website will soon be updated with all the pertinent information). I got to take an incredibly rejuvenating Level I workshop with Suhaila Salimpour, one of my biggest dance influences and mentors. I got to work with a gifted local photographer, Tim Barker. I’ve had a breast make a surprise guest appearance at a gig, and performed at another (difficult) gig that taught me a hard lesson about making sure the places that book me understand what exactly it is I do.

But all of my experiences, positive and negative, just seem to keep circling back around to the same questions:

Who do I want to be, and what do I want?

It’s quite a jolting question when you start to realize that the universe is offering you a rare chance to redefine several important factors in how your day-to-day life is structured. All of the sudden, I need to think about what part of the city I want to live in. I need to figure out how I will make my income. I need to figure out what to fill the hours of my days with in an unfamiliar city with few friends. I need to figure out what direction to take my dancing with — what image to market, what material to teach.

I’m not trying to whine — it’s definitely an exciting prospect. I’m truly looking forward to living on my own for the first time EVER, and I’m glad to be in a new city. But I’m starting to realize that I am procrastinating (are you surprised?) really identifying what I want out of a city, dance… and life in general.

All my life I have wrestled with unrealistic expectations. When I was in Columbia, I dreamed of getting the hell out, getting to a new city, and starting a new life for myself. Now that I’m here, I realize that I was an idiot for thinking I would come to a new city and things would be different without a clear idea of what I wanted my life to be like. You have to know what you want before you can devise a plan to pursue it.

I think a lot of my indecision centers around jobs. I have been dreading getting a full-time job because I’m not ready to give up my focus on dance. I worry that a full-time job will prevent me from touring with the Happy and Humpy Traveling Medicine show. I worry it will hurt my dance education. When I think about the highlights on 2010 so far, all have centered around me traveling to study with some of the best instructors I’ve ever worked with. I really don’t want to give that up for a desk job. But I also want to be able to support myself, particularly now that I’m on my own.

And unfortunately this all-too-familiar indecision has begun to push my life back in a direction I don’t want to go in. I’ve become indecisive about everything, from what I should eat to what I should teach in class. When I start to think about a way to be financially stable while pursuing dancing the way I want to (traveling, taking lots of classes, starting on bigger projects here), the indecision and procrastination pull on either side of me to prevent me from committing to anything. The fear of “not getting it right” has begun to dominate my life.

I think we’re all familiar with how crappy day-to-day life feels when fear is your primary motivator. I truly believe what Amy Sigil says, that “Fate favors the risky.” With dance, I have taken a lot of risks — some which have panned out, others that were epic flops; all were totally worth it– but in my life off-stage it’s proven to be more difficult. I incredibly frustrated that my fears of failure have jolted me into this long, unsettled period, especially since this was the type of path I was hoping to avoid by leaving Columbia.

All of this stupid angst and fear has had a definite impact on my dancing. I feel unmotivated to dance at all, and when I do, it is flat and emotionless.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I had a really hard time writing this post. Part of me feels like a failure that I do not have these life questions figured out. Part of me reads this post and thinks, “No one wants to hear you whine.” Part of me thinks that it’s important that I’m honest when I blog and post about my experiences, positive and negative. Part of me is ashamed to admit that I have struggled so much with feeling unmotivated.

But writing has always served as a way for me to articulate everything that has been floating around in my brain and begin to make sense of it. I have noticed that many times once I get to this point of blogging, I often come out the other side with a better sense of what I need to do and where I need to go from there.

So, I’m putting this out into the universe:

I am going to find an apartment, where I can live on my own, have a dance space, have my cat back. I am going to find job(s) that allow me the freedom to travel but allow me to support myself. I am going to take more dance classes and continue to teach. I am going to make a goddamn try at this whole “living in St. Louis” thing. No more bullshit, no more excuses. I will take a risk, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll try another.

Fate does favor the risky, as I’m told.

Classes in St. Louis!

THIS TUESDAY:

8-10 PM at Floored on Grand, 3190 S. Grand Blvd

Subbing for Lola van Ella’s burlesque classes

THURSDAYS:

Modern Fusion Belly Dance Class

8-9PM at the Dance Co-Op at the Crestwood Plaza,

Crestwood ArtSpace

30 Crestwood Plaza

St. Louis, MO 63126

$12 drop in, class card options.

The Happy and Humpy Traveling Medicine Show!

This Saturday’s 9:45 AM Jeff City is canceled!

Also, you don’t want to miss the Happy & Humpy’s Traveling Medicine Show this weekend, and there are two chances to see it! We’ll be in St. Louis Friday night and in Kansas City on Saturday!

The Happy and Humpy Traveling Medicine Show

Hey You…with the Face!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and neighbors alike.

If you are ailing, yer kidneys are failing, listen close, now don’t be shy…

We’ve got yer tonic, we’ve got yer fixer.

Try Happy & Humpy’s miracle elixir.

It’s good fer the shivers, it’s good fer the bends, it’s good fer yer family and good fer yer friends. It’s good fer arthritis, it turns back yer clocks, it battles the plague, the fever and pox

THE HAPPY & HUMPY TRAVELING MEDICINE SHOW has been around the world delighting royalty and healing noblemen, performing to princes and prognosticating for peasants.

We’ve seen the world, and we’ve been around, from Paris, France to this small town…We’ve done the math and tried the rest, and can assure you, it’s the best.

It ain’t too sweet, and it ain’t too bitter, try Happy & Humpy’s miracle elixir.

Come experience the wonder and oddity, the thrills and spills, the temptation and salvation of the THE HAPPY & HUMPY TRAVELING MEDICINE SHOW for one night only.

Featuring some of yer favorite harlots, jezebels, sinners, saints, hobos and snake oil salesmen…
Happy von Speaknspell
Humpy
Lola the Lowfat Vanilla Girl
Greta Torn Garters
Gigi McGregor
Sammich the Tramp
Whiskey Gulch
Calamity Flair and her bayou black magic
Princess Sumfaroff
and the musical salvation and stylings of
The Hayfoot Strawfoot Gospel Ensemble

Only ten dollars, the one-half part of a twenty-dollar bill.

Music, hoochie coochie, soothsayin’, flea circus, magic, healin’, burlesque and enough Happy and Humpy Miracle Elixir for all.

For those that want to insure they don’t miss a moment, tickets can be purchased in advance.

FRIDAY NIGHT:

Off Broadway
3511 Lemp Ave
Historic Cherokee Lemp District
St. Louis MO 63118

314.773.3363

Tickets: $10, $3 cover for minors

Time: 9PM
Facebook invitation
Preorder

*** Buy tickets early, looks like it WILL sell out!***

SATURDAY NIGHT:

The Loft
1331 Union Ave.
Kansas City, MO 64101

Tickets: $10
Time: 9PM, 8:30 doors
Facebook invitation

 

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 🙂 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,  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 😉 )

All right, I am going back to bed to sleep for another billion hours 🙂

Bellyesque Workshop/Naughti Gras III!

St. Louis, watch out — two great events this weekend!

Bellyesque Workshop: Lola van Ella is hosting me for a burlesque/bellydance fusion workshop!

Naughti Gras III: Two chances to see me perform at the St. Louis erotic art festival!

  • WHERE: Downstairs stage, Koken Art Factory, 2500 Ohio Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63104
  • WHEN: Friday and Saturday night, 8:15 PM.
  • COST: $5 to get into the WHOLE festival!
  • MORE INFO: Koken Art Factory website