Thursday, July 31, 2008

It gets better, but you have to make it happen

My SO and I know a photographer/author/blogger/all around excellent and interesting person in Philadelphia by the name of Kyle Cassidy. He is currently working with Amanda Palmer from The Dresden Dolls on a new book project, which is being written my Neil Gaiman. Those two names involve a bit of "Squeeee!' in my brain, and I think about how cool it is that Kyle gets to meet, work with and befriend such interesting people. Kyle wrote about the experience today, and I want to highlight something from his post:

" ... then we hied back to Castle Amanda and climbed up through the cloud club, through a skylight, and onto the roof where the cool air washed over us and the city was wide open before us. i felt like i was a part of something grand. and not because of who i was with or what we were doing, but because i was alive and a great metropolis streatched before me like an awaiting tableau saying "write your life here" ... we climbed to the peak of the house and all sat in silence looking out for a while. the tempertaure was perfect.

"Since I left high school," I said, after a long, contemplative silence, "my life has been going up, and up, and up. I feel like every day is better than the one before."

"I'm happy," said Amanda, looking at me, and then out across the cool vastness, with a lone skyscraper in the distance as witness.

"Life is really wonderful," said Neil.

And sitting there, looking out over the rooftops of Boston, I thought about all the hard work -- all the crap I put up with in jr. high school -- from all those jerks who peaked in 11th grade and spent their time trying to come up with new ways to make me feel miserable, all the bad times, and how everything just seemed right now to be exactly where it should be. neil was right.

Life is really wonderful.

Work hard, believe in yourself, enable your dreams, seek out creative people. Hang on. Tenaciously. Always be a force for good. "

It's true. I've felt my life has been one climb upward since the miserable days of my adolescence. Personally I'm a lot happier than those days of aimless yearning to do something, ANYTHING! with myself. I've enjoyed the modest amount of notoriety I've achieved due to my life (from the knitting, fire and belly dancing). I haven't chased my happiness, but I've worked at it. Or really, I've worked at things I love and the happiness has unfolded from that work.

I want to print this out and hang it up and pass it along to everyone I know particularly the teenagers in my life who may need the reassurance that yes, life is amazing and it can surprise you, but you will have to put some blood, sweat and tears into it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

TGIT (Thank God It's Tribal!)*

I wrote this for my regular blog, to amuse my friends and show them what things we go though as dancers. Of course I have to repost it here.

This past weekend our friend Cathy hosted Zafira for 2 days of workshops. It was incredible. I've taken workshops with Maria and Olivia twice before, at Triboriginal in 2006 and 2007, and even though some of the material this weekend was familiar I still walked away with so much new knowledge, so much inspiration, and so much of my a$$ being kicked (in a good way). I love them. Or lurve them. Or luff. With two effs.

Saturday night was the gala show. Cathy scored the Theatre Project, which I feel was (physically) an awesome venue, even with the tiny backstage (and tinier backstage restroom, which really makes you understand the term "water closet"). There were a lot of people in attendance, and though it was not a dance crowd (i.e. very quiet while you danced) they were very receptive and appreciative. Also, very patient and gracious with the sound mess ups. I'll get to that in a second, but first:

The good: Piper rocking her solo even with the horrible sound, getting to finally see Sammati from the audience (go zills!), Piper and students dancing with drums!, Levialora's beautiful basket dance with live music, Naimah showing us her softer side and endless shimmies, the huge group improv set with baby dancers to seasoned pros all dancing together even though most of us have never danced together before, Shems' glittering veil solo, getting to dance with Lyra and knowing that no matter what happens we've got each other's backs, Mavi being an incredible sword goddess, and Zafira working an amazing spectrum of dance from a saucy vaudeville number straight through to heart meltingly romantic belly dance.

Now, let me tell you about the crazy parts!

I have this part under a cut on my other blog, titled "You thought we would stop dancing, but you were wrong"

There were sound problems all through the show, starting with some of the CDs not working during the sound check. Piper's music from her CD was barely audible, full of static and the sound person cut it early, who knows why!! The crew didn't seem to understand that Zafira wanted their music to start and then took their time turning it up loud enough. Even though the sound guy said our CD worked, I ran for my iPod during the intermission, which was good because the CD of music for the large group set wasn't working and I thankfully had let the practice playlist on the pod. I didn't trust our CD to work, and I was worried even with the pod.

At first, despite the crew not understanding "Bring up the music and lights at the same time", it went well. But then, well, here's what was going on in my head:

First song done! Why are the lights going down? We have another song. It rocks! What? Okay, we'll stand here. And smile. Smile more. What is this! Okay, I'll start to taqsim just to do something. Hey, people are clapping, and it's a 4/4. We can dance to this! This is okay! Maybe the music will be fixed! Wait, this could go on forever. Thank you Mab for wrapping that up. Standing. Fine, I'll go up into the booth. *hike up skirts, run up the steps, pull up the exact song we need (the performance was single tracked)* "Don't hit play until I get down there!" *climb back to the floor* "Brooke, you go first!" Man, I am out of breath, but smile! Uh, why is our first song playing again? Okay, we'll dance to it! These poor people. I am so hot and sweaty. My arms hurt. Hi Brooke, look at us dancing! Hello people in the front row, are you tired of me yet? Okay, that's over. Pose, smile. Why are the lights going down! *scowling* Sound guy: "There's only one song", Me: "It's single tracked!" Suddenly! Our second song! Yeah! But it's too low. Make turn it up motions. Both of us yell: LOUDER! Hey, there it is! Me: Shimmy shimmy shimmy! Brooke: Shimmy shimmy shimmy! Both of us: dance dance dance dance. Totally rock the ending! Pose! Applause! Smile! Bow! Walk off. Sweat, gasp, gulp water.

So yeah, have I told you lately about the glamorous world of belly dance? On the other hand, improv rocks my world!

*Tribal group improv, that is