Monday, December 31, 2012

The 100th Day

Remember when I decided to take Gina's 100 days challenge? I set some goals of things to do in the last 100 days of the year, and here we are on the 100th day. Now comes the painful moment of truth when I have to look at my goals and see how I did with them:

1. Practice dance for 1 hour every weekday, ideally from 3-4pm.

I started out so well with this one, but in October I got assailed by some serious gloom and never fully recovered. However, I did learn that I CAN practice for an hour a day, so I need to work this back into my life in the New Year, while also being honest with myself about when I need to take time off.
2. Do one thing every day to improve the state of my home.
Another one that started strong and ended weak. If there is one thing I have learned during this challenge, it's that I'm really bad at doing anything on a daily basis. But I did manage to get rid of a lot of clutter, including a bunch of things that had been in boxes in the coat closet since we moved.

3. Get some advice and set some goals for taking my dance career to the next level.
Ok, I actually succeeded quite a bit on this one! I started out with a great meeting with Jolie where she gave me some advice and had me make a 3-year business plan like a real professional adult person. Then we had another meeting where she looked over my plan and helped me fine-tune it a bit. I am on track with my 1-6 month goals so far.

4. Get a quote on how much my orthodontic work will cost and develop a plan to pay for it.
Another success! I saw an orthodontist, got a quote, started the dental work that needs to get done first, and we just switched to a dental insurance carrier that will actually pay for some of my orthodontics. I should be getting braces early in 2013, with scary jaw surgery sometime further down the road (eep!).

5. Maintain at least 100 active listings in my Etsy shop.
It's the last day of the year and I have exactly 100 items in my shop! I did get to over 100 a couple of times, but holiday sales were pretty good this year so I had to work hard to keep myself out of the 90s. I hope to maintain a minimum of 100 from now on.

6. Finish at least one currently unfinished beadweaving/bead embroidery project.
At the end of October I finished Sunny Seattle Summer, a beadwoven bracelet that I started in August.

7. Make at least one project from one of the numerous beading books on my shelves.
At the end of November I made this bracelet. I'm also currently making some beaded leaves from a book which will be made into a necklace of my own designing at some point.

8. Actually photograph and attempt to sell the costume pieces that I've already decided I need to get rid of.
I photographed some, but not all, and a couple of pieces sold.

9. Do one nice thing for just myself every week.
I lost track of whether I managed to do this every week, but I have been pretty good about giving myself little treats that are not related to dance. For a while there, all I was buying for myself was new costuming and stage makeup. But I bought myself some ridiculous boots, and some makeup to wear day-to-day, and took time to go out and do fun things by myself.

10. Take some yoga classes.
Argh! I totally forgot this was on my list, I thought it was just in my three-year-plan. I did intend to do yoga at some point in these past few months, but things just kept being too busy.

11. Finish reading Universe in a Nutshell.
I never even tried. It may be time to admit that I will just never understand physics.

12. Develop at least one solo that involves a prop.
Another success! I now have a very nice veil solo to "Crooked Muse" by Beats Antique, which I performed at the first new Open Stage at Sky Bar.

So all in all, it's not too bad. I only have two total failures, a couple of strong starts with weak finishes, and a bunch of things that I did, sometimes even going beyond my initial goal. What this shows me is that I do much better with finite goals (make a thing) than with open ended (do this every day). It also confirms my belief that I work best with a deadline. I had wanted to start beading things from books for a while, for instance, but once I knew I had to have something done by the end of the year, it encouraged me to go through my books and find a project that I had all the beads for.
Tune in tomorrow when it will finally be 2013 and I can start talking about goals for the New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Datura Online -- finally!

I was finally able to make use of my Datura Online subscription tonight! The whole thing was a bit of an ordeal. It turns out that there's something about the way they do the videos that means that I can't play them using the internet or video sharing options on the new TV, they only work if we use an HDMI cord to plug the TV into a computer, turning it into a giant monitor. So that's something to keep in mind if you're shopping for a new TV with the idea of using DO: Don't buy an LG Smart TV.

Unfortunately at the moment the only computer free to be plugged into the TV is Chris's old laptop, which is pretty much on its very last legs. I keep having trouble with it freezing, or taking forever to load the videos. It's hard to say when slowness is a problem with the site and when it is a problem with the stupid computer. I will probably invest in a new laptop sometime in the coming year, but right now I'm hoping to nurse this one along.

But anyway, enough about my technical problems... How is Datura Online? I have to admit that I was so annoyed about the crashing laptop that I almost gave up on dancing, but instead I loaded up a shimmy drill warm-up with Rachel Brice, and I started smiling almost immediately. I mean, when one of your favorite dancers is guiding you through a little yoga to warm up your back, how can you not feel better? I really enjoyed this video, as it did get me warmed up quickly and was an easy enough sequence that I feel like if I use it regularly, I'll be able to memorize it and make use of it backstage before gigs, which is what she originally developed it for. I like the fact that it involves a minimum of traveling steps, making it easy to do in a tight spot like my living room or the hallway next to the bathrooms (aka what counts for backstage at most restaurant gigs).

After that I decided to try the Slovenia Slam scale combo, also by Rachel Brice. I enjoyed the scales when we did them in her workshops last year, and I like that it's another quick 10 minute video. These scales are great drills to add to your daily practice to work on basic isolations -- they're based on the concept of the scales that musicians drill over and over again when learning to play. This one has a lot of chest isolations, including a chest circle to the back which kept throwing me off, I am too used to going to the front first! I think I'll do that scale every day until going to the back feels natural.

I like the idea of DO because it's flexible to what sort of practice I want to do. Tonight I wanted to warm up quickly and drill. Maybe tomorrow I will feel more like an hour-long class. Or I might decide to give the Unmata ITS language a try, since that's gaining popularity in Tucson.

One of the main reasons why I subscribed were the conditioning videos. I know that I need to work on my strength and flexibility, but without an actual routine to follow, I tend to slack off. I feel like with workout and yoga videos at my fingertips, I will be able to make sure I'm doing enough reps, holding long enough, and have a visual representation of what I'm supposed to be doing instead of what I think I remember from class. DO will make it easy to mix and match the routines that work well for me, throwing in some drills and cool-downs, instead of having to switch back and forth between my various DVDs and YouTube videos.

I'll be sure to post about the other videos that I try as I work to keep myself busy until classes and troupe practice return!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Go away, 2012!

I really hate the end of the year. It makes me impatient. Dance classes and troupe rehearsals are invariably canceled due to holidays, but it's hard to get any really good practice in at home in between parties and last-minute shopping and cleaning and being cold.

Then there's the fact that my in-box is full to bursting with an endless array of "year-end sale" e-mails. This might be awesome, except 1: I'm saving up for Tribal Fest, and 2: My family exchanges gifts on New Years Day, so I can't buy anything for myself that I previously offered up as a gift hint. Woe is me! And of course, I am impatient to get to the gift exchange, because I want to give everyone their presents, and yes, I would like to GET some gifts, too, I will admit it.

But there have been a couple of bright spots this week...

1. Datura Online finally works on my TV (sort of, in that we had to hook up a laptop and treat the TV like a monitor) so tomorrow I can start making use of that to improve my home practices.

2. I've been able to hang out with my friend Jen while she's down here visiting her in-laws.

3. Today we went shopping on 4th Ave and bought GLITTER because we are dancers and that is what we do.

4. When classes start back up it will be in the new studio and it will be warm and wonderful and I think we'll have new troupe members, too.

5. I have so. many. gigs. to look forward to in January and February, which is inspiring me to practice.

Hopefully next week I can stay a little more focused and maybe work on writing more blog posts. I have a few things I want to start doing with this blog -- more vendor features, some in-progress posts of costuming (I photographed almost every step of making my latest bra), and makeup reviews. Plus I need to do a year-end review and set some goals for 2013. I just have to wait for this year to end first.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dolled up

There was a point tonight where I thought this eye makeup look was not going to work out, but I kept going and it actually turned out pretty nicely. I even managed to get my half-lashes on! Yay lashes! I think it's time to graduate to full lashes, so I can start building my way up to really large, elaborate ones. Brandye was wearing some REALLY big ones with glitter mascara on top and she looked amazing.

Tonight's gig was a lot of fun and it also gave me a feel for what being a professional will be like -- evening gig on a Friday night, two 20 minute sets, not getting home until midnight... I think I could live this life.

Of course now I am sitting here trying to muster up the energy to remove all that emerald green eyeliner and put away all my hair flowers.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The world isn't ending, but...

I don't believe that the world is going to end tomorrow, or indeed, any time soon, but I am still dancing in a End of the World party tomorrow! What can I say, I'm addicted to dancing. I will be debuting a new solo as well as performing some favorite choreographies with Skirt Full of Fire and Fire & Gold. The other performances include drag kings, burlesque, musical mayhem and more, so if that sounds like your idea of a fun way to celebrate the false apocalypse, come on down to It's The End... So Let's Party! Cover is only $5 which is a great deal for so much entertainment.

This should really, genuinely be my last gig for the year. I don't have anything else on my calendar until the January Open Stage, which is just the start of a pretty busy January. Believe me, you will have plenty of chances to see me dance in 2013! It's going to be an awesome year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Good Bye, Studio A

Well, tonight was our last night of class in Studio A at the 4th Avenue location of BreakOut Studios. When classes return for the new year we will be in the new studio. It's bigger. It's warmer. It has better speakers. It doesn't have that really weird mirror where there's a strange raised part off the wall.

There are a couple of things I will miss about the current studio. I will miss having a convenient place to park on 4th Ave. I will miss being able to walk to all the great restaurants, cafes, bars and shops after class. I will miss the "Secret Dance Garden" behind Studio A, and showing up 20 minutes early for class to hang out with my troupemates on a nice Summer night.

But in general I am REALLY excited about the move!

A lot of people showed up tonight, maybe because it wasn't as painfully cold as it was last night. It was good to see some familiar faces who hadn't been around in a while, and to have a big group. It was a nice send-off for the room that has been our (sometimes awesome, sometimes awful) home for over a year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hard at work

You might think that for our last troupe practice before the studio closes for the rest of the year that we MIGHT take it easy, just practice some old choreos or do some drills or shoot the breeze. You would be wrong. Instead we took the usual class time, and our troupe practice time, and crammed them together into one two-hour choreography marathon. We learned 2 minutes of a new choreography, and none of it was simple walking, posing, or doing our own thing.

I am exhausted.

But I am also happy to have something new to practice for these two weeks. I'm not traveling for the holidays, and I don't have any major plans. Even if the studio wasn't moving, we would have had to skip the next two practices anyway due to them falling on Christmas Eve and NYE, respectively. So while I'll miss seeing my troupemates, at least I will have something to work on other than drills and practicing the same old choreos (which I will also practice, because I have been slacking).

Right now, however, I just want to go crawl into bed with a book and sleep for about 12 hours.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The weekend is too short

How is it already 11:30 on Sunday night? This weekend flew by.

I didn't end up performing at the Circus Farm fundraiser after all. The weather was far too icky to drive all the way up to Mesa and dance outdoors at night. Instead I ended up going to a holiday party, which was nice. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in dance (and this time of year, my jewelry business) and I just don't make enough time to socialize with my friends.

Today I went to dance class in the too-cold studio. Two more nights of cold classes and then I am FREE! The studio is closing for 2 weeks starting on the 21st and moving to an exciting new venue with more room and best of all, HEAT! Oh, I can't wait to no longer shiver my way through dance classes. I hope that the nicer, bigger studio also results in more new faces in class, and maybe in the troupe, too.

Then I went jogging, and it was also too cold, but you do what you gotta do. I did pretty well, until we stopped jogging and suddenly my calves decided to entirely cramp up. But that's sadly pretty normal. Maybe if I didn't subsist off of tea all winter long I would be less prone to calf cramps, but water is cold and tea is not. I guess I could drink plain hot water but that would be awful.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A good day

I feel a little guilty posting this in the face of the tragedy in CT, but I had a good day of dancing today.

Jolie, Rachel and I performed at a holiday party for the radiation/oncology department of one of the local hospitals, and it was a great show. Our audience of patients and staff was really, really enthusiastic and afterwards several of them wanted to talk to us about dance, their past experience with it, where they could see us again, etc etc. It felt really good to make them so happy. I did a solo to Trans Siberian Orchestra's "Revenge of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and I did so many turns with proper spotting that you would not believe they used to almost bring me to tears on a regular basis earlier this year. That is the power of practice, people!

Then tonight I went to High Heel Fit because Jolie was teaching, and she made us dance on chairs. In heels! Now, I happen to have a fear of falling and standing on things freaks me out -- doubly so in high heels, triply so when I'm getting light-headed because I didn't eat dinner. But I did it, and I didn't fall, and I had fun. I'm feeling a little bit like a bad-ass. I hope the video turns out, I want proof that I was dancing on a chair and I didn't freak out.

Tomorrow I am going up to Phoenix for the Circus Farm fundraiser, which should be my last gig of the year unless something else comes up!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Ever have one of those weeks where things keep getting in the way of your practice? This is shaping up to be like that. For instance, yesterday I decided to set up a Datura Online account so I could use it on my new Smart TV. I was skipping dance class to go to a show with my family, so I figured I could make up for it by doing a little drilling with Rachel Brice. Instead I got to spend most of the day fighting with my TV and didn't get any practice at all.

Then today I was super-busy. Finally at around 10:20 I decided to do a little dance practice. There I was, working on my solo for Saturday when my phone rang. Well, if my phone is ringing that late at night, it must be an emergency! So I drop everything only to find that it's supposedly some news opinion poll. Excuse me? Who the heck conducts a poll at almost 10:30 at night? A normal person with a normal day job would probably have already been in bed! I was not happy with being interrupted and losing my groove.

Anyway, I am really frustrated over the whole TV issue. There's not enough room to practice in the office at my computer and I don't want my subscription fee to go to waste! I hope we will be able to get it to work, but I worry it will require setting up a computer hooked up to the TV -- which negates the whole point of shelling out the big bucks for a Smart TV! ARGH! Besides, I really need something to keep me occupied at the end of the month when we go 2 weeks without troupe practice and class due to silly holidays falling on Monday and Tuesday.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

So much dancing!

I have been so busy that I forgot to tell you to come out and see Skirt Full of Fire and Fire & Gold perform today! We were part of the BreakOut holiday show, which always coincides with the street fair. Although this will be the last one in this location, I suppose, because BreakOut is moving! I'm very excited because the new studio is not only bigger, it has central heating and cooling! But the Fourth Ave location was not without its charm, and I will miss it (and not only because it gave me a convenient place to park on Fourth).

The show itself was great, I feel like we danced really well. Sadly, this is Kamrah's last performance with us, as she is moving away to Chicago! I will miss her greatly because she is such an incredible dancer and a very nice person to work with, and her husband is one of the most supportive guys in the community (you can see his elbow in this pic as he is filming us). They're a great couple and Chicago is lucky to get them!

Thursday's Open Stage was also AWESOME! What a great crowd! People really got into it, even though a lot of them were originally just there to watch football on the big TVs at Sky Bar. It turns out that when given the choice between sports, and beautiful women dancing, a lot of people will choose the dancers. Sky Bar gave us a nice big space to dance in, which was great, and the drink prices were awesome! I look forward to performing again next month.

I have two more gigs next week and then I think I am done for December, unless any last-minute holiday parties crop up. Whew!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Come to the Open Stage!

Here is the official FB event page for the first ever Sky Bar open stage! I know it's kind of short notice, but I am hoping to see a lot of people there, both to dance and to watch. We want Sky Bar to be happy to have us, after all! Plus I have really missed the social aspects of the open stage scene -- hanging out before and after, sharing tables with friends, seeing dancers from across town, etc etc. Please come out if you can!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What a weekend!

I've had quite the busy weekend. On Saturday I went to the Tucson Belly Dance/Tucson Tribal Collective student recital to see my friends from those two groups dance, and my friend Martha from Phoenix met me there. The recital was held at the Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant which was a GREAT choice! The food was really good, and the outdoor courtyard was beautiful (and it was sunny and 80 degrees, so a perfect day to be outside). It was great to see what all of the students was working on, and there was a nice variety of performances. The show was just the right length, and I really appreciate that it was held at lunch time, so that Martha and I could hit 4th Ave to kill the rest of the afternoon, and then I could attend the art show that my troupemate Liora was in that evening!

Today I got back into the swing of things by attending drills and ITS and going for a jog this evening with some friends and my corgis. I felt good in class, happy with my current progress. I was worried that with how little I've been practicing lately, I would have lost a lot, but really, it's only been a few weeks. Jogging went pretty well, too, and now my dogs are nicely tired out and lazing around the house instead of chasing the cats.

And on top of all of that, I have TWO more gigs coming up! I'll be part of a group piece at BreakOut Studios as part of their Street Fair show on Saturday, and on Thursday I will be dancing at the VERY FIRST SKY BAR OPEN STAGE!!!! Woohoo! I am super excited because not only have I really been missing open stages, but Sky Bar is the perfect venue! I think people will be a lot more enthusiastic about coming out to see the dancers if they don't have to plan their dinner around it. Besides, it's such a pain to eat dinner while watching a show! Much better to kick back with a drink, and more affordable, too.

So far it's looking like December is going to be pretty awesome!