January 2010 Archives

Circus Panic

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On stage in the light of flashbulbs

Saturday night's performance was a blast. Was it rehearsal perfect? Not at all. Did that matter? Not at all.

I jumped around backstage while D and Mix did their gorgeous mini hoop routine (video here). Then I bounced onto the stage, did my thing and it was over before I had time to be scared. I spent the rest of the night dancing, smiling, laughing, and applauding the other amazing performers.

Watching the video of my part (the first 90 seconds of this video) is weird. I ended up changing the choreography on the fly and my brain was in overdrive trying to compensate. Oddly though, my body was in charge and just made it work. So watching the video is like observing both sides of a split personality, There I did this with the hoop, but I was imagining the next move and trying to keep my arms activated. And there I was wondering if I would hit the ceiling - just before I did hit the ceiling.

The original dance involved a lot more clowning around with a naughty hoop. But with the lighting lower than expected, you couldn't see me looking mad or confused or scared by the hoop's antics. So I skipped the rehearsed clowning and just sort of hooped with big gestures and lots of smiles. It ended up too repetitive, but the crowd hooted and the energy stayed high for Deanne's next number. It was a success.

It is especially interesting that this performance happened when it did. This week I started doing The Artist's Way (again after a 12 year break) with a group of people. In week one, you are supposed to list some "imaginary lives" that you would like to have lived. The day before Deanne asked me to perform, I listed my imaginary lives: architect, circus performer, costume designer, astronaut, explorer. How satisfying to get to experience circus performer and costume designer!

Hoop Panic

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Tomorrow night, I am performing onstage with my hoop in a talent show at Exit Bar in Shinjuku Nichome in front of a paying audience of (I assume) drag queens and gay men who are voting for the best act. I am only a brief 90 second entre'act in a larger Hooplovers performance, but I am very excited. And more than a little nervous.

This is the first time I've performed a solo. It's the first time I've had to do my own choreography. Thank goodness it's only a 1'30" circus march. I guess I could just get up and wing it but I won't let myself do that. Instead, I am learning how to prepare a performance piece:

  1. Edit music to length. This is pretty easy since I do it for videos often enough.
  2. Listen to the music. Over and over.
  3. Break it into sections. Write them down. Count.
  4. Visualise some moves. Freak out that you can't think of enough moves or tricks to fill the sections. Scour YouTube for ideas.
  5. Chocolate.
  6. Play with the moves and the music. Find some that work. Write them down.
  7. Video the result.
  8. Freak out during the playback. Revise and refine.
  9. Repeat 4-8 until you have something that works.

I've been at it since 9 am. I am still on step 9 and it seems to be getting farther and farther away from finished. I think step 10 is drill the dance until it is smooth and looks easy. Step 11 involves costuming. Or possibly chocolate.

OK, back to step 9. I wish I had a collaborator to work with; it is easier for me to bounce ideas around with someone until ideas gel. In any case, I aim to get to step 10 before bedtime.

Girl with Glasses

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This is the week that I concede to wearing glasses when I read.

For several years I've had glasses to prevent computer eyestrain, but in the past few months my eye muscles have aged rapidly. Unfortunately my arms have not grown correspondingly. Now I can tell a difference when I wear my glasses to read printed matter and I don't have to hold the book quite so far away.

Soon enough it will be glasses on my nosebridge all the time.

Antipodean Weirdness

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Two things about being in Australia spin me out:

1. Sunny windows face north.
2. Orion is upside down in the night sky.

Of course I understand why these things are but northern hemisphere living has me oriented* the other way. Other hemispherical differences, like opposite seasons and solstices, don't phase me in the least.

*Actually, is there a north-south word pair like orient & occident?

Winter Summer Winter

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Sunset under the jetty at Henley Beach

Last week, Tod & I jetted out of winter and into an Australian summer.

Adelaide was blistering. For four days in a row, the temperature was over 41 degrees, kissing 43 on Sunday as we stood in a garden for Tracey & Ashley's final wedding. The heat is dry as a bone, sucking moisture from your eyes and skin with barely a shimmer of perspiration. I drank lots and lots of water but never felt fully hydrated. Air conditioned shops, hotel rooms, and pubs were crucial to keeping comfy, but they were dry, too.

On Saturday, Jo, Martine, Tod & I braved the outdoors starting with a lunchtime picnic under the banyan trees near the botanical gardens, then lazed around in the heat hooping a little and watching wedding photographers until scooting off for Greek dinner and sunset poi fun on Henley Beach.

When it finally started cooling off Monday night, the sidewalks radiated enough warmth to make arthritic joints happy. By Tuesday morning, it was raining and barely 22 degrees. I put on a jumper and shivered up in the Barossa before we hopped a flight to the Gold Coast and then back to winter.

What a shock to return to single-digit Tokyo. Now I am sitting at my desk dressed in layers with the windows open airing the musty smell from the house while the sun shines in our southern windows. I can barely remember the heat.

2010: Connect

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I'm not always very good at resolutions, but in the past I've enjoyed having a single over-arching concept to help focus my year. On a difficult day, I recall my theme and see if I can work with it to make the day better. Last year was "no shopping" and it was a specific, measurable goal that was challenging and memorable. This year I am going for something more vague.

Connect.

I intend this to mean "connect more in real life with friends and activities I enjoy" but it also incorporates the spirit of introductions, community-building, intellectual mash-ups, spiritual awakenings. I think "connect" is a good plan for 2010.

Hello, Twenty-ten!

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It's the year of the tiger, even though it looks like it might be year of the zebra...

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