This life we's strange, painful at times, but oh so beautiful.

I am a fusion dance artist and teacher, a fire dancer, and a visual artist. I draw inspiration from nature, music, and the amazing people that come into my life. I am also a conservationist who makes jewelry and found object multimedia craft type art in my spare time (when I'm not reading, writing, or lighting things on fire and dancing around with them). I love to dance barefoot on the beach, watch the stars move inexorably across the heavens, and to laugh with the people that I love. I am currently based in Greenville SC, working with Discordia Arts to provide unique and exciting entertainment to the Upstate.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dance and Love Collide on Silk

Two of One silk Painting before background paint
I've been writing a lot lately about dance. I am happier when I dance than at any other moment, except for maybe when I'm floating in the arms of creative inspiration and creating a piece like this one. I began with the desire to continue on with the abstract figure idea but create a male and female figure that were merging - the idea being that in dance and in love, two become one...or if you want to get truly spiritual and over the top emotional (or just Hedwig and the Angry Inch about it) one whole with two parts.

As happens so often in my work, when I actually went from paper to silk, this piece changed. I may revisit the idea of two bodies merging, but for this one, the merging occurred only at the top of the piece - as if the energy that they are creating in dance is not only spiraling about them, but also streaming from their crown chakras to entertwine.

Two of One Silk Painting before steaming
I had a hard time on the background for this one. I considered greys, but after some time and helpful critic, I went soft with a mix of washes in yellow, magenta, brown, and red in the base fading into washes of blue up top. I did consider darkening the male figure to create a deeper contrast with the background, but ended up deciding that I liked him how he was. Once the piece is steamed and washed, the lines around the figures will be white, so I think that will be strong enough to keep him separated from the background.

I really love this piece - it is dance, and love, and as always, the love of dance.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sword Dance Workshop Follow Up

Balance Practice: Shifting your weight with Swords
Sunday's sword workshop in Williamston, SC was a ton of fun!

I spent hours working on my handout for the workshop, and what was supposed to be 3 pages ended up as 5, but no one seemed to mind. Luckily, I planned a day of placing the sword on the head, taking it off, and then putting it back. 3 hours is a bit long to keep a sword on your head (ouch!).
Sword dance: Angling the body
I began the workshop with a brief discussion on what to look for when choosing a sword for sword dance, sword dance history, sword care, and sword dance safety. We moved from there onto balanced body posture, exercises for balancing, and balancing the sword on your head. With the sword on our heads, we practiced shifting our weight from one foot to the other, onto the balls of our feet, and from there to walking.

Flat rotations with the sword balanced on the palm
New sword dancers are often surprised by the weight of the sword on their head, so we took the swords off our heads and spent some time discussion body angles, framing the body with the sword, and dancing with the sword before we place it on our heads.

The sword is an extremely dynamic prop  for dancing so we spent an hour swinging the sword around, dancing to and away from the sword, isolating parts of our body while we used the sword to frame our moves, and putting all of these concepts into dance combinations. I taught some of my favorite sword dance combos with coloful names such as "shave the gypsy" and "I'm gonna wash that sword right out of my hair."

Sword Dance
Personally, I am a huge fan of spinning and turning with my sword, so I spent a good amount of time teaching spins and turns as well as some combinations of rotations with the sword balanced on the palm of the hand mixed with turns, swings, and catches to round out this section of the class. After turning with the sword in our hands, we put the sword back on our heads and did some more spinning.

I love swords for a lot of reasons. I also love dance...and I love science. In spinning with a sword on your head, I got the opportunity to have all of my loves collide and give a brief physics lecture (really brief, I know not everyone is as big a nerd as I am).  So, we spent some time learning to start spinning, and a whole lot more time learning ways to stop spinning.

So many options on where to balance a sword!
 When I first planned the workshop, I also planned a time table for everything, and amazingly enough, I stuck to it, so we had time for 30 minutes of floorwork. I started out by teaching a variety of exercises that will help strengthen and tone the muscles that are required for safe floorwork, and then we spent a little time practicing hip circles and round the worlds with the swords on our heads.

I finished off the day with a short demonstration of some of the other places where you can balance your sword (and my caveat that utilizing too many of these in one routine gets a bit kitchy) and some strong poses.

Sword Dance Poses
We stretched, happy to have the swords off of our heads. I was extremely proud of everyone who came out and worked so hard to learn the basics of sword dance - everyone did great!

Thank you to everyone in Pelzer/Williamston, for being so welcoming. Thanks to everyone else, for driving out and spending your Sunday with me. Big super duper thanks to Kim Alexander for having me. Hopefully everyone now has the tools to embrace sword dance safely and with joy!

If you want to learn sword dance, my intermediate/advanced level topics class will be starting soon in Greenville, and the first topic I will cover is sword dance!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Doors, windows, and escape hatches

This post is mostly off-topic ramblings created by my coffee soaked Sunday morning brain, but it speaks to where I am in my life. If you're here for art and dance...check back later, I'm sure I'll update following my sword workshop this afternoon.

I've written before about my mother and father's turns of phrase. They are such colorful people, and I am lucky to have them in my life. Today I am musing on one of my mom's catch phrases: "When God closes a door, He opens a window." My mother is very religious person and though we had disagreements about her faith versus mine often when I was younger, I have come to deeply respect my mother's faith. Though I do not share all of her beliefs, we have a much wider overlap than I once thought, and I have to give her major thumbs up-edness for her conviction and dedication to both her principles and faith.

That being said, I still like to rephrase my mother's saying in my own head to: "When the universe locks all the doors, it will provide an escape hatch (even if the hatch happens to be under a heavy rock in the less used corner of your personal metaphysical space)"

My mom's phrase is SO much more succinct, don't you think.

Yet, both mean the same thing. There are always opportunities and possibilities in your life. You always have more options than you think you do. Just because a choice is difficult, scary, or new to you doesn't mean that you can't make it.

We all get stuck in ruts, look at our lives, and feel like we just can't get out or can't change. Example: I could never move to X place because I have all of this heavy furniture that would just be so difficult to get there. Solution: get rid of everything and start over in X place. Yes, it's a super scary idea for us modern folks, but think about it. Once upon a time whole families consolidated all of their belongings down to what they could carry and journeyed across the sea, mountains, desert, etc to find a new life and they did it all without bank accounts, cars, bottled water, restaurants, air conditioning, etc. It wasn't easy, but they did it...and you can overhaul your life too if you so choose. You just have to make the choice.

Most of the time, we are faced with issues much less dramatic than above, but that doesn't mean that facing a new direction in our lives isn't just as frightening as the idea of giving up everything and starting over, because many times that is exactly what we feel like we are doing. Starting a new job or leaving an old, moving to a new home, ending or beginning a relationship - are all the emotional equivalent to starting completely from scratch...and making the choice to do any of these things can be terrifying because once you chose, you have dedicated yourself to that path and must make it work at all costs...wrong. There's an escape hatch somewhere, even if you have to look under the metaphysical rug to find it.

I have recently been inspired to get up, shake the dust off of my brain, and make some frightening decisions. The results are still coming in, but I've got one dance class set and ready to go starting in July on Wednesdays at Equilibrium Zen Gym and two more in the works, hopefully starting in two weeks. I'm waiting to hear back from a group of artists that I may be sharing studio space with downtown, my work is going into a gallery in Columbia at the end of July, and I'm looking for a new place to live. It took a lot of emotional preparation to get here, and I'm terrified of failing, but I'm going for it anyway. And I know that if it doesn't work out, somewhere in my metaphysical room, the universe will stick an escape hatch, even if I have to conjure an invisible ladder to get to it.