Sunday, November 17, 2019

Unpopular Opinion

/ "I'm not like other girls . . ." :

I REALLY like the way the first couple of significant snows smell. They smell crisp, and liven up concrete in a way nothing else does. I think it's also the mix of leaves within . . . all together, it just has this earth yet crisp combo, and nothing else smells quite like it.

I don't think the "unpopular opinion" lies in the notes about smell so much as the welcoming of snow and cold. The cold is part of that crispness.

I've enjoyed watching the seasons come in with more awareness - they feel less fleeting this way, and like a process.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"Expectation Station" by DanceCo.

On Wednesday, October 16th, I had the pleasure of taking in DanceCo.'s "Expectation Station." While this show was, as all their performance work is, geared toward kiddos, I found it totally delightful and totally for me, too! Not sure what that says about me . . . I'm going to choose to believe that it says I'm playful :)


Back to the "totally delightful" idea. This show was delightful in ALL aspects, from the live music provided by local favorite The Roe Family Singers to the meticulous props and costumes to the narrator fresh from Choo-Choo Bob's Train Store Story Hour to the complex yet accessible choreography.

I really appreciated how this show was whimsical and played with the title by having the audience follow a character come head to head with her expectations for her life tied together with train travel, as well as how it tackled big ideas in a way that was accessible to children. From sharing the narrative of John Henry as an African-American hero to addressing how the land for many train tracks was stolen from Native Americans to touching on how being away from home can be not only exciting but sometimes sad, the show had surprising depth for a production aimed at kids.

The performances from the stellar cast were also totally delightful. I left this show smiling from ear to ear, arriving there shortly after watering from my eyes a bit during the "homeward bound" section. It was a feast for the heart, mind, body and soul, and I'm glad I got to check it out.

I'd hoped to write about this production more in-depth, but given my travel to Denton by way of Dallas the next day to teach at the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival and heading to Ames, Iowa to work with Iowa State shortly after, this was my first chance and I've not retained all the details I'd hoped to touch on. I suppose short and relatively general is better than nothin' at all :)

Thank you, DanceCo!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Danceventures #2

in this installment . . .

My jazz improv class - floating on cloud nine still!

The rodeo area at the Stockyards in Fort Worth

The “Love Shack” at the Stockyards - live music is everywhere down here!

Yup. This is what we doin’.

The Botanical Gardens in Grapevine, TX

More class :)

The Fort Worth Water Gardens

More Stockyards

Stockyards

Stockyards

Another from the Botanical Garden in Grapevine

The Harvey House in Denton - more live music!

An Alfred Hitchcock moment in Fort Worth

Downtown Denton

Goofy Happy Erinn :)

Venturing on :)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Danceventures (Dance Adventures)

I sometimes find myself in the strangest and most delightful of places thanks to dance. In the last two and a half weeks, I’ve bounced to Ames IA, Morris MN and am now headed to Denton TX (by way of Grapevine and Forth Worth). What an October!

Texas was one of the few states I hadn’t been to by the time I’d hit adulthood (thanks for taking us out to see our country, Mom and Dad!). This is my sixth visit since my first in 2012 and my second time here THIS YEAR: the first three were to Dallas (specifically Southern Methodist University for Danny Buraczeski’s “Teaching Jazz Dance” symposiums), the fourth visit was for the National Dance Education Organization National Conference in San Antonio, the fifth was Houston this May for the International Swing Dance championships.

This trip has already been AWESOME (and I’m only 6 hours in from wake time to scrounging up breakfast at the Waffle Way in Grapevine, TX). After some initial worry about how I’d get out of the airport without taking an Uber, I ended up on the brand-spankin-new TexRail, which has lines to Fort Worth and Dallas for a $5 day pass (with several stops along the way, like Grapevine)! Some photo documentation:

Grapevine’s Train Depot Museum (fitting after seeing a show about trains yesterday - more on that later!)

The vibrant morning sun trying to poke through a window on the opposite side of the plane from me - witnessing the sunrise on the plane is one of the redeeming qualities of 6am flights!)

They’re EVERYWHERE!! (if you can look at this and know what I mean, you KNOW what I mean :))

HA.

Looks like some Star Wars shit :)

My point stands.

Running into a goofy stranger (well, my goofy Father in Law David, twisting balloons to help make the MEA airport rush more fun!)

The future and the last in downtown Grapevine, TX.


Last Thursday saw me up to Morris MN. Some highlights:

In Starbuck on my way home. Unfortunately, the lefse was under lock and key and I didn’t get to see it!

Yep. Snow. 10/10.

The day after the Trump rally. Oof. Helped me know I wasn’t in the TC anymore.

My totally kick-ass U of M - Morris dancers. I had SUCH a lovely time working with these excellent humans :)

Everything in Morris was indeed just a stone’s throw away.

SQUATCH ALERT!

Obligatory I-94 photo for Kim McAndrews.

How’d I get hooked up with such killer digs? I DID use the jacuzzi every night!


Maroon and Gold  :)


Didn’t get much for pics in Ames IA. Here’s what I got:

The totally beautiful house I stayed in (owner is an Iowa State dance alum :))

Dudley’s Corner - the truckstop where I got just the greasy, home-cooked and delicious lunch I was hoping for. Thought of grandpa John the whole time :)

Go Cyclones! I plan to grab photos WITH the ACTUAL dancers next time I head down :)

COLLeeeeegggeee

Iowa State Textile Museum. A neat place for an emerging clothes nerd.

Take-away snack from a rockin’ co-op. Apparently Newsweek named Ames among the USA’s top 10 places to live recently. I believe it!


With adventures in dance, there is always more to come . . .

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dancing, Writing, Writing About Dancing

Last night, I had the pleasure of witnessing Black Label Movement and Sod House Theater's Swede Hallow Ghost Sonata. It was a beautiful show, and it was also beautiful to not have to choose between spending a lovely fall evening outside or going to a performance, as it was site-specific and outdoors! I've never heard of Sod House Theater, but have signed up for their eNews and look forward to hearing more about their work.

Photo from blacklabelmovement.com

This show combined elements of performance so effortlessly - their crew included musicians, actors and dancers, and it was often difficult to tell who you'd consider who, as they all moved, sang, spoke. Weaved together particularly effortlessly were the actors and dancers, who completed nearly the same amounts and kinds of speaking and moving, all with relatively similar adeptness. That said, upon closer observation, I could indeed sense who the movers with more formal dance training were, and felt the two folks creating a verbal thread of sorts for us to follow had more formal acting training. None the less, I appreciated the ways they were all weaved together and allowed to use their strengths in subtle ways.

I also appreciated how 'transported back in time' I got to feel, thanks to several things including the 'tour guides' at the beginning asking the crowd to collectively close their eyes and sink back together. When our eyes fluttered open, like magic, their perch of a stone wall then contained the artists we'd be watching for the next hour or so! The costuming and feel of the music added to this feel of being transported back in time in real and satisfying way. All of this said, I also appreciated the self-awareness the show had of recognizing that imagination only goes so far sometimes, occasionally referencing contemporary society, including a reference about picking up a ringing cellphone (or something of that nature).

Similarly satisfying was the way in which both the performance and directing of the cast created both a contained world for them to relate to one another within that we got to witness, as well as clever moments of stepping outside that world and acknowledging that they were indeed being watched. Beyond acknowledgment, this was revealed in through direct quips to audience to warn them of coming physical shifts to keep them safe, as well as performers engaging small groups of audience, simultaneously, as they told their stories of their relationship/s to their own ethnic background/s.

The later was not only a satisfying way of 'breaking the fourth wall' (as if this wasn't already happening thanks to the performance being site-specific, station-based at times and held outdoors!), it was just plain artistically and humanistically satisfying. The show's cast was quite racially and presumably ethnically diverse, as were the populations of people who'd called the ground they performed upon home, whose imagined/ stories they were calling forth. Offering the performers a chance to share bits of their own ethnic backgrounds allowed them to connect to the material in a more personal way and to own it in their own right, and for the audience to ask themselves questions about their own relationships to their own ethnic background/s. As a fellow audience member I spoke with briefly after this section of the show mentioned, she "feels it brings us all closer together to know we are all, to a certain extent, trying to connect to our own backgrounds."

I enjoyed having to journey into the space under a bridge with the performers and the station-based section of the show in which it became a 'choose your own adventure' or sorts, in which it was up to you to select which happenings you visited (and in which order), where you stood and how long you stayed. Initially, it bothered me that I wasn't able to visit all the stations, but I came to appreciate this as symbolic of how you never get to hear everyone's stories, no matter how hard you try. I also appreciate that this show had several dates and was free, so one could come back if they wanted to "try and see it all" (though by it's nature, I'm sure the show is slightly different each night, so is that objective really possible?!).

I do feel that, while they were very entertaining, the humorousness of the 'guides' at the beginning ended up feeling a little out of place to me, given the ethereality of the rest of the show and the fact that they didn't come back at the end. That said, they were definitely useful to the device of having everyone close their eyes and open their imagination while the performers arranged themselves on the wall at the beginning.

I found the section in which the two lead actors narrated a dialogue about cooking as Mirabi Miller danced with her usual rapt, rawness particularly intriguing. Words like "to the bones" popped out as Mirabi pushed her own bones through sharp, extended and protruded movements. Other highlights for me included the performers moving through a unison sequence with lights in their palms as night was setting in, the full group movement sequences at the communal table and waltzing back through the tunnel, back into the present, guided by the singing a palm lights of the performers. I think perhaps we could have just walked back through like most other audience folks seemed to, but I couldn't help but grab dancer-friend Doug into a waltz for a bit :)

I'm sure I could have a whole lot more to say, but I'm still marinating on it all, and need to go grocery shopping! I'll finish by saying I'm so grateful this experience allowed me to learn more about a part of my own city I previously knew little to nothing about, how it engaged me in thinking about my own heritage and it's relationship to place/making and others, as well as its aesthetic beauty and the time it allowed me to spend outside. I'm so fortunate to live in a place so full of beautiful art and people!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Lake + Hashbrowns

A surprisingly good smell combo! Just got done with my morning walk, and once again realized that our neighborhood nearly ALWAYS smells like hashbrowns! I'm actually totally delighted by this. I think it comes from Key's, but I also LIKE to think that it's coming from the homes surrounding us, and that I contribute to it here and there.

There is something so comforting to me about the smell of hashbrowns (and eating them too, of course :)). I think much of this has to do with the fact that my mom would make them for me every day before school, often with sausage and toast. It was a true privilege to know I'd get to sit down to a hot breakfast every morning - thanks mom. I think it's that sense of care and love that I attach to the smell of hashbrowns. It makes me happy EVERY SINGLE TIME I smell it. Perhaps this is part of why I'm so insistent on getting out for my morning walks each day :)

This particular morning, I took in a commingling smell of Como Lake and hashbrowns together, and it too was totally delightful! I associate lake smell with summer and simplicity, so these too things together made my heart sing! I think I associate nature smells in general with simplicity. The crispness and earthiness are what I need to help me focus in on the moment and digest it. Going to Taylor's Falls/ Interstate State Park was EXACTLY what I needed, and made me really stoked about the idea of visiting more Minnesota State Parks this fall.

I listened to a podcast this morning about how to 'make every day your favorite,' and today is my favorite so far because of my appreciation of these commingled smells :)

Monday, August 19, 2019

Empty Vending and Spoiled Clementines



Definitely the opposite of what I’m feeling like today :)