Tuesday, November 18, 2008


This post isn't going to have much for eloquent words or deeply-thought out ideas. Rather, it is just going to celebrate that, after many a roadblock here in Calgary, some of said blocks have lifted to give me some really great opportunities!

- Writing for Fast Forward, Calgary's version of the Citypages. Check out my article at http://www.ffwdweekly.com/article/arts/dance/community-of-performers-2876/
This one was not that difficult - I emailed the editor expressing interest in writing, he asked for samples, I provided them, he liked them, I wrote, it got published. Sometimes, it is just nice when things work out the first time!

- Calgary Arts Development Internship: Basically Calgary's Springboard for the Arts, I am helping CAD develop their websites and Christmas arts campaign. It is great to have another place and other projects to be involved in. Check out some of my work at www.christmasincalgary.com

- Live and In Synch: This is the touring kids show for DJD. After so many stumbles trying to find legal work in this city, it is amazing to finally have source of income (well, I will in February), making me feel a bit more at ease with the financial situation. But the money is not nearly the most exciting part - the most exciting part is to have the opportunity to perform professionally for a company I respect so much.

- Alberta Dance Explosions: I found out today that the festival to which I submitted a piece of choreography a few weeks back accepted me for their show in February. Alberta Dance Explosions is a tradition here in Calgary, put on by dance institution Dancer's Studio West. I am so excited to have the opportunity to show my work here in Calgary!

To sum it up, things have gone well here the last few weeks, dictating the fact that the next few months should also go pretty fantastic! I am honestly relieved to be returning a bit to my more scheduled self, but not at the rate that I had been before leaving Minneapolis (I think I have learned my lesson. At least I say that right now!) I am so fortunate and grateful to have opportunities that give me things to think about, care for, and spend time on, pushing me further within the things I love.

Happy day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day of Inspiration

Yesterday was quite the day of thought, inspired from many different sources.

Instead of attending our regular Friday class, me and my fellow DJDer's attended a conference called 'On The Move,' a seminar for emerging dancers and graduating dance students about how to launch their careers. Put on by the Alberta Dance Alliance and held at the Alberta Ballet studios, the day consisted of several different workshops and a yoga class at the end.

While the classes ranged from a psychology of loving oneself and one's work, to injury prevention, to contracts and legality, the session I enjoyed most focused on creating and producing work. Though I was expecting from the description something other than I got, this worked in a positive way. I was expecting a class on the steps to self-producing a project, and ended up with an open-ended discussion with the artistic director of the Alberta Ballet and a well-known independent dance artist here in Calgary who works quite a bit with video. It was truly inspiring to get a chance to ask questions of these two people who had been through so many stages and ups and downs to get to their success points as choreographers. We discussed their thoughts on the point where one goes from 'emerging' to 'established,' and I asked about their thoughts on how you know or find out whether or not your work is 'worth it' when you are still in such an early stage that you have not yet applied for a grant.

It was great to hear, from their experiences, that you have to keep reinventing, remain curious, and continue questioning yourself, because when you stop doing that, you stagnate. Even for well-established people such as themselves, they admitted openly to failures, even recent ones, suggesting there is no such mark as 'unstoppable;' even the established continue to have ups and downs. I had some really nice chats with many of the presenters after their workshops, and the whole day left me feeling all-around warm and fuzzy. It was so nice to get a chance to immerse myself a bit deeper into the community here. Though much of the information I had heard many times before, the value sprung from the fact that it was coming from new people in a new place, creating for me new perspectives.

Similarly inspiring yesterday, surprisingly, was my late-night trip to a bar near to our house. Cale, Rebecca and Steph got off work while I was having a glass of wine, and were attending a going away party for a friend from work at this bar across the street. I figured 'what the hell, I have no excuse; money is ok, I can walk home, and I have nothing to do tomorrow. Can't really back out!' On Friday and Saturday nights, they hire in a DJ and the bar becomes more like a club, so needless to say, there was much dancing to be had.

I ended up spending most of the night on the dance floor (which does not stray from the usual for me), but quite a bit of that time running around like a loon and insisting that everyone sitting in relatively close proximity to the dance floor would have to get up and join me. And guess what; it worked! Most everyone I approached gave in, including two black gentlemen that appeared to be from elsewhere. I could just tell they wanted to dance, but at first could not decide if they were avoiding the dance floor because they thought they were better than everyone else cutting it, or if they were self-concious in that particular setting. Turns out it was self-conciousness. When the Bob Marley came on (stereotypical, but I am just telling it like it happened), they busted out the moves.

I was happy to see that they had joined me, and made sure to let them know by coming to jam with them. Turns out, they in fact had moved about a year ago from Africa. There was a bit of a language barrier, and that may be part of why they hung back, but I found out in a bit more time that they are living with two dorky, awesome Canadian guys who were also there that night ( and who I also eventually got on the floor!) They were all-together just a cool bunch of guys, and when they got going, they got going and blew everyone else out of the water. Except for me of course, and that was soley because I am not afraid to be ridiculous and move huge. All in all, I stirred the dance floor up a bit and I think a lot more people left feeling happier because of it.

Ah, The Power of Dance. Not Cheese. Dance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day

In hopes of insisting this day exists as much more than just a day off work, I took myself out to one of Calgary's many Remembrance Day observances. In the time leading up, I found myself thinking that this day must be looked upon with more intention than back home, even just if for the higher quota of poppies-to-people I have seen in my own country.

Needless the say, my assumptions were proven correct - at just one of the celebrations in the city, the one I attended in Memorial Park at the intersection of 4th St SW and 12th Ave SW, there were about 2,000 people in attendance. I overheard a conversation surrounding the fact that the observation at the Military Museum on Crowchild was expecting to draw 60,000. I couldn't help but feel awash with pride; that is, until I remembered that I come from a country where this day, our Veteran's Day, often IS looked upon as another day off.

Listening to the bagpipes bring in group after group of different service-men (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, EMS Honor Guard, Korean War Vets, etc.), I could feel the importance of this day surging through me. Despite the large amount of time and brain power I have spent trying to understand the idea of trading in human lives to solve conflict, I do not know if it is a concept I will ever be able to comprehend. However, regardless of your outlook on our current situations and the theoretics of war, these people need to be looked upon with respect, and remembered and honored for what they have been willing to sacrifice as people.

In reading the Globe and Mail today, I noticed a comment on a story regarding the holiday (nonetheless, the front page story) that noted the poppie as 'an outdated icon that stands for wars past, which should be abandoned in favor of focusing on the ones happening now.' I was appalled a such a suggestion. While I consider myself a relatively progressive person with some opinions and ideas that one might even called radical from time to time, I have an important place in my heart for the observance of tradition (which was probably bred by heavy involvement in marching band, years of 4H, and a family that is absolutely Christmas crazy.) That is not to say that I am in favor of blind observance of tradition, but rather, the kind of purposeful and thought-through observance that serves to pass along histories and ideas that are important to a culture and to the cultivation of people to lead it. Today's observance fit this description, and the amount of people there to be a part of this exchange was truly inspiring.

This sense of inspiration carried me to further thought regarding the condition of the United States' armed service celebrations. In witnessing such an ourpouring of attention, observance and thought here in Calgary, Canada on Remembrance Day, I was at first ashamed by how Veteran's Day seems to go unnoticed by so many. This train of thought did bring me to the realization that the United States has both Veteran's Day (November 11th at 11:11am, a celebration of what it recognized around the world as Armistice) and Memorial Day - one day to celebrate those who are still with us, and another to remember those who have passed on. While this realization DID make me feel a bit better about the seemingly smaller amount of attention given to Veteran's Day, it also spurred me on to the thought that there would be no harm done in celebrating BOTH of our days with the passion and dedication akin to what I witnessed within our Northern Neighbors today.

So take these days as opportunities to say a prayer to those who have served, and while you are at it, lace up your shoes and hike on out (or drive if you must :) ) to an observance event. Though 'another day off work' is always nice, it is because of these people that you are free to try and work whatever job you fancy. You will end up being really glad you took the time; I know am.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mmm Hmm 2

Our Hotel in Lake Louise

Dessert at the ridiculously amazing Walliser Stube Restuarant

Consuming above dessert

And amazing food below

Said food below

Friday, November 7, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Visit from Familiar

It has been awhile since a screen has witnessed my typing fingers creating updates or musings to send into the cyber world to reach those who wish to find them, one of the more familiar feels I can identify in my being here. In the past several days, my sense of familiarity here in Calgary was interupted by the introduction of former-familiar in the shape of a visit from home, jumbled together with a healthy helping of the unexpected through pursuit of new opportunities and places. Here is an account of this jumbling;

In regards to the internship situation, I had my interview with Calgary Arts Development today, which went very well and more like what I was expecting. It sounds like I would be doing primarily website content research and copy writing, which would be awesome! Thanks very much for the advice regarding the other internship. I told CAD that I would get back to them by Wed of next week (same day I am to get back to Arusha) so I would have time to find out about the show and decide which org I liked better, but I can already tell that CAD would be a better fit. I think social justice is something I am interested in injecting into my daily personal life as much as I can, but my working passion lies in the arts. Plus, CAD feels much more organized and as though I can better adjust the projects according to my time availability - I am here primarily to dance, and as much as I want to use my time well outside of it, I do not want to be bothered by other commitments making me feel too stressed out to enjoy dance - I can see this happening at Arusha. I am still going to wait to hear about the show (hopefully tomorrow), and then better make a plan for how I can help, but I think I am pretty set on CAD.

I am REALLY hoping for the show with DJD - it is a rehearsal period of two weeks for a kids show on jazz dance and music history that tours to elementary schools throughout the Calgary area. It would be professional pay and professional level work with the company - both amazing things. The only problem - my work situation. I do not have a work visa, which would make it very hard to find a way to pay me. I have been very worried about that factor keeping me from being cast. We find out tomorrow, so I guess I can stop worry then. I have just been trying my best to remain optimistic in light of the difficulties I have had finding both legal and illegal work, and I am having a very hard time continuing my optimism, considering that being selected by audition seemed like a really solid possibility for legal pay here, and it has seemed within this last week after auditioning that it would not be simple to find a way to pay me. I really want to be in this show regardless of whether or not I get paid, but it has been another reminder of how difficult the work situation has been. I was actually also being considering by another studio to teach adult jazz classes, and they ended up not hiring me because of legal implications, even though they pay in an independent contractor relationship and do not interface with taxes. I have pretty much given up on the job at the theater - I emailed last week to check in, and my boss said that his boss still hadn't signed the papers and that he would remind him. I have been strung along for about a month and a half now, and cannot take it anymore. This week, I am going to email my boss there to tell him that I would like to be reduced to volunteer level, and no longer want to waste my time hoping that a job will pan out. On the brighter side, along with the possibilities of internship, I have been accepted as a dance writer for what is basically their version of the Citypages, called 'FFWD,' (Fast-Forward). My first article is a preview of a show at the University of Calgary in a few weekends called 'Dance Montage,' and is due on Friday for a Nov 13th publishing date. I am very excited about it!

On the roommate situation; Jayla She said she would move out by October 31st, which actually turned into Nov 1st, but I luckily avoided most of the moving out situation, in the fact that Kris was here this weekend and we went out of town - what timing, hey? She (Jayla) did start moving stuff out last Sunday when I was home just lounging, which was quite awkward. Luckily, she had a friend there helping her, so it was probably more awkward for me than it was for her.
But alas, apparently everything is finished because we left on Saturday to go to the mountains, and when we got back, she and all of her things were gone, and our new roommate Cale (a friend of ours from my roommates work) was moved in. Sweet. And I am assuming that everything has been figured out with deposit and what not - Rebecca has been the one dealing with house business, so I am assuming that its all gravy. I am just glad it is all done. I like Cale quite a bit. I just hope that the house stays relatively clean. Jayla's desired level of cleaniness was quite high, even I, a clean-freak will admit, but I do like to have a general feeling of cleanliness. I think it will be fine! I have kind of been wanting to send Jayla a text just to say 'Hey, hope the move went alright, stay in touch because I would like to see the new place and grab a coffee,' but I have not yet had a chance to talk to my roommates about how it all went, and I want to do that first before I say anything.

I feel like I missed so much in one weekend away (Jayla moving out, Cale moving in, big Halloween party), but I will just have to get the update from my roommates when I presumably finally see them all together on the way to dance tomorrow. Kris came in on Wednesday, and my friend Lisa from dance was kind enough to lend me her car to go up to the airport and pick him up, which was certainly faster that public transit would have been. In exchange for the favor, we picked her up a caramel latte on our way back into town after dropping off Kris' stuff at the house. That afternoon, we went to a pub I wanted to try, walked all over downtown so I could show him around, stopped in at a jazz and wine bar for a glass, and then had dinner at the rotating resturant in the Calgary tower - very touristy, but awesome and also highly recommended by Joanne, one of my favorite instructors and a trusted opinion on Calgary. I usually take night classes on Wednesday and Thursday nights (well, every night!) but I spoke with my teachers and opted to skip them while Kris was here because I wanted as much time as I could have. It was not a big deal, as several people in my program have had significant others visit, and it has been established that that is a good reason to miss class, especially when you never do miss (like me!).

On Thursday, he came and watched the last hour of morning class, and then we went walking in the Kensington neighborhood, another one of the trendiest (alongside the area where the studio is) areas in Calgary. We had lunch out, and then went back to my place to have people over to carve pumpkins and drink. We were going to go to a haunted maze, but never made it. I was sad we missed that because I usually go to something like that every year, but the good times had pumpkin carving totally made up for it.

On Friday, I met up with him downtown after morning class because he picked up a car for the weekend. We stoppped for lunch (we had been using this book on cheap, great eating in Calgary written by the Calgary Herald food critic, lent to me by my friend Kaja, to find most of the places we went), and then I showed him the Farmer's Market and Glenmore Reserve, a park that reminds me of Lake Calhoun with mountains. That night we just chilled, watched movies, caught up on email and handed out candy to trick-or-treaters, until we went out around ten. We hung out wirh my friend Andrea from dance and some of her friends till about midnight, then drove back to the house to cab over with my roommates to a house party of someone who they work with. Needless to say, we never made it out to the bar, which was what I really wanted to do for Halloween, but it was fun nonetheless. We ended up at this party until about 3:30, and really wanted to leave but could NOT get a cab no matter how hard we tried. We ended up deciding that it really wasn't that far from our house (and in actually, it was VERY close. Close enough that I kind of wish we would not have even cabbed in the first place!) and ended up walking ('We' being Cale, Rebecca, Kris and I). Kris and I got ahead of Becca and Cale, and ended up deciding, after walking for about ten minutes and being about ten minutes from the house, that we needed to stop for another beer. We sat down in the CIBC Bank parking lot and cracked one open, and when Cale and Becca walked by, we convinced them to join us. Despite the fact that it was quite cold, we were tired and QUITE drunk, we enjoyed that beer and randomness immensely!

On Saturday, we got up and stopped at a truck-stop for breakfast (the Blackfoot Diner, amazing and so cheap!) and then continued on to Banff National Park. It was amazing! We stopped in Banff for a bit and did a quick hike up an easy mountain to see the surroundings, and then continued on to Lake Louise, where we were staying. That night we went to dinner (Kris was super-excited and had had it planned for quite awhile) at the Walliser Stube in the Chataeu Lake Louise hotel at the foot of the lake. It was one of the coolest dinners I have ever experienced. It was a Swiss fondue restuarant - I guess fondue originated in Switzerland, but it basically indicates the fact that each bite of food is prepared separately - dipping chunks of things into sauce is not the only kind of fondue, apparently. We had the 'Racllette,' which was originated by Swiss mountaineers in Canada who melted chunks of cheese on rocks in the sun, and scrapped the cheese, just as it was getting drippy, onto plates of pickles and potatoes. We had a full, several course option, which included two salads, to appetizers (smoked trout and a rabbit tart), the main course (which was the dripping cheese - made to drip by being placed under this big contraption where you place the block of cheese on a wood paddle underneath a heater, served with a platter of veggies including pickles and potatoes, a basket of bread, and a platter of air-dried beef, pork and ham), and a dark chocolate dessert fondue. In short - AMAZING. I have never experienced a meal like that before, and it was seriously all-together too much food - we could not take it all down!

The next day, we got up for the sunrise, which was too fogged-out to be seen, and ended up going back to the hotel to sit in the hot tub instead. After we checked out, we went back to the lake to do a half-day hike around the lake and up one of the mountain ranges toward the 'Plain of Six Glaciers,' which looks exactly how it is described. We did not make it ALL the way to the prescribed destination, but we did see the glaciers, and decided to respect our bodies getting tired. The hike was about four and a half miles total (we only cut out the last half mile), so we felt accomplished nonethless, especially considering that the whole hike was rainy and mildely icey, dangerous terrain. However, the temperature itself was quite pleasant and bearable. The hike was really fantastic - whenever you looked up, back at your stared a ton of huge, snow-covered mountain peaks. I had never been that close or that surrounded, and it was truly an experience that I would like to repeat. We headed out of the park that night about made it back to Calgary around 7. After a crammed weekend, we decided to just stick at home and make chili, drink a bottle of wine and watch a movie - all good choices.

He flew out at 1 today. I do have to admit that I miss having him here already, but we had a really great time and I am so glad he visited. I will be back in three and a half weeks for Thanksgiving, so its not that long until I get to see him again and get to see my family for the first time since I moved :)

All in all, though I do miss people from home, Cannukland has been an adventure, which is exactly what I was looking for and not regrettable for an instant thus far. After all, familiarity must be tinged with the unexpected to retain and develop it's flavor.