Monday, December 30, 2019

Intention @ New Years 2020



Vitality | Purpose | Curiosity | Kindness | Simplicity




NY 2020 Ideas for Guiding Intentions

I'm adding this intermediary post because I'm really on the fence about whether or not to be this specific with my 'intentions.' Several of these don't even feel worth writing out because they are things I've internalized and really am already practicing, but in a way, it still feels worth it to be able to see them in writing somewhere. So here they are:

Visit MN state parks

Fly your kite

Experience some state-side travel (Vegas and Austin, Seattle or Boundary Waters)

Invite dear ones into existent action (Dance Church, seeing shows, etc.)

Do short, solo drop-ins for social dance outings if that's what'll get you there!

Integrate reading into nighttime routine

Encourage a "I only feel like I'm really working when I'm DANCING" mindset

Fit 2-3 dance classes in per week when not in rehearsal (tap, African, hip hop, modern)

Maintain a cardio and weight training schedule of 3 times per week

Continue exploring my aesthetic interests in groove, interaction and improvisation-driven jazz through creation of classes, workshops, dances (+ productions) and writings

Use writing to keep documenting artistic research and emergent unique perspectives (ex: how modern dance plays in, ideas about jazz improv)

Explore both creation of new creative work and touring existent work

Submit one new and casual grant or foundation app for RS per month

Cultivate at least one regular higher ed class to teach in the Twin Cities area

Develop two out-of-town residency opportunities

Continue learning how to manage your own expectations

All of this written, I'm really desiring to check in on a simpler framework in my quarterly check-ins, so I've separated that as my final post.

New Years Intentions 2020 - PREP

1). Priming Writing: 

I've already landed in, thanks to getting the juices going with my last post.

2). Revisit previous year’s intentions, comparing how active you were with them as measures of manifesting your values: 

Last year, my work yielded a values/ mission/ guiding statement of sorts, a revision of last year's NYI done halfway through the year:

Vitality & Purpose through Curiosity, Kindness & Simplicity

Here are some other important words/ ideas that were cut out or part of sub-intentions, as well as writings about them: 

  • Consciousness: An offshoot of this was 'embracing noticing as path to gratitude' (David Cain of This started as 'presence' and was changed to 'consciousness' after I got thinking more deeply about what defines my movement through life as a creature making positive choices. I think my morning walks REALLY help cultivate this, and I've been doing a better job of trying toward it while dancing, eating, spending time with friends.
  • Inspiration: Already, a word I feel has crossover with so much listed below in 'Curiosity' - I think that's why I'm gonna move toward a 'Values & Manifestations' or 'Content & Form' outlook for things for the coming year. I find inspiration in movement, music, nature, food, style, people . . . easy to list off and so clear to me! These inspirations help me find vitality, purpose, kindness and simplicity! Yes indeed, I think my values actually feed each other. I suppose this is not surprising.
  • Growth and
  • Creation: Related to inspirations! I noted 'Protect the time before 9:30am,' and when I do not have a scheduled money-making item on my calendar, I'm really good about this. I think that's a good balance. Labelling writings - been doing! Daily physicality: walks are my bread and butter for this, though I want to up that to either taking class OR going to the gym every day too.
  • Relationships: As noted in my last post, I'd like to make more time to see Joy, Wayne, Reilly and our really close friends. More invites to join me for food/ shows/ music/ dancing!
  • Sleep: Been trying to get more of it. That might be contended with if trying for a kid is a choice that is made!
  • Contribution: Bringing people to embodiment and groove! Giving. 
  • Undulation of form and content: Shift.
  • Embodiment: Dance - both social (Dance Church, Thursday swing, Sunday House sessions) and presentational/ walks/ yoga/ cardio and weight training. I like to MOVE. It was so obvious to me when in and out of sickness this month HOW MUCH I NEED THIS. I also like pairing it with nature.
  • Food: Cooking/ reading about nutrition and policy.
  • Intake - Reading, podcasts and videos on topics of interest: methods of indulging curiosities. I'd like to do more reading and less YouTube.
  • Output: Writing (reactions to live music and dance shows, journal publications, personal writing), dances and shows, workshops. I'd like to continue to doing more writing and posting of reactions to live music and dance shows/ Walking & nature/ Dances.
  • Consciousness: There it is again.
  • Donate 1% of income: Seems like something we've embraced into regular practice.
  • Complexity - the beautiful human puzzle. Continuing to embrace this as I seek to better-understand things.
Perhaps this year I'll split my ideas into 'Values' and 'Manifestations.'

3). Review past year’s personal writings with an eye toward themes of progress and opportunity related to your values and how you choose to manifest them: 

Continuing: knowing what amount of (and what types of work) is manageable is an ongoing process. And I'm paying attention. SO how much better could I be doing? 

Emergent: setting some goals for RS funding efforts? I don't totally love the word 'goal,' but indeed, some intentions? I haven't put it into writing, but perhaps I should - I'd like to get a new grant or foundation proposal in at least once a month for RS this coming year. That feels reasonable right now. 

Emergent: It appears I DO naturally come back to the artistic ideas I really want to pursue, so perhaps I should stop worrying about creating a system to track them (I already write them down in my notebooks!).

Emergent: More clearly defining my artistic values (groove, interaction, improv) and recognizing what my unique perspectives are (how modern dance plays in, perspectives on improv).

Emergent: Focus more on creating new work or on touring? How about a little of both? 

Continuing: Expectation management.

4). This year reflection questions: guided by what you uncovered in the previous steps, answer the following:
  • What did you experience this year? Makers Space program at Keshet in Albuquerque, hot air balloon ride!, residency at the University of Idaho, residency for River Falls, Cowles teaching (the good and the ugly), a Contempo show, Houston and the International Swing Dance Championship, pushing pause on Winona in the Spring (including setting work on Dancescape), Japan trip, Dance BARN, NDEO Jazz Conference/ Rhode Island trip, reformatting the RS annual show, Colorado trip and Courtney's wedding, SAINTS CHAMPIONSHIP!, teaching at the Texas Dance Improv Festival in Denton, Texas State Fair!, Iowa State residency, Morris residency, Social Animals show planning and execution, Hanson, CHILL round 2.5, not getting grants and losing out on plans, learning to use all the rehearsal time I can pay for. Surely lots of other small stuff, but that's what's coming to mind.
  • How did what you experienced this year help you manifest your values?: Already addressed in above writings/ prompts. That said, off the top of my head, I'd note increased sense of holding myself to consciousness, more and better sleep, deeper understanding of my artistic interests and purposes over the course of many opportunities, indulging curiosity in habits and letting that feed professional output.
5). Next year reflection (guided by what you uncovered in steps 3 and 4): What do you want/ intend to experience next year that will help you manifest your values? 

Teaching at least one regular higher ed class in the Twin Cities area, additional out-of-town residency opportunities, some state-side travel, tap dancing, live music, African class, social dancing (even if I have to go alone and just for an hour - in fact, that's been awesome!), continued exploration of my aesthetic interests through creation of classes, workshops, dances (+ productions) and writings, I'm interested in visiting more MN state parks, looking for opportunities to invite dear ones into existent action, little ways to help.

6). Framing your intentions: examine your writings from steps 3-5, and format them into intentions that will help you manifest your values while moving you toward desired experiences: 

See next (final) post.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Life Reset

I'm a sucker for reflection prompts and such, and there are always a glut of them around the turn of the new year. This year in particular there have been a lot of decade-related lists too - music of, diet trends of, you name it. These were my examples specifically due to my own interests, but you name the topic, and there are likely several lists for it out there. 

I'm sort of surprised at how little I want to do a decade reflection - in fact, it just crossed my mind. Maybe I'll just do a tiny little one here, stream of consciousness. At New Years in 2009, I'd just moved back from Canada by way of Chicago, moved in with Kris and started dancing with the cloggers. I believe I'd gotten the job at Ginkgo by then and was doing a hodgepodge of that, clogging, EEEing and teaching - I can't recall how Cafeteria/ the days of subbing fit into this, but I think by then I was teaching at Dance Factory.

What a gigantic shift. I no longer work in the service industry (in fact, haven't since Ginkgo, I don't think), I no longer regularly teach in private studios, and I no longer dance with EEE. I kind of find it hard to believe that I've chosen not to go back to it upon returning to the TC after grad school, but it's always felt right to leave it as it was and be involved in the ways I can.

Perhaps that word 'return' is the wrong one. In fact, I know it is. I've always felt that way. Another chapter, perhaps. 

Moving away from the service industry and private studio teaching, and toward deepening my own creative projects and teaching in higher ed and for the Cowles has been an amazing shift. I'm very grateful for what these ten years have brought. Grad school. Deepening my choreography and knowledge of running an organization around my creativity and interests. Being published. Teaching residencies. Dancing with the cloggers and Contempo. Cohabitation. Marriage. The purchase of a home. Loosening grips on old friendships, maintaining and deepening those that feed and establishing new ones. Developing hobby interests in food and style. Officiating a wedding. 

Taking the time to think through all the fruits of the last ten years would take reflective energy I'm not willing to pull away from my reflection of the past year. That said, just thinking about 2009 and 2019 was eye-opening of its own volition. It also makes me realize that my time in Canada was OVER ten years ago now. Milestones.

So back to those reflective lists. I came across this one in an email from a blog/ger I appreciate, Becoming Minimalist. He's called this list "How to Reset Your Life." I think it appeals to me not because I feel I NEED to 'reset my life,' but because I love simplified categories for reflection. A quick pass:

1. Look hard at your spending: I/ we do this regularly, from me checking in on our finances once a week (and him frequently in his own way), our monthly "Save Money Day" - during which we decide if and what amount of money we can put into savings or toward debts or investments, and over-arching conversations about strategy we tend to have quarterly. I DO think I would really like to try having 'Quarterly Retreats' with Kris to discuss finances, vacations and other pressing life matters. Perhaps I'll run this by him. Regardless, besides groceries (which I'm actively tracking!), I'm for the most part very satisfied with our spending, saving, debt-repayment, investing and charitable giving.

2. Consider your time commitments: This is something I kind of have to do ALL the time, given I don't so much have a steady schedule in which each day of the week is always similar. In that regard, I have to keep making sure I look at the bigger picture when I'm adding something to my schedule. For example, when I take on a residency, I try to consider how it fits in the year and month. When I add a workshop or meeting, I try to look at what the rest of the week in question looks like, ensuring I still have time for administrative tasks (and really, for my own movement practices. That said, I've realized part of my issue this fall has been that so often, my Cowles teaching is happening at the same time as the classes I'd like to attend. I think I've gotta then try harder to fit in the ones that will - I've liked my 'in for an hour by my onesie and out' approach to social dancing this week). Right now, I don't have too many, it's more about how they overlap, and solving for that. I generally prioritize the commitment thats going to make me money right now (that's just where I am with work - fortunately I genuinely enjoy everything I do and feel it's all impactful). Knowing that, I want to continue to increase consciousness of adjusting for that to be sure I keep time for classes, the gym and cooking. All of this said, I feel my thought process around all this is going to have to completely change if we decide to try for a kid. None the less, I guess I can just approach all this knowing what I know right now. 

3. Question your work: I do this all the time. That said, I don't want an easy way out, I'm just always thinking of this as my work is always shifting. I'll ask myself to continue to move with the shift in intentional ways.

4. Check your motivations: Vitality & Purpose through Curiosity & Simplicity. A statement of values and intention.

5. Evaluate your relationships: There's no one in my life I'd like to spend LESS time with, so that seems great (except in considering the potential for regaining time!). I'd actually like to see MORE of my parents and brother and our really close friends. I think I'm gonna keep being more proactive about inviting people with me when I make last-minute decisions to go see a show, hear music or go dancing. Mom and dad included.

6. Be honest about your habits: My habits are pretty solid. That said, I think I WOULD like to establish a bedtime routine. Putting things away, a cup of tea and brushing teeth seems good, and I get stuck at whether or not to include reading. Part of me thinks it gets the brain going, yet I always seem to move toward sleep well when I've been reading, so maybe I should give it a try. That'll mean always having a book around, which is something I've been trying to do anyway.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Preparing for NYI

This post serves as preparation for moving through my New Years Intentions process closer to New Years Eve itself. 

Item for Fun: "How to Reset Your Life" from Becoming Minimalist

1. Look hard at your spending.
2. Consider your time commitments.
3. Question your work.
4. Check your motivations.
5. Evaluate your relationships.
6. Be honest about your habits.

New Years Intentions Process

I think that this year, I'm going to use my 'mission of sorts' as a guidepost for assessing the past year and setting intentions for the next. My 'mission of sorts,' as it stands:

Vitality & Purpose through Curiosity & Simplicity

I think I'm excited by the idea that I've been doing this for so long that themes have emerged and do not/ need to change every year. Perhaps the focus/es I give the themes shift slightly from year to year depending upon what I uncover when revisiting the past one, but I feel pretty confident that the themes themselves are here to stay (albeit with some potential tweaking) to stay! In fact, arriving to the above guiding statement has happened just in the past year, as its not what I had ended up with at New Years last year. That was the following:

New Year Intentions 2019

WHY --> HOW --> WHAT
Vitality Presence Growth-Inspiration
Purpose Simplicity-Complexity Relationship-Creation
Contribution Embodiment Danced-Contribution . . .

Practice kindness
Embrace noticing as the path to gratitude (Cain)
Value the complexity-simplicity continuum as the beautiful human puzzle
Expect undulation of commitment level and change in conditions (ex: balancing RS & freelancing)
Protect the time before 9:30am
Label where & when on writings
Expand yourself for wellness, joy and growth: daily physicality outside career (class, tap-yoga-circuits)
cook often
reading, podcasts and videos on topics of interest
connection with loved ones
social dancing (Dance Church, swing, Sun sessions)
live music (buy tickets ahead)
camp three times
Write and post reactions to live music and dance shows
Donate 1% of income

I do still really like what I'd now consider the 'ideas for manifesting' that I included, but wouldn't consider them actual 'intentions.' I think the intention is the guiding statement, I thing I'm excited to keep consistent. I'm also excited to check in on these 'ways of manifesting,' to figure out what was served, what is useful to carry forward and what potential new ways I might forge.

So here's the (slightly modified) process (see last year's NYE entries for the complete original process):
  1. Priming writing: write a little bit about where you are at the moment.
  2. Revisit previous year’s intentions: compare how active you were with them as measures of manifesting your mission (listed above for easy-access)
  3. Review past year’s personal writings: with an eye toward themes of progress and opportunity related to your mission
  4. This year reflection questions: guided by what you uncovered in the previous step, answer the following - What did you experience this year? How did you progress toward your mission? What are opportunities for progress toward your mission?
  5. Next year reflection questions: guided by what you uncovered in steps 3 and 4, answer the following - What do you want to experience next year? What continued and new themes of opportunity emerged in your writings from the year that could use some of your focus? 
  6. Framing your intentions: examine your writings from step 5, and format them into prompts that will help you manifest your mission while moving you toward desirejd experiences.
Some initial thoughts:

People: helping, connecting with
Health: sleep quality and amount, diet, movement-dance!

People: helping

Food: cooking, learning about policy
Adventure: work and pleasure travel, time in nature
Style: in clothing, in moving self through the world


I think I'm more than ready to dive into all this when the time comes!

That's What the Holidays are All About, (for) Erinn (Liebhard).

Lately, I've been grappling with - well, not grappling with, just thinking a lot about - belief (thanks a lot, YouTube). No coincidence that it's the holiday season. 

Yes, the title is a nod to the iconic scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas when Linus explains to Charlie what Christmas is all about. I've been thinking a lot about what it is to me, and to illuminate that, I need to back it up. All the way up to my 'beliefs' in general.

I often say that I'm somewhere on the agnostic-humanist-aethist spectrum, but I also don't know that I feel I must find a label to describe my faith-belief-moral compass system that other people can understand. As evidenced above, I'm not sure I can really even label what purpose/s I think such systems serve.

I can say I think it's totally ludicrous to suggest that the only place a person can 'find their moral compass' is in religion. There are people who do obscene things to others in the name of religion. In addition, the suggestion that there is one way for ALL humans to do ANYTHING is a total fallacy. There are so many ways to be a good human, as evidenced by how drastically different humans have come to themselves throughout the years throughout the globe. This also leads me quick down the pathway of consideration of other intelligent life in the universe. I think it's pretty ridiculous to think that we are the only intelligent life in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE. Therein, I'm sure that the other intelligent life in the universe as discovered their own myriad ways to be good sentient creatures.

Back to it. I don't even like the word 'moral.' It's got a sticky film on top of it that I'm pretty sure doesn't taste like sugar. I think I best like the idea of 'being a good human.' That brings forward the question of 'What is good?' So far, my favorite word to sum up how to be good is 'kindness.'

Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, considerate.

I think that last one is most important - considerate. To be considerate means you take the time, energy and focus necessary to consider how your actions will impact not only you, but everything outside yourself - not just other people, but our shared environment/ nature/ physical dwelling/ planet.

Kindness toward: Yourself

Kindness toward: Others (sentient creatures)

Kindness toward: Your Environment (from small to large-scale)

'Kindness' is one word to speak toward so many things I hold close for how I'm a good human, including what I've long though of as the 'benefit of the doubt' principle. It goes like this: when I do not receive an explanation for what might be considered inconsiderate behavior from another person, I chose to think that their actions were likely not motivated by the desire to be inconsiderate, but by something more pressing. Take for example a car cutting you off in traffic - they might be on their way to a loved one in the hospital. Why not think this and let your heard be a little kinder, rather than getting mad when it might not even be called for? I'm sad to think that I used to believe such a mindset meant you could easily become a doormat. I now think that if we are not primed to give each other the benefit of the doubt (even if that is more easily motivated by your own more regulated blood-pressure), how will we ever move toward understanding one another better?

Back to what started this process - if not from 'God,' where does my cultivation of 'good-humanness' come from? In thinking more carefully about it, I think it comes from something all humans are equip with: consciousness. We are aware of ourselves, our ability to think and the impacts we make. Yes, this is all true to varying degrees for varying people, but I do think it's worth considering that one's own sense of consciousness is something a great deal of people are able to choose to cultivate. For those people, whether or not we choose to has a great impact upon our abilities to walk through life as a considerate, and in turn kind person. In other words, as a 'good human.'

As I work to cultivate my own sense of consistency consciousness, I've noticed so much more within myself and outside myself. I am more in tune with what causes fluctuation of feeling within me. I am more in tune with what causes fluctuation of feeling within others. I am more in tune with what causes fluctuation of healthfulness of the environments (small to large scale) in which I live and interact. This is not to say that I am 'one with the universe' . . . but maybe it is! There is nothing inherently wrong with this idea! I think to some, it implies the idea that the person suggesting it thinks they are on a more superior plane of existence than the next person (and shit, maybe they ARE). That said, I think a lot of people often feel that adherents to any particular codified religion may find themselves to be on a more superior plane of existence. I think the issue here is dedicating any time and energy to what the next person may be thinking of you, or thinking poorly of the next person yourself.

If 'one with the universe' to you means empathizing with yourself, others and your environment/s in ways that build your ability to approach all you encounter with kindness, get 'one,' baby.

I kind of love how the ideas seem to dovetail with what drives my work in dance: my professional language notes that "I'm driven to help connect people to themselves, one another and the moment . . ."

So what does this boil down to? I think this:

My desire for and actions toward being a good human - one who is kind to them-self, other sentient beings and their environment/s - are driven by my consciousness.

That last part, again, is something we all have and can work toward attaining (to various degrees). I find that pretty inspiring. Some find this through God or various kinds of organized religion. Some find this through paganism and nature rituals. Some do not work very hard to find it. Some have to work so hard through disadvantages to make a living that they might not have much time and energy to TRY and find it.

The more I think about this over my time as a human, the more I realize that it's not helpful for me to try and label 'what it is I believe.' That said, I DO very much wish to understand what drives my goodness. That's why I'm taking the time to dump all this out into my little corner of the internet. So again:

My desire for and actions toward being a good human - one who is kind to them-self, other sentient beings and their environment/s - are driven by my consciousness.

Again, nothing special. Consciousness is something we've all got.

Now, what are the ways I witness and cultivate my consciousness?

Dancing: feeling my own beating heart within my chest
and perhaps those of others nearby

Walking in Nature: feeling close to everything that has
sustained humans for so long

Food: handling my sustenance with care and
appreciating it with each chop

Improvising: in conversation, in making a meal, in movement
. . . I love how creating something in the moment
keeps me on my toes and in real-time
appreciation of my aliveness

For me, these things affirm and celebrate life and the choice to be kind in ways nothing else can!

So next time someone asks me "What do you believe in and how do you practice that?," I hope I have the wherewithal to remember to say something like the following:

"I believe in consciousness. In my own and in that of others. I believe that when we take the care to have a kind awareness of ourselves, each other and our surroundings, we cultivate our shared abilities to be good humans. I cultivate my own consciousness through dancing, spending time in nature, cooking and improvising within all those things."

Quite the lengthy elevator pitch for my belief system, but I do believe in (ha!) my ability to internalize some version of that so I've got it ready when people ask. And more importantly, so I can continue to revisit it myself.

To come full circle with the title of this entry, THAT is also what the Holidays are about to me. They are not about the birth of baby Jesus. They are not about Winter Solstice (though I think that's pretty cool!). They are about taking the care to be especially conscious in offering kindness to yourself, to others and to your environments. This may manifest in cuddling up with a loved one to watch a movie. It might manifest in donating to Toys for Tots so a child in need can experience a much-needed spark of joy. It might be cooking a meal for friends. It might be dancing all your fucking sweat out with a rowdy bunch of people at a modern dance class. It manifests all these ways and more for me. 

I hope I've provided a clear enough window into what the holidays are all about for me, Linus. They are about an emphasized sense of kindness that comes from choosing consciousness. #micdrop

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



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 :))


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.


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 :)


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

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 :)