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 :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Dancer Notes from Tech Rehearsal

RUN #1

KP - exit arch Square can start out a little further
LIGHTS: go right from orange to blue - no white between (all solos)
LIGHTS: shift out of green and into something else when everyone enters after Sara (sooner)
End circle: further ST R
SOUND: Great timing/ louder?

LIGHTS: Look was good when side light got added
Sara: enter group with twists up of KP
LIGHTS: No light upstage of the arch until duets please
LIGHTS: I'd like a cue shift at top of each duet
LIGHTS: no dropping of downstage light
LIGHTS: brighter on Up ST clump after first two duets of three
BSR + SK - more weight share/ hand holds in duet?
BSR + SK: Set up closer to arch at end of duet
SO GREAT! Being more warm will just make your plies deeper
Cut seconds slot throughs deeper
LIGHT: Fade sooner and longer at end


RUN #2

Hands - extend through fingertips!
Great exit KP
Nora - FIRE!
Keep looking over shoulder in first square
Take moment to floor to your corner to not close in too soon!
Sara - good timing on circle - if you have to go that early, do it!
BSR - keep listening for the details in the sax during your solo
Doug - running in for solo looks like Superman, which I love
BSR, Nora and Doug - enter sooner for second square
You are all LIVING IN IT! Enjoy our weird little fictional and abstract world while you can
Square was not center
Lumberjack and superhero-influenced sassy-pantses competing for the title of Feistmeister
BSR - sharper heads in coyotes

Sara - a little further UP ST for beginning - losing your face
Sara - leave a little sooner
Sara and Doug exit - SUPERPEOPLE!
Entrance - SOONER DOUG!
BSR - be not afraid of pause and suspend
BSR + Sara - track that end of duet!
Slots - could still be a little deeper, but I loved Doug hugging wall!
Joy with one another at end!
FADE: Start as soon as they start moving to ST R com

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Clouds

I want to hug the clouds, but the closest I’ll ever get is whispering to them from inside a plane. Perhaps this is ok: maybe their cushy-ness is something to be appreciated from a distance, whimsical creatures that remain so given their inability to be tamed by a human.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Consumption and (for?) Creation: Vitality and (for?) Purpose.


My headphone-less time mowing the lawn this morning gave me a lot of good head-wander-y time, which continued my consideration of how I take in A LOT of information surrounding sustainability in our cycles of consumption and creation. I say 'cycles of consumption and creation' because the ways we consume feed the ways we create. Input and output. In my terms of 'vitality' and 'purpose,' this refers to the things we take in for vitality in order to put out purpose. 



I've realized that I've developed my own principles of sorts regarding how to consume (i.e. be a human!) with intention and an eye toward sustainability (of health and wellness for all creatures and environment), yet I've never tried my hand at writing them down! Given how much I love to write, this surprised me. So here goes! I'm really curious to see what comes out. Of particular note, as I write these, I'm also keeping an eye toward how the ideas I lay down intersect with my interests in the outdoors, food, dance/ mvmt and style. My principles (of sorts):
  • Buy Less. 
  • Wear Out: Use items until they've 'met their maker,' then recycle, donate, regift or dispose of them properly.
  • Purchase Sustainably: When buying (food, clothing, anything!), conduct careful research into a product's sustainability, and as often as *possible, choose items in which creation, use and disposal promote it. Specifically, aim to buy items made with sustainable and recyclable materials and made in accordance with ethical working conditions, and avoid animal testing and products as much as **possible (*I recognize that it is not always possible, in terms of time and monetary resources, to select items that are ideal in these ways. This is where 'Buy less' and 'Use items until they've met their maker' come in).  (** I occasionally purchase leather goods, as well-made items have a long life. I aim to buy goods that have been made from by-products of an animal at the end of it's natural life).
  • Re-Buy: When you've found a product in line with your style and sustainability desires, bookmark it and re-buy it when it's 'met it's maker.' It's freeing to 'know your style' and stick with it, especially when the items you consistently re-buy hold up for a long time and uphold your sustainability standards.
  • Natural Materials: Choose products made of natural materials (clothing ex: cotton) as much as possible. For items made with synthetic materials, care for them responsibility (clothing ex: place clothing made of synthetic fibers in a Guppy Bag to catch the plastic and other such waste fibers they produce in order to divert them from going into the water supply and eventually the ocean).
  • Avoid Packaging: When buying, avoid packaging as much as *possible, particularly single-use plastics (ex: bring reuse-able produce bags and glass jars for bulk items to the grocery store). 
  • Eat Plant-Based: leaning toward vegetarian and vegan as much as *possible (*I eat meat when it's the only available option and I wasn't able to bring an alternative, and when I am traveling having new experiences).
  • Power It Yourself: Walk or bike for transit whenever you can.
  • Split the Impact: Carpool and take mass transit when possible.

I acknowledge that my access to the time and money it takes to follow some of these principles is a privilege, and that we all have to follow our own paths on all things. That said, I offer these ideas in the spirit of information sharing and in case anyone else would find them helpful (because so many random people find their way to my blog!). 

I'm also curious as to what revisiting this will warrant. Until then!

Trappings: Guiding Intentions



Tried for a mission statement a couple months ago and that didn't quite feel right . . . the word 'mission' doesn't do it, and 'statement' really doesn't either . . . my way of gathering this has continued to shift throughout the years, though the fact that I DO gather it has stayed consistent.

I like the word 'Intention,' and the idea of something that 'Guides,' though don't know that these words encase it either . . . perhaps leaving this diagram of sorts to do it's own work is what's best. I will say that I'm still sitting with what it feels like to have omitted the word 'Contribution,' as I feel purpose sort of implies that . . .

Some related 'how I Summer' trappings (related in the way that they have to do with how I cultivate my vitality and use it toward purpose): 
  • I'm thinking perhaps it's a better goal to try for hiking with a dip in water at the end than to try for beaches in the summer - I don't necessarily love the 'laying there,' and am looking to get in more hiking/ woods/ physical activity. If I choose my locations carefully so they have water to go into, and take care in doing enough planning to leave enough time, I think this would be time better-spent. 
  • I do miss the stuff we used to always do in the Summer when I was a kid (mowing the lawn, BBQ Days, etc.), though am now doing a lot of other things I never had (like Saints games and mowing my own lawn!), creating my own traditions. Thought processes like these are where it's important to remember that not everything is every year, and that I'm learning to relish things taking the time they need rather than trying to shove too man activities into potentially to small a sliver of time.
  • I got thinking this week about how I tend to go into Summer thinking it's time to relax, unwind a bit, slow down and see friends. I believe I think this because 1) a lot of PEOPLE do take this tack, and 2) it sounds really great! That said, I never seem to remember that summer is always a pretty thick work season for both me and Kris. When I shared this with him, he noted he has always thought of summer as a thick work season and will continue to. It was helpful to me to be able to assess our outlooks (and their accuracy!) together, as it gives me insight as to how to best operate next to one another through such times. It helped me figure out that while I should still expect to work a lot (unless something major in my professional pursuits changes, which after thought, I don't think will), I also wish to put major effort into spending time with family, close friends and one on ones with people I cherish but don't see much. It helps to know that Kris is content with working while I go hang with friends, and that we just need to remain in communication to be sure we see one another as well :)
I think that's that for those trappings. I had hoped to sit down on the early end of yesterday morning, and then instead on the early end of this morning to do this kind of writing, but intense conversation and a late night (begrudgingly and willingly) won out on both. So here I am at 3:30pm on Sunday.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

I Love the Feeling

of my arm hanging out the side of my car, discovering Pink’s “God is a DJ” is a far more profound song than I realized.

That’s how all of today has been.

My heart is humming

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Creating Things

Got thinking the other day how grateful I am that my life entails creating things so often . . . and then I got thinking this morning that really anything can be seen that way if we choose to. Take reading for example: it could be seen as both intake and output, the output being the creation of knowledge within oneself. Take serving at a restaurant for example: it could be seen as creating an experience. I think I take time to reflect on this simply as a measure of continuing to cultivate mindset as a tool.

I also got thinking this morning how unsafe it can feel to live in a place where any damn person could be carrying a gun. When on my morning walk, someone pulled over and was screaming at someone, either in the car with them or over the phone, and it really put me on guard. On one hand, I wanted to reroute my walk in hopes reminders of other people around would calm this person down, and on the other hand, I was scared to, and for some reason, this made me think he could have a gun and could use it. Highly unlikely? Yes. Did it pass through my mind? Yes.

This feels of substance on its own, but also in the light of what I'm hoping to get toward writing about today: my experiences in Japan. After the thought of 'gun,' my head immediately went to how unlikely it'd be that I'd think such I thing in Japan. First of all, it's very unlikely someone would scream in the car on the street. In fact, it seems very unlikely that anyone would scream in their own home. Or anywhere, really. Which seems really great. And really terrible. As I write this, it occurs to me that while its VERY unlikely anyone would scream anywhere or have a gun at all (crime rates are SUPER low in Japan and we felt safe everywhere we went), Japan's suicide rates are among the higher of the world's countries, and I wonder about how much that has to do with the societal pressure to 'rank and file' and never really act out.

Bustling Tokyo

This feels likely to be a big part of what causes such outrageous fashion trends there (and signs in my relatively obsessive casual research during and after the trip point to this being true). I found that at first I LOVED the orderly sense about everything in Japan. The queuing system for the subways. The infrastructure created for umbrellas. The quietness in public spaces. That said, after about a week, I started wondering about and observing the down-sides of the orderliness. Strict gender roles. Lack of variance in public personality (at least from the standpoint of a foreign visitor who admittedly didn't know much about the culture/s going into the trip and can't pro port to be any kind of expert now). Fulfilled expectations of life-sucking work at the same company for your entire career. Yowza.

I found myself looking up things like "What kind of careers do Harajuku Girls pursue?" and "Karoshi," which is the Japanese term for 'death from overwork.' Yes, there is a term for that. While I loved learning about the fashion and experiencing the food (and how my expectations of it were met by its realities) and the onsens (oh, the natural hot spring onsens!) and the way temples and shrines are folded into every expected and unexpected corner, I was also taken with their challenges.

Usually when I travel, I am easily swept up by a new culture, and for a week of this trip, I was. I think I'm starting to realize how interesting and important it is to take in all aspects of something new, not just the good ones (even if you are a rosy-glasses kinda gal like me). Further evidence that the idea of gray matter and not just yin and yang is pretty solid? It was pretty refreshing to be both swept away by experiencing a culture new to me, and to also be able to against it, appreciate the one/s in which I belong. By the time we came home, I was feeling pretty grateful to be able to dress really however I wish, to be able to raise my voice or laugh loudly in public, to be able to pursue a work-life balance . . . Of course when I say these things, I do bear in mind 1) that the 'be able to's are not literal, but come from a place regarding societal pressures, and 2) that the outcomes of societal pressure are not distributed equally or in the same ways upon all people in a culture or in related cultures. It was just interesting to reflect on similarities and differences between the cultures I'm a part of and the ones I experienced. To me, there are positives and negatives within all, as I'm really coming to believe is true of nearly all things.

Back to that yin and yang thing. Apt, I think, considering the development of Japan's culture/s was and deeply influenced by Chinese and Korean ideas. Spirituality was so present in Japan, perhaps more so physically than any other way. While a great deal of Japanese citizens do not really consider themselves 'practicing religious,' per say, many of them DO consider themselves spiritual, regularly visiting neighborhood and iconic shrines to take a moment with certain gods regarding certain things. I find it totally fascinating that spirituality can take that shape. As someone who would not balk at being labelled 'spiritual but not religious,' I appreciate the idea that these aged temples and shrines can still hold relevance for people like me.

Me and Kris at the Senso-Ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo

The top of the Fushimi-Inari Shrine

I find such relevance in my time in nature, in which I try to pause my whirring thoughts and instead just listen to and develop appreciation in the moment/s. That doesn't seem so far away from the over-holdings of Shinto, the so-called pagan religion of Japan that informs the life of many Japanese 'spiritual but not religious' folks. In a way, I'm disappointed that nature or life-in-general worship here does not have such ornate and fascinating buildings and monuments to aid it. In another (I think larger) way, I'm sort of glad. For me, it feels the least false and most true to go outside of myself to natural surroundings to go back within myself to appreciate those we've built.

PICKLES.

That's some big stuff. Smaller things I wish to call out include PICKLES AT NEARLY EVERY MEAL. PICKLES OF ALL KINDS! I'm here for it. Places to put your umbrella. Everywhere. The general kindness of so many strangers we came across (well, that seems like a big one). So, back to big stuff!

I noted in my last set of writing my wish to address how clearly the need for self-regulation of using the internet was made on this trip. With unlimited wifi came both comfort in travel and the discomfort of knowing that I could be made more comfortable whenever I felt like it by just looking stuff up, when one of the best by-products of travel is being made UNcomfortable for while. Discomfort in the sense of shake-up from routine. Routines are awesome, they help us be really comfortable and productive, and that's great, but productivity is NOT the only state of being that matters. Comfort can only go so far in the human experience. (the right kinds and amounts of) Discomfort can help us question our norms and to push at them in ways that keep us moving toward better. Back to unlimited access to the internet: being able to just look up whatever I was curious about both aided in my learning and took away some of the discomfort and mystery. About a week into the trip, I found myself starting to feel disillusioned by always being able to get the/ an answer about my curiosities, rather than just letting them float within my head, promoting the beautiful mystery of being a human living on this planet. It's been a big take-away for me, that I hope I will actively hang onto, to routinely recognize when I should just put my damn phone away and be left with some wondrous questions and ongoing inquiry.

#DoingThings at Himeji Castle

Kris swept up in the TeamLab Borderless digital art museum in Tokyo

I'll also call out being able to recognize my own tendency toward cultural reductionism. It seems as humans, we really want to make sense of everything nearly all the time, and a seemingly easy way to do this is to reduce a topic to simplicity in order to chew on and digest it. This seems both helpful and really dangerous. In relation to my trip to Japan, I realized pretty quickly that I had a specific picture of how the whole country is (packed, urban spaces with all people bustling to and from their jobs), and hadn't really considered that it would look and feel different in different areas, just like the US or anywhere else, really. It was interesting to learn that while Japan is the geographic size of one California or two Minnesotas and is 75% uninhabitable due to mountains, it STILL has really varying cultures. Part of this is because it manages to hold an equivalent of a third of the population of the United States (that's a lot of people!) and another part is due to how it sits geographically. The Northwest region of the country (which we didn't get to see) is mountainous and known for their winter culture. Tokyo and Osaka have their big-urban-living thing going for them, and Kyoto is known for it's wealth of history. The island of Okinawa and the Kamakura area just South of Tokyo both embody Japanese surf culture. I have to say I'm kind of embarrassed with myself for not really realizing ahead of the trip that there would be so many distinct cultures WITHIN Japan. It's a good thing I continue to seek opportunities to expand my mind: seems like, much like us all, it can use it!

Me and Kris contemplating life at the Ryoan-Ji Zen Garden

I wish to acknowledge my hope that when I sat down to 'write about Japan,' I'd get it all out in one excellent essay and check that item off my list. That said, I eventually recognized, before I even started writing, that is a ridiculous expectation, and that I will be processing this experience for a long time. It'll come up at expected and unexpected times. And that's how I really think a good trip should hit you: for a good while. I'll be interesting to see how it continues to come up. I'll just have to be cognizant enough to notice :)