November 20, 2008
The past couple of weeks, I was out in sunny California, enjoying myself, getting away from my life. It was very stabilizing. I had moments of "I can do no wrong, here, I keep enjoying myself!" which I have not felt in years.
During the first 5 days, I took Mira Betz's first weeklong intensive, geared towards deepening performance/voice as an artist. She is such full-of-integrity woman that all the other women who took the intensive (she kept it to just 12 of us) displayed that quality too. We went deeper and broader into our lives, into ethics and history, into critique and trust, into the murky waters of tortured artists' minds than I thought was possible for a 'bellydance' workshop. I made good friends in the workshop, and got to visit with BrieAnn (one of my original students from OmBellyCo up in Boston) outside of class. I stayed with Troy and Tiffanie (and brand new Anjali!) in their cozy, love-filled Berkeley home.
After the workshop, I moved in with Mira for the duration of my stay. We worked on our pieces for Shadowdance, helping one another with proper costuming, listening to musical transitions, throwing ideas at one another for feedback. It was very interesting for me to spend that time with Mira after having just taken a workshop with her--got to practice what I'd just learned, got to see what aspects in her creative process she listens to her own advice on, and which parts of her creative process she didn't even mention in her workshop because they're just part of Who She Is. Mostly, though, I was just enjoying spending time with her in her life--going to Professor Plumb and having lunch with her and Eve, getting to know Joe, making dinners together, going to parties together, going to her weekly dance class with her, poking fun at Tjarda (director of The Uzume, the tribal dance troupe in Amsterdam, who is staying with Mira for 5 months--she's SO FUN), disciplining Maceo, the dog, and petting Akasha, the 19 yr old Snowshoe kitty.
My time spent out there was capped with Shadowdance, the all-night (7pm-2am) show, put on by Ariellah (Darker Still Productions) and Amar (of Electric Vardo). It's supposed to be the "darker side of bellydance," so there was plenty of goth-themed performances--some great, some not so great...but the scene as a whole was stimulating, rich, and very very enjoyable. I didn't get to see a lot of the performances because I was busy flitting around, chatting, visiting, helping with costume changes, stretching, etc. But one of the highlights of the evening was Elysium Dance Theater's victorian, hallowed women peice "Diffidence" (I want to see it again! The caliber was so high, they shouldn't have been there. But I'm glad they were. Amazingly thought through). At the end of the evening, a couple girls drew blood and drank it from eachother (and I want to see this because....??), followed by CoRE's suspension performance (where a person hangs from hooks from the ceiling, and some other guys skewer him with other long needles which they then light on fire). I heard things like, "That is so bad-ass," when CoRE was performing, but I must say that I don't really understand the impetus. I have enough pain/drama in my life without creating it like that... Anyway, the thing that made me most excited and happy about that night was that so many people came just to see me! Kelly Hobbs, a friend from Powell County, who made a music video of me when I was 15 and he was in college, stopped by. He didn't know what sort of gathering it was going to be, so he stepped into the goth, dark, warehouse full of vampy, black-wearing people in a bright red Hawaiian shirt (hee hee! I loved that that's what he wore. I felt like I was the unwitting bringer of joy to the place (o: ). Pam, who was a student of mine at the Westborough YMCA in MA, came--she said she still missed my classes, awwwwww. Shannon, who was a grad student at the vet school, and a friend and other dance student of mine, came with her boyfriend Dean. And then Mary Jane, who was a great friend of Kaelan's (my best friend from high school out in Powell Co.), came with her boyfriend Charles. I so humbled and grateful and happy that these four people came to witness my catharsis (my 'dark' piece was about the tangled messes I've found myself in the past few years, and then how to deal with all that devastation, pain, mourning). The whole time I was out there I felt loved and supported.
The trip was marvelous.
[pics: Tiffanie, Anjali, Julie; Claivia in Berkeley; obligatory Golden Gate Bridge pic; moonrise over Albany; me walking around Fisherman's Wharf; after Mira's class--workshop participants!; dog looking around near Dolores Park; beautiful flowering tree on my walk through the Mission district; Opa Cupa, the amazing band I blogged about already; Rich, BrieAnn and I just after seeing the horrible Natacha Atlas show]