I could tell you how I’m doing, how Japan is doing, but who is really in that mood?
So, lets get some visuals going.
I started really learning how to put on makeup at age 28 for my first dance performances. There was a learning curve.
My skin is clear so I’d never done much except a dramatic lip here, some mascara and eye shadow there, and called it a day.
I now have a solid stash of make-up, brushes, and skills when it comes to making a performance face.
And now I have time.
Towards the start of Coronavirus I was listening to a lot of the “You Must Remember This” about Hollywood in it’s first century. Enter Theda Bara.
No…That’s Marilyn Monroe AS Theda…
THAT’S Theda. Our first screen vamp and perhaps the first actor to really play with the media about how the studio’s script about who she was wasn’t really who she was…or was it?
I was struck with the fact that while Theda’s jawline isn’t exactly like mine, her eyes and nose weren’t that different. And, she’s got the make-up of many an Edward Gorey illustration, and I am more than a little influenced by that man.
So day one of start inspiration brings you… me inspired by Theda!
And….me overly dramatic as Theda
So, as we’re all feeling a bit…
I’m here, playing with the things I can control. I study, work out and am prepping dance lessons for on-line, make things and play with brushes.
By the time the night before the studio anniversary show rolled around I felt like I’d been altering costumes forever, before even tackling my own.
It wasn’t forever but I had altered three costumes for my dance partner and had a student who’d bought her first ever costume. It was new to her but previously owned and..well..WORN.
My students had been worried about finding any costume because she’s chubby by local sizes and already had a lot of insecurity around showing her body. I wanted it to be as fixed up as possible so she could enjoy wearing it and focus on her dancing. For three lessons she’d bring her costume, and before and after the lesson, I’d see what work was to be done. Each time I did a fair amount of sewing to show how to do the work (explaining sewing and alterations purely verbally to someone who doesn’t sew is hard enough in one’s own language, I didn’t think it was worth it to try) and send her home with more pins in her costume.
On the eve of the show I had to make sure that I had a costume that would complement my dance partner’s choice for our duet. She still can’t locate her duet costume so she’d be wearing another bra/belt I made in 2006 that she now owns. Luckily I’d made that costume for myself, in colors I know work for my completion, and had other handmade choices in similar colorways.
My bra/belt from 2007 would work. It’s an example of me playing with layers of plastic lamp-fringe, ribbon, and Kuchi jewelry embellishments to make a light-weight, quick-to-sew, “Tribaret” (tribal-inspired cabaret) costume, the sort I used to wear more often.
It still fits but the bra edge has always been a bit shallow so I added to the cups on Saturday night. The edge looks floppy here but when filled with cleavage it does the job.
The show opened it’s doors at noon, a lunchtime block, so I had to be there in make-up by 10:30. Well, I didn’t officially have to be there in make-up…but when you know a place is going to be crowded with dancers getting ready, probably poorly lit, without enough mirrors it’s best to come made up.
A student show isn’t a place to spend time doing my own face anyways. My job before a student show is to have supplies on hand to add MORE make-up to student faces: add highlights here, a pop of color there, help with false eyelashes until everyone feels lovely and confident.
Then, after we’ve checked blocking and made sure everyone knows the schedule, where to enter and exit the stage and such, I run around with safety pins double-checking the fit of everyone’s costumes.
It’s only after that when I can catch up with the other teachers, my dance partner, our guest musicians/dancers and such…and then worry about my own costumes.
The first set I watched my students perform my veil choreography and then got ready with my student of 8+ years, Yuko, and Jnana (a former student and now teacher) for my Turkish Roma choreography. My skirt, vest, and belt are all self-made.
Second set meant changing for my duet (and unfortunately missing other students who were performing a finger cymbal choreography I taught in a workshop last year) and performing with H.
The final set I could get back into quirky teacher garb and just enjoy.
Here I am heading back to my home with two bouquets of flowers from students and peers.
On the train home there were a groups of JR school girls on some sort of team low-key freaking out about me. I tried to ask why (in Japanese), they then asked me if I was Japanese and I replied that I’m American and they squealed more and I didn’t ask anything else.
The last time I encountered a similar reaction, and pushed for an answer, it turned out to be girls who thought I was a Tokyo Disneyland/Disney Sea face character actor getting off my shift. It’s not a crazy assumption to make on the train line that serves both parks…except that time I wasn’t one of Ariel’s sisters, I was just in very tropical dance face.
This time, if that’s what they thought, I can only wonder if they thought…
Last night and tonight’s art is dance and altering dance costumes.
I’ve confirmed that my health clinic treats ADHD as well as anxiety/depression, but my next appointment is still a week and a half away.
As much as I want to I can’t drop everything and deep dive into ADHD learning right now. And I want to. Oh when I want to do something boy do I want to.
The current priorities are: I’m wrapping up third/last semester at school. This involves a lot of lesson plans, busy days, shifting schedules.
Studio 10th year anniversary show this Sunday.
Last night, after work, I went to the studio to rehearse with my dance partner/ friend/ studio owner, H.
Reading how ADHD presents in adult women hasn’t simply meant that I’ve seen >me< on the pages. H and I are very similarly wired but where we differ has always been a source of stress.
I am punctual. I have clocks in every room and make full use of kitchen timers to stay on track. I religiously use the train schedule app on my phone.
If kept waiting once I’ve made it somewhere, I become a fidgety mess. I can’t just wait. This is why I often pack projects and extra distractions.
H is habitually late. She has great difficulty estimating time and distance.
She’s gotten better about alerting me that she will be late, instead of just being tardy and then apologizing.
I’ve also learned that sending her a text message about 1-2 hours before we meet, that’ says I’m looking forward to seeing her at (time and place) is helpful for her and isn’t seen as a rude reminder.
Our other major clash.
I am a clutter bug who has developed an intense focus on decluttering. I know how clutter creates external stress for me and work hard to reduce it.
H is a clutterbug but at the studio her priority is managing the studio and often teaching while her 1 year old son is also present.
Clutter at the studio drives me to distraction. I will focus on items out of place and child handprints on mirrors instead of choreography and what I’m teaching next.
We’ve reached a defined agreement for the sake of our relationship. I will come early for extra studio cleaning when I teach, which tends to be the evening after her teaching. She knows I’ll clean what she doesn’t register at messy or can’t deal with. I’ve budgeted the time do I can do so without feeling like it interferes with my work and focus.
Before we rehearsed H and I had a long discussion about how to better communicate and schedule in light of our brains.
My love of making thing with my hands and her loathing of anything to do with sewing defines my art practice tonight.
She figured out years ago that she’ll never be up for moving hooks on her dance costumes. If she doesn’t pay someone to alter and adjust her costumes it won’t get done. She pays me.
I make costumes.
So tonight I’ll be altering some of her costumes, including one I first made for myself in 2009. H purchased it two years ago, early in her pregnancy, so accommodate her changing body.
We’d wear the matching costumes I made us but her house ate hers and she’s been realistic about the fact she would not have the energy to find it before the show.
I know I will need to create some structure for a year of art…because making (or writing about) creating/changing physical art objects everyday isn’t do-able. I’ll burn out.
I do consistently create (dolls, clothing, useful objects, decorative objects) every week…it’s just somewhat haphazard. The mood and inspiration strikes often but how much am I feeding it so it can thrive? How can both streamline my process and widen my scope of possibilities?
And then there’s the fact that my other art is physically demanding.
I wrote yesterday’s post on the train to my second job….the OTHER other art I do. On Thursdays after a 8-4 Mon-Fri full energy job with about an hour commute each way, I go home for a nap and food, and then go to the studio to teach three dances classes (7-10)….and wake up the next morning at 6am.
Consistently feeding my dance self is a battle I feel I’ve been loosing. I currently teach 7 lessons a week. The studio I work at is about to celebrate their 10 year anniversary…with a student and teacher show.
So, my student attendance is up…but most everyone is focused on practicing the choreographies I’ve already taught so there is more running through whole songs and drilling tricky moves and less slower explanations…and this is true for my beginner students as well as myself and some peers. I’m drilling three choreographies and teaching a fourth one.
This is what I do when I’m not sharing my DIY. This is also a large part of my extra time this month.
My duet partner (and studio owner) H and I are reviving this choreography (with finger cymbals) I made and we performed 2015.
My Turkish Roma class had a student who wanted to perform a choreography I made two-three years ago. I’ll be dancing with her AND another student who learned it then but is now a fellow teacher. I like my choreography but it’s one I created to mirror “How I’d dance” instead of translating my choices to a more teachable/student oriented choreography. It’s VERY heavy on the heel bounces. This style is why massage places ask me if I wear heels a lot. I don’t, those are just the calves I get from this.
My beginners are doing a 3 minute choreography which has three distinct sections…veil work, slow moves, and FAST ALL THE SHIMMY. This is the veil work. Looking at this clip I realize that I’ve also lost weight since a few months ago because busy. Not intentional it’s just how my body ebs and flows. Enjoy my “lesson wear”
And last there’s the choreography my intermediate students are starting (not for the show) by a dancer I love learning from, Serkan Tutar. I have permission to teach it and alter it as needed. His choreographies always work well for me AND when it’s student appropriate and I DO teach what I’ve learned in his workshops it gives me some time off from creating new work…
And it’s finding ways to feed this, my other art, and myself, that can be hard.