Tag Archives: benefit concert

i have something to say

In a world where small-town shootings have become a thing, and you now can’t even run a marathon without worrying that you might not live to see the finish line, what gives me the audacity to think that my interest in a continuum from concert to commercial dance actually matters? I’m struggling to write something that feels so vapid at this point in time, especially knowing that so much turmoil is affecting the world on a daily basis. I mean, I know that since forever there’s always been something threatening the state of humanity—and maybe it’s just a sign of personal growth that I’m just now realizing how heavy life can become when you take the time to lift your eyes up and out of your own ego—but I’m really starting to feel bothered that my personal agenda is not even sort of saving lives, changing the world for the better, or even pushing some provocative political agenda.

 feminism

I’ve always said that I want to somehow make it into the history books one day, but I’m just not positive that my current plan of action is going to end up being that claim to fame –and I sort of worry that I’m just wasting time.

I’m absolutely allowed to be concerned with things other than North Korea blowing up the world someday soon, and it has occurred to me that maybe taking the time to coordinate my glitter has somehow allowed me to cope (and has maybe even helped others to cope) with the reality that our human race is sort of fucked. I know that I don’t need to apologize for liking the sparkly things that I like (…and then writing about them), because day-to-day life still matters (and somebody has to coordinate the glitter, people), but my question has now become…

How long can I actually continue living in a state of ignorant-glittery bliss before I finally figure out a way to use my talents proactively?

I say these things also realizing that I’m not even sure what it is exactly I want to be doing instead—I just know I’m genuinely scared for what’s to come based on the current state of affairs, and I want to do more than just choreograph a flashmob and/or a benefit concert once every few years. I want to get dirty…maybe even arrested for making art that matters and challenges the things that I don’t agree with. I want to know that by the time I’m buried six feet under from either old age or a natural disaster…not because my neighbor decided to experiment with bath salts, that I’ve done something worth celebrating with pride.

It seems like every time I turn around, somebody’s telling me that I need to start trusting myself –I also need to stop waiting for permission to do the things I want to do. So here it is friends, I want to change the world through dance. It’s no longer good enough for me to just make work about something that sucks; I want cancer, suicide bombers, and ignorant homophobes to all feel the wrath of my dance making abilities.

This is just the beginning, folks. Look out, Syria—I may even come for you!

 

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…so my dance family…

I’m not sure it’s fair to claim that you’re a real member of the dance community unless you can also claim that you have a “dance family”….and actually feel confident that you truly understand the possibilities behind the magic of this gift.

Every dancer has a family of their own of course…but a dance family is a whole other beast…a glittorious beast of ridiculousness that essentially only dancers can understand and share.

My dance family (with the exception of a few…Krafty and Avocado for example) recently traveled to NYC to perform at a benefit for Haiti. Needless to say, 48+ hours with the same people in close quarters is going to lead to lots and lots..and lots of laughs.

While sitting backstage, we discussed things that all dancers love:

  • -Food
  • -Coffee
  • -Straws
  • Food
  • -Philip Glass
  • Food

But then as we continued on with our list, it became apparent that most of what was being suggested was typical of only our family…it made me ponder…

Of course there are universal loves and overlaps between your list and ours, but the point is that your special dance family offers a unique bond of support that you can rarely find anywhere else. You don’t just dance with each other, you laugh, cry, sing, eat, change, bleed, menstruate, clap on beat, sleep (next to, not with…well…maybe with? Incest?) together; you share stories and a language that you quickly find is relevant to you and only you.

Like, comment below if you know my definition of the ReverseQueen, or GKoA, or how the GKoA woke up INSIDE Avicii….or even the real girls whom I so fondly refer to as Nappy Roots and Little.

In such a competitive field where it’s so easy to second-guess yourself–your purpose and what you know, having this source of unconditional love and support…a group of people who just “get it” without you having to explain why “choreography school” isn’t time spent rolling around on the floor coloring pictures out of a Highlights magazine (yes, I know..I just threw up in my mouth too)…is so special and important to have.

(I have to thank my growing number of readers as well, as even this blog is starting to turn itself into a family and community of support. We now all share the bond of Dyvas, RAB’S, and how important glitter is to success…but did you TRULY know before reading those posts?)

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How YOU Can Make a Difference (and get lots of attention)

As we discussed before, I love attention, and you’d be lying to yourself if you didn’t feel the same; everybody loves attention!!!! So now it’s your turn to make some magic happen….hope you’re ready, Dyva – let’s get things poppin!

Step 1: Figure out where exactly you’re going to spread your glitter.

With almost everything I do, I first start by making a mind-map; It not only helps me come up with new and exciting ideas, but it helps me to build cohesive connections within those ideas. Start with your central idea in the center, whatever you decide your overall goal is going to be. From there, branch off into immediately-related ideas all around your original goal, you can then create sub-branches from those ideas as you brainstorm further and further away from the core (those are often the most interesting ideas to pursue).

Even if you aren’t sure where you want to eventually direct your attention, sometimes it helps to just clear your head through a free-write session to see what’s lurking up there in that noggin of yours. Surprises may await you

You may find that by building this visual aid that you are better equipped to follow it through with real success. You know what they say? People who visualize themselves successfully, have a better chance at actually becoming successful. So grab your lipstick Dyva, it’s time to shine.

Step 2: Who—Where—When—Why—HOW??????

(Your mind-map should have already led you to your WHAT)

 So once you’ve set your sights on a specific goal, it’s time to make a realistic list of “to-do”s before this crazy adventure can begin. No wasting glitter allowed, be VERY specific. (Let’s make this crystal clear up front, you can’t do this alone, so grab some of your nearest and dearest and lets get this philanthropic escapade started!)

You’ve got to decide what YOUR intentions are? Yes, you’re doing something to give back to the community, but what experience are you hoping to walk away with? In the case of Search For A Cure Beats On, I was looking to build my name and experience as a young choreographer, and because I was doing philanthropic work, I was lucky to have the ability to work with dancers that I may not have otherwise had the chance (fancy little perk, huh?). This was my ‘WHY’.

By now you’ve also figured out what it is you’re going to contribute to, a charity a school…etc. This will be your ‘WHO’. Time to build contacts with those people, this helps with promoting –if you’ve got the support of a known business next to your not-so-known name, people will be more inclined to listen and contribute to your cause. Now that you’ve got the ‘Who’, ‘What’ and ‘Why’, it’s time to fill in the rest of the “deets”: ‘Where’ and ‘How’ (these are the hardest questions to answer).

 Step 3: Build a timeline.

Be realistic about setting a timeline…and then stick to it! What needs to be done and how long will it actually take? …and then just…

 Step 4: Make it WORQUE.

My advice from here is to use your connections and have no shame. Call anybody and everybody you can think of that may be able to help your cause, and be audacious! — Ask lots and lots of questions, and most importantly, FOLLOW UP with everyone! People have a harder time saying “no” to your face than they do over the phone; so make your Britney playlist and hit the road, it’s time to get some financial backup!!!

With Yabby the night before SEARCH

(Be prepared to front some money –keep in mind that it takes money to make money; but when the final curtain closes, you should be close, if not fully reimbursed. A successful event could have sponsors to cover all of the production costs.)

I think you’ll find that once all is said and done, (aside from being so overwhelmed and tired from not sleeping or eating for months), you will have never had a more rewarding experience in your life.

Search For a Cure Beats On turned into something far greater than all of my expectations combined. While my personal interests and goals were met and that was great, it was the look on the faces of the people I was helping that was the true reward, and that and can never be replaced. I now knew that I was officially in the ring fighting alongside the warriors against this awful disease; I was making a difference and fighting for the health of so many people (few whom I actually know…and it didn’t matter). I have never, to this day, experienced ANYTHING like that night.

Not to get all ‘mo on you, but this experience really is what Dyva’s are made of. To do something so beyond yourself, regardless of your initial intent, is pretty incredible. Lets hear what some of your greatest achievements have been. Leave a comment and share your personal wealth of glitter!

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How I Made a Difference (and received lots of attention)

So call me an attention whore, but I love attention…and lots of it –  like borderline-Kardashian! Even further, I love to get a crazy reaction from people for random things that I’ve done:

Tell a joke = Deafening laughter, Give a gift = “Floodage” of tears, Dance on stage = “Hoots“ and “Hollers”

You get the point…

The following is the story of how I made a huge difference in my local-community and got lots of attention, but didn’t even care… (I know…like Kardashian–what??!?!)

So the summer before my senior year at Michigan State I hadn’t even started to think about where my life was eventually going to be headed; I did know that when I grew up I wanted to do something dance-related, and figured at this point in my life, it couldn’t hurt to be a little more proactive for my fast approaching future. Since I was home for the summer recovering from two minor surgeries (lasik eye surgery and had a little tumor removed from the bottom of my foot….ughhhh…NO BIG DEAL…!!!), I had a ton of time on my hands, you know…since I was on crutches, depressed, and was convinced that at any moment I was going to go blind.

Considering that I’m entirely too Type-A to sit around watching marathons of Cake Boss forever (and I may have mentioned it before, but I am an attention whore), I decided that I needed to produce my own evening length show. My idea of being proactive settled in a dire need to choreograph on dancers from all over Michigan, design and create all of the costumes, and most importantly, publicize an entire event all by myself…and it needed to be successful so that I could get lots and lots of attention. Oh, and I also wanted to make it a benefit concert so that I could finally do something past just sympathizing for one of my students who had, and still has a severe case of Crohn’s disease. Like, not a big deal, right?

I had NO IDEA what all of this meant in real life, and to be honest, I wasn’t completely positive that I could actually pull it of while going to school full time; but I did…with some help, of course. Here’s what actually happened and why I think YOU should give it a try one day:

First, depressed and delusional-me brainstormed this magical idea. I called my Big Sis (from my sorority [*DG salute}) and told her about my big philanthropic plans. Half expecting her to laugh at me, I waited for her thoughts; she was kiiiiiiind of hesitant iiiin herrrr responseee….but as a dancer, she was totally down. She’s totally DYVA status and has more connections than Kevin Bacon, so naturally she was my first choice for partner in crime.

So She-Bacon and I embarked on more of an adventure than we could have ever anticipated. To make a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong story short, here’s the brief bulleted version of what needed to be done before this dance-thing could start being fun and creative:

  • Contact dance-student to see if she was interested in being featured.
  • Contact charity to get their support.
  • Come up with a name for the event: Search For A Cure Beats On is what we came up with.
  • Establish a business (I know this sounds ridiculous and vague, but that’s because I still don’t even know what this means…I just know we did it…lots and lots and lots of paperwork later.)
  • Open a “business bank account” *Thanks 5th/3rd Bank!!!
  • Set a date for the performance.
  • Find a venue/program/tshirts/costumes for the performance.
  • Find dancers.
  • Breathe.

Ok, so Search For A Cure Beats On was officially born, we had four different dance companies: 35 dancers involved, January 9, 2010 was the date of the performance, and we had a committed charity in need.

Search For a CureShe-Bacon and I worked hard to network, and eventually found sponsors for the entire event…literally….the whole shebang: the GORGEOUS venue in Canton, MI, t-shirts for all of the dancers to wear, photographer and videographer, caterer, programs, flyers (*shout out to Yabby*), hair and makeup, costumes, and post-performance flowers for the dancers. Like what??? This was real life, I swear. I’m not sure why, but everything fell into place…almost too easily.

Oh and one more thing, through oodles networking I appeared on a local radio-station talk show (okay so maybe I didn’t appear, but I was heard…) to promote the performance…and then the host of that show appeared (for real this time) at OUR show (FREE OF CHARGE) as a local celebrity to support the cause.

As Lizzie McGuire so eloquently said,

THIS IS WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF!!!

The night of the performance, 12 modern/jazz pieces were performed and about $6,000 was donated; all of this madness happened within a six-month time period. I can’t speak for She-Bacon or anybody else, but I think I might still be recovering.

The first question out of everybody’s mouth once the show was over was: “When’s the next performance???”

I had to ask myself, would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Stay tuned for a follow-up post on all of the reasons why I think you should join me!

Until then, keep it classy, magical and full of glitter, DYVA!!!

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