Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Light and Dark Side of the Moon and the Search for Beauty

(At first, I thought about separating this post into two separate posts, but I decided not to. There has to be balance, and I wanted folks to get both at once...)

Producing a major event pretty much requires that for 1-2 weeks leading up to the event, I'm going to curse myself, question my sanity, make my loved ones swear I won't do something crazy like this again, and generally be a ball of nerves. At least it feels that way on the inside, because many have commented to me, "How do you manage to be so calm and focused?" (Because I have a job to do, people are counting on me, and it has to happen is the combo-answer.)

And then the event happens, and everyone is ecstatic and my inbox is flooded with happy messages, and I know that YES, all of that was worth it, and YES I will do it again (and my loved ones are doing nothing to deter fact, they're with me on planning the next thing, maybe it's a conspiracy?).  And yes, Waking Persephone was even better this year, and it blows my mind. But, I don't put on events for me...I put them on because of what it does for the community - my students, my friends, musicians, teachers, performers, vendors, and the venues it supports - and because I do a good job of planning, the event pays for itself.  I see what the event does for everyone, and it makes me happy.  And so it pains me to move Waking Persephone because I know what it does for New England, but logic must win in this case - it's much harder to produce a major event from 3500 miles - BUT I will be doing something back in Rhode Island to fill a bit of that void...more details on that later. Still not an easy decision.

And then the week or two after the event, after my body and brain has had time to recover, there's usually a bit of depression, a void.  But this time, the malaise wasn't so much for the "oh, it's all over...", but that point where I seemed to reconnect with the internet, rather harshly. That the very tactile physical experience of what community really means and feels like, gets a bit lost in the melee of various media onslaught...and it pulled me down. (The upside of being so damn busy is that you often miss a lot of the rigamarole, and so there's a blissful ignorance that comes with the busy.) It's not caused by one person or one discussion, or really anything to do with me personally, but what I see...this is what's being going through my mind lately, in no particular order, and I have covered them in this blog in various ways in the past, but I felt particularly bombarded by all of these online, this week:

!) "Rosemary does indeed grow in the gardens of the wicked." Seeing praise for someone who has a long and active history of stealing, lying, and other unsavory business habits upsets me. It's clear that the person giving the praise has had little exposure with the actual person, only the persona, and it pains me that more people will get hurt by them, but nothing I can do about it (besides not hire or promote them myself).  Is there always another excuse for why something can't be done? If you contribute to something, what do you get back, and are you getting it back in a timely manner? Just because someone puts on the airs of a deity doesn't mean they're divine. Nobody is perfect, keep your eyes open. Trust is earned, not given away.

!) "I'm born again! You're NOT! And you're doing it wrong!" People who come to some drastic realization about their path and their own choices, and then decide that everyone else is also wrong and proceeds to inform everyone how they're doing it wrong. You know, we all do stupid stuff, and it's great to try and educate others, but everyone comes to things on their own, and what worked for you may not be the answer for anyone else.  Be enthusiastic FOR YOU, leave others to focus on what works for them, unless they're paying to learn it from you.  But still, damn it people, you have to be sincere, be honest, be human.

!) "Hissing? No, that's just the sound of my ego inflating..." I love intelligent discussion and debate - where someone asks a sincere question to solve a problem, and everyone has a different solution - ideas get compared, contrasted, shared.  It makes for growth and awesomeness. But I don't get questions posed to get a rise out of people, for the interest of "keeping things going." To point out how others are wrong (in your head/belief), how you disapprove, and then it just gets more ugly from there.  It all stems from personal insecurities, a desire for power/control, and rarely does it do anything beneficial for anybody else. Just spreads around more negativity.  Do we really need more of that?

!) "We're being too nice and that's causing all of the issues." Oh really?  I'm not a fan of blowing rainbows and unicorns up people's arses when they don't deserve it and I'm sick of the popularity machine-games, but there's a time and place for everyone, and "you suck" isn't helpful to ANYONE either.  Why knock a troupe of students who are trying their best at a hafla?  What good does it do to rip apart a group of middle-aged women who may not have the "perfect" figure or the best technique, but enjoy this dance with all their hearts? No, poorly-done fusion doesn't do any good, neither does poorly-done ANYTHING for that matter.  Sitting in front of your computer ripping people apart doesn't solve anything.  You know what does? Knowing what "constructive critique" means - versus criticism, and doing it in the proper setting in the right way - in the classroom, face-to-face, where you can demonstrate and discuss what's working and how to do it better.  It also means learning to be open to receiving it. This is NOT an easy thing, but it can be learned, and contributes to everyone's success.  However, it cannot be done on your arse, hidden away.

!) "I wish, I could never..." Some people who believe nothing is possible, who spout negativity all day long - and you know what? They're right.  Nothing will happen for them, because they refuse to be pro-active in their lives.  You know how I get things done?  I decide I want to do something, and I see about how to make it happen, in small reasonable steps. You want to go to a festival? Make a realistic list of what it will take to happen, and create a timeline.  You want to study with OMG famous dancer? Ok, what will it take to make that happen?  Stop disbelieving everything and thwarting yourself in the process.  Stop it with the negative language and start considering the possible. Your life will improve. For reals.

That's a lot isn't it?  That's almost everything I felt like I got exposed to in the last week, and it just broadsided me.  And then I felt the venom coming out of myself, and it startled me.  Because it's not me, but I was immersed in it, and it all got me down and pulled me deeper.  To go from experiencing the very best of a community and what can happen when everyone comes together, to watching the worst unfold before my eyes, and it hurt me. It had nothing to do with me personally, but the empathy for situation, for those who were, are, and will be hurt.  But it doesn't have to be that way.

Instead, I challenge ALL OF US to search for beauty.  Within ourselves, within others.  One of my favorite definitions of Goth is "to search for beauty, and see it in all things - the traditional, the unusual, the macabre."

I'm not talking about some cosmetic standard of commercial beauty.  I'm talking about respect for oneself and for humanity, a desire to bring about positive change, self-growth, and to compete only with yourself. Bring the beauty out in yourself, and it may in turn bring the beauty out in others. 

I will warn you - it's not easy, and it's rather dangerous...but giving into the negative is even more damaging and dangerous.

Friday, April 19, 2013

April, May, June News!

Samara & Saideh up front being silly,
Tempest & Nathaniel in the back, at Motif!
Just returned from Waking Persephone II  ( which was just amazing!  The first year was so incredible that I was unsure how the second year would compare, and well, it was phenomenal.  Thanks to all of the dancers, vendors, volunteers who made it possible.  The next one will be in Seattle, shooting for October 3rd-5th, 2014 - possibly with a "Possessing The Dark" intensive right before it.  But we won't be leaving New England entirely - stay tuned for developments for a very special Museum Quality: Art School for Bellydancers event happening April 10th-13th in Providence! 

And now there's some very exciting news, upcoming performances, etc:

April 20th - Shimmy Happens Alternative Hafla, in Lakewood, WA - I will be performing close to 6:30pm:

April 28th - An Evening of Live Music & Dance at the Can Can in downtown Seattle, with myself, The Nathaniel Johnstone Band, Oliver Franklin, and more!  Tickets ARE available for both general admission and VIP (there was a website glitch), but they are going fast and this venue will sell out!

And while we're talking about awesome live music - Nathaniel is doing a fundraiser for "Narratives" - his next CD project, which sounds AMAZING. The project is at 60% funded with 11 days to go, so help out an amazing project and get create music, art, and more in the process - details and clips at

Now in May: 
Nathaniel and I will be performing (in addition to vending) at Tribal Fest 13 in Sebastopol, CA - 5:02, Saturday the 18th on the main stage - and we'll be hosting the official Sunday after-thing, called "Hipdown" - details will be on fb and at this weekend.

The following weekend, we're performing and teaching at Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose, CA - check the schedule for the performances and workshops:

And THEN we're off to Dallas, TX for A-KON - and I will be teaching a very special mini-intensive workshop on Saturday, June 1st - limited to only 20 dancers! Details at

And near the end of June, I'm thrilled to be returning to Tribal Revolution in Chicago, where I will be vending, teaching two workshops, and performing - 

Whew - ok, think that's everything that's coming up fast!