The fairy ring showed up yesterday. Last year it erupted on August 20, only it went unrecognized as a ring because of its size. This year the entire circle is obvious, tethered as it is to the sycamore tree.

The radius is longer than the tape measure, so a girl has to do math and calculations involving pi. 🤓The circumference is just over 84 feet.

There is marjoram and thyme growing nearby, but the ring’s inner sanctum is not to be traversed. A girl who is already prone to exhaustive dancing has to draw the line somewhere. There are principles to be upheld. 🧚🏼

leucocoprinus binbaumii; toxic toadstool; flowerpot parasol

If you see a fairy ring
In a field of grass,
Very lightly step around,
Tiptoe as you pass;
Last night fairies frolicked there,
And they’re sleeping somewhere near.

If you see a tiny fay
Lying fast asleep,
Shut your eyes and run away,
Do not stay or peep;
And be sure you never tell,
Or you’ll break the fairy spell.

–Author Unknown

The wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

Robert Jordan

Been walking and reading. Time to share the lessons as the ongoing quest to see all Tennessee’s waterfalls continues…

It is all very beautiful and magical here – a quality that cannot be described. You have to live it and breathe it, let the sun bake into you.

Ansel Adams

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

Wendell Berry

Make connections; let rip; and dance where you can.

Annie Dillard

It is in the woods we return to reason and faith.

Emerson

Leave no stone unturned. Deeply explore the beauty in your life.

Neil Gaiman
Lyrics to "The Seed"
A Song by the beautiful Aurora Aksnes
(Photos by Lunar)



Just like the seed
I don't know where to go
Through dirt and shadow I grow
I'm reaching light through the struggle
...
...
Just like the seed
I'm chasing wonder
I unravel myself
All in slow motion
...
...
Suffocate me 
so my tears can be rain
I will water the ground where I stand
so the flowers can grow back again
...
...
'Cause just like the seed
Everything wants to live
We are burning our fingers
But we learn and forget
...
...
Feed me sunlight, feed me air
Feed me truth and feed me prayers.
...

The Murdering Crows recently dropped a fabulous new video for a fabulous new song written by Rick Moore, Jr. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

I woke up this morning “full of awesome” with my new tiara!

“If you can’t find the sunshine be the sunshine,” the optimists say. I’m here to tell you, being the sunshine is a lot of work…and considerably messier than one might think, actually. The present state of at least three rooms in my house could best be described as, “there was an explosion at the rhinestone factory.” The shimmering mess of it all extends beyond my home even; yesterday, as I was going about my mundane rounds someone plucked a errant sequin off me. That reminds me of this time I went to the doctor because I was positive I would soon die from the reaction I was having to poison ivy and the physician squinted at me and said, “I think you have glitter in your hair,” before stammering, “Oh, no…I’m sorry… I see now that’s intentional.” (It was gold hair tinsel. I was feeling festive). I responded that it was totally ok and that I actually get that squinty look a lot. I went on to explain that I work with children and I just have live with the possibility that I could be covered in unintentional glitter at any point in a given day, so I just chose to embrace the sparkle. My filter kicked in before I got to the part about belly dancing, so the rest of the transaction unfolded according to the normal rules of social conduct.

But let’s get back to my tiara. I made it for under $6 from an ugly headband, plastic zip ties, fabric glue, and rhinestone adhesive sticker sheets…and maybe like three prayers and possibly a curse or at least a cuss word. Ok, maybe two.

Here’s its “before” picture:

I may add something else to it to give it a little more pizzazz before it makes its big film debut tomorrow. We’ll see.

Just wanted to share my latest labor of love – a tutorial on the art of improvisation. I hope you’ll find something useful or at least entertaining in it.

Transcript

The Art of Improvisation

The topic of this tutorial is the art of improv as it relates to dance.       

Once after a performance that didn’t go quite as planned, one of my dear dance sisters  suggested I teach a workshop on “How to Make Mistakes.” I admit I do have expertise in this area as I make a LOT of mistakes.  I  think (hope!) what she meant is how to cover mistakes when you make them so the audience doesn’t know that a mistake was made.   This video will help address that topic.

Honing your improvisation skills will make your improv look like choreography and your choreography look like improv

My own improvisational skills have been hard-won. They’ve come about as a result of performances where I’ve forgotten choreography, or just not finished choreographing a dance that I’m schedule to perform. They’ve resulted from costume malfunctions and props that were dropped mid-performance, or somehow mysteriously winding up with another person’s prop in my hand mid-dance. They’ve resulted from having to adapt to various surfaces and spaces that were less than ideal. And from having audience members join me in dance mid-performance in unexpected ways.

But improvisation is more than what happens when you make a mistake. So what is improv?

I think of improv as expression rather than imitation. It’s an openness and willingness to embody the music and rhythm and to be responsive to whatever is happening in the moment.

This quote from Alia Thabit’s Midnight at the Crossroads highlights the importance of improv in Eastern dance. She writes that Eastern dance is traditionally:

a dance of improvisation, of on-the fly musical interpretation, of subtle emotional timbres, somatic experience, and intuitive interaction between a dancer and musician–and that musician plays improvised music, created in the moment as an expression of his feeling. For the musicians, dancers, and guests, the goal is tarab, musical ecstasy. Every performance becomes a never-before seen, never-to-be repeated art happening, uniting performers and guests in a state of joy.

Alia Thabit, Midnight at the Crossroads, p. 7.

Of course in this digital age, we tend to dance to recorded music, but we can keep that spirit of tarab alive – that sense of shared joy – by staying open to what arises in the moment and by keeping the connection to our audience and to the rhythm of the music we embody.

So the question becomes: how do we develop and practice a skill that by its nature requires us to respond to the ever-changing moment?

These are a few broad ideas that may help us answer that question.  Through intention, presence, connection, and play we can hone our skills at improv.

Intention

Not all artists begin with intention. Some like writer Paul Gallico choose to metaphorically, “open a vein and bleed.” But for those of us who find that sort of thing too messy, setting a clear intention beforehand about what you want to communicate can be very useful. That intention may be simply creating a tarab state, or maybe there is another feeling or idea you want to communicate to your audience.   If you are doing a character dance, it may be useful before your performance to write out the story of the character or to take some time putting the character’s walk or gestures in your movement vocabulary so you can draw upon them more easily when needed.

Presence

Another aspect of improvisation is presence. Presence is a state of mind. It is being Here and Now and Fully Embodied in a state of Clear, Calm, Alert, Non-judgmental Awareness. It requires turning off the internal critic so that you are able to carefully Look and Listen to whatever appears before you.

Connection

When you are present, it is much easier to establish a connection. And connection is at the heart of improv. The connection can be anything: a person in the audience, some aspect of the environment, an idea, or it can be a connection to your own intuitive response. And that intuitive response is what we rely on in the moment to make decisions on the fly.

Play

And that brings us to play. In Stuart Brown’s  Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, play is defined as, “purposeless, voluntary, improvisational activities that are done because of their inherent attraction.” In other words, play is stuff ya do because it’s just plain fun! Play is all about discovering and cultivating your own joy.

If have limited time or you’re feeling inhibited or shy you can set aside time to play by yourself – exploring props, characters, and movement with or without music. The work you do in classes and workshops, studying choreography and technique, gives you the vocabulary for your style of dance. Play helps you develop new pathways. It gives you a safe space where you can have happy accidents and learn to respond creatively in the moment. Play is where you practice intuitive synthesis of your technique and where you learn to trust your body. 

Another fun way to practice improv is to schedule play dates with others. Improv classes allow you to practice newfound skills in a safe context where you can learn with and from other dancers.   I’ve had the opportunity to take several improv classes and have found each one a unique learning experience. Taking an improv class in a field outside of dance, like theater or comedy, also provides lessons that are transferrable.

Neuroscience has shown us that emotions are contagious through the activity of mirror neurons.  These neurons activate not only when we experience an emotion, but also when we see others experiencing an emotion.  When you are relaxed and having fun it gives others a chance to share in that feeling. So find your joy and invite others along for the ride.

That “Just Finished a Project” feeling

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