I am a firm believer in choosing your own destiny. Making intentional decisions to create a clear path leading you to what you want. Ever since I took on this attitude with conviction it is has, for the most part, worked. Set intentions. Be clear about what they are. Write them down so they are present physically in the universe and to create accountability....viola! Watch your dreams come true. Sometimes, the universe has other plans for you. Sometimes you can't get what you want. It's in these moments - the challenging, frustrating, unexpected moments when your true character shines through. How flexible are you? How creative? How can you see the positive side?
"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance" - Alan Watts
|Ancient Castle Moat Hooping in Sicily|
|Vegan Sicilian Food!|
Before attempting to go to the UK, Bags and I had the honor of participating in the Ursino Buskers Festival, located in Catania, Sicily. It exceeded my expectations in every way. Sometimes messages come in asking you to go to remote parts of the world and perform your art. This one seemed like it could go either way. When the offer came in, it sounded exciting and perfect because we were already planning to be in Europe the week before and had no commitments at that time. A rarity. We'd never done a street show before though! Our style of performance lends itself to street and it's something we've both wanted to do for awhile but hadn't done it yet. Now we have! It was a great way to ease ourselves into actual street performing since we didn't have to draw a crowd, the festival itself did that for us.
We had about a week in Catania. We taught two workshops....in their ancient castle! One of our workshops was in the dried (now covered in grass) moat of the castle. Yeah we taught hoop dance in a moat :) Our workshops were well attended and the hoopers were absolutely awesome! Such sweet people who welcomed us with open arms and took amazing care of us. We got to stay in the house of another artist performing at the festival only 2 minutes down the road. Walked through the various markets. Bought delicious fresh veggies. Paraded down the main street with the artists of the festival while a live samba band jammed all the way. We found vegan versions of the local food like "arancini" which is a fried rice ball usually with cheese and/or meat. We found vegan ones! We had granita which is a rich, sweet flavored ice dessert for breakfast, more then once. Pistachio and almond were my favorites! We connected with lovely people whom I'm sure I would be friends with if I lived there. We found our tribe!
|Parading down the streets of Catania|
Our performances were unforgettable. We did two 15 minute shows and one 5 minute act. The first night we did great but had a couple minor drops. We also didn't know how to talk to the crowd before or after our show since my Italian from living in Rome 8 years ago is gone and the people of Catania don't speak much English. It was kind of awkward putting a hat down without a word. The next night though we absolutely killed it! In our whole 15 minutes, we had no drops! Bags did his 5 club routine flawlessly and our hoops act was seamless. It was one of the happiest I've been from a performance. Complete bliss. With the help of Giulia, I prepared a little something to say in Italian after our show. Giulia was our tour guide, interpreter, fellow hooper and has become our new Italian friend :) We love you Giulia! So I spoke in Italian through a microphone (!!!) to thousands of Italians!!! They loved it! Needless to say our hat was much more full the second night.
I can't even begin to imagine how much work went into creating the Buskers Festival. There were over 5 spots all within walking distance that had different performance art - circus, theater, live music, fire dancing. There were vendors, activities for children and workshops. The Gammazita bar organized it, which is run by a collective of Sicilians. They have made their area in Catania safer and more culturally rich. They run regular cultural events like film screenings, language courses and circus classes. They informally adopt local kids with hard family lives. These people are amazing. I am so grateful to have met them and experience Catania in this way. Thank you Giorgia, Giulia, Flo, Mic and all the others who put it together! See ALL of the pictures from our Catania trip HERE.
|Performing in the Aerial Revolution Showcase - Sept 2011|
Attaining the Unattainable: Perfection
- and -
You Just Never Know
This blog was actually meant to talk about my experience working at the Zoo this summer! There is just so much (good and bad) that has happened since then that I had to get it all out. SO rewind three years ago to when I was teaching regularly at Aerial Revolution. I performed in their showcase in September of 2011. It was a fun show. Nothing extremely memorable about it but fun nonetheless. I always enjoyed performing and teaching with the AR crew. They rock! Turns out Rachael and Pete Wray were in the audience that day and really enjoyed my piece. I remember them coming up to me after the show to tell me that it was their favorite act! Fast forward to March of this year, I get a message from Rachael asking if I know any hoopers who could perform at the Zoo this summer. My first thought was...me?! So I asked them if I could do it and they were also looking for another performer for that stage - Bags was the perfect fit! How lucky were we?! We got to do a regular gig in San Diego together. I mean, sheesh!! Exciting stuff! This proves that every show you do, no matter what it's for, how much you're getting paid, IF you're getting paid, matters. Every. Single. One. You never know what it could lead to!
|Click here to watch my hoop solo from the Zoo|
We changed our summer plans and were sad to not have attended EJC, the Heart & Hoop Dance retreat in the Netherlands and the German Hoop Convention. (Bags got to go!) BUT we had an opportunity of a lifetime! For awhile now I have dreamed of an extended contract gig. Something to bring in a little financial stability and help hone my craft. This was exactly the opportunity I was waiting for. When it all came together it was like the clouds opened up, the sun shined through and the choir started harmonizing in my head. Heavenly!
I did 4 shows a day for 65 out of the 67 day run. That, plus the parade every other day made for approximately 293 shows. Wowza! That's a lot of shows! It was quite an experience. There were both some serious highs and lows. Looking back at the happy faces Oooo-ing and Awwww-ing at our show and hooping with the kids afterward was amazing. Getting to perform with Bags everyday kept me laughing, smiling and on my toes. I loved getting to know Kasey our hand balancer - she's a talented, smart, opinionated badass. Working with the whole cast and crew actually was unforgettable. Each person was so talented and brought something different to the table.
|Click here to watch Bags' juggling solo from the Zoo|
Most of the hard parts for me were what happened psychologically and mentally. You'd think my first gripe would be about physical hardship. Yes exhaustion that was a factor but really what I think I got out of it was how to work through the experience mentally. With that many shows, there was bound to be a certain amount of error. There's just no way around it. We put specific tricks into our routines to help make them stronger. Doing something that many times will make you better at it right? Well it wasn't always that straight forward. There is no science to it, turns out. Even if you do something 300 times, you can still struggle with it on the 301st. I expected consistency, had an extremely high expectation for myself and strove to attain perfection. That lead to disappointment sometimes and then probably mentally hindered me for the next show (or even during the show). It was a cyclical thing. Somehow I broke down enough to break through the cycle and come out on the other end!
|Click here to see our duet|
Those ups and downs, those break-downs and break-throughs; that process IS perfection. The experience in itself and what I learned from it is just...perfect.
All in all, regardless of how hard it was at times, how tired, sore, hot, sweaty and cranky I got, I am still immensely grateful for the experience. Remember that dropless show I talked about earlier in Sicily Bags and I had? I truly believe that was possible because of all the practice we got in this summer. With a couple weeks space from the gig, doing our show again felt more solid and comfortable then it ever has and that is largely due to our work at the Zoo. I feel SO much more confident juggling and multi-hooping, two things I want to be solid at. So thank you. Thank you Pete & Rachael Wray most of all for trusting us to do our best this summer and taking us on board as part of the team. Big thanks to the entire cast of awesomeness, it was a pleasure to meet you and get to know you. I hope we all get to do it again sometime :)