Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013: Grateful for a Wonderful Year!

On New Year's Day 2014, I will embark on another exciting adventure! One that is completely unlike anything I have ever done before. I will be throwing myself into the unknown - living in Nicaragua with a team of 6 other circus and dance performers, doing charity work for 3 months. What a life! I am both excited and nervous at the same time. There is no way I can know what it is I am about to experience, see, feel and learn. There will be inevitable growth from challenges such as living in a country that speaks a different language; living, working, performing, breathing, traveling with the same 6 people for 3 months and exposing myself to Nicaraguan people's lives. Since I will be volunteering for such an extended period of time, I am fundraising to get my accommodations, flight and other expenses covered, you can read about the campaign here

Before going on this project with Performers Without Borders, I want to give thanks for such a wonderful year. It really has been nothing short of spectacular. From the gapping cavernous landscape of the Grand Canyon, to the bustle and culture of New York City, the big stage in Las Vegas and then all the way to the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben; I have been fortunate enough to see these places with the love of my life and my other love, my hula hoop!

My year started out with a bang in February when I produced "The Burlesque Circus" a sold out, 2 night show at the Sunset Temple in North Park with my first international headliner Juliette Dragon & Rikkha of Paris. The highlights from Friday night's show can be seen in the video above. Right after the show I visited Bags in Nicaragua where he was doing the same project we're about to start in a few days. You can see an amazing video Bags made about the project here. In May, I had the opportunity to teach and perform at The Spin Summit in Colorado, there was snow on the ground when I arrived! It was another amazing flow retreat that helped the entire flow community soar to higher heights. They already have the dates for 2014, so check them out! Shortly after that is when I found out that my troupe, The Hoop Unit was accepted into the Best Group category of the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas! It was a serious milestone and an amazing experience. Watch our performance here. That was what prompted me to start my first official crowd funding campaign. I have learned so much from it! I am currently applying for the solo debut category for BHoF in 2014 and you can see the submission for it here

After the Burlesque Hall of Fame in June, I packed everything I own into a small storage unit
BHoF in Vegas!
and set off for a three month road trip across the United States with Bags! We taught in 17 cities, 3 festivals, drove through 29 states, 4 time zones and covered 9,500 miles. We performed in 7 shows and taught 45 workshops to about 400 hoopers! It was the longest running and most vast (in preparation, execution and geographically) project I have ever accomplished and I am extremely proud of myself! So much preparation went into it. Communicating with all of our lovely hosts. Figuring out venues, times, prices, dates, which workshops we were going to teach, setting up payment through my website. Making promotional material, promoting the workshops. Travel logistics, getting my car ready for the journey. I mean, Jeez! It was like nothing I had ever done and there were various points in which I felt I wasn't capable of making the decisions that needed to be made. But I made them, I did my best, and it all turned out alright. I can't explain how grateful I am to the hosts in each city. They really made this project possible. And the amazing hoopers who came out to learn from us! Bags made a really lovely video that you can watch here about our tour and you can see all of the pics here

Nothing really went wrong! My car never broke down and we didn't get pulled over once. I am still amazed about that! We hit almost every corner of the states...starting in the Southwest (San Diego) - driving all the way through the south to the Southeast corner (Miami!), up the East Coast all the way to Maine (Northeast corner) and then down through the Midwest to Burning Man and back to Southern California. What an experience! It was such an epic adventure that I can't really articulate the whole thing into words. I tried writing a blog post just about the Tour and have failed, it's a bit daunting to put something like that into a post of readable length! What I would like to do though is to mention one or two highlights from each city we stopped at. 

Grand Canyon Hooping
Los Angeles: Introducing my mom to Bags (and Gail & Emma!), playing in the park that I grew up next to with those 3 lovely UK hoopers.

The Grand Canyon: Walking and driving along the rim of the canyon, stoping at various view points and scrambling out to the farthest point we could get to, realizing Bags and I were scarily on the same page.

Sedona: Hiking up to two peaks in the distance with no trail to follow, and making it to the top! Chocolate Tree Restaurant - delicious vegan food.

Tucson: The beautiful Cirque Roots space, feeling so at home with Britney, Zoe and Stephanie that I wanted to stay there with my new friends, the cactus forest outside the city that looked eerily otherworldly.

Albuquerque: Eating home cooked southwestern chili made by Nicole Evans, jamming in the park, performing with Gilded Cage Burlesque.

Austin: Kim Patty, we love you! I loved teaching Burlesque at the Inner Diva Studio! Swimming at the big swimming hole in town, meeting up with my Irish friend Catriona :)

Miami Hooping!
New Orleans: Driving through a slightly sketchy neighborhood to get to our gig at Siberia with Big Deal Burlesque (they had amazing vegan burgers there), walking around the French Quarter, performing at the House of Blues with Bustout Burlesque (standing ovation!), seeing live washboard playing jazz musicians and saxophonists who got on top of the bar!

Sarasota: Sleeping in a rest area in between Nola and Sarasota because the drive was so long! Going to the drum circle at the beach after our workshop with Bonnie Brown. Thank you Abby Albaum for hosting us as well :)

Lake Worth: Casandra Tanenbaum felt like I had known her forever when I had just met her for the first time :) Driving in a torrential downpour to get there. Swimming in Casandra's pool with Jodi and Jasmin, helping Bags teach his workshop on the beach!

Miami: Having a complete giggle fit in the ocean, Bags in Banana Man pants, making dinner in a parking lot at a park and finishing the cooking right when a tropical rainstorm hits, eating dinner in the car :) Taking epic pictures on the beach for 4th of July and spinning at the park in Lake Worth with Casandra and her flow friends.

Jacksonville: Karma Kream - amazing vegan ice cream!

NY Sunset Skyline
Atlanta: Getting to know sweet Rebecca Deshon better and meeting her husband for the first time, hooping with them both in their basement and going out for delicious vegan food.

Carrboro: Staying in Beth's barn and getting closer with her, feeling such a strong connection and bond with that wonderful woman, drinking beer with Baxter, taking his weekly class, having birthday drinks with Jaguar Mary, eating at Vimilas, spending time with Julia at the FlowJo, hooping in Beth's skirts at the Haw River Ballroom.

Charlottesville: Going to a house party with Anne & Derek, there was a live bluegrass band playing in the living room, getting in their jacuzzi under the stars, walking in their forest backyard, driving to an orchard for a viewpoint of the city.

Washington, DC: Seeing the Lincoln monument and flipping off the White House. 

Bags teaching at R2R
New York: Staying at the Floasis with Tara & Rob, the invention of the 360˚ kiss (Times Square), meeting Evan Davis and his Synth hoops, drinks with Stefan, the Bex and Ali, going to the top of the Standard Hotel, the Met, Coney Island, Pure Food & Wine for my birthday, vegan Dunwell doughnuts and ice cream for birthday breakfast, staying with the lovely Claire de Lux.

Boston: Teaching the best Performance Skills workshop of the whole tour, drinks with Lolli at the lovely after party, finding the vegan food/yoga studio run by a happy family.

Brockton: Spending time with my dad, seeing Theraeu's pond in the rain, hiking and seeing owls and a snake.

Rockland: Walking into Maria's house and laughing hysterically from the combined sense of humor between her, her lovely husband and her wonderful daughter, hoop jam after the first day of workshops, drinks later with Maria, her daughter and Beth, finding the delicious food at the Food Co-Op.

Hooping at Boulder Falls - Photo by Hoopologie
Return to Roots: Epic play sessions, Bags taught Z Spins to practically the whole festival, Justin Aubuchon blew my mind with his beautiful DJ sets, ecstatic dance jam for breakfast on Sunday morning, performing my hoop burlesque act in the show, taking Stefan's performance workshop, teaching hoop burlesque, hanging with Lolli and the Bex in the cargo net, playing with Evan and Matt!

Chicago: Bags explodes with new ideas after flowing with Evan and Matt at R2R, stayed with Emily Perkulator, amazing downtown architecture, the Art Institute, Native Foods vegan dinner, the beach.

Bags in Moab
Madison: Beautiful bike ride through the town with Danielle, the massive and beautiful Madison Circus Space!

St Louis: The City museum (seeing the Circus Harmony show), going to the top of the arch, staying with the lovely Michelle Schaeffer, thank you for hosting us!

Columbia: Spending time with the fam! Hooping with them, jumping on the trampoline,  walking around their farm and finding caves and a vine to swing on, delicious vegan food at Main Squeeze.

Boulder: The Boulder Circus center, spending time with Danielle and Kanyon, hanging out with Cindy Marvel and going to the Boulder Juggling Jam, preparing for Burning Man, performing at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret in Denver, photo shoots with Melinda of Hoopologie, going to the Identi-tape warehouse.

Moab: Riding bikes through the town, getting stuck in a rain/lighting/thunder storm and having to go under a rock overhang to wait it out with my love, the most beautiful place I have ever been!

Burning Man
Burning Man: Vulcan flow jams, hanging out with our Fire Spinning Squirrel Evan :) The hexayurt palace! Riding bikes and looking at art with my love, running into Allison on Tuesday night, hanging out with Jillian, spinning fire with the UK FireWorks collective in the Great Circle, getting the loudest cheer of my life while in a two high fire hooping, the Spin Cycle Hoop Jam.

Lake Tahoe Flow Arts Festival: Bunking with Emma, Revolva, Marria and Zach, the hot tub, playing games with Zach & Marria, juggling in a two high with the Ninjas, performing in the fire gala show, visiting Christy in her amazing shop Jai Yen.

Well that's it! That was the tour! I think one of the major things I got from it was realizing how epically beautiful some parts of the US are. I think I had this idea in my head that the only place in the US to live is either California or NY. But there were many times when I looked around and thought,"I could live here. I get why people live here." It was good for me. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

After the tour I got to live with my wonderful friends Matt & Lily. Their house is full of signed photos of
The Time Traveling Circus
Burlesque legends. I got to wake up to look at them every morning :) I got a job working with Life Play Productions teaching kids hoop dance after school every day. It was an incredible learning experience and I truly fell in love with my kids! I also started practicing Spanish everyday to prepare for the Nicaragua trip. I love exercising my brain in this new way. I have wanted to learn Spanish for such a long time and it's ridiculous that I don't know it so it's been the perfect opportunity to teach myself. In September, I was fortunate enough to perform at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. I gained massive amounts of inspiration from seeing the amazing shows and meeting all of the lovely performers. In October, I produced another sold out show, "The Time Traveling Circus" and hosted a day of workshops (I called it "Find Your FlowDiego") with Caterina Suttin, Revolva, Aileen Lawlor and Tiana Zoumer. It was a dream come true to produce a show with women in it who have really inspired me quite a lot. I also performed a Vampire French Maid Burlesque piece with about 25 women, it was the largest group Burlesque piece I have ever performed in!

Stars of the Orient in Reims, France
In early November I flew to Bristol for Swhoop! Bags & I started working on our first indoor non-fire gala piece for the Saturday night show and put it together in just a few days. We worked our booties off and I really enjoyed performing with him. We also both taught there and took some amazing workshops. After Swhoop I went to Paris and taught a Hoop Burlesque workshop hosted by the amazing Juliette Dragon. Then I went to Reims to teach and perform in Houria's Stars of the Orient Belly Dance Festival. I got to stay with her family in her home and I felt really welcomed into their life. I feel like I gained a new French mother! She really reminded me of my mom - a leader of a big belly dance troupe, teacher, mentor, dancer, performer, organizer and promoter of a large scale event - sound familiar? ;) I also gained a new German best friend, Antje and loved meeting Stella from Greece and two fabulous Ukranian belly dancers, Katerina Golub and Darya Spitsyna.
La Tour Eiffel Amour

Then Bags met me in Paris and we spent a week celebrating our one year anniversary and exploring the city. We stayed with the fabulous Lila Chupa Hoops who also hosted us to teach a Partner Hooping Workshop in Paris. After Paris went straight to Brighton to spend time with Jo & Andy and for Bags to teach at the Brighton Flow Fest. We had my favorite UK day ever that consisted of walking around the countryside and along the seaside, mulled cider and chips in a pub, cooking vegan pizza and watching the Dr Who 50th anniversary special live. After Brighton we went down to Portsmouth to play with Sally Cox and her new baby Violet. We taught a huge Partner Hooping Workshop there. After that we were all over the UK - Reading (Samantha Peel), Sheffield (Charlie Ledger), Manchester (Cathy Mizula), Birmingham (Julia Hurley) and London (Anna Hulagan). Staying with Samantha Peel in her home with her beautiful family was one of my highlights. I loved teaching the Partner Hooping Workshop at their Steiner School in the community room. There was something about the chemistry between Bags and I as teachers and the vibe of the carefree students, it was one of my favorite workshops I've ever taught! Samantha's lovely family life in the countryside made me think that having one of my own wont be such a bad idea one day :) We also performed and taught for the kids at the Steiner school, one of my favorite parts of the trip! Thank you to all of our hosts in the UK & France! We loved coming to visit you!
The Millenium Eye in London

Since then Bags and I have been working on videos, putting new routines together, preparing for Nicaragua, practicing Spanish and spending time with family/friends for the holidays. We have also officially joined forces at Twisted Orbit! You can see the video Bags made for me at Troopers Hill in Bristol below. This video shows some of the new moves I have acquired this year. 2013 really has been a year of leveling up my skills within the hoop! I have started juggling - performed it for the first time passing 6 hoops with Bags at the Swhoop show. I bought my first pair of clubs. I started performing with 4 hoops - nailed the box and 2 hoops on each arm and I'm still solidifying my 4 hoop split. I've also started performing acrobatic hoop moves with Bags. I believe that the Nicaragua project will continue push me in these new areas of performance. 

Some more lovely people I got to work with this year also include Sassy Stiletto and Lizzie L'amour of Bourbon Dames Burlesque, Lola Demure of Demure Productions and Mynx D'Meanor of the Fishnet Follies Burlesque Revue

I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has made my 2013 so amazing. I hope we can continue to play, dance, perform and grow together in 2014 and beyond! I can't wait to see what the new year has in store for us. THANK YOU!



  1. Living the beautiful dream! Happy to have spent a wee slice of it witchoo! Looking forward to all that 2014 holds for you. Safe travels and a smashing new year to you and Bags x

    1. Thank you love! Happy New Year! Looking forward to hearing about all of the amazing things you will do in 2014! Woot :)