Friday, January 30, 2009

outta town but still thinkin' about MC-LA

I am in Washington, taking a bit of a break from home things...but I happen to also be with my daughter Jillian and she has made us the most lovely Muchaesque (I made that word up), logo for our t-shirts etc!
I can't wait to wear it! hmmm what color would people like? And really tribal girls do you want another black tank top? What about green this time???

Preview at Gothla!

Mythical Creatures is going to be teased at Gothla in a little over a month.  Go out to Cal Poly Pomona on March 7th and see a little preview of the show at 11:28 (I'm also performing solo right after, so it's a perfect time for a bathroom/snack break!).  Info over at the Gothla website.

I'm really excited about the show.  There's a whole lot of creativity and new ideas flowing about.  I'm so glad I get to be a part of it all!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Self-introduction, the Script & Moving Forward

My name is Nisan.  Yes, it's pronounced like the car.  No, I wasn't conceived in the back of a Datsun (at least I don't think so).  Nisan means April in Turkish.  

For those of you who don't know, I'm Ayse's sister.  I sometimes dance in her student troupe.  My own background is in theatre.

Ayse and Elizabeth asked me to come aboard and help with the script as well as take up the role of director... though for this show, creatively, its a collaborative process.

The thing about every production I've ever directed is this: it's a journey.  I often sit down at the very beginning and worry that no ideas will come.... that this time, this one time, none of that accidental magic will happen, but inevitably I (or someone near me) manage to spark one idea which leads to another and another...

When I signed on board, Elizabeth and Ayse had a vague story-line based on a poem they liked.  They had a list of characters, some varying ideas, and that was all.  The challenge for Ayse and I was how to keep a cohesive story moving whilst keeping as much of the original character list (and the few stipulations that went with it) as we could.  (We knew people were already working on their pieces.)

Some people love the story.  Some people haven't commented on it.  Some seem less than pleased.  I suppose that's to be expected, but everyone should remember that this is a process.  From here, we need to work together so that the entire production only gets better.

A couple people have commented, for instance, on the role of the dark characters.  I never imagined them as beastly or ugly or anything undesirable.  I mean, this is a bellydance show after all.  We don't want hags!  We want powerful vibrant necessary women who are dangerous to our Dreamer as much in their allure as in their "darkness" (whatever that might be).  These characters must be captivating.

Originally, we didn't want to script to be too wordy.  We wanted to use the narrator to set mood--not to explain every scene.  In doing this, however, we seem to have written only a very basic conflict between light and dark.  The assumption being that the complexity would be brought in by the various performers.  Frankly, we didn't know how much direction we should give people on their pieces.

Then again, perhaps we should address this assumption that comes up time again that witches and harpies... and Medusa herself... must constitute something grotesque and haggish.  I created my online persona years ago as the Untamed Shrew.  Shrewish is hardly a flattering term for a woman, but it seems to me that any woman of interest or appeal usually winds up with some horrid title or another.  Here's our chance to take these characters back and redefine them!!! 

Now that I've spoken with a few of you, I have a better sense of play and especially of the role of the dark characters.  I'll look at the script again to see what I might do to highlight these performances with the actions of the Dreamer and the voice of the narrator.

Like I said, every production is a process.  I look forward to more processing... so please keep writing me your opinions!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

pushing our creative limits

Over the last few days I have been asked by several performers what my vision was for their part. And really I didn't write the actual script... Nisan and Ayse did.

I created the show concept.

I made a list of characters w/ Ayse, going through many of my myth, folklore & faerie books.

I wanted something that would explore some of my thoughts and feelings about the sacred feminine. About going into the darkness, the cave, confronting our dark sides, asking the question why is it dark and is the dark really bad or is it just misunderstood?

For some of our lovely dancers being a character that they perceive as unflattering through our societies' patriarchal view point is the first place to go...but I'm asking them to go beyond the place where there character may have been revered.

here are some edited communications I've had with people...

"We are practitioners of the art of belly dance, an ancient feminine art form right? So whether we realize it or not this is already challenging conventional thinking and modern ideology. I wish all of these women were required to read the Red Tent before dancing in the show!!! OR maybe that will be our next production...
There is so much of interest here, Persephone, Alice, Zulu all going into the dark places, exploring what our dark sides are, the feminine side, how they have been demonized, how shine a light onto our being and look at those places inside of us to come back stronger.
Do I make too much of it? That was my vision of the project, even though I keep it personal.."

"BUT I ask you to think outside the box...
There was a time when the world was more balanced, female beings were more revered. Then midwives and healers came to be thought of as witches and symbols of feminine power became misunderstood and purposely demonized to promote a new ideology. Maybe that is where you need to take this character...back before the patriarchal perceptions and use it as an opportunity to explore your divine creative feminine power...

This is the fun part! Trying to take a character and make it real right? This is the creative work! I'm not exactly the character I intended to be and I find it challenging and fun to try and be someone who is so small she can only have one feeling at a time!
Talking this through is part of the process!"

Friday, January 23, 2009

Breast Treatment Task Force

So with all the hullabaloo, I can't believe I forgot to say the most important thing about the Mythical Creatures-LA show! It is a fundraiser!!!!

For The Breast Treatment Task Force...
I was so thrilled by the response from most of the performers, it really adds dimension to what we are all doing. It's not just about us wanting to be in a show and having cool lights and people watch us.

This organization actually helps individual women who are unable to pay for their medical treatments, including in many cases transportation, living expenses. It is a way for us to help an actual individual who wouldn't have care if it weren't for what we are doing. It feels more personal to me because of this and I'm really thrilled that my friend Khani Jo suggested it.

Here is the website for more information...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Joining the troupe

I figured I'd take Elizabeth up on her invitation and make a post on my experiences with Mythical Creatures.  I'd heard about the events ages ago, when it was first being teased.  The more I've learned, the more excited I've been.  It's really going to be a fantastic event and I'm happy to be a part of it.

MC has also taken on an extra element for me though.  I joined Nataraja at the end of last year.  I've performed with them and will do so between now and the end of March but Mythical Creatures is really the event that's bringing me in to the troupe.  It's been really great working with Elizabeth, Michaella, Khani, Gigi, and Nancy on music, costuming, combos, choreography and everything else.  I've been so welcomed by the troupe and that's really meant a lot to me.

I'm really excited about what we're putting together for the show, too!  It's going to be a pretty awesome collaboration.  I'm very proud of my troupe and am so lucky to dance with them.  And I can't wait to see what everyone else is working on!  There are so many fantastic dancers in this show and a whole lot of creativity going into it.  It's going to be an amazing show of mythical proportions.  :D

I realized I could add another Nataraja (mostly) picture (hee!).  It's from my first performance with Nataraja at Donavon's studio.

proof of faeries

This is an email I got from a friend and dance student Jeniffer about a book she read called,
"The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena" written by John F. Michell

Hey Elizabeth!

I finally got that book from the library. According to the book, the fairy shoe was found in south-west Ireland in 1835.
"It is black, worn at the heel and styled like the shoe of an eighteenth-century gentleman. But it is only two and seven-eighths inches long, and seven eighths of an inch at its widest -- too long and narrow even for a doll's shoe. If it were an apprentice-piece, say, how did it come to be found on a remote sheep track? Why is it such an odd shape? How did it come to be worn? Who would possess tools fine enough to make such a curiosity?
"The man who found the shoe assumed it belonged to the 'little people' and gave it to the local doctor, from whom it passed to the Somerville family of Castletownshend, Co Cork. On a lecture tour of America, the author Dr Edith Somerville gave the shoe to Harvard University scientists, who examined it minutely. The shoe had tiny hand-stitches and well-crafted eyelets (but no laces), and was thought to be of mouse skin.
"Other shoes, equally odd, have been found in Ireland, not to mention other items of clothing, such as the coat found in a fairy ring by John Abraham Ffolliott in 1868. It was only six-and-a-half inches long and one and a three quarter inches across the shoulder. Fully lined and with cloth-covered buttons, its high, velvet-trimmed collar was greased and shiny from, presumably, long wear, while other parts were frayed and '...the pockets holed and scorched as if from a tiny pipe.'
"The reference above to an 'apprentice-piece' brings in the conventional explanation for all such items: that they were made by craft apprentices to demonstrate their skill and to serve as easily carried trade samples. This, of course, does not account for the fairy shoe and coat being so well used, as if they had been discarded by wearers no more than a foot or so tall."

The book also cites another book, from which this information is all supposedly taken.
Daimonic Reality (1994) by Patrick Harpur

There is a photo of the shoe next to a thimble, but not the coat. They also shoe a few other "fairy" items, none of which are as interesting.

our blog!

The purpose of this blog is to document the daily preparations of our upcoming show....

To begin I will explain...

My friend, Ayse and I have been talking for years and years about how we wanted to do a big stage show...AND I'm impatient... or maybe NOT because after about 5 years of talk I decided it was time to do something.

Every year at one of the places I teach dance, the Agoura Hills Calabasas Community Center (known from now on as the AHCCC) puts on a St.Patrick's Day show. I always try to bring my friends and students to perform at the show and last year, I asked my dance troupe She'enedra to perform in the show dressed as faeries (ha! I feel like this story may require footnotes and an MLA format!). We had done a piece back in 2005 where we were dressed as Faeries (yes it was my idea) and we passed out chocolates to the audience at the Blood Moon Regale After Party produced by Unmata in Sacramento. Loving any excuse to wear my ears I wanted to reuse the choreo & costume and yes St. Patrick's day was the perfect excuse for this. So there we were ALL dressed up! AND our good friend Richard Lowe Jr (who loves to photograph belly dancers) was there too, so we went out to Malibu Creek State park and did this photo shoot.
After having the pictures I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do a stage show where we could dress up as faeries. I made a postcard that I circulated at Tribal Caravan and other events with a target date of January 2009.
At first I thought it would just be a recital for my students and Ayse's with some starring guest quickly became a much more elaborate endeavor.

We now have an amazing list of acts signed up to perform in the show! here it is...try not to faint or is amazing:
Steven Eggers
Heather Shoopman
Ayse Cerami
Elizabeth Mahina (that's me)
Desert Lotus Tribal
Wild Roots
and Zulu (of Zulu Tattoo)

I'm going to invite our participants to blog their adventures and feelings here...if they can do it without revealing the special secrets of the show...
I will make them spit & pinkie swear!