Day 6: Breakdancing

14 Skills for 14 Days a.k.a. Stay Home, Learn Skills

Day Six: Breakdancing

I can only speak for myself, but when I think about breakdancing, I think about dancers in contact with a hardwood floor swinging their arms and legs around wildly. Most of these maneuvers take a lot of training and/or redbull. For the armchair enthusiast, here are a couple moves that fit that description that can potentially be achieved on your living room carpet after eating half a pizza.

The Coffee Grinder

The Six Step

 

If that’s still too much, you can always stick with some toprocking, the showy on-your-feet stuff where you don’t have to so much as crouch down.

As for that, the only real trick is the attitude. Because if you have the attitude, it doesn’t matter if you have limited mobility. Teeny little arms. An oversized scaly head. All you have to do is have the confidence that you’re the king.

 

Caution: Not a Step- Photoshoot

Caution 3 Square

Just another day at the office.

Oh, yeah.  Except I don’t have an office.  Please, by all that is good in this universe let me not have to work in an office again.

Today Grace helped me take some promotional photos for my Ft. Collins Fringe Festival show, because they were due today at 5 PM, which seemed like a pretty good reason to me.  I don’t have all the choreography of the show worked out yet (because I’m closing 5 shows and opening 2 more between now and then) but I know enough to be able to take some fun pictures!

Caution Not a Step 2

 

Caution Not a Step 1

 

And if you were wondering, the process of getting into these poses is not elegant in the slightest.

IMG_1392

 

Preparing to Dance

I commited to doing a dance performance this year as one of my creative immersion challenges, but until a week ago, I had no idea what it was going to be.

Recently I met a group of clowns performing inside cardboard boxes who convinced me to sign up for a slot in the Ft. Collins Fringe Festival.

You might think, “didn’t this guy already say he was performing in a Fringe Festival?” 

Yes, I am.  I wrote Outside the Lines for my playwriting challenge, and it is premiering in August at the Boulder International Fringe Festival.  I’ve spent 6 months preparing for it, and have everything planned out for it.

Then I got a 30 minute slot in this other festival in mid-September, with a fraction of the time to plan the content, designs, and format.  But I knew:

1. It needed to include dance.

2. To save budget, it would utilize the set pieces from my previous show- namely, 2 stepladders and a series of modular platform steps.

3. It was probably going to include a quirky theatrical script, because that’s kind of my thing now.

With that information, the route was pretty straightforward.   I’m premiering my first dance-theater piece, “Caution: Not a Step” on September 15th.  It’s a series of variations on what is and is not a step.  And yes, there will be dancing on stepladders.

I’ll be writing more as the project goes on about choreographing for the first time in about 3 years, training for dance, and writing for a primarily movement-based script.  But I just wanted to share the news about the project!

Here’s a glimpse of my wonderfully Fringe-y venue:

  

Finding Creative Community

While it would be cliche to state that no man is an island, it would also be rude to have a blog that reflects on literature that doesn’t quote John Donne at least once.

Creative work can frequently be solitary, but it also requires the support of a larger group.  Every artist needs sources of inspiration, external feedback, and mentorship.  For commercially successful art, an audience can be pretty handy too.  In order to pursue the 10 projects of Finding the Framework, I’m searching out creative communities focused on each of the disciplines involved.  This is pretty straightforward for some areas.  As I mentioned last week, I’ve begun taking classes with Frequent Fliers, a dance company that teaches classes on everything from circus trapeze to jazz.  I plan to audition for their student troupe in the spring, and would complete my dance performance with them in April.

Other creative fields take a bit more breadth.  As a writer, I am always looking for new sources of inspiration, critique, and advice.  While dance requires physical proximity to a creative community, writing community can occur digitally.  I rely a great deal on thriving writers sites like Poets and Writers, National Novel Writing Month, and of course, groups of fellow bloggers on WordPress.

Our first production crew meeting for the film Be Not Afraid!  (Now in post-production)
Our first production crew meeting for the film Be Not Afraid! (Now in post-production)

Every day, (though some days are slower than others) I keep trying to find more communities that can help my creative projects thrive.  Creative communities can have so many different forms, from writers conferences to youtube baking instruction channels; from indie film festivals to new play festivals to groups of drunken pirates at a Renaissance festival.  (You want to see creativity, watch how many methods a pirate cosplayer can devise to smuggle rum into an event.)

I’m always looking for new creative communities.  Please feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments!

Dancing on air

I haven’t mentioned anything about dance yet.  I have in fact begun dancing as part of my Finding the Framework project.  I’m not a skilled dancer, but I’ve been exposed to a bunch of standard dance forms over the years- ballet, modern, and various forms of ballroom dance.  I’ve also picked up a few things from contact improv, breakdancing, and even the Brazilian martial arts dance form Capoeira.

So I’ve decided to spice things up for the style of dance I’m developing for Finding the Framework.  The primary venue that I’ll be relying on for this creative project is Frequent Flyers.  This Boulder studio, as the name implies, specializes in aerial dance.  I just finished their introductory course on low flying trapeze, and am starting a 7 week course on static/circus trapeze on Thursday.

Intro aerial dance

I’m also trying to take a jazz dance class with their professional training track students.  While my decade of experience as a gymnast and acrobat helps me with a lot of the gripping and flipping involved in aerial dance, it does very little to prepare me for jazz.  While most of the dancers can easily reach full splits in their stretches and kicks, I have the flexibility of a 2×4.  On a good day, I can get my legs to a 90 degree angle.  I blundered through the first class with all the elegance of a drunken freight barge.  But I still have 50 weeks to improve, so I’m trying to withhold judgement for now.

I also have a daily dance workout and routine set to Jailbreak by Awolnation.

The routine is a weird combination of warm-ups and exercises from past classes of mine in gymnastics, kung fu, yoga, ballet, and stage combat.  I promise I’ll post videos and instructions once I work out a few more of the kinks.  Also, I’m aware that Awolnation has better songs, but as I have to listen to this several hundred times over the next year, I’d rather not kill my appreciation for one of their top songs with overuse.

Finding the Framework: A Year of Creative Immersion

Over the past year, I have been researching the creative process.  This was partly for my own benefit, partly for understanding the drives of fellow artists.  Through all the books I’ve read, films I’ve watched, and lives I’ve examined, all I can tell is that creativity is wonderfully multi-faceted.

Sometimes, this can be unhelpful.  In exactly one year, I will begin applying to grad schools for my MFA.  The problem is, I still can’t decide which creative field to specialize in.  Years of deliberation and practice of numerous art forms have yet to lead me to a clear answer.

So.

It’s time to play a game.  Over the next year, from October 1st, 2015 to September 30th, 2016, I’m going to undertake 10 major projects, each in a different creative field.  When the year is up, I will begin grad school applications for whichever specialization has had the most successful project.

The projects are as follows:

  1. Write a novel
  2. Write a full-length play
  3. Perform in a play
  4. Perform in a dance showcase
  5. Produce a performance
  6. Release a music album
  7. Create a webcomic
  8. Create a short film
  9. Display an artwork at a gallery
  10. Learn to make macarons

While this division of effort will sidetrack energy from some of my strengths, I believe it has a number of advantages.  First, whatever track I choose, I will have hands-on experience in other fields, allowing me to better appreciate the works of different kinds of artists.  Second, creativity thrives on interdisciplinary thought.  The best way I have found to visualize it is through the theory of multiple intelligences.  Howard Gardner’s theory looks at intelligence as being broken into eight different modalities.  I picture creativity as a networked process nested right in the center of all eight of these.

Creative nesting

My projects are selected to draw on all eight abilities.  By spending a year in cross-disciplinary training, my creative ability should become far more well-rounded.  My success in each area will also give a rubric for evaluating my skills comparatively.

This process is going to involve writing about 150,000 words, researching, taking acting classes, dance classes, drawing classes, voice classes, rehearsing, reading, recording, reading, getting a headshot, designing business cards, learning an instrument, acquiring AV equipment, and countless steps I haven’t even anticipated yet.

Did I mention reading?  I’ve put together a list of 50 books to read, review, and reflect on over the next year, spanning all of the disciplines involved in this challenge.  I’ve picked 50 books not because I think that’s all the information I’ll need, but because it will allow me to read and write about one book a week all year, with one week off for Christmas and one off for tech week during Project #3.

All progress and creative revelations in this undertaking will be shared through this blog over the course of the next year.