Marina: “How to Dance as Much as You Want, Tip #18: Stop Dancing for a Bit, and Do Something Else”

15 12 2008

When I first started taking dance classes, I took ALL the dance classes. I was 28, and had never really learned to dance, so these classes were like crack and a nice, long drink of water, all at once. I wallowed in the abundance of dance, I frolicked like a mermaid through the unending sea of it. I mean, DANCE, right?

But about a year and a half into it, as I was preparing for my first recital at school, I became aware of the need to come up for air. Also, I was getting shin splints.

I learned the hard way that what seems like a paradox really works: by strategically not dancing, you can keep on dancing! Don’t let preventable injury, overwork, or stress sideline you. Take time off when you need, for different reasons:

– Dance is exercise, and like all forms of exercise, you can overwork. Even the hardest-core performers should take at least a couple days away from it each week. If you must move some every day, try mixing it up with different forms of movement: yoga, or volleyball, or yo-yos.

– Dance is mental, and like all forms of, um, mental, you can get obsessive and stressed from concentrating too hard. If you are in the middle of a class or rehearsal and you feel yourself going to a Bad Bad Place because you are getting lost or confused, yes, you can bulldozer through. Or you can STOP, just for a moment, just for a drink of water or a wipe of the sweaty brow.

– Dance is art, and like all forms of art, it benefits from hybridization. Keep that dance alive with non-dance things: paintings and garage sales and cooking and kids’ music and learning a new language. You did that stuff before you started dancing, right? And enjoyed it? Well, keep it up. Because frankly, your inner artiste needs to get out more.

– Dance is spiritual, and like all forms of spirituality, it can be pushed to fanatical extremes. Give it a rest, get into your body in some other way, gardening or walking or swimming or building sand castles. Not everything, or even most things, need to express the Deep Hidden Truths of the Soul. Even if they actually do.





Coqette: “Dr. Sketchy’s is Making Me Effin’ Crazy”

2 12 2008

So tonight, in case you are somehow unaware, I am the artist’s model for Dr. Sketchy. (Details about the event are in the Upcoming Performances tab up top, or just one post below this one on the main page.) I’m modeling solo, because the organizer is trial-running a night-time version (usually it’s Sunday afternoons), and she was worried about the attendance, yadda yadda, only one model in case there’s no $.

I am not worried about the $. Spoiler alert: dancers generally don’t get paid very well. I am not even worried about sitting still for that long; I’m exhausted today, so if anything, I may end up taking a 20-minute nap on stage and start drooling. Sexass.

What I am worried about is going up there alone. Not because I don’t like being on stage by myself – I totally, totally like it, probably in a Secretly Very Revealing About Her Psyche way – but because I don’t like that I can’t move. If I can’t move, I can’t see how my jokes are going over with the entire crowd. I can’t make eye contact and charm people. I can’t say something and gradually smile while I say it, which is up there with, “nodding your head while talking,” in the list of ways to get people to subconsciously like you.

You’re reading this going, “Damn, Coquette tries too hard.” Maybe I do. But I don’t think so, because if you’re saying it, you probably already like me, and if you like me, then it’s probably because I’ve already charmed the hell out of you. Which is what I’m supposed to do – I’m a self-promoting performer. And it’s also what I’m supposed to do because, aside from the actual sketching, I sort of *am* the event…or more accurately, I’m the Key Prop. And if the Key Prop is a wet blanket, then it’s going to be a loooong 2.5 hours.

This was going to be the usual, “Hey! Event! Tonight!” excitement building post, and I would love to do that. But my mother is in town tonight (and will be at Dr. Sketchy’s — everyone come out and say hi to my mom! …yeah, still sounds weird), and today has been kind of awful on all fronts. Pretty much the last thing I feel capable of doing is being sexy and wonderful in front of strangers, but that would be why they call it acting.

So if you read this blog and you come out tonight (which you should – there will be Christmas music, because I’m unashamedly That Girl), think of yourself as getting the back-stage pass into my brain. And please feel free to come say hi and tell me if I’m faking it well or not. ūüôā





Coquette: “Dr. Sketchy 2: Sketch Harder”

26 11 2008
held that pose for 20 minutes, and then couldn't feel my hand for 20 more.

That’s right, darlings!¬† Dr. Sketchy’s model this time around is little ol’ me, and I will be glamming it up, Naughty Santa Style.¬† And!¬† It’s at nighttime!¬† Which is the right time…for sketching me.¬† Here are the official details:

Dr. Sketchy is what happens when cabaret meets art school.

Tuesday December 2, 2008 7-9:30pm
NIGHTTIME Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School Burlesque Life Drawing Session
featuring: Coquette! From Big Moves!
Great Scott
1222 Commonwealth Ave (corner of Harvard and Commonwealth), Allston
$7 7-9:30pm 18+ (bring your ID, this is a bar)
We’re going to try an evening Dr. Sketchy to see if it’s attractive to folks. So write this in your calendar and please join us after work for evening drinks and drawing. Feel free to bring dinner with you, or have it delivered!

Come on out, stop in for a drink and a sketch. Mention the blog and I’ll kiss your cheek!





Marina: “How to Dance as Much as You Want, Tip #84 – EAT WHAT YOU WANT”

21 11 2008

Okay, that may seem like a non sequitur to some, but the connection is hot on my mind, because it’s coming up on the winter holidays, a time when our collective efforts to negotiate that tenuous line between consume/refrain come to a frenzied, holly-jolly climax. This split is particularly perilous when it comes to food. You see it in the ramped-up diet ads, the recipes for guilt-free gravy, the covers of the women’s magazines urging us to make decadent cakes for the family, but lose 20 pounds by the holidays.

The very language that most people use when talking about food consumed–“I’ve been bad” or “oh, you’ve been so good”–tells us that the naughty/nice metaphor has long ago ceased to be only a sorting device for Santa to plan his trip, and has thoroughly sunk into our own minds.

And I’m here to tell you that it is a waste of your time.

When you are busy fretting about calories, applying willpower to every party appearance, worrying about the difference between fat-free and full-fat eggnog, that is THAT MUCH EXTRA psychic energy that you no longer have available to pick that perfect mix for a holiday party, to look up a bellydance class in the paper, to go to the Nutcracker (or the Slutcracker, here in Boston), to get out to a reggae night and slow-grind your way to heaven. When you worry about food, you are letting it consume you, instead of the other way around.

I’m going to spare you any lecture about intuitive eating. Google it and see for yourself the benefits you can get from just, you know, eating. (And yes, there are intuitive eating resources out there for people with eating disorders, too.) Me? I just know that eating what feels good to me feeds ALL of me, my dancing feet and my whack-ass mind, too.

So this holiday season, I propose that you save your energy for the good stuff, and don’t fret about naughty or nice. Make it “tasty” or “nasty”, make it “whatever I can afford that is delicious”, make it “what I want to share with friends”. Eat it. Love it. Then get out there and dance. Your body will thank you. For all of it.





Marina: “Auditions, fatties. Auditions.”

19 11 2008

You’ve seen us on stage. You’ve taken body shots off of us in bars. You’ve sighed and said to yourself, “DAMN. I want to be on stage with them.” Well, now’s your chance, because Big Moves Boston is holding auditions!

Auditions for the spring 2009 performance season are coming up in early January, for ensemble positions in a wide variety of performances, including…

– Yarrr! A Pirate Cabaret (March 21 in Boston)
– Fat Camp (late April in Boston, and May 8-9 in Philadelphia)
– repertory performances at regional colleges
– additional appearances at Tea & Strumpets 3, the Fetish Fair Masquerade Ball, and other area showcases.

Big Moves is not just a grassroots dance and performance company, it’s also a passionate community AND a serious artistic effort aimed at shifting existing prejudices about size and weight in the dance community and in society as a whole. We ask a lot of our performers and our crew, and the first thing we ask is that you really be on-board with the kind of work that we do.

MORE ABOUT BIG MOVES

WE HAVE MANY GENRES IN BIG MOVES. Jazz, musical theater, hip hop, bellydance, burlesque, lyrical and modern and post-modern, just to name a few. Some of our numbers are one genre, some are hybrids. Performers sometimes have one genre they are strongest in, but we ask our performers to work in different numbers that may be different from their primary focus (it’s good for you!).

ALMOST ALL OF OUR PERFORMERS DANCE. ¬†Occasionally we will take guest artists who are only singers or jugglers or whatever, but in general for inclusion in the regular cast, you’ve gotta dance. We are looking for performers who can dance at an advanced beginner level, at least, or else you must be a quick learner (as will be tested in the movement audition). Dancers with higher skill levels may be invited to create and rehearse solo or small-group works for shows.

ALL OF OUR DANCERS DO OTHER THINGS, TOO. Acting and singing are the obvious talents we need, in addition to dance, but we have costumers and writers and props people and acrobats and instructors in the cast as well. We’re a pretty multitalented, crafty bunch, and we need to be to do the amazing art that we do.

BIG MOVES PERFORMERS WORK HARD. Big Movers rehearse 3 to 12 hours a week, depending on level of involvement and what shows are coming up, and participate in Big Moves’ profit-share program. Most rehearsals are on Sunday afternoons, and Monday and/or Tuesday evenings.

BIG MOVES PERFORMERS SELL THEIR OWN SHOWS. Our dancers are active in going out to promotional appearances, selling tickets to shows, and selling Big Moves merchandise and events in their own personal network.

BIG MOVES IS GETTING BIGGER AND BROADER. We encourage people of color,  super-sized people, and men or butch-identified woman to audition. Big Moves is proudly queer- and trans-friendly, and we are SIZE-DIVERSE (that is, we are thin and average-sized, as well as different sizes and shapes of fat). We want performers of any and all sizes, who want to move forward as artists AND help us push out the boundaries of body acceptance in our dance community and in society.

BIG MOVES IS A COMMUNITY, NOT JUST A COMPANY. Big Moves has been in operation in the Boston area since 2005. We are looking for people who are interested in joining a circle of likeminded, body-loving freaks, not just doing a gig.

Questions? Visit us online first…

www.bigmoves.org
on myspace
on facebook

and then send email to marina@bigmoves.org





Marina: “And Now for Something Completely Different”

18 11 2008

Well, we hope you got a chance to see us in Hot Buffet. Wow, right? I mean, even WE are still reeling. We’re not likely to plummet that deep into tragic awesomeness any time again soon, but we had to do it once, just to say we went there.

We are bouncing right back into our normal high-energy fun fest with the spring show, Fat Camp, and yes, you’re going to get more info about that soon. But right now, we need your help sending Big Moves for another run at the Montreal Fringe Festival, a wild celebration of alternative theater and performance taking place June 11-21.

This year marks Big Moves Boston’s FOURTH trip to the Fringe. We’ve been doing our large-scale musicals there for the past two years (Gargantua and Lard). This year, we’re stripping it down and loading up a single car for a fast-paced, in-your-face, two-person carnival of fun and fat-assery, something we’re calling WIDE LOAD: breaking the stage and taking names. Full-out dance moves, fast and furious semi-autobiographical sketch comedy, blistering rants, and random slingshots of tasty snacks make Wide Load the fringe show that people are going to want to see.

Veteran Big Mover Colette and I are again hosting an outdoor breakfast for the Fringe community–or everyone who gets there before the pancake batter runs out. We’ll be roaming Montreal streets in skirts up to Here and fattitude out to There. Two people can’t flood the Fringe with fabulous the way 12 people can, but damn it if we’re not going to try.

Hey, and Wide Load will be running for one night only in Boston, too! We’re planning a special launch party for late May! But we need your help to get this show up and running.

We’re already had a few donors from around the country, and one generous contributor from Chicago, but we need more support. Our goal is $1000 in the next 12 days. That money will help pay our entry fees ($640) and print the postcards and posters that will bring more Fringe attendees in to see the Big Moves vision of a size-diverse world. If you haven’t yet donated to Big Moves this year, consider making now the time to start. If you’ve already donated, you know we put on great shows with grassroots budgets, and you know that your added contribution at this time is going to really make a difference.

Send email to marina@bigmoves.org and let me know how much you can pledge. I will send you a paypal money request and we can do it online (we are revamping our online donation process, and that’ll be up to speed by December 1, too late for us to use for this push, though).

All donations of $35 or more will receive a Wide Load tour bumper sticker, plus a Wide Load poster signed by Colette and me. You know the work we do, you know the changes we’re trying to make. We rely on individual donors to help move us forward. More specifically, we rely on you.






Nellie: “We Built This City on Poutine and Stripteases”

11 11 2008

Many of you may not have known this, but a small troupe of us hit up Montreal last weekend to perform at the Haunted Ho-Down with our friends and the darlings of Montreal, the Dead Doll Dancers. Colette, Erin, Marina and myself trekked up in two cars, chairs in tow, to perform Mein Herr and Backdoor Man for a packed house at Cafe Cleopatra.

It was AWESOME.

I cannot speak to Marina and Colette’s journey, though I know they had some trouble getting into Canada due to the aforementioned chairs and the hassle of having to tell the border guards that they were performing. Since Erin and I couldn’t take time off of work, we got up at ass o’clock and let Boston at 6:30 am. We got to fudge a bit with the border patrol and tell them we were just staying with friends so, though neither of us has a passport, we got through in about five minutes – though we did learn that when the border guard asks you if you’re carrying more than $10,000 in currency, do not laugh.

We arrived in the fair city at around 12:30 and, since we had to meet Jana, a Dead Doll Dancer and our lovely homestay host, at the club at around 1:30, we just went straight there. We realized that there are hot dog joints on every corner, which, while a little strange, was totally awesome. We got hot dogs for lunch and then we went lingerie shopping. Yes, lingerie shopping. We both bought superhot corsets (the same corset, actually…they’re reversible!), and then it was time to head to the club.

And let me just break up this recap to saying something super quick – everyone in Montreal is RIDICULOUSLY ATTRACTIVE. That is not a joke. That is not an exaggeration. There is something in the water there that just makes everyone smokin’ hot.

We got to the club in the middle of drag queen rehearsal. Natalie, the queen of the Dead Dolls (she has a more official title, I’m sure..but queen seems about right.¬† she’s awesome.), showed us where to put our stuff and warned us not to mess with the drag queens.¬† Actually, I’m pretty sure the conversation went like this:

Natalie: And here’s where you put your stuff. That area is for the drag queens. Do not go in there. Do not even look in there. Avert your eyes and all that. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why.
Erin and Nellie: Yes, we’re familiar with drag queens.
Natalie: Oh, good. That’ll save us some time.

So we hung out for a bit, got keys from Jana, and then Marina and Colette showed up to rehearse/tech. The other performers were nice enough to let us have an hour on the stage to make sure we were comfortable in the setting, and then it was time to tech. Since the backstage/green room area is upstairs, this was the only chance we were really going to have to see the show, which was both a little sad, but also exciting. So we watched everyone run through their numbers, and as new performers, Erin and I feel completely in love with the Dead Dolls, who had already charmed the pants off of Marina and Colette.

I knew for certain that I loved Montreal when Nora, the awesome stage manager and all-around bad ass promoter of Faggoty-Ass Fridays, was telling us about her fliers and the experiences her interns had in distributing them:

Nora: So we have this flier of one lesbian fucking another one from behind with a strap-on, and the one doing the fucking is reaching into the other one’s head and tearing out her brains to eat them. This old guy approached my intern and berated her for passing these out in public.
Natalie: He got upset about those?  Seriously?
Nora: Yes. He was very concerned that the sex may have been non-consensual. I guess next time she’ll just have to be flashing the thumbs-up.

Awesome.

Erin and I thought we’d have a chance to go to Jana’s and drop our stuff off, but we didn’t. We finished tech, and there was just enough time to grab dinner and get ready for the show. We headed to…Subway…for dinner. WHATEVER, DON’T JUDGE. The guy working the counter was skeptical the Colette actually wanted a foot-long (I’ve never heard “Yes, a foot-long”) so much in my life. And then it was back to the club. We got ready. There were performers and costumes everywhere, and a ridiculously attractive MC walking around in assless chaps with kiss marks on said ass.¬† It was awesome.

The show was amazing. The crowd totally ate us up. The other performers were incredibly lovely people (and did I mention smokin’ hot?). The Dead Dolls especially are hilarious, completely disgusting and insanely gorgeous. The only thing that could have made it better is if all of you had been there.

Post-show, we went to an all-night poutine joint and I had my very first plate of poutine, which was delicious.

We then tiredly wound our way to Jana’s house (finally), where we were greeted by our most gracious hostess and her boyfriend, who had a bed, fresh towels, and candy waiting for us. So not only is everyone hot, they’re also sweet and thoughtful. I never wanted to leave.

We got up at ass o’clock again (okay, 9 am. which, after the car trip, performance, and 5:30 am wake up call the day before, is pretty fucking early) and met Marina and Colette for some brunch, which was also amazing.

SO.¬† If you made it all the way through this, you deserve a cookie. I don’t have any to give you, but know that you deserve one.

Closing thoughts:

1) Montreal is awesome, and I never wanted to leave.
2) Everything tastes better in Canada, because they use liquid sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup.
3) Did I mention the pretty?
4) Having a GPS is a lifesaver.
5) People were thanking us all day for electing Obama. That is not a joke.
6) I can’t wait to go back.





Marina: “How to Dance as Much as You Want, Tip #32”

7 11 2008

No, I’m not trying to encourage overconsumption of the world’s dwindling supply of pink satin ribbons or suede. But I’ve seen several people left to dance (uncomfortably) barefoot or in bad, bad street shoes because they only ordered one pair of dance shoes online, and it wasn’t the correct size.

Because dance-shoe sizing can be confusing, yo! All of the different manufacturers number their sizes variously, some as much as 2.5 sizes smaller than street size. Different styles of dance shoes fit differently: leather jazz shoes, which will stretch, should fit more tightly out of the box than canvas shoes, which WON’T. Ballet slippers should hug the foot, while for dance sneakers you need room for socks. Especially if you’re new to dance shoes, you need time and exposure to figure out what shoes really do fit.

So, if you’ve got the funds, check the return policy of the supplier, and then if it allows for returns, buy two pairs, or three, of the shoes you need in a range of sizes that you think covers your size. Don’t actually wear them to a studio or workshop (you know how dirty those floors are!). Just sweep your living room floor and walk around in them for a bit. (then remember to return the ones that don’t fit!)

If you’re short on cash, do visit your friendly neighborhood dance store and SPEND TIME trying things on. Yes, your show is in two days, but there’s never any reason for dashing in to pick up a pair of shoes like a point-of-sale item. (P.S. for extra good small-business karma, best thing is to buy the shoes there.)





Marina: “Hot Buffet Reviews, Let Me Show You Them.”

29 10 2008

Here in Boston we just finished our fall show, Hot Buffet (a dystopian musical satire). And now that the dust has settled, the set has … dustled (?!), and the dildo harness (courtesy of Good Vibrations, thanks, GV!) has been folded and put away in the Big Moves costume box, I think I have about a week to contemplate the experience before the next season comes riding in hard and fast and needing to be fed.

Well, “contemplate” may be ambitious, and by “a week” I mean maybe another 12 hours.

But there have been a couple of interesting incidents during this, the only tragedy/drama that Big Moves has produced anywhere in our eight years of existence so far.

1) We got a COMPLAINT LETTER, from someone who was offended by the show! She and her companion left at intermission because her companion was so traumatized by something portrayed in the first act that she was in tears. I’m not going to say what, because there’s a possibility that Hot Buffet will either be restaged by Big Moves Boston somewhere else or by another Big Moves chapter, but someone was actually moved so far by the content that she couldn’t handle watching any more of it.

Now, our intent was not to make people leave at intermission. There’s the whole tragic ending that we want people to see. THEN they can leave, shaken and disturbed. And I did send a compassionate note to the letter-writer–I mean, we wouldn’t have put a warning in the marketing about the scene, because that would have blown a significant plot point, but it’s always worth taking such comments under discussion when we plan.

But actually, I take it as a round-about, accidental compliment. Our depiction of the issue was sufficiently real that it triggered someone. Someone was offended, not by the fatties, but by a drama unfolding graphically, inexorably on stage. I feel like a grown-up director suddenly. Kinda… wow.

2) We got a REVIEW, from a mainstream print newspaper. We deliberately set up this run over two weekends, in the hope that critics might be able to attend, and be interested enough to write a review. And one guy did.

Take a look. It’s a pretty good review. I mean, we got a photo on the front page, with a jump to a full review and another photo. And he did encourage people to come to the show. (I’ll ignore the “strap on your feedbag” remark, because those poor journalists just can’t seem to avoid getting cute.)

But the big draw, in his opinion, was the big fat fatties doing pervy things all up in his face. Nothing but fatties, all fatties, all up in his face.

The producer side of me (about 85 percent) is all “yay! all publicity is good publicity! Sex sells! Fatties are sexy! Look at how skeezy we got! Exactly the ambience I was going for!” But the remaining 15 percent (the artistic side, see item 1, above) is sitting quietly in the corner with a stiff drink in her hand, muttering “There is too a plot. There are several plots. There are whole fucking story arcs. There are confrontations and secrets and melt-down moments that made people really uncomfortable. There’s a butoh-inspired finale. Our dancing fatties aren’t so fat that they block the fucking stage and everything that’s happening on it. Lots of audience members gave praise, some walked away quietly with very disturbed looks on their faces, we even got a fuckin’ complaint letter. Were you so distracted by the ‘nearly naked, harness-wearing twink’ and the heaving landscape of voluptuous, food-smeared fatties that you couldn’t see the tragedy?”

So, you know, slightly mixed feelings on my part. BUT, it was a review, a good one that brought in tons of phone calls on Friday and Saturday morning about the show. ¬† If people came and got something that they didn’t expect, that’s not our fault. And it’s probably a good thing.

Fortunately for our fans and cast alike, the next big show, Fat Camp, is much lighter in tone. More details about that soon. In the meantime, yay for complaint letters and being misunderstood by the media. It’s a grand artistic tradition that means we’ve finally arrived!





Nellie: “Hot Buffet – Opening Week Audience Reactions!”

23 10 2008

Hot Buffet opened last weekend and, in addition to being a total blast, it was extremely well received by our audiences! Here are a few of the written comments we’ve gotten so far:

“You guys broke my heart. But that was the point. It was so powerful — the psychological stuff and the sexy stuff forced you to feel ways that were surprising! Thanks for a great ride, folks.”

“What a talented, risk-taking, courageous, entertaining bunch of fatties you all are. What a show! Hot Buffet brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my arms. The performances, the acting had power. Excellent book, excellent music. You continue to raise the bar.”

“Hot and Awesome.”

“Extremely interesting and creates conversation!”

“Beautiful, out there, different (in a good way).”

Don’t miss your chance to come see the show this weekend! We’d love to see all of your shining faces this Friday or Saturday at the Cambridge Family YMCA Theater!

Big Moves Presents: Hot Buffet
October 24-25
Cambridge Family YMCA Theater
Central Square, Cambridge, MA
Doors open at 7:30pm, show starts at 8pm

This show is for mature audiences only, owing to adult themes and partial nudity.