A Gregorian Calendar Change Thank You Note

Thank you to everyone I danced with and danced for, and to everyone I played music with and played music for. Thank you to my students–those who took my classes or workshops–I learn from you all every time we meet and am honored whenever you walk through the door. Thank you to my teachers–all those whose classes I took–you keep me hungry. Thank you to my family and friends. Thank you to my colleagues for collaboration, occasional commiseration, and for reminding me that we are living the dream. Thank you to those who I sponsored here in San Francisco in workshops and performances. And thank you, so much, to the artists, activists, thinkers, writers, wild ones, and risk takers that have inspired me all year, and will no doubt keep doing so into the next.

May 2015 bring us joy and justice where it is most needed.

May we remember to stay human. And may all our bills be paid.

(Also posted on facebook.)

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Time off? What’s that?!

I have made a little list of things I do to stay bendy and steady in both body and mind when I have a non-structured month off, and thought I’d share it here.

Take dance classes, specifically classes I can’t take when I am in the throes of my own teaching, taking, working, and performing/prepping others to perform. I drop in to stuff last minute and get to be a beginner in styles not my own.

Take other classes. For me that usually means art making stuff, and in January I’ll be taking a weeklong intensive working in the metal arts (jewelry, not music), a side hobby and interest of mine. I also try to hit movement classes like Feldenkrais and Alexander technique, and am much more regular at my very favorite Iyengar studio here in town. Sometimes I’ll sign up for an herbal medicine or plant identification course, or work on tarot cards and fun stuff like that. Pretty much anything I can nerd out on for a bit makes me happy.

Do something movement oriented at home, every day. For me that usually means yoga, although I also tend to go through some dance videos/DVDs I have. I’ll list some links of favorites at the end of this post.

Read like a motherfucker. To be fair, I do that all year round, I just get to do it even more when I am off. I have my library card number memorized. (Yes, I also curse.)

Cook. Being off for a spell also means less cash around, so I get to cook more and try new to me recipes along with favorites I don’t always have time to make when I get busy again. Nourishing oneself is never a bad idea, and I love food.

Clean and organize. This is the time to clean out the sock drawer and sweep away all the dust bunnies hidden in corners and under rugs. I want to start back into my routine with a clean, safe, home base to work from. This is directly connected to being creative. My mom used to say “Messy bed messy head!”, and she had a point (I still say my messy desk is a sign of genius though, but that may be my inner procrastinator talking). I catchup on my podcasts and become the master of my world for a minute (knowing full well it will fall apart again–cycle of life, baby!)

I’m also a musician, so I try to practice music making every day as well (I don’t always succeed, but I try). I do succeed in listening to music every day. Actually, I’m super good at listening to music, really a natural talent. 😉

I will occasionally do The Artists Way when I have big chunks of time as well. Not up for it right now, but it is a nifty program for creative types (aka all humans).

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I am not a big dance/movement instructional DVD person, but I enjoy a few now and again when I need a push and feel like a hermit. I strongly encourage dancers to watch a lot of performances whenever they can both live and recorded. You can dance along to videos of performers you love and make a mini-lesson for yourself. If you have taken class with me you may have been given homework a few times on how to structure this kind of learning. I still do this myself!

That said, here are some recorded classes/instructionals I have consistently gone back to:

J Brown’s Yoga Video

Cassandra Shore’s Conditioning Class

Autumn Ward’s Beautiful Technique From Step One

Erich Schiffmann’s Freedom Style Yoga

How do you stay focused when you don’t have looming deadlines of performances or classes to prepare content for?

Stretching my wings

I teach at a university that runs on a semester system, and have come to plan a lot of the rest of my life around that calendar. I like the cyclical nature of it all. Things start, things end, there is a break and time to breathe, and then things start again, a little the same but a little different. It works for me. Dance teacher colleagues have called me crazy for taking 2 to 6 week breaks from ongoing classes, but I find a regular short ‘sabbatical’ of sorts twice a year refreshing. It makes me a better teacher to step back and be a bit selfish (though that word sounds more negative than I mean it to) for a minute. When I can just be a student and be a newbie and be more open it ultimately serves my audiences and my students, and myself, pretty darn well.

Today after I leave the university, heading into a month off after the whirlwind of finals week and a lot of grading, I’m going directly to a dance studio to work with new to me teachers in a style not my own, and I pretty much have no idea what to expect. I’m excited and nervous and doing my best to be open. I know that even as a dancer and thinker and dance maker and teacher in a very rooted style and form I can learn a lot from other body thinkers and dancers. I am particularly excited how this dancemaker (Joe Goode) talks in terms of human-ness — he has a class called ‘movement for humans’, and writes of starting simple wherever you are at, having no expectation of anything perfect or even particularly good, and authenticity in the body you are in at the moment. It all fits a lot of my own philosophies about dance, at least on paper. We’ll see very soon what the reality brings.

Here is what I am attending: Start Simple

I’m always excited to be in a dance studio, whatever happens.

And yeah, I’m back to updating the blog, so I’ll keep you posted. I have some old posts at blogger, but I can’t even access that site anymore since the big G took it over. WordPress it is!

M.

Introductions: ‘From B-lo to Cali’ or ‘How I fell into this industry’

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The Little Black Egg is a screen printing shop I started with my wife and partner after many years of working for other shops. Following is a bit about my history and experience in this industry and the roundabout way I came to be a shop owner.

PART 1 (Buffalo Origins)

My introduction to the world of screen printing happened when I was a young punk growing up in Buffalo NY and one of the only places that hired us young punks was The New Buffalo Shirt Factory which was on Main St. in Buffalo at the time. 75% of the staff there were musicians! Here’s an older Printwear Magazine Article on NBSF.

My introductory tasks were probably the same as anyone getting a foot in the door at a print shop, folding shirts! NBSF at the time boasted 6 Challenger autos and 3 three long dryers (Eliminators if my…

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