Friday, August 21, 2015

Medium is really only for suckers who don't know the concept of value.

Another summer is almost over.  We had quite a few scorching hot days, some strangely cold and stormy days, and some really bad smokey-aired, burning lung days. Gotta love fire season! We had a thoroughly cold and soggy Bite of Bozeman and the second day of the Sweet Pea Festival felt like a cruel joke as we had nothing but on and off cold rain and wind. Awful. So I didn't get to take as many dance performance photos this year as I'd had hoped. I'm still editing some of them, but here is the gallery thus far:

The only three groups I could capture this year were Amy Seiwert's Imagery, Main Street Dance Theatre, and The Dance Center (the TDC photos are still to come).  All were fabulous and it's always such a treat to be able to see so much awesome dance in one weekend. There were other fantastic groups on the roster, but many were cancelled on Saturday due to the stupid weather.  Here's Rob and I struggling to contain our epic pouty faces as we hide from the rain.

On Sunday, the rain cleared and I had the opportunity to perform in this year's Sweet Pea, my first time on the Cypress Stage, yay! I had the opportunity last year, but my stupid calf muscle injury had me sidelined. This year, I was able to perform twice. The first was a little ballet number I choreographed to Anyone Who Knows What Love Is by Irma Thomas. I first heard the song in an episode of Black Mirror (can't recommend that show enough!) and fell in love. I was joined on stage by the beautiful and talented dancers Lottie Rhyner and Stevie Peterson. Oh, fun fact, always check for sneaky hooks and eyes on your costumes, folks! My dress kept hooking onto the back of my hair throughout the dance. Curses!

The second dance was choreographed by Stevie Peterson, who always whips up super fun choreography. This is to Belleville Rendezvous. That's Stevie, Lottie, and I, bopping and a-smiling.

So this entire summer has been lots and lots of dance rehearsals. Thankfully, I've remained injury free so far. Yay!  Now I'm knocking on wood like a woodpecker with ADD as the annual IndepenDance performance is coming up on Saturday, September 12. I'll be performing in three pieces this year. One is a flashy jazzy number choreographed by Jennifer Waters. The second is a fast and fluid contemporary piece by Stevie. And the third is my own contemporary piece called Pristine. Because I'm a weirdo and obsessed with seven minute dances, it's another seven minute long workout set to my own techno infused music with sleek black costumes. It's inspired by this incredible film…my favorite sci-fi movie ever.

Here's my original music that accompanies the dance:

In other news, back in July, Rob and I played a dark music festival in Montana. This is how it was advertised on the event's website.

It will showcase a stellar lineup of some of the best industrial and dark metal acts in the world. The 3-day festival will also feature a selection of carnival and sideshow acts, a audiovisual experience from one of the greatest media artist in the northwest, special guest dancers, artists, and performers, diverse interactive workshops, delicious food, local brews and fine craft vendors.

This sounds awesome, right?  Well, sadly, it wasn't.

We signed on a year in advance and were really looking forward to it and preparing for months. I had made a new costume and props and was going to debut some new songs. I also made a background video for the projection during Rob's set. He had been rehearsing and tweaking his music into the wee hours of the night for weeks. Gah! So much stuff we couldn't wait to share!

Leading up to the festival, we noticed that bands were falling off the bill and there were no photos of the venue to be found anywhere online. I started to feel a bit skeptical, but hey, we were hopeful that it was just a glitch. This was a first year festival and surely these bands had last minute conflicts. The venue was also new, so chill out, it's all going to be fine. Then our scheduled timeslots kept getting moved around. Okay, this is odd, but we're flexible. No biggie. Let's do this!

When July finally arrived, we rented a car to hold all of our gear and booked our hotel room for what would be a three day jaunt to play for ample crowds and hear bands and DJs playing dark wave, industrial, edm, punk, and heavy metal. Super excited, we hit the road joined by our dear friend. Isn't she a cutie?

After arriving at our hotel and enjoying an incredible dinner in town, we got ready for our first night at the festival and hit the road again. We were so super psyched!

After slowly driving ten miles up a steep mountain on a one lane rutted road with a deadly drop off for much of the drive, we were met with the reality of the situation and the actual "venue". It consisted of two haphazardly built stages on either side of a steep and rocky one lane dirt road in the middle of a super dense forest with no parking and no internet. Yikes. 

The main stage is on the top. The secondary stage is on the bottom.

Needless to say that I was ready to bail. This was so off the grid that I felt unsafe. I'm talking bear maulings and yeti rape. Luckily, we didn't see any bears or yetis, but there were a number of chemically altered attendees stumbling around, some of whom were the staff running this thing. I'm all for folks getting their party on, but when wasted people are building stages, rigging electricity, and running your sound, it's rather frustrating and genuinely frightening. What if someone was seriously hurt in the process? We didn't see any sort of medic station, security, or backup of any kind and that is just extraordinarily dangerous. Shouldn't that be step number one when setting up a festival that is looking to host hundreds of people? And wait a sec, how was this location even supposed to host more than fifty people? There was no parking, no security, basically, no safety net at all.

Anyway, we arrived around 9 pm and were scheduled to perform at 11 pm. Surely we could pass the time perusing all those vendors they mentioned on their website and watch some other performers? Well, there was one band, and they were finishing up their set while the second stage was still being built. And all those advertised awesome fun things to do on their website? Well, none of it was there. There were no carnival or sideshow acts. No audiovisual experiences beyond basic stage lights. There were no special guest dancers, artists, interactive workshops, or delicious food (unless bagged chips rock your world). There was maybe one local brew, but there were certainly no craft vendors of any kind. There was zero to do.

And sadly, there was no place to sit. So with nothing to do, we sat in the car which we had to precariously park on the side of the one lane rutted road next to a port-a-potty. We ended up sitting in that car and waiting for approximately five hours due to multiple generator issues, then staging issues, then more technical issues. We would have left and come back, but the drive up was so treacherous and there was no longer a set schedule of any kind due to all of the issues.

Once all of the glitches seemed to be fixed, we were supposed to play right after the headliner which would have been around 1:30 am, but then a DJ took over, so we had to wait yet again. Our official okay to finally get on stage wasn't until roughly 2:30 am, and this was after Rob basically begged the only coherent staff available to let us perform as we were already falling asleep and over the whole thing.

So we finally got to play on the main stage in the freezing cold for an audience of maybe twenty people. We were originally planning to each do 45 minutes, but decided to do twenty minutes each. The promise that there would be video projection turned out to be untrue, so we had to ditch the video. I also couldn't use my props cause there wasn't enough room on the stage and anything I would have tossed into the audience would have fallen behind this weird wall that was right in front of the stage.

After our set, we quickly packed up Rob's gear and made the slow and maddening white knuckle drive down the one lane rock infested road on a pitch black mountain at 4 am. Thank goodness the rental car didn't get a flat or bust its axel. Apparently that was happening to attendees on the regular. Another huzzah as we made it back to the hotel safe and sound. Seriously, how did anyone in a car that's not an SUV make it down that road alive?

We had initially planned to spend the entire weekend attending the festival, but after our experience that first night, we decided not to return. We wondered if it would improve on Saturday and Sunday, but given the state of things that first night and the treacherous drive to and from the location, we decided not to risk it. We felt awful, especially since our friend paid eighty bucks for a weekend ticket. But we all agreed to forgo the misery of returning. Since we had already paid for the car rental in advance, we decided to try and salvage our weekend. We spent the rest of that Saturday and Sunday in the city of Missoula and had a great time back amongst civilization.

giant chai during brunch at Catalyst

strolling in style in our pagoda parasols

riding the ponies at the Missoula Carousel

 A Moment's Repose: viewing art and confinement at the Old Prison Museum in Deer Lodge

In a nutshell, the festival was not our scene. I somehow imagined the location would be a large open green meadow, a nice view of the mountains, rows of vendors, and enthusiastic attendees decked out in their goth, punk, and alternative finest. But it was nothing more than a tiny patch of grass, lots of dirt, kicked up dust, and rocks for stumbling over, barely a view of the sky above us, maybe two vendors selling alcohol and potato chips, lots of drunk and stoned people, and only a mere sprinkling of goths who looked just as confused as we were. It wasn't a festival. It was a claustrophobic hiccup on the side of a road with a couple of port-a-potties. It was a stoner party in the dense woods with some bands and DJs on rickety stages. What exactly did tickets pay for here?

Ticket admission was $80. Let me repeat that…eighty dollars!!!

Now, I know there were some very hard working volunteers involved in trying to put it together, and keep it together, while others did not seem to care and were completely wasted during the whole setup (the main organizer was completely trashed when we arrived and then quickly disappeared). I heard that some volunteers didn't even get to see the location until the day before the festival and had no idea what they were up against. To those folks who did everything possible to try and make it happen I thank you for putting your hearts into this and for trying to give it a glimmer of what it should have been. It's hard to make something this big happen when you're surrounded by the incompetence of others. And my deepest apologies for pointing out all of the aspects that affected me so negatively. I know some of these folks tried to maintain their sanity while wrangling the madness. I sincerely hope these hard working folks were paid for their long hours.

I did hear that some attendees had a great time, which is awesome!  If I was a camping sort of party toking gal, maybe I would have seen it with different eyes. Cause, hey!  No cops, no curfews, just plenty of camping with lots of loud music, booze, and drugs. To some that would be their mecca. But I'm not an outdoorsy party girl, unfortunately. And judging by how the headlining band basically sat in their car just like we did, then promptly left after their set, I'm guessing we're not the only ones who were disappointed and led to believe that it would be more than what we experienced. But hey, they got paid! Kudos, guys! You were smart! We were idiots.

Having a festival that promotes the darker and alternative genres of music in Montana is fantastic. That's the number one reason we signed on in the first place.  We're not all cowboys, folk singers, and cover bands in this state.  But for us, this didn't live up to our expectations and I fear that some attendees and performers who have never been to Montana may never wish to return after witnessing such poor management and disorganization.

I'm very sorry if anyone thinks I'm being brutal and unfair. But when you feel wronged you want to warn others so it doesn't happen to them. I didn't sign a contract to perform and I didn't get paid to perform, that was my first mistake. I wanted to be a part of it because I believed a festival of this genre should be supported. But it was falsely promoted on the website and the organizer was either spewing lies or delusional, which is disheartening either way. So I specifically blame the organizer and hope the folks who tried to pick up his slack never work with him again. I know I never will.

And besides, maybe, just maybe, with my honest recount of said event, this will prompt someone to refund my friend's money. Thus ends my festival rant. Thanks for listening. Back to the bat caves I go. Woosh!

Here, let's look at something ridiculous!
Hahaha! That's better! We're such weirdos!

In costuming news, I finally got around to doing something with this red prom dress I bought at the local thrift store for, I think, ten bucks.

totally prom dress needs a totally new look

It basically sat in a bin for two years. I initially wanted to turn it into a Victorian gown by combining it with another sleeved gown, but it just wouldn't come together in my head. With an upcoming live performance in my midst (the aforementioned festival), I decided to take this puppy out again and see what I could do with it. I had created and worn another red and black gown for a previous live show and considered wearing it again (see below), but I I really wanted to do something new.

I still love you, my pretty! I'll wear you again, I promise!

I cut the prom dress just below the waistline so I had a separate top and a skirt. Then I cut the skirt up the middle and stitched the edges. Since I'm obsessed with the 18th century silhouette, I knew I wanted to poof out the hips with some tulle, so I started there. Then, after finagling with it on my dress form, I decided to go with a bustier style top and a skirt that could be removed to reveal a hidden black mini underskirt. After many hours of stitching on fancy trims and bows, I ended up with the final design. I also made some flouncy arm attachments (not pictured) that could be removed during my performance.

Since the festival was too cold, far too dusty, and getting onto the stage would have ripped this satiny beauty to shreds, I decided not to wear the long overskirt or the arm attachments. I'm hoping to eventually wear it live on stage, but in the immediate future I'll be wearing it for a photo shoot. So stay tuned for fancy photos coming soon! Huzzah!

So there you have it, what a summer, huh? I guess this regular blogging thing isn't as easy as I thought. Next post I hope to have some new photos to share and some more dance updates!

Alas, I am reminded of that scene in Desperately Seeking Susan when Dez returns the scooter to the delivery guy and he keeps saying "Never, again, don't ever ask me again." Haha! It's somehow fitting at this moment. Go watch that movie. And Ghost World, too!

Opening Quote: Ghost World (2001)