Brianna began her training in Ottawa before moving to Toronto to gain a BFA in Performance Dance at Ryerson University. Her creative practice centers around storytelling and how musical, physical and textual narratives shape characters onstage. At Ryerson, Brianna performed works by Hanna Kiel, Hassan El-Amin, Alysa Pires, and Dylan Crossman of the Merce Cunningham Trust. She has worked with Near&Far Projects as a company artist, has judged for dance competitions across Ontario, and was on teaching faculty at the highly-praised Elite Danceworx. Participating in intensives has helped Brianna further develop her technique. She has recently studied Gaga in NYC, attended The Performing Arts Project in North Carolina, and trained in the Metamorphosis Method of Spain. Brianna has passed her ADAPT Jazz and RAD Advanced 2 Ballet examinations. She is an Aquarius and dreams of working on Broadway.


RECENT PROJECTS

CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

PERFORMANCE: I made a compilation of my most recent performances (from the past two years). CLICK HERE to watch the video (please? it’s less than 3 mins!!)


CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO IMPROV DANCE WITH ME

LIVESTREAM: On my Instagram Live, I streamed an improvisational dance session for 28 minutes straight. Join me in this jam session by clicking the YouTube link here. Let’s jam and get weird together!


TEACHING: I taught jazz classes on Zoom to the students of Leeming Danceworks. So enjoyable to return virtually to the studio I grew up dancing at. Thank you Sharon Leeming Mann for having me!


GALLERY

All photos by Alvin Collantes, Maxim Bortnowski & Nestor Rivera, unless otherwise specified.

Podcasting Conversations About Art

My BFA Thesis | Submitted on May 7, 2020 | Edited by Kat Sinclair

For my Independent Study Seminar, I am interested in hosting and producing a podcast that centers around artists and artistic projects. In addition to a written study, I am also submitting an exemplary podcast episode (link here) with the intention of supporting my proposal with veritable evidence. The episode in question features Alysa Pires, a Toronto-based choreographer and a Choreographic Associate for the National Ballet of Canada. The title of the podcast, (Art)versations, is a play on the words “art” and “conversations”. With that in mind, my podcast provides a casual listening experience that is also informative and easy to digest. Each episode, I will invite guest artists of any and all mediums of art to speak with me about their current endeavours, with each episode ideally spanning forty-five minutes to an hour in length. By providing artists with a platform to share their unique perspectives, the listeners of the podcast can hear about and begin to understand the creative process behind a piece of art. The current popularity of podcasts is intriguing to me, and I think conversing about art is an appropriate match for the long-form medium of podcasting. Although listening to podcasts is a relatively new method of consuming media, there is an accessibility and an intimacy that secures podcasts as a poignant staple in the world of media.

With the invention of the iPod in 2001 (Clark 2), users had the ability to conveniently transport their entire library of songs wherever they desired (Bull 344). Portability and accessibility reached a new height, and media was suddenly being consumed in an entirely different way. While radio stations were the preceding source of listening entertainment, the iPod planted the idea that listeners could choose when they want to hear a specific song (Berry, “Will the iPod Kill the Radio Star?” 147). No longer were listeners required to tune into a radio station’s scheduled line-up of music – if a listener felt the urge to hear Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”, they could play, pause, rewind, fast-forward or repeat the song as many times as they wanted. This change in media consumption gave the listener more freedom to cater their personal playlist to their own palette (Bull 347). As time went on, and newer models were introduced, Apple released an application called Apple Podcasts. The term “podcast” is a combination of the product name “iPod” merged with the function of “broadcasting” a channel to the public, which was previously coined by the medium of radio (Murray 198). Since 2004, when Mark Curry first established the word “podcast”, the popularity of podcasts has exponentially grown and continues to find mainstream appearances (McClung and Johnson 83). Why are more and more listeners flocking to podcasts and turning away from the beloved and reliable radio? This is due to the intimacy and non-commercialization that podcasting can offer listeners (Meserko 21). Most streaming services, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts, allow free downloading for every episode (Sullivan 1-2). Even though many podcasts rely on sponsored advertisements to make a profit, the listener can fast-forward through commercials and seamlessly avoid interruptions in their listening experience (Meserko 23). Contrary to conventional radio and television, many podcasts are produced and distributed by a singular company or in some cases, a small team of creators. This advances the concept of self-made production, wherein a creator does not have to bound themself with a large production company for their work to be publicized (Berry, “Part of the Establishment” 662). Therefore, anyone and everyone has the capability to start their own podcast from the comfort of their homes, consequently deeming podcasting as a place for realistic and personalized content (Meserko 22). Further, there is a conversational aspect to podcasts that creates an atmosphere of white noise. Whether a listener turns on a podcast while doing chores, commuting, or solving a puzzle, the audial environment is leisurely digestible (Peoples and Tilley 47). Audiences will happily download and listen to a two-hour podcast where the host talks about one topic the entire time because the listener knows they can come in and out of actively listening (Meserko 24). Should the listener begin to drift away from truly engaging with the podcast, all is not lost. The improvisation and informality that come with podcasts make audiences choose this form of media instead of radio (Berry, “Will the iPod Kill the Radio Star?” 145). Podcasts are made for the people, made by the people and they are consumed at any rate of absorption that the listener desires, and this is why I think discussion about art works well as a podcast. 

Typically, art conversations run over a long period of time in the form of an interview, a Question and Answer event, or a panel discussion. Simply put, talking about art requires time. My podcast creates a platform for conversation about artistic projects in their most vulnerable states, which also requires time. Above all, I want the artist to feel comfortable opening up about their failures and/or successes. I have experimented with recording podcasts episodes of different lengths, even playing with quick, ten-minute episodes. However, I concluded that a forty-five minute to an hour time span is an appropriate amount of time for the guest artist to reflect on their perspective in a relaxed and honest manner. For instance, the conversation I had with Alysa Pires is informative, but still maintains a level of casualness that matches well with podcast audiences. Alysa and I began to have spontaneous thoughts that took us off our original topic, and this off-the-cuff style of speaking with someone is akin to why podcasts have become so popular (Meserko 24; Szeto 418). Furthermore, by keeping the podcast mostly unedited, listeners can feel as though they are a part of the conversation as it goes on. Audiences tune into podcasts that are drawn out because it invites the sensation of genuine communication (Sharon and John 343). With (Art)versations, I plan to invite this same feeling while informing my listeners with the inside scoop from the guest artist. 

Not only does discussion about art match nicely with long-form content, but it also invites audiences into the behind-the-scenes experience of how the artist created the work. Artists may go through countless rounds of creating, analyzing, practicing, and abandoning their works throughout their creative processes, and I think audiences would be interested in hearing about these idiosyncratic experiences, especially if the artist has a pre-existing fan base. The discussion around how a piece of art is created is just as interesting as the art itself. While the finished product is what an audience may be looking for, there is merit to revealing the pathways that led the artist to the endpoint. Moreover, listeners can comprehend where the artist found the inspiration behind a piece of art, generating an intimate relationship between the artist and the consumer. Oftentimes, audiences can interpret art in a completely different way than the artist initially intended, and this is where general meaning and intention can become blurred. Although an artist may produce something that is open to interpretation, I think it is still valid to understand where an artist drew their inspiration from and how the art came to be. (Art)versations gives insight into the complex decisions and expressive choices that an artist of any form will go through during the creative process. If an artist chose to collaborate with other artists, as many do, I further suppose that audiences would be fascinated to hear about the compromises and teamwork that encompassed the project. There might be an emotional story of a long day at the studio or a tale about overcoming creative blocks, and only the artist themselves can share these stories. I think it is inspiring and alluring to catch an artist mid-way through a project. What is working? What is not working? 

In the example podcast of my conversation with Alysa Pires, she opened up about her process of adapting Macbeth into a full-length ballet with Ballet Kelowna. Aside from her choreographer’s note in the production’s program, Alysa would most likely not get the opportunity to explain certain artistic liberties to her audience. She spoke on my podcast about how choreographing on a small cast of dancers meant that some characters in William Shakepeare’s original play had to be removed from her version. Had she not mentioned this, the audience may be confused and distracted by the choices she made when the show opens. With the platform to speak about her distinctive perspective, Alysa was able to stand by what she is working on and provide background knowledge to her audience. 

In addition, my podcast creates a space for artists to admit their mistakes and/or achievements and in turn, gather a sense of anticipation before the unveiling of the final work. Promoting a project before its release date can help widen the audience reach, and my podcast is one way to achieve that. (Art)versations is a platform for marketing upcoming projects, as well as where and how a potential audience member can interact with the project. For example, I can offer artists the chance to spread the word about a fundraiser they are holding, and after hearing about the creative process that the artist is presently going through, listeners might be persuaded to donate to the project even though it is not complete. Before the piece of work is available for the public, donors will be content to know exactly how their contribution is helping.

To conclude, podcasting is a form of media that excites me to combine my passion for discussing art with my desire to promote upcoming projects. The podcast format allows for listeners to download accessible episodes for consumption whenever they choose while providing a soundtrack for the monotonous tasks of everyday life. Listeners feel transported to a new location where people are engaging in elongated conversation. Due to the fact that many artistic conversations work well in an extended period of time, the creative process of an artist is sophisticated and is a worthy topic of discussion. My podcast offers artists the chance to talk about their experiences in a casual, informative, and unedited way. (Art)versations is a self-produced project that I hope to expand in the future with a team of researchers, audio engineers, and marketing developers to improve the quality of the podcast.

Until then – it is just me, my guest, and a story to tell. 


Works Cited

Berry, Richard. “Part of the Establishment: Reflecting on 10 Years of Podcasting as an Audio Medium.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol. 22, no. 6, Aug. 2016, pp. 661-671., SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/1354856516632105.

—. “Will the iPod Kill the Radio Star? Profiling Podcasting as Radio.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol. 12, no. 2, May 2006, pp. 143-162., SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/1354856506066522.

Bull, Michael. “No Dead Air! The iPod and the Culture of Mobile Listening”, Leisure Studies, vol. 24, no. 4, Oct. 2005, pp. 343-355., Routledge, doi:10.1080/0261436052000330447.

Clark, Nick. “First the iPod, then the iPhone. so is Apple about to Launch iSlate?” The Independent, Dec 28, 2009, pp. 2. ProQuest, Retrieved from: http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/309999521?accountid=13631.

McClung, Steven, and Kristine Johnson. “Examining the Motives of Podcast Users.” Journal of Radio & Audio Media, vol. 17, no. 1, 2010, pp. 82-95., Taylor & Francis Group, doi:10.1080/19376521003719391.

Meserko, Vince M. “Standing Upright: Podcasting, Performance, and Alternative Comedy.” Studies in American Humor, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, pp. 20-40., JSTOR, doi:10.5325/studamerhumor.1.1.0020.

Murray, Simone. “Servicing ‘self-Scheduling Consumers’: Public Broadcasters and Audio Podcasting.” Global Media and Communication, vol. 5, no. 2, Aug. 2009, pp. 197-219., SAGE Publications, doi: 10.1177/1742766509341610.

Peoples, Brock, and Carol Tilley. “Podcasts as an Emerging Information Resource.” College & Undergraduate Libraries, vol. 18, no. 1, 2011, pp. 44-57., Taylor & Francis Group, doi:10.1080/10691316.2010.550529.

Sharon, Tzlil, and Nicholas A. John. “Imagining an Ideal Podcast Listener.” Popular Communication: Podcasting and the Public Sphere, vol. 17, no. 4, Oct. 2019, pp. 333-347, Routledge, doi:10.1080/15405702.2019.1610175.

Sullivan, John L. “The Platforms of Podcasting: Past and Present.” Social Media + Society, vol. 5, no. 4, Oct-Dec. 2019, pp. 1-12., SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/2056305119880002.

Szeto, Kimmy. “Digital Spoken Words Demystified: The Nuts and Bolts of do-it-Yourself Podcasting.” Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, vol. 23, no. 4, Oct. 2011, pp. 417-419, Taylor & Francis Group, doi:10.1080/1941126X.2011.627819. 

The Lighthouse (dir. Robert Eggers)

Post-film reflection.

I decided to see this film because I have been a long-time fan of Robert Pattinson. Recently, his resume has shown his complete range of emotions and the strange ability he has to transform as an actor. I was not disappointed after watching this film. 

As soon as the lights went dark, all colour ran away and the screen shrunk to a square. From then on, we were fed landscape shots of the rock island intermittently as the film centred around two lighthouse keepers on the edge of insanity. The director of photography succeeded in bringing a mystery to this island by rotating shots at 90 degree angles. I never felt like the shots were off balance even though they were not placed at a regular human’s eyesight. My favourite shot was of Robert Pattinson’s character putting coal in the furnace. The audience was given the angle of underneath the shovel but shifted sideways so that I wasn’t sure if the coal was being shovelled in or shovelled out. As soon as I was comfortable with it, they cut to the next scene. I found a lot with this film that when I finally figured out what I was looking at or what the shading of the setting was, I had to let go of it and move on to the next scene. Fast-paced but with just enough time for comprehension. A thrill ride.

What I observed of Robert was this: he found a work ethic in his character; one that could be meaningful and stable, especially at the beginning. The character picked up a duty with pride and finished it with a sense that the next job would be a bigger challenge to face. That kind of exhibition was portrayed in his silent posture. He was the assistant. When he finally broke out at the climax of his character development, I shivered with discomfort in such a pleasing way. I consumed his performance with hesitation and that, to me, is the correct way to play someone going mad. I never wanted to look away yet he caused me to pull back. Rob toyed with the audience member’s stomach. Making me feel sick and satisfied at the same time. 

I smiled when the final shot of him being eaten out by seagulls came on screen. Spoilers! Sorry!

Willem also exuded a disappearing act as the bossy-yet-peaceful sailor. His old English accent alone was enough to make me believe him. I watched to see how he contrasted against Robert’s choices and the pair were as smooth as peanut butter as they delivered some extremely crazy lines.

That’s the thing about tackling madness in a character: how much is too much? Because if you choose to play it slow and little, the audience may not deem the character as insane. Yet, if you dive into an intensity that feels over-done, it becomes unbelievable. I enjoyed watching Rob and Willem play with the extremities of this.

A look back at November 2019…

Thoughtful and committed decisions instead of feelings by which I am overwhelmed.

Beautiful Anonymous Podcast Caller

This is another quote from the Beautiful Anonymous Podcast. The caller talked about how our vices and addictions can overbear our minds and make us decide on bad choices. When I heard this I realized it has a lot to do with anxiety. If I can help it, my thought processes should come from a relaxed place rather than a place of worry. The best thoughts are the ones that make me feel good.

Spring has been awakened

I hope that is the correct grammar for awaken… At the beginning of this month, I began choreographic rehearsals for a May 2020 production of “Spring Awakening”. This musical is being produced by Precipice Productions, directed by William Flood, and being presented at Dancemakers in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto. I am the choreographer and already, I feel so attached to the process. I leave each rehearsal with a sense of accomplishment while also having more questions that need answering. The cast is impeccably chosen and I truly enjoy watching the choices they make for their characters. It’s a playground. ALL PLAY.

Ryerson Dances 2019

Back in September, we started rehearsals for our first semester show and we finally got to present our work to the Toronto community. I was lucky enough to be in “Changing Steps” choreographed by the legendary Merce Cunningham (and staged for our cast by the equally incredible Dylan Crossman). As well, I performed in an original work by Alysa Pires called “Not with a bang, but with a whimper”. Both pieces came with their respective challenges and performing them back-to-back on some nights was tough. In the end, I learned that meditating before a show is the best thing I can do for my mental health onstage. I felt much more present onstage than I usually am and I am grateful for the opportunity to practice that. I was never perfect or close to it, but I felt that I gave my best. Having my family in the audience was the highlight for sure.

No days off…

Looking back at my calendar for this month, my phone displayed to me a month full of dots. I couldn’t believe I had let this month get so crazy especially because I like to give myself at least one day off if I can… It was not a healthy decision to take on so much and I’ll admit that my work lacked in quality because of it. I have learned that saying no to some opportunities, while can be disappointing, is crucial.

Bangs

SO I HAVE BANGS NOW! I got my hair cut immediately after Ryerson Dances ended and I decided on the spot to cut my usual bob into a bob with bangs! I’m not sure I will keep it this way forever, but I am excited to try a new style. Growing up, I had to keep my hair bang-less for competition dance routines and so now, I wanted to take advantage of my freedom. It’s funny how our hair can say so much about us.

A look back at September/October 2019…

“Knowledge is power but powerless if you got it and you do not acknowledge it.”

-Royce Da 5’9” on Eminem’s track “Not Alike”

I often come back to this line from Royce Da 5’9” because he was able to sneakily insert a very philosophical concept into his verse that is so abundant with insults. It shows his abilities as a rapper are backed up by reason and thought rather than just spitting verbal abuse for the whole song. I tried to implement this recognition of knowledge into my lifestyle over the past two months to help me remember my own worth. It seems that most times in my training, I singularly work to obtain knowledge but when it comes down to proving my intake of information, my throat closes up. I am bad at showing my work. Which is weird because in high school math, I was always the one to show each step…

Getting better at self-discipline

I realize I have not released a monthly reflection in awhile, but it is because I have been focusing a lot of my energy on my studies at Ryerson. I am proud of myself for showing up to class even on my bad days and in doing so, I have noticed that my self-discipline is much better than it was a year ago. Treating my training with a balance of seriousness and amusement has rewarded me with a greater love for movement these days. I love to be physically exhausted again. It is orgasmic in some ways to be so full-out. In the dance world we have a saying that dancing “full-out” is the only way to go, but I never realized until now why that is so important for the audience and my own physical health. I am lucky enough to be cast in two pieces for our upcoming show in November: a piece from Merce Cunningham and a piece choreographed by Alysa Pires. Each rehearsal process has been different but they balance each other out. Learning fast, precise and legendary modern phrases from Cunningham is perfectly the opposite of Alysa’s collaborative, emotionally-driven, contemporary piece. I make sure to switch my brain when I leave one rehearsal to go into the other and it is really enjoyable to have both. All in all, by spending time on myself, I have found a selfishness that doesn’t feel like I’m being a bitch to other people.

My generous grandfather

In the beginning of October, my grandfather sadly passed away. Our relationship had been flourishing in the past few years and I am grateful to have had the time I did with him. He had many skills simultaneously and I never comprehended how. He was a maestro, an astronomer, a grump when he needed to be and a saint when it mattered, a husband of 50+ years, a lover of theatre, and a generous human. My entire family came together to celebrate his life, and his generosity came up countless times as we remembered his legacy. He always supported me in my dancing, and understood the value of education. I would have never been able to visit Greece, North Carolina or New York without his financial help and I can’t come up with a better word for gratitude towards him. I was just starting to get back into my piano practice when he died and my new goal is to play as well as he did by the time I’m 80. I’ll have to really work on sight-reading because he had that skill down pat! Love you always, Grandpa.

Barely making it through

While my academic mind-set has been growing, my mental health is a bit f u z z y… Both in September and October, my anxiety levels continue to ride up and down based on the busy schedule I create for myself. I am noticing that the more opportunities and tasks I take on, I need to also allow time for rest, reflection and removal. I tend to say yes too much and that causes my productivity to decrease in quality. I will get the job done but it won’t be my best work. Then, I get upset and label myself as a failure. I still believe it is crucial to never let any opportunity pass you by, but without a proper mind-set my achievements happen because I barely made it through. I don’t want to create art or make pasta or ride an elevator or laugh at a friend’s joke if it means that I am half-committed. Especially in my creative practice as an artist, my worst work occurs when I am rushing to get it done. To be present and uni-tasking is a constant battle for me as someone who likes to multi-task my way through life. I want to be alive in the world. Anxiety ceases that from happening.

Reading

Getting back to my love for reading physical texts has been extremely successful to my overall well-being. I can actually expand my attention-span and I can actually take in words on a page again. Yes, I am reading 5 books right now and that is completely counter-productive to the previous paragraph, but I am happy to have literature as my main pass-time.

To finish

To finish off, I want to congratulate myself for staying strong these past two months. I am in a much better place than I used to be but I know that I still have work to do. I want to open my heart to others because I feel more like myself these days. Let’s see how that goes in November.

Instead of a photo to capture these two months, I leave you with a poem my grandfather had on his fridge:

Salutation to the Dawn

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendour of beauty
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day!
Such is the salutation to the dawn.

-Kalidasa, Indian Poet

A look back at August 2019…

“Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes on.”

This Beatles quote has been getting me through this month. Even made a little cover of it here. Having more time for myself, I was frequently in my head and over-analyzing decisions. I planned to spend time working out and feeling physically settled, however, on August 31, I hated the results. BUT, life goes on and I have chosen to stay along with it. 

Friends! I love my friends!

A wonderful thing about summer is the opportunity for outside hangouts. And my friends were too good to me this summer. I felt so loved and attempted to give as much love back. It really is important, as an adult, to feed your friendships the healthiest energy you can. They are the life supports when times are tough. They know who they are.

Teaching at new spaces

I was invited into a bevy of different studio space this month, either as an individual teacher or on faculty with Fresh Dance Intensive. Each space had its specific architecture, colours, and ambiance. My goal was to adapt into the new surroundings so that I could present myself in the best way. It was crucial that I stayed present and focused on the students in front of me. I definitely was not perfect and each day was a challenge but I am glad I can be more present nowadays. Teaching will always remind to be aware of others and that is something I forget most days.

My demon, Depression.

Although there was sunshine and laughter, this month brought on a real presence of my demon, Depression. I feel very connected to the character of BoJack Horseman, not because I am a middle-aged has-been celebrity, but because I search for love in the wrong places. I expect others to give me anything I want and then put myself down about my greediness. I want to be neutralized in my emotions without becoming a phony robot. Can’t I have a perfect life?!?! Time to let go of that. Time to work hard with kindness and gratitude.

Body Image

As I mentioned above, my body was a main focus for me this month and even though I was proud to set that goal, I am still not satisfied with how I look. I seem to spend a lot of time looking at Instagram for models and role-models that I want to look like, and I realized that maybe I really DO care about how I look. I don’t want to become too shallow though. It can be a little bit selfish to only care about your appearance but maybe I am just THAT selfish?? I hope I can find a way to enjoy my body image without losing touch of reality. Been hoping since I was 13, but what’s one more year? Hahahahahahahahahhahaahahahha.,,..

A look back at July 2019…

Doing things means doing things.

Either sung or not, this quote sums up exactly how my July went. I heard it from the dream duo themselves, Susan Blackwell and Laura Camien, during their SparkFile workshop at The Performing Arts Project. I immediately thought, yeah it does! It’s simple but effective when you are in the process of something creative. Just do it!

Cottage Time

I spent my first week of this hot month at my cottage, soaking in the sunshine and swimming with my little sister. We had so many laughs and moments, the two of us, and she truly is the light of my life. I spent nights by myself at the smaller cabin on my family’s property and one night I even sat with fireflies buzzing around me. It was the most magical thing I’d ever seen. I kind of always thought they weren’t real creatures but the bioluminescence was a-brewing! My family were wonderful to be around and it served as a great break after working a lot in June.

TPAP is a magical place

I then spent three weeks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for a musical theatre program called TPAP. It was days of non-stop singing, dancing, acting and I couldn’t be more proud to have been there. Only finding out about it through Instagram, I didn’t know what to expect before I went there, but I am so pleased to have been a part of such a talented and hard-working group of artists. Every day, I would try something new and fail and try again. It was so scary but so worthwhile. The faculty were incredibly knowledgeable and able to pass along information to us in such smooth and effective ways. One of the highlights for me was working closely with Gavin Creel whom I’ve looked up to since I first heard him on the soundtrack for Millie. He is a genuine soul with too much talent; it blows my mind. I also got to take class from Krysta Rodriguez and other Broadway veterans. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to process everything I learned there but I’m going to try. 🙂

The Zone has been breached

During a ping pong match at TPAP, I figured out something very vital about how to be present and in the moment. Weird to say, but I figured out how to access my “game face” or “the zone” as they call it. Nothing matters except this moment. Before a show or before I’m about to face off a player in ping pong, I need to find the feeling where my body, mind and heart co-exist on one plane of energy. It’s a very subtle difference but it works wonders for my artistic abilities. If I can pin-point exactly where my body is in space, I am able to remove myself from the idea of being “onstage” and just exist. It’s cool for anxiety too.

Photo by Ali Gutierrez

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

TPAP Day Zero (Travel Day)

Failed Transportation: 7:30am flight to Charlotte; getting on 12pm flight to Charlotte (You were 8th on standby, calm down sis); 1:46pm flight to Charlotte (left around 2); getting on 4:10pm flight to Greensboro; 7:20pm arrival in Greensboro (stayed on tarmac for an extra hour)

Succesful Transportation: bus to airport at 4:30am; luggage came at GSO airport; getting to Wake Forest from GSO

-> What was supposed to be a 6-hour travel day turned into a 12-hour disaster. Thanks, American Airlines. You royally sucked at everything you tried to accomplish for me.

TPAP Day One

We did a peculiar exercise at the end of the day today. “Crossing the Line” meant that everyone stood on one side of the room without talking while an announcer declared statements for us to agree/disagree on. You could also decide how much you agreed/disagreed by distance travelled across. I found myself very alone, and emotionally up and down. It makes sense that I felt alone though because each of us, faculty included, stood as individuals. I rode the wave of being completely uncomfortable and completely obsessed with the exercise. I wanted to stop some questions but others made me intoxicated with the gossip of it. “I am funny” was a nice and easy one while “I have been called a faggot” brought the whole room to silence (even more than already). “I have had suicidal thoughts” brought me to shed one tear while “I am an adult” had me totally proud of my decision to stand at the complete other side of the room. We were tasked to find eye contact with others once making a decision and that was very difficult for me. Some people cried, some stayed stoic. Reminded me of Leadership Camp at St. Matt’s and it made me feel part of a community. We finished off with writing our fears on a wall. What a long day.

TPAP Day Two

I don’t understand the reference. I don’t understand the reference. I don’t understand the reference. I don’t understand the reference. I don’t understand the reference. I don’t understand the reference. I don’t understand the reference. I don’t understand the reference. But I can get my leg up…?

TPAP Day Six

This morning, my thoughts are racing with speed and confusion. I feel conflicted. I want to try and plan everything so that I take control of the situations I’ll be faced with each day but I also want to try listening to the director’s suggestion of being flexible to surprises. I hate surprises. They bore me and make me feel like I don’t deserve them. The other thought in my mind is that I am slowly becoming someone different than myself due to simply being around these people for 3 weeks. I don’t see anything wrong with them it’s just that I don’t want to be persuaded in any way. I can be/talk/dress/eat exactly as I am while co-existing with other unique people… Right?

TPAP Day Ten

One of the things I’m battling with is staying present. There are so many interactions happening in my daily routine here that I don’t really have time to re-play these moments after they occur. So I find myself thinking about them during class or during a scene when I’m supposed to REALLY be in the moment. I guess I am not used to this level of extrovertism because back home, I only spend about half my day with people; the other half travelling alone, in my room or just by myself. Also I don’t think I’ve spoken this much in my life. I’m being asked to give my opinion on every subject and that is really new to me. I am used to shutting up, moving silently, listening first, making sure I don’t interrupt… This kind of personality is scary to me because I could say something I don’t mean. On the first day of classes, my teacher told me I eloquently described the most beautiful thing in my life, but I was just making sure my words were concise, articulate and meaningful. I patiently spoke. Now on day 10, I feel very impatient and like I’ve adopted this conversational habit of always starting a sentence and not knowing where it’s going… like now…

TPAP Day Fourteen

As I looked out from the top right bleacher of the Ring Theatre, there was so much chaos. Hyper-reality took over and people screamed while staying in character yet. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel like I belonged. I don’t have the skill set or the confidence (really) to stay so committed to an improvised role while there is no audience to watch. What’s the point? Why would it serve our art form to act/pretend to be a character with a full backstory if not for an outside eye? The only people watching are also in character and therefore not active audience members. I guess it shows me how ensemble-based theatre people can be. They want to work with others.

One thing I managed to get a hold of was “the zone”. So that’s neat.

A look back at June 2019…

“There’s a reason we are called human beings and not human doings.”

This came from a caller on the Beautiful Anonymous podcast. When I heard it, I stopped in my tracks on the street. I had been walking all day, moving from one errand to the next, and basically just doing doing doing. I was reminded of the power of “to be”. It’s so simple but something I forget often because the things we accomplish are usually the only things we are celebrated for. I highly recommend this podcast if you want to hear genuine conversation with people all over the world. 

My first play!!

I was lucky enough to land a role in an original play called “Impromptu”, directed by Hassan El-Amin. It was shown as a part of the Parados Festival in the middle of June. I really enjoyed the experience of not relying only on my body for performance. Getting the chance to use my voice for storytelling and singing was really uplifting for my spirit and it taught me to be honest on stage. My cast mates were incredibly welcoming and I finally felt comfortable in a group again. A bunch of us even watched the Tony’s together and it was so special to me to have a safe circle to be in. One of my cast mates even called me an actor by the end of it and I got so blushy. Truly a proud moment for me. I hope this isn’t the end of my acting career.

Home for appointment fest

I went home to Ottawa for a few days, literally 1.75, and most of it was spent doing appointments. Gotta take care of the ol bod. However, there was a super precious and nostalgic moment where I went back to my old elementary school. My mom and I picked my little sister up after school and we ended up playing Four Square for a little bit. So many memories flooded in of my elementary friends playing with me… The boys making me feel incompetent to play with them, me still trying to get on their level and being all feminist and stuff before it was cool. It was so fun to revisit that game and see how the school yard had changed over the years. Same basketball tripod thing on the gravel but now the portable was replaced with a nice play structure. Things evolve and it was nice to see how I’ve changed too. Still like to do cherry bombs though. 🙂

Scheduling a day off

I realized that I hadn’t had a day off in a month so I actually scheduled a day where I would do nothing but what ever I wanted to at the time. I stayed in bed, played video games, ate whatever came across my hunger, and got high as a kite. It was perfect. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to feel guilty for it and that really helped me to accept it as a valuable thing for my health. The old me would have hated myself for awhile after but I decided to try the opposite. I’m very proud of myself. 

Anxiety, the SO that won’t go away

As much as it was a healthy choice to take a day off, that meant that I added a bit more stress on other days. I had to get things done and I expected too much of myself. My anxiety was really bad the other days. It was kind of like an annoying significant other who never gets divorced, and even when you try to move on, it stays in your house. Like a fly on the wall that attaches to your body. I really have to look it in the face and acknowledge it when it gets bad because if not, I’ll start to have mini attacks in public. Deep breaths, calm thinking and lots of water.

Photo by Tavia Christina

created this poem from movement

glaring sight on the audience with less movement; seeing nothing but feeling the soft surface with the hand; timing changes are vital to the overall experience;

see the world during the difficult road trip;

taking a seat next to a wall; slowness; the audience is there to observe; flamingo walks with intensity at full level; forget it, move on;

no space to move away from each other; symmetrical planes but perpendicular almost; shape created by release; lateral walking to show off IT Band; opening up the shape to reveal its actual meaning; sharing a line and dropping it at the same time; walking towards the problem; seeing my reflection in my hand; notice the difference between the changes of level; grasping onto a cloud of air;

where is my movement? She has some and I don’t; weary of the social aspect of not being like the other; feel the back pull the knee up like a pulley system; being taken over by my right leg; it brings me down to basement level; where is your movement? Why do we have some and you don’t? Socially that is weird that we are in motion and you are not;

take it to the limit and drive to China in a period of 15 seconds; it has taken over you and you are now back at where you started because you drove too long; watch out for flying arms; wrists get soft and the volume decrescendos; the roots of your tree take you down;

spiralling underwater and the waves are controlling you up and down; take a moment for yourself under the sea where the spinning seashells live; feel the sand and the rocks that make up the bottom of the ocean;

the lights turn off so you are dead.

A look back at May 2019…

What if you chose your second instinct?

This month, there were moments I chose to run away from my problems instead of facing them head-on. It came to be that “flight” was constantly my first instinct when dealing with a challenge or even just a cup of coffee. With the help of some very inspirational mentors, I tried to ask myself: If my first instinct is to chicken out, what would be my second instinct?

Blooming physicality

As this year’s May came into my life, I was taking a two-week long workshop called Metamorphosis Method, under the direction of Iratxe Ansa and Igor Bacovich. This training was very military-induced, meaning that we would drill intense exercises each morning to a point where I was hallucinating by the end of it. It was one of the most rigorous programs I’ve ever attempted and it showed me the importance of reaching your full potential. I was determined to impress the teachers but also my own expectations of what I could do with my body. I am proud to have gotten through it and hope to continue at this rate of physicality in my dancing from now on. It is amazing what your body can do when you give it the push it needs.

Marathon for creativity

Another unique program I participated in this month was The Choreographic Marathon, under the direction of Maxine Heppner. I collaborated with two artists, Tavia Christina and Rachel Facchini, for this opportunity where we stayed in a studio process for more than 27 hours over the course of 3 days. We even spent a night at Pia Bouman’s School for this concentrated process, and interestingly enough this was one of the last programs being offered at this studio as it is being closed down soon. Maxine’s wisdom along with the thoughts of the other mentors showed me the power of vocabulary. The words that you use when you say something to someone has more influence than the context. I found myself really thinking about exactly what I wanted to say before speaking it. I am very grateful to Rachel and Tavia for offering me another opportunity to work with them.

Rays of sunshine

Because I am on summer break from school, I’ve had more chances to hang with friends that I haven’t be able to give time to. It makes me so happy to see my two best friends because they have been life-rafts for me since second year of university. Their jokes, great ideas and overall presences help me see the sunshine in life and guide me to positivity rather than negativity. They are so special to my life right now.

Pilates is the BEESSSTTT!

I never thought I would fall in love with Pilates because it can be very boring to people who like to move. I am one of those people. I can’t sit still most of the time. However, when I focus my mind on internal muscles that need to be strengthened, I leave a class feeling taller and more confident. It’s weird. It feels like I’ve cracked the code on how my body should feel. I feel sexier and more in control and all it takes is a few mat or reformer classes each week. I can do that!

Pushing past anxiety

Every day this month, I would have moments of anxiety. It is just something I have to deal with. Two exercises have helped me push past these attacks: finding all the colours of the rainbow in my surroundings and acknowledging the 5 senses that I have in my body. These both work really well and help me stay mindful. THANKFUL.