Intro for the diddy…

Welcome to my brain, humans of the internet. Simply put, I made this blog so that my obsession with writing notes in my iPhone could be put to some use. These posts will include my random thoughts, my creative endeavours, as well as other things that I want to share with the world. Feel free to share or don’t, I won’t care either way.  Click here: the diddy . 

Photo captured by: Alvin Collantes

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.

Calm down, it’s pride.

This Sunday, I had a horrible temper waking up. I was even annoyed with the sunshine. I turned on my robot mode and did everything I had to do that day without enjoyment. There was only a job to do rather than moments of living. Who wants to live like they’re working everyday?

Then it suddenly dawned on me. It’s pride here in Toronto. I was reminded of this by groups of people wearing neon colours, flower power-invested outfits, and holding peace signs up for photos. And I suddenly remembered I’m so lucky to live in an era where LGBTQ2+ is celebrated, not ridiculed or criminalized. Our generation has accepted people’s preferences and that is something to smile about. That is something to live freely about and not let the monotonous pace of working a job hold you back.

Seeing heterosexual parents bring their families to normalize the stigma is absolutely something to smile about. They didn’t use to be a time and place for discussion, at least in my household there didn’t happen to be, so it makes me feel happy inside to know that there won’t be a discomfortable tension about topics like sexual preference, gay marriage, etc.

What a nice time to be alive. Never thought I’d say that again. Huh. Nice.

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.

A look back at April 2019…

Connect your thoughts to your voice.

This month has taught me, in a very heightened way, the value of communicating exactly what you mean. There is no point in beating around the bush sometimes. I found this when dealing with professional situations but also when I am speaking to the ones I care about. I think I am the type of person who likes to speak in metaphor sometimes, and while that is creatively interesting, it can get confusing for the people around me.

Finishing third year.

I wrote my last exam, danced my last tendu, and said goodbye to third year with a huge sigh of relief. This year was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions, but I feel so lucky to have my classmates, my teachers, and THE BEAT to get me through. I am ready to tackle my final year of my BFA with the same expectations that it’s gonna be rough, but it’s gonna be magical. Most interesting classes: Improvisation with Kate Hilliard, Modern with Arsenio Andrade, and Production with Michael Bergmann.

Full circle moment.

I was given the opportunity to judge two dance competitions this month with the competition DanceFest. Being on the other side of the theatre and watching young artists give their all, really made it surreal. I had worked so hard during my early training to perform and choreograph to my best, and being able to share my knowledge with the dancers now is a true gift. It felt like a dream, and I hope I get the opportunity again.

The clouds have cleared.

April may bring showers to our sky, but I felt like the sun had come out during this month. My depression was very much gone and I am not sure why. I won’t question it because I feel very relieved to be lifted of it, but it definitely feels like it may come back. No matter, I must be present and not worry about what my feelings will be in the future. I am grateful for the sun shining down on me and the deep breaths that have gotten me through this month.

A look back at March 2019…

Be focused, but joyous.

I counselled this to a student of mine and it was also a great reminder for my own practice. Dancers can often resort to a very serious attitude when it comes to our training, due to the rigorous demands and the countless number of body parts to engage. On the other hand, I think it will serve the mental body to remember to enjoy the physicality and share that joy with the audience. An outward expression of the inward.

Chasing rabbits.

At school, our class and the fourth years have the opportunity to choreograph and perform in a show called “Choreographic Works [insert year]” (such a great title….). In all seriousness though, this show was so exciting for me because I got to experiment with musical theatre movement and learn about lighting. My cast was so hilarious and generous that I would be tearing up every performance from the wings. I have so much appreciation for my teachers who allowed me to play around with the style I love so dearly. The entire production team was amazing part of this experience for me as well. Their dedication and positive attitudes helped me feel welcome in the theatre again, and I hope to work with them again!

Broadway, here I come.

Around the same time as Choreographic Works 2019, I was accepted into a musical theatre program called “The Performing Arts Project”. This 3.5 week long intensive incorporates all my loves: music, movement and storytelling. I will be spending this July in North Carolina learning from Broadway alumni and talented young artists, and working my ass off to improve my singing, dancing and acting skills. I want to really milk this intensive for all its benefits and I hope I will return feeling like I am ready for Broadway. That’s the dream.

Conversing my life away.

Similar to last month, I have been recording podcasts with my peers from school and I am so pleased with the results. I feel so expressive when I have conversations with talented, emerging artists, and share them with the world. It isn’t like many people listen to my channel but I don’t really mind having a smaller audience. It feels more home-y. So grateful for the artists who have come in thus far!

Realizations and relapses.

About halfway through the month, I came to a realization that I have a problem with my own success. This brought me to relapse into a bad depressive state for the last part of the month. I have not been looking at success in a healthy way due to my obsession with failure. Strange as it sounds, my brain feels more comfortable making mistakes and analyzing them. It is as if my brain rejects the idea of my own success, and it has to stop now. I am exhausted trying to one-up myself every GOD DAMN time. I used to think that was what would consistently make me a better artist/person, but there has to be balance. I must be able to acknowledge the things I have accomplished while also being able to examine my weaknesses.

Come as you are.

Life has the audacity to swing every which way when you are not looking. Take every day as a new journey and come to the table with exactly who you are. As long as you are not hurting anyone, you are enough to change the world.

Revisor (Contemporary Dance show)

Post-show reflection.

This cast was sublime together. Each dancer made their talent known and committed to each gesture, pose, slide, lift, etc. I am floored by their execution of this narrative. The timing of their lip syncing to the narrator’s lines was spot on each time. That gave me so much relief to see because I knew I could relax into the intensity of the story rather than trying to understand why the performers were moving their mouths. If I could go back and rewatch this, I would have screamed “Shantay, you stay” to each performer (Drag Race reference, if you were wondering).

Specifically, I’m so glad I got to see Cindy Salgado, Jermaine Spivey, Ella Rothschild and Doug Letheren. I have been fortunate enough to take classes with each of these amazing humans, and getting to watch them work through this show was such a treat. Doug was the first person who introduced me to the training of Gaga and the first teacher to help me understand how to stand on one foot. His performance as Director of the Complex was comically excellent.

Let’s talk about lighting. One of the most memorable moments for me was when the lighting was so quick that it made the dancers look like they were creating stop motion with their bodies. It threw me completely off guard because of the delicacy that the dancers used to time out the lighting shifts. Such genius. As well, the backdrop played with digital drawings that resembled a  computer screensaver. The brushes of light would fade in and out as the dancers moved, almost in coordination it seemed. 

All in all, if you are looking for a little bit of everything, go see this show. It is so well-rounded. With the addition of playwright Jonathon Young, who developed the story so effortlessly to fit the ideology of Crystal Pite’s movement, my theatre juices were bubbling the entire time. He has worked with her as a performer before so seeing what he can do with his words was awesome! I really admire when creators involve storyline into their work. It was so mesmerizing. I had to remind myself to stop moving my head so much because I kept being entranced by the dancers. My inner thighs remained engaged for the whole 90 mins. 

Thank you Kidd Pivot! You are constantly a Canadian masterpiece in my mind!