Friday, November 7, 2008

Stretching Myself

Over the past couple of weeks I've been busy, but still I found time to dust off a few skills from my younger days. And whew, was I ever rusty! I think it's good for the brain, though, to be stretched in new directions.And after learning that I'm more of an experimental artist, I know I'm drawn to trying new things. I'm sure these experiences will show up in my work somehow over the next few months.

When I was a little girl, I loved dancing. I choreographed a dance to "Material Girl" by Madonna for the 2nd grade talent show, and had my first pair of fishnet stockings at age 6, for a bordello inspired tap number. When I heard that Alamo Drafthouse and The Rude Mechanicals and some other Austin Groups were going to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most people simultaneously dancing the dance from Michael Jackson's Thriller, I had to join. This required several hours of learning and practicing the whole dance. This woman named Ines has organized the worldwide effort and makes it super easy in her teaching videos with words to chant along with the steps.

The day of the world record event, it was more inspiring and uplifting than I could have imagined. I was really impressed with the people of all different ages and abilities who participated. Everyone was really dedicated; we wanted to get the steps right and to act like scary zombies. People went all out with their costumes and the logistics ran like clockwork. At the end of the dance, I had tears in my eyes as I was slapping high fives with strangers covered in fake blood. There are tons of videos on YouTube, but here's one where you can see me doing the dance. I'm wearing the red dress. I mean this blog is all about me.

I also used to play Tuba in the marching band, and have since been a little sad when I've seen parades in Austin going by without a bass instrument in the brass band. So when I was given a baritone (Thanks, Jamie!), I decided to join the rag-tag street band in Austin that plays in whatever parade or protest they are invited to. I was really intimidated by this. I didn't have much time to practice and get my embouchure in shape, and there was no rehearsal and just a suggestion of what songs might be played. I haven't played a brass instrument in 15 years, so I was scrambling to remember fingerings and work out my parts. It was a good wake up call, reminding me of how much music theory I have forgotten, and just rarely use when I'm playing my own songs all the time. The Day of the Dead parade day came and 8 of us showed up to play, plus one twirler. Everyone was very nice and forgiving of my flubs, and it was actually fun to play and I felt like I added something to the overall sound. It wasn't the Tuba, but I'm glad I made a baby step toward the goal. Here's a video of the band, I'm playing baritone, so listen close for the oomp-pahs, one octave higher than they should be.

So look out for a hot dance video or maybe a solo baritone track on my next CD!