Friday, October 14, 2011

Do you trust me? A RANT.

Tonight I went to see my brother, John Shannon, play at a bar in Pittsburgh.  Now if you know me at all, you know that I am a HUGE loyal supporter of my family and ALL of my siblings, but this is the thing.  If you call yourself my friend and you haven’t ever downloaded any of my brother’s music or been to see him in one of his MANY NYC or Pittsburgh (or L.A., etc) shows, I have one thing to say to you.  SHAME ON YOU.  
I get it.  You get the Facebook invite from me inviting you to John’s show.  You think it’s really sweet that I support my brother.  But you simply DON’T GET IT.  Now, I am a bulldog of a big sister, but I am also PICKY and have REALLY GOOD TASTE.  And if my brother’s music were a piece of shit, I wouldn’t ask you to go.  I would play out my sisterly duties with pride, in a more private manner.  But my brother’s music is f*cking brilliant.  It’s transcendent and complex and sometimes it ROCKS in the dirtiest of ways and sometimes it makes you want to sit outside in silence and stare at the sky for no reason.  And if you are a freaking human being on this planet, there are plenty of opportunities for both.  It’s UNIVERSAL and it’s AWESOME. 
Do you trust me?  Have I not given you good advice?  Have I not told you stories that make you laugh?  Have I not taught you something at some point in all of those classes at the studio or gym?  Please get off your ass.  Go to itunes.  And download some music by my brother, John Shannon.  Because even if he WEREN’T my little brother, I would be ranting just like this.  It’s THAT important, and it’s THAT good.  For real.  Stop thinking it’s cute that I’m a good sister.  And show up for art and creativity and brilliance.  NOW.
John Shannon and the Wings of Sound: Songs From The Desert River (his most recent)
John Shannon:  American Mystic
Waking Vision:  Of The Waking Vision
Waking Vision: Into High Selva
Waking Vision Trio: The Ancient Bloom
For real.  I am not messing around.  It’s because I love you and I want you to realize I’m not just posting shit for my brother.  I’m posting it because it’s freaking amazing.  

Go.  Now.  


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Three Ways to Avoid Creative Road Bumps!

Travel.  It makes me wanna blog.
Today, I’m on my way to Pittsburgh, and fall is HERE!  The trees have changed color a lot since my Amtrak ride back to NYC last week.  For those of you who don’t know, I have been going back and forth to Pittsburgh since August to work with the amazing choreographer Michael Rooney on ABC Family’s first movie musical, ELIXIR.  The movie stars the breathtaking Jane Seymour and the absolutely brilliant Chelsea Kane, as well as the gorgeous Sara Paxton, Drew Seeley, Tom Wopat, and Adrienne Bailon.  I have had an incredible time working with Michael, his assistant Danny, and the superteam of dancers on this project (including the stars- just WAIT until you see what they do!!), and feel so grateful to be part of it!  I can only imagine how I will cry and shriek when I see the finished product next spring- eeeee!  
Working as a choreographer for film = my Next Big Dream.  I love how the creative drawing board just expands when you think of camera angles, 360 shots, overhead shots...endless possibilities!!!  Especially when you have an upbeat and funky fun director like Sanaa Hamri, jumping around with childlike enthusiasm and spitting out ideas faster than you can possibly write them down!  It’s an adult playground.  Totally exciting, explosively creative and glamourous, but also challenging, fast-paced, and ever-changing.  Time is money.  You MUST plan well, but you also have to be flexible. You can’t be too attached to your material.  As with any major project, there have been changes, challenges and minor setbacks during our process with this film, but the art is in how you deal.  
I am not saying it's always easy.  But I AM saying there are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind, when you feel that THE MAN is taking away your juju!!!  And I am going to give them to you!!!  Here are three ways to help you artfully and smoothly maintain your creative flow in times of challenge:

1.  TAKE A HINT FROM THE FOUR AGREEMENTS:  REMEMBER THAT IT'S NOT PERSONAL!   Especially with your art.  Yes, you may have to change your favorite piece of choreography to fit a dancer who has different abilities.  You may have to cut entire numbers to stay within the budget.  You may have to revisit the same number four, five, or ten times to tweak it exactly how Mr. TV Executive sees it in his mind (clearly I am using choreo references here because that's what I know best.  Feel free to apply it to your line of work!).  And it has nothing to do with you, your work, or your artistic integrity.  It’s how you fit into the bigger picture and how you roll with the punches (bonus points if you stay chipper all the while!).  The ability to withstand all of that BS and still be able to let the brilliance flow-- that is the gold.  And who knows... maybe you’ll even (gasp) GROW as a result!  Fun Affirmation:  "I am a creative genius."

2.  REMEMBER THAT RESISTANCE IS YOUR FRIEND.  Whaaa?  That's right.  Next time your budget for paint gets cut, your project deadline gets pushed up a week, or your lead gets sick on the day of the show, y'all, just take a second and BREATHE.  Feel what is happening in your body.  Fear, anger, and the desire to chain smoke or inhale a Cinnabon are common knee jerk reactions to those pesky road blocks that appear out of nowhere just before your big break.  It's just resistance.  DO NOT LET THIS STOP YOU.  Take a few slow, deep breaths, clear your head and drink a glass of water, mentally remove the drama from your brain, and keep moving.  Sidenote: I highly recommend  Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art, a warm and humorous book which first delves into the yucky things that can freeze your artistic vision, and then teaches you how to snap the hell out of it. It’s an easy read, guaranteed!  Fun Affirmation:  "I am able."

3.  TOOT YOUR OWN HORN AND GIVE YOURSELF SOME CREDIT!  There is no better way to get into that "I Can Do It NO MATTER WHAT" mentality than to remind yourself how far you have come!  I suggest you make a list of your biggest accomplishments and keep them where you can see them.  I keep my "As Seen In" graphic as my computer desktop image, not because I want everyone at Starbucks to see it, but to remind myself that I have accomplished things!  I have done this before!  I have succeeded in the past, and I can do it again.  Here's mine, and I highly recommend that you make yourself a flashy, pretty reminder for yourself!  Fun Affirmation:  "I am courageous!"

So there you go.  What do you think? How’s your grace under pressure?  Where do you feel inflexible or unwilling to let go?  What are your triumphs around this subject?  Leave a comment below and tell me where you excel, and where you fall apart!  Let’s help each other.  Can't wait to hear from you.
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