Happy international dance day!
Recently we have been working on making our patio nice. We added a table and chairs, a bench, a barbecue, and lots of plants. Being the crazy cat people that we are we decided we wanted to do something nice for Xyla and Sochi. We found this beautiful great big blue pot and filled it with soil and cat grass seeds. We luckily got a great big rain the next day and within a few days we had a full pot of grass. We planted it lower in the pot so the cats could be in the pot while they enjoyed the grass.
When the grass was long enough we introduced the cats to it. We got their harnesses and leashes on and ventured outside. Xyla was not feeling it. She would much rather walk up and down the sidewalk exploring the neighborhood. Sochi though, Sochi loved it!
We went to town munching on it and loved having the scent on him. Sochi loves plants and we are constantly trying to keep him from eating plants that aren't good for him. I think he was really excited to finally be allowed to eat his favorite snack. I'm proud of our crazy cat people project.
*Update - We went for another cat walk a few days after I wrote this. Xyla decided she did in fact enjoy lounging in the grass.
Today is our last day of shows for "She Said", a triple bill of all new works choreographed by all women. I've been performing the "Female Deer" in Annabelle Ochoa's piece "Broken Wings", which was inspired by Frida Kahlo's life and paintings. My role was based on a painting that she did, as you can see below.
Annabelle is quoted saying: “But Frida often said she didn’t paint dreams, like the surrealists, but her own reality. Her paintings are her life, her emotions are weaved into them, so I am also using them as a way into her mind, as a way to tell the story”. This means that Broken Wings is partially reality, partially Frida's reality. One of my favourite scenes is the "Mexican restaurant" where Diego is cheating on Frida and the skeleton men form a mariachi band to serenade the adulterers.
I think all of the dancers have had a wonderful time working with Annabelle. She's extremely efficient and affectively runs a really smooth rehearsal. She also loves to get inspiration from dancers' jokes and turn it into actual choreography--I've seen her do it!
Of course, it is extra satisfying to have a role created on you, so I was very lucky. My character comes later in the piece when Frida is in much pain after surgeries and taking morphine. "The Wounded Deer" was actually painted after her spinal surgery in New York City. Nancy Meckler, who worked with her previously on A Streetcar Named Desire, was also there in a number of our studio rehearsals. She was very kind and helped explain me through my character.
The 11 male Frida's in the piece have the most fun probably--they had body paint and makeup sponsored by MAC. They also had an excuse to wear these very colourful skirts. Their first entrance is probably the most visually dramatic in the piece.
I also got my fabulously-Frida monobrow and lipstick done by MAC. My wig was styled around antlers by our Amelia Carrington-Lee. They seemed very heavy at first, but after a couple of shows I got used to them. Still had to duck and weave around doors and curtains though!
We were all so fortunate to get to work with a lovely choreographer and team and it was even more rewarding this week to see it premiere and come to life!
On Monday we released our latest Ballet Zaida film - Replay.
You can also get the song on iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify. Search "Joey Contreras Replay."
If you enjoy it please like, comment, and share!
You may have seen this on my Instagram, but last week I completed UCB's improv 101 class. Upright Citizens Brigade was a sketch comedy show created by Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh. It ran on Comedy Central from 1998-2000. During the success of the show they opened a sketch and improv training center in New York which they later expanded to Los Angeles.
I feel very lucky that I live within walking distance of this awesome school. For the last year I had been thinking about how it would be fun to take an improv class. I saw a live show of the Lady to Lady podcast at the UCB Sunset theater and was drawn to the space. In January I finally decided to sign up.
The first class I was super nervous. I had never done anything like this. As a dancer I am used to expressing myself, but generally through movement and rarely using my voice. I was super lucky to discover that my class was full of the nicest most supportive people I could hope to work with. My teacher Marissa Strickland was fantastic and so supportive.
The work was so much different than the world of ballet I know so well. In the ballet world you come expected to know exactly what you are going to do. You rehearse for hours and hours, perfecting the same steps over and over. In improv comedy you don't know what's in store and must present yourself as a blank book and write the story as you go. It's very scary to be that vulnerable, but even the beginner scenes we created I felt were something to be proud of.
Like for ballet, I tried to clear my mind and prepare my thoughts before I went to class. I also found my years of physical movement helped me to physically embody a character.
On Easter Sunday we held our class performance. We were all pretty nervous, but it went amazingly well. We all supported each other in the scenes, responded with "yes, and", and were able to get some laughs from a pretty full audience.
I definitely plan on taking more classes in the near future!
If you are curious to check out UCB I highly recommend going to one of their shows. They have shows 7 days a week, a lot of times for only $5! Their performers are incredible artists and it's really wonderful to see how they work. If you live in or plan on visiting New York or Los Angeles I would highly recommend making time to see a show!