3 Wise Nugs

  1. Have a good understanding of what you want and don’t want so that you don’t need to contradict your happiness along the way.
  2. Your own wellbeing comes first before anything else. If you feel yourself drooping during your efforts towards success, take a break. You will achieve better success than you ever will.
  3. Be open-minded and flexible. Accept others as well as yourself so that you are not burdened by judgements.

Interview With Joey Browne!

When did you start dancing?

A: As early as 3 years old. As far back as my memory goes, so does dancing.

 

What made you decide you wanted to make this your career?

A: It seemed to unfold as I became a young adult. I worked in various fields, but the arts and music always held me firmly along the way and it was such a priority for me that it became the obvious choice.

 

What were the first steps you took in becoming a choreographer?

A: During dance class, as students, we would be given choreography projects (a piece of music, a timeframe, a genre, and maybe a spatial directive). I really enjoyed the challenge. I think that’s where it began for me as a young teenager. In my free time I would experiment with different kinds of music and movement and thus, the creative evolution began for me and I was hooked. I was determined to get as much experience as possible and was hungry to learn.

-How does the process work and what were some obstacles you came across?

A: Wow. I’m not sure that I can pin down a specific process. It really happened over many years and there were numerous contributing influences. Here are just a few points off the top of my head:

Continuing education as an adult

Taking class consistently and broadening my training in various genres 

Auditioning

Participating in and attending arts events (shows, theatre, musicals, concerts, and to a lesser extent – film and tv)

Going to conventions and workshops, taking courses

Volunteering and apprenticing

Travelling (taking classes abroad, meeting/networking with other performers)

Keeping active and supporting the arts community and industry

If time permitted, I bet the above list would go on and on. 

In terms of obstacles… I was shy to some extent. Not so much when on a stage and performing, but rather, in a place where you had to be in charge of something and people were looking to you for what comes next. I had to build a lot of confidence before being able to show my work with pride or teach a class and work with others and not have anxiety. That was hard. Also, getting your name out there and building a reputation took time. Work was sporadic in the beginning and so I had to have a “side job” to make ends meet – which was ok, but it wasn’t what I wanted. Injuries are another obstacle, but we’ll leave that one out.

 

Did you have any mentors or role models while taking this path?

A: Both of my parents are performing artists. They are the greatest role models in my life. To this day I still seek advice and support from them.

 

How did they help you achieve your career, or shape you into the person you are today?

A: Well, they were an endless support both emotionally and financially. Especially in the beginning because it’s really tough starting out. They provided a foundation of positivity and honesty about the challenges versus the rewards, and they kept me focused and encouraged because they believed in me which helped me to believe in myself. I saw them have successes and failures and survive through all of it. I was right there as a witness through the good and the bad. It made me stronger. It made me flexible. It made me appreciate life on a day to day basis and be joyful. I knew that I could make it through because it is a life that I have always known. It’s who I am because it’s who they were and I looked up to them and still do. 

 

How has your dancing style changed throughout the years? Any improvements?

A: I was really into street dance in my early years and enjoyed the challenge of breakdance and the athleticism. For a ballerina, that was odd. I had been dancing in various genres for years and really enjoyed everything. Even cultural dancing. Over the years, Jazz has become my favorite. And as I get older and my body changes, I don’t really have my own style – I look to encourage talent and promote strength in others. 

 

What do you find most difficult about your job at the moment and throughout the years?

A: At the moment? The physical fatigue and health challenges. It’s tough to work in this field when you don’t feel well. But on the bright side, being in the studio always cheers me up. Throughout the years? I think it’s been difficult to let go of my kids after watching them grow up – and they become adults and they move on. But it’s still joyful, nonetheless. And many do stay in touch – which is wonderful.

 

What do you like most about your job and what aspects do you dislike?

A: Like most? That’s a hard one. It’s a big swirly combination of things. I guess if I had to pin one thing down, it would most likely be the creative environment because everyone seems to feel better when they enter the dance room. Dislike? Time seems to run a lot faster than me. There are often administrative deadlines that are not my favorite part of the job.

 

Do you have some advice or tips you’d give to someone planning on taking the same path?

A: Know yourself. Understand what you want and don’t want so that decision making is done without making hefty compromises to your happiness. Accept others for who they are so that you are not burdened by judgments because you’ll be involved with a variety of personalities. Try to learn something new every week so that your knowledge base is rich and grows with you. Be open and flexible. Life is very fluid. If we aren’t willing to bend with the flow of life, cracks occur in our foundation. Allow yourself to feel everything with honesty. Some of my best work and creativity had a direct line to my own heart and experiences. Keep a journal. Write things down (thoughts, ideas, experiences, people and places that you want to remember, and most importantly – goals). Nurture and care for your health and wellbeing – the BEST YOU results in an elevated life experience for yourself and everyone. Isn’t this why we breathe?

Inside the Making of my Eminent Costume

For eminent this year, my speech will be set during the release party of Fenty Beauty that happened on September 7th. My costume is based off of Rihanna’s skirt for the event, which was in turn based off of her 2015 MET Gala dress!

Rihanna’s outfit from the Fenty Beauty release party in September

Rihanna’s MET gala 2015 dress

 

I decided that I wanted to put my time into creating a memorable costume that would do justice to Rihanna’s always-in-the-spotlight wardrobe. Here’s how it went down!

 

First, I went to the fabric store and picked up 15 meters of a pale yellow tulle fabric, as well as 5 meters of a deeper yellow with tons of glitter in it. I also got elastic for the waistband, and 10 more meters of pink tulle for my learning centre. I started by measuring out the fabric into 6 equal lengths and folding it, then cutting along those folds.

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I then measured the width into 3 equal parts, and cut along that with my fabric cutters.

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Once I had all the measurements and cutting done, I was ready to tie the waistband and get started on the body of the skirt. I roughly tied off the elastic and separated the strips of tulle. I put on the elastic and began wrapping the tulle around the elastic, and then back through itself.

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I repeated the tie for all 36 strips of tulle to create the body. Next, I cut the glittery yellow tulle to size, and tied them in an alternating fashion, with two pale yellow, one small bright yellow, two pale yellow, one regular bright yellow, and so on. When I had finished tying on all the strips, I evened them out and tightened the elastic waist. I also temporarily added a belt;

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Then I added my golden hoop earnings and matching bracelets, as well as a set of rings and my yellow shirt. I also removed the belt.

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For the final touch, I took a pair of heels and some old socks and worked some magic, putting the socks over my heels and cutting out a small hole. The result- boot heels!

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About four hours later, I had an amazing outfit to prove for all my hard work. Now all that’s left to do is wait until Wednesday to put it all on again. I’m excited to walk around feeling like a princess, and even better, like Rihanna herself. Can’t wait!

Eminent Interview- Mathew V

For my Eminent  interview this year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mathew V, the singer and performer originally from Vancouver! Mathew answered all of my questions with genuine intent to help me out, and he was able to provide me with an insight to performance arts I would not have had access to otherwise. He helped me to better understand how it feels for a singer onstage during actual performances, which will be extremely useful for me while I present my speech onstage. Mathew and I also discussed the pressures and duties of influential people to have a certain kind of social impact, when I discovered he actually has a similar view on the matter to that of Rihanna. He believes that although he doesn’t ever want to have a negative impact on others, he still has to live his life and be his genuine self. From our conversation, I will be able to more accurately represent a performer onstage, as well as understand some of what it means to be a performance artist! I am feeling a lot more confident in my representation of Rihanna onstage and in conversation in my learning centre afterwards! I am really grateful for the opportunity to chat with Mathew and in turn, back up my project with more knowledge and authenticity. Below is a synthesis of our conversation, highlighting some points that I think will be most impactful to my eminent performance!

 

How does it feel for you when you perform, to get on stage and give pieces of yourself to the audience?

  • For me, performances are always super exciting
  • For anyone who has chosen the career and has the opportunity to be on stage it’s what they’ve always wanted to do so to actually be able to do that
  • A bit nervous for big performances
  • So much work has gone into it and i’ve performed so many times, I think it’s more of a powerful, confident feeling

 

Has that feeling shifted or changed for you over time?

  • Used to get super super nervous,
  • Worried about what people would think
  • Feeling more confidence, knowing how to work the audience

 

Why is performing an important part of your music?

  • It’s a chance to actually interact and connect with the audience
  • All be in the same room, listening to the same music
  • When a song is released, you don’t know how people are reacting, how they like it, how it impacts them
  • Opportunity to be more human

 

If you could expand to also be involved in another field of specialty, (visual arts, entrepreneurialism, etc) what would you want to do?

  • When I was growing up, business was the backup plan
  • Didn’t give myself the opportunity to have a backup plan
  • There’s entrepreneurialism in my work already
  • I like to make sure that I have a firm grasp on the inner workings

 

Do you have a favourite part of your work?

  • Whatever part i’m doing in the moment
  • Nothing matches the excitement of finishing a recording session and feeling like I’ve just written a hit song
  • Favourite favourite- performing for a really responsive crowd

 

Who do you think you are most grateful for in terms of the support they have provided for you in becoming a singer?

 

  • My parents have been unbelievably supportive of me
  • Wouldn’t have the opportunities to do what i’ve done without them
  • Allowing me to have flexibility in pursuing my dreams

 

Have you ever found it challenging to be a performance artist but also a genuine representation of yourself?

  • Luckily for me, my label has been really supportive of the music that I make
  • Some songs I write are super vulnerable, so it’s difficult to reveal those parts although they tend to connect way better
  • It can be tricky to open up like that but I think it’s important to face that fear

 

Do you feel that you have a duty as an artist to have a certain kind of social impact?

  • As of recently, It’s hard not to feel an obligation when people open up to you about their own lives and their struggles,
  • I don’t want to do anything on my end to influence anyone in a negative way but I also need to live my life
  • Hard balance
  • Regardless of what you do, someone is going to have something to say about it
  • Trust yourself and do what you think is right

 

Are there any other artists that have inspired you in pursuing performing arts?

  • Growing up i listened to Shania Twain and Celine Dion
  • I owe my love for pop melody to them
  • Social artist I wanted to be like- Lady Gaga
  • I went to her concert and she was up there fighting for gay rights
  • I didn’t know that there were people out there fighting for that on such a large scale to accept people like me
  • That helped me realize who I was, and helped me to come out
  • She helped me through one of the biggest aspect of my life to date
  • For someone who i’ve never met to have that big of an impact on me was definitely super powerful
  • Showed me the influence that singers have the potential to have

 

Do you think it was important for your development to have role models?

  • We are always influenced by people who have paved the way for us
  • I find inspiration every day
  • I listen to my favourite artists and what they have to say, and what they’re standing up for
  • In this political climate, it’s important to hear what they have to say and to constantly be inspired by other people

 

DoL 2: Speech Drafts & Final Copy

I decided to post my speech drafts and final copy as a document of learning! I’m actually incredibly proud of my speech, I really like the way it turned out. Good luck to everyone with their learning centres and the grade 10s with their speeches :)

 

Final Speech:

Where does it hurt the most? I’ve pondered this question for most of my life, and after searching through the painful memories of hurtful words and discriminatory experiences, I finally realized that it isn’t as a female that I’ve suffered the most from bigotry and bias, but as a homosexual.

I am an uncloseted lesbian in a time where people like me are considered to be sick and abnormal. The hollow feeling I get in the pit of my stomach every time I step outside my house sends shivers up my spine, and yet I continue to be public about my sexuality because if I don’t fight for gay rights, who will? I refuse to let future generations grow up in the same toxic environment that I’m used to. No one deserves to be shoved inside the closet and forced to suppress a critical part of themselves. No one deserves to be scared of standing up for what they believe in.

I’m standing here – at the white house –  holding this sign not only for myself, but for all those who are like me. I am fighting for those who have had insults constantly shoved down their throats until they’re left gasping for air. I am fighting for those who have experienced the unimaginable trauma: doctors appointments and refused job applications and sleepless nights. We’re human beings, we shouldn’t be treated like this. It’s time we “get the bigots off our backs, oil the closet door hinges, change prejudiced hearts and minds, and show that gay love is good for us and for the rest of the world too.”

 

Draft #1:

I have spent the early years of my life being told that I have a disease. A disease that can’t always be cured, a horrible illness that separates me from everyone else. The word lesbian has been permanently stamped onto my forehead, this so-called “character flaw” overshadowing the rest of my personality. Well, guess what? I am not defined by my sexuality.  

LGBT people have never had enough visibility. We have been shoved inside the closet and forced to suppress a very critical part of ourselves. We’ve been told who we are and who we ought to be.

The discrimination I have witnessed, and the insults I have received throughout the years have only inspired me to fight back. I’m standing here holding this sign not only for myself, but for all the others who aren’t able to fight back.

“(Now for 48 years) I’ve had the satisfaction of working with other gay people all across the country to get the bigots off our backs, to oil the closet door hinges, to change prejudiced hearts and minds, and to show that gay love is good for us and for the rest of the world too”

 

Draft #2:

Where does it hurt the most? I’ve pondered this question for most of my life, and after searching through the painful memories of hurtful words and discriminatory experiences, I finally realized that it isn’t as a female that I’ve suffered the most from bigotry and bias, but as a homosexual.

I am an uncloseted lesbian in a time where people like me are considered to be sick and abnormal. The hollow feeling I get in the pit of my stomach every time I step outside my house sends shivers up my spine, and yet I continue to be public about my sexuality because if I don’t fight for gay rights, who will? I refuse to let future generations grow up in the same toxic environment that I’m used to. No one deserves to be shoved inside the closet and forced to suppress a critical part of themselves. No one deserves to be scared of standing up for what they believe in.

I’m standing here – at the white house –  holding this sign not only for myself, but for all those who have been refused a job because of their sexuality. Sexual preference is irrelevant to federal employment, or any employment for that matter. We must “get the bigots off our backs, oil the closet door hinges, and change prejudiced hearts and minds, to show that gay love is for us and the rest of the world too.”

DoL: Eminent Interview

I conducted my eminent interview a while ago, with an openly “queer” singer/musician named Mathew! Myself and a few of my friends met him at a concert last year (he was the opening artist), and I decided to reach out to him for my interview.

He’s extremely busy at the moment, so we conducted the interview over email. My eminent person is a gay rights activist and although Mathew is a singer, he is part of the LGBTQ+ community and I knew he would have experienced some of the things my eminent person went through.

Here are the questions I asked him:

1. Are there any specific instances where you’ve faced discrimination or been treated differently because of your sexuality?

2. Do you feel that people in the LGBT community are being portrayed accurately by media?

3. In what area(s) do you feel LGBT people lack representation?

4. How do u think LGBT entertainers and activists have changed others’ views on the community?

I’m not going to include everything he said, but the one that stood out the most for me was his answer to the last question: “How do u think LGBT entertainers and activists have changed others’ views on the community?”. He said that “Celebrities make LGBT lifestyles a familiar idea to people who have never […] been exposed to it before. I find that people are often afraid of what they don’t know”. I think that this is such an important concept, and it ties in with my eminent person/her struggles. Everyone around her feared her, because they didn’t really know anything about homosexuality.

This interview was a valuable experience and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to talk to such an influential artist! (A little promo: go check out “Tell Me Smooth” and “Always Be My Baby” by Mathew V Music his voice is truly angelic).

Eminent 2017 – Document of Learning

As eminent is fast approaching (3 days, can you believe it?!), I decided to watch one of Anna May Wong’s movies to really gain a further insight into the roles she played. I watched the movie Daughter of the Dragon, a 1931 film starring Anna May Wong and Warner Oland.

Anna as Ling Moy

Anna’s role was the Chinese aristocrat, the daughter of the villain Fu Manchu, Princess Ling Moy. At the beginning of the movie, Ling Moy is an innocent character, but as the plot progresses, she finds out that her father is Fu Manchu. Ling Moy vows to that she will avenge her father’s death and becomes the true villain of the movie.

From Anna’s first scene in the movie, I could already tell that her character was sexualized. She wore a revealing dress with an extravagant headpiece. Throughout the movie, she continued to show up with small garments that revealed her stomach, arms, and legs.

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Not only was Ling Moy portrayed as an antagonist, her father, Fu Manchu was described as ‘treacherous’. Fu Manchu has become an archetype of the evil criminal genius. His name was lent to the  “Fu Manchu moustache,” facial hair that typical stereotypical Chinese villains would have.

In addition to all this, she was one of two of only Asians in a cast full of white actors and actresses; the other actor being Sessue Hayakawa playing Ah Kee. Fu Manchu was not even portrayed by an Asian actor, but rather, a Caucasian one.

Daughter of the Dragon also illustrates the romantic racial boundaries that restricted Anna’s career. Ling Moy falling in a forbidden love with Petrie, Ah Kee falling in love with Ling Moy but the latter “friend-zoning” him, this movie shows much of the racial-sexual dynamics that were relevant then.

In watching this movie, I now feel the anger and discontent that Anna has felt even stronger than I did previously just by researching her. I have also developed a further understanding of her roles. I believe this will help me present my speech more authentically and I will be able to get more “in character” on eminent night.

3 Wise Nugs

  1. Be open to trying things – even if you never pictured yourself doing them in the past – as they might turn out to be something you enjoy/are good at.
  2. Witnessing trauma and illness at work everyday prepares you for minor things that may have scared you before.
  3. Helping others deal with emotional trauma is emotionally traumatic for you as well.