Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Retrospective

Merry Christmas everyone, my very best wishes to you, that you will find time for play and for love and especially for creativity (however you enjoy it) in these busy days. Spend time with people you adore, and please adore yourself, for without you, you have nothing. It's hard to do, believe me, no-one knows like I do, but if you think about what being loved should feel like, and do it for yourself, you cannot really lose, right?

2013 opened with the flurry of the Dance Queens awards. I wanted us to win. I wanted me to win. I wanted that recognition, from our peers and for the entire grid. I wanted to say "winner of the 2013 Dance Queens Award for ..." in our promo. I wanted my dancers to see what they have become.

It seems a little hollow, now, and not just because it got white-anted by bitterness. Guerilla Burlesque is a phenomenon, it fills the house at every show. It pleases audiences who see it, and it draws the best talent on the grid to be part of it. It inspires great loyalty in it's fans. There really aren't any awards that match that feeling of watching a dancer take a concept through to completion, or watching a team combine together like fine machinery. I am ever-lastingly proud of Guerilla Burlesque. I know I am not universally admired, and this troupe lost many dancers it would have been nice to keep; nevertheless, those who have stayed all display characteristics I find to be the best of human nature. They are diligent, warm-hearted, sensitive, open, smart, giving and immensely creative. It is an honour, truly, to breathe the air they breathe.

I wonder how many of you, who thought you would struggle to find a place as the team shifted and changed, think back through the year and see just how close we've all become. Guerilla Burlesque is a force of nature, baby, and I thank you if you are someone who's hung on for the full ride.

Losing the luxurious privilege of owning a whole sim was very hard, and I miss the unlimited potential. But Idle Rogue will always survive, in some form, and I am still, always, so grateful to Cait for giving me the playground of my dreams.

My inter-personal skills remain a bit of a worry, but I am working on it, and I know I have made some major progress this year. That said, there are times when the malice I draw baffles me. One person, and one person only, gets the unedited version of chry, and I will admit he finds it very hard going. The rest, including those malcontents who think I have or had something they deserve, are making shit up. It's more annoying than anything. I did a great job in difficult circumstances, and it won't be done as well now that I am not doing it any more. Other than that I am at ease. I try to give my best, in everything I do. But I am not everyone's cuppa tea, as we say in the antipodes.

It's no secret I spent way too much time in Guild Wars 2 this year. I love it, though Burn2 broke it's grip on me a little; it's also true to say that I once felt I was becoming part of the community there, and I no longer feel this way, which made playing the game more optional than it had been. I really only like World vs World, and my partner likes many other aspects of the game. That means, in a practical sense, that I just don't go there as much.

Let's not forget, after four very long and humbling years, I finally got a real job, and there's no doubt in my mind that just that fact has made a huge difference to my attitude to everything around me right now.

As the year draws to a close, I am busy, in both lives, and I don't have the time to dwell on things that are re-shaping right now. I am very very excited about Le Cirque de Nuit, a project that will take the next several weeks to pull together, but which I hope to turn into one of the most successful, cutting edge collaborations of 2014. I am also delighted and honoured by the calibre of the people who have lately expressed interested in projects we are working on. I am stimulated by the possibilities ahead of us all.

Chill the champers, babies, let's ring it in, I'm keen to get going on it :-)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Burned for life

I'd always wanted to have a camp at the virtual Burning Man Festival, certainly after I learned of the Metaharpers and their camp, but all the way along. The festival idea is not a new one for me, most people know Idle Rogue's live music stages are designed to emulate outdoor festival stages. I have a long history of outdoor concerts and bike runs in my real life, to me it's the Australian Way.

In real life there's a good chance I'd avoid the Burning Man Festival. I don't actually care much for the heat, and it sure looks hot out there. Interestingly, the virtual festival coincided with local heatwaves and fires, so I didn't really escape by going virtual; but I enjoy that juxtaposition of the two environments, it makes the immersion more savoury.

Make no mistake, it is expensive to go to Burn 2. The parcel we procured through the generous donations of Idle Rogue supporters cost 12000 linden dollars - $48USD. For that we got a 1024m² parcel with 468 prims for roughly six weeks. The event itself runs for a week, and it runs on the same principles as the rl festival. There are no tips or other income. So that $48 bucks is spent for love.

But oh, Burn! How I loved you!

chry goes feral

The Idle Rogue community has been in a kind of recess, for one reason and another. The downsize meant we had to fore go the housing and the new resident program. The community has been languishing anyway while I licked my wounds by falling in love with another game. It's my belief that successful venues consist of a nucleus around which a wider community are loosely gathered. Those things are still very much part of Idle Rogue, and we wouldn't be who we are without Chewie, Jess, Di and Shippy. But some faces are gone, the flavour has changed, and we are in a form of stasis.

For me, the Burn2 project was a return, of sorts, to Second Life. I have spent more time there over the past month than I have for a long time, indeed, since The Big Ruckus of 2012. And it was good! It was fun!

Shippy's glorious Observation Tower, our home away from home on the playa

I talked to strangers, and watched them fashion beautiful things purely for the enjoyment of passersby. I learned their stories, I listened to them wax about their Burn experiences, their philosophical ideals, the ethics they have developed and how those are shaped by the Burn and by Second Life. I saw passion, I saw real joy, I saw kindness and spiritual generosity. I watched people transformed by their engagement with this virtual environment. I heard people cry at the Temple Burn, I saw them entranced as the man burned.

And then there was my team, Guerilla Burlesque, who grabbed hold of my vision and ran like bandits with it. They made beautiful, thought-provoking performance art and gave it to everyone who was interested to come and watch. They, also, met and engaged strangers, made people welcome and gave them memories. They were generous with their time and thoughtful with their energy. They were endearing, curious and made me full with love and pride.

Dance like everyone is watching

All of it, every bit of it, was the enchanting human at humanity's best. My humble thanks go, in no particular order (well except for first and last, who are first and first), to Thea Dee, GMetal, Meegan Danitz, GarGraVarr Rau, February Jinx, Cool Plasma, Jess Cauld, Gloriana Maertens, Azabella Alamar, Zahra Ethaniel, Huntress Cattaneo, Jordan Reyne, Maeve Branner, BabyPea von Phoenix, Knowledge Tomorrow, Biebi, Aubreya Joszpe, Deb Heron, Chewie Quixote, Tukso Okey, Padula Bing, Pol Arida, Jenna Dirvall, Darkshore, Mulder Watts, Leroy Horton, Mercutio Evanier, Diawa Bellic, Buttermilk Panacek, Eifachfilm Vacirca, Trinity Hunghi, and most especially, forever and always, Shippy.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Building Artje Orestes

Tarnished Coast server has a new forum site, which triggered a round of "introduce yourself" posts. I really love my character, Artje Orestes,  and I think that's largely because I built her myself. This is one of the very cool features about Guild Wars 2, and one that Second Lifers will "get" immediately: you can start customising your character before you even get into the game, and from the very first level, you can shape your "build".

Choices for my first character, Myf, were very much shaped by forum and blog information sourced by Shippy. I'd started Guild Wars as a warrior, but found, when I took on Monk as my secondary profession, that I really enjoyed healing and support play. I thought a Guardian character in GW2 would suit me very well, and I enjoy playing Myf, but it's Artje who has stolen my heart.

At For The Toast, I introduced her thus:

I've since tried to look up the name online, but without much luck. Cute Baby Names think it means "he who reigns as an eagle", though they don't say who told them that. I like it though, it works.

Hunting for the meaning of the name Artje, I found this:
What's in a name? Plenty, if you ask at the Kabalarian site,
though it must be noted they will tell me even more if I buy their report
Way too many ticks on that list >.<

Artje is a Ranger, she fights with a longbow, a pair of matching axes and a pet (currently a raven, because they can fly up to the top of ramparts and attack enemy there). As she levelled, I bought her armour, often transmuting it to get a certain combination of looks and stats. She currently wears a combination of the Magitech armour skins (for the looks) with exotic armour stats (for the 

Her armour is upgraded with a full set of the Superior Runes of Mercy, to increase healing capabilities, and her trinkets are chosen to maximise toughness, because she gets splattered a lot - although I am finding as my movement gets a little more dextrous, I get killed a little less. Some days are diamonds, some days are Artje-shaped smears on the ground. 

I am happy with her armour, but am still upgrading to ascended trinkets, which are mostly chosen to maximise healing and toughness and power when I can get it.

Her traits and skills were chosen to help her move fast across The Mists, revive allies when she can, and hit hard when she has to, and are calculated by Guildhead in the graphic to the right. Her trait lines focus on Marksmanship, Skirmishing, Wilderness Survival and Beast Mastery, because that was the combination I came up with to play the way I like to play. For example, I wanted my pet to be able to revive me (take some of the load off Ship :-D), so I took a little from the offensive traits to have that.

Artje primarily uses Entangle and Barrage to finish an argument, which means she can get on top of keep and tower hassles fast, and often (though not always) assist in the field. The trick is to get her where she can do damage fast, because it's very easy for her to get killed on the way.

 One Of Us Is The Killer - The Dillinger Escape Plan

she moves abstract just like a shadow dancing on the edge
like a storm cloud passing overhead
effortless and free
as the hours rush by
through her I can sense the end of time
there's no way this can forever shine
make the sun not rise
in the air we tried to be
but you shot your arrow through me
now one of us must die
but the killer won't survive
she moves abstract just like a shadow dancing on the edge
like a storm cloud passing overhead
hypnotizing me
as the hours rush by
through her I can sense the end of time
stretch into eternity divine
and the sun won't rise
in the air we tried to be
but you shot your arrow through me
now one of us must die
and the killer won't survive

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Man Down Part 1

Guild Wars 2 has different aspects for different players. Some people spend all their time in Player vs Environment mode, completing a personalised quest and pursuing the "Living Story" new content which is introduced every two weeks.

Some like to farm materials, either to trade on the open marketplace, or to contribute to the ridiculously long list of requirements to make a legendary weapon.

Some like to battle it out, round after round, in the Player vs Player arenas.

I like to play World vs World vs World. WvW pits our host server (Tarnished Coast, in my case) against a revolving roster of other servers. The contest goes over a week, and if we win, we generate bonuses for players on our server across the game. We also get to play server teams from a higher tier. If we lose, we stay at the same tier, or if we lose a couple of weeks in a row, we move down to a lower tier.

climbing the stairs to attack a keep in
Guild Wars2's World vs World
The game involves battling across one of four maps. Each server has a home map, and there is a no man's land - the Eternal Battlegrounds - where all three servers have a presence. The idea briefly, is to block supply to the other teams, then capture and hold their assets (supply camps, towers and keeps). ArenaNet have recently introduced a "twist" where you can acquire a boost for your server by capturing three of four properties in the centre of the map.

I have levelled two characters up to the highest level of the game by playing them in WvW from around level 20. It was hard work, frustrating and even rage-inducing, but I like the way it's shaped my characters. They are battle-hard and hardy. I get slaughtered by live players at a really high rate. But I can take out a supply camp of NPCs on my own, and as someone who has always struggled in situations requiring strategic planning, I find it really fun to learn how my aspect of the game is won.

I'm also enchanted by the machinations surrounding the role of commanders.

Commanders don't get elected or win their title. They just buy it, and it doesn't come with much for the price. They might be supported in their bid to command by a guild, but I am not part of a large guild and am guessing at that. Anyone can be a commander. But of course, not everyone can be a good commander, one who can draw a zerg (a small army of militia) and roll across the map capturing everything in sight, ensuring kills and loot for all and a general feeling of having succeeded as a team. Watching commanders come and go from the rough-and-tumble of WvW, and trying to assess their goals and performance, is absolutely fascinating to someone like me, who is interested in leadership and motivation.

 A good WvW commander is a rock star. And they are welcomed to the map, and followed, and obeyed as if they were a rockstar. Many times my partner and I have hit the WvW map and exclaimed with glee when one of our favourite commanders is "tagged up" and visible on the map. We will swap maps to follow a commander we admire. And we reward commanders who've been effective leaders.

Last night my favourite commander messaged me to tell me he'd left our server. He explained his reasons, and they are legitimate complaints. Our server has suffered from an inexplicable malaise over the past two months. The Living Story content is both lucrative and engaging, so a lot of our fighters have wandered off to play that. We're good fighters, we're easily at the top of the tier we're in - but we're easily at the bottom of the tier above us. So we keep being assigned to the upper tier, and we lose, which is really demoralising. Commanders won't put on their tag, but when they do, map chat is critical and demoralising.

amazing new content is added every two weeks now,
and is lucrative and compelling for many players
Favourite commander's opinion is that guilds are leaving TC server, and there's little hope that the situation will improve. So he took his rockstar ass off to another server, where I hope he regains joy in his game. He's a good leader, able to asses a situation and respond to it quickly, without losing sight of the bigger picture. He teaches as he goes, he's patient and mostly not abusive (though guys, really, you need to put some thought into this mumble thing. We can hear you, you know). He is very very good at his game and he is entitled to enjoy playing it.

This is a tl;dnr post right now, so I am going to break it, and go back to it soon. Because as regular readers will know, I am all about my community, and my community of rag tag militia is in trouble. I want to think about the reasons we lost a good man, and ways we can stop it happening again.
Artje psyching to join battle

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Venus vs Mars?

Artje with Aidan, who, just for the record, would
NEVER say something casually offensive
Artje Orestes is my new Guild Wars 2 character, and I love her very much. Artje is a human, an orphaned noblewoman who believes in fighting for her community and has joined the Vigil to live out her moral commitment to that cause.

I have another post in mind (pity they're always "in mind" and not "on the interwebs", huh?) where I tell you how I built Artje and what I love about her, and maybe just discuss what it's like to be a fully-formed human who just discovered gaming. But today Artje has a problem, and that's what brought us here, to writing a post.

Artje has been spending most of her time in World vs World, the part of Guild Wars 2 where server is pitted against server to fight over territory in a running battle of castles and keeps, sieges and skirmishes. I love it, for me, it's a perfect combination of cracking skulls and deploying strategy. I don't really get half of it, and that's a fact, but I love it, and spend part of every day there. Sometimes very large parts of every day.

After some weeks of having Mumble ready to go, I finally signed up and started listening in. Mumble is an independent voice server, widely used in the MMORPG community because it allows players to communicate using speech. Obviously it's much more fun to play running and fighting games when you don't have to stop and type, and it's immensely useful for teams who spend their time in running battle.

Not much socialising goes on in the mumble channel. There are various "rooms", and I have no idea what goes on in them, but in the war rooms, the talk is all about the battle. I don't speak, I don't even really know these guys, but I do like having access to their plans. And I want to emphasise that the use of the service is a privilege, someone pays for these rooms and allows us to access them - though it's fair to note that in WvW, at least, you are often harangued to "get on mumble" to increase the team's effectiveness.

So tonight Arenanet released new content, and of course *eye roll* it had to be patched, and we were all thrown out of the game while the patch was installed. Mumble is still going though, and all my favourite commanders, the rockstars of Guild Wars 2, suddenly find themselves with downtime. I have no doubt they talked about the stuff they talk about any time they're not commanding. They just did it with an audience.

They talked about some guy who got arrested making bath salt drugs. He'd heard that it sent women into a sexual frenzy. "Good on him," said the other Commanders. Two or three of them said it, all at once, so it was their natural reaction. The conversation moved on.

What? Ugh. Okay. It happens. Guys talk like this, apparently. I am no delicate and unique rosebud, I have worked and lived in the kind of environments where this kind of talk would be tame. It makes me want to shout, and insist that they think about what they just said, and tell me if they really think that's okay. Instead, I quietly closed the channel and took a break to get some chores done in rl. 

I'm going to go back, of course, I really love this game. And I am going to have to listen in on the mumble channel again, despite the fact that every time these guys talk now, I know they're "that kind of guy".

I'm also struck by the notion that I don't normally find myself in this situation any more. I took "be the change you want to see in the world" fairly literally, and I created environments, online and off, where that kind of talk would not go unchallenged. It's a bit frustrating to find myself here, and I haven't yet decided what I can do about it.

Friday, March 15, 2013


So even though I am well aware that I owe you guys a post about what it feels like when your act goes completely arse-up ... tonight is not that night. We will do it, I promise, just to get closure on the torturous bloody thing. But something else happened tonight that sparked a rich vein of thought.

A little story about young chryblnd, or her human driver ...

I don't dwell on my childhood much. I have very few reliable memories, It wasn't my best period. I was bright and a bloody showoff. My mother taught me to read and has often said I could read the newspaper when I was three. At the age of eight, my family moved to the town I spent the next twenty years in, and it was something of a crisis for me. It was a small town where intellect isn't really valued, and intellect in females is plainly distrusted. 

I was put in a composite class and the teacher sometimes asked me to read to the kindergarten children. In addition I had ... whatever personality I still have. It's not everyone's cuppa tea.

And then there was the thing where they were all so advanced, sexually precocious. I didn't get it, and I didn't want to get it, even though everyone I was trying to impress clearly did get it and thought this smart feisty nerdy girl needed taking down a peg. Or several pegs.

It's ok, this doesn't turn into a Gawker essay. Well it does, but that's not the story I am going to tell you.

Enough to say that due to these things, and some other things, I left primary school with a pretty thorough understanding that it's better to "be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt". Or, more truly, I hid everything "different", as much as I could, which wasn't much, because, let's face it, I am a bloody big poser, and you know that because I chose to use my Second Life as a performance arena. Hundreds of thousands of people just stand around in SL talking to friends. There are 662457 items of women's apparel on the marketplace - someone's spending their time making those. But I work in entertainment, in jobs that have me almost constantly being watched by someone.

I like to hide in plain sight, you could say. I've written before about travelling light, about how it's caused by staying busy, but I want to point out, it's partly that, up there, too. Real life taught me that you could get by, if you were cool. And cool people don't show anything. Ever.

nerdygirl reaches for the top shelf
Tonight I heard that someone I'd had a business association with is telling people that the people in my dance troupe are men pretending to be women. It's not true, as the many people who come to interact with us every week can attest. There may be some crossing, we've never cared about that, but there's no hiding, well none that I know of, though I might not, it's true. In the end it doesn't matter, but actually, in the beginning it doesn't matter, and I will tell you why.

The person who said this to one of my team is someone I had a brief interaction with. He was terribly unpleasant to work with, so we did our job and came back to Idle Rogue. I haven't thought of him since ... but it's apparent he's thought of me. He cites, as his source, someone from another dance troupe I once worked for. That's interesting, because it means he probably sought that opinion, and certainly liked and wanted to use it. No-one else in my current team worked there, and he has no reason to know I worked there, it was long prior to my meeting with him. So this is about me.

This scandal-mongering is aimed at me by someone who's not important to me. I am so surprised by it!

When I don't want to deal with you any more, you won't have a terrible drama to contend with. There won't be explosive incidents to titillate the grid. I will simply walk away from you, and never think of you again.

Cool people don't show anything. Ever.

When you come after me, like that, you baffle me. Not with what you say. But with the way you want to do it, and the mystery of why you want to do it at all.

[2013/03/15 05:52]  chryblnd Scribe: ya know ... I was thinking about that too
[2013/03/15 05:53]  chryblnd Scribe: after (an altercation in which I lost some friends) ... I withdrew so much. I had to/ have to. I cannot go through that again, so I made a nice little ditch between me and everyone but the ppl I trust on a really deep level
[2013/03/15 05:53]  chryblnd Scribe: but all it does is make me ... more mythological?
[2013/03/15 05:53]  chryblnd Scribe: I am the chupacabra of SL lol

style notes:
Skin: *League* Skin Sunkiss Blonde -Amber- Grape
Tattoo: *ES* Paisely Love - Tattoo
Hair: [e] Only - Carrot Reds
Top: [Cynful] PlushTop - deepsea
Skirt: HOC Industries - Pleated Skirt
Socks: *League* Gartered Socks -Black
Boots: [Gos] GTFO Boots in Black [bagged]
Nails: +ROZOREGALIA+*Gemma*Ring&Nail/2(F) BOX
Ear-Rings: *DECO - Triple Skull Earrings*
Pose: Shippy

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Wolf" Act Part 3 - choreography

omg gah! Did you guys realise this act is due this Friday night? Where did our twenty days go?

I'll never be half the instinctive dancer he is
We are up to choreography - the bit I struggle with hardest. Some people, like my partner, have some kind of photographic memory for the dance animations, and can hotkey the shit out of any musical situation. I have tested Diawa Bellic countless times, and she is always able to find a sequence of dances that will fit the music I have played, within seconds of first hearing it.

 But I can do none of these things.

 Choreography, for me, means setting aside countless hours to test dances against the music. Yes, I listen to the song I am using over and over again through this process. Not many songs make it out the other side with as much favour as they went in.

It should come as no great surprise that I have no real life dance expertise. I am that person who doesn't dance until they're so drunk they should be prevented from dancing. I will dance at home though (which is a good thing, since it's many moons since I got that drunk, and really, a life without dance would be no life at all). I trained in ballet, as a young girl, but unsurprisingly lacked the discipline to do it properly and drifted out of it before I hit high school. I am not the woman who scampers joyfully to belly dance or burlesque classes.

But I know what looks right, and I know how to feel a beat and stick to it, and that's how I do my choreo.

The first stop is always A&M Mocap, and regular readers will know why that is. The first time I went to A&M, I was so besotted I was there for four hours. I am still there for hours, but I must admit it's not the joyous experience it was then. The animators at A&M Mocap have a great sense of theatrical dance, and I think it's important to see and recognise the difference. These dances, as beautiful, emotional and sensual as they are, are not for use in clubs - though A&M have plenty of dances which are - and to my mind, it's similarly true that club dances don't look good on stage.

the advent of mesh has added a new set of hazards for choosing a dance

I'm no  fan of Gor, but I think we professional dancers owe the girls who come to SL to play slaves and concubines a great debt; their active engagement with SL has ensured a legacy of sensual and performance-oriented dance. Some of my very earliest dances and poses come from the Gorean lifestyle.

So based on what we know about my dancing style, we know we need rhythm. The song has a good pace to it, it's looking for fast and big steps ... but I think the story calls for some dignity too. It's the story of the respect and love "wolf mother" inspires. So she won't be prancing, and she won't be rolling around on the floor. But you knew I would say that anyway, right?

Each time I do a new act, I purchase 4 new dances. A dance animation is usually around 26 seconds, and a song is roughly four minutes long. So I buy four new dances when it makes sense, and use between 2 and 4 that I already own.

You can't really say this too many times, so here's my PSA for the day: Do NOT buy trans/no copy animations. Yes, they can be as much as 200L cheaper. But you only have to lose your hud one time to realise your investment was pitifully inadequate. We know 4 new dances will cost 400L each. That's 1600L, for those playing at home. A Guerilla Burlesque dancer will earn 700-1000L in a Friday night show. My second PSA for the day - do not go into professional dancing thinking it will make money.

Suddenly it's midnight, and I have bought four dances - Thought You Knew, Spring Jive, The Arrival and Aziza, all from A&M. I'm sleepy, I have to stop now, but I'd wanted to have a look at Henmations and My-Animation too. I like Henmations dances very much. I am less impressed with My-Animation, but I love their AO stuff so much I will use any excuse to go by and see what's new. And sometimes it's a great dance :-D.

I caught a break, in that no-one else is ready for Sunday night rehearsal either. We'll reschedule to Wednesday, which wreaks havoc on my other jobs, but buys me a little more time to pull this act out of my head and onto the stage.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Wolf" Act Part 2

Continuing my series on how I create and stage an act for Guerilla Burlesque, today's post will deal with the selection of costumes.

Despite yesterday's small hiccup (now deleted post), the act for "Wolf" is slowly building itself. I spent the day browsing marketplace, looking for wolves and trying on ideas.

The Lycan avatars are too muscular, the furries too cute. There are some nice looking mesh wolves, but the price range is 2000-5000L. A dancer could reasonably expect to earn 700-1000L from the Guerilla Burlesque show, so obviously that kind of cost is too much, especially since it's only half the costume. I want a transformation in the act, despite the fact that my long-term fans know I have done that before, notably in the Stripped act (transforming from a deer into a girl) and the Of Wolf And Man act (transforming back and forth from wolf to girl to wolf). From the latter, I still have the wolf avatar from Grendels Children, and it was to Grendels, finally, I returned.

Grendels sim, if you have not been, is a lovely explorable set of sims that house a vast collection of avatars and builds, mostly relating to animals and fantasy creatures. I had heard last year it was to close, or scale down from the four sims it once occupied. If this is so, it is a very great shame. I have such great memories of roaming it's wilds hunting baby dragons and exploring with Yop.

The wolf avatar is not too bad, a little old-fashioned by SL standards, but the price is fantastic, and the aesthetic shortcomings don't really make a difference. The first time people see the avatar, they're just excited to see it.I have never worn it without several people being pleased with it. So it will do the job quite well.

Now here's the thing. I know what I want. However, we know I have done versions of it before. That's not a great feeling ... but I console myself with the notion that it is a great song, and I believe audiences will enjoy even the most basic storytelling because the song is cool.

But you know I am not, in my heart satisfied. I like to make acts that make the audience believe in the medium. I don't need them to be elaborate or tricksy ... some of my favourite acts feature very simple sets. I just want that immersive feeling of being in a theatre, watching a show, and suspending disbelief just enough to go along for the ride. This is a story that can be told without too much stretching ... but the bar is so very high at Guerilla Burlesque now. So the brainstorm part of proceedings is far from over :-)

Oh, and I guess I've styled the girl part of the act. It took some doing, too. I can't really enjoy "off the rack"; even in my day-to-day, one of my favourite things is to combine different elements to create outfits that are so unique I can never remember them to wear them again. It's also, partly, that some creators make really beautiful clothes, but their shoes are way below the standard. Or other variations on that notion.

The outfit I have settled on is sourced as follows:

Hood: Thana by Cellar Door
Hair: Maria Naturals by emo-tions. I cain't quit you, Mirja Mills!
Skin: *League* Skin Amber Fair -Smoky
Eyes: Fashism Sunrise Eyes in Light Lagoon
Cloak, skirt gloves and pants: Fia by Jessie Auer
Boots: Far Polar by Miel

More on these choices once I have settled on the configuration of the act. I am pleased with how it's coming together though!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Wolf" Act - Part 1 (creating a dance act for Guerilla Burlesque)

As promised, I am planning on detailing how I create the dance acts I present at Guerilla Burlesque. I intend to lead you through my personal process, from when the concept first germinates in my mind, to it's performance, which is scheduled for the show on March 2nd - so we have just twenty days to make this happen! Bear in mind, my process is not "the" way to do it, and in fact, I know other dancers on the Guerilla Burlesque team do it completely differently. On the other hand, I am often asked "how do I start", so for those of you thinking you might like to try this dancer caper out, welcome aboard.

For me, the process always starts with the song. I have been dancing for four years now, so it's safe to say I have used most of my favourite songs, but I have learned, too, that your favourite song cannot always be made into palatable entertainment. It's also my duty to point out that favourite songs tend to drop off your playlist after you've listened to them on repeat play for a few hours.

The song I have chosen to work with is Wolf by First Aid Kit. Little known chryblnd trivia: I have the radio on 24 hours a day, a habit from my youth when I had reason to be a very light sleeper. I find the continual flow of radio provides enough background noise to grant me unbroken sleep. That said, I am sometimes woken by the same song, every time it's played, and these songs tend to end up in my lifelong favourites list. 

Wolf is one of those songs. Released late last year, it woke me up several times through the holiday season. I like the drums, it's got a rollicking beat, and I was struck by the vocals, which seemed very Americana to me - though it turns out they are a Swedish band. And in a special bonus ending, the song turns out to have a story, or a bit of a story, which is just about perfect for my purposes, since I can create something that fits the bones of the song, but takes it in my direction.

So now I move onto what I would like to do to tell my version of this story. If you liked the song, you might already know there is an official video, and that's the first thing that will affect my interpretation. While I have complete admiration for those people who are recreating music videos in SL - it must be such a painstaking process - it's not my thing. I prefer to tell an original story, and that's how I let myself call what we do "dance interpretation". The result, of course, is that pagan rituals, leafy headbands, white dresses and fake wolves are out. 

But I still want to tell the story of a wolf or wolf pack. And I still need to have a sexy girl in there (because that's how I roll. Shut up. Don't judge). And here is where the brainstorm starts. I want the realism, I really love highly realistic stage sets. I wonder if there are any good wolf avatars out there? I used a wolf avatar once before, in my opening act for Beautiful Freaks Burlesque Circus. It was from Grendels, if memory serves. I wonder if there are newer avatars. maybe someone's doing mesh? Oh and I love forests, everyone knows most of my acts are just fresh versions of me prancing around in a forest. Wait, that's no good, I need to break that mould. But ... if I used the mover, that would meet the "fresh" requirement ... wouldn't it? Ehhh .... well I am not doing metaphorical wolves and prancing around Wall Street!

This is generally where I start building a set, a process that, for me, is like doodling, but cooler. The picture that ends up on stage may have nothing whatever to do with the picture I start out with. But here it is, so that you know. And no, I have no idea what that huge torus is for. You have no idea how long I stood around waiting for it to rez though :-)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

criticism is good for character

I have simply got to stop reading the Dance Queens blog on the way to posting. Watching the Cutie Awards unravel and be repeatedly dismissed by someone who isn't actually game to use their own name is doing my head in.

Come out, come out, whoever you are. I take criticism very well, really I do.

At the end of the awards show, I was chatting to Jariah Yuhara, of A&M Mocap Animations and I told her this story:

When I danced for Virtual Burlesque, Cellandra Zon came to see our show. I was most honoured, and I really wanted to know if she liked us. I couldn't help it, though ... I mean ... Cellandra Zon! At that point she was the only name I knew, the only "star" I was aware of, and she was at our show! I had to find out what she thought.

Let me tell you, Cellandra, whom I now consider a friend, though we are not close, was not at all impressed. She gave it to me straight too, and it was very very humbling. When she was done, she gave me a landmark for A&M Mocap Animations.

And after that, I was a dancer.

I just finished saying, on the dance queens blog, that I am getting a little weary of hearing that the awards were "a high school prom where, nothing is based on merit, talent and skill". But you guys knew that anyway :-)

I share my little story in hopes that you might understand what drives me, at least a little, to require a high standard from Guerilla Burlesque. I still feel they deliver, in a way almost no other show does.

I keep coming here meaning to start a series that details my creative process, and I promise, that post is coming. Just as soon as I stop watching the car wreck they made of my statuettes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tainted victory

I was so engaged by the Dance Queens Awards. I can admit to being competitive, I was raised by people who thought that was important. As I monitored the nominations, my excitement grew. All the big names were there. People I have worked with, people I have learned from, people whose work I have long admired. Legends. And us amongst them.

I'll not be disingenuous - I believe we are the best dance show working the grid right now [edit: at least, I did think that, til I saw what IMAGE are doing]. I took all of the things I observed in other dance shows, added it to what I know about live music audiences, mixed it up with some monkey spit and an overweening need to control everything with my name on it, and set up a show I would want to go to see. I work damned hard, seven days a week, and we produce a fresh and original show every single week, for almost two years. I don't know who else is doing that, because I don't go to other shows, because if I did, my dancers would never make it through rehearsal. But I do know I wanted the dancers I work with on the nominations list. I think they're worthy.

So as our names were added to those illustrious others who are famous across the grid, I felt we were taking our place amongst them. I felt it was right. We draw upwards of 60 avatars every week to our show, despite the fact it is on at midnight. Again, I don't know which other shows can say that - but it's a pretty impressive feat. I've always taken it to mean we are doing what we do right.

I even got my nails done!
Coming into the voting week, I was told we couldn't win anything. We were outsiders, unknown, and it seemed as though at least one committee member was actively campaigning against us, with mixed up schedules and disappearing nominations. We were determined to show up anyway, or at least, I was, because I really loved this concept. Our own awards! Peer recognition! An awards ceremony! Seriously, I thought all of those things were a really cool addition to the way I live my Second Life.

And then I was asked to present, which was just icing. Oh, hello Mohna Lisa Couture, I will be needing a new gown! Even though the awards ceremony started at midnight in my reality, I was determined to be there.

And then guess what happened?

We won. We won a lot. We won so many I couldn't find any more original ways to say thank you, and you three who read this know I am not short on words.

It was glorious, amazing. Our group chat was full of joy and wonder, especially as dancers in different timezones logged on and learned what was happening. It was just so unlikely, we cleaned up, and to this minute, I do not know how. I mean ... we gave the voters all the access we could. We supplied what videos we could, we provided links to photos, and of course there were shows they could attend. But these things are so often a case of people rounding up their friends to vote for them. And we didn't think we had any to round up, so we didn't.

I went to bed at 5.30am and woke at 11am. For a few minutes I just lay there thinking "wow ... wow .... wow". It's a long time since that has happened to me. I may have been a child the last time I was that happy.

And today, as my muse crept up on me and started whispering in my ear, I thought, "you know what? Bugger the secrecy and competition, I think I want to blog my creative process" . I was so inspired by the camaraderie, the open-hearted generosity of spirit that it took to make these awards happen. I thought I could extend that feeling, explain what makes me "tick", what makes me dance, engage with commentators, if they exist. Enjoy the dancing aspect of my dancing. And share it.

And I will still do that ... I guess ...

As I opened my blog to write the first post, to share the song I am going to work on, and tell you what ideas I have for it, I noticed there was a new post on the Dance Queens blog.

Nottoo Wise, who came up with the Cuties concept is stepping away from the process. I don't know her very well, we don't chat, but as an avid follower of the blog, it is all too apparent that she's been under immense pressure from people who think something completely opposed to my experience of the awards. And in case you're thinking "well that's easy for you to say, you won," let me confess, that I, too, made my complaints about the process known to her. I had my say :-(

I cannot tell you how awful it all feels now.