The Ephemera Origin Story

I get a lot of questions about “Ephemera”. They’re usually of the “what the heck is this show” variety: “is it a play?, “is it dance?”, “is there a plot?”, etc. But the question I personally like the best is usually the follow up question to all of that- “how did you come up with this thing?”.

Well, I’d like to tell you.

Ephemera has actually been incubating for a long, long time. Alden Terry and I met on a production of a revived Cole Porter Musical in 2012, and really enjoyed each other’s sensibilities. By the spring of 2013 we decided to make a piece together.

Now, it’s one thing to “decide to make a piece”, and another thing to create what is essentially an evening length, EDM drenched, immersive, 2016 deconstruction of “Slaughter on 10th Avenue”, albeit with completely different characters. While I like to think I’m a pretty creative person, I’ve certainly never conceptualized anything on this level before. So- what really happened was this- Alden and I had this conversation, and I said to myself, “damn, I should probably try to come up with something that doesn’t suck”. And then we both spent the next several months working on other projects.

But, in the meantime, I discovered Anais Nin. If you don’t know who she is, go on, look her up. It’s worth it. She wrote lots of stuff over the course of the 20th century, most notably 1930’s erotica. I was stymied- I absolutely loved her stuff! While none of the stories themselves directly translated to the stage, I loved how her stuff still felt so sexy 80 years later.

And then it hit me- if we made something based off of Nin’s writing, and created a really sex driven piece in a bar, that would allow me to make something that could be both “hip” and “current”, and still organic to me and my Gene Kelly loving sensibilities. In other words, it wasn’t unlike that moment in “Singin’ In The Rain”, when Donald O’Connor cries out, “and then we can still use the costume stuff!”.

Cigars all around.

Since its inception, “Ephemera” has evolved into so much more than that, but this fusion of sensibilities is still one of the things that, in my opinion, makes it special.

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Some Month Late 2015-2016 Thoughts

Well, It seems I’m running a bit late in recapping 2015 and setting some intentions for 2016, but better late than never! Thankfully, every day of this new year I’m managing to get just a little bit more caught up with various projects I’ve started in the last two years. I’m hoping that 2016 will actually be the year of organization.

Before I start looking at goals for 2016, I want to take a moment to recap a few thoughts from the past year. 2015 was a year of wonderful accomplishments for me. Some of the things I’m particularly proud of:

Produced Five installations of “The Choreography Lab”
Choreographed “The Queen Bees” at Queens Theatre in the Park
Became a certified Xtend Barre instructor
Helped Produce a high profile gala for The Choreography Lab
Taught my first youth dance workshop in Manhattan
Substitute taught several tap classes at Peridance
Performed in “Backwards in High Heels” at Westchester Broadway Theatre’
Performed in the National Tour of “A Christmas Story” for a second season
Continued to run Impact Sales, Marketing, and Demos.

So…that’s really quite a great list! Accolades for me! Yet, while there have been lots of high points, there have also been a few things I’m disappointed in myself by. Notably:

My complete absence of writing on this blog.
Ephemera continuing to exist in a state of limbo.
Me not quite being able to manage my schedule or my promotional materials.
My disappointment in not having accomplished more.
My disappointment in myself for not having more patience.

Which leads me to my thoughts on the coming year. There are lots and lots of things I’d like to see myself do. Heck, the vast majority of them have nothing at all to do with my work as an artist, or with productivity. But for this blog’s purposes, I’d like to make 2016 the year of Personal Organization for the multifaceted artist. I am sick and tired of feeling like there is too much to do and not enough time to do it all in, and I am going to attempt to:

Schedule everything.
Time stamp my to do list.
Effectively create a press strategy for myself.
Correctly prioritize activities.
Make meaningful progress in all aspects of my professional life without feeling like major projects have to be tabled indefinitely.

Here’s to 2016- or at least the next 10 and a half months of it. And here’s to making sure that, as artists, we’re able to properly take care of our many projects’ lose ends.

Hey, remember when I had a blog?

So, I just renewed this domain…and I very sadly realized, The Strategic Artist has been more or less dormant for a year. That’s unfortunate! However, I have been working on many lovely and fulfilling artistic projects, so I suppose there’s a plus side to every situation.

I’m going to start re-sharing some of my old posts, and hopefully updating more in the coming weeks. Here’s to resuscitating this blog!

#Tourlife

Well, there have been several reasons why I haven’t written much in the last few months. I created a pretty large piece of Immersive Dance Theater, and have also been performing on a National Tour. So life’s been a little hectic, to say the least!

But I just want to say a few words about touring, because it’s been an interesting experience. Our director out and out told us that we should aim to be better by the end of the tour than we were at the beginning of it. And of course, he was referring mainly to our performances, to our work onstage. However, I think there’s another takeaway here.

Whenever we, as artists, receive a great “break”- like a tour, or a sponsored gallery show, or whatever, it usually comes with a whole mess of perks, big and small. In my instance, the big things have been pretty clear- we’re doing a beautiful show in beautiful venues for a few months. Nice. We’ve also gotten all sorts of fun little things, like free coffee all the time, and lots of free food at various hotels and theaters. I think it’s really easy to appreciate the big perks. But I think using the little perks to one’s advantage is key as well.

Now, take hotel coffee. Do I like it as much as the Starbucks around the corner? No. However, drinking that darn hotel coffee every morning, as opposed to running out for some, will put an extra few hundred dollars in my savings account at the end of this. And so will eating the free food, when the free food is an option. And so on. And the money I save very well may give me the flexibility to take a great artistic (but poorly paying) opportunity next year.

Sure, I want to leave tour a better artist. I know we all do. But I also want to leave this tour in a better financial position. And I think looking at opportunities in this way is really helpful. If you’re given this chance to actually accumulate a bit of a financial cushion, by all means, try to take it!

Stops and Starts on our Journeys

So…

I fell off the blogging wagon. And you know what? For a few weeks, it’s kind of felt like this bad sabotaged diet, that I haven’t wanted to acknowledge, ya know, like when you finally really look in the mirror and see that some weight is piling back on? Because I was so happy about my at least semi-consistent blogging, and felt like I was on my way to doing something great. And then suddenly, I lost steam.

But here’s the thing. I’m back now, and I am here to say that a little hiatus is okay. We all need a little break sometimes, from whatever we’re doing. What’s important is that- if we have the desire to- that we get back on the horse. So, umm, hi. I’m getting back on the horse now. And I encourage all of you to get back on your horsies as well. Maybe you’ve been lenient on yourself too these last few months. The summer’s been lovely, maybe you’ve spent some time at the beach, or the park, or traveling, or whatever. We’re now approaching another change of the seasons, and it’s a great time to re-assess. What are you doing right? What are you doing that could be, let’s say, “righter”? Go ahead, talk to yourself a bit today- you may be surprised at what you have to say. And you may realize that today’s a great day to press the restart button on your own journey too.

Do Something Today That Matters

It’s today. Don’t worry, I’m not going to start singing “Mame” at all of you. But seriously, today is today. It’s the only today you have. Are you doing something today that Matters? I don’t just mean all of the stuff that you already do that matters. I take it as a matter of fact that most of my blog readers are good people, upstanding citizens, and kind and compassionate with their loved ones. I mean the artsy stuff, the meaty stuff. Can you look me in the eye, and tell me that, yes, today, you are doing something that matters?

Take a look at your artistic goals, your dreams. Are they different than they were a year ago? Or are they stagnating? Is there something small that you can do today, right here and now, that will push you one baby step closer to making your dreams into reality? Can you sit yourself down at your computer at the end of a long workday, and say, “you know what? I will write that grant proposal tonight.”, or, “I will choreograph that dance. I will write to that artist I’ve wanted to meet. I will hold myself accountable for my dreams today”. Can you? Will you, please?

Maybe you write down the one thing you did today that will move your big goals and dreams forward. And maybe you do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. Suddenly, every day matters. Suddenly, your dreams start appearing right in front of you. And let me tell you, when your dreams are wild, crazy, ambitious, and ridiculous dreams, and then oh my goodness, they start materializing, you’ll be thrilled you invested the extra time. Dreams and goals are not magic. They are made out of effort, time, energy, love, and matter.