Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Feeling groovy


We got up at 6.45, left the house at 7.30 and were at the start line by 7.50.  
I completed the run in 56 minutes and 12 seconds - a new personal best - and came 74th out of 238 in the women 20-29 group.  I'm so proud of myself.  Lauren also outdid herself.  It drizzled lightly all the way around - ideal running weather.  
We felt preeeetttty good afterwards.  Note my St George's flag tank top.





Lauren and I walked to Catfish, a cajun bar and restaurant a few blocks away.  Our legs protested somewhat.  We met Ali and Ben, two of the greatest people on this earth, and took an outside table.  While we were waiting for shrimp and grits, catfish po' boy sandwiches, French toast and pulled pork, we sipped Bloody Marys and enjoyed the company of this very sweet and cuddly cat who is a common sighting in the back courtyard of Catfish.  I pronounce her Birthday Cat.  Or, Fish.

 We are ourselves into a soporific state and Ali asked me her 'Birthday questions' - she writes down my answers and is going to give them to me on my next birthday.  
Afterwards Lauren and I went home again to crash for a while.


I sat on my front steps with a mimosa and some Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Jacob arrived and he brought me giant bubble sticks and a kite!!!
He joined me on the steps and a man came down the street with a bouquet of flowers, stopped at my house and said he was looking for Tessa - what a WONDERFUL surprise.  Maite arrived soon after looking characteristically fabulous and also bearing flowers.  We had a lovely afternoon party on the steps before going upstairs for some cake.  Maite had to leave for the opening night of In The Heights in which she is performing in Brooklyn.


I didn't take any pictures in the evening it seems.  Which is fine because I was having such a great time.  David bought a ton of top quality Bloody Mary supplies.  I made a bunch of snacky foody things.  Deeply boppers were worn, flower necklaces, star-shaped sunglasses (space beach disco was my theme) .I was joined by Lauren Jacob David and Dan, plus Anel, Kirsten, Joe, Sean, Sam and Val (briefly), Ben, and Brandon.  100% fun, smart, interesting people who are all worth spending time with.  I got complete playlist control - the ultimate birthday gift - and sang duets with Jacob from the Buffy musical episode Once More With Feeling.  I laughed so hard at so many things - this is also a very comedically gifted crowd of people.  I also talked on the phone briefly to my friend Carlos who had a Birthday 3 days ago and was celebrating with his tour friends in Delaware.

I managed to keep the clean up under control so had minimal work to do at the end/the next day.  I ended up going to bed around 4am - so almost a full 24 hours - Birthdays give me crazy stamina.

Now I'm sitting in the sunny window chair having enjoyed cinnamon buns and a coffee, and I'm looking forward to day of total relaxation culminating in a Game of Thrones viewing party.  

I'm deeply grateful for all my good fortune and excellent associates, also for gifts of flowers, cake, bubbles and kite, a voucher for a chocolate fondue at a nice restaurant, heartfelt cards,  English chocolate treats, drinks and brunch.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The real magicians

Watching Prince perform Purple Rain live in Syracuse in 1985 gave me a chance to think a little more about what David Bowie and Prince both meant to me because that is there true greatness - they meant a lot to many but for each it is different.

For me it's because they, along with a very very few other musicians, represent really a kind of magic.  They are known for each having a certain strong affinity for fantasy, whimsy.  They created personas that were different characters.  The costumes and makeup.  They could be easily placed into a fantasy sci-fi tale.

Magic is important to me.  Not magic tricks, not Wiccan religious beliefs, not actually expecting a Hogwarts letter any day now.  Just a general feeling, instilled in me since early childhood through literature and spending a lot of time in trees or barns talking to my imaginary pixie friends, that all things in life that are wonderful are magic.  It's not a belief system or a naive kind of optimism, it's just the way I choose to interpret things, while also understanding their rational causes.  For the sake of joy, and the sake of making the most of life.

So in my brain, Prince and David Bowie were kind of just...real life versions of the people I read about or made up as a kid.  They could do things that others couldn't.  They looked like some kind of elven creatures.  They wore things that sparkled and swirled, and were bathed in glowing coloured lights.  If five year old me had ever seen either one live she would have been convinced they had magic powers.
It comes down I suppose to imagination.  Two artists whose sheer force of imagination can't be comprehended, so vast that it poured eternally out and was transformed into music and performance.

In my imagination they are magical guardians of the realms of fantasy and in a way I feel like they maybe felt a bit like that.  I hope so anyway.

Improv and improve

Here is a video of me faffing about in the studio. This is the first thing I did when I arrived there on Tuesday at noon - pre-warm up, pre-anything. This is a good example of how I like to work often - it's essentially stream of consciousness with movement, so you see a lot of recurring patterns and where my brain wants to go. Once in a while the vague notions you can see repeated manage to coalesce in my brain which translates into a fully realised movement. It's fun to watch back and go 'oh I can use that'. Track is Open Your Eyes by School Of Seven Bells. Here is another one from later that afternoon with a bit more purpose and intent. Track is Inpouring by Holy Other. I've been playing around with this for a couple of weeks.

Only want to see you laughing

It has been a tumultuous week, in mostly the best way.

First though let me address the loss of another hero of art and bona fide genius.
Prince is my guilty pleasure who gives me no guilt.  And anyone can say what they like about his persona but not a being alive could deny his virtuosity.
I know everyone's saying it but how can it be David Bowie and Prince in one year?
It's like the Guardian Angels of undefinable weird are being culled.

Not to mention the terrible sadness that so soon after Ronnie Corbett, we also lost Victoria Wood.  All these wonderful warm elements of my youth in particular, walking the earth no more.

While I'm in the philosophical sad zone, I'll go through my grievances.  Rest assured that they are in the grand scheme of things minor and by no means an indication of my general well-being.  But this week I

- Went to an open call for the national tour of 42nd Street (my dear friend Carlos is currently on that tour).  I got cut.  I made it through the first cut though, which is an improvement on last time.  I wish I could say that means I've improved so much as a tapper - I mean I have, but that has nothing to do with why I got kept or cut either time.  It's something that I'll never know beyond my control.

- Lost a jacket...stupid, didn't need to happen.  I'm more frustrated about why I lost it - I was so frazzled on Wednesday that everything got a bit much as I rushed to get to dance class by 1pm, having had nothing to eat and no coffee or tea that day, not enough sleep, not enough time...somewhere in the melee, a jacket got lost.  

- My laptop has suffered some kind of damage and is having problems.  I'm not going to freak out about it - I can manage for now between work laptop and phone.  But...it's a pain, and I wish it hadn't happened this week as other things go wrong.

- I have had not a moment to run.  The week leading up to my 10k and not a moment, until the day before the real thing.  Oyy.

- Had to change birthday plans because so many people aren't available...inevitable but still sad.

- Missed out on seeing one of my favourite musicians, Lissie, on Tuesday - had to work.  Missed out on studio space on Monday - was at 42nd Street from 8.30-2...and got cut anyway so I could have just not gone and been in a dance studio...(terrible way to think so I'm just saying it not really feeling that way)

- Hip pain during ballet class.  Don't want it don't need it, makes me frustrated because it's another reminder of the things I can not and will never be able to do physically.  

- Was generally too tired all week and couldn't quite get on top of everything...when you try to do a lot of things, something ends up falling by the wayside.  For me this week it was eating square meals.  When you don't have time to eat you do NOT feel good.

Ok that's out of the way.  Downers I know but I needed to get them off my chest and now I can relate all the wonderful things since last weekend:

- Last Sat, Lauren and I hit Prospect Park to run 10k and so she could scope the route.  It was a beautiful day, we made decent time and had a really nice time chatting and running.

- Last Sun, I met Maite in the morning at a great pie place called Four and Twenty Blackbirds (geddit?) to enjoy a delicious slice of pie, coffee and catching up.

- Last Sun I also went to a Bernie Sanders rally.  Yeah yeah.  Nobody comment.  I can't vote here anyway but it doesn't mean I can't take an interest and if there's a rally literally down the road why wouldn't I check it out? Also Grizzly Bear (band) played a set at the rally.  I caught the sun a bit.

- Later that day I met friends Ben and Brandon for drinks and food at this place called Catfish, New Orleans-y style menu and drinks.  This meeting was all the sweeter for it's serendipity...I had in fact met someone else at a different bar earlier on.  That someone is a toxic individual who I don't really like to talk about but they happened to say 'come by this bar' and since I was free I thought why not - when I got there I remembered why not, so I got out again as soon as I could and as I was walking home Ben texted me to say 'meeting Brandon at Catfish, join us'.  Catfish happens to be on my way home.  So I thought 'thank you Universe for throwing these excellent people in my path to remind me I don't need to be wasting time with toxic individuals'.  Pretty cool nuh.

- The weather has been beautiful.  The end.

- Charles texted me while I was at the 42nd Street call saying he needed my address so he could send me something.  I don't know what or why but it's a very Charles thing to do that so I can't wait to find out.

- I also ran into wonderful Nico who I haven't seen for ages, also while I was at Pearl Studios for 42nd Street.  More Universe throwing excellent people in my path.

- After I was cut from the audition (which went really well and I'm super proud of everything I did and how I presented myself) I texted Carlos to tell him I would not be travelling the US with him next year.  He sent me some great words of encouragement and comfort, so I may not have booked the job but bloody hell have I got good friends. 

- Came up with a hairstyle that all but disguises my green hair for audition purposes.  Ha!

- Discovered my new favourite ice cream flavour from Blue Marble Ice Cream, it is blueberry.

- Had a brilliant dance session on Tuesday in the lovely Mark Morris Dance Centre.  

- Hung out with Downie on Wednesday, I visit her at work sometimes when I have random gaps in my day that are too small to do anything with.  The chef at Tea and Sympathy made me soup and Downie made me a cuppa.  Sometimes that all you need in a rough week.

Phew! If you took those two lists and kind of alternated between the two, that's sort of a bit how my week felt but first make yourself really tired, take a ballet class and don't have breakfast.

Here's a really amazing thing that happened today: Yael (boss, Yahli Ari and Itamar's mum) made me a Birthday cake! It is a raspberry crumble cake and I had to have it today because they will be celebrating Passover and there is a rule about getting rid of all flour-type things in the house.  So she made it for me and I brought it home when I left today.  How many other people's boss made them a cake today? Lucky me.

I came home to David hanging out and he helped me re-plan Saturday.  I have tomorrow pretty much off so I can clean up everything that I've been scattering behind me as I tore through the week, make some sensible food, get some party snacks in, run and in the evening Lauren and I will be going to bed very early in preparation for our sweeping victory on Sat morning.

My new favourite dance space 

How I made myself look by 8.30am on a Monday morning 

How it feels to make yourself look like this at 8.30am on a Monday morning

I give myself a hard time as a dancer all the time because I don't have endless legs, amazing feet, hip rotation, total flexibility, turnout, blah blah...but I've got some damn muscles and that is enough!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Party of one

I mentioned before some words that David shared with me once (that are now written on my mirror in whiteboard pen) - 'only you get to decide who is invited to your party'.  These are words he got from Andrew W.K. an outlandish muti-disciplinary entertainer and musician.

Solid advice for life and for parties.  In the spirit of that I had a spontaneous me party this evening after an audition that I came out of around 8pm.  On my way home I stopped by Butter and Scotch, one of my favourite places in New York - I'm positive I've swooned over it previously, it's the dessert bar with amazing cocktails.  And I think it's further evidence that fate brought me to live here on Lincoln Place because it is a short walk from home.  Anyway I had a slice of pie filled with chocolate mousse and topped with toasted marshmallow, and a cocktail featuring scotch, cream, brown sugar, bitters, egg white...it's a pudding thinly disguised as a cocktail.  I LOVE this bar.
That was the me party I had on the spur of the moment and in a couple of weeks I'll be having a fully fledged Birthday party, I'm very excited because I love to gather all my friends together and devote ourselves to laughter and fun.  Also because it's my birthday noone will be allowed to touch the playlist.  
I'm also really excited about the 10k I will run in the morning - by this point I've done that distance a few times but I've never done any kind of 'official' run and I really think it will be a great way to kick of my 26th year of being alive.  Starting with a sense of achievement and a lot of endorphins makes sense, right?

This week I went to a singer audition which went half well and half not well - I sang the song they had asked for and then they asked me to sing 'just anything I like to sing' and I felt the nerves drop into my stomach and I tensed up so I did not do myself justice.  I was disappointed in that - it's something I need to be more active in addressing because I never think of myself as someone who gets nervous per se (like, I don't get stage fright so why would I be a nervous auditioner) but when I consider it in depth I have been sabotaged by nerves a lot in my life.  Acknowledging it is the first step, people.  Practicing not being nervous in auditions is now on the list.  

I also met with Kendra the lovely choreographer of Swagger which I raved about a few posts back, and had a fulfilling and progressive conversation about our mutual perspectives on the dance world and how we enjoy working.  Then I rented a studio to tap in for an hour - watch this space, so far it's a whole mess of sound but I'm going to wrestle that into pleasing rhythmic patterns.

AND I saw a comedy show with Jacob at the People's Improv Theatre featuring a stand up called Jo Firestone who is very big on the NYC comedy scene, and a sketch comedy group called Bridge and Tunnel.  Being at the PIT gave me a new fervor for throwing myself back in the deep end of unfamiliar waters and I think I'm going to try to get to some open mic stand up nights.  Last year when I was wavering in confidence I did stand up comedy and have never felt more confident.  Sooo......I'll try it again!

Phew I'm wound kind of tightly so I'm typing very fast and this may not all read that cohesively but I'm also about to go to bed because I have studio space tomorrow at 8.30, the best way to start my day.


This is Vicky Paynter, the SIXTH Vanessa Golborn Alum to meet up with me in New York - she was out here with a friend for a holiday right before moving to Dubai (which she did today!!!) for a job. It was really fun to see her and she caught me up with the dance school grapevine and heard about some of the weird and wonderful characters in my life.  

Finally - because this post hasn't really had a through line so I'm going to keep it incongruous - here's a thought I had: why is it that when I say 'I love this band/artist...you've never heard of them?' I'm a huge music snob, but ALL THE TIME people say to me 'Tessa I can't believe you haven't seen *insert movie title*'

I haven't seen a lot of movies alright! I tend to watch favourite things over and over, and in general I don't spend down time watching a movie - I tried recently to watch Pulp Fiction but after the first hour I started feeling antsy to be doing something less passive.  But you can't do engaging things while you watch Pulp Fiction cos you'll miss stuff...so I turned it off and vowed to finish another day.  Still haven't.  So, my chemical makeup is not amenable to movie watching.  I like to watch films with someone so that I can at least engage with a human while sitting back and just looking at a screen.

I haven't seen The Godfather BUT have you, movie-loving friend or acquaintance, listened to Lissie's entire back catalogue? How do you feel about Aimee Mann? Anohni is coming out with some really amazing brand new stuff, am I right? Are you aware of the work of Lower Dens, Made In Heights, Lord Huron? These aren't crazy underground bands, they're all readily available on Spotify, YouTube etc.
If someone says to me they have never listened to Disintegration by The Cure I don't go 'oh my god where have you been? How have you not heard it?' but my not having seen any Star Wars until January 2016 means I must have been living under a rock - according to the reactions of some people who learn that about me.  It doesn't really matter - of course it's not a big deal who has seen or heard what - but it's a weird double standard that occurred to me earlier this week.
Also books - maybe next time someone asks me why or how I haven't seen a critically acclaimed and universally popular film I'll ask them about...The God of Small Things, maybe? Or 100 Years of Solitude - anything where I can guarantee excellent testimonies from pretty much anyone.  Just to see.

Ok weird thought tangent over, it is sleep time, big hugs and health to all my loved onesxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Let the cold winds blow (Sunday 3rd)

And blow they are, it's bloody cold today.  And yesterday it was bloody wet and the day before was bloody hot so honestly what in the name of fuck is anyone supposed to do?
Pretty much this:

I spent three days Mav-sitting - this love, it's strong

Had a bit of a lost weekend.  The apartment where Maverick lives in which I stay when I'm taking care of him is very conducive to playing pretend - it's glamorous in an effortless way, West Village river adjacent location, stunning skyline views, big gold framed mirrors, fur rugs, lots of light, a lofted upstairs level with a dainty spiral staircase, a fridge containing only coconut water and some leftover chicken salad and a freezer containing only bananas and vodka...
It's very Holly Golightly, plus some Carrie Bradshaw.
It makes me want to lounge around in cashmere pyjamas sipping prosecco and gazing thoughtfully out of the window...sadly I haven't recently married a billionaire so I can't actually do those things but I did do a version of that yesterday, replacing cashmere jammies with oversized t-shirt and cut off tracksuit trousers, and instead of prosecco just lots of coffee.  I'm glad I got in some high quality relaxation time - being in someone else's home for a couple of days is a good way to encourage a kind of 'on holiday' mindset which induces actual break-taking not the fake kind where yes I'm at home in my comfy leggings but I'm also anxiously scrolling backstage.com or incessantly writing to-do lists. 
Oy.  And I love that dog.  Look at him!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Seems like a contradiction...

Here's part of a casting notice I saw for some dance company yesterday.  It is firmly outside the realm of my interest, the kind of notice filled with such a variety of experimental notions that it is hard to tell what exactly they're trying to do.  But I read the whole thing and couldn't contain a snort when I got to the end.  I hope you can spot the ironic turn of phrase.
'Those interested must…
possess strong and versatile physical capabilities and improvisational skills
be willing to explore and utilize the voice as part of the body
feel comfortable contributing material towards LEIMAY creations
have an interest in attending the workshops of LEIMAY guest teachers (teacher practices include butoh akin to Hijikata’s lineage, experimental vocal and theater performance, theater arts akin to the Grotowski tradition)
be comfortable performing nude
Reservation Is Required
Please click here for details.'