Saturday, November 16, 2013

Willing A Way

There is nothing truer than the age old idiom that says, "Where there is a will, there is a way."

As I noted in my last post, the "Yeezus" Tour was put on an indefinite hiatus after the show's 60-foot screen was damaged en route to Vancouver. With all the uncertainties surrounding the tour postponement I immediately phoned my agent to discuss potential work opportunities in Los Angeles, emphasizing my desire to dance on X Factor. Even though it seemed highly improbable that the tour schedule and the television show schedule would align in such a way to allow me to experience both, I was hoping with all my might that it somehow would all fall into place.

And lo and behold, it did. 

What made me so hungry for this particular opportunity was the desire to work with the artistic forces behind the show. The creative team for X Factor is like something out of a dream: 

Creative Director: Jamie King - An artistic mastermind known for his work with pop superstars like Britney Spears and Madonna.

Choreographer: Galen Hooks - A visionary, industry veteran, and true artist whose resume reads like a thorough chronology of major commercial and entertainment industry projects. Incredibly talented, unique, and a college graduate (woo!). 

Associate Choreographer: Jae Blaze - A funky choreographer who is "synonymous with unparalleled creativity, exceptional work ethic, and... a commitment to the well being of her dancers." 

Associate Choreographers: Keone & Mariel Madrid - Dance God and Goddess from the hip-hop community whose talents are unexplainable:

I first met Mari nearly 6 years ago when I took my first hip hop classes with Funkanometry SF. Begin watching this video of Mari's class from 2007 at around 1:30 and you might recognize a little squirt in black sweats and a white t-shirt on the left:

And our paths continued to cross in the years thereafter. When I was involved with NSU Modern at UCLA, I remember seeing Mari and Keone at hip hop events like Vibe Dance Competition and Fusion. I have always deeply respected the duo's work with Choreo Cookies, or Cookies as they are known as now: 

Over the years, my admiration for these two as individuals and as a pair has grown immensely. 

The whole audition process for X Factor about a month ago solidified my feelings about the project. It was well organized, the dancing was challenging yet fun, and the dancers were treated respectfully throughout it all. I voiced my thoughts to my agent following the audition, letting them know just how much I wanted to work with the X Factor team. I repeated my desires to them again once I returned to LA.

The stars somehow aligned this past week, and I was very fortunate to be a part of Ellona Santiago and Lillie Mcloud's performances:

Jamie stood at the helm of the creative ship, steering and orchestrating concepts while each choreographer turned these concepts into reality. I worked mostly with Galen and Keone & Mari; working with them in the professional setting and being in the creative process with them was, for lack of a better word, magical.

The whole group
Me with Keone & Mari


Marina: the sweetest and most talented wardrobe lady
So whether it was mere happenstance or my strong will, the improbable happened. This special project was a reminder that even when the odds are stacked heavily against me, with a little push and a lot of luck, I can turn a desire into reality. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Tour-cation Stop in Vancouver

One of the most useful skills I have learned (and still continue to hone) is the ability to remain positive and calm in moments of potential chaos and frustration.

Such a moment presented itself when I learned that the Yeezus Tour would be indefinitely postponed. A crucial part of the set was damaged in transit to Vancouver, and instead of compromising the quality of the show West opted to halt future performances until the part could be fixed. You can read more about it here.

But rather than sitting in my hotel room and sulking about our misfortunes I decided to consider my trip to Vancouver a vacation. And thus, the adventuring began.

Those of you who have followed my journeys over the years might have notice that they always include at least one of the following: yoga, vegan food, thrift shops, or jogs through town. My exploration of Vancouver was no exception.

My favorite jog route through the pristine city was along the water into Stanley Park, a 1,001 acre green oasis:

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park in Chinatown was also not too far away:

Hanging with the man himself
I searched around for a vegan restaurant, and the only one that was walking distance from our hotel was Gorilla Food on Richmond Street:

Coconut Curry Bowl
After chatting with the waitress about my love for vegan fare and thrifting she suggested I check out Commercial Drive. So I did.

The unique neighborhood is easily accessible via the Skytrain, and is overflowing with natural food stores and quaint cafes. The walls are covered in street art, and it reminded me of a street in San Francisco or Silverlake:

I spent a majority of my time at Mintage, and ate a delicious raw sandwich at Eternal Abundance:

I was initially very upset about the Vancouver show cancellation and the tour postponement; there were many unanswered questions and I felt uneasy about the future of the tour. But even though I didn't get a chance to perform in Vancouver, the trip was still very fruitful. Seeing new sights, tasting new foods, and exploring new places fed my heart and nourished my soul.

So in the words of Bobby McFerrin, "Don't worry, be happy."