That’s a Wrap

It’s been over 4 months since the final video of The Freebox Everyday Dance project. Most of which time I’ve been working in a restaurant, building my teaching business and helping Mark get his book, Riding Man, on Kindle (it’s by Mark Gardiner – and it’s a brilliant book about following dreams). What I haven’t done is blog, Facebook or think about The FED project.

As I write this, I am acutely aware of an unfolding crisis of potentially epic proportions happening right now in Japan. I am praying for the safety of my friends Sato, Mariko, Satoru, their family and of course all of Japan. I ask myself how to live when tragedies of such proportions exist. The only answer I can come up with is to do so with reverence and appreciation for what I have and to spread joy. Tragedy will continue, it needs no help. Spreading joy in the midst of it is valuable work.

That basically sums up why I did what I did last year. I’ve been asking myself what it was for, what it was all about and what do I have to show for it. The world may never pay me money for frivolously spreading joy, but I’m in it for the long term rewards.

Thank you Edward Kramer, Tracy Phillips and The People’s Post in San Diego for producing this wonderful

Dance Kansas City

I’ll soon re-organize this blog as an archive of the Freebox Everyday Dance Project and retire (or at least officially go on sabbatical from) blogging here. I have gotten some very sweet messages from people saying they miss my videos and asking if I will make more. Thank you! I’m taking a break from making videos for now – but there are 365 so I’m sure if you look you can find one you haven’t seen. I’ve had such a wonderful experience with the Freebox project and met so many people. I feel I really stretched myself and have grown from the experience. It feels like I just need time to process the changes and what meaning the project has had for me and for others.

In the meantime, I’m refocusing my energy to my new teaching business www.DanceKansasCity.com. I’ll be teaching my lessons mostly at Ballroom Unlimited in Mission, KS. In some ways, I’ve come full circle – back to teaching ballroom in a studio owned by one of my former competitors and teacher, Perry Gingerich. Perry has welcomed me with open arms and he remembers me in the hey-day of my competitive dance days. It’s really nice to have such a warm welcome. An added bonus that I hadn’t expected is that I’ve been warmly greeted by his students – and even ran into an old friend from years ago who still takes lessons with him.

I’m strangely excited to mix the old and the new and to return to my former passion, ballroom dance with renewed vigor. The studio is warm and friendly and I feel optimistic that I’ll be able to work closely with the other staff to continue to develop my dance knowledge and even create some fun show numbers together.

I love teaching and I’m looking forward to building a student base. If you know anyone in the Kansas City area that’s interested in learning to dance, I’d appreciate if you send them my way.

Dancing everyday = major life improvement

I got this in my email today from Diane – a friend who chose to take up my suggestion to dance everyday and find out for yourself what good things can happen. She keeps a blog about it here: http://danceadaycelebration.wordpress.com/ Just a note: she’s on day #44 of this blog but she actually kept another blog “dance a day challenge” for about 166 days before deciding to begin again on her birthday 44 days ago.

Thought you might like to know this. Last night, as I was dancing that fox-trot, it occurred to me, so clearly, that without your inspiration with your dance a day challenge, I would be missing this huge thing in my life. Sure, it’s only a 5 minute dance and maybe another 5 – 10 minutes to write it up with the pictures and the video link, so what’s that? 15 minutes of my day – but the rewards from that concentrated time are rich beyond words.

My dancing has improved, in spite of the fact that I rarely go dancing anymore now that there is no more Tuesday night thing (still working on replacing that in my life) and I am so much more in touch with what is going on internally when I dance – the emotional and spiritual components, especially the spiritual, had been lost on me. Dancing solo, though, I am not thinking about following, which frees me to think about all that is going on inside of me during that particular dance.

Oftentimes, I start out totally bummed out or disgusted with some parent’s complaint against me. The last thing I feel like doing is dancing, but I have made this commitment to myself, so I go forward. Every single time – yes – 100% of the time, as I walk to the stereo to turn it off, I am laughing, saying out loud, “That was good,” or “That was fabulous!” – but never have I ever even one time said – “Oh I wish I hadn’t done that.”

All of this is to say that I am so surprised at what an impact this Dance a Day Challenge – turned Dance a Day Celebration has had on my life – my whole life, not just my dance life. That, and of course, to say thank you – you have made a difference in my life, and I wonder how many other people you have affected in a similar way, and you just don’t know it.

I send you thanks and love across the country, my friend.

Diane

Ok, I’m tearing up now. Thanks Diane!

Upcoming workshop at Be Moved!

I’m excited to let you know that I’ll be teaching a workshop on February 12 at the Be Moved studio in Lawrence, KS. Click here for more details!

I have to admit that I’ve had a little post project depression. There is a bit of a void now that I’m trying to figure out the best way to fill…and how to keep the momentum that I created towards the end of last year. I’ve put out a call for contributions to this site and you’ll soon see some guest posts – maybe even one from you? (YES that’s an invitation to send me something in writing about your daily dance experiences and/or a video of your dance!)

In the meantime, I’m going to take my own advice (and Louis Prima’s) and keep smiling!

Free (inside the) Box

As 2011 begins to unfold I find myself feeling the pull of a new calendar beckoning me to change things up and step up my game. The Freebox Everyday Dance Project was a wonderful way to explore my creative side and experiment more with going with the flow than with planning and scheduling. I’ve long been fascinated by the fact that life is made up of both free flowing energy and the form to contain it. Too much form and the energy gets squashed. Not enough form and the energy is just chaos. Both extremes result in a loss of energy.

There was an imposed structure to the project: one video every single day. Beyond that the time of day, how long the video was, what the content would be (dance of course…) and how long I spent on the process all were left open – as long as I posted something each day. I loved the creative discovery process that allowed me time and space to let the muse show up, but I also struggled with the lack of structure. I’ve known for a long time that discipline helps me to thrive. It took discipline to post a dance everyday, but now I’m looking to add an element of planning and scheduling that I didn’t exercise last year. I’ve got tons of experience planning big events, dance camps and shows – it’s just been a while. Like all muscles, it will come back it’ll just take a little bit of time and some practice.

Last year my powers of authentic expression grew exponentially, now it’s time to package that expression and give it the chance to have the most positive impact possible. I came across some old footage from my ballroom days – a time when my life was super structured. It’s fun to see me with my former partner, David out on the floor of the United States Ballroom Championships – right there with Mary Murphy and some other amazing professionals. This year I’d hope to recapture some of the spark I had when I was at this competition level and funnel it into building community through dance.

The Everyday Dance Project lives on…

I’ve thought a lot about the past year and what effect dancing everyday has had on me. I’ve made loads of new friends, I had a lot of fun, I stretched myself creatively and I can now say that I followed through and completed an enormous task. Though the year of daily dances are done, the commitment and the mission of The Freebox live on.

Times are tough everywhere and between moving to a new city, obsessing over this project and Mark’s magazine clients starting to fold….we have to take some drastic action, so I got a job as a hostess in a restaurant yesterday. It pays a fraction of what I would make teaching dance or using my other professional skills as an actor, choreographer and voiceover talent, but it’s regular work, the manager seems genuinely excited to have me there – and heck, maybe I’ll get the patrons dancing to their tables.

I’m telling you all that as a preamble to say that I’ll share with you my dream of how I’d like to see this project develop with the caveat that it’s only a dream until some resources and external support help me manifest the vision.

Dream -The Freebox is a movement (literally) that gives people the permission and freedom to dance -no matter how well or how badly, whether there is music or not, and in any location that inspires them; alone, with strangers and with friends.

Mission: Get people to Sit Less, Dance More – make “everyday dancing” a cultural norm.

Vision: Create fun public dance events, make fun, entertaining, high production value videos. Expand Thefreebox.org content to include videos from other Everyday dancers. Partner with a TV show or corporation that sees the cultural, creative and health benefits of The Freebox to provide content for their program and/or outreach programs.

Purpose: To make the world a happier place. To place a high value on dance as a form of community building and self expression. To encourage people to sit less and dance more.

In order to do turn the dream into a reality, I am looking to partner with people who:

  • Want to provide content (video or written posts) to this site about their everyday dance experiences.
  • Want to collaborate with me on producing public dance events
  • Have technological skills (mainly video production and web design) and want to partner in the mission of The Freebox.

Some people are in a position to really help me in this mission:

  • Do you work at a company that could use a Freebox dance event to promote its brand?
  • If you work in the advertising industry – do you have a client that could use Dance as part of a commercial campaign or to promote fun brand outreach events?
  • Do you work for a television show or a major website that would like to have a regular dance segment?

If you feel you have any interest in participating – leave a comment or shoot me an email Mary(at)thefreebox.org

Your feedback is greatly appreciated…

Mark and I are currently working on creating a short documentary about The Freebox Everyday Dance Project. I’ve created a brief survey to collect quotes from people who have been following the project for us to use as part of the documentary.

If you feel like going the extra-mile we’d love for you to make a simple webcam recording of yourself answering these questions and sending us the raw file. (I can help you figure out how if you want) Otherwise, please just click this link and take 3 minutes to answer the questions. I really appreciate it!

Please click here to help with our survey.

Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas morning. Last night I was tossing and turning all night like I used to do as a child on Christmas eve in anticipation of what Santa would leave under the tree for me the next morning.

My tossing and turning last night had nothing to do with anticipation, but rather gratitude for a great, unexpected gift (actually a prize!) I received last night and excitement about potential collaborations in the new year.

The gift was from my friend, Justin Gardner who works for AMC theaters and is a political blogger (www.donklephant.com).

Last week Justin announced on his Facebook page that he had passes to give away that granted the bearer plus one guest access to just about any movie anytime at AMC theaters. He had 73 people who pitched him as to why they should get it and 6 passes to give away.

He called me last night to tell me that I won because he thought The Freebox was such a cool project! I have never won anything before and when I saw that the other winners included some folks who are real movers and shakers in the Kansas City art scene (Peregrine Hoenig for one from Bravo’s series “Work of Art”, I really felt honored!

So, I guess I’ll be seeing a lot of movies this year and that is sure to influence and inspire my blogging aspirations for the future.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Here’s a little blast from the past – my partner Eric Fillion and I dancing a Viennese Waltz to Karen Carpenter singing “Christmas Waltz”

What Just Happened?

It’s been one week since I’ve posted. After posting everyday for so long, I assumed it would feel strange to stop. But the last week has flown by! Early in the week I got to see a lot of friends in Encinitas. I wish I could have seen more people, but time wouldn’t permit.

I keep getting the question, “Are you at loose ends? What’s next?” I have an idea, but I need to figure out, What’s Now? So that I won’t be at loose ends. I’ve been keeping myself distracted and I’ve been spinning about it, but now I realize that it’s time to Pause, really Pause.

The Everyday Dance Project kept me disciplined. For the moment, I’m going to replace that with daily yoga classes (some hot). I have used this as a ritual in transitions before and found it to have a cleansing and centering effect. The stability of a class and the freedom to submit to the teacher appeals to me right now. And of course, I’m still dancing everyday…just not making a video.

While I do that, I’ll be starting the process of editing together a summary mini-documentary to answer all of those questions. Part of that process is to go through the year and create a “Best of” list…maybe in several categories. I’ll be asking for input on this too. For now, I’ll post one of my all time favorite solos -“Boogie Shoes.”

Day 365 – Coming full circle

I’ve been listening to this song, Will it Go Round in Circles by Billy Preston for a few months now. I somehow knew when I heard it the first time that it would be the right song for today’s finale. I think I made a good choice.

I wrote a long post yesterday about what I thought may be next…and it’s late so I’ll keep this short. I want to thank everyone who showed up at the Organ Pavilion to dance with us today. Unfortunately some people didn’t find us, but they were there and I appreciate the effort. To everyone who made this video great, thank you! Please leave a comment – you are all awesome!

There were people from all walks of life with us today and some media people who came to cover it. Fox 5 called, but they were about an hour late :-). If you wanted to make it but couldn’t we still felt you there in spirit.

It’s been an amazing year. I can start to process it now and I’ll post more in a few days, but for now…enjoy – and please pass it on!

love,
Mary