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!


Day 364 – Gratitude

I feel a little like I used to feel as a kid on Christmas Eve, full of excitement and nervous energy about what the next day might hold. I guess what I’m feeling is a little more complex than wondering what Santa will bring, but it might not be too far off in the magical thinking area.

I’ve spent the last year completely immersed in this project and tomorrow marks it’s completion. Over the past year I’ve imagined all kinds of possible outcomes from getting “discovered” – to living in shame for committing so much time to a passion without knowing the outcome or if my activity had any outward value (I always have thought so…but in the throes of it, I’ve had my doubts.)

I wished some people in my life would have taken more interest, but mostly I’ve been amazed by the number and variety of people who have not only encouraged me to continue but expressed sincere interest in the project and even volunteered to participate.

It’s a milestone for sure and it opens the door for the next part of my life to unfold. I am a bit sad to see the end, but I’m also optimistic that I can continue to be an advocate for making dance more a part of our everyday culture. I will continue the original mission of the Freebox- to encourage people to sit less and dance more.

The blog will continue, and I will continue to post on thefreebox.org, plus I will be creating an outlet to air other people’s everyday dances by accepting submissions and having guest contributors. I hope to create a network for people to arrange public spontaneous dance events wherever they are – and I’ll even collaborate. I’m looking to partner with a corporation to use the message of the Freebox as an outreach for their brand, whether it’s a company that wants to increase their employees health, happiness and creativity, a corporation that wants to use the Freebox as a means of positive community outreach, or ideally, a media partner that I could create content for – going from city to city arranging public dances and making a video as a segment for a popular dance show or talk show to promote dance as an everyday part of life.

What I know is that the message is a positive one and there are no down sides to Freebox dancing. It’s fun, it’s free and it connects people and brings them joy. I’ve seen it over and over and over again this year.

So about today’s dance. I wanted to have one more studio dance before the year ended, so I got up very early today before our flight to L.A. (and before the sun!) This song, Gratitude, by Earth, Wind and Fire says what I want to say. It’s my way of saying, Thank You for being a witness, for your support and encouragement over the past year. I really appreciate it! I dedicate this dance to my husboyfriend, Mark. Without his partnership, creative genius and unwavering loving support, I could never have made it through this year. And it certainly wouldn’t have been as much fun.

Day 363 – Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!

Everyday it seems I make new friends with this project! A couple of dancers that I met last weekend at our Flash Mob, Molly and Ann Marie, joined me today along with my friend and fellow actor, Mary Ruth. We met at Crown Center to see if we could spread some Christmas Cheer.

My favorite moment of this video comes about 2/3’s of the way through when a lovely older woman in a wheelchair just had to join us. Things like that really light my heart. We had a great time, though most of the other holiday shoppers seemed to be in their own little world. But you can see her again at the end waving and cheering us on.

The kids on the playground were pretty interested in what we were doing since we were moving at about 1/10 of a normal speed. That was Mark’s idea…we had used that effect in a video earlier this year that we filmed at the River Market. Today’s really worked and I think we had the most fun of anyone.

This song, Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives brings back happy memories from my childhood.

Day 362 – KC Writer’s Group – Paperback Writer

A month or so ago I danced with Maril and Deborah. Maril had read about the project in the Kansas City Star in June and contacted me wanting to take part. Deborah was coming along as a not-so-sure participant. Apparently she had a great time, because she invited us to surprise her writer’s group this morning with a spontaneous dance party. She chose the – very appropriate – song, Paperback Writer by the Beatles. Since it was a surprise, I wasn’t sure how enthusiastic they would be. Turns out – everyone participated and had a great time. I love this job!