The Warped Wall

So a few days back I went to downtown Cleveland to watch a taping of American Ninja Warrior.  I was very excited to go as I am a huge fan of that show.  (Fun fact:  the qualifying round and the finals round are taped ONE DAY apart.  The announcers say “it’s been six weeks since the qualifying round in Cleveland”.  Which is–what’s the word for it??  Oh yeah, a LIE.  Why exactly??  They could just say we are back in Cleveland.  Which they are.  One day later.  Unnecessary lie.  In my opinion.)

Anyway, I got a great spot in the audience.  I was standing next to The Warped Wall.  I could see nearly every obstacle and then the wall close up.  I was also standing in front of the “green room” where the ninjas were hanging out.  Some of the most famous ninjas were standing right behind me.  And running up the wall in front of me.  I also had a 20 minute conversation with one of the ninjas who was giving me the scoop!!  So awesome!!

So to the point.  It made me want muscles.  I’ve never had muscles before.  I’m not a spring chicken really and I’ve been dancing with this soft body for 20 years but I want to see what it’s like to have muscles.  So this is me, printing my goal for the purpose of using the possible humiliation of failure as my driving force.  Taunt me about my no muscles, blog.  Drive me!!  I want a six pack and arm muscles large enough that crazy women dancers think twice before tossing their abuse my way.

I’ll just add —if you get a chance, go to a taping of ANW.  It’s a blast!!


Winterson is Coming

I’m not a watcher of Games of Thrones.  I’m sure it’s as great as everyone says and I love Peter Dinkledge but I can’t watch anything violent.  I’m too sensitive so I tend to gravitate towards weird books and independent movies.  I like suggesting awesomely odd books to people so I think I’ll start a book club like the Oprah book club.  Except instead of Oprah it’s me making the suggestions.  And instead of great life changing novels it’s great offbeat stories that entertain me and readers who are like me.  It’s the Jez book club.

First up:  Lighthousekeeping by Jeannette Winterson.  Winterson is a great author for weird awesome stories.  This one is about a girl, Silver who becomes an orphan and ends up being raised in a lighthouse.  Pew is the loner who raises her and tells her stories and teaches her to be a great story teller because according to him, that is the job of a lighthouse keeper.

As with other Winterson tales, time does not seem to exist.  It leaves me a little sad and wishing it were like that in this real world where the clock seems to be ticking faster and faster.

My favorite passage in this book comes from a character in love:

“I never wanted to wake.  I had no use for the day.  The light was a lie.  Only here, the sun killed, and time’s hands bound, we were free.  Imprisoned in each other, we were free.”

It just makes me want to feel like that.  And have someone else feel like that.  I want to be in that moment dreading the light with someone just once.  “The light was a lie” is my “The cake is a lie” for a different type of nerd.

Anyway, read it.  Love it.  And if you would like to, tell me what you think.  The Jez Book Club might be fun!!


Bleeding Love

We had a show Sunday at the Akron Oddmall.  At the show I somehow cut open my left heel.  A seriously deep, bloody cut.  How??  I don’t know.  I was dancing in a sword piece with two other dancers and I felt something going on with my heel.  I brushed it off because what could I do??  There was a sword on my head and I was in the middle of a routine.  And everyone knows I only leave the stage when my top falls off (happened once), or when I’m going to pass out (happened once).

So I must list things I did not leave the stage for so I don’t seem weak.  I did not leave the stage:  when I broke my toe mid-routine, when I stepped on glass and it was trapped in my foot, when I had food poisoning (miserable), and now when I cut my heel open.

Anyway, I didn’t know about my bloody heel until the next routine when another dancer, Nikki, was standing behind me and said, “Oh, Jez.  Your foot.”  I looked at it.  Bloody mess.  But again what could I do.  I finished the show with bloodiness added to our visual appeal and went home to treat my foot.  It wasn’t so bad.  You don’t feel much mid-show.  My broken toe was worse pain.  That was mid-show too and again, what could I do??

Belly dancing is hard on feet.  But it’s awesome.  Totally worth dancing through the pain of an occasional injury.  I’m no football player.  I only got a concussion from a show once.  But that’s another story.


Girl Fight

I recently watched the show Feud:  Bette and Joan.  It was the story of the real life feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in Hollywood.  I gotta say I was shocked.  You think I would stop being shocked at how cruel women can be after all these years of working with women but I haven’t hit that insensitive point yet.

If the show was accurate, the reason they hated one another was because back in their heyday Joan was the prettier one and Bette was the more talented one.  That’s why they took turns doing nasty, terrible things to one another for years.  Here is a quote from Bette Davis about Joan Crawford on the day she died, “You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good.  Joan Crawford is dead.  Good.”

Here’s my question:  Did the cruel things they did change the fact that one was prettier and the other was a better actress??  After an evil revenge deed, did the executer of the deed go home and feel good and peaceful about the pain and humiliation she caused??  I guess I don’t understand the point.  I’m the type of person that if I did something cruel and clever (because it would be very clever) I would go home after I was done and feel guilty and horrible about it.  Hate myself.  And try to fix it the next day.

How many others would feel the same??  Being a belly dancer, teacher, event planner, etc. I can say with all honesty that in my experience there is no shortage of women who have that mean streak inside them.  When they want something they can’t have or don’t want someone else to have something, they can do and say some unkind things.  I’ve seen it more than I would have thought back when I was a young hopeful.

I also read a book recently called Behind the Burly-Q by Leslie Zemeckis.  In it there was a chapter devoted to the mean things burlesque dancers would do to one another backstage during shows.  The thing that stuck out in my mind was itching power being put in costumes.  Then the dancer would go on stage and be in agony while trying to perform.  And why would someone do that to a fellow performer??  Well, said performer got more applause and made others JEALOUS!!  Jealousy is often the culprit.  Once in awhile it’s power.  I have had a few problems with the “I do what I want” crowd myself.  Still jealousy is a rampant problem in the arts.

So what do we do??  Easy answer:  you can’t do anything.  Bette and Joan were decades ago and the Burly-Q was a different time as well.  This is just how it was, is, and will be.  And if you were like me before I read the book and saw the show, you might still be hoping people will chill out and be nice.  Allow this to be part of the research that helps you to realize they won’t.

But it’s ok!!  The positives outweigh the negatives in the arts.  Throw it into your creativity and maybe bank some good comebacks to put the nasty girls in their place.  That’s my recommendation.  I’m not telling you what to do though. 😉


April March

Today I went to the Science March with my friend and fellow dancer, Sophie.  It was my first March and/or protest ever.  Mainly because I’m not a citizen thus not a voter so I feel like I don’t have much of a voice.  I didn’t have a particular thing I was marching for, just the experience of it and I thought it might be nice to be around others who are also concerned about the current climate of the States.

Now that I have experienced one, here are my secret thoughts about protests:

1.  The signs are the best part.  Reading the cleverness of people is fun.  My favorite was “Science = Beer”.  I love that someone took the time to make that sign and then get themselves downtown so people saw it.

2.  The worst part for me is the yelling.  Hands down!!  People repeating the same phrase over and over and over and over in a stern, “I mean business” tone grated on my nerves.  I read an article on extremely sensitive people– which I am.  It made me feel better when I read the list of things that really bother sensitive people.  I felt less crazy and edgy.  One of the things on the list was repetitive noises and phrases.  It’s something that has always gotten in my nerves and now I know I’m sensitive, not cranky.  Anyway, aside from the protest yelling bugging me, I don’t really get the point.  Screaming the same thing again and again to the people who already feel the same way you do seems like a waste to me.  I am new at this, however, so maybe it will grow on me??  #IBetItDoesnt.

3.  I didn’t bring a sign with me but I decided while I was marching that if I did have one I would want it to say, “I like cures.”  Simple.  To the point.  I think that will be my protest identity.  State the obvious in that sarcastic way of mine.

Now that I have my protest identity, I wonder if I will ever use it??  I’m still deciding if protests and marches are my thing.  I don’t love people knowing too much about how I feel about politics because it’s gotten so hostile these days.  I’m seeing a large amount of hate ranting for things as simple as not having the same opinion.  While there have been scarier, I do believe it is a scary time.  I have one or two issues that I can’t sit by and not talk about but I will save those for another blog.


Turning This Blog Around

It seems I haven’t blogged in two years.  I think I will change that.  I’ll change everything.  Titles, expand subject matter, all of it.  Make it about me as well as dance.

I’ve really gotten into the media part of dance.  My brother moved back to town and he is recording all of our stuff and making videos for us.  They are on my Vimeo page–Jezebel Shuvani or this crazy link:  https://vimeo.com/user15492698/videos/sort:date

I’ve learned so much from watching the performances.  I should attach the link to my website http://www.JezFever.com.  I’m still learning how to deal with these things like a pro but I’m growing slowly.  I’ve even started an Instagram page and I’ve always had a Twitter.  Both are @JezFever.
And now I’m blogging again.  Blogs to look forward to:  why I have lost hope that people will someday be nice, how I run my dance company and stay sane (jk, I’m not sane),   Unfriended–insult or gift??, the discipline of creation.  For that and more keep an eye on me!!


Bermuda, Bahama

“Come on, Pretty Mama.”

So I’m watching Portlandia today and it made me want to go to Portland.  I saw Boyhood this weekend and it made me want to visit Texas.  SNL made me want to go to New York. And everything makes me want to go to Paris!!

All this made me realize where I want to live.  And the answer is–Not here!!  Not anywhere really.  I want to travel around.  I envy the ones who succeed at their art and go on tour.

I don’t envy those that travel for their job.  That seems lonely.  Traveling for your art is less lonely.  For one, there is usually some kind of posse.  So it’s kind of like a traveling family even if the posse is little.  Another thing is that you are traveling for your passion.  And that is awesome.

I have traveled for my art.  I’ve gone to Nevada, Massachusetts, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, Virgina, New York and Ontario as well as Ohio where I live.  I never went on tour though.  I had a tour with a band scheduled once but it fell through.

Dancing to live music is incredible.  It’s two passions put together on stage which makes it electrifying!!  Going on a tour of electrifying performances night after night, state after state, province after province is the dream.

Dear Band that would like a live fusion dancer to hit the road with them– I am ready!!

Until then, I have Portlandia and my dreams.


What a Noble, Distinguished Collection

“Of fine little friends you have made.”

(Amanda Palmer The Point of It All lyrics that seem to have that sarcastic tone I like.)

I finished reading Ms. Palmer’s book The Art of Asking today.  I recommend it to any and all artists.  First off–it will make you realize that you are, in fact, an artist.  Then you will realize that ALL artists question whether or not they are, in fact, an artist.  Then when you are more than halfway through the book, an awesome and bold story about her relationship with her mother will make you realize that we are ALL artists.

We are all artists that have a need to have our art noticed and respected.  I respect Amanda’s many arts as well and her mother’s very different art.  And after reading this, I have a much greater respect for my own art that I work very hard doing.  That my dancers come to my studio week after week and work very hard doing.  We are all artists doing our thing.

And when we do our thing, we get a great deal of respect.  The compliments from audience members, the people that recognize me at the market and Starbucks, the emails from people who saw the show and wanted to reach out and tell me they liked it.  The others who find me to say “are you the ones that did that piece that had a ghost dancing in the middle??  That was my favorite piece ever.”  There are many connections that fulfill our need for respect of our art.

My main problem is noticing them like I should.  Now I’m sitting writing this blog thinking about all the things that have happened over the years.  What admirers have done and said to show their love of us and what we do.  Why didn’t I realize before today how many there were?

I had my first student stalker when I taught a workshop in Indiana a few years back.  After my class –in another location, I noticed a girl staring at me.  I thought I had my skirt tucked in with my ass hanging out until she came up to me and told me she took my class and loved it.  She stared at me the rest of the day, evening and during the gala show.  I was not creeped out.  I’ve been her when I saw a dancer that inspired me.  I was thrilled to fill that spot for her.  I may have been a little more subtle than she was but we all have our ways.

We’ve had a handful of male stalker fans too.  Not “call the police” male stalkers but men that show up for every show and stare at the dancer they like.  Many of us have been the one the stalker liked.  When I was the one, I didn’t like it.  It brought back memories of when I was stalked by a real-life “call the police” stalker which caused me to create fears in my head when my eager fan showed up.  He wasn’t dangerous though. He was just my fan.

Here is a list of under-appreciated love:  kids who want to play with our props, men who yell things at us like we are strippers, and women who come up and say, “it’s so nice to see performers that have real bodies.”  Yeah, you were trying to compliment us but all we heard is “you’re fat!!”  Truth!!

But I get it now.  You all like us.  And I’m going to work very hard to notice that from here.

Artists (which of course means everyone) I urge you to read.  You will feel better about your art when you do!!


That Thing You Do

“Every day just doing that thing.”

Today I caught the end of the movie That Thing You Do. I haven’t seen it in forever. I saw it the year it came out in the 90s. Before I was ever a bellydancer. Before I was Jez. Before I ever thought about becoming Jez.

It’s a completely different movie when you watch it after you’ve experienced the performer life. Even though it’s a different art and a different level of popularity, it captures exactly what you go through from trying to succeed at your art, to succeeding at your art, to what happens to your ego after you succeed at your art. These three phases are so difficult In some ways and so easy in others. One thing is for sure though, it is awesome!!

One scene definitely caught my attention: half way through their tour they added background dancers to their act. They stood on tables behind the band doing choreographed dances to the song. I’d love that job!!


You Can Ring My Bell

“Ring my bell”

I get the bell jar comparison now.  I didn’t when I read The Bell Jar over a decade ago.  But I had gotten to the point where I was in the bell jar and I felt it lifted off me today, tonight really.  It was when I exercised with weights for 29 short minutes.  That’s all it took.  The ironic thing is that I was using the bell jar as a reason not to exercise.  It really is a physical cause.  A mental problem with a physical solution.  I advise never to slough off the simple suggestion.  It’s often the one that really works.  It’s often better than meds anytime for anything.  Shock worked for Sylvia; simple weights worked for me.  I am blessed.

And because of this post, I am expanding my blog theme beyond gigs and classes.  It’s all part of the big picture of my life as a bellydancer anyway.