|Photo (c) John Nelson 2009. Real life meets showgirl life.|
I don't write this for pity. I'm the showgirl who keeps it real. I know you can relate. These are just my specifics, but we all get in a funk. Regular life happens and it doesn't always cooperate with our desires. Sometimes the creativity well runs dry and needs to refill. Sometimes we feel disconnected from our career and community. We lose the race we're in with ourselves because we didn't accomplish what we wanted by the time we wanted it. You've been there. I was just there. Hell, you might even be there still.
You can make it through the funk. Trust me. Here's how I did it:
- Take some space and time for yourself. Ease up on the commitments and obligations. Do things you enjoy. Read a good book, go to the movies, take a class that has nothing to do with the problems you're trying to solve. Chain watch a television series. (It's okay if you learn things that will help you with your current set of problems, but it's also okay if you don't.) Take some Me Time.
- Do what you know, but not what's giving you stress. I've been struggling with the financial and temporal resources required to bring my next two new acts to life. Instead of grinding away at those projects, I cut and stitched a bunch of hand puppets for an upcoming show. I had the time and supplies to crank them out. It didn't require any thought or problem solving, and I will use what I made. I've taken a break and made dresses and aprons in the past. No special drafting, no special rigging. Completing simple tasks will restore confidence.
- If you're hurt, rest what's hurting and engage something else. I couldn't trampoline, bicycle or dance once my knee pain reached a certain point. I knew it wasn't just a muscle cramp that needed stretching, so I took some time for it to heal. I engaged my mind to work on my French skills so I can travel later this year. I engaged my mind on learning new sewing skills that I'm sure I'll use later. I didn't burn any calories, but I also didn't wind up feeling useless.
- Help other people problem solve. I don't mean stick your nose in other people's business and tell them how to live. Just let people know you're open to helping them solve certain types of problems. I help people sort out costume and prop construction issues (to a point) for fun. It's sometimes easier to solve someone else's problems more easily than your own. Helping other people can bring the easy solution to your own problems to the surface.
My personal issues in working on this number are many. First, it's not going to be a high energy number. Most local shows want higher energy numbers. I'm intending it to be playful and sultry. Second, I want floor work. There are venues where floor work won't play because the audience won't be able to see it. I'd be compromising the concept if I cut out the floor work or tried to do it in a chair or standing because I see it as the sunset melting down into the ocean, not melting into an oceanic chair or a vertical ocean. Third, I want it to be a longer number so I can take off more clothes and be sultry. It's really tough being sultry in three minutes or less. I'm planning the four minute version so I can get booked at more shows, but I'm already shooting myself in the foot a bit with the floor work and the slower songs. Then I want to strip down to a c-string. There are venues where I'm not permitted to strip down to a c-string. My boa has also been an issue, largely because of my allergies. You see, the allergy test said I was allergic to duck, chicken, goose and parrot feathers. I can only assume that ostrich would have been on that list if I had sent in a bit of ostrich to test. I don't want to exacerbate my allergies so I had to work out a feather-free option that moves like feathers. Lastly, I have to be able to afford my choreographer and the legend. As I may have mentioned, cash flow has been tight and so has time.
So, yeah, I was working on a number that probably wasn't going to get booked much unless it was great for the venue, it went on the road (where nudity and time limit rules are different), and the producers really trusted me to provide a good show with a couple Bill Withers songs and no shimmying. Why work on a number that's not going to be booked in every show and bring me a steady stream of income? Why do something that has so many bumps in the road along the way? No one else is doing something quite like this, so why would I take on this frustration?
In the end, it will be worth it. No one else is doing something quite like this. I'll feel accomplished with my creative integrity intact. Not every show will book the act, but it will be booked and it will be appreciated. It will entertain audiences. It will be rewarding when I've bested the challenges. And because it will be something I love, it will last. In five years, I'll still be performing this number. I won't compromise on my vision now. It just might take me a little longer to bring that vision to life while I work through the challenges.
You have to do what you love, and sometimes love takes work.
I'm open to hearing how you work through your funk. I'm virtually there for you, bro.