05 May, 2007

All Species Day parade

All Species Day is an obscure Vermont festival held in Montpelier each year. People dress up in animal, plant and nature themed costumes and spend the day in dance ceremonies, a parade, and culminates with live performances and a Maypole on the Statehouse lawn. Our troupe director was asked to be the spring maiden, central in the ceremonies and festivities, but had to bow out due to time constraints caused by her upcoming wedding. The troupe decided to march in the parade anyhow and had fun though it was a bit of mixed bag in my mind.

The parade itself was a riot of colour and costumes and overall exuberant joy, but it was also THE most disorganized clusterf*ck I've ever been in and that made me a bit crazy, because we put a lot of rehearsal time and planning into our parade dance and traveling steps. We had a whole routine choreographed, including travel steps, turns, transitions, different people leading with transitions between lead dancers, and zilling patterns. For those of you who don't know, zills are the brass finger cymbals worn by bellydancers. We were supposed to be following the group of geese puppets, but as the organizers never lined anyone up, the parade happened as a mob scene. I didn't really care WHERE we were in the lineup, but organization would have been nice. Next, instead of proceeding at a parade pace, it was almost a jog. It seems that they took too much time in the park putzing around, and then were late starting the parade. To compensate, they set off at a jog, and a 90 minute long parade lasted about 20 minutes. It was physically impossible to do our choreography at that pace, so we had to re-choreograph on the fly. We put on a good performance, but it was so fast that no one could really appreciate any of the parade. The turns and transitions had to go because the group behind us was practically running us over and one man with the float of the sun was literally breathing on the neck of one of our dancers, which was very uncomfortable for her. We made the best of a bad situation though, and the crowd really loved it when we broke into 3/4 shimmies. Those are exhausting at that pace however, so we had to do them in short bursts.
On the fun side, my dreadlocks got their maiden voyage and that was fun. One woman actually came up to me and asked how to start dreads in her hair, so my dreadfalls must be quite convincing. They ARE real hair, given to me as a birthday present by my troupe director when she cut them off. I dyed them to match my own hair (eight boxes of dye!) and sewed them to hair combs. Once on my head, I wrapped a half turban from some leftover silk I had and they were secure enough for dancing, spins, and as you can see, backbends.

The other downside of the parade? a HORRIBLE sunburn because I forgot the sunblock. That was painful lesson to learn.

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