Thursday, December 31, 2020

Alessandra, Signing Off

Well, 2020. What to say about that. I would love to never hear the phrase "social-distancing" again. However, when I reflect back on these last 12 months, for the year that was "canceled", I actually did quite a bit. 

Before the lockdowns hit the U.S., I got in an epic vacation to the Yucatan peninsula where I got to visit Chichen Itza, amongst over Mayan ruin sites, which was one of my dreams since childhood. The trip included Cancun, Tulum, Merida, Playa del Carmen, and sites in between. There was swimming in cenotes, dancing to salsa, watching epic live performances, and relaxing at the beach. 

When it comes to belly dance, I didn't do nearly as much as I normally do in a year, of course due to so many restaurants being closed and my company being on hiatus. But I did manage to squeeze in five performances. I also auditioned for and joined a ladies salsa team through Studio Azul back in January. Once the lockdowns started, we continued practicing virtually, which was sometimes a struggle, But in July we pulled off a live virtual performance, after only one in-person rehearsal. I also continued to take pole dancing classes when studios were allowed to be open, and I am proud to say I graduated to level two. I'm looking forward to resuming when studios reopen in Seattle. 

In April, I completely did the pandemic puppy thing and this fluffy, sweet little guy entered my life. He is my constant companion and I love him to the moon and back. Best part of 2020. 

I also purchased a condo this year! By the time I moved into my new space in July, it was my fourth address in less than two years (FML, moving is seriously the worst). But I'm happy to have found a permanent place to call my own, and have had fun selecting some new furniture and turning my second bedroom into my dance rehearsal space.

With so much performing art being cancelled this year, it was a necessity for me to still find ways to encompass beauty and creativity into my life, and am happy to say I had the opportunity to collaborate on five photo shoots this year, with the outcome being some of my all time-favorite pictures. But let me just say, my soul is dying to sit in a theatre or music venue and watch someone sing, dance, act, or play a musical instrument. Please can we get back to regularly scheduled programming some time in 2021!

Photo Credit: Al Martinez

Photo Credit: Boudoir in Seattle

Photo Credit: Al Martinez

Photo Credit: Al Martinez

Photo Credit: Fred Dimanno

I also found ways to keep myself entertained at home. I took up the very easy craft of diamond painting and completed two paintings. I purged my closets and donated two carloads of clothing and other household items to Goodwill (those hour-plus long donation lines were no joke!!). And I read 25 books, with Glennon Doyle's Untamed being by far my favorite.

For some much needed changes of scenery during pandemic lockdown, I was fortunate to get in some weekend trips to Vashon Island, Mount St. Helens, and Spokane / Coeur d'Alene. And finally, I tapped into my inner Katniss and took a six-week archery class during the fall. Yup, pretty sure that officially makes me a badass!

That being said, 2020 wasn't all fun and games for me, as I'm sure it wasn't for any of us. There were days when I felt my train had fallen off the tracks; days where I was melancholy, grumpy, and unproductive. You know how you usually say, wow, this year just flew by, what happened to the time? No, not this year. Not for me anyway. I feel I have been living in 2020 for something more like three years. Some days, I feel I have been working at my dining room table for all 16 years of my professional career. The repetition of it making me feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day. I also had quite a bit of personal relationship drama and distress. However, I'm happy to say that now, by the end of the year, things have worked themselves out in that regard.

One of my personal realizations has been that the lockdown triggered a significant amount of childhood emotional trauma for me. I grew up in a cult where one's whole life was dictated to you: who you could be friends with, what career you could aspire to, how much education you could attain, what clothes you could wear, who you could marry, what music you could listen to, pretty much even the thoughts inside your own head. So there were elements of the lockdown for me, being so restricted on what you can and can't do, that brought me back to being in a cult and a culture that I had escaped from as a 17-year-old. It created high levels of anxiety and depression for me at the beginning of each new lockdown cycle, and it was something I had to actively work through, including speaking with a therapist about, amongst other issues related to both the past and recent events. 

Looking forward. 

I know just because tomorrow morning we will wake up in 2021 that not everything will be resolved. But with advances related to the vaccine, I feel optimistic that things will slowly start to get better. I also have a number of personal goals that I feel excited and energized about: seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, upping the ante on my fitness and wellness, studying belly dance with my favorite dancer Diva Darina, traveling to Chile, hopefully riding in a hot air balloon, amongst a number of other aspirations. Overall, I'm trying to focus on the things I can control. Always wise advice, but especially in a time period when so much is out of our control, I think that attitude is even more important than ever. Twenty twenty-one, let's turn the page to a new chapter. I'm ready. 

And finally, to the title of my post: signing off. I've made the decision that this will be my last blog post. It's been a long run for sure. I've been posting every month since 2010; an entire decade. This post will make post #180. I've written about the history of belly dance, tips for performing, and belly dance cultural icons. I've interviewed fellow dancers and had guest bloggers. I've shared my personal struggles, triumphs, dreams, and goals. The past posts will continue to stay up, but in the interest of making more time for other pursuits, I have decided that I will no longer be posting new content here. However, you can continue to find me on my belly dance Facebook page at Alessandra Dance and my Instagram page at andria_alessandra

To each of you, thank you for reading along with me all these years. I appreciate you taking this journey with me. Wishing you a happy new year, filled with love and abundance. Blessings. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Halloween Creativity

Halloween is my favorite holiday, hands down. With 2020 being, well 2020, and limited options for celebrating in the traditional way, I still wanted to get into the spirit of things. So I grabbed my favorite photographer, Al Martinez, along with a red wig, black horns, cool props, and vampire teeth and headed to a local park to see what kind of cool visual art we could create. Here's what we came up with.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Fantasy Photo Shoot

With live performing at a COVID-lull, I'm having to find new ways to exercise and indulge my creative spirit. The perfect opportunity for that happened a few weeks ago when I met up with the photographer-extraordinaire, Al Martinez, for a fantasy inspired photo shoot. Check out the fruits of our creative labor below, and be sure to check out Al's other photography work on his Facebook page