Saturday, August 24, 2013

39 - Say It Isn't So! - Week 34

Welcome back!  I'm back on track!  There's a little rhyme for you this week!  
It's nice to see Croatia, Poland, Taiwan and Spain all made it back to the blog!
And welcome Congo, Africa!  Let's get started!
This week I had my 39th birthday!  "Oh say it isn't so!"  "Stop the insanity!" Alright all together now, "Happy Birthday Weddo, Happy Birthday Guero, Happy Birthday Big Wedo, Happy Birthday Guerro!"  Thank you so much!  What's that? What did you say?  Did I hear you correctly?  "I don't look a day over 29!"  Why, that's one of the kindest things anyone has said!  Unlike the one who responded with, "Yeah, I was stuck at 39 for several years as well!"  No really, I'm only 39!  And how do I plan living out the rest of my 30's?  Dancing folklorico of course!

The past week has been spent celebrating the life of who's now become "One Big Wedo".   It's a bit unusual that when I look in the mirror, the reflection I see in return is my father.  Yes, I look just like my dad.  He was 36 when I was born.  

So how did I spend my birthday?  With Richard doing all the stuff we enjoy doing together.  Los Angeles here we come!  Now most guys would probably spend their birthdays either barbecuing, drinking beer and watching football or off roading.  I found myself shoulder deep in fabric, trim and sequins!  It was all about the costumes!  We spent the day finding all kinds of woven treasures to create spectacular stage costumes for our upcoming performances in September.  I had a real good time, even though I seemed a bit down during the week.  Must be hormones, because funny things happen to old people like me.  My sincerest apologies if I came across overbearing to anyone out there!  There was a full moon too!  AAH-WOOOOOO!

We also made a trip over to the charro store.  We are having vests made for our suits!  So another fitting took place!  We're gonna look sharp when they are done and when we get all put together. Which means were gonna be tackling the Jalisco region again.  Time to step up my man game!  I also priced what a custom black sombrero would run me since mine  is distracting.  Doesn't fit right.  The price?  $450.00!  Ouch!  

The day wouldn't have been complete without a stop at Olvera Street.  We returned to the same old restaurant as last year for the birthday margarita and flan tradition !  Last year my niece joined us! This year it was just the two of us.  I wanted to take a picture of us as old men.  So we got two Michoacan masks for the shoot!  We even wore the same shirts as last year!  Another tradition!  I always joke with people that I'm from Michoacan (Michigan).  So it was fitting for the picture.  I can't wait to dance this region!  Hopefully Richard will teach it soon, while I still need to wear a mask to look old.  The gray is catching up with me.  Ugh!  There's no time to waste or wait!  Viva Viejitos!

While there at Olvera Street, I purchased a sugar skull for a friend and coworker that was curious about trying one after he read my blog on week 30 called "The Day Of The Dead".  On Friday, we broke skull together and had ourselves a taste of culture and tradition.  The sudden burst of sugar energy aided in my record production numbers the rest of the afternoon on overtime.  Ironic how something so "dead" made me come alive!
Back on week 18 I wrote a post called "Taking Inventory".  I set all kinds of plans and goals for myself and told everyone I would give an update on week 27.  That didn't happen!  I got busy writing about other stuff.  Well, here is a little update.  

The tone of that week 18 post was super serious.  I was determined to conquer folklorico and refine my skills.  Which is still the ultimate goal, but I'm enjoying the process and trying not to be so up tight.  Stop stressing Michael and roll with it.  Ok I will!  That being said, lets have some fun analyzing the Wedo together!

One thing I can say about folklorico is that it is definitely harder than it appears!  I've learned that first hand.  There are layers, upon layers of details.  It can make you go crazy at times.  

Someone sent some photos to me from a few recent performances!  I love it.  I always like looking at the photos to see what needs improvement.  Here are a few that really stood out to me!  Below is a picture that at first glance, just looks like an action shot.  But then I noticed my posture.  Horrible! I'm the "Hunchback of Herencia"!  I knew it was bad, but this is just embarrassing!  So allow me to be the poster child for dancing posture don'ts!  The photo speaks for itself!  Dancers:  Don't let this happen to you!  Stand up straight!  And what's up with my pinky finger?  Or Pinkie in Scottish English.  Looks like I'm stirring a cup of tea!  Biscotti anyone?  One lump or two?  Trust me, I've got enough sugar for everyone!  More on this in a bit.

As a result of this sobering picture, which I appreciate, I have taken action!  My birthday gift to myself was the apparatus you see below!  The dancers posture clavicle brace.  I bought it on Amazon for $25.  Happy Birthday Mr. Smith, now stand up straight!  I've been wearing it at each practice since its arrival.  Hopefully, it helps correct the problem.

And since I'm being transparent with ya'll, not only am I a hunchback, but a lopsided one at that!  One shoulder blade sticks out about a half inch further than the other.  See what years of bad posture will do to you!  Call me Shrek!  Perhaps my family were ogres and lived in castle towers in ancient times or something.  Aye, this back of mine has become a dancers nightmare!
Therefore, As I have gotten older, I have levitated to the realm of self pampering.  More and more every year that passes.  Pedicures, foot massage/reflexology and body massages are all in order these days. There's a benefit to growing older now, isn't it?  Lately, as they work the back, I feel the shoulder blade slide back into place.  Sort of bizarre feeling.  

I know that good posture is possible.  Even for someone of my height!  Recently, I watched a DVD of "Hello Dolly!"  Yes, Allow me to take a moment and "check in" my man card here.  One particular dancer caught my eye.  He was a tall and thin man who stood chest, head and shoulders above the rest.  He didn't let that stand in his way.  He had great posture an executed the dances like he fit right in.  This freak got his freak on!  So it can be done without looking out of place!  Hello Dolly is also a good movie to watch to see how dancers need to control the costume, not the other way around. Those people in the movie really took charge of their costumes.  And many of the costumes appeared that they would present a challenge to dance like that in. Hats off to the crew!

Below is another picture from the same show as above.  Hold up!  There's that pinky again.  What is going on there precious?  I can hear the words of Richard echoing in my head, "Tame those pinkys men!"  I have coined these photos as the  "Fosse Folklorico Collection"!  "Fosse, Fosse, Fosse!"  If your not familiar with the work of Bob Fosse, look him up!  He was an amazing talent.  He always did these unique detailed movements with dancers hands that exuded lots of energy.  My pinky is exploding with energy here!  Watch out!
If you're interest in some Fosse entertainment, check out the movies Sweet Charity or Chicago.  In fact, guess which pop star just paid tribute to Fosse in her music video?  Take a guess.  More on her in a bit.

Below is a picture where I forgot to remove my hat.  Either I forgot, or the man in the background was early.  I will take the hit because my mind is slipping a little bit.  Photos are great learning tools. It important to remember however, that it is only a snap shot of one quick moment.  There may have only been a second or two difference between us taking off our hats.  The camera caught it this time.

The photo below shows the importance to details.  I love that my back is straight in this picture. However, it appears I'm kissing her forehead!  It would have been a better shot had her fan been covering our faces like it was suppose to.  I like Richard's positioning in the middle there.  Look how he is holding his hat, I can learn from this!  And there at the end, well I guess I'm not the only one who forgets to take off their hat.  Ladies have the challenges of skirts and fans, men have the challenges hats and pinkys!

Here is another photo of Richard that I like.  Look at his positioning (in the yellow) and compare it to mine (in the red).  He is working that shoulder angle isn't he?  Get it man!  It looks polished, crisp and sharp.  Another picture I can learn from my teacher.

Shoulder work/angles and "spotting" on turns are two areas I need to work on!  "Spotting" is when you focus on the same point each time you revolve around the turn.  Try it out.  Focus on something in front of you and keep looking at it.  Now start to turn your body around but keep look at your focus point.  As you keep turning your body, you will get to a point where you need to turn you head.  So turn your head quickly and focus right back on the same place you were using as your point of focus. That's the basic idea if it.  Now try it for multiple turns in a row.  Go!  Ice skaters use the same technique when they do turns too.  It's tricky if you're not use to it.  I'm all over the place when I turn. Try to get this stubborn, tall and ADD man to stand up straight and focus on the same thing is enough to drive any teacher to drink!

Below is a recent picture from an intense practice session.  I've been sweating like crazy lately.  Or perhaps they're just hot flashes.  At my age you never know!  I have been practicing three days a week for two to three hours each practice!  There are a lot of shows coming up in September and we are getting ready.  I will be performing with Ballet Folklorico Sol de Mexico, Images Of Mexico and Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana in September.  Be sure to visit my Facebook page for dates, places and times. 

All the practicing has help with weight management too!  I've been losing it everywhere but my belly, which is surprising because I have been "eating fresh".  I weighed myself this morning and I am down to 198 lbs!  I was so excited that I decided to celebrate and take a trip to the vending machine at work and splurge on some peanuts, a Twix candy bar, a bag of Doritos, a bag of pretzels and some cookies!  Seriously! It was a great time and now I'm back to 215.  All that work to get lighter on my feet and it still seems like it takes more and more effort to take the lead out.  Who pushed my button to turn on my internal delay?  I think Mr. 39 did.

I have lost some weight, which is good because we have a potential television appearance in the works for September 15th.  More on that in a couple weeks!  Stay tuned to my Facebook page for details as the event gets closer.  I'm hesitant to reveal all the details now, but it will be at "The Happiest Place On Earth"!
Besides the nice gray patch on my chin, I noticed that my nose is looking nice and hairless!  Good deal.  But wait, look at my nostrils.  Hairless, YES!  But one is bigger than the other!  What?  Oh no! Ever since I've noticed this, I've been checking out people's noses.  The Big Wedo obviously needs to seek some help!  I've discovered that it's a common occurrence after all!  Phew, I thought nasal reconstruction was  going to be needed there for a second.  

Lastly, why is my head angled like that?  I have my nose in the air.  Such a snob!  

Let's talk a little more about this nose issue, shall we?  I have been focusing so intently lately on my posture that I noticed that I've started to shrug my shoulders a  little too.  Now I look like a penguin! I guess it gives me that extra tall feeling.  And my nose has elevated itself a bit as I walk with pomp. A coworker hit me up about it this week.  He told me that I raise my nose up a little bit when I walk. Oh dear!  Now I'm fruity and snooty!  That's a horrible combination!  Seems like whenever I focus on one problem to fix, it sets off a chain reaction for others to surface.  Sigh!  Will the Wedo ever conquer himself?  Only time will reveal!  Below is picture that show me dancing tall and straight, like a board!  Sure enough, shoulders slightly up and nose raised!

A common reaction I get from people is that I seem to be angry or upset by the way I look.  Kind of like Sam the Eagle from the Muppets.  Nice Frida brow by the way there Sam!  I am so misread!  My looks and my personality don't really match up.  I am a deep thinker, somewhat serious and very focused.  But I am a very average and ordinary guy, I sometimes just need to be snapped out of it!  Earth to Wedo, Come In Wedo! 

I've shared some of my folklorico "bloopers" in the past.  Someone hit me up and asked if I wasn't committing "folklorico suicide" by doing so?  As I stated earlier, photos only capture a moment in time and don't reflect the whole overall performance.  There is a lot of movement happening on stage and when you see it live, it blends all together.  Mistakes do happen however, and sometimes they get captured in a photo.  So by sharing them, I help myself, help other dancers and performers, and share a laugh or two with readers as they analyze them with me.

We love movies and television.  So much of it gets edited and several takes are shot for that perfect scene.  But in live entertainment, you get that one chance and no one is perfect!  I've been watching a Carol Burnett Show marathon this week.  The show was taped live.  There was lots of dancing on that show and sometimes even the pros made mistakes and mishaps happened.  I saw one today were the mans hat fell off and they kept on going - all with a smile. 

To drive my point home, we all saw those Beyonce Superbowl photos from her big performance.  They were labeled as ugly and unflattering by people.  Were they coincidence?  Perhaps, but there were several of them published in the media.  From the looks of them you would have thought it was a bad show, but in actuality it rocked.  And Beyonce's career is doing just fine despite of the pictures.

I will post more folklorico blooper pics in the future.  This week, I was corrected in class by one of the ladies for having my head in the wrong position for the kisses.  That would have been some embarrassing photos.  Thanks for the save!  

In closing I wanted to recommend a couple of Facebook pages to everyone.  The first is called Cultura and offer viewers a visual experience of Mexico through photos.  I am a big fan of pictures and love that you can experience the world through them.  I also want to encourage folklorico fans to visit Folklorico Page on Facebook as well.  Lots of pictures there for viewing as well.  A special thanks to Folklorico Page for sharing last week's blog. 

Don't forget your contest entries by August 31, 2013.  Be sure to check back next week for week 35's post called "Ideas For Folklorico!"  I am excited about this one.  Lastly, thank you Richard for a great birthday.  See you next week everybody!  Wedo Out!


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail:
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana

Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one!  Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required.  All are welcome.

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