Dance–Creativity in Another Direction

My good guy and I have worked hard most of our lives.  He has taken care of software clients for decades, and I’ve been right there to support those efforts with marketing, bookkeeping, and even a little human resource work along the way.  We also raised a family and continue to support our daughter’s efforts to succeed as a dentist.  We’ve done a little low-pay or no-pay work in support of our communities, and have generally followed the recipe for “That Good Life.”

But now, we’re indulging a bit.  We play a little golf and have steeped ourselves in ballroom dance for the past six or seven years.  There have been a lot of practices, a few competitions, and all sorts of forays into movements and costumes completely foreign to us.  In short, it’s been a blast.

Now we’re prepping for our annual “showcase.”  This is nothing more than a dance recital for family and friends, but for any student at Colorado DanceSport, this is the event of the year.  People are signing up for extra lessons, spending even more time at the studio, ordering “costumes” on-line and more.  Me?  I’m into props.

Not quite sure how this got started, but last year I danced to the theme from “The Godfather” and constructed a car that blew up.  Amazing what foam board and an over-sized rubber band can do.

This year, my instructor, Mitch, said, “You know, Liesa, people are going to look for how you top yourself.”  Ahh, the gauntlet thrown.

I don’t know if it’s my ADD or my stubbornness and pride, but when I’m met with this kind of challenge, my eyes light up.  I LOVE CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING!  I also love trips to Home Depot with Prophet (he always gets treated like a movie star), playing with electric drills, Dremel saws, glue, glitter, paint and all the things we used as kids–only with the grown up twist of real danger if we’re not careful.  I started sketching.

My dance with my teacher this year is “Bare Necessities.”  It fits into the studio’s 2015 theme of Dancing with Disney.  Now, you may be thinking I would play with the idea of “bare” for this, but just like my character, Daisy, I like to lead a G-rated lifestyle. We decided to stick with the youtube version and see what we could do.

I’m trying to make my props cartoon-like, so I’m using brilliant greens, grey, and simple looking designs.  However, I am also adding in coconuts that fall from a tree, a snake named Kaa, and palm trees that Mitch, studio owner Robert, and I can uproot and use as scratching tools.  The challenge is three-fold.

  • All props have to fit in my car for getting to and from Cleo Parker Robinson Hall.
  • All props will be used a second time, so I can’t have “throw aways.”
  • I have to do most the “heavy lifting,” so nothing can weigh too much (I’m the proverbial 90-pound weakling, only I weigh quite a bit more than 90)

STEP ONE: PLANNING

photo of Treasures from the bookstore

Treasures from the bookstore

First stop in this adventure was–you guessed it–the bookstore.  I don’t know anything about engineering except that my dad was one.  I picked up what I could on simple machines and probably played for a week in those books.  Life is good when you start with a book.  Using some of the concepts there, I was able to think up a few ways to get the job done.  My sweet man told me I am an inventor, and this thought has kept me going throughout my building process.

STEP TWO: FIELD TRIP!

photo of Constructing ants from tubes

They will be ants, they really will.

Yippee! On to Home Depot.  I picked the brains of several HD experts over several weeks.  I bought “stuff” that might come in handy–insulation tubes from plumbing, dryer vent tubes, and wood dowels, pvc pipe, and I even did the “dumpster dive” into their scrap bins.

photo of Pulley released trap door

Coconuts will fall from this? You betcha!

On to the cloth store where I bought tons of felt, a little glue and more.  The young girls there got into my project and helped me with coupons and bolt remainders. How cool is that?

STEP THREE: CONSTRUCTION IN AND OF THE JUNGLE

Did I tell you that I planned to clean the storage room in our basement as my January house project? Oops!  I managed to haul out a ton of stuff, and make mountains of things to give away, throw away and put away, but my deadline for dance was looming, so my basement is a disaster area right now.  Did I ever tell you how patient my sweet guy is when I get into creative projects?  We once had a time machine that ate up my kitchen . . . but that’s a story for another time.

photo of Palm tree jungle props

Hard to see the trees for the jungle, but they really work!

Anyway, several attempts and lots of words your mother shouldn’t hear later (forgot about that G-rated thing), I have three palm trees and a snake complete.  I have the mechanics of the dropping coconuts complete, just waiting for a major palm make-over, and the skeleton for a rock that Baloo will pick up, only to find ants running underneath.

photo of snake sock-puppet

Kaa-ha-ha

There are only about two weeks left to finishing all this work, but I’m very excited. I’ve learned my steps, built some fun toys, and am looking forward to making it all come together in a three or four minute dance.

Creativity, whether in dance steps, construction of silly props, or jotted down in story, is a good, fun, thing.  How do you let loose?  What’s your creative outlet?