Thursday, November 11, 2010

the first uptown/downtown performance: chinatown

last night was some kind of wunderbar.

zipped to chen dance center, for the first night of uptown/downtown in no time at all: fully made up, fully dressed up and ready to rip it up. i looked like a drum magazine pin-up girl -- actually, i look like an african pin-up girl no matter what i wear. i stopped fighting that one a long time ago. i made a pitstop in a chinese bakery for tea and a sticky bun of some sort. while i was in there, i watched a bunch of ultra black folk who were shopping for a ton of fortune cookies explode with glee as they recognized some pastry from a jackie chan/chris tucker flick. is it true that most people seem to learn about other people and other cultures from movies and television? from behind the counter, the chinese baker's puzzled but somewhat bemused expression seemed to mirror my thoughts.

chen is a hoot. lean and strong and really up and interesting and kind of a prankster. he's one of those dancer/artists that's seen and done everything. some rock n' roller's name will come up and he'll go on about how he stood in the mud and saw them at woodstock and someone will go, you were at woodstock and then we're off to the races. it was nice, watching him walk through the place, greeting people, making suggestions, hanging out.

we had a brief meeting at 6:30pm and somewhere in there, my permanent boyfriend shows up along with daniel carlton, who gives him a digital camera to shoot our segment. (yes, they're shooting everything -- but i'm paranoid.) i'm bobbing in and out of the holding room that's filled with everyone's personal effects, actors chatting sotto voce, someone putting on makeup here, setting props up over there -- and of course, dancers in varying stages of dress, warming up.

it's a small black box situation and i had a short tech rehearsal earlier in the day so everything is well-lit and mood inducing. amazing, the way lights can create a set. daniel and i were in the second half of the evening, so we could take it easy sort of, run lines, whisper. once the audience is seated, the 40 inch plasma screen in the vestibule comes to life, and everyone gathers around it quietly and watches and observes, occasionally nodding at each other and smiling with these knowing looks. it's all very relaxed and serious and fun, with a high degree of that flying by the seat of your pants sensation buzzing in the air.

and then all of a sudden, it was over. (and coming soon to my youtube channel!) daniel and i are a real gang of two -- and he is the king of props.

there was a talkback afterwards that felt awkward because we couldn't say anything while the audience shouted all this stuff off the cuff. we seemed to glide out of the place, lost in thought. one of the coolest things about being married to an artist that's also an intellectual (why he won't cop to that last part, i'll never know) is that i can talk to him in depth about what i do. as we walk along, we unhinge all of it from the inside out and share ideas. he has a lot of insight.

of course, all of that is predicated on the fact that he is a safe place. but that's a whole other conversation.

and so, as my permanent boyfriend and i noshed on vietnamese food afterwards and traipsed westward through the narrow streets in the dead of night, we held hands like lost toddlers and somehow managed to simultaneously float down a sun drenched memory lane that was flooded with sweet loving moments from our earliest days as a twosome.

happy days.

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