Back in September 2015, my friend Joya contacted me to be a part of a video for the up and coming artist Iyves. After a meeting with the director, Christine Yuan, and after listening to Iyves' music I was convinced that it was fate for me to be a part of this project.
The creative team spent a weekend in Coachella Valley filming in some of California's most interesting natural and manmade landscapes:
The final product was beautiful:
Even after the project was finished I felt compelled to dance to the song and decided to dedicate a Mood Mondays to it:
As I sat down to write this blog entry, I couldn't remember what had happened back in September 2015 that inspired the mood for Episode 16. Luckily I have a pretty detailed Google Calendar that tracks all the events in my life, from major dance projects to yoga classes.
I found that around the time this video was made and published was also the audition for Grease: Live (more on that experience in a later post). I remember that process being so intense yet inspiring. After the call was the call back, after the call back was the final call back, and after the final call back was the final final call back. I remember thinking to myself, "Man, everyone in this room is so dang talented." The caliber of dancers in the room was such that Zach Woodlee, the choreographer, could've closed his eyes, spun in a circle, chosen 10 dancers at random, and there still would've been some darn good dancing in the show.
Really. Everyone was that awesome.
But in the end, the dancers were likely cast based on a whole host of other factors outside of skill alone. Dancing is an art, and casting is an art too. It takes a very discerning eye to understand how specific individuals can mesh together to create a larger whole. After all good ingredients combined together don't always make a good dish. And while I may be biased, the dish our Grease: Live creative team whipped up was worthy of a Michelin star rating:
Actors and dancers with director (Tommy) and choreographer (Zach)
The Grease: Live Cast
And that was the reason why I felt (and still feel) so humbled. LA is a competitive city filled with some of the nation's most talented professional dancers. My livelihood as a commercial dancer is booking jobs and beating out the sometimes hundreds of other dancers in the room. As a result, I generally forget to take a moment to simply marvel at how incredibly skilled my peers are. It's easy in this kind of environment to feel envy over admiration.
But last year was also a year of great personal growth for me. I finally felt ready to face a few demons that I had shoved to the back of the closet when I first moved to LA 7 years ago. In so doing, my perception of LA and of commercial dance shifted. I began seeing it as one (but not the only one) outlet for me to find purpose and build identity. All of that trickled down into my every day life, so instead of feeling hyper-competitive (though I still felt anxious) in that final final call back I felt humbled.
Now that you understand the intention and reasoning behind the video, I invite you to enjoy Episode 16 of my Mood Mondays series:
I've always been in love with the song, "Pure" by Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Mirah Yom Tom Zeitlyst. There is something very soothing and grounding about the way the beat intertwines with the singer's voice. I didn't have a clear concept videography wise for this episode, but Selina and I collaborated on creating the space once we figured out what I would be doing movement wise. We deliberately started off in darkness, and I thought it'd be interesting to direct my movement to the light ball since it was such had such a strong visual presence in the shot:
Episode 15: "Pure" by Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Mirah Yom Tom Zeitlyst
For this episode Selina and I wanted to film in a different part of Griffith Park, and wound up on top of a hill right as the sun was setting. It was the perfect example of how being curious and experimental can lead to some beautiful results: