Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Medora Chevalier and Trill Zapatero's Dance Queens Festival

 Late last week I caught up with a few dancers from the Dance Queens dance festival, currently underway here in SL. There are several acts over two weekends, showcasing various acts and dances, that (while not my thing in particular) should be quite the spectacle to visit, given the sheer amount of effort put into putting on such a thing. I caught up with Medora Chevalier and Trill Zapatero, and sat down for a little interview when they had some free time in their schedules.

Medora Chevalier: "Hi Xymbers"
Xymbers Slade waits for things to rez in...
Medora Chevalier: "This is the staging made by Trill Zapatero, based on her split screen and SL9B build - the Apocalypse will not be televised."
Xymbers Slade: "Not bad (smile)."
Medora Chevalier: "It's beautiful (smile)."
Xymbers Slade: "So this is where the dancing's going to be then? (smile)"
Medora Chevalier: "Call this a staging! No - it is over on the sim for the Dance Queens Festival... different acts are at different places over this weekend and next."
Xymbers Slade: "Well, that answers my next question then, I was going to ask when it was being held. Is it all interpretative dance, or just a simple social gathering?"
Medora Chevalier: , "Interpretive."
Xymbers Slade leafs through the schedule ... "Neat stuff, for sure. How long have you been doing this sort of thing?"
Medora Chevalier: "Well as dancers this is sheer luxury working with an artist of Trill's stature, and the wonderful collaborative music of Jana Kyomoon & Junivers Stockholm. I've been doing dance choreography for shows since the Rings with Carp in 2008."
Trill Zapatero: "And the WALL, and Alien Bolero 2 years ago, that was a major big time extravanganza!" ( blushes) , "we've been friends since forever!"
Medora Chevalier: "Trill is a huge inspiration!"
Trill Zapatero: "Medora is a huge inspiration!"
Xymbers Slade: "Dance was always lost on me, I'll admit, I take it Trill's far more well known then, or is a big name in this? Color me ignorant."
Trill Zapatero: "I brag about her to everyone."
Medora Chevalier: "Well, Trill has been a well known artist for ever in SL."
Trill Zapatero: "Trill spends too much time online."
Xymbers Slade: "I think we all spend too much time online. (grin)"
Medora Chevalier: "Well I didn't really choreograph it, but I did perform... and Follow the Light - big live music and particle show with dancing with Junivers again."
Trill Zapatero: "That was probably one of the most amazing happenings ever in SL."
Medora Chevalier: "We like extravaganzas (smile)."
Trill Zapatero: "Yesss, with all kinds of spectacle and particles."
Xymbers Slade: "How much work goes in to putting on one of these productions?"
Medora Chevalier: "Well, Trill has been building for a long time for split screen - how long did it take you Trill?"
Trill Zapatero: "This is a modified part of that build, that took me about 2 months and some."
Medora Chevalier: "Jana and Juni have been building up their collection of collaborative music over the last year."
Trill Zapatero: "But modifying this didn't take that long."
Medora Chevalier: "And I choreographed over about 3 weeks."
Xymbers Slade nods, "Always nice to 'build on the shoulders of giants'... or at least stuff already established... (smile)."
Medora Chevalier: "But Bolero - Ravel arranged Stockholm - that took me about 3 weeks to choreograph originally."
Trill Zapatero: "Well the theme really fit what Medora had in mind."
Xymbers Slade: "So what are you currently up to? I did hear something about this Dance Queens thing. And what's next after this? Do you have something in mind?"
Medora Chevalier: "Well it's a dance festival."
Medora Chevalier: "But all of us like work that has a message."
Xymbers Slade: "Aha, so something with morals then? (smile)"
Medora Chevalier: "And the message for this is, that when civilization collapses under the weight of the banking and ecological and injustice crises, there will still be beauty, humanity and love."
Xymbers Slade: "There's an 'Occupy' joke in there somewhere but I'm not going to be the one to make it."
Medora Chevalier: "The important things are not those we buy but those we give."
Trill Zapatero: "And make!"
Medora Chevalier: "It goes beyond any single campaign and to the heart of what it is to be human."
Xymbers Slade: "Are you expecting large turnout for this?"
Medora Chevalier: "Well I guess we would like to have a full audience."
Trill Zapatero: "A show for friends."
Medora Chevalier: "Though the time is quite early for our usual fans."
Trill Zapatero: "40 is our capacity."
Xymbers Slade nods...
Medora Chevalier: "They know that we always dance and create for change. The show is called Dance for Change. We believe that the connections between people of different nations, ages, races, languages in this space is how we build positive connections... a web of light."
Xymbers Slade: "What's the toughest part of doing it all? The one necessary part that needs to be done but makes you go 'we could do without this if we cut corners' ?" ... Although I get the sense you don't cut corners at all, with the amount of work I'm seeing here in the background."
Medora Chevalier: "Well - I guess getting everything blended together in harmony."
Trill Zapatero: "Are we any where near 'minimalists' ?"
Medora Chevalier: Choosing the dances well - there are over 100 for 45 minutes... and making sure the dancers place themselves where they complement the build."
Trill Zapatero: "Minimalism is so last week."
Xymbers Slade: "Do you program your own dances in or do you hire other help to work with that?"
Xymbers Slade: Xymbers Slade doesn't know the first thing about dances/animations.
Medora Chevalier: "We use dances from the mocap studios in SL, but I choreograph them all and I always include some sky dancing and particles... part of the magic of special SL art - not just a copy of real life."
Xymbers Slade nods
Medora Chevalier: "Of course there's always some fingers crossed that the tech gremlins leave us in peace!"
Xymbers Slade: "Are you planning on doing anything bigger, like going more than one sim and broadcasting from sim to sim? Maybe for the future?"
Medora Chevalier: "Well yes I'd like to..."
Trill Zapatero: "How many sims did you guys use for the WALL?"
Medora Chevalier: "In the past for the Wall and the Rings we were loaned 4 sims as the audience was big enough. But that was when the education institutes had more in-world sims. 40 is small."
Xymbers Slade: "Oh wow, that was what, 2008, 2009?"
Medora Chevalier: "Yes, 2008, but then it was revived and we have a new rock opera that will launch in September, so this is like a nice refresher before that."
Xymbers Slade: "A rock opera? Can't say I've heard of a blending of rock and opera as a genre. Maybe I'll slip by and take a look, then."
Medora Chevalier: "Well like Tommy, it tells a story using songs as a narrative."
Xymbers Slade: "Ok, last question on my little list, what do you hope people bring home from all these dances? (smile)"
Medora Chevalier: "Hope. Hope that even in the depths of the worst crisis our planet and people have ever faced we can use our creativity and our love across the world to pull through and live a better life in harmony."
Xymbers Slade: "In these times, hope is something in short supply, I've noticed. Given the time and amount of energy expended into building this, I bet you'll be more than successful (smile)."
Medora Chevalier: "We hope so - Trill, Jana, Juni - and all the dancers, We all believe in that and we represent an internationalism: Trill from Canada, Szavanna from South Africa, Sofia from Portugal, me in the UK, Dove and Angelique in the USA, Juni in Sweden. But all in all its our gift to those who come along, given with love and hope. So many countries, and we have to plan around time zones, languages, chat lag and typos, etc."
Xymbers Slade: "Rare that I see that kind of co-op anymore, in SL or real life, honestly. It's a nice little 'global effort' you have here (smile)."

The schedule can be found at If you wish to see what kind of dances and things are being put on. Go show them your support and tell 'em I sent you (smile). Dancing isn't my thing personally, so I'm not going to give it a dragon hoard rating, it'd just go right over my head.

Xymbers Slade

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dusk Griswold and Her Puppet Fun

It’s doubtful that anyone who has a TV has not seen Sesame Street. I as a child remember seeing Big Bird and the other various puppets. It was magical. As a kid, they seemed real. As a kid, we had no idea these were puppets and not real beings or people. Later on growing up we figured it out.

I recently talked to Dusk Griswold, another Sunweaver (the last article I wrote was about Nydia Tungsen) about her and her puppetry. According to Dusk, she says it’s a dying art. I’m not so sure. Puppets are still used today in shows for children. The movie “Team America World Police” came to mind too, but I can talk about that later. Also recently there was the real life movie “The Muppets” that came out last year.

Growing up, Dusk watched Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and was always fascinated by the puppets, and knew one day she wanted to perform them. More recently, she discovered a show from Canada Ccalled The Longhouse Tales. While she said the writing was not that great, the puppets were nicely done, and the look of one inspired the design of her puppet, Vixie.  

Dusk seems very lucky too. She has admitted in real life to meeting one of the puppeteers named Terry Angus. As a puppeteer, he worked on various muppet projects. One thing Terry did work on in particular was the show "Fraggle Rock." I remember that show with Muppets living in a cave. Dusk says he is a talented puppeteer and craftsman. In fact, her puppet named Vixie was created by the same guy: Terry Angus. When Dusk showed me pictures of Vixie the puppet, I said it’s a huge puppet and very well detailed. Dusk Griswold answered, "Should be they were built by a former Muppet performer."

Amazingly Dusk also met a Pixar employee and has a very good drawing of Vixie by him when Dusk was describing Vixie, "One drawing was done by a Pixar artist." Pixar is the same company who made the "Toy Story" movies and other animated moives. In fact I remember seeing the first Toy Story in a movie theatre as a teen.

Dusk showed me a video of Vixie performing live. Well Dusk was puppeteering, and Vixie seemed alive above the table. Vixie looked almost alive by Dusk’s deft hand motions at a furry convention. It was a funny show with humor that you might see from a Muppet show. Dusk wanted Vixie the mad scientist to create a nuclear power coffee maker, commenting, "More like a nuclear powered coffeemaker." I chuckled, "That's one way to get hot coffee."

Dusk has also met other people from the Muppets in real life, "I have met Karen Prell, Mike Quinn, David Barclay, and Terry Angus." Sounds like the real life Dusk has gotten around meeting lots of neat people. She has met some interesting people. I commented the only famous person I met was Charles Feelgood, a real life house DJ from my area.

Ironically I mentioned the R-rated movie “Team America World Police” which features puppets which are designed to look like real people. The same people who created "South Park" made this movie poking fun at adventure/action movies with their twisted sense of humor. Dusk said she hasn’t seen it. I recommend it to anyone who likes South Park, or anything to do with puppets.

Dusk thinks Muppets/puppets are a dying art. Maybe it’s not amazingly popular like video games or the Second Life we all inhabit, but it still has some life to it in the real world.

Dusk has a Flickr account, where one can see pictures of Vixie the puppet's construction. 

Pictures from 2012 RFL Walk.

Grease Coakes

Friday, July 13, 2012

Heartspeaker and the Vison Quest

I reported earlier on the storytelling of “Heartspeaker” on the Native American sim “Spirit Nations.” When I wrote the article promoting Heart’s storytelling every Thursday at 1pm SL time, I earned his trust as he said “There is thunder with your words.”  Also that more people came to his storytelling session when they read about it from this very paper.

Heartspeaker recently invited me to a special occasion: a vision quest.  What’s a vision quest? It is an initiation for a young man or woman in Native American cultures to give the young person spiritual guidance. It involves 3 days of fasting and no water. At the end of the vision quest the young person sees his or her animal totem and then is now welcomed into the tribe as an adult.

For the vision quest here in SL I didn’t have to fast for 3 days to participate, but it was for the benefit of a man named Traverse Slade.  He spoke of how he had dreams of his totem animal as a crow. Meeting with Heartspeaker and Traverse wasn’t exactly a vision quest, but more like Heartspeaker shared his life experiences with Traverse and I. I shared along with Traverse, talking about how my totem animal fox helps me sometimes in various ways. For example I said that fox helps me hear danger like a car coming.

Heartspeaker told Traverse and I about his life experience when his own tribe sent him on a vision quest. As a 17 year old Heartspeaker spent his 3 day vision quest in a small hole in real life. The elders and one of his mentors Charlie Ironshield gave him beef jerky and water to tempt him. Heart spoke of how “Coyote” the trickster tempted him during his vision quest. Coyote is used in Native American stories as a trickster and a goofy personality who teaches folly and what not to do through his antics. Coyote was telling Heartspeaker “Go ahead! Eat and drink something the elders will not know.” Heartspeaker gained willpower to sustain fasting by singing his power song. He mentally fought coyote using his power song. Over time the lack of water made his voice weaker, but heart kept singing anyway. Eventfully Heartspeaker began to focus on his environment in the small hole he was in.

He said there was something he could not share with Traverse and I, and it was something his could only tell his spirit quest teacher Charlie Ironshield. He could tell us his animals spirit were both owl and Otter. Owl teaches wisdom and helps him see better in the dark. Otter may not sound like an impressive animal like owl or wolf, however otter teaches how to share and joy. An important part of any tribe.

Another lesson Heartspeaker said learned from his childhood was when in a Native American summer camp he was told to go around and keep in mind what he saw and perceived in nature. As a young man Heartspeaker blew it off, thinking he would rather play. Later in the evening with his talking stick he felt embarrassed when he had nothing to share. The next day he made sure to look around in nature and see what was all around him and he was excited.  That evening Heartspeaker didn’t eat out of excitement wanting to share what he saw that day. When it was his turn the elders skipped over him. Later Heartspeaker asked why he was skipped. Charlie Ironshiled said “When there is an opportunity don’t waste it” the lesson hit Heartspeaker hard as he learned the hard way.

At one of Heartspeaker’s storytellings, I brought that up. Especially when I found my computer mike. Instead of blowing an opportunity for me to tell a story I took advantage and told a classic coyote story in voice chat about how coyote thought he would be first in line to get the most powerful spirit medicine when the Great Spirit was giving out powers to the animal people. Coyote’s antics screwed him up instead of helping him. he was last to get his powers as the Great Spirit gave him powers of folly and wisdom to teach people what not to do.

Another thing that Heartspeaker brought up was asking people where the most comfortable place to sit in a forest was. Most people don’t pick up on the simple truth that there’s no wrong answer. It’s wherever each person feels most comfortable when he or she sits. As everyone is a different person there is always a different answer. He spoke about seeing a fox a few months ago I said I’ve seen a deer a few times. He suggested talking to an animal with my mind I had never thought about that before so I said I’ll give that a shot.

Heartspeaker said today that he never stops learning as he learns something new every day. A vision quest just seems like a part of life as part of a journey. Maybe it’s not a quest or journey to gain a magic sword like in a fantasy moive, but maybe a quest for yourself to never stop learning and live life.

Home of Many Nations, Spirit Nations (99, 172, 21)

Grease Coakes

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Breezes Thoughts: Bixyl and Jasmine

It has been a long  time since I have taken this moment to describe to you the wonderful union of our Bixyl and Jasmine.  The sim was filled with as many friends as could witness the beautiful occasion.

Sitting there and gazing around, gives a solitude of the heart laughter, watching the crowds and comments gave us a moment to realize their finding of each other and the guests were waiting in anticipation the momentous event about to take place.

As the bridemaid  so lovely walked to the the place of honour,  you can feel  a static in the air.  Here comes the proud groom, walking to the future. And the bride that soon followed was so very lovely.

Nydia Tungsten said it all, "a unique world created these two together." And when the vows were read, many tears of happiness were with the guests hearts.  

I believe their vows were the best vows I have ever heard. 

So long live their lives of happiness together,

Breezes Babii

Picture from Lomgren Smalls 

For more pictures of the wedding, check out Bixyl's Flickr.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Relay for Life: Woodstock, The Critter Races, and the Jeffry Pastorelli Tribute

The Weekend of June 30th and July 1st saw a number of Relay for Life events. Some were big, and some were small. One of the bigger ones on Saturday was the "Woodstock: Summer of Love." It was in Nantucket Channel, held by Sail4Life, and went from 9AM  to 9PM SL time (Noon to Midnight EST).

Time to go back to the "Summer of Love"!    Nantucket Yacht Club in support of the Sail4Life Team is recreating Woodstock with 12 hours of Peace and Music running until 9pm tonight.  Come and enjoy the music, take a dip in the pond or play in the mud.  Bring your friends,  Drop in and Drop out.  Drop some Lindens in the RFL Kiosks

Hopping by the place at the time DJ Benny (aka "Benny the Boozehound") was playing, it certainly looked like Woodstock. The area was mainly grassy field, with a stage at one end, which held the performers and where most of the people partied. With the theme, the majority were either dressed like hippies or were nearly naked.

The event area was large on it's own, but surrounded by scenery paneling to make it look more like the countryside. There were a few campers and campsites. At the stage, there was about one new performer every hour for the 12 hour event. Besides the dancing, one could mess around in the mud hole, or one could skinny-dip in the pond. Besides collecting money in the RFL kiosk, the Woodstock event had another way that fit with the theme. People could buy a flower for the event by donating fifty Lindens, and dedicating it to a friend.

As time went on, went the inevitable jokes about stoned hippies and while having cleaned up their act years later still looked back at their wild youth with fond memories. DJ Benny shouted at one point, "Now you can tell everyone you WERE at Woodstock!" Someone else joked in response, "If you can remember being at Woodstock, you weren't there."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

Sunday at the Steelhead Estates was one of their last big events for the Relay season, the "Steelhead Critter Races."

A Benefit Event for Relay For Life in Secondlife, sponsored by Team Steelhead Salmons & the Steelhead Public Library. If you have a critter and it can be raced, this event is made for you! Bring your horses, tigers, ostriches, banthas and other ridable critters! You are critterless? Ostrich is lame? Bantha has mange? Then drive one of our free Roman Chariots!

The race was held on a track high above Steelhead Port Harbor, with Sheriff Fuzball Ortega in charge of the event. The race attracted a number of contestants and onlookers, some of the latter whom also brought their own mounts. Besides the horses were a number of exotic mounts, including a "Star Wars" Bantha, a "Cyantian Chronicles" Shiave, and a "Guineapigasaurus." The latter was a horse-sized ridable guinea pig brought in by Mindy, one of Steelhead's kids whom amused/annoyed the others around with it's squeaks, "breeep, breeeep, breeeep!"

There were four races in the event. Although there was a race for any kind of rideable ground mount, no flying mounts were allowed. Also, players could not be the mounts either. There was some debate as to why the second rule, either because of possible jokes about a girl being "mounted" by her boyfriend, or that Fuzzball's fiance Eugene Burton might take advantage by riding him around in his wolf form more often, riding crop in hand. Before the official races, there was a practice lap taken. After that, there was an entry fee of 500L per race, or a one time payment of 1500L for all of them. They were entered by both those from Steelhead, such as Baron Klaus Wuffenbach, and from outside such as Liska Fuchs.

The first race was "Reasonably Sized Critters," any mount that could fit in the starting gates, whether horse or exotic mount. The second race was "Unreasonably Sized Critters." The riders had to go into the starting gate without their mounts, run to the cycle in front of them when it started, rezz their mount, then start running. The third was a normal horse race, although the horses themselves were a variety of kinds from breedables to statics. Baron Wulfenbach loaned his huge horse to one contestant. The first and third race were won by the same rider, whom had an experienced breedable horse. As it turned out, the horse might have given him a small edge as this particular breakable can be trained to run faster.

The fourth race required no fee, or mount of one's own: the steel chariot race with piston-powered mechanical horses provided for free. Trouble was, the chariots were so fast, they proved difficult to steer around the track, getting caught on the walls, tipping over, or getting caught at the starting gate after a lap.

Following the races was a party held by DJ Thadicus Caligari, in which the former competitors and onlookers joined each other for music and dance.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

Following the Steelhead races was a memorial event to Jeffry Pastorelli. Jeffery had been a team captain for the Team Relay for Hope whom passed away in 2010 (Prim Perfect article). The event was held at one of Second Life's more solemn areas, the Remembering Our Friends Memorial

Hello everyone, I just wanted to send a reminder that there will be a memorial for Jeffry Pastorelli TONIGHT, Sunday July 1st.  This is being held by Mike Burleigh at 7 PM SLT at Remembering Our Friends, landmark attached.  Please be there if you can, as this means a lot to us all.

The event had a moderate attendance, with among those attending Trader1 Whiplash and Lomgren Smalls. Mike Burleigh was in charge of the music, but much to his irritation, he had some problems getting his stream online, and the problems persisted throughout the event. Lomgren Smalls, whom helped get people to the event,  rezzed a kiosk for his team, the Passionate Redheads, and the money began to pour in. While this year's Redhead events often brought in just several thousand Lindens each, this one was bringing in tens of thousands, bolstered by some promising to match the donations of others. That the money was coming in despite the stream being down led to some jokes, "Can this mean that the music in SL is so bad that people will pay NOT to hear it?"

People talked about Jeffry during the event, "I know he made a huge impression on me. And still does to this day." "I miss him, even if he was a pain in the a** most days" "You know, we wouldn't have loved him as much if he wasn't a pain in the a**." "I can still hear him cussing in the living room when things pissed him off too. He was passionate." "Yes he was. And that passion rubbed off onto so many of us Relayers."

During this time, someone tried to display a copy of the Relay Weekend sims map. But as the area didn't allow for rezzing on the ground, he tried to wear it. But as his avatar moved around, so did the map. Trying to get more than a glance at it was a big challenge.

By the end of the event, 35,000 Lindens had been raised for the Redheads, the team that had struggled this season, bringing it's season total to 245,000L and was a much needed morale boost. The following day, the total would pass 250,000 Lindens, and get the Redheads the Gold standard.

More on Jeffey Patrelli can be heard at a special episode of Designing Worlds, taped at the Remembering Our Friends Memorial (Click Here).

It was quite a weekend with many events, most of which we don't have the time to mention. And as the Relay moves on into July, the Relay Weekend approaches, with nine days left as the prining of this article, the weekend of July 14 and 15, with the Relayers anxiously anticipating the climax to the season.

Bixyl Shuftan