Really tired today,  but I went out to practice anyways. I played with a couple of ideas for cane play with legs and feet. It was fun. Now I need to start practicing taking pictures of myself while I’m in awkward poses. The pictures were as fun as the cane work.

Now my legs are tired. 🙂

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Fresh Canes Coming In!

Ordered a fresh batch of canes last night. They went for $3/cane less than last year. So I ordered a cool dozen. Can’t wait for them to come in!

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Broad Strokes

Last Saturday, I spent the day in Brooklyn with the wonderful spinners from the Floasis. We were out practicing in a park. So of course we put out a hat. Let me tell you. Even when you’re really not trying to busk, once that hat’s out, you’re thinking about it.

And think about it I did. I had my canes with me. So the single cane came out in full force. I’d spin that for a bit, take a break, and then come back with some more. No idea how it looked, but I did draw a few interested glances. Double cane, on the other hand… I’d pull out the pair for a little bit, get lost, and retreat right back to single cane. Part of it was performance anxiety. Part of it was a sheer lack of vocabulary with the prop. I just found points where I was moving my prop, and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to get it to move to the music. It was very disappointing.

Now, two days later and a Monday, the day started out in drizzles. I feared I’d be risking the wet to go out and practice. Then, just in time for lunch, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. I grabbed the canes and started playing around with them, looking for… Looking for whatever it was that was lacking on Saturday. I did a lot of cane balancing on cane while in motion bits. It didn’t really go anywhere on the way to the diner, but on the way back, something started to crop up.

As spinners, we like to flow through our movements, only pausing for effect. The challenge is that the very effort of maintaining the flow can cause us to get lost in our props. Not very good for street. But that flow is what we go for. I’m starting to get a real solid flow with hook-to-hook double cane. But when you’re doing street style spinning, it just takes up too much space. When I was out there in that park in Brooklyn, I was acutely aware of just how much space those canes were taking up. And the other styles just weren’t getting me anywhere.

Have you ever tried to balance a stick on your finger? Ever follow it up by balancing a stick on another stick? I’ve been playing with that for over a year now, balancing one stick on another stick, sliding one stick along another stick, twirling one stick around another stick, strikes, traps, etc. That’s what I was doing today. I was playing with those ideas, trying to figure out something. What did it is that I opened up. Put your hand out in front of you. Reach as far out as you can. Move that arm to your side while continuing to reach out. You’ve just made an arc. I started doing just that, tracing circles with my motions while working the canes cane-on-cane style. It started making sense.

I still have a long way to go with this style. But the vocabulary for cane-on-cane is slowly coming into focus. I feel like I just barely have enough moves to put together a simple piece. There’s just so much technique to pick up. And that’s without delving into double staff techniques.

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Balancing Point

I was taking it easy today. So I kept up with the single cane spinning. I was working on bringing the cane around my back and across the other arm. It wasn’t going as well as the day before yesterday. So I messed with it until it started coming again. Then it hit me. This bit would work so much better if I kept track of the cane’s center of balance. Suddenly, I got a lot more consistent. In retrospect, it’s painfully obvious. After all, you have to manage the center when you’re working with a contact staff. Why not with a cane as well? Heck. Why not with any prop? Or life?…

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Bounce and Slide

Been feeling really beat today. So I limited myself to single cane.

The first thing that came up was a bicep bounce. What you do is you put your arms out in front of you, elbows down, palms down, cane across the back of your hands. Then you reach forwards as quickly as you can. The cane will bounce off the biceps and then fly forwards into an unsuspecting bysta… Wait! That’s not right. Aim up a little. Don’t want a flaming prop flying into the crowd. It’s so simple that someone must have come up with it before. But hey. That’s life for you. Everything has been done before.

Next, I was walking back from lunch. Again letting that cane rest across the backs of my bands. I wrapped it around the left side and let it slide out along my right arm. It’s kind of like the second half of the steve you’d do with contact staff only more slidey. Need to work on that one. That stuff is wicked fun.

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I had my second modern dance class today. It was fantastic. Melissa is a wonderful teacher; the other students are great, and I didn’t fall too far behind. So we are learning a dance piece. It was… I can feel the language behind what she’s teaching. It inspires me to dig deep down into the language of my own props and use that language to express something. I don’t know quite what, but I want to compose: I want to make a performance piece.

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Weaves and rotors and butterflies. Oh my!

Yessirree. It’s another day of meteor practice. Still at that “why doesn’t anything work!?!” phase, but I actually got the one handed butterfly. …intermittently. And I got rotors! …more-or-less. And my 2 beat weaves are going great! Well… it’s not bad, but I need to put in more hour plus sessions to really work out the kinks. (sighs) Practice practice practice practice practice (breaths) practice practice practice….

BTW. I tried fire breathing for the first time ever (!!!) last Friday night. It was awesome.

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Spin Check

Whenever I spin a prop during a randomly public kind of thing, I always have to remind myself to do a spin check. It’s just what it sounds like: you spin around and check for random people, tables, dishes, light bulbs, low hanging beams, or anything else you could accidentally hit.  While you’re at it, make it a nice, flashy part of the bit. Once you know everything’s clear, do the move.

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Weapon of self destruction

After taking a few days off, I got back to the meteor today. My two beat weave? Messy but I can do it… Well I can do it most of the time. Rotors? They’re coming. I swear it! They’re coming! Finger walking into one-handed butterflies? They’re eluding me again. It really is like chasing butterflies without a net. I was hitting myself on the sides, on the head, under the jaw (rubs jaw), and… Let’s just say I limped a little on the way back.

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The Painful Quantizing Effect of Words

Somewhere in the back of my head, I’ve been looking for a good way to describe the painful effect words can have on thoughts and their expression. Well try this one on for size:

Imagine you a staccato note. Staccato notes have clear starts, clear stops, and a noticeable space in between. Imagine that words are not just very good at describing staccato notes but that they are only good at describing staccato, on-the-beat notes. Now try to describe a song with melody, harmony, slurrs and slides, harmonics, subharmonics, syncopation, and whatnot.

Get what I’m trying to say?

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