If you keep track of me on Twitter or Instagram at all, then you'll know that I'm positively giddy over all the amazing things happening lately in Philly, and over the beautiful spring weather we've been having. Whether you're interested in art, festivals, food, drink, music, or just celebrating the opportunity to wear dresses without tights again, Philly is the place to do it. Just check out the awards that local groups have received lately, or the innovative art projects taking place. And don't forget about all the chances that Philadelphians have to enjoy a good beer, or have a delicious brunch outside, or the absurd wealth of musical talent and fun festivals going on here. It makes me SO happy to live here! (Side note: if you're looking to go out and see a specific type of band, I can probably point you in the right direction. We've got EVERYTHING here!)
Luckily, I got to partake in and make use of the gorgeous weather here while Emily Fleck and I had our first Golden Age shoot for the Photo Follies project. I've got a few behind-the-scenes snapshots up on Instagram, and Em's even posted a few unedited shots from her camera of the off-the-cuff photos we got to take advantage of the beautiful light, spring foliage, and beautiful styling that the girls and I put together for the shoot. Just in case you were wondering, YES, I fully advocate planning and being a part of a photo shoot with some of your favorite friends. There's no better self-esteem boost than sitting in front of a camera while your fellow models (and photographer) openly admire and laud your unique features. I think all the girls ended that day feeling completely appreciated and absolutely gorgeous! And we're all very excited about the next shoot, too.
Things 'round Breannaland have been a bit in a whirlwind so far this year. Above, just a few images to help keep you up on the news:
January wrapped up with an event weekend for Lindy and Blues, LaBLove 2013. I was lucky enough to work on a few aspects of this event, including the yearly show put on by various dancers called the LaBaret, which I also choreographed a Motown piece for. What a blast!
February was kept busy as several projects kicked into a higher gear, including the Photo Follies project and Cumberland Shuffle. I snuck in a very interesting Skillshare class on poster design taught by the amazing team at DKNG and some choreography--not related. The end of February also meant a weekend tour with the fabulous Perseverance Jazz Band through Middletown, CT and Boston, MA. The band performed, I taught and DJed and performed, and we all had a blast!
March came in with a roar and meant the final push for the last Cumberland Shuffle. With the event at the end of the month--as well as a photoshoot with my friend and fantastic photographer Jess Keener--there was a lot of work to do. I managed to sneak in a pre-photoshoot-photoshoot of myself and to have a baking party with some friends to test out my springform pans, as well as to catch the first of a monthly trad jazz jam that's started here in Philly (SO FUN). We made delicious tarts, the last old-timey event was a grand success, and I get to have some nice headshots. Win all around!
So what's on the schedule for April? Plenty, of course. The lovely Emily Fleck and I will be working on the first Golden Age shots for the photo follies. I'm also giving a presentation for the third monthly KnowIedge Slam, a fun group that imparts knowledge quickly and regularly to anyone who wants to learn. I'll be hopefully making a few steps forward career-wise, and (of course), always more adventures with Lindy and Blues, Perseverance Jazz Band, and friends. Knowing me, there will probably be other projects too...but can you blame me? There's so much to learn and so much fun to participate in!
While January is by no means my favorite month, there's always been this certain feeling about January that I enjoy. With January comes the start of a new calendar year, and that alone seems like enough motivation that people all over find a renewed vigor in the pursuit of whatever-it-is that they're pursuing.
It's pretty neat, and I'm not immune. For the past few years, I've channeled this fancy, new-feeling energy into a long list of goals (you might call them resolutions, but they are specific, measurable, realistic, and divvied up amongst the various parts of my life) which I then post on Facebook. The added push of public accountability and the reminders from friends have been helpful in my pursuit of these goals every year. Our small group of goal-listers has grown probably three or four times the size of the original group in only a few years!
You can view the full note on facebook, here. For those who don't want to click through, I'm going to share some of my more important/well-written goals, anyway! In no particular order:
Host a picnic/dinner/luncheon/teatime/social food and drink thing Create or find a booking opportunity that didn't previously exist
Take at least 2 alternative-education-source classes (Skillshare, webinars, book-led, etc.) in my fields of professional interest
Build plan/start planning large-scale event not related to dance or music specifically
Alternatively: get involved with planning a large-scale event not related to dance or music specifically (festival, TEDxPhilly, etc.)
Begin plans for Riverboat Shuffle
Attend at least one networking event
Seek out a professional mentor
Seek out (quarterly or semi-yearly) constructive critique from those I work with
Read at least one book per month
Take care of that passport business (as in, get one, because I don't have one yet)
Establish savings in the amount of one to two month's expenses
Track spending and savings using Mint (or similar) and create records of where money came from/is going for the year
Nurture the relationships I have that I value as much as I can
Aim for clarity and be deliberate in my choices and communication
I'd love to hear about other goals and worthwhile pursuits! Do any of y'all have any to share?.
Just a quick look at some goodies that have shown up recently. On the left, an adorable little card jacket sent to me by a friend in Atlanta. On the right, some business cards I had made up so that I would finally have SOMETHING on hand! I'm pleased with how cute all of it is.
Now's as good a time as any for me to share some image inspiration I've found (refound) lately for a project I've been keeping in the background. Things are afoot again, thanks to the added kick in the pants from my pal Miss Minty! And these are just some of the images that started it all.
Like the photos? See more at the Pinterest board I'm curating for this project!
Imagine you're at a wedding reception, having a good time milling around with other guests. All of a sudden, there are a bunch of toasts all in a row, none of them apply to you in the least, and you're stuck without a seat for about a half hour. Probably not happy, right?
Now imagine you're at one of your favorite event venues, enjoying the band that just finished their set, and you're one of the 50% or so of attendees that don't have a table for the event. For some reason, the event has smushed all their performers and important charity announcements into the next 40 or 45 minutes, with no break. You probably don't have your full attention on them, do you?
Lastly, imagine you're at a dance event. You've been feeling great all weekend, having amazing dances to fantastic music. Right in the middle of your hot streak on Saturday night, all the dancing comes to a standstill for 20 minutes for some competition finals that you're not all that interested in. You're probably a little disgruntled about it, aren't you?
I spent the past week doing something very unusual for me, going out to shows and events every night for 7 days in a row. For the most part, even little ol' introverted me had a great time each night. Unfortunately, one of the above situations actually happened, and it made the event planner part of my brain kick into high gear.
Event programming, or the scheduling of various entertainment/informative components of an event, is just another detail that planners have to manage. For some, there's not much difference in types of programming. But, as evidenced by the situations above, programming can play a large part in both an attendee's enjoyment as well as the energy level of an event. In the situation I experienced, the lull in energy caused by poor management of the programming meant that at least 80% of the event attendees left the event with more than an hour to spare, in a night that was not very long, and that normally would have folks sticking around to the very end to squeeze out every drop of fun. In the end, that means that the event wasn't meeting its goals, either, because its attendees were missing out on vital information and more time to contribute to the cause. Total bummer all around.
Venue, seating, energy level of the crowd, interest in the programming--all these will play a part in how programming will be received and what its effects will be on the event. As an event planner, it's important to consider as many of these aspects as possible; basically, put yourself in the attendees' shoes, and figure out how your current plan would make you feel. Do you start feeling antsy halfway through your performances? Spread them out throughout the night, instead. Do your feet start to hurt from standing still in high heels for half an hour? Shorten the program. You might even find that by making the structure of a competition more efficient, you make competitors happier and get a better representation from them. These are just my quick fixes, of course, but I try and address problems like these every time I'm planning for an event.
What about you? Do you have any stories of well-run (or disastrous) events? I'd love to hear them!
Just a little update for y'all while I finish getting some other thoughts together to share. Come November 1st, I'll be in St. Louis for a long weekend of enjoyable madness at the Nevermore Jazz Ball! It turns out that I'm also going to be doing a little DJing, alongside one of my favorite DJs/people, Rob Moreland. I am, appropriately, ridiculously excited.
In addition to the fact that I will have killer dances during a whole weekend that I am spending with great people listening to Meschiya Lake and the Lil' Big Horns, here are some reasons I'm excited to be in St. Louis. You'll notice they are also reasons why you should be at Nevermore, and reasons why you will wish you were me for a weekend. I shamelessly stole pictures from Hannah Burtness, Jenny Shirar, and Christian Frommelt for this list, who happen to be a few of the amazing people I'll be spending time with over the weekend.
1.) BRICKS GALORE. St. Louis is famous for its gorgeous red brick everywhere, and I'm sure I'll take at least 20 pictures of random, beautiful brick buildings.
There are also a whole bunch of fun historical buildings in St. Louis that I'm hoping to see, like the Scott Joplin house and the beautiful Casa Loma Ballroom.
2.) Fall weather! Apparently St. Louis is having a gorgeous fall and knows that fall is supposed to mean brisk mornings and really colorful leaves. Philly hasn't quite caught on to that part yet this season...
Lovely fall weather is another excuse for things like tea and coffee and warm fresh-baked breads and stuff, which leads me to...
3.) Good food, good people, good times--pretty much every city has this in some capacity, but this will be my first time experiencing St. Louis's version. I'm excited! And I'm staying in a beautiful brick house!
4.) The City Museum. Wait, you don't know about City Museum?! Okay, imagine your favorite playground as a child. Now, multiply that times 4700, add in all the things you ever wanted to touch or climb on that you never could, and realize that it exists for adults. Hard to imagine a better excuse to visit, right?
5.) A community excited about local culture! Specifically, a community excited about and readily supporting its local culture. Extra bonus points for that culture being related to swing dance-y things. St. Louis has some great local jazz bands, and places like Rue Lafayette that support the bands and love dancers, too! There's also the Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl, which is being funded in part by local businesses, and will feature live bands as well about a billion other great things/shops/artists/etc.
6.) RIVERBOATS! Actually, I don't know if it's really riverboat season, but if I see any, you can expect that I'll get way too excited about them. Because they're AWESOME.
There's a thing that happens, sometimes, when you revamp your website and don't happen to have an archived/backup copy of it. That thing is losing all the blog posts you had written up until your update.
This isn't a terrible thing. First of all, I'm not great at being a regular blogger--I tend to write only when topical inspiration hits, and since the topic of my blog was mostly dance-related stuff, and since I like dancing better than I like writing about dancing, there weren't an enormous amount of tremendously insightful posts hanging around. Second of all, this is my professional website, and I pretty much didn't bother writing about any of my professional endeavors. Third of all, I'm still working on finding a blogging voice, instead of an essayist voice. Long story short, all two-ish readers of my blog will probably get over the fact that my blog accidentally reset itself.
In the meantime, along with the website revamp, I've been hard at work, and I've even dreamed up some relevant writing to put out. Look in the near future for posts on modern bandleaders, pretty inspiration boards for events, projects I'm working on, and other questions I've been mulling over, as well as the occasional thought about a thing not related to any of the rest of the blog. I'm trying to keep these short and sweet, but if you know me at all, you know that I'm sometimes long-winded.
I hope I'll keep all of my HUGE READERSHIP* engaged even while content shifts a bit, maybe even to the point that you recommend that your friend read a post or two. There will be less overall nerding out about dance, which is a bummer for all the rest of the dance nerds like me just looking for more opinions, but hopefully all the rest is still enough for you to enjoy, anyway. I mean, I AM pretty nerdy.
Peace and friendly bees, y'all!