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Did you know I did an interview several months back? My pal and occasional-project partner Emily Fleck interviewed me as part of a series she was doing on her blog, featuring some of her photography subjects. You can read it here. In addition to some questions, the interview also features some photos of me from various photoshoots we've done together--the one at left is one of my favorite pictures of me ever, and it's just a casual shot that Emily managed to get. She's amazing. (You should check out her photography, really.)

The reason I bring this up is that I've been spending a lot of time lately with interviews. I've been reading plenty, for research and for fun, but I've also been writing more interviews for Rock On Philly. In fact, I'm starting a special monthly feature of my own that will uh, feature some behind-the-scenes-type folks in the Philly music scene (look for that to come out starting in February.) It's something I'm really excited about, because I have lined up some amazing people to pick their brains, but also because I'm an organizer and behind-the-scenes-type myself, so I think it will be a blast to find the balance between things that interest me, and things that others might want to read.

See, interviewing people is tough. And being interviewed isn't a picnic, either. As a writer, how do you ask questions that are interesting, relevant, and genuine? How can you get your subject to relax enough to be able to converse comfortably and deeply? As a subject, how can you make sure you hit all your talking points without coming off as a walking press release? And for both parties--how sure can you be that your interview will hold up months, or even years later? It's a little early to tell, but I think the key just might be authenticity. (The answer for interviewers might be "Be Terry Gross.")

These are just a few things that I've been focusing on as I approach my interviews. Funny enough, I feel pretty good about the interview Emily and I did--because now, months later, those answers still hold true. I love art, and experiences, and the combination of the two, and I've been creating or immersing myself in them as much as possible. I'm reminded every day of how much I admire artists and the courage it takes to put your particular expression out into the world to be judged. I hope that even years from now, I'm still surrounding myself with these things.

 
 
Dear Blog,

Sorry I haven't had time to write. Been a little busy, y'know.

Doing what, you ask? Well, a few different things...and if you keep up with me on various social networks, you probably know about some of them. I've been writing for Rock on Philly, keeping Rhythm Session going, and working with some other new projects, as well. I went on tour with Perseverance Jazz Band to celebrate the release of their first ever album, which also means I got to see the most beautiful morning ever, in Asheville, NC. Strangely enough, I've spent so much time lately doing that I haven't had as much time to dissect and analyze as usual. So, instead, there's been a lot of trial-by-fire on new ideas, and lots of learning through experience.

I've also been cooking, and reading, and have had lots of great discussions with lots of intelligent people about lots of complex subjects. I've been keeping busy in Philadelphia by enjoying all the fall colors and seeing some great shows.And as always, dancing is involved.  I've even got proof! Check the pictures, below.
 
 
I've had the good fortune lately to be involved in various ways with a few photo projects lately. Like when I got to work with Emily Fleck, one of my favorite new photographers, and styled a shoot for the beautiful ladies of Ladybird (who also happen to be some of my recently most-favorite people.)

Ladybird is the talented new Philadelphia musical collective of Sarah Larsen, Cecilia Ferneborg, and Laura Szklarski. The music they do together is beautiful, all influenced by their own musical leanings--the result is beautiful vocals with a bluegrass/jazz/folk/country background. They're a pleasure to listen to, and as they're all beautiful ladies in their own right (I secretly love that they've kind of got a blonde-brunette-and-a-redhead thing going on, a little bit) they're a pleasure to dress up and photograph, too. I figured I might as well share some of the bounties of shoot for you to enjoy--click to embiggen, of course.

More pretty pictures and other adventures coming soon!
 
 
Just some graphics-in-progress for a project of mine called Rhythm Session. Check it out at facebook.com/rhythmisjumping !
Alright, y'all, you've got me. It's official, I'm terrible at blogging. I get too distracted by other projects to contribute high-quality content and unique ideas to a blog. Part of it is that I have lots and lots of ideas and have trouble settling down enough to take the time to write them out; the other part of it is that I have a tendency to write too much when I'm so excited about things, which means that any blog post I would write would also have to involve a lengthy editing process wherein I cut the writing in half by eliminating superfluous information. I should probably just accept that I'm not cut out to be a personal blogger. Or, at least, not right now.

Anyway, in the meantime, I have been working on several different projects, so here are some pretty pictures of what's been going on! Lots of art/music/dance and marketing, as per usual, plus a healthy dose of dogs and flowers. Enjoy!

Want to keep up with my life in pictures? You can follow me on Instagram @djbuttons . Just, y'know, don't be a creepy stalker, pretty please.

 
 
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:
2013 Goals
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.
 
 
photofolliesproject
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!
 

    About Breanna

    Superhero is a bit of a misdirect, since I can't fly or see through walls. But I AM really good at putting stuff together, whether that's an event, a grant proposal, or connecting people. 

    I dig the arts, vintage slang, and flowers, among other good things. Got something to say? Let me know!