Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dance on, woman!

Over the past year, it has become pressingly essential for me to acknowledge how massive dancing is in my life. Dance has become my vehicle for exploring the world, for feeling authentic, for sharing my creative voice, for experiencing joy. For years, I have been moving towards having more dance in my puppet shows, but my inner voice still banged loudly in my ear-MORE MORE! I signed up for a choreography class in addition to my technique classes at the Tarrytown Y, performed an original work this summer,(which was extremely gratifying) and still, the voice demanded MORE MORE! "Inner self!"-I fought back-"I am 42 years old! Why are you pushing me towards dance! I am old, old, old! How is this logical?" Obeying the forcefulness of my inner compass, I found a 'Fundamentals in Dance Education' laboratory class at the 92nd St. Y, a six month course that meets from 7:30-9:30 on Monday nights. This means that I leave my apartment at 5:37 and arrive back at the apartment at 10:40 to walk the dog, staggering with exhaustion. The course is radically fabulous-it is not to be missed-it is masterful and mind-blowingly awesome, AND it takes me a full day to recover from my night-time excursion to the Upper East Side. I co-faciliate an artist's support network at The Purple Crayon in Hastings, where I genuinely believe in everyone else's genious, everyone else's right to grow and to expand, to be confident and OUT THERE with their artistic selves. Even with this fabulous supportive atmosphere and my extreme positivity, I still would sit in my car after meetings and do battle with my pesky inner voice: HOW CAN I CALL MYSELF A DANCER? I WAS NOT CLASSICALLY TRAINED! HOW CAN I BE GOOD ENOUGH??! Meanwhile, I continue working on a new dance piece. I am learning the slow painful process of revising and discarding unnecessary movements. I continue to push myself in technique classes. I am not giving up, because the cost of letting my fears run the show is far too high for me. Today, I may have just figured out a way to begin teaching dance. "Yes it hurts when buds burst. there is pain when something grows. " -Karen Boyle

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Creative Vibes

I have a friend for whom this is the "Summer of Great Transition." For me, I have dubbed this extremely hot and humid time, "The Summer of Tremendous Creativity". I keep imagining myself as a crayoned outline picture in a coloring book, my whole interior covered with a waxy, multi-colored, layered crayon landscape-you know that side to side light and breezy crayon style? I also imagine myself as a (metaphorical) paint jug, filled to the very top of my head with thick dripping rainbow paints.(My brother affectionately calls these my "swirly vortex" images.) Filled with colors and textures and music and movement, I do feel lucky, blessed, joyously at home. Check out this Bossy Frog video-Much fun is this??? *I conducted a puppet residency at Ardsley Country Club Day Camp this summer which culminated in a puppet extravaganza to the tunes of "Party Rock Anthem," "Moves like Jagger," "Call me," "Star Wars" and the "Scooby Doo" theme! (I got a giggle every time I heard the music that the kids chose.) After 5 workshops, the final show was fabulous-sweaty and exuberant; It was delightful to watch the kids enjoying themselves and presenting their puppets. I am so pleased to have met the director, Laura Poiss, who is a rockstar educator and artist. *More dance-Ooooh, I am working on a piece at the Tarrytown Y with Stephen Ursprung. Stephen has been leading me through writing and choreography exercises and I am developing a very personal piece (oooh,I love it so much). I am going to try a costume concept tonight! Who knows what the next step will's a delicious mystery. So there's also been the artist support network (OpenCanvas) at The Purple Crayon that Naomi, Sarah and I launched (stay tuned for more information about the first meeting in September!), attending the Hip Hop festival in Philadelphia (PLEASE ask me to tell you about that-I love talking about Illadelph), my new dance teachers at the Y (a beautiful adventure), getting my frog on with tons of Bossy Frog performances (hip hop,banjo and frog costumes are a perfect match, in case you were wondering) and a Butterfly show coming up this Saturday at the Greenburgh Nature Center.
Thank you to all of the muses out there...sending creative vibes right back out there to you. Love, xojilly

Monday, June 4, 2012

Confessions of a series of bombed puppets (serious title)

So I completely bombed on a series of puppets that I was engineering. A few months ago, I aspired to make butterfly puppets-gorgeous, soaring mechanical flying creatures, using telephone wire, hanger wire, thick copper jewelry wire and beautiful, textured fabrics. Only now do I giggle when regarding the botched and defective puppets, but while I was making them, I was beside myself. Hour after hour I labored, burning myself with the glue gun, twisting wire with wire cutters, stretching fabric, believing that whatever prototype I was working on was going to be the one that finally soared. My back ached from hunching over fabric scraps, my mind reeled with glue fumes as I wondered whether I was losing my touch. I created a thinly wired gossamer moth beast that now lives somewhere in my discard box, a misshapen butterfly puppet strapped with safety pins onto a black bra with hanger wire protruding out of the akimbo right wing, and one navy blue amorphous BLOB attached with gangly wires to a badmitton racket that I found on the street. But this morning,thankfully, finally, something happened. After a month and a half of soul searching (Am I JUST A SOCK PUPPET PUPPETEER??? DRAMA!!!)and questioning my career choices, something happened with swing music playing, the sticky rain outside and the quiet of my apartment, shades of green velvet strips and spoon eyeballs...I revisited the realm of verdant puppet possibilities and this is stage one of the resuscitation of the triumphant flying BLOB puppet! If I were talking to my daughters, I would have said all along, "Honey, some art works and some doesn't. The important thing is to know that and to keep on making will become something eventually. Or not." But to really live that as I bombed puppet after puppet and totally messed up a corner of our living room with my wild attempts was a DOOZY. I am grateful for the whole process. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Hello. It's fitting that I am working on a BUTTERFLY show for the Greenburgh Nature Center, because I truly feel like I too am in a period of metamorphosis as an artist. I am attracted more and more to the dance world and am searching for ways to bring more choreography into my puppet shows. Last weekend, I began working on a piece, all dance-and created a fairy-like costume. I don't know whether I will construct wings for the dance piece, or leave the movements to speak for themselves. But people come to my shows expecting to see puppets, so I am attempting to craft a whole new set of puppets for the rest of the show. I made one prototype butterfly puppet with wire and diaphanous fabric; I have A LONG way to go before it's breathtaking! I am planning to include more instruments too for the children-I am smitten with a new affection for the tambourine-and definitely want to play around with it's sound and movement. But it's still all mostly in the inspiration ether-the puppets are somewhere in my unconscious, waiting to be crafted. I have a whole new batch of silky fabric from a friend, and spankin' new fabric scissors too (!) so I have the tools. I just need 5 straight hours of inspired art time, lots of music playing and dancing while I glue gun and try not to burn myself with the boiling hot glue. Hope to see you at some Spring and Summer shows! peace, love and METAMORPHOSIS!
Jilly PS-A special shout out to Ossining's Earth Day celebration. Thanks so much for having me. What a beautiful event.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wow~ Spring has Sprung!

Hello! It's been a while! How did that happen! I have been BUSY with a grant-like application that took me a few months to pull together AND I was dancing with the Evolve Dance festival. Because of doing all of that writing and dancing (not bad things to do!!!), I have not made a puppet in a while-my juices are ready. Maybe next week when the kids are off I can shuffle away to my lair and make some puppets. Especially because..brace yourselves, my old and neurotic dog, Keira, got into my puppets and wrecked a few.She digs when she is scared, and my puppets were the scene of her crime. Even the puppet hospital could not save the sun. Earth Dragon is a mess, but can be rehabilitated.
I am doing a bunch of birthday parties-the next public show is at the West Nyack library next Friday.
I hope the sun is shining on you, and that I get to see you at a show soon!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Well, life on a farm is kinda laid back -OR-How I wrote the farm show part 1

I was hired earlier in the Fall to perform a puppet show at the Greenburgh Nature Center on "A FARM."
So, just wondering, how does a topic, like "A FARM" become a fleshed out, cohesive and satisfying puppet show?

Thanks for asking! When I receive a topic, I begin to "tune my dial" to that topic in the world around me, looking for inspiration. I browse children's books at the library, play with my kids relating to the subject, listen to all sorts of music to see what grabs me, and open myself up to whatever comes up.

With this particular show about a farm, for example, I started with a song from my 5th grade chorus concert,"Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver. I remember standing on the risers performing this song,the solo-ist belting out the country lyrics as we chanted, "Boom chicka boom chicka boom chick........boom chick."
As I learned the song on the ukulele, I imagined I was a farmer with a country lifestyle and I built the show around the song's sentiment "Well life on the farm is kind of laid back, ain't nothing a country boy like me can't hack, it's early to rise and early in the sack, thank God I'm a country boy!" YEEEHAW!
From there, I moved to another country song,"Momma's in the kitchen makin' shortnin', shortnin', Momma's in the kitchen making shortnin' bread..." a tune from a video that Lily used to watch when she was two. The two songs that I was practicing had so much character, that combined with "Old McDonald," "You are My Sunshine," and a slight adaption of the Pete Seeger song, "Bluebird through my window" I had the makings of the the musical sections!

Now, I had to inventory my puppets and see what could be applied to a farm theme. I made a sheep puppet who was born to rap with Wormie, then a quick duck sock puppet for the bird number. I turned the squirrels into farm interlopers, who jump onto the fence of the horse pen to tease the animals. Sally (sockpuppet)with the awesome hair visits the farm because the various farm activities make her hair look 'excellent'. I changed Bertha's fancy blouse and made her the spirited farmer's wife who gives out eggs from the henhouse.

Then, after components exist, I try to blend them into a form that makes sense to an audience. I created some movement segments, got my hands on a cowbell, painted scenery, drew a coloring page, wrote out the scenes and mixed them around to see what order worked best, put together a costume and....VOILA. A farm show is born. MOOOOOOOOOOOO.

That's all for part 1~ See you around the farm! yeehaw.
peace, Jilly