Trading Places

Sisyphus has got nothing on me.

Here I am, climbing up that proverbial mountain again, heavy burden on my shoulders. I’ve come to the superstitious belief that my life changes drastically every 3 years; 2010 has been no exception.

Of course, in many ways we control the reigns of our destiny and no matter how tumultuous the terrain, we guide the ride. Though my Euro move was kind of arbitrary, much thought went into how I would conquer the difficulties and fears involved with such a hasty move.

Within my first week I was in touch with a photographer I found online to help me build up some pictures for my portfolio. I saw his work and loved it, plus it had an edgy style that screamed DeVo. I got in touch and offered my “services” and he obliged. This was before I crossed the ocean. As luck would have it, he was doing a test shoot right when I arrived and I spent one of my first days in Berlin on set taking marvelous photos.

Luck came to me in the following week as well. I was in the café job hunting and doing research when a film producer noticed me and asked me to audition for his film. I did so the following week, then a callback a little while later, and I was cast. Also I offered my services as the choreographer. My offer was excepted.

The change is not easy and though I can glorify the aforementioned as serendipity or some sign that I made the right decision, I still have a steep climb before I get to where I want to be. And then when I get there, I will find a new challenge to riddle myself with. This is part of my nature.

The struggle is always worth the success. Success is the Life Force that makes me feel like everything I ever wanted to be (and more, and more, and more…always MORE). To compare, my quest for success is much like the quest for love that most people endure – no matter how much it sets you back and distracts you from the rest of your life, it is something you crave. It is the closest things humans have to instinct. Each lover is a lesson, and each mistake is a catalyst to try to do it right next time. Unless of you’re just lazy.

I now have a shortlist of artist residencies, theater troupes, dance schools and performance venues that I am developing proposals for. For my next production I have honed in on a general idea that I need to streamline. Right now I am doing research on ethnic minority immigration in Europe and its effect on the arts and culture, more specifically Germany and Berlin, though there are so many topics that are expounded from this thesis.

I met with a producer of a play development programme (sorry, I have to spell it like this now) and I was nervous about submitting my script to him. He works with a pretty reputable theater and since I was not familiar with their audience, I was dubious about whether or not we were a good fit. We had a nice chat over coffee (a constant theme here) about what I had to offer and vice versa. I got the feeling that my play might be a little too unstructured and amorphous, free of conventional theater specifications, but I gave it a shot anyway. I got a scathing review of the first act (he didn’t bother to read the second) regarding my lack of exposition, rising action and climax. He then went on to comment about my meaningless banter and went so far as to quote Aristotle back to me. It was no surprise, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt my ego a little bit. I know my work is not intended for more traditional venues. I was taking a chance with this particular play because it had already been workshopped (with an arousing response, might I add) and I wanted to really work out the details before I moved on to another project.

I understand the business of show business, something many artists struggle with. You are like a salesman and the product is yourself, in every genre. Sometimes people just aren’t buying it, which is where marketing comes into place. I have received at least 100 rejection notices and I know I’ll receive 100 more. It’s all part of the game, and you can’t always win.

In another twist of fate or luck or whatever you want to call it, I saw an ad for a dance class that was taught in English. I pondered the idea of it for a while and then I finally sent an email to the teacher saying that I was new to Berlin and again I offered my services in the chance that there were any openings for teachers. Almost immediately I got a response and we met for coffee (that magically turned to wine).

Turns out the teacher just found out she is expecting and needs to divert her attention to motherly duties. The timing of my email couldn’t have been better as she was going to need to take off in two weeks. I went and watched the class and the next week I filled in. The students loved the class and it was great to be in the studio again. The best part is, I have another hour once a week to use the studio for whatever I want, so this is the perfect opportunity to rehearse my new project or teach private classes. It’s all happening!

Soon after this discovery, a good friend of mine here in Berlin introduced me to the director of a burlesque show that plays several shows a week. We went to see the show (reviewed here) and it was out of this world. I was so impressed with the work that I saw that I was intimidated about offering my services, I didn’t feel I was good enough. I swallowed my whatever and emailed the director. Next week we meet for coffee.

The toughest part though is that instead of doing all of my own producing, for the first time in a long time, I am working for other people. I am not only just beginning my climb up the mountain, I have a new base camp altogether. I figured that I would switch gears and start doing more performance work in order to make a name for myself.

I’ve been running around the city like one of the “America’s Next Top Model” girls doing go-sees, getting ridiculously lost, and being embarrassingly late to appointments, meetings and call times. It is so weird to be on the other side. It used to be me who did the bitching, “Excuse me, you’re like a fucking month late. Time is money, people!” but now it is me who is the diva actor, dancer, performer who can’t get his shit together.

What’s worse is that it is really hard for me to hold back. I always have so many suggestions to make things more DeVo, not to say they are better or the right way, but they are my favorite: my way. This may take some getting used to.

This is all great that I have this stuff lined up. Terrorist threats notwithstanding, I have no intention to leave Berlin. I do in fact have to apply for a longer Visa. This is something that I am quite nervous about, but it’s more the matter that I am scared of German authority (don’t make me say it) and there is a lot of paperwork. I know it will work out, but right now I’m dreading it like a dentist appointment. Luckily I have a German friend coming with me to speak the language while I give my best Jackie-O smile/stare. Having all these things lined up will help, plus I have a few friends vouching for me to offer me work after I get my permit.

Wish me luck.

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