What I Learned from Red Shoes

First and foremost – THANK YOU! Thank you to everyone who came out and saw my first one woman show. Thank you to my friends and family for the constant support and encouragement. Thank you to the Boulder Fringe for pulling my name out of the hat and providing a space for me to explore my art completely uninhibited.

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This show has been a huge portal for me. I have been saying for years and years and years and YEARS that I want to create a one woman show and put my artistic voice and vision fully on stage. And now it’s over and I feel so pleased having completed the process. After my opening night show wrapped, and I was flooded with praise from my audience, I felt truly triumphant. What a rush!

IMG_0264I learned several lessons on this artistic venture. The first one being, You are not alone. I have a tendency to dig in my feet and feel safer doing everything by myself. As a one woman show there are certainly a lot of aspects to the creating that were extremely individual and solitary. However, as the days ticked by, I found my stress mounting and my doubts growing the longer I kept the creative process to myself. When I finally reached out and starting asking for feedback and guidance and assistance, that’s when the piece really began to solidify and become real magic. AND everyone I reached out to was so honored and excited to be a part of the process. Thank you to all the people who helped me ask for help.

I learned to Trust my timing. I’m sure many creative types struggle with procrastination like me, but over the course of this six month period I reframed my procrastinator as a powerful ally. Instead of letting my inner critic shriek endlessly about the time I was wasting, I calmed that voice and realized I was letting things simmer, allowing creative ideas to dance about, rather than beating them into the shapes I wanted them to be. One piece of choreography in the show was stumping me over and over again. I had formed an idea for the segment, and yet continued to ignore working on it. Finally it dawned on me that I didn’t feel comfortable with the original idea, and procrastinating helped me ease into that reality. After addressing my fears, and pivoting to a new possibility, I fell into a piece of choreography I truly loved.

People have asked me if I would do this kind of project again, and I know for sure if I did, it would look radically different to this show. What I do know is that I will continue to be an artist. I will continue to dance and perform. And I’m excited to see what new opportunities will come my way now that I have passed through this artistic portal.

If you saw the show I would love to hear your feedback. Follow this link to the Boulder Fringe Website and leave me a review. I appreciate it SO MUCH!

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Red Shoes – Projection Design

The major multimedia element of my production, Red Shoes, is the projection that functions as the set. It help sets the tone for each vignette and carries the viewer on a visual journey through colors and textures and moods. The video is almost beautiful enough to stand alone without the dance or the music or the dialogue, but I enjoy the depth it adds to the performance, creating layers upon layers for the audience to focus on.

I began my journey with projection design years ago when creating basic videos of color and shape in iMovie for student performances with the non profit Turning the Wheel. That curiosity evolved and was encouraged by my good friend Alana Shaw when she invited me to dive even deeper into projection art with the creation of a video set for her stunning piece, Stardust and Water. I learned a lot working on the video for that performance, which was mapped to the stage and completely immersed the performers in stars, water, flowers, clouds, watermelon and more. It was quite the accomplishment and it has been refined with each city Stardust and Water visits.

Taking what I learned from that monumental project, I was emboldened to create a video for my own one woman show. The video for Red Shoes combines original footage that I have collected over the years, motion backgrounds found online, and videos from the public domain. Two excerpts in the video include choreographed short films that are complete artistic thoughts in their own right and were filmed, edited, and scripted by me for the piece. Below I share some of my artistic insights and creations for various clips in the show!

Red Shoes premieres TOMORROW!

Friday August 18th at the Pine Street Church as part of the Boulder International Fringe Festival.

Tickets are still available for all four shows through the Fringe Festival Website. 

The Rising Sun: I thoroughly enjoy blending two pieces of footage together to create something completely new and original. I especially like to layer my own original footage with clips collected from creative commons and public domain. This shot layers a shot I took while on a walk in Denver of grass in the wind with a video of the sun rising. The combined effect elevated the moment to a beautiful place.

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Wheel of Dancers: Performance art and projection design aren’t the only realms I explore with my creativity. I also spend a lot of time creating mixed media paintings and it was important to me to include this side of my artistry in the projection. This vignette from the projection is a slow motion video of a mixed media canvas spinning, and then layered with a motion background to reinvigorate the color and texture that appears in person when looking at the painting. I’m so pleased with the overall effect this created.

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Power within our own Feet:  A powerful theme throughout the show is the push and pull of looking outside oneself for power vs finding that power within. One of the stand alone moments in the film features a dance I recorded of my feet, honoring the depth of knowledge and grounding that exists in that part of me. I was honored to layer a film of a friends tapestry over my dance to create even more depth and richness. The final piece is like a visual collage, combining colorful elements to create something that no one has ever seen before.

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Tornado:  Another aspect that I really love about the video is the incorporation of images from the public domain. There is so much wonderful material that has been saved and collected from the past, and with the magic of the internet it’s become extremely accessible. I love the vintage feel it creates, pushing parts of the show into a timeless realm and hopefully creating meaningful connections for individuals watching. Along with clips of storms and tornadoes, images of spiders, forests, as well as audio clips from 40’s radio, are peppered throughout the performance.

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I’ve enjoyed working on the projection aspect of Red Shoes so much that I am feeling inspired to pursue creating films that can stand completely alone, with no blending over dance and theatre. Let me know if you would be interested in seeing my work evolve in this way. I’d love to hear your thoughts. But first I have to complete Red Shoes! See you tomorrow.

Tickets are still available for all four shows through the Fringe Festival Website.

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Red Shoes – The Shoes!

When Dorothy finds the Red Shoes in “The Wizard of Oz” the course of her adventure dramatically shifts. She now has the key to come full circle to her hearts desire, to return home. But perhaps the power to come home and fulfill her hearts desire was inside Dorothy’s feet from the start, perhaps the shoes were simply a foil for the power already residing deep inside?

Its easy to think that the magic is outside of ourselves, and with the right tool, costume, trinket, or boon our heart’s desire will finally be within reach. The Red Shoes, in my solo show of the same name, represent this mad hunt for personal power.

Here is a peak of the sculptures.

Be sure to follow my Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook Page for even more snippets of the performance.  

Can’t wait to see the show?

Pick up your tickets today.

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Tickets for Red Shoes!

Tickets are now available for Red Shoes!

Head on over to the Fringe Website to secure your seat at my show.

Adult $15 | Student and Seniors $13

BOGO Tickets for Opening Night!

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Red Shoes

A one woman spectacle that cobbles together the dramas of losing your shoes, looking in all the wrong places, weathering the storm, and finding your wings instead.

Ticket On Sale Now

Friday AUG 17, 8:45 PM (BOGO Tickets for Opening Night!)

 Saturday AUG 18, 5:45 PM

Thursday AUG 23, 6:45 PM

Saturday AUG 25, 8:15 PM

Adult $15 | Student and Seniors $13

Pine Street Church – “The Parlour”
1237 Pine St. Boulder, CO 80302

RSVP on Facebook.

Red Shoes is my Debut One Woman Show

Red Shoes is the first solo show written, produced and performed by local Boulder artist Khiri Lee. Inspired by fairy tales such as “The Devil’s Red Shoes” and “The Wizard of Oz,” this multimedia performance riffs and coalesces into a poetic journey of losing oneself, to finding personal power, to diving deeply into creative freedom. The show magically weaves dance, improvisational theatre, video, poetry, and music, showcasing the wide variety of creative practices Khiri explores in her artistic process. Like a collage, each vignette creates unexpected connections and new thoughts around womanhood, freedom, individuality, fairytales, loss, cultural expectations, and red shoes. Khiri’s work is heavily influenced by her time as an arts educator, belly dancer, and mixed media painter. Learn more about Khiri at khirilee.com or on instagram and twitter @magick_socks. RSVP on Facebook.

The Boulder Fringe Festival

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The Boulder Fringe provides a platform for artists to showcase their artwork often in non-traditional spaces. We educate about independent art that is accessible, and affordable. We present a year round way of life capped by an annual 12-day performance art festival, that brings together local, national, and international shows and other events in Boulder.

Taboo – 7th Online Performance Art Festival

I was thrilled to participate in the 7th annual online performance art festival on February 11th, 2018.  “Taboo” was a visual exploration of stigma towards women’s health. The piece was broadcasted live and around 15 people tuned in to see the improvisational performance. I had originally wanted four male players for the piece, but due to weather and other circumstances I ended up being one of the participants, as well as my husband. I am constantly thankful for his support in my zany art. The piece is still up online so go check it out and let me know what you think!

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Taboo

  • duration: 10 min
  • watch: 11th February 2018 at 9 pm UTC

DESCRIPTION: Four anonymous male figures are guided to move feminine products (clean unused ones) around as a commentary on the taboo of a women’s period in today’s society and to bring attention to the stigma of these so-called luxury items and the reproductive cycle. Using parameters as prescribed by the improvisational form “object chess” the players will spontaneously engage with the objects to create new connections between the players and the objects. Players take turns placing objects into a field. There are three options. 1. Introduce a new object, 2. Move an object already in play, or 3. Introduce themselves as an object (in this case their hand). There will be three, three minute rounds, in which a different cast of objects will appear in each round.

Art Creating Change at Flow for Aleppo

On Saturday night I had the honor of performing at and donating to Flow for Aleppo.  I danced with my belly dancing troupe, The Tribal Misfits, and donated a print to the event’s silent auction.

Flow for Aleppo is a fundraising event bringing together Denver artists, poets, musicians, dancers, and foodies for one night only to raise funds for Hand in Hand for Syria. 

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The print I donated was originally created during a 30 days of painting challenge I began in 2014. The somber colors and minimalist feel felt like an appropriate piece of art to donate to the event. I was happy to see a number of bids and contributing a small part to relief.

Flow for Aleppo officially raised $8,170!!!!

 

My belly dancing troupe also showed up for the event. We worked for months on the choreography for the show and brought light and color to the line up. Our wonderful instructor deserves some serious kudos for creating our ensemble costumes as well. We looked great! Check out the video from the show here: Youtube

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Learn more about Flow for Aleppo or Send a Donation HERE

Come check out classes with our troupe @ A Place to B Studio in Boulder

Art for the Temple: Baggage

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After Burning Man 2014 I had the idea of physically carrying my baggage from one place to another. Originally I was thinking this would be a street theatre piece. After a wild year of relocations and heartbreaks and generic 24 year old confusions, Black Rock City sounded like the perfect place for my performance.

I couldn’t have predicted the emotional impact physically carrying my baggage to the Temple would have on me. Each moment around the journey was perfectly serendipitous. I wanted to drop into the process, into the walk, into the memories, into my surroundings – and thats exactly what I got. 

I have always loved the place where ritual and performance blend together. They hold so much in common requiring focus, commitment, witnesses and some sort of procedure. Choosing to do this performance at Burning Man, and walk my baggage to the Temple, charged the event with aspects of ritual for me. The Temple at Burning Man is a sacred contemplative space. I don’t actually know if Burning Man prescribes anything more onto the Temple, but people leave all manner of things and memories they wish to release there. People also leave manifestations, have celebrations and marriages, meditate, or witness and contemplate the choices other people have made. On Sunday they burn the temple and all three years I’ve attended it has been a solemn and heartbreakingly beautiful event.

This project had blossomed during a frustration driven bout of artistic angst. I devised the idea of writing all my potentially inflammatory sexual history on bags in bright garish colors and walking around some city, probably San Francisco, as a big “F*** You! I do have sex!” to all the haters that had bred a deep-seated shame into my psyche around my supposed vices. The ideals of radical self-expression and radical inclusion made Burning Man seem like a really safe place to perform and process

I decided to carry five bags of different sizes. I wanted enough bags that it would be impossible for me to carry them all at the same time. I wrote words on my baggage, although not all of them were focused on my sex life. I also wrote the word Acceptance on one of the bags which at the time seemed irreverent but in the end became a critical point in my performance turned ritual.

I am a very kinesthetic learner. I’m still reeling from the amount of information I got about myself from this seemingly simple act of carrying some old vintage bags from my theme camp in the city to the Temple, a mile or so away.

I could only carry two or three bags at a time so I was constantly going two steps forward one step back, essentially leap frog-ing my luggage along the road. I had heard the phrase “one step forward, two steps back” a thousand times but to actually walk it for over an hour taught we that there was nothing wrong about oscillating between moving forward and backtracking. I can be terribly critical on myself for backsliding around certain emotional issues. My inner critic is on me all the time for pining over lost connections, or feeling sad or angry about something “I thought I had gotten over.” What I learned walking it was that:

  1. Things take time
  2. Different issues process at different speeds
  3. 3) If i’m going to try and tackle everything at once there is going to be some backsliding.

I think the way I chose to take my bags says a lot about me. I decided I wasn’t going to talk and initially imagined I would do it all by myself. I was going to carry the bags, not cart or bike or drive them. I was going to take it all at once. I’ve since thought of other ways one might have decided to deal with the concept. You could carry each bag, one at a time, from camp all the way to the temple, making 5 shorter easier trips but in the end probably taking more time. You could test your endurance and take all 5 bags, strapped onto your body, and carry them without stopping, potentially at the risk of hurting your body. I feel like the path I chose was a good metaphor for how I deal with my emotions on a daily basis.

I hadn’t gotten very far down the road with my leapfrog system, which was suiting me fine, when two young men on bikes approached and simply picked up the extra bags I couldn’t carry. I briefly attempted to pantomime that it was my task to carry them, but they weren’t having any of it. They insisted on helping me. If they had to help they at least had to follow some of my procedures. I wouldn’t allow them to put the bags into their baskets on the bikes, explaining through pantomime that they had to be carried in the hand. Happy to help the men on bikes accompanied me all the way to the Man, the namesake of the festival, which resides in the middle of the playa. They joked and sang and pondered who I was and what I doing, while I walked alongside in silence. I was astonished at my reaction to someone else helping me. It was very hard. I really wanted to do it all myself. In hindsight I’m so thankful to those two gentlemen, and a third friend they summoned halfway through, because if they hadn’t helped me get through a third of my trip I would have been truly exhausted.

I hadn’t visited the Man yet but coming upon him I was immediately drawn to the gateway in front of me. The theme for Burning Man last year was Carnival of Mirrors, and the base of the Man was surrounded by a maze and midway. The gateway on this side of the man happened to be a grinning devil, mischievous and compelling. I felt in my gut that this threshold needed to be crossed. My demons had to be faced before I could leave them behind me once and for all. I stopped and thanked the three gentlemen on bikes silently before steeling myself to take each bag through the portal one at a time. Some bags were easier than others, and I was surprised at the adrenal response my body had when I looked the devil in the eye and defiantly crossed beneath him into the sanctuary around the man. It simply seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

I began my system again and passed through the portal facing the road between the Man and the Temple. Looking over my shoulder I saw two dancing elephants intertwined with the words “Leave all despair behind, ye who enter here.” The unexpected contrast from the Devil gate caught me completely by surprise and I was delighted by this other threshold. The words resonated with the “rightness” of my actions. And the elephants felt like a call from the universe to remember my journey and all I learned from it. Filled with a curious uplifted feeling I continued down the road to the Temple.

About halfway to the Temple from the Man I made the discovery that I could in fact carry all five bags at the same time. I carried them a short way but it was extremely taxing on my body, causing my arms to ache and my shoulders to strain. I went back to an even simpler system, as I was tiring, only carrying two bags at any time so it would take me three trips to move forward instead of two. I also decided that despite the pain it might cause me I would carry all of the bags into the temple once I reached that final threshold.

I was terribly worried the the Temple Guardians wouldn’t let me leave so much within the sacred space. In the end there was no cause for worry, but this fear that, taking time to process my own emotions will take up too much time or space, is a relatively constant one. I don’t allow myself to cry as often as I might like to, fearing I’ll be shamed or criticized. I don’t let myself stay angry or upset when I might just need to feel my feelings. So instead I carry them around like a heavy weight.  Having my fear rear its head to absolutely nothing when I arrived at the Temple showcased them outside of my own little inner dialogue. I’m the one most invested in my emotions and for the most part no one is going to be bothered if I choose to express them in healthy ways.

Finally I reached the perimeter around the Temple, bikes scattered all around it. I was preparing to gather up all my bags, strategizing how to get them all at once so no one would bother me, when another man came up with a shining smile and picked up two of the bags. His presence was so sure and so giving, and he didn’t say a word. I gave one small protest, then finally getting it, walked into the temple with a kind stranger from the community helping me. I burst into tears.

I got it. I can process all this crap alone but I don’t have to. There are lots of people out there, some who I know and some who I don’t, that want me to be free of whatever plagues me and are ready to step in as allies. I know this applies to other people because I offer it up all the time, a hand extended to anyone in need. But it finally, truly landed that this also applies to me. Sobbing as I walked, I marched inside and set my bags down. The smiling man gave me a warm hug, looked into my eyes, and then left me with space to wrap up whatever it was I came to do. I arranged my bags somewhat haphazardly, wiping tears from my cheek, half-heartedly choosing which words to have facing outward and which ones to leave facing the wall. I gathered myself for a moment and then feeling like there was nothing left to do began to leave.

Before exiting out the back of the structure I took one last look over my shoulder at the bags. The only word I could see was Acceptance, unintentionally placed by my own hand, a final sign from the universe that the process was done, this leg of the journey was over, and all that was left was to accept what was given to me.

The day had been bright and clear through my whole trek, but as I left the space the temperature dropped and the dust picked up turning the world to white. With my task complete and my baggage left behind it mirrored the way I felt inside. What next? Another friend of mine, after hearing this story, felt that the winds had picked up to sweep my baggage away. Both interpretations feel relevant.

I’m still recalling and realizing things i’ve learned from my process. I would recommend a similar project to anyone curious to physically explore their emotional landscape. I’m happy to chat and collaborate with anyone moved by my journey.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to revisit this journey in an upcoming production with Turning the Wheel, “Stardust and Water.” Learn more about this production on TTW’s Website.

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Photo Credit (Thank You!)

  1. James Wind Photography: http://jameswynd.com/
  2. Curtis and Peggy Mekemson: http://wandering-through-time-and-place.me/2016/01/07/burning-man-themes-reflecting-the-mind-of-larry-harvey/

  3. Curtis and Peggy Mekemson: http://wandering-through-time-and-place.me/2016/01/07/burning-man-themes-reflecting-the-mind-of-larry-harvey/