I never said I was sane…

Welcome one and all!  I, Eva Harley, will be your flight attendant, pilot, and in-flight entertainment during this most interesting ride into the cosmos…or truly of the virtual reality world of Second Life and my inner mind.  Scary indeed.  Please fasten those seat belts for even I do not know where this adventure will take us!

Why a blog you ask?  Because the voices in my head demand a new medium.  Perhaps there are things to share, to inspire, but also because sometimes creativity is found when I just put finger to keyboard and type freely without thinking.  Sometimes thoughts just swirl in my head, unsatisfied until they are written.  I ramble, always have, make no apology for it any longer.  It is how I process things, how I share when something excites me.  I like to write, like to think, and create.  So many different things, always more to learn and explore.  I discover new things about the world and myself, every day.  This is a story of that journey… or pieces of it.

What will you find here?  I dance in SL, very passionately.  There is such creativity, potential for expression, diversity in it for me.  When it feels like work, I remind myself to step back and remember why I do what I do.  I believe in universal spirit, energy in all things, that when people cross our path it is for a reason.  In this life there are lessons to be learned, experiences to be had, some good, some not so good, but all have a reason.  I believe that everyone has something special to share, that I am no better than anyone else, and that we all see life through our own perception, our own thoughts, our own realities.  I read nearly anything I get my hands on, like to push experiences, to learn new ways to do things, and thrive on new ideas and creative thoughts…then bringing them to life.

What precipitated creating this blog?  First, a song shared by a good friend that resonates deeply with me.  It is so easy to stop seeing the magic, stop exploring all that is new and different, to fall into the same patterns, to forget.  Listening, it moves me.  I feel deeply, feel the flow of the universe when I stop and fall quiet.  I embark on new adventures in all worlds.  This is my canvas to paint.  Welcome to a piece of my world.

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Music Soothes the Savage Beast

I’m not sure if this will be a ramble or a resource, perhaps a bit of both.  Music to me is pure magic.  It has the ability to transform any moment, to invoke memories, to draw such feeling.  I rise with it as it soars, I hold a breath with every expectant pause.  It calms me, excites me, and some..even arouses me.

Music sQuotefancy-10648-3840x2160peaks differently to everyone, and how I interpret it, feel it, understand it to the core of my soul may be very different for others.  There’s a quote:  “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”.  Every thought, every emotion is filtered through our own life experiences, our beliefs, our current mindset, and our core being.  A song that moves us to tears on one day may get barely an emotional response the next (and no…I’m not talking PMS/Hallmark commercial insanity).  A song that speaks volumes to me may not even register, or even evoke a shudder, in others.

I was blessed that shortly after entering the dance world in SL, I was able to attend a training session on choosing music for dance in SL.  Both teachers, extremely experienced in dance and music in RL,  have similar yet very different approaches in how they choose music.  The focus on phrases, and beats, music timing, notations, the feeling, the chorus, the lyrics and instruments.  I find I do a bit of both, work by feel, sometimes count the beats, often print out the lyrics with music notations.  Like this:  https://genius.com/Ragnbone-man-human-lyrics.  I scribble on the printed lyrics.  I listen to the music over and over and over again.  I close my eyes.  I don’t watch the video.  I make rules, I follow rules, I break rules.

You can choreograph anything, even silence…but some things lend themselves to choreography in SL.  For me, music is a journey, a magical ride, and choreography enhances that.  The sum being greater than the individual parts.

Me?  I love music, all kinds.  I cried experiencing Les Misérables on Broadway, sang at the top of my lungs front row of more than one mosh pit, and rode the high of the Warped Tour experience for days.  Playing an instrument?  Well, in elementary school I beat my flute against a chair in frustration…and slowly overcome my misplaced fear/anxiety in learning the piano – a lifelong desire.  Choreographing dance in SL has changed me forever.  I hear the nuances in music, I completely lose myself within it, I close my eyes and the dancers in my head flow with it.  I loved music before, now I live within it.

One of those teachers became my mentor, and so many valuable things I know about dance came from him.  Onto this I built my own knowledge, experiences, preferences and ways.  This is the way it should always be.  We teach and share with others, and like a spreading field of flowers, it grows.  Each flower unique in its own way.  Always be unique, always question, feel, try, be.

It may not surprise some, but Meatloaf is my favorite all time musician.  I swiped my dad’s Bat out of Hell record, then bought it on cassette, then bought it on CD, then bought the MP3, plus the video documentaries…you get the picture.  His voice, the power, the emotion he puts into his music is incredible.  I was blessed to see him in concert and he truly pours everything into his performances.  More than Meatloaf though, is the music writer behind him.  Jim Steinman.  He creates these amazing rock ballads that take you soaring and crashing.  It was years later that I realized he was the man behind some of Bonnie Tyler’s songs, which I also love.  He’s also the writer behind another song I’m currently working on, sung by neither of those.  Yes… the music of Jim Steinman is my weakness, my Godiva chocolate of music, the decadent, mouth watering swirl of flavor that is heaven to my ears.

After this pleasant rambling along a quiet country road, why did I take you here?

Music

My days begin with music, and often end with it.  My choreography choices vary, and I often work based on feeling, inspiration.  In another post I will share the little tidbits I know, I follow when it comes to choosing music for dance in SL.

For today, just close your eyes.  Listen.  Dream. x

 

A thank you to the person who posted this in their profile, introducing me to such a beautiful voice and moving song.

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Particle Power to the People!

Particles!  Either you’re shivering in delight or shuddering (like I do) when I think about all I have in my inventory that I’m not using.  For this post, I’m not talking about making particles, but using what you buy.

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First:  what are particles?

Particles are basically a texture that is controlled by a script and can have a very dramatic impact on a dance.  The script controls the color, the size, how fast the particle emits, the direction, how fast it fades, color changes, etc.  There are generally one or more transparent prims, each containing a particle script.  Creating amazing particles is an art in itself.  I choose to purchase the bulk of my particles, supporting particle designers who can create effects I can only dream of (plus I focus my time on the dance part).

 

There are three main “types” of particles you can purchase.

Most common:  WEARABLE PARTICLES

  • usually no mod, may or may not be copy
  • wear the particle to start the effect, detach it to turn off the effect
  • by default, when you right click and add it is usually worn on avatar center.  When you stand on a pad and dance, your avatar center does not move – good for most particles.  Exception: hand and foot particles by default will attach to your hands and feet.
  • is a transparent prim.  Attach the particle, turn on transparent view.  Zero in on where the particle seems to be coming from.  Usually one or more very tiny spheres or boxes but it’s there!
  • you CAN move the particle as you’re wearing it.  Is the particle too far forward?  To find the transparent prim, stand on a pad, attach the particle, turn on transparent view.  Find it?  go into edit mode, and move it back behind you.  When you attach it again, it will re-attach where you left it.
  • Why do so many creators create this type?  One reason – it is said to create much less lag on the server.
  • Can you put the particle in a rezzer?  If the transparent prim has copy/mod permissions, then yes, otherwise no.
  • Want to rez it but can’t put it in a rezzer?  You will need to rez it or restore to last position (if it’s no copy you’ll have to always place it manually).  To pick it up you will need to find it and take it back into inventory.  I use World/Area Search for this.
  • POSITIVES:
    • generally the best particles fall into this category
    • sold individually, so you can buy just the particles you want
  • NEGATIVES:
    • Can’t control when they trigger, except by adding adding and removing
    • As you move on a mover, particles will move with you.  This may not create the effect you want.

Second Most Common:  PARTICLE HUDS

  • A particle HUD is actually two pieces:
    • an emitter that you wear or that can be rezzed on the ground
    • a HUD you wear that let’s you control/trigger particles
  • The HUD includes a pre-packaged variety of particles.
  • The HUD may or may not allow you to change the particle as you “play” it.  Example:  Changing colors, changing size, etc.
  • Usually the HUD shows pictures of the particles you can trigger.  Click on it, and the particle will start.  Click on it again or click a stop button and it will stop.
  • There are some particle makers that provide a copy/mod emitter.  What does this do?  You can add the emitter as part of your set and put it into the set rezzer.  (Don’t link it to the set.)  Rez your set, select a particle on your HUD and boom!
  • POSITIVES:
    • Provides a ready made buffet of particles at your finger tips
    • A simple and excellent way to start using particles in your dances
  • NEGATIVES:
    • You can’t add particles to the HUD.  What you see is what you get.
    • There are almost always particles in the HUD that you will never use
    • Bigger investment

Least Common:  PARTICLES WITH CHAT TRIGGERS

  • As a dancer – I almost always prefer controlling effects with a chat trigger.  What is that?   saying “fire” on channel 12 to start a fire particle.  This lets me put the command into the Performance Director as part of my routine, set one of the HUD buttons to trigger a particle, or even create my own hud to trigger the particles.
  • In my experience, there are relatively few of these – and high quality ones even less, but there are a few out there.

Caching Particles:

Even been to a a show and watched little grey boxes flying about?  Particles are textures, and just like any texture, our viewers need to “cache” or read the texture before we can see it.  It’s always a good idea for particles to be cached – played early to prepare audience viewers.

Dancer’s Particle now has an object you wear that automatically caches the particle textures.  I believe it’s a group gift and hanging on their back wall.

~ Post coming soon:  Harnessing Particle Power – Costume Assistant & Making your own HUD ~

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Some days…there are just no words

Today is a very difficult day for me.

One where I will go through the motions, and quietly lose myself within.
the world of dance.
and of music.

I am an introvert.
and sometimes alone
is where I find peace
and safety
and comfort
and myself again.

All is just as it should be, the universe continues to evolve.  The only thing that truly exists is this moment, right now.  Night turns to day and the world begins anew.

On this day, you may find my words relatively silent as I pour myself into my creations, my emotions spilling into them as if an overflowing cup.  To me this is the essence of art, creating from within, from who you are…from that deep well of emotion, feeling, and thought.

I am me.  Always.  No games.  Simple.  Through my dance I share with you…me.

A blessed day to all.  I leave you with a short yet inspiring video.

Yours from under the creative moon,
~ Eva

 

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Dance Knowledge – a Sharing

I am very grateful for the strong and extremely structured foundation I received when I first entered the dance world in SL.  Even now, I may grumble at times (“but the show isn’t for 2 months!!”) .  In truth, the experience is generally more stress free because of better time management, planning, and preparation.

Over the years, I learned much from my mentor.  I also learn and absorb from everyone I meet, whether a seasoned dancer or brand new to the stage.  Last but not least, I learn a lot on my own – trying new things, finding what methods click with me, and valuing both my successes and the “omg, toss that dance in the closet” acts.

I am a firm believer of questioning everything and finding what works best for YOU.  That being said, I will share and continually update the information here which may be helpful to you… and a reminder to me  Over time, it will fill out and become more structured, but we must always begin at the beginning (except when it comes to dessert before dinner).  Shall we?

Note:  these are my personal thoughts.  They may evolve over time and you are free to disagree and disregard any of them.


Performances:

My personal ultimate desire when creating is for the audience to be swept up in a performance, to lose all track of time, to feel whatever I’m trying to convey – interpreting it in a personal way to them.  In these moments, it is almost as though you can see the dancer breathe…it takes on a real/surreal quality.  This is magic to me.

Time management:

Work backwards from your show date.  If you can, set a goal to finish the dance before you cast it, or at minimum to finish the dance a week before the venue practice.  Saves a LOT of stress and potential things that may go wrong when rushing to the finish line.  (person behind the keyboard rushes to the finish line waaaay too often.)

Order of creating:

Everyone has their own method of creating.  Personally for me, as a woman, I like to find my costume first, or something with a similar feel of movement.  Animations can appear very different if you are wearing a custom avatar, compared to a flowing skirt, compared to a hot pink street outfit with neko boots and wild hair.

After roughing out a costume, then I start with the animations and choreography, then the set, then the movers, then the effects.  Usually – sometimes I even break my own “rules” and create the set first!  I follow my inspiration.

Music:

Transitions in music AND choreography are two things that help keep the audience engaged.  By transition in music I refer to the “changes”, the rises and falls..the changes in the chorus, the tempo.  If you are choreographing to a song that is very “flat”…sounds almost exactly the same all the way through, it can be harder to keep the audience engaged.  Not impossible, but harder.

Costumes:

Costume – costumes should stand out from the set.  Camouflaged dancers are generally not a good thing unless you’ll be doing special effect costume changes during your set.  If your costume is complex, go for a set with “simple” background.  If your costume is simple, go for a more complex background to highlight it.  If you have a very dark background – go for white or bright colored costumes, even neon with a bit of glow, or even high color, bright, complex patterns.  Contrast is generally a wonderful thing – which includes sets, costumes, colors, and patterns.

Put yourself in the eyes of the audience.  Where will their eyes be drawn to, follow?

Colors:

I love using google for color palette ideas, similar to the paint cards at the store.  They can give you ideas for primary colors, accent colors, etc.  Google “color inspiration” for ideas.

Don’t forget the color wheel for contrasting colors – look to the other side of the wheel for contrasting colors.

Sets:

When building, where do you want the audience’s eye focused?  Keep this in mind, keep stepping back.  Often less is more.  A busy set can really work for some dances, or may create a distraction for the audience trying to follow the dancer.

Consider where your dancers are dancing.  I usually use a grid when I create the set, which has circles in the middle.  Generally the audience will have the best experience when they can set their cam and watch the performance without “losing” dancers to the far edges of the set or having to cam from so far back they can’t see the nuances of the choreography.  I try to keep the majority of my dancers in the middle third of the stage.  I may start them from the sides, but generally pull them in.

Don’t forget – if the audience has to move their cam around they’ve lost their absorption in the dance AND the animations generally appear out of sequence temporarily when they move their cam.

 


Please feel free to submit your own thoughts in comments!

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Scripts and Sanity, Workshops and Wow!

ask

Many of you may know I enjoy leading workshops, primarily on different tools used in dance.  I’m a techie geek, a systems analyst by trade, and often find it easier to understand gadgets than people!  I also love the interaction of teaching, sharing, and learning myself.  This past week, the Harleyquin Workshop Class and Building area underwent significant upgrades!  I took all the notes, comments, observations and began on a process of streamlining to make the classes flow better, more enjoyable, and more engaging for everyone.

Long, long, long ago, while I was still a novice dancer, I wanted to create a simple script.  I was nearly convinced that paying another to create it was the best option.  Alas, a very dear friend said “you can dooo it”  (imitating the Water Boy movie voice).  And you know what I did?  I jumped in with both feet (I’m a Scorpio – that’s what I do) and began on a never ending quest of unraveling these magic little pieces of code to bring whatever is in my imagination alive.   Now, I sometimes teach on this topic and pass along what may be most helpful for Performers in their creations.  Still so much more to learn.

I’m a firm believer in “necessity is the mother of invention” and “find a way or make a way”, so that’s what I did.  I removed things, added things, created things, enhanced things, and even pulled out my multi-scene rezzers, not to mention hired a whole new “support team” (must see to believe).  The picture below is actually just a piece of the classroom area of the workshop platform – and before the upgrades.

81baf5c6b6b385d3968d037294fcc656

I did begin questioning my own sanity on Saturday morning as I wrapped up the preparation for the choreography design system 2 class in the build area, and realized I had umm…a LOT of dances to work on plus research to do.

I do hope and believe that most attending enjoyed and learned something new from the class.  I learned new things too – thanks Que!  What else I realized though?  I totally stink at remembering to take attendance! 🙂  Always ways to make things better and more efficient, even if it’s a slide on the blackboard that says “The Questioning of Existence…all in attendance reply by {top secret}…ha 🙂

One moral that I take away from this?  Investing the time to do it right, and to complete it through to the end is a valuable use of time – whether it’s a workshop area, a workshop class, or creating a dance.  Creating some sort of structure, flow, also helps the creative process significantly and makes it less overwhelming and easier for the next time.

Dance will always be my primary focus, but for me, supporting others as they do me and teaching/learning also go hand in hand.

Ohhh….I just had a new thought….. (mumbles…it never ends…)

Always challenge yourself, in all things.  Amazing things are created outside your comfort zone.

~ Eva

Next workshop, contact EvaHarley to register:

Sat May 27th – 10 am SLT
SPOT ON SMOOTH DANCER – from getting started to recording your own sequences

 

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The Five People You Meet…

Life is like a box of crayons that everyone brings to the table.  A big sheet of brown paper strewn across for everyone to draw on.  What will you draw, what colors do you use?     There will always be someone else’s lines crossing over into ours as lives intersected are touched.  Will you remember?  Will you be conscious of how you touch the lives of others?  A simple look, a word, time, or silence.  Will your picture be vibrant, will there be so many brilliant connections that it will be nearly impossible to know where your drawing ends and others begin?  Or  perhaps the inside is a very detailed picture, with beautiful tendrils reaching out to others – every one of them meaningful.  At times we are all in a dark place for a multitude of reasons, the colors we reach for very muddy and gloomy and the picture overbearing.  There are no wrong ways, no wrong answers, we are all free to choose and to be.  Can you see that in others when you speak to them?  What colors they are drawing with?

There is an absolutely amazing book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.  It is a book that touched me, its messages burned into my thoughts.  There are so many underlying messages.  One key concept is that in heaven, you will meet five people whose lives you touched in different ways.  The most surprising thing, in the story…the five people were those he never expected, never knew how he had touched their life.

Do people know how they touch mine I sometimes wonder?  Always trying to show gratitude, but even the smallest of interactions can make a world of difference.  It makes me wonder sometimes, how am I touching the lives of others?  Do they smile?  Think?  Feel inspired?  Laugh?  or even feel frustration, indifference, serenity, or even anger?  I think sometimes this is part of why I love teaching in SL.  There is the amazing medium where the physical boundaries of RL don’t exist, but there is also the opportunity to touch people I never could outside of this world.  One small way to make a difference, plus the innate joy that I have of sharing in both worlds.  Do those that come to my classes know I watch, always look for ways to make it easier, more enjoyable, strive to ease their struggles anytime I can?  The energy flows both ways, for they touch me too.  Everyone I interact with does, in their own way.

If you have not read this book, it is truly one of the best I’ve read.  Not for it’s excellence in writing, but for the underlying message and how deeply it spoke to me.

On this Monday morning (and I normally detest Monday mornings), I’m filled with complete serenity.  I’m going to share again a video from the last post.  Relax, listen, watch, feel it deeper and on a different level.  Can you feel it?  The opening and embracing of her own name, as her singing changes?  The gratitude she exudes, her family as they surround her?  The love and support?  I feel this, in this amazing world and I am ever so grateful.


I now know my name.

name_night sky

People won’t remember what you say…
They remember how you made them feel

Things I have learned

  • teaching three classes in one day is very fulfilling yet very very tiring 🙂
  • that I always think I can create more than I can in an amount of time
  • I need to tattoo “less is more” on my forehead
  • people can be utterly incredible and supportive and I’m beyond grateful
  • the energy and support during the RFL event coordinated by SoCo and the Victorian Theatre event by Chrissy was absolutely incredible.  So honored to be part of both of them.
  • that even when things don’t evolve as you hoped, it truly will be ok
  • to always re-evaluate, re-balance
  • slow and steady truly does win the race

Paint your picture –
~ Eva

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Goonies Never Say Die!

Ahoy mateys!   I declare it pirate day, raise the sails, cast from shore and find me some booty!


No!  not that kind of booty…although I must say the thought does make me grin!  It was a Eureka moment after waking up at a very dark 0300 hours my time.  Worked on a dance for a bit then anxiety flew off the charts.  Last night?  Headache…lots of headaches recently.  I turned to the almighty google for relaxation tips – did some heavy breathing (no wait, I meant deep breathing, deep breathing), and grabbed up my fishing pole.  The sound of water soothes me, and the fishing part is a relaxing calming activity I’ve found…and it hit me.

Fear…namely, fear of rejection.  Why was this dance bothering me, why have other things been causing anxiety?  I realize – it’s the fear of rejection, subconscious thoughts that affect me physically!  Not just this dance but other things too.  Anxiety isn’t real, it’s the brain playing tricks on you experts say, telling you all the bad stuff.  What if my dance sucks, what if everyone hates it, what if everyone hates ME, what if I don’t finish, what if…what if… what if…

It’s like this self fulfilling prophecy – immobilizing me, stopping me from really relaxing into the creation.   Stopping me from saying what I really want to say.  I’ve always said I’d rather know the truth, even if it hurt.  Well, sometimes we need to brave enough to just put it out there, I realize.  The words, my creations, me.  To stand back and see that feeling and say…whoa…the best experiences often come when you challenge your comfort zone, put it out there, pour your energy into it and see what happens.  Rejection sucks, big time, but there’s a happiness in knowing I did my best and I was true to myself.  This is part of going with the flow 🙂

You know why sorting inventory is my happy place?  Because I’m in control, organizing, and it’s completely internal.  It’s good to have that place to come back to, to recharge my batteries..but not a good place to exist in, avoiding what I REALLY want to do.

I, like so many, have diagnosed anxiety…sometimes paralyzing.  I’m going to keep on keeping on – doing my best, enjoying life, and appreciating all the people around me.  I have a dance to make!  Well…two actually but who’s counting.  Amazing dancers to costume and fun fun stuff to teach!

Random thoughts:

Why don’t we have street performers in SL?  I’m going to wear a funky costume, do an abstract and artistic dance and pass out flowers, a hat by my feet.  Or maybe one of those shiny painted people?  Or a living statue…fun and super easy to do in this world!  Oh…the possibilities…

Can I make a dance like the emporer’s new clothes?  We’ll all be naked but say we’re wearing a costume?  Soooo much easier – and I can blame it on SL!  Bonus!

My kingdom for a poem!  On Monday night I’m going to a poetry reading and I’m going to read one.   Not up to writing my own…  <makes a face, grinning, might be fun but probably NOT appreciated there!  I did write a great one in 3rd grade though>  Something whimsical and fun and kinda short – to almighty google again I charge forth!

Party time!   [03:14:54] (7S) Pro Fishing Rod: EvaHarley Resident has reached Level 8!

Particle Play!  I’ve been asked quite a few times about particles.  I’m going to write a blog entry on my thoughts, resources, and some of the options – put together the info in one place.   Particles and lighting – two things I’d love to play with more!

Happy day to you all!  Let your hair down, your imagination soar, and know your name. 🙂

~ Eva

 

~ Take me or leave me, I’m just me…quirks and all 🙂  ~


Doing some serious fishing here!

 

Poseidon, giving me advice…

 

Reflecting…the flamingos eying my catch…

 

Jelly fish I caught fishing…Now where’s the peanut butter???

 

 

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