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Fun with violence

Babes With Blades workshop was vast amounts of fun, and kicked my sorry out-of-shape ass. Pretty much as I expected. :-)

The unarmed portion was easier even though I had only one, dimly-remembered intro class in college and have since done it only sporadically, as needed for specific shows. There was one lunging forward fall that make my right thigh muscles less than pleased with me after a couple dozen repetitions, and I'm sure the choking-and-forcing-to-knees bit is the source of the technicolor bruises I discovered on said knees when I changed clothes last night. But they don't hurt; that's just me and bruises. I'm doomed to have the battered knees and shins of a nine-year-old tomboy no matter what I do, so I might as well get them doing something more fun than my usual grazing the corners of furniture.

They taught us a ten-move fight, for which we then came up with our own scenario. My partner just graduated from college last year and was bemoaning how out of shape she's gotten "just teaching movement to eight-year-olds." Oh, honey. :-} (I have to say, I wasn't the rustiest broad there, but I'm pretty darn rusty.) But she was great fun to work with, and we were well-matched in terms of comfortable speed, how much impact we preferred on contact moves, etc. She said she'd always wanted to do a fight where the conflict was "You put chocolate in my peanut butter!" -- "You put peanut butter on my chocolate!" So we ran with that, and it turned into an out-of-control sibling thing, which was particularly hilarious because she's a textbook ingenue in look and had her curly hair up in pigtails, which she kept twirling while sticking her tongue out at me. All our impromptu dialogue was like "I'm telling Mom!" -- "Yeah? Tell Mom this!" Which I thought was the single lamest improvisation ever to come out of my mouth, but one of the instructors in particular thought was a scream.

The coolest element of that portion was running through the fight underscored by two different pieces of music. One was a sort of bouncy jangly guitar thing (the main instructor, who's also the artistic director of the company, kept calling it "Beach Blanket Bingo," but I got sort of fake-cowboy vibes from it), and the other was that Linkin Park song that starts out with a simple piano introduction that sounds like a John Carpenter score. Same scenario, same moves, very different tone. Really, really cool.

Broadsword, which I've actually done a fair amount of? OMG. :: collapses :: Although I'm surprised I don't have more upper body soreness even today (didn't feel it at all yesterday), since that's always been my big wimpy deficit. But then my back has been pretty strong the last few years, and there's not much in broadsword technique that taxes your arms per se. The legs, however... Let's just say my beautiful big old farmhouse with lots and lots of stairs is not my friend today. *groan* I'm sure that lunging fall from the morning session probably didn't help with the three hours of broadsword stance, of course.

My partner for that section was about as rusty as myself, which is a good thing -- working with someone at a higher level than myself is great when I want to push, but I always feel bad about holding them back. The choreography -- which was something the instructor for that portion had set for Macbeth and Young Siward in a recent production -- had five phrases, each of which we got down well in isolation, but we never quite managed to string the whole fight together in the time allotted. The main thing I came away from it with (aside from Quadriceps of Lead) is that half-swording is WICKED COOL. I've seen it done a little bit, but never had the opportunity to try it myself, and whoa. Exponential jump in possibilities. Suddenly you can use the thing like a pike or a bayonet or even a small staff. The instructor kept putting emphasis on how it allows you to close distance in a way that standard hack-and-slash doesn't, which is a particular concern with the plethora of small stages in Chicago. But I immediately seized on the same thing I've always loved about quarterstaff and rapier-and-dagger, which is that it lends itself naturally to opening out the traffic pattern for an audience on more than one side. I still think that way because I mostly choreographed for a particular three-sided space in Columbus, of course, and most of the storefronts I've been to in Chicago are narrow and deep with one audience plane. But still good to know. Even better, closing distance makes it oodles and oodles easier to vary the tempo, which is always a challenge with broadsword.

Stephanie made a point of announcing that they're having auditions in June for their October show. I'm so there. Hopefully I'll be able to climb stairs like a normal person by then.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 20th, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you had such a great time! Yay!
May. 20th, 2007 02:08 pm (UTC)
That sounded like so much FUN!
May. 20th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, that sounds utterly awesome. I wish I could have seen it. (Seriously, I would love to figure out how to be a fly on the wall at rehearsals and training things like this, because it fascinates me even though--or because?--it's something I could never do.)
May. 20th, 2007 03:31 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure there's a way, since the first thing any group I've ever been involved with would do is set out to convince you you could. :-)
May. 21st, 2007 11:46 am (UTC)
FUN!!! Reminds me of the stage fight workshop I did in high school. :)
May. 21st, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC)
Hey! Do you mind if I send a link to your post to one of the Babes? One of them is in my LARP, and she'd probably love to see your review.
May. 21st, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC)
Sure, go ahead. I'll probably be emailing something similar to Stephanie too. :-)
May. 21st, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC)
Cool! Thanks!
May. 21st, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC)
FYI, Mary Anne asked if she could send the link to your post to the other Babes, and I said sure. Here.
May. 21st, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC)
Cool. Always happy for feedback to be useful. :-)
May. 22nd, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
Valerie, I'm so glad you enjoyed yourself and that we gave you some things to take away. It's all about the spreading of joy and knowledge. Well, and soreness, apparently. :)
We'll be holding another Rusty Broads in August, this one probably on sword & shield and falls/rolls/take-downs. Promises to be mucho fun. And will leave both arms and legs equally sore, as holding up that shield for three hours will be a challenge. :)
Looking forward to seeing you at auditions!
All the best,
Dawn Alden
Founder, Babes With Blades
May. 22nd, 2007 04:34 pm (UTC)
Re: woot!
There with bells on. And with warning, maybe will take the time to prepare better so I won't be quite as sore. If I can. Shields and I haven't gotten along all that well in the past... %-}
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


Valerie - Postmodern Pollyanna
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