Monday, March 23, 2015


Sometimes a song just appears that calls to you and throws up images and emotions that you can't ignore.  This song turned up on the stream at my home and I had to go looking for it.  There was an element of lateral thinking involved as I initially thought she was singing "come down" which was the trigger for the ceiling sequence.
Originally the set was going to be faded from color to white to symbolise color draining from surroundings but I am glad that I stuck with the stark white in the end.

This was a very personal piece for me, dealing as it does with isolation, depression and anxiety.  The original stage version had accompanying emotes:

Another day starts after a sleepless night; the day is bleak/ How many days have I spent like this, trapped between tension and lethargy / How do I remember who I was any more?  Or who I am now? / So many days gone by and nothing remains / Clinging to a hope that one morning I will wake and all will be forgiven / Fading under the critical gaze of others/
My arc of self control gone and I am spinning / Until that day, I float like a ghost through my own life / Trapped behind glass, unable to escape/ ..And the clock still turns

The dancer is the only color in a room of white.  She is not overweight, or ugly or stupid; illness does not have to show on the outside. Inside she is plagued with visions of herself longing for something. She is constantly feeling as though she is scrutinised by others and criticised.  She is trapped in a fish bowl life, unable to escape from her own feelings. Dealing with anxiety can be like wanting to crawl the walls or feeling like your life is upside down.  I hoped to reconcile all these images within the piece.

This is not a typical dance piece, in fact there are very few actual dance animations.  Most of them are taken from AOs or non-static poses and took a lot of time to track down.
The Artiste makes them very easy to compile, and with the choice of putting the animations in the palettes or in the dance sequence I can work around any problems caused by priorities in animation.

Because the anims were all differently purposed originally, some of them have different "heights" as well, which made it important to adjust palette height to accommodate this.  This worked particularly well with the ground sits which are notorious for making you hover off the ground.  It was also so easy to get the palette back to where it started because you just flip the difference in the relevant vector eg. you move the pallete down 0.355 in a move...the same move with -0.355 will bring you back to where you were.

The "wall walking" was accomplished using 3 palettes and force-sit between them.  It takes a little while to set it up but it is not hard.   It was trial and error to establish the most appropriate animations for jumps and landings to "soften" the flow.

I also used a set of alpha palettes which fade in and out such as the sitting figures.

This was a very fulfilling piece for me to work on and I was gratified by the response that I got when I performed  it live as, I wasn't sure that people would "get it".  They so obviously did and it was very moving.

As always, Thad has stepped up and added his own little embelishment on it which I think has just made it magic, thank you love!

I would like to dedicate this video to everyone who has ever suffered an anxiety attack or a depressive episode.  If you haven't, remember to be kind to those who do :)


Love and Light

Aura x

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Moon Over Bourbon Street

This was another routine that I had done before a long time ago and was never satisfied with what I did.
The original was performed way back in September 2012 at Orchid's Theater and it was only the second dance routine I had performed on stage.  I was particularly proud of the rooftop set as it was my first ever self build.  This was also the first ever outing for The Artiste in public!  I used the strip/adorn and emote function...adorning fans and my own little touch of the glowing orb to represent a spotlight...all cutting edge at the time.

Time moved on, maybe 18 months later, and The Artiste was running away with the amazing things it could do.  Yummy had already designed the prototype mover system which was very complex at the time and I started thinking about this routine and how I could have done it so much better.
After we filmed "Sisters" I started playing with it again, rebuilding the set and extending the stage at the front with the intention of "stepping out". By this time we had the palette moving system. Yummy found me one evening laying out prims on the stage to mark specific points and turns and we started talking about how useful this could be.
She then vanished to her workshop and started on developing what is now the palette marker system.
"Moon" got shelved again for a while as other things took priority but I never forgot about it and kept doing little bits.  Unfortunately RL intervened and I missed 2 chances to perform it live so we decided to just film it.  Thad has done an amazing job!

Technical bit:  
One mover palette all the way through, with a mixture of animations in the palette and in the dance sequence.  Everything else is pretty much standard.  Just goes to show how adding one mover can really bring a performance to life when used sparingly.  A little bit goes a long way :).
Emotes,Strip functions and adorn for the fans used obviously.
I finally feel that I managed to make something as close to real neo-burlesque as SL allows...well until next time ')  watch this space...
and until then..
watch the video!
Moon Over Bourbon Street

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Can't Get You Out of My Mind

See the video==> Can't Get You Out of My Mind

Nancy Plays Hide And Seek…

…and something that looks like Whack-A-Mole (I’m not kidding, see it for yourself!)

Hehe, enough with this clowning around! Second Life burlesque is a serious business! Or so I learnt after my last act, which you can see here: Nancy Does Burlesque

Okay, serious now! Nancy slaps herself. Good.

First, I would like to thank Yummy for filming one of my numbers again. The editing of this video is superb and so well in sync with the music! Cue the applauds… now! I would also like to thank the Academy for… Oh wait, that’s another speech.

Anyway! Nancy slaps herself again. Better.

Yummy asked me to say a few words about this number so I will go with the same structure I followed in my previous rambling, and divide this rant into “idea” and “production”. Let’s start!

About the Idea

First of all… there was no idea with this number. Usually I have a rather clear concept or vision that I want to bring to life, but with this number it was quite the opposite. I was working with another idea (that is still a work in process, by the way) but I felt like I was stuck and gradually I started to loathe the little I had done hitherto (I’m still trying to motivate myself to finish that number… maybe you’ll see a video of it sometime in 2017). So what to do when you hit a wall? Play! (With yourself or any toys you are blessed with…) And boy oh boy did I play or what!

I started to think about different ways you could make an interesting entrance or exit in a show number, and alternatives for walking around the stage (which I’ve done so much that I’m sort of tired of it…) Knowing that the Palette can do pretty much anything, I started to play with the functions and movers and faders and whatnot (read more below).

So the idea sort of grew with the production. I had no clear theme or vision. For a long time it was just dancing on the moving pillars. And then I started to panic that this would be a pretty hollow number, and I kept saying to myself “Okay, you have some cool effects in it, but so what? Unless you want this to be just a Whack-A-Mole game, you better come up with something, you silly… witch!” (Funny note: Until you texture the Palettes, their default colouring is rather… bright, so for the most of the production it did look like a carnival game, with red, blue, and green pillars rising and descending with this little bunny dancing on top of them.)

And then I sat down for a few days and stared at my stage and pretended to think. Finally I decided to go with the witch (my own words “You silly witch!” echoing in the back of my head) idea and since I had been hoarding some pretty mesh mirrors for my new home, I figured I could recycle some of them in the set. And that’s how the Evil Queen/Snow White reference came to be. And still licking my wounds after being called a vain and narcissistic “C U Next Tuesday” by one egoistic and misogynistic wanker, I decided to emphasize the narcissistic aspects of the Queen asking the mirror who’s the fairest of them all. Nothing like self-emancipation, ladies!

Hah. So yes… there really were no great light bulb moments behind this one. It’s pretty production-driven. Which brings us to… (Cue the drums!)

About the Production

As can be derived from the drivel above, this number was more production than idea oriented. In total, I ended up using… tons of Palettes, the main ones being the three pillars that rotated, rose and fell, and the mirrors that got brighter at a few points.

Having used the Palette’s Sit-2-Sit function in my first ever Artiste number I wanted to give it another go, and instead of using it to perform a seamless transition from one surface to another (which I did in the earlier number), I wanted to use it more as an effect. (In short: Sit-2-Sit moves you from one Palette/pose ball to another without you having to stand and sit manually.) Using the Sit-2-Sit as an effect so that you appear in different places on the stage pretty quickly was an idea I had had for a while already. But I never had gotten the chance to use it. So, since this number began as a Palette/Artiste playground, I thought I’d use it now. What the heck, let’s just shove all the unused ideas into one number! And so was born the peek-a-boo section in the beginning of the number. And, as can be guessed, I used Sit-2-Sit to move from one pillar to another.

I want to try something new with every number I do, so I went through the Palette function list and picked a few I thought might work in this number (after all, this was supposed to be a Palette playground) and ended up with the Glow and the Shatter functions. Both were something I had never used before – and I must say they worked pretty well! Glow I used to make my mirrors turn brighter when the song got louder. That was an easy function to use and it worked right away. I recommend that anyone new to the Artiste/Palette start off with these easy-to-use functions, so you can see the fruit of your labour rather quickly. Shatter function I used in the end of the number (when the witch’s delusional self-admiration shatters and she drowns in the darkness she’s created around her, hehee), and I must admit, it was a little scary to try it, since I had no idea how to do it. But after two chats with Yummy and a few hours of intense notecard-editing and prim-creating, I got it to work the way I wanted! All in one day! Yippee!

Okay, ladies and Laramie smokers, I think I’ve typed enough! My head is empty and I can’t think of anything more to say about this number, haha. Congratulations if you got this far and “Aww, I feel you” if you just skipped down here after the first paragraph! I hope you enjoyed the video and come see us live some day!

-Nancy ‘Naughty Martini’ Toocool