Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Last Chance for Love...

     This is your last chance for loving the best of this holiday's onstage talents.  It seems as though I was just encouraging you all to buy a ticket and get a ticket free to Hurrah for the Holidays and Harambe for the Holidays, but things just got really interesting for the audience every since they appointed ME a microphone.   
       You read that right, folks, Mrs. LaQuita  Can'tCarryATuneInABucket Marie Staten has a microphone taped to her person. 
       So, fellow art and theater lovers, I make a final appeal to you to GET YOUR TICKETS!
<a href="" title="Click to save this recipe. Powered by ZipList.">Holiday Chex Mix: Cinnaberrynut</a>
      I'm sure you're wondering what to feed Santa after getting into the holiday spirit with all of the theatrics by yours truly.  As a food fanatic, I have the answer and I promise not to bully you into using the best recipe of 2013. 
      The recipe is so simple and SO DELICIOUS that even jolly old St. Nick will rave about it.  I always encourage whole foods and clean eating, but the truth is, my favorite food group is sugar.  Alas, I have found a crowd-pleasing, lunch box-stuffing, midnight-snacking recipe that will satisfy all palates. 
       I'm sharing my secrets with you, my favorite people.  I call it Cinnaberrynut and the ingredients are all items you may already have, plus the ingredients can be used for future edible goodness.  You be the happy judge. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Show BOGO

       It's time to get in the holiday spirit with onstage merriment, enhanced by yours truly. As if its not enough fun to be in one of the most popular holiday shows in Virginia, I have the pleasure of being a part of another amazing show in the same month. Phew!
       Rehearsal schedules are energizing with all of the singing and dancing and holiday cheer, not to mention the constant snacking on cupcakes and chocolates and fruit and chips and dip and lots of other whole food goodness.  With the large cast in Hurrah for the Holidays, someone always brings birthday treats and with myself providing the mid-sized cast of Harambe for the Holidays with all sorts of goodies, we will be loosening our belts to fit into costumes.
       Be sure to buy your ticket to the Hurrah Players' show and reserve your free ticket to Atumpan's show for the best of the holidays this year!
       In case you're wondering what all of the fuss may be regarding chips and dip, then you need to come hang out with Atumpan-The Talking Drums (aka Corey the Talented Blind Guy and LaQuita Marie).  I have loved to eat since I was born and I currently have very few limits; insects are my limits, but grubs are tough to imagine also.  I even eat food I don't like, such as Brussels sprouts and green olives, because after all, they are good foods. 
       Therefore, I aim to prepare and share foods that I really enjoy and that others will easily enjoy too.  One such pleasing platter is an easy queso dip.  Who knew that you could easily make your own queso dip using whole foods (aka real food).  Me, LaQuita Marie, that's who. 
       Folks line up like crackers and chips at a dip-diving contest when I break out the queso.  In the holiday spirit of giving, I'm happy to share this simple recipe.  ENJOY!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

No Frederick Douglass at Thanksgiving


     Let's all be sure to put our best hair forward for this Thursday!  I can NOT go out as a Frederick Douglass imposter, and even with my hair done I can't compete with his amazing  accomplishments anyways.  We should all live out  my dream of staying inside our homes sipping coffee and napping between cups of caffeine goodness.  
     Fat chance of that coffee-napping dream I know, but it's so much more fun to make Thanksgiving collages alone than to eat turkey-stuffed dinner rolls and watch football with ones we claim to love.
       I suppose I should be Thankful for top 5 important stuff:
1.  LIFE - dead folks are such stiffs
2.  HEALTH - a coffee a day helps
3.  FAMILY - my 3 girls...& Corey
4.  COFFEE - secretly # 1 for real
5.  YOU - you friends, fans, family...

       Amongst all of the Turkey and family is a constant march towards the goal of a show production.  In order to explain Kwanzaa in a theatrical way, we are in rehearsals for Harambe for the Holidays.  What better way to spend the first week of December than with creative folks.  With free admission, we should follow our trend of filling the theatre 80% and maybe even to capacity this year. 
       Vendors will add to the festive nature of the day with food, face paint, handmade wares, and great stuff by yours truly.  Cooperative economics is one of the principles of Kwanzaa and we will appropriately showcase local artisans.
Be sure to let me know, either here or on Facebook, whether you think my hair is as awesome as the famous fro of Frederick Douglass.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hurrah for the Holidays

     Welp, somehow, amongst all of our busy fun, we manage to join someone else's intriguing mayhem.  Our favorite family theatre has an amazing season every year and, following a competitive audition,  I was cast along with two of my daughters for Hurrah for the Holidays.  The musical revue has all of my favorites, which happen to be Christmas songs, Christmas props, Christmas clothes, Christmas gifts, and a few other enjoyable Christmas perks.  "How do you manage?" This is the question of the day, but the answer is simple.  I can plug and play and enjoy without the creation of media stuff or instructing anyone or venue details.  When I can simply follow directions and relax my brain, then life is good.  

     When teaching classes for Atumpan African Dance, my brain hardly gets to relax.  I am constantly exploring ways to connect  my choreography to my brain remembering my choreography.  I recently saw some new friends singing this birthday song and it made sense to dance Yankadi, a courtship dance from Guinea, West Africa in order to help remember the dance steps in a specific order.  Talk about a home run.  Not only did we all learn the dance fairly quickly, but it gave us the warm and fuzzies of brand new Christmas slippers.  The ones with the teddy bear head.  Once we could all sing and dance it in a round it was time for eggnog.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tryouts, Tellabration, and Trophies

     Folks were eager to tryout to be onstage with Corey the Talented Blind Guy and LaQuita Marie for a Kwanzaa production at the Attucks Theatre.  Auditions, held on Saturday, November 9 and Wednesday, November 13, 2013 proved to be a fun challenge.  There was a special birthday girl that we treated to lunch where she and her sisters mastered chopsticks after auditions.
               "Mom, I think I'll audition to dance and sing, since I don't know how to do African acting." was another young person's commentary on the idea of auditioning for a new show. 
    Sure it's an original script to explain the Kwanzaa holiday, but I can't do "African acting" myself.

    As the boss of Atumpan, I tried to keep the judges comfortable with snacks, light conversation and the balance of cakes and fruit amongst the chips and salsa which all seemed to do the trick.   
     They hung in there for two days, judging and scoring, leaving us with a fantabulous cast for the 2013 Kwanzaa at the Attucks Theatre: 

Mike M. - Kirk
Mesha B .- Janet's daughter (Dancer #3) in the opening scene, dancer, and ensemble singer
Sharon S. - JoDiCi
Alicia P. - Janet
Meredith P. - News Reporter
Sheba M. - Janet's friend (Dancer #2) in opening scene & Mother Africa

Nikel R. - Dancer and ensemble singer
Lila R. - Dancer and Singer
Destiny H. - Dancer and ensemble singer
Harlym N. - Dancer and ensemble singer

Kideste W., Senait B., Tequila T.,  Maisha S.,  Anaiya E.,  Yanni E., Reezan N., Sequoia S.,  Aliyah P., Amber J., Brooklynn S., Christiana S.

                         OKAY, ON TO TELLABRATION! 

   Yep, the National Storytelling Network has declared the Saturday before Thanksgiving a day of stories.  We eagerly join the fun by hosting ours with Via Goode who has really good stories and really great props.  Did I mention I love her because she's normal?  Normal being superbly talented with great delivery and interesting content for all ages, but no fake smile or fluff conversation.  Exceptional, yet quite normal.
     Speaking of exceptional, Lynn Ruehlmann is just about the best when you blend a former actress with tales from her travels abroad, or folktales, or historical tales that sometimes include intriguing perks like sign language and shadow puppetry.  The lady is quite amazing.
     It all goes down at the Children's Museum in Portsmouth, VA, 221 High St. on Saturday, November 23, 2013 with performances from 11:30am - 3:30pm.

     And finally, the wonderful announcement for Atumpan African Dance is their first trophy!  One of our dance moms invited us to participate in a talent/step show at a local Boys and  Girls Club where the theme was Stomping Out Suicide.  There was standing room only to raise awareness and support for suicide prevention.  Not only did we see some of Hampton Roads finest step teams, we also had one of our most enthusiastic audiences yet.
     The folks there contributed funds to the cause and they contributed the loudest cheers for us ever. Wow!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

40th Newport News Fall Festival of Folklife

October 5 and 6, 2013 at 2pm! World music, folklore, and dance compliments of yours truly
     Last year, we debuted our extraordinary style of educational entertainment and really drummed up interest in what we do at the 39th Newport News Fall Festival of Folklife.  Due to this year being a monumental event, we have the pleasure of sharing the stage with a few more performers than last year. 

      The itinerary from last year was pretty full, thanks to the city believing in us that we could hold things down all day long.  Phew!  We edutained with fractured fairy tales, world folktales, and, of course, African dance that even involved the audience.  One of the best connections we made was a drummer, Bill who has joined us for pretty much all of our performances from December 2012 up to September 2013. 

     This year, we'll be dancing our signature welcome dance, Funga, along with Lamban (the rhythm of the storyteller), Kuku (the rhythm for a successful day of fishing), and Moribayassa (the rhythm to celebrate overcoming deep problems).  The plan is to bring even more educational fun to the peninsula again this year as well as recruit people interested in the creativity that we enjoy. 

CD Release Party for Savannah Winds

      Mmhmm, we did it again.  Released a CD and threw a party for it.  Thanks to my newest favorite studio lady, Jacki Paolella, we cranked it out AND its all over the place {insert happy dance HERE}.  Talk about good food and good fun, according to the attendees, we really know how to throw a party.  I approve that message!  One of our dancers is Ethiopian and catered a few of the dishes she learned from her mom {insert happy dance encore HERE} 
       Naturally, we had a jamming good time with friends, family, and colleagues as we performed excerpts from the CD.  Unfortunately, famed poet, Tim Seibles, who recites Savannah Winds was unable to attend the party, but lots of folks took a little of Time home with their own CD purchase.
       We had a host of dancers from our Atumpan African Dance group to help start the party off right, plus interactive games with our audience.  In addition to our onstage fun, we were able to debut our signature corn-hole boards, while the face painter dubbed cute little children with either our company logo, our CD cover art, or a picture of their choosing.  Mancala was a popular game, aside from the food.  No mistake, I meant food, 'cause everything was delish.  
       I don't think I mentioned that we were at the historic Attucks Theatre for the fun.  Aside from their regular season of performances with national acts, the Attucks has a pretty cool Arts Incubator setup that allows a teaching space for fantastic artists like ourselves.  The Crispus Attucks Cultural Center is the side of things that coordinates the educational classes by the Artists, as well as a full summer camp and camp series, plus extended community stuff like tutoring and residency stuff at schools and universities in Norfolk.  We love this place.

Savannah Winds FREE samples

Indoor Festival?

      Sure, it looks like we're outside and all, but this is the picture of the performers just before we went inside of the building you see on the right.  Yep, the Franklin Armory is where the forecast of rain landed Atumpan African Dance for the day.  Luckily, it did not rain while we were in Franklin, VA for their annual festival hosted by Parks and Recreation, but its always a good thing to play it safe.
     See?  The festival is indoors, complete with balloon animals and face painter and vendors too.  Inside that brick building, we drafted audience members to join the fun, hence the folks to the far right that aren't in costume, but doing pretty well with Funga, a welcome song and dance.  Notice there is no bounce house, much to the dismay of our Junior Dancers.

     Our junior dancers paraded in the senior (and senior citizen) dancers with some great energy.  If you look over to the far left of the picture, you'll notice the baby dancer hanging out in an idle sort of way.  Baby dancers can be that way.