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Dustin

Dance and Children

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I have loved to dance since I was a child and in my experience this is true for most children. Most cultures dance socially at some capacity. Dance reality shows brings highly technical dance to the masses and alienates people because the technical level( and risk with much of the mens choreography) is inconceivable for most people. Soul train was a fantastic program because it had regular people enjoying the latest club music in a really social setting and very accessible.

I have also had the luck and naivete to show up at a large audition with no training and get that gig. I got distracted and then left my blue collar work in a northern British Columbia community to move to Edmonton start serious training the age of 24. I have never regretted a moment of risk, fear and stress to dance.

I have been kinaesthetic since conception and excelled in individual sports. I never understood the choices that people make in the heat of competition in team sports…unless they were true team players…which I have rarely experienced. Dancing satisfied my need to sweat and move. I remember watching documentary on the National Ballet when I was around 11 years old and thinking that dancers were insane to put themselves through all that pain and suffering. I loved to move then and had no idea that I would make that choice. Dance was/is worth every sprain, tear and strain I have encountered.

I grew up listening to soul music as my mother loved Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and almost anything from Motown. When I turned 19 I was training to become an actor and I would go to the nightclub at every opportunity. I would dance all night and could attract a crowd. Getting really sweaty…which ironically is what I do in my Purple Pirate polyester “uniform” now.JumpingPP

Once most dancers retire they have to step away from dance and recover emotionally. I had to as well. I have had the desire to include more dance into my work for a while but the question was how. My training in ballet and contemporary dance isn’t accessible enough for my audiences to connect with let alone participate as it is technical.

I started including disco into my shows and the children response is phenomenal. Adults love the music as well. …some parents can also let down their guard and boogie down as well…which is highly encouraged. This is really fulfilling to have children enjoy the dancing and the moms and dance enjoying themselves as well.

Performing is about the audience experience. Art is an expression of the self. It is real treasure for everyone when the two meet…and dance is the diamond in the middle.

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The long Voyage of professional piracy – Part 34 – crazy tan lines

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of Dustin Anderson’s journey as children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.

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Tan lines anyone?

 

After we got home, dug through our big pile of mail and settled into life in the city I started dreaming of “the next bike”. I wanted to go faster and prove a point that travelling by bicycle is possible. This obsession took up a lot of time. I decided that we would get the bike modified for the next trip.

Cycling from show to show meant that I was limited to what I could bring and therefore I had to be very creative. I sewed a treasure box for treasure hunts as well as my costumes were designed for breathability…not believability. I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to figure out certain details and not as interested in whether audiences would question the modern pirate look I was aiming for.

Here is a video from those times…  http://youtu.be/FPZ8mwVJFdg

From about 2005 – 2011 I was cycling between 14000 and 18000 kms per year. To place like Prince George for the Canadian Northern Childrens festival. My favorite trip of the year was to Pemberton. I would ride up June 30th – perform at the Canada Day festival and then cycle home after the show. Another favorite was to my home town of Port Hardy. The island highway is quiet and great air. In my prime I could ride from Port Hardy to Victoria in two days. It was a glorious time for my fitness….I could eat anything at anytime.

At this time the Purple Pirate started moving away from magic and focussing more on connecting with audiences with comedy and an active living message. I could connect with the children and learned how to engage adults to make the shows fun for them as well. There is a real art to inviting adults into a children’s show without sarcasm or negativity which is important to me.

“Packs small, plays big” is an expression used in show business that means a high production with less gear lugging. This is particularly important when travelling by bicycle. I got really creative with fabric and tent poles.

In 2007 we did the 5000 for health again…except we would skip Northern Ontario, start in ThunderBay and end in Edmonton. The week before we went I had a big crash and found myself skidding along the pavement at 40 kph. I had to cover up my hand and arm when I was performing. At that time in my life it was a classic maneuver of mine.

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The blackeye is from playing basketball with students and the scrape is after a couple weeks of healing.

The prevailing wind in the prairies is Westerly and we had several days that were drastically shorter than planned because we were wiped out pushing into it all day. I had decided that I would design my own bicycle for the next trip and posted the bike for sale on several websites in Ontario. A couple in France contacted me and by the time we got to Regina they had agreed to buy it. We boxed it and sent it from Edmonton to France.

Have a look at this video of  the tour.  http://youtu.be/PYpiFhRV7l8

 

 

The long Voyage of professional piracy – Part 33 – The pain and glory

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of Dustin Anderson’s journey as children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.

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The look on this guys face captures the confusion of people when they saw us on the bike.

Farah has a higher aptitude at planning than I and left a time buffer to travel Northern Ontario. Even then we had a little over a week to get to Ottawa. It was hot and the black flies were relentless. When we arrived at the Terry Fox memorial we were both emotionally moved. That mans courage and perseverance made a huge impact on both of us.

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We had to push so hard that we would leave really late. When it is hot the late afternoon wind can get pretty strong. It is always best to leave really early. We had good average speed on each day but the later we left the more stress of finding a hotel to stay at. There was one evening that the sun was dropping and we pulled into a town that had no rooms for rent. So we had to cycle for another 30 minutes to get to a place that had one last room. It was stressful but we pulled it off.

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People told us about the Northern Ontario roads having a lot of truck traffic. We found it quite quiet and the truckers were really professional and courteous with us. They left alot of room. The rolling hill of Northern Ontario were really fun. Sometime we had enough momentum and speed to roll over two more hills….then grind up the next one.

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The cycling across Canada weight loss program!

I reviewed our blog entries from the trip and almost everyone mentioned how tired we were. HERE is a video of Farah explaining in detail.  We had a whole bunch of days over 150 kms in a row and several over 200. People were really friendly and of course curious. The pictures below was taken by one of the people that were so intrigued by the machine that he pulled over to talk to us…and let us enjoy a little of the airconditioning in his van. DSCN0234s

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Seeing the Ottawa sign was incredible. We knew we were going to make it.

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Getting to the Parliament on time for our press meeting was a challenge but arriving in Ottawa was incredible. I was pretty skinny by that time.

 

 

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Then we had several parades to participate in. Notice in this photo that Farah is pedalling and I am not. It was time for me to take a break and enjoy the ride.

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This one was with a group of families that came out to see the Purple Pirate in action. It was glorious.

 

 

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It was a dream come true to cycle “mostly” across Canada. My memories up until reviewing the blogs and photos were of the glory…but it was hard work to get up every morning with an agenda. Cycle touring is much better when you don’t have a deadline. The way the 5000 for health was done lead to stress and more pain than necessary.

The Canada Dance Festival itself was a great event. I am really grateful to Brian Webb and his crew for the great opportunity.

HERE is a video of photos of the entire trip that showed in bicycle film festivals. http://youtu.be/WYJdHrzoqz0

The long Voyage of professional piracy – Part 32 – Almost a divorcycle

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of Dustin Anderson journey as children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.

The story of the Purple Pirate convincing his faithful first mate Farah to cycle to Ottawa from Vancouver….continues.

Our first night on the road was a late one so we slept in. We left Chilliwack at 11:30 am…way too late to head into the mountains on a loaded tandem with little daylight or warmth. We hadn’t reached our destination and found ourselves in darkness on the windy and steep number three road. To Farahs’ surprise and pleasure I said we should try to hail a truck and get a ride the last 40 kms. It was too dangerous. On the third try the 4 metre long bike fit into a truck. When we arrived I offered to take the man for a ride on the back, tried to do a slow turn with him, hit some gravel and crashed. He was a little shaken but not angry. Ooops.IMG_2628

The most memorable moments of BC was cycling for 4 and a half hours up the Blueberry Paulsen….4.5 hours of climbing…It was grueling. We were going so slow and my ego was acting up. I kept pestering Farah about not pedalling….Until she had enough and said she would get off at the next town if I was to keep behaving that way. Needless to say I was tuned up instantly. At that moment I got a window into my behaviour and decided that I would rather do the trip with her than without. One of the best decisions I have ever made.

HERE is a video of the climb

Every time I meet couples that have just started tandeming together I try to plant a profound seed with the man about how important relaxing is and to enjoy the ride. Some are open, some men understand already and some will have to learn the hard way like me.IMG_2721

We got hailed and rained on twice in BC and that was the total precipitation for the entire trip. Crossing over into Alberta was really exciting. By the time we got to Saskatchewan my metabolism was elevated to such an incredible level I thought I could digest a work boot. We learned alot about diet. Small town diner pancakes are fun for a couple days and then they become undesirable for a long long time. IMG_2857

The prairies sky is something to witness. The endless sea of blue is really captivating. At one point heading south on the number 1 highway we were in an ethereal bubble. I looked at our speedo and we were travelling at 50 kph…effortlessly. A prairie tailwind is a thing of glory.IMG_2923

We met some amazing people in small town Canada. We would roll in and Farah would go in and buy food. I would stay with the bike. When she would come out a crowd of people would be around the bike asking questions (the same ones every time) and laughing at our trials and tribulations. We made some great friends at Bikes and Beyond bike shop in Winnipeg. A great owner and staff. The roads of Manitoba are not as friendly. Massive potholes litter the roadways like the province has been bombed and no shoulder on the highway. IMG_3035

We had precision communication by the time we had decided that because Farah could see what was approaching if she thought we were in danger of being hit she would say “OFF” I would steer us onto the gravel shoulder – no questions asked. A semi-truck got pinched in and couldn’t change lane…Farah said off and I steered us off the road….at 30kph. We crashed…or at least I did and when I looked up from the dirt she was standing.  At the beginning of the trip I told her that if we go down get off the bike…she did…I couldn’t and we had a laugh.IMG_3154

We both kept blogs. I logged kilometers, average, top speed and events. Farah logged feelings. It is a wonderful life!

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 31 – Hey Farah…Lets ride there!

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of Dustin Anderson journey as children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.

I have always been creative which is very useful and fun with most things but isn’t always understood. Farah tried to warn me about riding a recumbent to my shows but I had to do learn the hard way. I thought rolling up like this was something that families would really find imaginative…I was mostly met with confusion. “You rode your bicycle here?” “What is that?”

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As my desire to lead by example met with my athletic ambition and collided with my nerdy nature (German roots :0) ) I spent much time researching recumbent bicycles. The aerodynamic efficiency really appealed to me. Tandeming really appealed to me…and then I discovered the Back to Back Recumbent tandem! It was love at first sight.sitting-med

I was invited to perform at the Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa…I believe the first words from my mouth to Farah was “I am performing at the Canada Dance Festival…Let’s ride there!” Farah hesitated a little, looked at a map and said yes. What an amazing woman.

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The Purple Pirate incognito…learning to sew on an ooollld school machine.

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Cutting, measuring and shaping the rain cover.

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Going for a test run. Working out where everything would go.

We called the tour, The 5000 for Health. Cycling 5000 kilometres from Vancouver to Ottawa promoting active living and healthy lifestyles. We spent several months making phone calls, sewing, connecting with sponsors, doing photo shoots and even training a little. I connected with a bike builder and he sponsored the bike to us. He was in England, The bike was in the US and in pieces. It was a character building challenge to get the bike ready to ride.

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Cindy Heinrichs design.

We scheduled to leave April 1st from Vancouver. I booked shows in the Kootenays and Farah booked healthy eating workshops along the way as well. A friends child, “El” named the bike “The Banana Boat” because it looked like a 4 metre long banana when we were covered up. I have to laugh at some of my ideas…and smile at the awesome support of my wonderful wife.

It seems a little crazy to do something like this until the dots are connected to my chosen career. It is quite normal to think of this from the perspective of a children’s performer…every person who performs for young audiences should have to pay their dues by riding across Canada at the tail end of winter on a Back to Back recumbent tandem.

April 1st came and we had a parade that lead to Jamaican Pizza Jerk and Chef Bounty made a delicious feast for us. Friends came out in the rain to see us off. It was a little unnerving to start a 2 month trip in the rain but we were covered and had confidence that the rest of Canada wouldn’t be so wet.

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Chef Bounty and Verona outside Jamaican Pizza Jerk. P. Pirate’s favorite restaurant in Vancouver.

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This video was taken by our friend Dave as we were heading through Maple Ridge. http://youtu.be/LW7o1FJYJH0

I had to make some adjustments and along the way but got to Hope on time. FYI – Wheel covers on the front wheel can lead to instability so I tore them off in Abbotsford.

The journey begins…and the realisation of another dream about to come to fruition…after overcoming obstacles.

 

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 30 – Learning the hard way

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of how Dustin Anderson became the children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.

Committing to the bicycle as my sole form of transportation had it’s challenges. The obvious were time, weather, and smell. I could plan fairly well and arrive on time…but learned some the hard way.

I had just converted and thought that children would think that a pirates ship bicycle would be really cool. I hunted on the net and couldn’t figure it out how to do it with a road bike and when speaking to a fabricator about building something custom he suggested a recumbent. I was a little indignant at first but it had the best shape to be a pirate ship.

After some research I had decided that supporting a local bike company was what I wanted to do.

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The bike was quite comfortable and getting it decorated like a pirate ship was really enjoyable. There was a large geeky component that was very fun. I thought it was cool and children also thought it was cool…but something about seeing a person sit down can make some people uncomfortable….especially when you ride to their home in Langley from Vancouver (about 28 kms – not a lot for an experienced cyclist).

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In the trailer I had a 80 pound PA system. I was on my way to Coquitlam. I was quite tired at the end of the day.

To cycle for pleasure or fitness a distance takes a certain fitness level and understanding of diet. To add the added challenge of performing for children is another world. I didn’t understand how much I needed to eat in the beginning and would be “bonking” (low blood sugar) while performing. I would be dizzy and barely make it through.

I had to get specific costumes made so I could just get off the bike and go into a show. I had to have snacks ready to eat while cycling. I had to plan my route for efficiency and ease of travel. Some roads are friendlier than others. All this added a whole other dimension to being a performer.

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I had a reputation with other performers for my commitment. It was intimidating for some. Magicians are notorious for ‘adopting’ others ideas and I remember one guy had heard about the press that I was getting and started cycling….he didn’t last. Poor guy had no idea what he was getting into.

One of the greatest benefits was that I could eat anything at anytime. At  the start of this adventure I didn’t eat enough and got really thin and sickly. I think I even tried to go vegetarian shortly after and got anemic. Go hard or go home!!

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I had some very prominent clients that had hired me for several of their children. I believe it was a January and I had 3 shows. The first one was in Delta, and the second one near UBC and third in East Van. It was drizzly and gray and my first show went well but I goofed on my food and started getting dizzy, a pedal broke, and I overestimated my ability to make up the time.

I was late and the client was not happy. I felt terrible but did the best I could do at that time. I did the show and then made my way to my third party. On my way down a large hill my brakes failed. The pads wore out faster than I had anticipated and I realised at a stop light. I was lucky that the taxi that wanted to turn across my path was patient.

I was also late to my third party and that client was understanding. I was gritty from the sand of the road and dizzy from the lack of food. It was a learning day for me. I never repeated those mistakes again.

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 29 – The bicycle distraction

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of how Dustin Anderson became the children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.

I am going to step back in time as I forgot to mention our first cycling trip in 2002…The beginning of my bicycle distraction. I have always had grand thoughts. Our friend Jon Blenkhorn was getting into cycling as well and I thought it would be easy enough to get up at 4 am and ride 30 kph for the entire day and get to my home town, Port Hardy by evening which was 400 kms away. I convinced Farah and Jon that it was possible as well. :0)

DCP_1871Both Jon and I were nervous and didn’t sleep that night. Sleeping in any situation is one of Farah’s many gifts. Jon is an athletic man and could carry his own gear.  I had made a cargo trailer from a kids trailer that could carry lots of stuff and thought if I carried all of Farah’s we would be in good shape.

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We made the ferry and I believe we all had a nap. It was  beautiful day and we got to Parksville feeling pretty good and when we got to Bowser we were done. I remember saying that I was tired and would like to find a place to stay. Both Jon and Farah let out a sigh of relief. They were both happy that they didn’t have to convince me to stop.

 

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We stayed the next couple nights at Bowser Bills. Jon and I rode up to Courtney the next day and Farah rested in the cabin. It was great trip. We didn’t get even close to Port Hardy but we really enjoyed the freedom of being on the road…and a seed was planted.

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Step forward a couple years….

I have always believed the role modeling and more effective than words which is the reason I cycled to the Banff Television Festival. When I was a child I was always irritated by “Do as I say not as I do”. When I returned from the festival I sold my truck and motorcycle. I believed that if committed to being car free and leading by example then Canadians would get behind the Purple Pirate and my future would be set.

I traded my truck for a small sum of money and some cycling shoes to one friend and sold my motorcycle to another. Farah and I were nervous but ready to try car free living. Farah and I bought our first tandem shortly after.

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Bicycle touring became a bigger part of our world and I started to dream of exploring the planet. The picture above is the first day of our Haida Gwaii trip. It was a great trip for our relationship. The tandem is also called “The divorcycle” for a very good reason. There will always be a stronger person in a bicycle touring group and then you don’t ride together very often. I called it yo-yo ing. My idea was that a tandem would be great for us to travel faster as a team. The reality is that the stronger rider travels slower than he would on his own but the group travels faster. This was learned the hard way…my hard headed way that is.

We rode up faster than Farah felt comfortable riding down and I had an unrealistic desire to ride faster. One day we passed a solo cyclist and then started to argue (because of me) so we would stop and the cyclist would pass us . We would start cycling again and pass her then start arguing again, stop and she would pass up. This happened a number of times and then the issue broke and we came together stronger.

This was a grand learning about about communication and compromise.

Here is the video. 

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 28 – The Purple Pirate Show, Cuba and the beginning of a bicycle distraction

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of how Dustin Anderson became the children’s icon, The Purple Pirate.

Deciding to step away from dance and focus on children was a challenging decision as I have been a kinaesthetic person. I have always known that I would be a performer but I wouldn’t have thought it would have been for young audiences. In the 80s I had the idea that I would be the next Tom Cruise. Life, interests and priorities change.  ;0)

Farah and I settled into our lives and I performed for birthday parties with the odd larger venue show. My introduction to magic was of a style that I didn’t connect with and didn’t spend much time working on as a result. The traditional children’s magic style doesn’t appeal to me and subsequently didn’t inspire me to work as hard as I am now. The genre of magic that I really appreciate is what the European world champions were doing. At that time I didn’t have the confidence to pursue that level of mastery.

I was lucky to meet film maker, Adam Voghell, through a mutual friend and in one month we pulled together a cast and crew to film The Purple Pirate Show.  It was a fantastic experience. I don’t know how it came together as it did but we pulled it off. Normally these kinds of programs take more time to complete but I was in such a rush that I somehow pulled together all the people needed to make it happen.

While Rowand edited it, Farah and I explored the western tip of Cuba by bicycle. We brought over school supplies collected by a good friend and school teacher Craig McNeil. The bicycles that we travelled with we left there. We created this video of our experience. It is interesting to look at this experience through my eyes now… I am a very different person.

When we returned we prepared for the Banff International Television festival. The Purple Pirate was going to take the festival by storm…and I was going to cycle there. To prove that I was serious about being a positive role model… This blog is a very interesting way for me to look back on the way I have approached life…with my body. This passion has always been great for me but can be alienating as most people don’t know how to relate to, what can be perceived as an extreme personality.

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This is the cake made for me at the going away party.

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I was nervous about cycling all the way to Banff. I trained for it…when I should have been preparing for presenting the show. I got sick the day before from the nerves but when I got on the road I recovered. When I arrived in Banff my confidence had been boosted from accomplishing the trip. The only issue was that I had no contacts or notoriety so my team had made a plan that I would wear different versions of my Purple Pirate ‘uniform’ everyday to attract attention….and it worked. I got attention but I didn’t know what to do with it. I was way out of my comfort zone. People came up to talk to me but I had nothing really substantial to say. I didn’t understand the medium or the market.

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This is the picture we used for press releases.

The last day was children’s programming and I made 100 purple balloon swords and put them on the backs of the chairs in the auditorium. When people entered the room it looked like a purple seaweed farm. It worked! The emcee said “the Purple Pirate has struck”, asked where I was and came up to me with the microphone. I said something but didn’t know how to follow up. Les Brown has a saying “I didn’t know what I didn’t know”.. I love that guy.

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The children’s programming day…I made 100 purple balloon swords and put them on the backs of the seats in the auditorium.

The Purple Pirate wasn’t a household name at the end of that trip but I learned a lot and am now ready to try again. I am writing a television program myself this time and gathering up a crew. The Purple Pirate will strike again!

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 27 – Blue Collar & Islam

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of how Dustin Anderson became the children’s icon, The Purple Pirate.

Dancing with the Karen Jamieson was not only interesting but I had the opportunity to work with some amazing performers. Alisoun Payne was/is this incredible dynamo of a dancer. It was a spectacular experience to dance with her. Below are pictures from Raven of the Roundhouse.

 

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Byron Chief Moons was another great performer that also had a dance group, Coyote Arts Percussive Performance Association. He hired me for residencies at the Banff Centre of the Arts and performances in Toronto and also video. It was a fantastic experience. Byron Chief Moon is a wonderful human being, great performer and always went of his way to make people feel special.

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Brian Webb invited me to choreograph for the upcoming season. I created a piece based on my experience in the  Blue Collar world and invited a good buddy of mine, Walter Kubanek to dance with me.

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I built a large wooden structure that Walter and I climbed over and danced around. Heavy physical labour with artistic intent was really fulfilling for me. Have a Look  http://youtu.be/JIwwvGrxgPA . This was a very fulfilling process for me but I didn’t have the confidence to promote Blue Collar to other festivals or venues.

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Once it was over I did small contracts for other companies in the lower mainland. There is a different aesthetic and physical demand between the west and the east. I have always been a very physical person and had that expectation of my dance work and training . Vancouver at that time had a different focus and I was frustrated.

September 11th, 2001 changed the world and mine for the better. I watched the television on that day and for the next period of time and was influenced by the media’s demonisation of Islam. Then one day in November I met a beautiful woman named Farah Nazarali.

This woman was really smart, conscientious, and….muslim! All the fear mongering about muslims that I was starting to believe was erased. I had travelled but I wouldn’t say I was worldly. My view of the world was changed with how I saw people of developing nations treated on the cruise ship. Farah had a huge depth of knowledge of the world and helped my global conscience grow. 13 years later we are married and still growing together.

I was unfulfilled with where my dance career was going and made a choice, with Farah’s support, to focus on performing for children. I love to dance but I didn’t know how to realise that dream in a city that wasn’t focussed on the aesthetic I was interested in so I decided to retire. It was a difficult choice but I didn’t see a great future for me in the climate and lifestyle that I prefered.

I have realised that this blog is about the life lessons that I have been presented with and that this is a great opportunity for me.

Life Lesson: Meeting Farah taught me that first hand experience matters not what people say.

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The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 26 – Chinese Television

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s performer. This blog is the transformational tale of how Dustin Anderson became the children’s icon, The Purple Pirate.

Shawn Farquhar knows everyone. This man is a motivated dynamo that has given enormous amounts of energy and love to magic. A friend of his and world champion magician, Juliana Chen needed an assistant and he suggested me. I had never heard of her before but I was always looking for work. The thought of working with a world champion that travelled the world was also very interesting. Juliana won FISM (the olympics of magic) with a cards and masks routine. She had toured the world with that act and sometimes needed an assistant for larger events and illusions.

We met and I would fit the criteria that she was looking for. We started rehearsing in the storage space of the infamous strip club, No. 5 Orange. She needed an assistant for a show at the PNE and in Toronto. Limousines would pick us up. What she needed of me was quite simple, dancing and assisting for the shows. The event organisers struggled with what was expected of them and backstage was really stressful. There are many details in putting together a successful performance and an audience member wouldn’t notice them.

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Every show was challenging. Then she invited me to come with her to the Shanghai International Magic Festival. What an incredible opportunity. I had never been to China before. I was a little nervous about going there as it was shortly after September 11th, 2001. World security was changing fast. In the end there were no difficulties go to or from China but I had my doubts. China is like a whole different planet. The noise and pollution in Shanghai are insane compared to Vancouver. I noticed that men were horking up phlegm everywhere and it made me think that their lunges were infected from the terrible air quality.

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We stayed in a beautiful hotel and I had a massive bed in my room. It looked awesome and I went to do a dive onto it…and bounced off onto the other side of the bed like a Chevy Chase movie. The bed was really hard. Really hard. I never expected it and didn’t sleep very well for the week. The gig was really interesting. I had choreographed one of the pieces for it and got to work with some Chinese national acrobats as my dancers. They didn’t speak English and I had only been able to learn how to say good, beautiful and count 1-10 in Mandarin to get us through. They were fantastic and we had fun despite the language and cultural barrier. Because they were employees of the state we could summon them anytime.

mimidodosheridusty

The other magic acts were all world champions and were incredibly inspiring. I got to see Nicholas Knight and Kevin James but My favorite was Junge Junge. This incredible experience introduced me to the European style silent act….a seed was planted.

Shanghai

I really appreciated the effort put forth in detail and narrative. The event itself was in a large stadium of 20 thousand people with a live audience of over 2 million people. I have no idea how the television audience enjoyed the shows but the live audience didn’t seem to care. There was a constant cacophony of cel phones, talking and there might have even been some Yaks wandering through. The sound guy disappeared, the lighting guy was asleep and the poor Canadian stage manager was going out of his mine. Some of the acts were cut short during their shows, some cut altogether. We were told that we weren’t going on and then “We’re going on in 45 seconds!!”. Me and my dancers nailed it despite the sound guy turning off our music half way into the piece and Juliana disappearing and reappearing in the audience to the din of the seemingly uninterested horde. Ain’t show business grande!

Going to China was great. For me the most memorable piece was seeing magic presented in a way that I really appreciated it… and now try to emulate with Message in a Bottle.

wheel and head

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