The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 25 – The birth of the Purple Pirate

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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.

My parents were living in Tucson at that time and stayed with them for a couple weeks when I returned to North America. My little brother, Mikey, was 5 at the time. He is now graduating from University….I want to say something profound about time but I would just sound and feel old. :0)

Riding my fathers Goldwing around Tucson was quite a bit different than the GT 750 I had just sold. Those things are great for cruising around. Big and comfortable like a two wheeled land yacht.

When I landed in Vancouver I sub-letted the room of my friend, Terry at Main and 25th. The house known as the “Men’s Shelter” or the “Port Hardy Embassy”. It was 20 something single men that were mostly from Port Hardy. It was a perfect place for me. We all had issues and were trying to find ourselves…though no one was doing it consciously.

I started looking for some dance classes to train at and throughout my time in Vancouver I rarely have connected with the teaching styles. I auditioned for the Karen Jamieson dance company with my tried and true technique of a back flip. I didn’t hear back for a few months and then I got the gig. I worked with some extraordinary people; Byron Chief Moon and Alisoune Payne

I reconnected with the magician, Shawn Farquhar that I met in the Caribbean and he inspired me with lots of knowledge about magic. He would share effects that he was working on and overwhelm me with knowledge. He and his family became good friends. He is now a world champion magician and if you ever get a chance to see his work…GO! He is a master of the craft! Here is my personal favorite piece of his. 

I didn’t want to get a minimum wage job and thought about the fun I had performing with Birthday Party Doug in Toronto so I started looking for agencies. There was nothing like that happening in Vancouver. I had to start something on my own and I remembered that Doug mentioned that children love pirates. I had also heard about a local performer called the Emerald Admiral. One night before just as I was falling asleep….The Purple Pirate….I will be the Purple Pirate.

I got one of the raver friends of the Mens’ shelter to sew me a costume. I cycled to Richmond from Vancouver and bought the last plastic treasure box, taped it to my back and rode home. I learned some tricks that Shawn gave me and some of my own.

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I had an F-150 truck and had a friend paint the sides like the side of a hull, I designed a mast out of PVC, had  sail made and created my own bubble cannon! It was really fun!

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My initial idea was to supplement my dance income with children’s birthday parties. I enjoyed the creative process and once I got over a number of misconceptions I had of what performing at a children’s birthday party would be like…and some humbling experiences I was performing as the Purple Pirate quite a bit.

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The only issue was my artistic training “art is expression of self”….

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 24 – Kangaroos and the final leg of the Australian Odyssey

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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.

By the time we got to Perth we were pretty tired. We stayed with a good friend Zac for a few days and then started to make our way east. There were a few things we wanted to see like the Wave Rock and Margaret river on that side but ultimately we were getting to the end.

We met a couple young men from Tasmania that were touring around in a car. We decided to travel the Nullarbor plain together. 2000 kilometres of straight, flat and inhabited road…with a gas station in the middle. There were “short” road works of 50 kilometres of dirt road. This was unnerving on a loaded touring motorcycle with two people. We were very lucky to have the car for Cindy to ride for those stretches.

The Nullarbor was a two day trip for us and on the second day we left late and found ourselves travelling at night which is really dangerous as the Kangaroos come out. We hadn’t seen any in the wild until that night. Cindy road in the car and I stayed as close to the cars rear bumper as I could to avoid being taken out by one of those creatures. It was a white knuckle ride but we made it through.

A quick aside….(The goal of the blog is to be an entertaining journey for you but it is also a very interesting process in self discovery for me as I relive some of these experiences that imprinted on my subconscious. Performing for children isn’t nearly as dangerous as some of these Australian adventures….but the accumulative experiences of ones life shape how they approach their present life. In other words…When I am performing at night I am still on the look out for jumping marsupials!)

We rode through Adelaide and the The Great Ocean Road past the 12 Apostles.  Cindy’s mom went ill so she had to back to Holland from Melbourne. She flew out and I met up with some old friends and tied up some loose ends. It was nice to be back. I really like that city. 2521

The last part of the trip through Sydney and up through New South Wales was nice but I was ready to start my life again so I pushed through and didn’t stop much. It was getting cold as well….this is a relative Australian scale…not a Canadian one.

I arrived in Brisbane and stayed with another friend Peter. He helped me sell the bike and then I flew home. It was time for me to be Canadian again. As much as I liked many aspects of Toronto I was afraid of the winter and smog so Cindy and I had decided to move to Vancouver.

What are the life lessons of this trip for me? I keep coming back to Les Browns’ expression “JUMP…and grow your wings on the way down”. We really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into and how dangerous some of those moments would be. It challenged our focus and determination several times. We were really scared for our lives and that made us push through. It is pretty amazing at the focus possible when you feel your life at risk.

Another adventure concludes and another begins…

 

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 22 – Chased by a tropical storm

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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 Purple Pirate.

I appreciated the West Coast of Australia the most of all. Western Australia does not have many tourists because it is a long ways from where tourists land. I feel that if I want to meet Canadians I would stay in Canada.

One day heading south from Broome a massive storm hit. The wind was so powerful the rain was coming at us sideways. Cindy was piloting at the time and she couldn’t handle it so I took over. We had the added stress of being in a flood plane. Which we were told could take days to clear and we didn’t have the time or confidence to wait.

I saw a van up the road and knocked on their window to ask for guidance but they didn’t roll down their window. We wer scared so we rode off. The wind pushed and pushed harder from the west. I had to push the handle bars really hard into the wind to keep us on the road. I remember my right tricep burning from the work.  Once we got to the edge of the storm I hit the throttle hard to outrun the storm. We laughed that our right side was soaked and the left side dry.

Most of the terrain was like a low desert with very few formations or features. There were low bushes that would have spider webs spanning 4 metres apart and a spider as big as my spread out hand in the middle. Creepy. These spider webs were to catch birds! There were also dead cattle on the side of the road that were bloated looking like they were ready to burst.

We pulled into a gas station in the middle of nowhere and I recognised a woman…she was a Norwegian woman that I taught aerobics to in the Canary Islands. There is a mystical lesson in this but I can’t figure it out. We asked her where we could camp and she recommend on the beach not far from that gas station and only 15 kms on a dirt road.

It was beautiful, peaceful and there was  a constant breeze off the water. In the morning the breeze stopped abruptly so I got out of the tent to see what was happening. As soon as I got out a massive storm blew the tent over Cindy and snapped some of the tent poles. It was instant chaos. We were lucky to have Dieter there. Cindy got into his truck with all our gear and I rode the bike out of the dirt on my own.

We stopped at the next town, loaded up the bike and Cindy and got back under way. Dieter went back into the Outback and we went south. Our next stop was a little town called Exmouth. Cindy got to touch a dolphin which was  lifetime dream of her but otherwise it was an offseason tourist town. I believe we got chased out of Exmouth by a storm as well. The day after we left Exmouth was flooded by Cyclone Vance.

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I assume that what we experienced all the way south of Western Australia was the outside edges of that massive cyclone. I am sooooo sooo grateful that had been kept us out of its way. We needed some rest but for some reason we kept going.
I have questions about how to interpret these kinds of events. Is it Karma? How did we keep from being harmed by it? Is it fate? What is the lesson? It is a great memory none the less.

 

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 21 – Road Trains and Near death experience #2

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If you have ever wondered how a man goes from a bike courier to  commercial fisherman/ logger to dancer to world traveller, and then children’s performer you have come to the right place. This is the story of how Dustin Anderson found his performing identity the Purple Pirate…and the adventures along the way!

I remember being on the highway leaving Darwin with the constant fear of being hammered by a massive storm. We went for  ride once and a storm hit. We couldn’t see anything so we turned around and went back. The roads were a wash. It was too dangerous for us.

Heading west on the only road to Broome we would frequently see Road Trains, really long and efficient transport trucks carrying goods through the Outback.  These amazing machines travel fast and take a long time to start and stop. The road was mostly flat and really straight so we could pass them fairly safely.

We were passing one Road Train at about 150 kph and I saw an Emu crossing the road about a kilometre ahead. This gave me a bad feeling so I scanned as saw another following and going to cross in our path. I couldn’t just slam on the brakes as we had the Road Train right behind us. It was terrifying but I tried to time where the emu would be as try to pass.

I remember this like it was yesterday…It was right in front of our wind screen and even though we didn’t collide with it…it tumbled off the road. We must have been pushing so much air that we pushed it too. I am getting tense and nervous just typing about this experience.

We stopped about 10 kms down the road and tried to relax. The driver of the Road Train came in shortly after and said that he saw everything and was prepared to go around us. I don’t know how that would be possible and am very grateful he didn’t need to stop to sweep our bodies from the road.

Northern Western Australia is beautiful. I remember lots of red mountains. It was so hot that we would soak our shirts (no leather jackets) and within 5 minutes on the road they would be dry again. We would freeze 2 litre pop bottles full of water at night and drink through straws while we were riding to stay hydrated. It was amazing.

We arrived in Derby and were going to camp. As we looked for a camping place we were welcomed by a huge swarm of massive mosquitoes and even though we had ridden around 800 kms that day we decided to ride on to Broome. I have never liked mosquitoes. I respect their place in the food cycle but I still don’t like them.

We went for our first dip in the ocean in Broome to cool off…and it was like a bath tub. It was unbelievably unsatisfying. We made a German friend Dieter at this time as well. He was so different from us. We used our tourist map and travelled on our motorcycle. 117-1792_IMG

He was in a 4 by 4 with gear for almost any scenario. He was helpful and we really enjoyed his company…His help was soon to be needed again….

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 20 – Rumba de la Removalist!

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Thanks for tuning in…!

If you have ever wondered how a man goes from a bike courier to  commercial fisherman/ logger to dancer to world traveller, and then children’s performer you have come to the right place. This is the story of how Dustin Anderson found his performing identity the Purple Pirate…and the adventures along the way!

We left Alice Springs and went north to Darwin. We had run out of fuel a couple times now and were really lucky to have encountered some really kind people. We  didn’t want to have to keep waiting in the middle of nowhere for help so we started carrying a jerry can…there are some really big distances between fuel stops in the outback.

We stayed at a backpackers for a short time and made another Peter….this time McGrath. A fellow motorcyclist and out door enthusiast. It was quiet at the hostel as it was coming into…. wet season.

In Canada we have Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. In the tropics…It is either wet or dry. Wet is summer and it is quite something. It is so hot and humid that you are always “wet”…Sticky and smelly… all day. The heat builds up in the morning and then massive tropical storms from all the moisture in the air. They don’t last long but are very intense.

Darwin is a pretty amazing place. It is a fair size and quite isolated. It has all the modern conveniences and it is a long distance from another large centre. It has biting ants, and for 3 months a year it gets surf. With that surf there are massive salt water crocodiles, great white sharks, and poisonous jelly fish. I never saw any of those in the wild but I tried. We did go to a crocodile farm and saw a 4 metre long one. It was pretty awesome.

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the caricature is of Charlie Arbon…Pretty close resemblance too.

I got a job working for Arbons removalists. The greatest lesson of this part of the journey for me was that working relationships can really influence the enjoyment of the work.

Working with Wayne and Charlie Arbon was a true pleasure. Moving furniture is difficult work but Wayne and I would laugh all day long. Even when we were carrying a several hundred pound hardwood couch down a winding staircase or pack a 5 bedroom house into a semi trailer we would enjoy ourselves and work as a team. This experience taught me how important team work really is. 

As much as I enjoyed my working environment I still had unfinished business with dance. I taught dance at a local dance studio and even influenced Wayne Arbon. There was  a television program called Hey Hey Its Saturday and we were preparing to make our TV debut VIDEO HERE.

Few people have had the pleasure of true teamwork…and everyone should. The freedom to work at your capacity with encouragement is liberating. It is a guiding principle of my present ethos as the Purple Pirate. Everyone, including the adults, in the audience deserves to enjoy the performance.

I look at my audience as my team and look for every opportunity to make everyone feel included and part of the action. I learned this from a couple of blue collar men in a very isolated place, doing back breaking work in a terrible climate. 

Thanks Charlie and Wayne!

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 19 – Down Unda 2

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If you are just tuning in…Thanks! This blog is a haphazard auto-biography of how Dustin Anderson discovered the treasure of performing for children and became the Purple Pirate….now on with the entry!

CIndy and I were tired and ready to get on with our travels.  I flew home to get my Australian visa and Cindy went back to Holland. We met up in Brisbane a couple weeks later.

Peter Kennedy allowed us to stay with him when we first arrived. I was determined to get started so we started looking for used motorcycles right away even though we were still jet lagged. We rented a car and when we were out looking I drove into a car door…slowly. This resulted in us losing our damage deposit.

We felt the rental car owner took some advantage of us and we started the trip with this emotional challenge. After a short period of time it didn’t matter which is very interesting. Emotions can run very high and if you let them…they dissipate. The challenge is letting go!

We found a Kawasaki GT 750 with saddle bags and got a back rest fabricated. It would suit our needs well. We had a lot of stuff…and on the first day out we got delayed because we were too loaded on the rear and had to buy a tank bag to move some of the weight forward. That worked well enough.

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The adventure began and it was exciting to be on the road on a motorcycle….doing something I had dreamed about a decade earlier. At the time I didn’t realise that I was accomplishing a dream. Cindy had her motorcycle license as well which was great to be able to share the piloting duties. What she didn’t tell was that she didn’t have that much experience. She got the hang of it though.

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This was our map. The highlighted trail around the outer edge was our route.

We needed help a couple times and people were really kind and generous. Exploring Northern Queensland and stopping in the WhitSundays for a snorkel,  Fraser Island to hang with the dingos was really incredible. The only drawback for me was that there were a lot of tourists. I feel that if I want to meet and be around Canadians I will  stay in Canada so I was anxious to get off the beaten track.

I was starting to get anxious because I wasn’t dancing or performing. I hadn’t done much personal work at that stage because I didn’t understand the value. Acceptance was very difficult for me. I saw a therapist in Holland when Cindy and I were living there. Some healing and understanding started but the ability to run away was easy and I got to avoid myself for a little longer…

We went all the way up to Cairns and the wet season was coming so we didn’t stay. We headed to the centre and to Alice Springs. We met up with a really nice family from Zimbabwe and stayed with them in Alice Springs. I really connected with the teenage boys and it was nice to sleep in air conditioning.

I was quite stubborn and had a poverty mentality so when we decided to go to Uluru I wanted to do it in a day. It is 467 kms one way and I was…stubborn. There is no speed limit in the outback and thought we could do it fast. We almost got wiped out by a car that was thinking the same thing.

Cindy and I had a disagreement about going back right away. I also didn’t want to climb it out of respect for the aboriginal people. She opted out of walking around it so I went on my own. I had no spiritual interest at that time but when I walked around it I could feel that there was something going on there. Uluru is a very interesting place.

The Devils Marbles is also quite interesting…and lots and lots of flies.

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 18 – One dream achieved

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If you are just tuning in…Thanks! This blog is a haphazard auto-biography of how Dustin Anderson discovered the treasure of performing for children and became the Purple Pirate….now on with the entry!

I was more focussed on skating around Europe than I was on the job. Steve fell in love, jumped ship and I kept skating.

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Having fun with some local kids in Sicily and Debbie my dance captain.

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I loved to fly.

Steve was replaced by a character named John Bartram,  a legend. John became my roommate and we had alot of fun. We would laugh and fool around…all the time. We had a weekly bet to see who could find the cheapest bottle of wine in Marseille every week. He was from Liverpool and was naturally quite a bit more adept at that game than I. I would have a couple sips and pass out.

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We would stop passengers to take pictures with us as they entered the ship. A duty that was part of the glory of being a dancer on the ship.

 

I fell in love with a woman named Cindy from Holland and when the contract was up we went to her hometown, Heesch. I was really happy to be finished with the Cruise Ship. You need a different personality type than mine to survive that world. It wasn’t for me long term but I had some great experiences and learning. Holland was quite different as well. I was about 30 cms shorter than everyone and had long hair. People would stare at me.

I had been weight training since my teen age years and started working out at a squash centre in Oss. It had an old style machine and I could easily bench press the stack. When I asked if there was more weight and explained the owner didn’t believe that I could do it. When I showed him he offered me a job on the spot. Funny.

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This was part of the marketing plan of the Centre. I was doing a straddle jump.

I taught aerobics and trained clients. Dutch people are friendly but it is a very different culture than I was comfortable with…and I thought I still wanted to dance. I even did a children’s birthday party with the help of Cindy. Mijn Nederlands Prata niet zo goed!

We struggled and decided to move to the Canary Islands. We lived in a small village near Puerto Rico and the weather was hot…really hot. The Spanish lifestyle is focussed on the night and I thrive when I go to be at 9 pm. I got a job at the gym. Better Bodies,  and taught at gym, and choreographed for a local fitness model.

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Sylvia, my boss and I believe this man was Mr. England at the time. I was wearing a shirt my gramma gave me.

 

The owner also owned a bar and night club that I worked at as well. We had decided to save money to travel around Australia by motorcycle. A dream that I had from my first trip there in 1990. When I was really broke on the Gold Coast I dreamed of buying a motorcycle and exploring the country…  A seed was planted.

Steve and Clare came down to earn money with us …and we went out for dinner one night and were robbed. It was awful. They lost a fair amount of New Zealand dollars and had to leave. We spent the last few months there in fear. It was far less than ideal so we buckled down and worked really hard. I would serve breakfast at my bosses restaurant from 8am till I had to open the gym at 11am then work at the bar until 4am. It was crazy. I was so tired but pushed through. The 100-120 hour work weeks paid off and we had enough money to move onto the next adventure.

Another dream comes true:

When I was in elementary school I dreamed of bench pressing 250 pounds. I thought it would make me Hercules. The seed was planted. While working at the gym I had the opportunity to train consistently. One day I thought I would “go for max bench”. I pushed 120 kilos (264 pounds) for a strict repetition. It was a grand goal achieved for me. I was very pleased.

In this blog writing I am seeing that there is a grand life lesson in these dreams coming true for me….I don’t have the exact answer but it might become more clear as this journey continues…Thanks for coming along. :0 )

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 17 – EUROPE!

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If you are just tuning in…Thanks! This blog is a haphazard auto-biography of how Dustin Anderson discovered the treasure of performing for children and became the Purple Pirate….now on with the entry!

During my brief stay on the Royal Majesty I fell in love in inline skating. I would skate downtown Miami from the port and would go on adventures wherever I could. I loved it. I loved the sense of flying and the rhythm of using my whole body. I never played hockey as a child (believe or not most Canadians don’t play hockey) or got into ice skating. The idea of skate around in circles never interested me…but exploring a city and jumping park benches really appealed to me.

Steve and I stayed with another Canadian, Altan,  in his dads condo in Fort Lauderdale, soaked up the sun and prepared for our hand balancing debut. Recalling the freedom of that time in my life is quite fun.

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After a couple weeks we boarded the Costa Romantica and did two weeks of rehearsals while in the Caribbean going to places that were more interesting than any of the ports on the itinerary of the Royal Majesty. But…we only got to see them from the ship as we were learning the shows and getting costumes fitted. The shows and the show room were more interesting for me than the previous ship. We had a real stage in a several hundred seat theatre.

After a couple weeks we set sail for Europe. Crossing the Atlantic on a ship was quite interesting but after 4 days at sea we started craving skating so we skated below decks. It was amazing to pass the Rock of Gibraltar and land in Funchal, Portugal. We skated all over that beautiful community and almost wiped out several times as it was quite hilly and the roads could have rocks cemented into them.

In the first 2 weeks we stopped in Casablanca, Korfu, Livorno, Villa France, Cannes and other really interesting ports in the Mediterranean. It was a fantastic time and I was really enjoying the different food and experiences. Steve and I lost momentum with the hand balancing and got distracted with our social lives. We worked a total of 12-14 hours a week and got exploring the ports….by skates. I told a passenger that I was going to skate to the top of a mountain we could see off in the distance. 2 weeks later I convinced Steve to do it with me.

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Top of Montpelligrino!

 

My passion for skating inspired a couple dozen people on the ship to buy skates and myself and a few others led an expedition to a castle in Palma de Maorca. I led my group astray and we got lost. We made it there eventually. It was a magical time.

I made teenager skating friends in Maorca and Napoli and would meet up to skate with them. Skating and exploring were my life on the ship. The dancing was a means to an end. I had lost my passion for dance as I my heart was captured by the exploration bug….a seed had been planted.

Art and emotional integrity

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I had the great opportunity to go to the Heart Mind Conference this weekend at UBC. It was presented by the Dalai Llama Centre for Peace and Education. 2 days of emotional education, stories and tools on how to bring the heart into the classroom. It was incredible and I am wiped out now because of it.

The greatest lesson of my artistic training for me was “art is of the self” and I feel I have really put effort towards that ideal with Message in a Bottle. Taking my childhood trauma and shaping it into a theatrical piece that will engage students with artistic mediums that will capture their attention to show the emotional journey of bullying of the bully. It was a great achievement for me.

The post show goal is to provide an emotional platform for teachers to talk with the students about the cycle of bullying to educate about the power of forgiveness. My challenge has been to offer the tools for teachers to make it as easy as possible. The Heart Mind Conference had many like minded people and made me feel like I will have allies in making my presentation the most effective it can be. Most of the attendees were educators.

Some of the moments that really stuck out for me was the speech by Freedom Writers creator, Erin Gruwell. You can watch a TEDX version HERE. It is heavy and many of us were crying. If you ever get a chance watch Freedom Writers. Truly inspiring. We rented it from Itunes last night.

Erin’s speech gave me  hope that teachers can make a difference. It also made me think about several key teachers in my life that helped me. Not only my high school drama teachers because I felt accepted and motivated to focus on activities that fed my soul but also Mrs. Attadia at Maywood Elementary (around 1978). I remember not wanting to go home at the end of the day because I felt safe in her class.

The next speech that really stood out for me was by Felix Warneken about children’s’ innate altruism. This started off very academic and then he had the videos of the toddlers helping without any prodding. It is our HERE is a TEDX version.

This really connected with my own experience and what I talk about in the show. Children aren’t born bullies. People are bullies because they don’t feel safe and feel that dominating another person will change that for them. They don’t know any better and if they knew better they would make different choices. I believe this is the same for every person that makes choices that are selfish, violent or evil. Felix’s research and presentation confirmed this for me. Thanks Felix.

I had the opportunity to also meet and sit in with the Random Acts of Kindness foundation. A very nice group of people with a great mission. The name says it all. The greatest part is that they have resources for teachers. Just what I was looking for.

www.randomactsofkindnessfoundation.org

I have to thank Farah for this great gift. It was her idea for me to attend. The course was proof that I am not alone. There is a whole community of people that are pushing for the same evolution of heart based learning.

Integrity is so important for me as an artist. I need to be true to my story and how my gifts can be used best to captivate the young audience within a context that they will connect with. Then there is what the teachers and institution require of me. Educators look at my work with different eyes and this conference gave me the tools to give to them to help their work.

Message in a Bottle just got even better!

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 16 – Making friends….the hard way

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If you are just tuning in…Thanks! This blog is a haphazard auto-biography of how Dustin Anderson discovered the treasure of performing for children as the Purple Pirate….now on with the entry!

It was exciting to step off the plane and into famous Miami. I didn’t see Don Johnson but was impressed by the heat. I was put up into a hotel for the night and then boarded the Royal Majesty the next morning. When boarding a cruise ship you give your passport to an officer to hold while you are on board which was a  little strange but I overcame it. The ship did 3 and 4 day cruises to Nassau, Key West, and Cozumel.

I remember briefly meeting the other dancers as they went about their lives on the ship. That night I would watch the show to see what I would be doing and then learn it over the next couple weeks. I was filling in for an injured dancer that had to leave.

I had just spent the last two years of having my mind burst open to the potential of self expression through the medium of modern dance and considered myself an “artiste”. Cruise ship shows are put on for their clientele which are not generally art connoisseurs and mostly not dance supporters. They are many people that are looking for the security that cruise ship companies promote. If the previous two sentences didn’t sound pretentious enough…I was a bit of a snob.

I watched the show that night with my room mate who was dating one of the female dancers. He asked me what I thought about the show and I replied almost…almost word for word “It sucks but I will do it”. I would choose a different course of action at this stage of my life but I do laugh at my incredible lack of tact and compassion. I have learned a lot since then.

Needless to say that my fellow cast members heard about it and didn’t like me. The dance captain, Karen, was quite kind and helped fit me into the show.  Most of the dancers were from England with the exception of Steve, a Kiwi. At first he really didn’t like me but we became very good friends over time. I signed on for a seven month contract and it was starting out pretty rough.

The other male dancer had to leave  and I didn’t know much of the show so Steve was dancing most of the numbers. It was fun to watch him stress during his very fast costume changes. I would laugh. Over time I got into most of them and the pressure was off him a bit. There were some fast costume changes and one night I went on for the curtain call and there were a bunch of passengers laughing and pointing at me…or rather my crotch as I had forgotten to zip up my pants and my shirt was poking out. A funny moment for all involved.

There was a real sense of powerlessness at times when we would be forced to perform in poor weather. Politics on ships is strange. I was dancing a latin number and my partner, Claire, was turning and the boat rocked causing her to fall over and sprain her ankle. Not knowing what to do I picked her up and took her back stage. The music was reel to reel and had to play through on a dark stage.

Another big seed was planted when I met a great magician Shawn Farqhuar and his lovely wife Lauri.  I had never seen much magic before and this man is now a world champion and very generous and kind human being. Thanks Shawn! Check THIS out!

I had mixed feelings about the experience on the first ship as I really enjoyed the climate and it felt a little glamorous to be dancing on a ship. The biggest challenge was that I knew that it was a dead end job like fishing and the work was uninspiring for me….and way too many sequins.

In the circus show I would do back handsprings between the rows of passengers, walk on balls and walk down stairs on my hands. Steve and I started a hand balancing act while onboard as we both wanted more money and status that we were getting as dancers. We could do some crowd pleasing moves and really enjoyed it.  We had our sites set on bigger ships. He had a contact on Costa and set himself up, jumped ship and got me an audition. I got the gig…I must have done a back flip. :0)

Overall I last 11 weeks of the 7 month contract…Then to Europe on the Costa Romantica….

wheel and head

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