Open Stage Showcases the Power of Positive Thinking

Richardson venue welcomes all, from bards to belly dancers.

Suddenly, from all over the room, the sound of camera shutters whirring open. One, two, three, six photographers scuttle toward the stage, lenses pointed at GlamAmour as she wiggles out of the slinky kimono and covers her bare breasts with a stuffed toy, a gray moose, as it happens, and not Winnie the Pooh.

She reads more poems by Milne, to hoots and whistles from the audience. She finishes and sits up on her knees, tossing the moose aside. Sparkly red tassels cover her nipples. She poses for the shutterbugs now ringing the stage.

That's all the acts on tonight's roster, but the crowd lingers for what Sharek dubs "Performers' Playground," a free-form playtime for anyone who wants to sing, read or dance for a couple more hours. Down in the pillow area, Cypher and two friends twirl Hula Hoops around their middles. A couple of guys juggle glow-in-the-dark balls. Someone takes a long pull off a wine bottle and passes it on.

Bards and belly dancers share the spotlight at the weekly Open Stage showcase in Richardson.
Matt Walker
Bards and belly dancers share the spotlight at the weekly Open Stage showcase in Richardson.

Details

Open Stage 8 p.m. every Monday at House of Poets, 580 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson. Admission is $5. No reservations needed.

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Maybe it's the incense, maybe it's an overdose of Positivity Pills or what's in that punch bowl, but everyone who was sitting down before now is on their feet, acting a little too giddy for a Monday night. Even if they start juggling each other, nothing can top tits and a toy moose. This show's over. Time to giddy-up and go.

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13 comments
Innocent Bystander
Innocent Bystander

The irony is that the poet she mentioned, Will Richey, was one of the 10 finalists for the Masterminds contest that Elaine helped with.

Kelly
Kelly

Dear Elaine, Flattered as I was by the portion of your review that pertained to my performance, I have to confess that other parts of it had even me -- a big fan of the Positivity Pill -- struggling for constructive words with which to respond. I'd liken it to finding an even-handed reply to someone who looks through your photo albums and asks, "Are all your children this ugly?"

This is, of course, because I possess not one drop of objectivity about the Open Stage. I owe a debt of gratitude to that punch-swilling-and-corset-wearing horde of hug junkies. If you had seen my first performance there back in March -- flickers of bravado betrayed by trembling fingers, slumped posture and a shaky, sheepish grin peeking from beneath a generously proffered bowler -- and compare it to my act the night you came, you'll know what the past nine months of their unflagging enthusiasm has done for me as a burgeoning performer.

We occasionally find ourselves privileged to see the likes of Wayne Greene and other veteran performers in the lineup, but most of us are still amateurs in our chosen forms of expression, and we're fiercely protective of fellow newbies. So of course some rushed to defend themselves and each other when a theater critic -- who was doing her job -- visited and, understandably lacking the adoring bias we enjoy from one another, published critiques of their performances... and, for reasons I still can't fathom, of their bodies as well. (I'm twice the size of any of the "generously proportioned belly dancers," and my most outstanding features nearly rest atop my guitar when I play. I don't relish the idea of having my physique nitpicked any more than I suspect you would, but I'm still not certain how I dodged that bullet when I am, in every sense of the word, a bigger target.)

Having said all that, I'm writing to thank you for this review. Because many of us drink the kool-aid together -- quite literally; the punch bowl is less extravagant on some nights than others -- it's helpful to hear the perspectives of an intentionally distant observer, especially when it rubs us the wrong way. Criticism, whether we agree with it or not, is always an opportunity for growth. Even if we don't end up making any changes based on those observations, it's valuable market research we didn't have to pay for.

Yes, I obviously took exception to things you said, but on this point we agree: Open Stage is not for everybody. Yes, we find joy in playing with hoops and sticks and other age-inappropriate toys. We wear kilts and strategically obnoxious stockings because by Monday, most of our costumes -- by which I mean the khaki-and-polo-shirt getups in which we masquerade the rest of the week -- are dirty. And thanks to you, when we really like something, we've begun saying, "That's better than tits and a toy moose!" As I told someone recently, "My circus friends and me, we are some odd motherf***ers... but we're odd motherf***ers who hope to see a lot of good things from and for each other." We're not for everybody, but we're for everybody who wants us to be for them.

Just once more: thank you. Thanks for coming out, for offering us your feedback on our event and our individual performances, and for doing something we urge each other to do: try something new, even if it scares you.

Please come back anytime. I'll loan you a corset if you like... and the punch bowl is, as always, strictly optional.

All my best,Kelly Nygren

Masane Deviant Artist
Masane Deviant Artist

Clearly you do not know how to write an article. You definately need the Positivity Suppository in big doses. These people go where they can let go. Get your facts straight before writing this trashy article.

Renee Sitton
Renee Sitton

Did Glam'Amour give you permission to mention her given name in your piece? I sure hope so because if not you really stepped in it lady.

And did you also realize one of the "generously proportioned belly dancers" is pregnant?

Tunedex
Tunedex

A review as enjoyable as the show. I wonder if this is how Guy Laliberte started out. And though I should not be, I am forever amazed at the presumption (i.e., "you do understand") and thickness ("missed the point entirely") of goobers commenting.

Aeone Singson
Aeone Singson

The idea behind The Open Stage is simple and beautiful: To provide an environment that harnesses the courage to perform in front of a crowd without fear of oppressive criticism. Creativity and talent, just as any other skill, necessitates a nurturing environment to flourish and The Open Stage provides just that. To many of its attendees, this venue is a warm and comforting atmosphere that they can call their home away from home on Monday nights. They come as they want to, with beautifully constructed vibrancy in personality and clothing. In this venue on this night they are provided a place of solace to allow themselves to be immersed in the world outside of general societal propriety: a welcomed, and much needed break from the humdrum norm. The spectators are encouraged to respond positively to every performance. The coordinators of The Open Stage affectionately acknowledge that even seasoned performers experience the paralysis of stage fright. With that in mind, they have created rules to negate any behavior that would facilitate any injurious energy from spreading to the crowd and to those on the stage. This in turn perpetuates an amiable lighthearted mood that permeates throughout the entire venue and continues to encourage performers on their way to the stage throughout the entire night. Clearly, this article missed the point entirely.

Estee
Estee

"[G]enerously proportioned belly dancers"? Either the photo used in the article is a stock image, or someone's been watching *way* too much America's Next Top Model.

mevanecek
mevanecek

You do understand that it's common courtesy to use the nom de stage when referring to a performer who uses one, right, and not the real name? Incredibly discourteous on your part without having first obtained permission from the performer to use something other than the stage name. Dallas Observer writers as always exhibiting their class and sophistication.

Aguilera
Aguilera

Nice and sharp comment. I do aggree with that point. This article seems to be misleading.

Samantha
Samantha

The photo used was not stock. It was of me, a generously proportioned belly dancer. I was genuinely upset that this article would review an event that promotes positivity and encouragement to performers with such a sarcastic tone. Also, she should have taken some time to learn a bit about our style of dance before making a complete ass of herself while writing this article. It shouldn't surprise me; this is the Observer.

Judy
Judy

As one of the three "generously proportioned belly dancers" I was immediately offended and hurt by this article. Uh, seen many skinny belly dancers? And sweetums, thanks to belly dance I LOVE my sexy curves. And the reason we didn't smile? It was a tribal piece, not cabaret.. not supposed to smile. She missed the point of Open Stage entirely. This article was the straw that broke this generously proportioned camels back... I will never read this rag again.

Judy
Judy

Oh, Estee, THANK YOU... Obviously what I wrote above is directed to the dumbass who wrote the article. Loved your comment!

 
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