Hey friends! Ami Amore here and I want to take a moment to talk about something I am really excited to be involved in right now with some like-minded friends.
It’s a stunning, must see variety show of Four Queens. This is no ordinary experience. Four talented women embody the four Queens of the Tarot taking you, the audience, on a spiritual journey leaving you feel empowered and invigorated with the essence of feminine badassery.
“This is a stunning, must-see variety show featuring mediumship, burlesque, bellydance, and circus arts. All woven together by the theme of the Divine Feminine.
As it is represented in the four suits of the tarot… We begin with Pentacles, separating the mystical veil between the living and the dead. Then moving through the suits with Swords, representing strength and power. Cups, the purity of compassion and empathy. Finally, we end with Wands, the fire of passion and sensuality.
This dazzling show will leave audiences breathless, feeling empowered and touched by the sacred feminine.”
Please join us for our first show debuting in our town of St. Louis. MO on Saturday, February 29th at the Monocle, 4-6pm. Tickets are 20$ (+ .91 in fees) in advance and 30$ at the door. Please see the Facebook event page here and be sure to tell all your friends. Buy your tickets on this page here because seating is limited and it will be sure to sell out ahead of time.
5 weeks ago today, I got up early and made my way to a Portland, Oregon climbing gym for a morning of climbing before a day out with Stacey.
Little did I know that I would fall while bouldering and end up taking an ambulance ride to the hospital. Bouldering, for those who don’t know, is where you climb with no harness, but you don’t go up very high (at least not in a gym), typically having a thick mat underneath to help if you fall.
Well, I’m not sure where I was mentally, but it felt like I was having an out of body experience at that moment in time. The last thing I remember is feeling confident about my right foot going on a hold and my foot slipping and the force of my foot going towards the hood with surety and falling with not enough time to completely curl and land the right way. The result? Me thinking Oh Fuck…. and yelping as I fell to the ground. I heard something in my body thud and knew it wasn’t going to be good. People from the gym came and helped me stay still and ambulance was called. I barely was able to get on the stretcher when the EMS arrived.
I wasn’t scared, but instead I wondered what plan the Universe had in store for me with this. I never was a fan of bouldering to be honest. We arrived at the hospital and I was heavily medicated and immediately taken to a room in the ER. I remember wondering what plan the Universe had for me with all this.
I used some deep breathing and visualization techniques and sent the breath and healing energy to my back where I knew I had been hurt. I asked for Anthony to help me in anyway he could and to not leave me. I lay on my side in pain feeling my tears run down the crevices of my face. I was so thankful this didn’t happen with no one around. I’m not sure if my back or ego was hurt worse. Ok, it was definitely my back, I started giving up on ego long ago. Also, when you have a nurse stick a suppository up your ass because you haven’t pooped in 5 days … you let go that ego.
Eventually found out I got a compression or “burst” fracture to my L1. The neurosurgeon was concerned because my L1 was pushed closer to my spinal cord and he was afraid it would migrate once I tried to walk. With that being said I spent the next three days in the hospital doped up on opiates, taking Xrays and trying to just walk, use the bathroom and be minimally mobile.
At one point, I had Stacey bring me my banana costume (it was close to Halloween, after all) and I walked down the hospital hallways with my red walker ) affectionately dubbed “Big Red” entertaining the hospital staff with quips like…”hey am I funny or am I just high!?” Or “Don’t mind me, I’m your friendly, neighborhood banana… ”
Laughter truly is the best medicine.
I was fortunate enough to have dear friends come and visit me in the hospital. One was an ERBD member, Chelsea and the other was my friend, Tom whom I had not seen in 20 years!!!! So much gratitude, also Chelsea brought me some voodoo donuts including one that was a huge penis with balls!!! I wish I had taken a picture but it got devoured… And of course for my dear friend Stacey, who drove my ass home and brought me stuff as I needed it at the hospital xoxoxo
I got released on Sunday and Monday morning Stacey and I made the long trek home 3- ten hour days in the car, padded by pillows and doped up. I had to use a walker when I’d walk and sitting or pulling down my pants to use the bathroom was excruciating. So, I wore the same dress three days in a row, Stacey calls it my broke back mountain dress, hahah. I managed to give myself a shower every night we stopped and I dressed myself too. My mind is too strong to allow myself to be a victim.
Within these 5 weeks, I have made HUGE improvements. I am now running at 80%, I have religiously gone to physical therapy and done every kind of movement I am allowed to do. I got cleared to go to the gym last week and do very light weights, so I have been going every damn day. I have also been teaching since I got back, even if I had dancers to demo the moves while I talk through it and correct students. I don’t take muscle relaxers and I immediately took myself off the oxy as soon as I got back.
It’s been a humbling experience for me to be injured. I don’t have my normal abundance of energy for much of anything. It took everything in me just to put on Urban Cabaret a couple weeks ago, which was a huge success by the way. I’ve also been feeling the change of the seasons, both literally and figuratively. Grief has been keeping me warm a lot of nights and last week I just finally slept a full night. I am confident I will make a full recovery.
Why am I sharing this? I’m not sure, I don’t want sympathy or anyone to ask me if I am ok or do I need anything. I am good and I have everything I need. Maybe someone needs to hear this or maybe they don’t. Maybe I’m just rambling into the darkness and getting this off my chest because people have been wondering. It’s been a lesson in kindness to myself. A lesson in patience. A lesson in keeping a positive mindset and perspective. A road paved with determination and mental strength. Keep on moving forward. Evolving into this new version of myself that I become every day.
I leave for India on Tuesday morning to go on a spiritual pilgrimage with my dear friend, Lauren. We’re visiting Dehli, Agra, Jaipur, Kerala, Goa and Mumbai. I’ll be gone for 1 month. It was a concern with the fall, but there was no way I was not going to go. I bought the best backpack and it feels great, sitting the weight only on my hips. I am also packing super light, minimal makeup, toiletries and clothing. I’m not scared or worried. I am excited and open to the possibilities.
Why India? I just have always wanted to go to India since I was a small child. Much in the same way I always knew i wanted to be a bellydancer.
Speaking of bellydance, I just updated my class schedule for 2020. I have some exciting classes bellydance and metal yoga in store for the new year so check them out!
SO… back to this trip I just took.
The trip started out as what was supposed to be a three week journey across the US, but became something much more meaningful as I reflecting back on it now.
In those three weeks, I did so much, connected with so many people in ways I never have. Authentic human connection, my friends. Again I ask…What Does It All Mean? Stay tuned to find out and hear about my adventures friends… to be continued soon…
So it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done an update on my life, career and grief journey. A lot has happened since the last update. In June, I went almost full tilt back into life. Performing, teaching weekly classes, doing art, developing new hobbies like archery and climbing, etc… It felt really good to get back to a feeling of normalcy. A routine, some sense of stability.
Honestly, it was too soon. I took on to much. I’ve had to clear my plate to make time and room for creativity to flow and more importantly keep space for my self care. I have a hard head and it’s nearly impossible for me to admit when I need help or I just can’t do something or to say ‘NO’ to someone. I hate to disappoint, but to be frank, life can be full of disappointment at times. It’s not a negative thing unless you want to look at it that way. I see it as this… If everything went exactly as planned every time, life would get boring, we would stopped being challenged in our coping and quick thinking skills, etc… My biggest disappointment was losing Anthony. But out of that came my greatest triumph thus far.
Out of this, I have worked real hard on not just picking myself up out of the darkest pits of my mind, but spreading my wings and working to reach soaring heights as a human with my personal growth and development. I’ve decided to put aside my ego as much as I can, when I can and embrace my fears. Walk up to insecurity, uncertainly see them, acknowledge them and give them a great big bear hug, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel at first. The best things in life are never easy or comfortable. And I think you all know by now that I seldom find my truth or happiness in comfort or complacency. Now that’s not to say that I am going to go and give up my bed, my coffee and delicious fur rugs, but I would halt a relationship that’s not healthy even if it does seem easier to keep it going for sake of having to end it. This. Is. Part. Of. Self Care.
I’ve tested my limits this year on many levels. I didn’t turn to drugs and alcohol (for more than a week) to numb the pain of losing Anthony. Instead, after the initial few weeks passed I stopped taking Benzos and I slowly started looking at my grief. I looked as grief as if it were my conservative right wing grandmother who was generally unpleasant to me (another story for another time) and I was inviting her to a tea party. I wanted to feel it, every ounce of that pain, longing and anger. I soaked it up like a sponge, I let it consume me at times. The truth is, the grief never ends, but it also becomes part of you, something you can carry and a visitor that comes at unexpected times. Once you’ve experienced intense grief and trauma, it changes you. The truth is most times though you have a choice. I could have chose to drink and pop pills or do away with myself and truthfully, that was in the darkest pits of my mind. But I didn’t. I chose to keep going.
Just. One. More. Day.
Then one day, I had a sunnier outlook, I felt lighter. no the grief was not gone, it was something that had become a part of me, something I had learned and grew from. Something that I had channeled into my art and dancing, I channeled it into my human relationships. I credit my whirlwind trip to Santa Fe and back a few months ago as a huge part of my healing process.
Since then, I’ve drove to Virginia. It was an amazing experience, I made new connections with amazing humans and saw new things, went skydiving and roller skating neither of which I had done before. It was a beautiful part of the country and really, just what I needed to get me prepared for my many travels this fall. I had so many fun and random experiences. I have found the most fun to be in randomness and absurdity.
I have learned that I can love again, I can find beauty in the pain and “ugliness” of life. I’m dating someone and after much ado, I have learned to not feel guilty about it or feel like I am betraying Anthony. My seeing someone doesn’t make me miss him any less or demean my love for him in the least. In the throes of grief it seems impossible to go on from day to day, much less the thought of being with someone else. But it’s all about mindset and again learning to sit with and carry that grief. And these feelings surprised me to be quite honest. After three months of lighting candles every single night and bawling every day, I was not expecting love to come knocking so soon. But it did and I am glad. Not only do I have room for my love for Anthony, but I have room for this person also. My love (and kindness and forgiveness) really knows no bounds, I have for many and it’s only finite if I put limitations on it. Do I still feel grief and get sad and wish this hadn’t happened, of course. Am I looking for a replacement? Absolutely not.
Love truly is infinite. People put limitations on it all the time by saying things like I only love so and so, etc… but really if you open your mind and see, love is energy it ebbs and flows. Love is love and it can be infinite if you want it to be.
Another exciting thing with the journey of grief is “grief brain”. This is a real thing. You’ve experienced a traumatic event and your mind is doing the best it can to make sense of things. So my normally organized and well put together self will brain fart frequently. I will be explaining something in the middle of class and my brain just overheats. Things like messing up video from my shows because I’m just not functioning properly. Stuff I have taught a million times, now takes me longer to prepare and execute due to grief brain. Now I am not blaming my normal ADDness on the grief brain, I have always been a little all over the place with creative ADD and, “OOO look! Shiny thing! Squirrel!” But this is 10 times worse than that. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s embarrassing and most of the time it’s downright frustrating. Sometimes it’s saddening when I have flashbacks from the night of the murder in the middle of class, etc. I have to remember to be patient with myself and just breathe, which can be hard and is one of the lessons in this life I am working on every damn day. I am just thankful for everyone who is hanging in there with me when I do things like leave my purse on the roof of my car or fill a vase with coffee instead of water.
With all that being said I’m still forging ahead. I’m teaching a few temporarily private classes a week, still doing Cats n Mats at Tenth Life. I’ve slowly started adding bootcamps back in. I’m still adding new content to my Patreon slowly but surely. I’m also doing monthly giveaways of art and headdresses and jewelry. Here’s the link to my Patreon if you should be so inclined to support. The videos aren’t the best right now but I’m hoping to be able to hire someone to help me edit them www.patreon.com/amiamore
So with all that being said here is my schedule for this fall:
September 13th – Transcendence – The Art of Ami Amore’ and Anthony Sapone – 6-10pm at Mad Art Gallery – I’ll have new art, shadow boxes, performances, jewelry and more, it’s going to be a multi media spectacular honoring love, life and death. Honoring my beloved Anthony Sapone.
I’m sitting here looking out the window between art projects reflecting on the past few months and writing this update for anyone who is wondering and cares how I’m doing, really. My last blog post was nearly two months ago and as we know, a lot can happen in that time.
Whew! Where to start? Well, the first 6 weeks I wanted to die. I spent several days where I did nothing but lay in bed with a pain in my side, I could barely eat or drink. I’d go days without food and only sips of water. I lost over 20 pounds and took a lot of benzos and ate a lot of edibles to get by. I couldn’t shower or change clothes, I was literally wasting away. Being around most people made me feel sad, angry or depressed. If it were not for my closest friends and my community both near and far, I am not sure I’d have made it through the dark.
One day, my life slowly started coming back as I gathered the strength to pick up a pencil and start drawing. I put my feelings into lines on paper, lines that turned into sketches and sketches that will eventually be paintings. I started my first painting at the beginning of May, with each stroke of the brush, I was able to let out and convey the emotions the words could not convey. Through many tears, triumphs and interruptions, I finally finished that first painting a month after I started it.
In that time, I also tried coming back to work. My first try was at Women’s Weekend in April, it was healing to be in nature, being taken care of and teach a group of amazing women a poi basics workshop and “Sigils for the Analytical Mind”, do some fire performance with Christine and lay on the earth at night and listen to the Universe as I would ask, “what next?!?!”
The next week was teaching my Cats N Mats Yoga at Tenth Life. It felt good, it was emotional and it reminded me that even though I have this grief that I carry, I am more than that. I am a teacher, I am a warrior and I am love and compassion for humankind in general.
Around the same time, I slowly started holding rehearsals with the ERBD Gang who really is my family. At first I was going through the motions and could barely make it through our shortened practices without feeling done and disconnected. But the more I did it, the better I felt, little by little step by step. It all came together in a huge well of emotion when we performed exactly 2 months after the murder. I was reminded that I am an artist, I NEED to create. I am also a performer, it is how I convey my emotions to the masses. It never felt so liberating and fulfilling to step on the stage as it did at the Lupulin Carnival. To bare my soul and have an entire crowd at a beer festival go silent. Even if I did sleep a full 18 hours after, it was so worth it. To be reminded from a place deep inside that I am not meant to wither away in the dark. I have an innate need to be of the light. Those events started a slow build back into the land of the living.
Since then, I have made small steps like trying to reconnect with friends and make new ones, when I have the energy. I added three private classes back into my schedule and more time at Tenth Life teaching yoga and now a monthly Bellydance with Cats class. I finally started making jewelry again and even though I am still behind, I am working on getting everything where it needs to be for upcoming traveling sales. Not to mention I am still producing 3 shows this year Hard Raks Cafe on August 3rd, Transcendence on September 13th and Urban Cabaret on November 8th.
Grief makes you do odd things…like EVP recordings (I did finally stop those, just FYI), being scared to do things you used to do or at the other end being reckless and having an unsafe attitude about things or even better… driving to New Mexico to climb to the top of a mountain, scream and cry at the Universe only to climb back down, eat in a cafe in Santa Fe and head back home – all in a mere 42 hours I will add (true story). All the while, I’m going through every imaginable emotion in random order – fear, anger, guilt, sadness, love. I think I finally figured out why I needed to do that, but that is a whole other story for another time. All I can say is sometimes, you just need to drive and do something to scare yourself, like leave home or sleep in a gas station parking lot in the back of the car.
Grief has given me flexibility, strength and pain tolerance (physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally) like none I have known before, the impossible has become possible. My focus for things physical or spiritual is at an all time high. I can do splits and arm balances I could never do before after practicing for years. I have taken up rock climbing and archery, which I love. They make me want to get back to my inner wild woman and nature. I feel restless in the concrete jungle and long to be in the woods, climbing trees,learning from nature and of course, hunting for bones.
Overall, I am doing good. I of course still have moments where grief hits, but I keep moving, keep breathing and keep living. I honor and carry sadness and grief. I allow myself to marinate in those feelings when they happen rather than push them to the side.
I am much more empathetic now, than I have ever been and I am more in tune with at least right now with signs from the Universe. I’m sensitive to other energy and I have deja vu almost on a daily basis now. I see the 1:11 or 11:11 on the clock several times per week. My dreams are lucid and more vivid than ever. I find signs everywhere that tell me I’m right where I need to be. But this is all a completely different blog post for another time, or perhaps several posts.
What’s on the horizon? Well, a lot actually. I can’t really talk about it all yet. I’m just going to say that the impossible is possible if you allow your heart and mind to be open. The Universe has literally turned my world upside down this year first for worse, then with an amazing surprise. Be like water.
I have a LOT of traveling in my future with teaching workshops, Amorticious and finding my hearts desire and following my bliss. I can say I am taking hitting New Orleans in September and looking for teaching opportunities during the week leading up to the Curiosities Expo I am vending at on September 21st a three week tour of the Western US in October and am looking for paid performance gigs, teaching workshops or vending opportunities between Denver and Portland/Seattle/Tacoma areas.
I am going on a spiritual pilgrimage in December and possibly January, then in March I’ll be doing an overseas tour with some other artists and am looking for bookings for vending/ performing/ teaching. I would not be surprised if I end up relocating at some point to be closer to nature and to my heart.
I still managed to video 4 new classes for my Patreon and did a few give aways, once I get to 50 Patrons, I’m gong to do another giveaway for a painting or a headdress. TBD, but your choice of either, you can sing up for a measly 10$ a month to have full access to many videos both yoga and bellydance. even the 3$ tier gets you entered in drawings and special sneak peeks.
I’m going to close this post with an album someone wonderful introduced me to. It reminds me of love and all the possibilities and miracles life has to offer if you allow yourself to be open.
Anthony was an amazing digital CGI artist, photographer, musician and friend to many in the photography community and beyond until he had his life senselessly taken away on the fateful night of March 18th. You’ll never want to experience the feeling of seeing your loved one’s life taken away, trying to bring them back and having them take their last breath in your arms, then getting robbed of an ambulance ride to the hospital with them. It cuts deep to the root of your soul and tears your heart out. How does one live without a heart? I’m still trying to find the answer to that question.
I know we have all had different experiences with him, whether you were a family member, former classmate, roommate or lover. Even as a fellow photographer, you probably felt a sense of camaraderie and his willingness to help his fellow photographers on the many forums and events he shot at. As a model, his friendly personality would put one at ease, and he did like to go out of his way do to make each shoot he did special and make each model feel their best. I was lucky enough to witness both his camaraderie and his working with models.
He was a gentle dreamer and a man of high standards who had a great sense of humor, extreme intelligence, a unique way of solving problems and kindness to others. He never settled for anything less than what he really wanted in love and in life.
Unbeknownst to many, he was a very sensitive person who had been treated poorly by many people through out his life and often felt alone and undervalued. So he kept walls up and kept people away at arms length. To be honest, there weren’t many people he actually wanted to be friends with or get close to.
He went through a long period of darkness until he finally found himself and what he wanted through a lot of time alone and deep meditation. He was a deep thinker and spiritual person with a beautiful soul although many would or could not see the diamond in the rough.
We met in 2012, when I had taken a one year vow of celibacy and break from any relationships. Timing and circumstance would bring us together and pull us apart for years, until one night in late 2017, we talked for 3 hours in his car about everything from the masks people wear to coffee enemas (yes, I said coffee enemas). Any walls we had, came down that night. In the next few months, our friendship grew exponentially. I was moth to a flame, I could see the inner light shining and was helpless to stop it’s natural course and allow myself to be vulnerable to him.
Anthony is the love of my life, my storybook romance, the yin to my yang. I am the Universe and he is the darkness that surrounds me.
We loved each other unconditionally and fiercely for exactly one year. Our love is magical and we loved harder and did more things in that time than most couples do during an entire lifetime. He was everything I ever wanted and more in a best friend, lover and soulmate. Everything about us was serendipitous from the matching rings we have to the events that day leading right up to that terrible night. I’ll never forget my last hug and kiss from him, holding his hand as we made our way to the parking lot for what we thought would be a relaxing evening of Chinese food and one of the many Marvel movies I haven’t really seen.
I can say without any doubt we were both happier than we had ever been in our entire lives. We had found our home together. The pieces that didn’t seem to makes sense, all of a sudden, just fell into place. The first week we spent an entire weekend together camping in my studio. Just one month into our relationship, I took him to Vegas, less than 3 months later we moved in together. I had the best birthday ever with him. We celebrated Thanksgiving together and went to Austin. We had a magical holiday season together, which neither of us (especially him) had had in a long time. Two weeks before he was murdered, he showed me the engagement ring he was saving up to buy me. We made the most of every moment, even though I was busy running my business and he had to work the dreaded day job. I am grateful that I was allowed to see the true beauty inside of him and he see the inner light that shines in me. Most people don’t get that in life.
One of the many quotes from him to me in one of our many musings together that keeps me going these days: Those that refuse to look past the cover, will never know the story that is written. You have strength, intelligence, wit, drive, tenacity. Your beauty is just a bonus to the things I look for. Because in my mind, if you’re not strong enough to stand alone, then I can not stand with you.
Obviously, I wish this didn’t happen. But I wouldn’t trade my time with him for anything, it was the most valuable and fulfilling time of my life. This pain, this grief, these emotions are mine and I’m owning them as the price you pay when you love someone truly with all your heart. You have to love yourself unconditionally too and Anthony was the beacon that led me to love myself in that way. He loved me as I am and I love myself as I am, grief stricken or not.
I hope that by sharing my experience with love and grief,I will encourage anyone paying attention to have integrity and never settle for less than what you really want in life and love. Don’t be complacent. The real things in life aren’t always easy because it’s all about taking that risk, that first leap whatever that it is you feel a calling for. Life is too short to be unhappy or just ok, beat yourself up or wonder about the what ifs. This requires radical honesty with yourself and listening to the Universe, for we are all connected.
Love fiercely with all your heart, but know that the more pure and fierce the love, the more it hurts when something like this happens. You’ll want to die, you’ll falter, you’ll be angry and find out who your true friends really are. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised by unexpected support on your side be it from strangers or the community. I know I am thankful for my community, strangers and friends.
Your true friends will hold space for you and actually be there when you need them, but will understand that you need space to cry, scream into the darkness, punch walls or lay in bed. I am eternally grateful for the handful of true friends that are in my inner circle. Honestly, without them, I would not be here right now.
Some will be playing the regrets game and others who never gave them a second thought or seldom if ever reached out in everyday life will all of a sudden personalize your grief for any myriad of reasons. Most won’t know what to say, so then come the I’m sorrys which are in the best of intentions because really there isn’t anything to say that will bring them back.
Everyone handles death and tragedy in different ways, there is no right or wrong way to handle it, it’s individual. There are compassionate ways to handle it and other ways with ill intent. There is no timeline on grief and losing the one who meant the most to you. I can only hope that someday I will still be able to look back on these wonderful memories and this love and feel lighter than I do right now. That’s really the best one can hope for. It might never get better, but either way I will keep on my path whatever it may be.
For me everyday is a journey of emotions, from rivers of tears and sadness and longing. to mountains of anger at someone he didn’t care for personalizing the death, to the desert of pushing through and doing my taxes (yes, I did them), to tromping through mud still trying to create (because I am an artist) and go about my life because I know that the wheel of life keeps turning no matter what. Change is constant. For better or worse.
For outsiders looking in, I invite you to choose compassion and consideration for the grieving, don’t tell someone to get over it, don’t tell them that they will be ok or the deceased wants you to be happy, you got spared for a reason or that you have to let them go. Also, please don’t personalize it, unless you were actually inner circle at that time or a family member. I invite you to really consider your relationship or lack thereof with the deceased when they were alive and think about how you would have done things differently in the time leading up to that death and then take that and apply it to the people you care about who are still alive. I invite you to live your life as if every last second counts, because it does.
Time is the most valuable, unpredictable and limited commodity we have in our lives. People place a high value on money but time and memories, that is the salt of the earth.
Ask yourself…Do you want your memories based on choices out of complacency, fear or what ifs? Or do you want your memories and time spent here to be based on following your dreams, your calling, based in love not fear or ego? In the words of Jim Carey (Anthony and I were fans of his motivational speeches), I’d much rather fail trying at something I love, than something I don’t love because I’m scared.
Without further ado… here is the heartfelt memorial video I made in his honor. It’s my first attempt at something like this. So much love and intention went into creating a brief portrait of the man I know and love.Its about 20 mins long and you’ll want to listen with the sound ON. All the music is by him except one song is by Nigel Stanford (one of his favorites).
Today marks my 10 year anniversary as a show producer.
My first show was 2/7/2009 it was a sold out show called the Bleeding Hearts Ball held in a venue called the Necropolis in the basement of Utopia Studios. It was wall to wall people. What made this show so unique was that it was the first dark fusion/experimental bellydance show held in St. Louis and our audience was the general public. A lot of the goth club kids from the St. Louis scene were here as well as a bunch of out of towners. Our guest of honor was Ariellah from California. It was a TON of hard work and a HUGE learning experience for me.
That show set the tone for how I wanted
to produce my future shows.
In 2010, I started a monthly show
called Urban Cabaret at The Way Out Club in South City. It was a
kitchsy spot with a bar cat, perfect for the show producer just
starting out and the owners were very accomodating and kind. The show
started on a Wednesday night and I started it as a platform for my
dancers to have someplace to perform. Then I started opening it up to
the entire dance community. In 2014 we moved our show to accommodate
our growing audience and in 2015 we made Mad Art Gallery our
It’s 2019 and here I am, still producing Urban Cab and now I have Hard Raks Cafe which is held at the Monocle almost quarterly. It takes a lot of dedication, patience and people skills to produce a show. I can never let any personal issues get in the way. I sometimes have a lot of egos to deal with producing shows (mine and others!), definitely a lot of herding cats. It’s not for everyone, you have to grow a thick skin, but at the same time be kind first and foremost to yourself. Some will try and will fail, because the dedication it takes to be consistent. Consistency is key.
If an aspiring show producer were to ask what it takes to produce shows – consistency and dedication. You’re going to have failures and success. Try to look at failures as a learning opportunity. Go to other shows and learn, take notes, what did you like, what didn’t you like and why. And also be honest, but kind. You need to know how to communicate effectively. You also need to know that when you are wearing your show producer hat and busy running the show, you need to still be a real person and take the time to personally if you can thank guests and friends for spending their money and more importantly, time coming out to your show. Be cordial. Be grateful. Be kind and real with yourself. You’re going to have times where you may think, why am I even doing this and that’s ok. You’re going to have times where you maybe feel unappreciated and you have to pay money out of your own pockets. You may want to give up from time to time, but hang in there. You’ll figure out what you need to make it good for you.
My vision for producing shows was and still is, a lively and safe space for all bellydancers to perform and grow as dancers and artists and to create a sense of community. Leave any drama or bullshit at the store, at these shows- it’s all about the dance. We all know there can be some leftover drama from years past or purists who feel that a certain style isn’t bellydance, but I put aside any BS for the benefit of the show first and always, because it’s about the dance and the show there. This goes for audience members as well.
I want to present this dance and it’s many variations and styles to the general public as a valid form of art and entertainment. I want to show that anyone regardless of gender, size, race, etc can express themselves with this artform.
With all that being said – next shows I’m producing and in are:
August 2016, I paid a friend to film my first bellydance bootcamp video. I had watched dozens of bellydance DVDs and knew it had to be a certain way. I knew a few things I wanted like what material I was going to present, what I would wear, what music I’d use and that I was going to do a voiceoverto keep it simple. So we spent an entire day filming it. The footage was beautiful. Ok, now what!? Well, that footage sat on a thumb drive until last week. I really didn’t know what to do with it. Also, in 2010 I had a film student shoot a sword instructional for me at a local college, it also sits lost somewhere on a thumb drive mostly because the visual was all wrong and it was hard to see me.
With the launch of my Patreon, Anthony started the process of editing it, and I was adding in voiceovers for each section. I got through the entire 2+ hrs of voiceovers and decided that it wasn’t me and was no longer how I wanted my videos to be and decided to reshoot that night. So here it is Friday night and I stayed up til 6 am reshooting my Bootcamp Volume 1. To say I was deliriously tired and patience was thin, is an understatement. I had to do three takes on the warm up alone, first was a technical issue, second time the view was set up all wrong, but the third one was just right and I got a great workout to boot (pun intended)!
I want to deliver an authentic experience to those who take my bootcamp, as if you were taking a class with me right there in the studio, I needed to let my teaching skills and personality shine through and I couldn’t do that in the way I wanted to with the other video footage. I wanted my online students to have a unique and personal experience with my online videos. So even though it’s far from perfect, we finally have a completed product that I am happy with and it will get better each time. I wanted something more professional than my iPhone for video shooting for my Patreon so last year I went and bought a Canon that came highly recommended for videoing. With that and Anthony’s Nikon, Ami Amore’s Bellydance Bootcamp Vol. 1 is born!
In the past few weeks, I have not only accomplished things I have been talking about for over a decade, but I have been learning the art of video editing in premier pro and can do it on my own if I had to thanks to Anthony. He also taught me how to shoot- first, with one camera, then set up two cameras so we can have closeups from other angles, lighting and not only that, he recovered all the lost files that somehow mysteriously disappeared from the computer (apparently others have had this issue with premier pro?) and then worked like the devil to get it all done. So much gratitude for him everyday.
All that and I still have been making new merch for the Eat Your Heart Out Pop Up on Feb. 9th at my studio, painting for my solo art show Drawing Down the Moon 9/13/19 at Mad Art gallery as well as teaching all my regular classes and battling some kind of crud and fatigue. I don’t go out as much these days and I’m fine with that, I like being enveloped in creative projects, reading, writing and cuddling on the couch with Anthony. I am glad I took a break from performing for a while to focus on other things, it can sometimes be draining since I put my heart and sould into everything I do. I’m back to performing this weekend in Chicago at Spellbound’s Winterlux show. Then I have two shows and a private party next month.
Like every year, 2018 was a year of change, learning, growing and expanding my mind and spiritual awareness. It was also a year for many changes with my career. I feel immense gratitude for everything that happened in 2018 be it great or the not so great. That which challenges only serves for the higher purpose of making me stronger and more aware.
In 2018, I cut down on social media time by almost 50%, I didn’t say I didn’t post, I’m just saying I didn’t go through the feed which sometimes is a real downer and energy draining. I feel if people spent more time connecting face to face and less time on social media the world would be a better place, but gotta feed the monster 😉 (that’s another story for another time). I cut out draining forces from my life and instead, I reconnected with family and friends, I made new like-minded friends and connections. I also reconnected with and my spiritual roots and let intuition take over, I began listening to my gut and letting go of fear and expectation. Fear only serves to hold us back and let us get in our own way. Expectation only serves to create disappointment. I throw caution to the wind, I take my time and I find that I am open to the possibilities the Universe has to offer. Most importantly I came to the realization that anything is possible, but you have to believe, without any doubt in your deepest well of knowledge that that which you wish to manifest (say that 3 x fast!) will come to fruition when the time is right.
Seems as if timing is everything and it is. I lay groundwork and foundation for my deepest desires sometimes many years before they manifest, sometimes many years before I even know what my desires are. The Universe foreshadows events in our lives and it is up to us to heed the signs and follow our calling. For years, try almost a decade now I have desired to make videos with my knowledge to share with those who want an authentic and honest experience with someone who has extensive knowledge in what I’m teaching, yet is humble, has a good sense of humor and always open to expanding their own knowledge. The timing was never right, but in reality I just wasn’t ready.
Okay by this time you might be thinking what’s with the hokey pokey spiritual talk, Ami? Or maybe you are right on my wavelength here. Anyway, let me get back to where I was or better yet, here’s where I am going…
It’s 2019 lovefuckers! Don’t wait another minute to put your intentions into a forward motion, don’t be a victim of your own circumstance. Embrace your fears, embrace your weakness and meet them head on. The power is in YOU. Don’t make a resolution, start a revolution and continue on your personal evolution!
Speaking of getting the ball rolling…
Today, I am thrilled to finally make one of my dreams become a reality in the form of launching myPatreon! My Patreon has it all from dance and yoga videos (I promise they will get better and more in depth the more I do them) to giveaways, private lessons, behind the scenes footage, special parties/events for patrons, gifts and much more! Just as life is ever changing, I expect my Patreon will be ever changing.
For my dance and yoga students this will be an affordable way to practice with me outside of class starting with full practices and tutorials at just 10$/month for full access. I’m hoping to get as comfortable in front of the camera as possible so it will be just like taking a class with me and not a fixed environment. I have to admit these first couple videos, I was hella nervous. For a few really dedicated pupils, I offer a membership level that includes one private lesson per month here at my studio or online via skype.
For my friends and fans who don’t care about yoga or bellydance, there will be incentives and videos for you too, in the form of behind the scenes videos, special invites to exclusive events, giveaways, gifts, cooking and baking with Ami, walks with Little Booboo and guest appearances by other personas that inhabit my body. And who knows what else I will come up with, my creativity truly knows no bounds.
I’d like to take a moment and express my undying gratitude to Anthony Sapone for teaching me how to set everything up all by myself to shoot these videos and edit them as professionally as possible.
I hope you’ll consider joining me for what could be something great. Oh yeah….This is the part where I remind you, the reader, that if you want to support me or if you want to take online classes with me, click here.
So now that I have my big ass announcement for 2019 and all the philosophical jargon out of the way.
Here’s things coming up for January/February 2019:
January 6th – Normal class schedule resumes for all weekly classes.Sign up for clothing optional yoga classes here. Sign up for Bellydance or metal rage yoga here.
Today I took my first ballet class in over 15 years and I loved it! It’s a challenge and it felt really good to be back in a dance class and learning new things to help me with body awareness and improve as a dancer, teacher and human being.
Today is also the 8 year anniversary of leaving a secure day job working for an architect with great benefits for over a decade to live life on my terms, following my dreams of becoming a full time creative entrepreneur.
When I started my job in 1999, I said to myself this is the last time I will work for someone else. I had no idea in 1999 what path I would take, but I just knew I’d live to be my own boss. Almost 11 years later, it was crystal clear that I needed to use my gifts and dedicate my life to teaching bellydance, yoga, making jewelry and art and living to the fullest. The universe had opened the doors for me and rolled out the red carpet (well maybe it was more like astroturf, but I digress). It’s been a long and sometimes bumpy road, but I wouldn’t live any other way. To free yourself of attachment from “things” and “comforts” and to take risks is to truly be free, the universe will provide if you let it. Now I’m not saying I want to get rid of my apartment, car or bed and live life on the road sleeping on the earth…I’m just saying… hell, I forgot what I was saying so let’s get back to where I was…
The first year or so after I quit was really rough, but I knew in my deepest self, I’d make it somehow. I’ve always had faith and confidence in myself that I am able to carry my own weight and evolve as a human mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially. I truly believe I am the master of my destiny. I like to think of myself as a MacGuyver of life. I will take what ever shit I have and make something amazing out of it, this is true in art, dance and life. All I need is a strand of dental floss, a piece of bark, some butter and a pickle and I’m going to turn it into a dream come true or at least next month’s rent.
It snowed a lot that first winter and classes were canceled frequently, so money was tight. It was so tight, that most months that I could barely afford to eat. I lived on ramen noodles and weekly lunch dates with my mom or boyfriend. It took almost 11 months but in July 2011 I started to get my financial shit together. I said out loud to myself, I am going going to go out there and make a bunch of money, rebuild my confidence, push through and climb my way out of this hole. And you know what? I did just that. It took a while, but it happened. I put the call out to the universe and put the hard work and hustle in that it takes to make ends meet as an independent artist and I keep moving onward and upward.
I didn’t have health insurance until 2013 and was physically sick and depressed most of the time, but managed to put on a happy face around people and online and because I love dance and teaching dance, plus I felt good while I was teaching. What happened from a physiological standpoint was I had an IUD put in before I quit my job (it was paid by my insurance at the time and I had heard good things about it so thought I’d try it to save money on bc pills) and had to have it taken out after 6 months because I had almost every bad side effect you could get. Including severe back and pelvic floor pain, no libido, depression, crying for no reason, feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. Some days it was so bad I had a hard time getting out of bed to even make food.
I was also depressed because I had my confidence shattered after a less than stellar performance. I was probably overdoing it, pushing my limits on every level and needed to rest. After that, I felt doubtful in my abilities as a performer and it took me 2+ years to completely rebuild my confidence and feelings of self worth. I realize now I am more than just Ami Amore’, performer and I take performances I am not happy with in stride, I know it’s going to happen from time to time and I try to use it as a learning experience. Also, no one but me needs to know when I am unhappy with a performance. For a long time after that incident of “the performance that shall remain nameless”, I felt like an imposter and like I was just fooling myself. It didn’t help that I had a several toxic relationships in my life at the time and that they were peppered in every aspect of my life – since then I have set boundaries and eliminated them.
A photo from “The Great Depression” Photo Blaine Images 2011
This will come as a surprise to many of you who read this and only a few know what I went through. I never shared any of this publicly, mostly because I don’t feel like Facebook posts of this are appropriate from a professional standpoint nor did I want sympathy, pity or people to send me cute pics of animals or tell me I’m awesome or pretty. I was thankful that there were people who felt and feel that way and I appreciate them, but what I really needed was from within, something I could only find inside myself in my own time.
Photo by Anthony Sapone Photography in an August 2018 shoot for Amorticious
Throughout that bout of not so good times, I kept on with learning and creating even when I wanted to give up – making jewelry sometimes for 12 hours on end, performing even when I felt like I was going to die inside, making costumes, helping my students elevate as dancers, choreographing for my group, producing shows, teaching workshops, taking dance workshops and laying groundwork for better days ahead. I grew leaps and bounds as a person and artist.
The most valuable lessons I learned in this time period were these. If you perform, you’re going to have an icky performance/ off days from time to time especially if if you’re trying new things. It’s important to know that most of the people on the outside won’t notice or care that you’re having a bad performance and more importantly it’s how we grow and learn as artists. You have to take a deep breath and let it go. That fog finally fully lifted in August 2012.
That’s about all I have in me for today. My hopes in posting these stories is that they will inspire some of you or be something you can identify with. Who knows – maybe they are a good read for you or you want more insight into who I am as a person.
Another picture from the great depression. Photo by Matt Prather 2011
AmiSpotting in Sept 2018:
9/3 and every Monday in September and beyond –
Jumpstart fusion bellydance tune up and drills 6-7pm more info or sign up here
Metal Rage Yoga Home Edition 2.0, 7:15 pm Find info here
9/16 Performing with Raw Earth at Shimmyfest in St. Charles more info here
9/20 Burlesque Bingo at The Crack Fox 9pm – with fellow ERBDs – Alena Volta and Eluria DeLune – hosted by Greta Garter
9/26 Cats n Mats Yoga at Tenth Life – normally the 1st Wednesday of the month, but this month it is the last Wednesday due to some kitty tummy virus. more info here
9/28 – 9/30 Women’s Weekend 17 – put on by Dianna Lucas – I’ll be teaching a basic zills class and more! It’s always a rejuvenating experience. Early bird registration through next week. More info here
In 1996, I was 40 pounds overweight and unhappy. After sitting on the couch, pulling overnighters on a weekly basis for college, eating unhealthy foods and being with a rail thin partner who could eat whatever they wanted for 3 years straight, being called fat by my grandparents and waking up feeling bad about myself morning after morning. I needed to make a change. I was still going to college at Meramec and I was still working two jobs. I needed some PE credits to graduate and signed up for Hatha Yoga at school. Little did I know it would be a life long journey for me.
Walking in, I really did not know much about yoga. I did not know the spiritual aspects or the physical aspects. I knew was that I was going to stretch and it was from India and I always felt a connection to India and all things from India. Yoga for me was like that moment in the movie “The Jerk” with Steve Martin where he snaps and finds the beat. It was a portal to the beginning of a whole new life for me, a journey of many steps over the course of 22 years now.
My first teacher was Gudula Behm, I believe she was Swedish. She was a tiny, blonde woman in her early 50’s while she was gentle, she was fierce. Not only flexible, but strong physically and mentally. There was a grace and a commanding presence to her. She was encouraging and friendly, but most importantly she was a genuine person. I knew that she really loved this thing called yoga.
The class I was in seemed to be a bunch of regulars. As in, they did yoga around town at different places and had taken classes with her before. I was the only newbie. I remember walking in and at 22, I was the youngest person there. The first poses I learned were Vriksasana (Tree pose), Bahdakonasana (butterfly pose) and corpse pose. We did a lot of twists, folding and shoulderstands. Our final for the class was to teach a 3 pose flow to the rest of the class. I chose a seated twist, a forward fold and cow’s head pose. I got an A in the class and took it again the next semester. I didn’t have an inkling of a clue where this journey would take me, but 22 years later, here I am.
I began to lose weight, I stuck with yoga doing VHS tapes and taking classes around town. In addition to yoga, I started taking. water aerobics, I was also the youngest oerson in class and the only one under 50. Before I knew it, I had lost 20 pounds! I also changed my diet. I cut out soda and began to eat healthier. The weight finally came off, so much in fact that my wedding dress ended up being too big on me on my big day!
Fast forward to 1998/1999, many months after my big day. The rest of my weight came off from depression. I had found out something terrible and was unable to do anything but barely function. I lost another 20 pounds and made it to an unhealthy 98 pounds. I took a look in the mirror one day and decided I had to do reclaim my life. So I moved out, got a haircut, a new job and eventually I drew up papers and got a divorce and my old name back.
Soon after, I started integrating yoga into my life again. For many years I took it around town at different places. I’ve gone through many different styles being hooked on power yoga from 2002ish til 2008ish. In 2008, I kind of stopped doing yoga for a few months to focus on my up and coming dance career and due to some emotional issues I was working out. Then the pain started to creep in my right hip. I would wake up in the middle of the night with pain in my right hip. I went to see a friend who was studying to be a chiropractor and it helped, but what really helped was integrating yoga back into my routine. Bye bye pain.
Photo credit: Anthony Sapone
See yoga is amazing and wonderful if you can commit to a regular regimen even if it’s just once a week. But if you go all in and then stop, your body feels it and the pain comes back ten fold. So you really have to commit. It wasn’t until 2010 that I started getting into the mental, emotional and spiritual principles of yoga.
In January 2010, I went and had lunch with my Aunt and mentioned that I wanted to become a yoga instructor but how I did not have the money to pay for the tuition. Maybe jokingly she suggested that I post on MySpace or Facebook that I was looking for a private donor. I did. And I got a response. A legit, no ulterior motive response. Within a week, I had signed up for the next 200 hour teacher training with Jaime Sanchez at Urban Breath. What a journey it would be!
The training was once a month February through October for Friday through Sunday. It was challenging in every way possible. Physically, I was able, but there were a lot of poses I could not do, I was consistently humbled in the program. Mentally, it was way more reading than I had ever imagined also. A lot of food for thought in the materials we had to read, got me thinking about important things like existence as we know it, astral planes and energy in the body. As I studied and became more immersed in yoga philosophies, I also became more aware of my body and how I felt. Principles bcame integrated. I noticed physiological responses in my body to things like movies, music and people. I felt much more aware of how things made me feel physically, mentally and emotionally.
After ten long months, I finally graduated,but even my graduation would prove to be difficult for me as I was sick beyond belief. I had gotten the flu or a kidney infection. I had a high fever and sat shivering in the corner of the graduation. Too sick to enjoy or relish in my big accomplishment. But I did it, I had gone through all the training adn made it through depite everything going on in my personal and business life.
Fast forward another year or so, a break up from another unhealthy relationship, my home studio closing down so I converted my loft into the studio space that I today compose this story in. I live very simply in order to have the freedom of my lifestyle, but that is another story unto itself for another time.