We Are Queens Music Video Production

I was able to attend the We Are Queens music video production day before Thanksgiving break. I was so excited to see what it takes to produce a music video in a one day mass production setting. I took a back seat, as well as a helping hand, for the choreographer and creative visionary. Every precaution was taken in order to ensure everyones safety and health involved- the video was shot inside the dance building, in the Betty Paese Studio Theatre. Everyone was wearing masks and 6ft apart.

We Are Queens has created a community outreach program through these music videos. This is their 6th successful video in the year and half of first forming as a nonprofit arts organization. To begin, a statement is released on their social media platforms, as well as, their website; they advertise that they are now beginning to accept applications for dancers, choreographers, and creative visionaries (director and person behind the message of the music video). The creative visionary and choreographer do not need to be dancers or even artists, they just need to be people looking to get involved in a welcoming organization, and share an empowering, personal message. Once selected, the choreographer and creative visionary meet and discuss ideas, location, message, and choreography with Tal (the founder), creative director, music editor, and videographer. After the initial meeting the choreographer and creative visionary will be in constant contact discussing and finalizing ideas. Before the video shoot there is a WIP (work in progress) where the choreographer presents the choreography they have create to the 5 exec members and dancers. This meeting will give the choreographer the feedback corrections they need before shooting the video. Finally, the day of the video shoot arrives!

The day began at 1 where I helped Tal and the creative director set up the curtains in the studio to create a black box theatre effect. We also cleaned the floors and disinfected the stereo system, 2020 mood.

The choreographer, Emma Zordan, rehearsed and cleaned the movement that she had created previously before coming to the shoot. The dancers were sent the choreography via video a week prior, but to make sure the dance was cleaned and all of the dancers questions were answered, the choreographer ran the movement with them before bringing out the camera. Zordan also added in formations and timing dynamics to make the music video more interesting and powerful.

Before shooting the choreographer and creative visionary (Nya Johnson) spoke to the dancers and explained what this process and message behind this music video means to them. Emma, Zordan, and dancers were all selected, from the hundreds of eager artists who applied to showcase their talents and personal stories in this music video. These dancers are eager to be  a part of this community as well as have the opportunity to perform during a time of COVID.

After almost three hours, it was finally time to shoot. 

It was so interesting to see the difference between dancing on stage versus dancing for a camera. With the camera being so close to the dancers faces they often time really dance for the camera and use their facial expressions to help tell the story. Unfortunately with masks the emoting that they often do is inhibited, however, they still managed to express the powerful message through their eyes and strong dynamic movement. It was so amazing to see the space transform into a performance space, even if it is just for the camera. The curtains, lighting, and camera really helped this whole production come together. Recording the dance only took about an hour and a half, the videographer took many takes and recorded each section from different angles, ensuring that when editing the video she would have a lot to work with.

The beautiful case of dancers!

The music video will be released on Saturday on the We Are Queens Instagram. I highly recommend checking it out!

waves: walking

another thing i really enjoy writing about is connection. and while this is a very broad topic that tons of people enjoy writing about, and many people in general strive to understand, it still has its interesting aspects. there’s so many ways to approach understanding connections, and we can find ways to translate these methods and processes of thought over to many (if not, all) other displays of connection that are seemingly unrelated.

i’ve realized that i often times glorify perfect human connection, and this forces me to neglect entire aspects of my relationship with another person, work of art, myself, etc. i often times try to assign blame to myself, the other person, or both for the flaws that exist in the relationship, when in reality, trying to foster perfect connection is virtually impossible. we can get lucky in our lives and find people we “click” with, or overcome obstacles in our relationships that enables them to grow for the better, but what does it really mean to connect?

i feel that a connection isn’t just about similarities, but it’s also about the ways in which you challenge them and they challenge you; butting heads, trying to get past each other’s walls, the things we empathize with and the things we could never understand. it’s becoming increasingly interesting to think about in the context of 2020, and the ways in which i think about the people, institutions and systems (created by people) that harm people with my identities.

anyway — that’s all a part of it. that’s why i believe there are infinite ways to connect with someone or something. this concept gave way to this poem, in which i approach my relationship with my mom from a place i never have before with a experiences that i’ve ever thought about deeply until recently.

taken in the law quad last year. by me.


the cramps come dance on my mama’s legs at night

setting light in her thighs, she stomps them out in the hallway.


when the cramps throw a dagger at her, my door flies 

open. the bat signal we negotiated with having said nothing. 


my hands pressure the bed. my hands, a servant to thee.

i came running from the shadows, the forest of my dreams


to hook my arm in yours in this hallway drenched in drowsy silhouettes and walk.

i pledge to rid the body of all that is wrong right next to you. 


this is how i’ve figured to give my love to thee:

one, two, and—if needed—another step times three. 



waves: blacklight

photo cred: me. in my apartment with my partner.

{trigger warning: childhood illness}

this whole year has brought about many hours of reflection for me and my life. one thing i’ve been thinking about a lot and trying to process is my experience as a cancer survivor. i was diagnosed with stage 4 hodgkin’s lymphoma at 16 years old (my junior year of high school). while i’m in remission now, the trauma i have tied to that experience is something that comes up again and again — especially during something as stressful as a global pandemic. the precautions i take to protect myself and others from the virus (like wearing masks, washing my hands often, disinfecting everything i come in contact with) feels eerily similar to the precautions i had to take while protecting myself from infections while being treated with chemotherapy and radiation.

i don’t talk much about my experiences, and part of the reason for that is because, well, it isn’t pretty. having cancer, being treated for it, fearing that it will come back, and having a deadly virus going around that only intensifies my anxiety isn’t something i can talk about in a few minutes or hours and be done with. i think about it all the time. and i take the pandemic very seriously mostly because of my fears.

i just wanted to let anyone who is struggling with processing or navigating this pandemic know that they are not alone, and things REALLY suck at the moment and it’s okay to acknowledge that. it’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to fear the uncertain future ahead of all of us. it’s okay to talk through your feelings with people you love andcare about, including yourself. this poem, ‘blacklight’, is one of my many attempts to do so. fun fact: this is a contrapuntal poem, which means that it can be read in at least two different ways 😉



that moment when you look                                                                            your eyes don’t adjust to the darkness

        it’s just dark                                                                                                             and thick wet black

        and i tell everyone i know it’s just my shadow                                          it’s just the back of the throat, i say

        and they believe me                                                                                           and no one asks further questions

        but i’ve been trying to figure out,                                                                                  like,



how do i come to terms with the tumors growing in my body?

how long have they been there?

was there a such thing as light before the universe?

did darkness come from a wounded womb?

has anyone found its keyholed belly?




waves: the intro

photo cred: my phone, accidentally, while i was at a party summer 2019.


as my first blog post, i just wanted to say hi. i’m excited to see what i’ll do here. while we’re all tryna navigate this chaotic world, i want this to be a place for me — and hopefully, you reading this — to breathe. i was looking at the first couple lines of this poem on an old google doc, and thought i’d revisit it as a retrospective of my feelings about passion. sometimes, i feel so low that it’s hard for me to feel passionate about the things i know i want to accomplish in my life… and this year hasn’t been very helpful in picking up my mood. as a black trans person, i can say from first-hand experience that the world isn’t always so kind. but, there are moments (like, this poem i’m sharing) where i am able to say, “here i am. and that’s enough.”  so, i hope you like it, and, welcome to my blog.


sometimes, i forget my body can take these torches 

of veins and light these pipelines of blood.


sometimes, i forget that a chest of living wishes 

finds home under my tongue

and that memories can dissolve into me like sugar there. 


sometimes, i forget that my organs are not made

of drying sand or the wind of a thousand last breaths,

but of flesh: warm, bare, and waiting 


for me to find the things that make me believe

i am living.


red’s the color of blood




Art Biz with Liz: Art from My Desk to Yours

Starting this school year, I felt a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and unease. While I was looking forward to coming back to campus, there was great uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the university’s handling of it. I like having the opportunity to see friends and walk around campus, but health and safety concerns are still incredibly important things to consider. For a nerd like me, one of the things I loved most about being a student in Ann Arbor was the array of opportunities to attend concerts, workshops, and other arts events. What does this look like during a pandemic? Is life in Ann Arbor drastically different without movie dates at the Michigan Theater or SMTD performances in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre?

The end of classes last school year marked the beginning of a strange summer, which then led to an unprecedented fall semester. It’s understandable to feel nostalgic for a “normal” college experience. For many students, it can be exhausting to sit in front of a computer screen all day. For me, these are reasons to incorporate more art into our lives. Experimenting with a new art medium—or, if you can handle more screen time, adding a virtual arts event to your schedule—could be a good way to break up the monotonous routine of working, studying, eating, and (hopefully) sleeping. Along with discussions about topics such as musicals and current events, my blog series will document my journey in connecting with the arts from home. This may include digital arts experiences, reflections as a writer, or my attempts at different art forms/arts and crafts that readers could potentially also do at home (watercolor painting, letter writing, etc.).

As bitter as 2020 has been, the pandemic revealed how crucial creative expression is for people. Through social media, many people have shared their artwork, ideas, and more to emphasize how important it is to have a connection to the arts. The lengths we’ve gone to adapt to this new normal underline the innate desire many of us have to express and explore our creative sides. While traditional access to the arts has been limited, television and the internet have become increasingly valuable tools in displaying art and providing access to different art forms. Various organizations, artists, and venues, for example, have worked hard to make their art accessible online. Of course, the role of audience members and magic of live performances aren’t the same, but offering virtual options is an innovative way to remain relevant and spread art to the masses during these trying times. It’s admirable how people have maintained accessibility to live events—performances, festivals, classes—through virtual means. Think about it. Even if you haven’t viewed a virtual concert or attended a painting workshop via Zoom, you have probably watched a movie or television show. Quarantine has given people an ample amount of time to “consume film as a visual art” (i.e. binge watch Netflix). Through my exploration of the arts such as these, I hope this blog serves as a way to continue the conversation of incorporating art into our everyday lives at home.

Study Hal: Week 9 – Decompress

As summer is reaching its peak, the world seems to be getting more chaotic. Hal’s having trouble managing his anxiety because of it. Today, he snapped out of his anxious spiral when he saw his dog Sparky napping closeby. Sparky is really good at taking things as they come, and Hal has decided to adopt that mentality.

Hal would like to remind everyone that it’s alright to step away from the news to engage with what’s around you! Hal’s been spending with Sparky, but folks without pets could go for a walk, try a new recipe, or clean a long-forgotten area of their home. After all, it’s better to engage with the things we have control over than to stress about the stuff we can’t change.

Hal is a U-Mich student at home for this summer. He’s back with updates on his experiences every week, so check out the Study Hal tag for more of his thoughts and good vibes.