Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell 2008

I'm writing to you from a sunny balcony overlooking a gorgeous empty beach in southern Florida - just the break I need after 110 shows of Radio City. Yesterday's final 4 show day was difficult in many ways, but I'll blog about that when my mini vacation is over on Monday. For now, a happy new year post...

Another year in dance has whisked away, marked by the wrath of audition season, the joy of summer study, the excitement of premieres, the stress of rehearsals, and the bows of the final Nutcrackers (or Christmas Spectaculars!). 2008 was a great one in the New York dance world. Here are my choices for the top 8 performances of '08. Did you have other favorites?

8. NYCB's Jerome Robbins Tribute (particularly "West Side Story Suite," and "Fancy Free")
7. Rebecca Kelly Ballet's Iraq war-influenced, "Long Time Passing" (and my opportunity to apprentice with them)
6. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's season at The Joyce
5. ABT's classic, "Giselle"
4. Kirov Ballet in Balanchine's "Rubies"
3. Yasuko Yokoshi's "Reframing the Framework DDD" at The Kitchen
2. Cedar Lake's "Glassy Essence" Installation
1. Liza Minnelli in "Liza's at the Palace"

2008 was a big year in my own dance life, as well. My personal top 8 moments of '08:

8. Being involved in growing Kat's student showcases at Ailey (Feb. '08 we had 20 people in the studio audience. This March '09 we'll have 2 packed shows in the theater!)
7. Attending the Dance Critics Association meeting in Washington and participating in a Writing on Dance course with a NY Times critic
6. Teaching and choreographing completely on my own for the first time for NYC public high school students
5. Dancing at a summer intensive at ABT
4. Interning at The New Yorker
3. Finding an affordable, rodent free apartment in Manhattan
2. Being fortunate enough to have landed a paid ballet company contract AND a paid publishing internship, and being even more lucky to pass up both opportunities for still better things.
1. Finishing my Master's Degree in Publishing
And the big bonus that surpasses the whole list: Dancing 110 shows of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

May 2009 bring health and happiness to you all. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The End

(The ensemble on the roof of Radio City Music Hall this morning)

Today is my LAST day of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

And it's a four show day.

I am currently getting ready for show 3 of 4, and it's getting sadder as the day goes on. Our morning show was emotional because it was, like, the last morning waking up to do this. The second show was more automatic and tiring. These next two are going to be tough but...must stay happy!

This has been an incredible ride and I refuse to accept that this is the end - maybe the end of this year, but NOT the end of Radio City. I MUST be back next year, even if in the touring's a must.


Luckily, to save myself from feeling post-show loss I'm heading down to Florida for New Year's and for the weekend to visit family. It was a last minute trip but I definitely need it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Have you seen...

...the new design over on The Winger? Check it out. The site looks great.

I just posted a ton of new Radio City pictures over there so take a peek.

Speaking of new designs, after shows end and I have more time on my hands I want to get a new layout for the blog and make some major updates to my website. Any suggestions are welcome!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Even More RC Pictures

Again, in lieu of writing...

the theater on christmas night (although it always looks this wonderful :)

onstage with my grandmother during a backstage tour.

the OLD fashioned control panel by the stage manager's desk. they work the stage elevators and gold curtain contour thing from there.

our nutcracker wands on the prop table

i will miss this.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from NYC!
My first time actually spending Christmas eve and day IN the It was definitely a different holiday than years past, but just as merry.

Now it's onto my last week of shows at Radio City. Sad! But, we must stay in the Christmas spirit through Tuesday...:) Hope everyone had a happy holiday!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Spirit

Perhaps this is becoming a photo blog for the holidays, haha.

Normal blogging really and truly will return after Christmas. There is lots to catch up on.

School finishing hasn't really made my life less moment to write a blog so, yet again, here are some pictures celebrating the Christmas spirit. I made gingerbread houses with friends on my day off the other day and it was such fun!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More RC Pictures

Perhaps on my day off tomorrow I'll find time to actually WRITE a blog entry. Til then, more photos!

in the elevator, the sign for our dressing rooms

ballerina bears backstage without heads

me in my santa costume. oh yes. those glasses stay just that crooked throughout the entire dance, impairing my vision as we do santa aerobics and the stage raises up and down and we ride the turntable

my mirror in my dressing room

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

4 Show Photo Fun

Since I no longer have mounds of school work to do during my breaks between shows backstage, I thought right now I'd upload some pictures to share.

It's a 4 show day today, so in later breaks I'll add some more!

This first one is when we are Santa's Helpers at the North Pole. That's "Mrs. Clause" and I'm on the left.

This was from a notes session after a dress rehearsal. We're all in the lobby waiting to get corrections...I'm on the left in purple looking at my phone.

This is part of the show...after we dance at one point in the "New York at Christmas" scene, we come down on the choral stairs in the audience and sing and such. I'm in the yellow sweater.

This is part of our dressing room...we decorate BIG TIME as a competition between the two casts (blue and gold, hence the decorative colors)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another Milestone

This afternoon, after a weekend of 8 shows at Radio City Music Hall, I sent in my last paper for my master's degree.


Technically the semester ends this Friday, so that is my official graduation date. But...I'm done.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So Much & So Little Time

Between finals and shows I haven't had a second to blog, even though there is much to update about...

Today is my day off and I have SO much to do and so little time...after I finish up school and after my family comes to the show this weekend I will do major blog updates.

For now, check out my review of Misnomer Dance Theater here. Finally got a chance to get out of my theater and into another one, haha.

It's scary how time is flying. My next day off is my official graduation date from grad school. The following Thursday day off is Christmas. And the one after that? New Years = show is over. Sad!!!

Still working out what will come of January. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Busy Weekend

It's been a long, very full weekend. Updates to come probably tomorrow on the multitude of shows (Katie Holmes and baby Suri were in the audience today!), seeing Liza Minnelli on Broadway from the 2nd row (!!), and a review of Misnomer Dance Theater.

Will blog tomorrow!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Suggestions Welcome...

Ugh. I wasted a good 6 hours or so of my day off tonight trying to come up with a plan for my life beginning in January. You see, as of December 30 everything in my life as I know it ends.


No, it's not funny, actually.

Radio City ends. School ends sooner. No more option to take internships (you must get school credit for those). No more dance jobs on the horizon.

It's a bit frightening and I've been trying to avoid thinking about it, but today it kind of swamped me. So far, I've come up with an unfortunately small variety of very expensive options that a poor 20 year old with a master's degree could do:

-get a pilates certification (thousands of dollars, if you can believe it!)
-take continuing education courses in various subjects at Columbia, NYU, or online at Harvard (tens of thousands of dollars)
-spend every hour of every day pitching almost-out-of-print magazines, newspapers, websites, book publishers, etc and freelance full time (as I try to do now and still make little money)
-spend every hour of every day auditioning for every little thing that comes to the city

Any other suggestions or ideas for life plans would be appreciated! It's driving me crazy to the point that it's 2am, I'm still doing research, and I must be onstage at 10am for three back to back shows. Help.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Movmnt Out

The new issue of Movmnt came out this week. You can get a copy at Barnes & Noble or Universal News in NYC.

My article on dance and education - "Plato vs. Balanchine" - is towards the back, if you take a peak.

The magazine has also recently started putting articles from past issues up online, so you can read all of my clips here.

Out of Touch

(warning: this post is random, has no semblance of order, and rambles on for a while...apologies...)

Since the show started a month ago (has it already been that long? wow time flies) pretty much my entire life consists of being onstage, eating, sleeping, and making it to ballet class once in a while. And I love it that way.

But I seem to be waaay out of touch with the rest of life, haha. So many other performances are going on that I would have loved to attend/review, other things to do, people to see, and so forth. As I head into this next (and last :( ) month of shows I'm really going to try to maintain some semblance of an outside life besides the walls of Radio City, haha. Starting with, um, school...which will be officially done two weeks from today! Tons of work to do before then. Finals and Nutcracker season have always collided every year, but this is my FINAL set of finals, haha.

Enough of that.

Plans for the next few weeks to get back in touch with the world include seeing Misnomer Dance Theater at Joyce Soho this weekend, Liza Minnelli on Broadway (!!!), Nutcracker Rated R (which a friend of mine is in), Alvin Ailey at City Center, and some others. It's an ambitious list for my free time right now, but...


Some highlights of things that are happening...

The other day the buzz backstage was that Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas were in the audience with their daughter! It was so funny - any time we were onstage it was like a Where's Waldo search for the celebrities in the third row, while we were dancing! That theater is so huge and beyond the orchestra in the dark you can barely see past the third row or so, and there is rarely a moment in the show besides the curtain call when we can have the time to actually LOOK out and pay attention to what we see.

But after many rumors of the location of Catherine and Michael I finally caught a glimpse of them by the end of the show. I have to say, it made the repetitiveness of the show a lot more interesting, haha. And once it was confirmed that they were indeed there, it gave added excitement...just to know that important people like that are coming to see something I'm in! Cool!

If that weren't enough, I actually RAN INTO THEM backstage after the show! Like, literally almost bumped into Catherine Zeta Jones. I was giving a tour to friends who came to see the show and on my way out the door to get them, the "Chicago" star was walking in with stage managers for a tour of her own (well, for her daughter I suppose). It was so cool, I have to say. And I'm not big on the whole celebrity craze thing.

Besides that excitement, shows have been running pretty much smoothly and tiring-ly as usual. It's so automatic now that I don't even have to think - and I love that. In life I think too much. In dance, I can let it go. I'm very thankful my body is holding up through 16-show weeks (though not without its aches and pains).

What else...oh, we started having 9am shows. Yes, in pointe shoes in a bear head at 9AM. Oy. I was talking to my super-Balanchine teacher a few weeks ago about these early shows and she told me a story of how she used to do a Nutcracker guesting tour around the country with her partner before NYCB's season, and she remembered waking up in her hotel room and having to put on fake eyelashes before her eyes would even open. I thought it was a funny story at the time she told me, til it came true for these 9am shows, haha. Luckily my sleep schedule has kind of adjusted enough so that I'm semi-awake by the time our Santa number rolls around, haha.

We've also had some more 4 show days, which are getting only slightly easier, haha. Well, more manageable anyway. Again, we have a potluck so that we constantly eat all day. I finally got to actually enjoy it this week, because last week was the day after I was sick and I barely could eat a thing. Also, between our third and fourth shows, the final home stretch of exhaustion, all the guys in the ensemble had a fashion show in our lounge area. It was SO funny. I took tons of pictures, but they might murder me if I posted them here. They are one funny crew.

In other news, Claudia (NY Times dance critic and WNYC blogger) has started a performance club, which you may be interested in if you're in the city. Check it out. I'm hoping to attend the first performance event next week. She's also trying to arrange to see one of my shows and interview me :) Fun.

And while we're going down the random path, my ballet teacher's e-newsletter for December is out. I'm the webmaster/editor for it, so check it out here.

Okay, enough rambling about a thousand and one unimportant things, haha. My mind right now is so scattered, hence the disorganization of this post. Forgive me, it's my day off and I need rest, haha. Planning to post on The Winger this afternoon and that might make more sense :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another 4 Show Day

Today was another four show Tuesday, so I am beat.

Shows have been going well...plan to blog more about everything on my day off, Thursday!

Til then...

Sunday, November 30, 2008


After my two shows this morning (first one at 9am!?) I decided I wanted to take a trip to see New York City Ballet's Nutcracker. I've lived in the city for four Christmas seasons now, and I have shamefully never seen the classic version at State Theater. I thought it was time.

My show ended at 1pm and I gradually made my way uptown thinking I'd try to get standing room for the later show at 5pm. I got to the box office around 1:30 and was pleased to hear that they did in fact have tickets available. After I paid and started to walk away, the guy was like, "No no, just go there to the ticket taker now!"

So apparently I was going to THAT show that I was half an hour late for, NOT the one I asked him for. Um, okay. Good thing I had nothing else planned, haha. So I hopped the elevator and missed the first half of the party scene. I didn't really care - I know how it goes anyway, haha.

Hearing the gorgeous Tchaikovsky music again flooded me with my own Nutcracker memories - of all the versions I've done up until today, doing Sugar Plum in a bear suit, haha. If someone were to make a soundtrack of my life, I think much of it could be dominated by the Nutcracker score.

Anyway, the show was lovely, of course. The snow scene in Act I has always been a favorite, especially in the old Boston version I grew up with. I remember standing in the pit as part of the chorus when I was dancing Chinese Tea my last year in Boston and looking up at the snow scene from there, admiring the clunking pointe shoes trying not to slip on the paper snow.

I've never been a huge fan of the Balanchine version of this ballet, and I probably shouldn't admit that. I did the Balanchine version for 2 years with Pennsylvania Ballet back in 2003, 2004, and recall not particularly liking it then either. I don't really know why...mostly it's just the first act I'm not keen on. Why is there no Snow Queen? And why do his snowflakes carry around things that look like giant cotton Q-tips?

Enough complaining. The dancers were beautiful. And Act II was really really really good. Sara Mearns as Sugar Plum was great, but her variation was ruined by a SCREAMING child having a fit during the entire thing. Parents should take control please, haha.

Sterling Hyltin as Dew Drop was the best of the show, I think. I remember standing in the wings always watching Waltz of the Flowers and learning practically everyone's part just from staring at it repeatedly. That came back to me too, as I watched her - the admiration and the desire to be doing it myself. Good thing nobody was sitting behind me - I was practically dancing in my seat.

Tiler Peck as Marzipan was another highlight, and the ever-amazing Daniel Ulbricht as Chinese. It was also a marked occasion because the new group of company apprentices and recently promoted corps de ballet members are the people of my ballet generation, that I auditioned with and went to summer intensives with and so on. All looked wonderful.

Anyway, the afternoon made me nostalgic for the past and grateful for the present. As of now I still have over 60 performances at Radio City to do in the next month. On with the show!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Not Another Dance Movie

I went to the movies after stuffing my face yesterday on Thanksgiving and saw this preview...and cringed.

At first I thought it was legit another bad dance movie about the saaaame story they're all about....and then I realized what it really was...

This is genius and disaster at the same time. Genius because it's totally worth making fun of and will probably be hilarious. Disaster IS another bad dance movie in the general public.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Last night I just HAPPENED to be roaming the upper west side and just HAPPENED to stumble upon two city blocks lined with gigantic blown up floats smooshed to the ground waiting for tomorrow's big Macy's parade (translation: I'm still a new New Yorker and this is my first year spending the actual day of thanksgiving and day of Xmas in the city, so I must have a tourist moment :)

Here are some pictures!

I'm giving thanks for all of the wonderful people in my life - both near and far. What are you giving thanks for?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rough Two Days

What happens when you get a super bad, throwing up 24-hour bug and then have a four show day to follow?

It's rough, let me tell you.

Sunday night I was completely fine after our little student showcase. We went out to dinner to a place we always go (I ate the exact same thing the night before and was fine, so not food poisoning...) and I went to bed totally fine. Then, yesterday morning I get up to head out for our 11am show was not pretty.

After throwing up twice I was still convinced I was going try to and do both shows yesterday...but after getting ready and trying to jump around a bit to double check my stomach I realized that the thought of doing Santa's itself made me ill. NOT GOOD. I called in sick, reluctantly, and went to bed for the WHOLE day. It was so bad. I hate being sick, but usually I can be in control and just force my body to keep dancing. Not so when I'm throwing up uncontrollably. Ick!!

It lasted all day long, and when I wasn't physically sick I was sleeping.

LUCKILY this morning I woke up a ton better. But it was another 4 show day! I don't know where my guts came from, but I knew I was going to get through it one way or the other, haha.

And I did. The first show was rough, mostly because I hadn't eaten in 24 hours and had zero energy. But as the day went on things started to get back to normal. The company doctor was in the building so I played it safe and went to see her, but she agreed it was just a 24 hour bug or something. Thank goodness.

It helped that during the third show I had friends from class watching. That definitely gave me a boost, and it was so nice to see them for a backstage tour afterwards. They brought me beautiful flowers and we took pictures and such. I was honored they came, because one is one of my ballet teachers who is super-duper Balanchine-like really important, if that makes sense, haha. She's so sweet. She says, "I knew exactly which Ballerina Bear you where by your feet. It must be that Balanchine training. I wonder where you got that from..." haha.

The fourth show actually felt better than I felt last week for our fourth show. I guess 24 hours of sleep must help, even if it was sick sleep.

Tomorrow we have 2 shows (more friends coming to the me through!) and then Thursday is off for Thanksgiving. I can't believe how this first month of shows has flown by!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Student Showcase #4

Our little (actually, not so little anymore...) sold out student showcase was a success tonight! A few pictures of our Giselle cast.

So tired from 4 shows total today...2 radio city in the morning, then Tuesday is a real 4 show day again...better get some sleep!

On the Town

Last night I spent my first night in a theater other than Radio City in what seems like forever! Between the rehearsal period and starting shows (we've been open for two weeks already?) I haven't had a chance to go see any performances whatsoever.

So after 3 shows and a pointe class I headed over to City Center to see the Encores performance of "On the Town." When I saw it was performing I got really excited because I LOVE the old movie version of it with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra (Radio City is bringing out the true musical theater nut in me...).

I've never seen an Encores production, but apparently it's sort of like a pre-Broadway workshop type thing, so the actors carried around black binders with scripts and music. And the way the stage was set up...they had the entire (big, wonderful) orchestra taking up just about all of the stage, with the front panel free for the actors and a smaller stage built up behind the orchestra. It wasn't exactly conducive to Jerome Robbins' awesome choreography, but besides those two flaws the show was great!

The music is so fun and the actors and dancers were all great. I really enjoyed seeing something other than my daily Christmas show, haha.

What struck me the most, though, was just walking into City Center. I always thought City Center felt huge, particularly from up in the highest balcony way up in heaven up there. But last night we had like 5th row orchestra seats - the closest I've ever sat in there - and the theater felt so small! I'm so used to Radio City that I think I've been taking it for granted...this morning when I got back onstage I was reminded of just how incredibly huge it is here. Puts things in perspective (and gave me added inspiration for a 10am show :)

Anyways, we have another show now at 1pm, and then this afternoon is our student showcase at Ailey. We're doing excerpts from Giselle, and then there are lots of other groups coming to perform as well. Exciting...but it makes it another 4 show day for me, haha. Ah well, it's worth it. Apparently we sold out both of this afternoon's shows as of a few days ago, so that's big for us :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dancers vs. Critics

Just picked up the December issue of Dance Magazine to find a huge feature on dance criticism.

Read part of it online here.

Here's a Times article mentioned in the review: "Today It's Dance 10, Looks 3" about the importance of being "beautiful" as a dancer. I have more to say about this but will comment later...very interesting.

Dance vs. Education

A friend of mine is writing a college paper about choosing college or dance and today she asked me to answer a few questions as a source for her research (hah). I actually included her in an article I wrote recently on a similar topic, and given that my final semester of grad school will end in under a month (yesss) the topic has been of consideration lately.

I thought I'd share my answers...I'm interested to hear other people's opinions or experiences!

1. How long did/have you dance(d)? (Including training and etc…)

I started dancing when I was about 2 1/2 (haha) and then started really training in ballet when I was 7 at Boston Ballet. I've been a bunhead ever since, so I guess officially it's like 12 years of training and a year and a half of being "professional."

2. Why did you keep with dance, was there something specific that kept you motivated?

When I was younger I stuck with dance just because it was something I've always done. It was me. It was what I did every single day. As I got older I think the quest for perfection and the desire to perform kept me motivated during the hard times. Nowadays, I dance because I love it - even just taking class. If a day goes by and I don't work 100% in class or onstage I feel unfulfilled. My current teacher also keeps me extremely motivated.

3. Did you choose University or Company? Why?

You know I'm a weird case. This fork in the road came early for me because I graduated high school at 16, so I first chose to go to college. However I did not major in dance (for various reasons...). My initial reason for deciding on college was to have more time to train professionally, which I did for my first 2 college years at Ballet Academy East. In my third, senior year, I did dance professionally with a few smaller companies while completing my academics and moving on to graduate school. I have the incessant need to be ridiculously busy and it really worked for me to be on two career paths at once. I wouldn't give up either one for the other.

4. What are your ultimate goals with dance?

I've learned that my dance goals have to be rather broad. I grew up in ballet-land where the common goal ingrained in students' minds is to be the prima ballerina of one of the few major dance companies in the world. The thing is, that goal is unrealistic and not worth beating your head against the wall in frustration. There are so many options to pursue in the dance field and many opportunities are so unexpected. My goal was never to dance in the Radio City Christmas Show, but now that I'm here I found it's exactly what I never knew I wanted. So my ultimate goal with dance is to do it for as long as I can, take advantage of every and any performing opportunity, to constantly improve, and to treasure the joy I find in it.

5. What do you plan on going once you've stopped dancing?

After next month I will have my Masters Degree in Publishing, and I already have my BA in Communication Arts. I've done several internships and I currently write for various publications. Once I stop dancing professionally, I hope to continue pursuing my writing career and finding ways to work dance into that somehow. I don't think I can ever "stop dancing" completely, though, no matter how deteriorated my body becomes.

6. Have you ever taught?

My family owns a small jazz/musical theater dance studio in my small hometown, so I grew up helping them teach the younger kids while I still lived at home. In New York, I was an assistant teacher for the primary levels at Ballet Academy East back in '06-'07. I really enjoyed sharing my knowledge with them, and the teachers I worked with often commented on my teaching instincts, which surprised me. Also, last spring I taught and choreographed for a NYC public high school dance program. It was my first time being fully in charge of a studio full of kids, and I loved it. I found myself turning into my own teachers who have influenced me.

7. What do you feel the benefits/disadvantages are to choosing university or company?

There are goods and bads of both.

College advantages: In college, you get to explore so many options and fields and there is such a vast opportunity to learn. If you go in with an open mind there are no limits to the possibilities you can create for yourself. You also get to me a whole different world of people than the dancers. You develop skills and habits and knowledge that can enhance your dancing.

College disadvantages: You know, I can't think of one. I guess you can say it delays your professional career for four years...but it really doesn't have to. You can still perform while earning your degree. The only downside is that it is a TON of work and can be taxing on the mind and body. But the advantages outweigh that, for sure.

Company advantages: A dream come true!? For most of us, dancing with a company is what we've waited our whole lives for - what we've worked ourselves to death for. Working with choreographers, the opportunity to perform, touring, etc

Company disadvantages: I think dancers who choose to dance with a company and remain strictly to that only are doing themselves a great disservice. Of course the first few years with a company are tough and understandably busy, but once they are settled and comfortable with their position I can't see a reason not to take a college course or two towards a degree. The obvious disadvantage of a company is the instability and lack of preparation for the future. Another is that if a dancer chooses a company before they are physically ready they may be injured a lot. Low pay is a big disadvantage too, depending on the company.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Four-Show Day

Yesterday was quite possibly the longest day of my life.


It was our first of seven days we have with FOUR shows back to back all day long. 11am, 2pm, 5pm, and 8pm. If I thought I was tired before after having many two show days, that was nothing! Not much could have prepared me for it, but I was thinking of how thankful I am that they killed us during rehearsals drilling our choreography into our bodies so that it was so automatic by the last few shows!

Ironically, it wasn't my body that was so tired but my head. By the time we got to our second break, before the third show of the day, I swear my eyes were closing on me as I was sitting up trying to eat dinner. I wasn't really sleepy just...tired. It felt like my makeup was weighing down my eyelashes and all I wanted to do was lay down like those little dolls whose eyes automatically open and close as you move their heads (you know what I mean?). It was rough.

Definitely the third show was the worst, even though you'd expect it to be the last one to take the hit. During our fourth Santa of the day I somehow got a third wind that took me through the end of the day, which was really really nice.

Luckily next week for our four show Tuesday I have people coming to see the third show of the day, so that should liven me up! I'm sure it will get easier as we have more four show days, too.

The shows themselves went well overall. As my mind starts to check out as I get tired I'm very grateful that my body is holding me up, haha. Some parts are so automatic now I don't even think one bit onstage, and other parts (like Nutcracker in the bear head) I am concentrating so hard on the floor and where my feet go so that I don't get hurt. It's a different way of working when you're that worn.

Because we were permanent residents of the theater for 12 hours, the cast had a potluck so that we had a TON of food to keep us going. It was fun! I brought muffins and coffee cake for the morning, and others brought all kinds of food that we munched on ALL day. We even had leftovers for this morning...which were much needed since we all were hurting from yesterday, haha.

Today's shows went well, also. People who have done this for many years kept warning us that the day after a four show day is usually awful..."like you were hit by a truck" I believe were the words of one dancer. I actually didn't feel quite so bad this was just last night. Oooh yeah.

At least it's a day off, now. It's good that our cast has our four show day Tuesdays and a day off Thursdays. The other cast kind of STARTS their week with the hard day because its visa versa. Anyway. I have school tonight and then tomorrow I must force - FORCE - myself not to take class or anything, haha. A real physical day off. We'll see how that goes...


Clive Barnes, Dance Critic, Dies at 81

He is one critic I have always admired and whom I never got to meet. When I interned at the dance publicist I worked with a few years back I remember answering the phone once to hear his cheery British voice.

That's a shame.

UPDATED: Dance Magazine posted his final "Attitudes" Column online here, which he filed just 2 weeks ago and will be published in January.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tendu TV Takes Off

Today TenduTV officially launched online.

As a viable alternative to the din of dance on youtube, Tendu TV provides filtered dance content actually worth watching, and is distributed through TidalTV and Sling Media, which provide much higher quality video.

I know Marc has been working really hard on getting this off the ground for a while now (having spoken to him extensively for past Movmnt articles) and it's nice to see it finally taking off. They have a handful of clips already available for viewing - some better than others. Someone once told me a good writer and editor can take you from point A to point B without knowing how you actually got there. I think the same is true of video editing - and while it's WONDERFUL to see something other than straight image capture of a staged dance, some of the edits in these clips almost get in the way of seeing the actual movement. Dance video is still somewhat of an unchartered territory and this seems like just the beginning of the experimentation. I'll be anxious to see more of what the dance channel will offer in the future...they seem to be adding clips as I sit here watching them, haha.

They also have a blog going on about different issues relating to video dance, which is really interesting. Watch some clips here on TidalTV and search for tendu tv for more.

Be sure to check out all the clips

Secret Studio

On a quest for a last minute pilates/stretch class this afternoon to work through my aches and pains of performances, I stumbled upon New York's newest best kept secret: Manhattan Movement and Arts Center.

The studio, which was formerly Studio Maestro here on the upper west side, just reopened recently at their beautiful facility on 60th street near West End Avenue. I had heard from a few sources that the studios were really nice and have been meaning to find time to take ballet there...and today was my chance for a visit.

They have a pretty extensive open class schedule for being open only 2 months. Besides ballet and jazz stuff they have aerial dance training, which I really want to try! Haha it sounds cool.

Anyway, I walked in and signed up for the stretch class. Each class is $17, which at first I thought seemed a bit high. Ailey is $16 (but less with my union discount), Ballet Arts at City Center is only $15. Broadway Dance is the only one that costs more: $18. But I figured since it's a new place they need to make money. I paid up and since it was my first time there they gave me a free class voucher for the next time I come. This is an EXCELLENT incentive!! I'll be going back.

The receptionist showed me the dressing room down the hall and I got ready for class. It's a small locker room but they have two nice showers and plenty of locker space.

At 2pm in the EMPTY hallway where I sat reading through their open class schedule and brochure the stretch teacher came and asked if I was Taylor. Yes, I say. "Great! Don't be intimidated but you're my only student today, and I'm so happy you're here!"

A private stretch class for $17? That's a bargain!

It was so great! Exactly what my body needed. And normally I'd be uncomfortable being the only person in a new class I wasn't familiar with, but the teacher was SO nice and really worked with me. Where else in this city is there a class with that much free space and attention?

GO before everybody finds out about it, haha! Maybe their later evening classes are a bit more full because people get out of work...but I still think it's worth trying as an alternative to the obnoxious crowds at other dance studios in the city. If you're around, check it out. Their open class schedule is here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Full Weekend

...of shows!

Every day since my day off on Wednesday has blended together as one mass of shows with some sleep breaks in between, haha. It doesn't help that on my off time I'm in the studio taking class, but...yeah.

Still enjoying every moment - just haven't had a sec to blog, haha. My mom came to the show on Friday and then I had family friends here today. It's nice to have someone in the audience just to add that much more little excitement. When I don't have someone there, I often pretend someone's watching, haha. It makes you do better.

Anyway, tomorrow is off and then Tuesday we hit our first 4 show day..eek! I'm sitting soaking my feet in ice water as we speak because my Achilles was really bad today so...better rest up for 4 back to back!

Rockettes on Today Show

This was from the other day. Rumor has it they had to be there at 5:30am to be on the Today Show, and then they came and did our two shows of the day. Ouch! Haha.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Times Review of Christmas

The NY Times finally posted their review of the show.

Read it here.

May as well have printed the basic program notes, haha. Although I suppose there isn't as much to comment on that's different from last year's major 75th Anniversary, which was reviewed here.


We had one show this morning and then I had a private lesson with my teacher...which killed me, haha. Now I'm at school...many shows over the weekend coming up, and my mom is coming to see it tomorrow :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Official Opening Night!

Yesterday (Tues.) was our OFFICIAL opening night!

And it was SO fun.

First of all, for the matinee my friends and ballet teacher came to watch, so that added excitement. I took them on a mini backstage tour afterwards :)

But after our second show we had a huge opening night party in the lobby with the whole cast/crew/friends/family/etc. It was so much fun...everyone all dressed up and music playing and food and all. They even had these "Rockettini" glasses, like martini glasses but with fun Rockette legs as the stem of the glass. My friend and I don't drink, but we got fake strawberry daquiris just to get the awesome cups :) haha

Here are a few pictures from a fabulous evening. The shows were a blast too, of course.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Autumn in New York

Just because it's been Christmas for me since about the end of September doesn't mean I've missed the fall season!

This afternoon after my shows I took a few minutes to walk through the park to see the colorful trees. The other day I bought myself a new (cheap!) digital camera as a treat from my first paycheck that didn't go straight to pay my rent, haha. Here are a few foliage pictures I took. If you haven't been to Central Park in the past week, go soon before it's too late and the leaves are gone!

Weekend of Shows + NEWS ARTICLE

This weekend was full of performances, and all fun.

We had 2 shows a day the past 2 days, and all went well. I can't say it's getting easier, but it's getting calmer, haha. And a bit more natural. I'm still butchered after 1 show but recovery is faster and I'm not QUITE as purple in the face as I've been, haha. Still loving every minute even though it's exhausting.

News of the day is that there's an article about me being in the show in a newspaper back home in Massachusetts. Read it here. It doesn't seem to really be about the show much at all, haha. And I sound a lot more negative than I meant to in the interview, haha. But...I'll take it :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Xmas: Open for Previews!


Today was our first official open "preview" performance...our first paying audience. We had two shows (11am and 2pm) and I am just about DEAD right now, haha, but it was so fun.

11am felt EARLY to be getting into pointe shoes and that bear head, but that's going to feel late compared to the 9am shows we have coming in December! Once we got past Nutcracker, which is our first piece in the show, I was wide awake and ready to go, haha. The show went smoothly.

I didn't know exactly how much free time we'd have in between shows until we actually did it today, but it was just the right amount of time. They started having catering down in the basement cafeteria, so we had a chance to grab a quick (cheap!) lunch without having to change or take off layers of makeup to go outside. It was nice to just sit for a bit during the break...not too long but just long enough to feel refreshed for show 2.

The second show went well, too - although my arm muscles were burning (and still are) by the end of Santas from doing it yet again in that heavy suit. I'll feel that tomorrow!

It was amazing, though. I'm so happy, if I haven't mentioned that, haha.

Tired as I am, I'm still crazy and I'm off to take ballet class tonight! As soon as it's over I must crash and get up for a 10am show tomorrow. Yay

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Xmas Dress Rehearsal 2: The Last Rehearsal

It's really happening!

Today was our FINAL day of rehearsal before we open for "previews" tomorrow - although it feels like we really opened last night since we had an audience. (Friend and blogger Tonya writes about last night's show here, and she took some fun pictures here. Thanks Tonya!)

(curtain call...i'm second from the left. my hair looks just dandy at the end of the show, after being shoved in a bear head, a santa hat, a santa's helper bonnet, etc...ugh haha)

In the afternoon we had a final rehearsal in the studio to clean up a few last minute details. Though it was a short one (an hour and a half) it was killer and we were definitely warmed up for our dress rehearsal by the end...

We had another packed audience for tonight's dress. Apparently it was sponsors and folks like that. The show went felt MUCH calmer than last night. I guess it only takes once to learn how and when to pace yourself, haha. Costumes all stayed on and choreography felt solid. I think we're all just really anxious to get going with real shows!

Tomorrow morning I will be dancing onstage for 12,000 people. I STILL can't believe it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Xmas Dress Rehearsal 1: A REAL Audience! + PICS

Oh my gosh. Tonight was amazing.

It was our first full out, no stopping, full costumes/animals/fireworks/etc dress rehearsal with a real audience!!!

It was supposed to be an "invited dress rehearsal" and every cast member got 2-4 tickets, so I was expecting a small gathering of family and friends, maybe only filling up the center of the orchestra section. NOT! At the 5 minute "places please" call, the stage manager told us we had a full house, and she wasn't kidding! I don't think it was "sold out" (though tickets were free) but there were people in all the mezzanines and balconies and all across the whole theater. Wow!

It is so different and so much more exciting with an audience - not that just being on that stage isn't exciting enough! It was the beginning of the nativity scene there is an "angel" in the air and a few of us are shepherds that look up at her, and the rest of the stage and audience is totally black. And as the curtain rose all of a sudden it was like we were at a rock concert or a baseball game or something: cameras started flashing nonstop! What a moment! It was SO cool. I don't know if people are actually allowed to take pictures during the show (I don't recall hearing an announcement at the beginning saying they couldn't...) but since they were anyway I've decided to share a few I've taken over the past week on here.

Anyway the show itself felt good...there were many a mishap with costumes and people tripping and such, but luckily I personally didn't have any issues (they fixed my Santa hat so it now stays on :). It was our first time going through nonstop, though. And wow, this show is a killer! By the end of our aerobic Santa dance I thought I was going to die, haha. My face was as red as my suit and I could barely catch my breath before we went back onstage again. At this moment I though, oh my god, I can't believe we have to do this 4 times a day!

But by the time the curtain call came around, all I could think was: oh my god, I can't believe we get to do this 100+ more times. The exhilaration and exhaustion and excitement. Wow.

(me in my costume for the "traffic" section of New York at Christmas. I'm a "preppy girl")

(Rockettes in 12 Days of Christmas)

(during our Central Park dance)

(me as a ballerina bear)

(beginning of ballerina bears. they open that big blue box under the tree and i'm the middle one)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Xmas Tech Day 9: A Real Run

First of all, YAY OBAMA!!!!

Today we finally went through a full run through in real time, in costume. However we DID stop once because they had problems with the tour bus they use onstage, so our first real nonstop time will be tomorrow with an audience for dress rehearsal.

But overall our run went well. Some of my hats still like to fall off but everything is being worked out. It felt great to run everything for real. And today we had the full orchestra for the first time. They're great! I had yet another flashback to my first Nutcracker show in Boston when I was little and would hear the orchestra warming up in the halls backstage. It's a comforting sound somehow.

We watched the run through of the other cast after dinner and this time we sat up in the first mezzanine. What a great view from up there! It really is a wonderful show. I sit and watch and it's like, oh my god, I can't believe I'm actually a part of this and I actually do that too! It looks like such fun. And it is.

Tomorrow we have a real audience (of invited friends and family) for our dress rehearsal. Before that we have "animal orientation" haha, where we get to know the sheep, camels, and donkeys used in the nativity scene! It's very exciting!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Xmas Tech Day 8: Cleaning Up

Today was a short day of rehearsal, just to clean up details of our choreography.

It was the other cast's turn to try their costume run onstage like we did the other day, so we were upstairs in the rehearsal hall/studio above the theater. We've been in there a few times over the past few weeks and every time I go in there I'm reminded of the day I auditioned in there back in May.

Anyway rehearsal was fine. We ran almost all of our dances just to clarify some heads and arms and such. It was kind of funny being back in front of a mirror doing it all after being onstage for a week. I so so SO much prefer dancing onstage than in a studio - and it doesn't have everything to do with the performance/audience aspect. It's just that there's so much space in the theater and the audience is so far away and you can look out, way out, at them. In the studio it's almost claustrophobic, no matter how big the studio space is. Having the mirror there and staring at yourself for hours on end is no fun.

After watching myself in the mirror this afternoon after not seeing myself for a week, I've realized that being onstage makes me dance differently, in a good way. There are certain things that just happen naturally onstage (everything seems bigger) that I found myself doing without recognizing it today. And yet by the end of the studio rehearsal I felt back in tight jacket mode. Hm. I must work on that - dancing in the studio like dancing onstage...people have commented on that before to me...

The rest of my day was busy even though I wasn't at the theater. In the morning I had to go make up a midterm exam from last week, and then in the afternoon I did a phone interview with a newspaper back home in Massachusetts that is doing an article on me being in the Christmas show! It's so funny - I do a zillion interviews all the time for the various things I write myself, but when I'm on the answering end of the interview things don't come out as smoothly, haha. It actually went well, though, and apparently the article will run the end of this week or next week. I'll link to it if it comes online.

Then tonight I took class all night and had rehearsal for our student workshop of "Giselle" set for Nov. 23. Fun stuff, but I am still baffled by the fact that my body feels invigorated and wonderful after 8 hours of Radio City rehearsal but after 3 hours of ballet class my joints freeze up and you'd think I'd aged 50 years! Strange (and painful, haha). I'm knocking on wood that, thus far, my body has taken to this insane schedule much better than I'd expected.

Anyway, tomorrow we have a full dress rehearsal with the entire orchestra for the first time! Very exciting. So ready to kick things off!

PS- everybody vote tomorrow!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Xmas Tech Day 7: Costume time!

Yesterday was a big day - our first time dancing in all of our costumes!

We spent the whole day working through the entire show to get acclimated to our costumes, where we change, how FAST we must change, and so on. It was a bit chaotic at first. We didn't get a chance to try anything on to see the quickest way to put it on or off before we were just thrown into doing it. Skirts and tights and shoes galore were tossed around backstage. Wow.

By the end of the day everything made more sense - who are dressers are and how they help, ways to start stripping down layers as we exit in the wings, how to tuck in our hair under our Santa wig and hat!

Our fastest change (a minute and 20 seconds to be exact) is going from our New York at Christmas outfit to our fat Santa suit. It's rough because it's all of the ensemble PLUS all the Rockettes changing into big red costumes all at the same very fast time. And the costume itself has a zillion pieces, it seems. Fat suit, shoes and spats, beard, wig, and hat. The first time we tried it in real time I was so lost trying to get the beard to stay on and everything. As we started the dance my hat completely fell off (we start bent over so gravity didn't help, haha). I was like, AH what do I do? I couldn't put it back on during the choreography and I knew the stage elevator was about to rise and didn't want to just leave it on the floor in the way! I ended up hurling it into the wing (good thing I'm on the end, haha) but it was stressful. Luckily I wasn't the only one with hat issues, and later we went to the wig room to have everything adjusted. They should be fixing it so it's all set this week.

Besides that, the rest of the costume run went smoothly. I just need to get used to these fast changes. And the other problem is taking my hair up and down and up again. We start in the bear head so my hair gets crazy and frizzy under there, then it goes down for NY at Christmas and is supposed to look nice, haha. Then in that fast change it must go up under the Santa hat and stay up in another hat for the next number. Then down again to look decent. Ah!

It was fun to finally have costumes though. Everything is coming together so quickly. We have a cleaning rehearsal tomorrow just for choreography in the studio, and then Tuesday we do a full dress rehearsal in real time (yesterday we stopped and started a lot). Then Wednesday we have an audience for dress rehearsal! Crazy. Thursday, another dress. And Friday we open!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Xmas Tech Day 6: Halloween, Christmas-style

Happy Halloween everyone!

This holiday goes from being my absolute favorite one year to nothing but another normal day the next. Today was good, but not in the normal Halloween way.

We still had normal rehearsal all day and night, so I didn't get to dress up or go take Halloween ballet class as is tradition. I wasn't thrilled about missing that, but it was SO worth it for tonight's rehearsal.

We finally got to run the entire show non-stop in real time all the way through transitions and everything. It was like being shot out of a cannon - we never stop for an hour and half show. It's SO tiring (especially this first time because I didn't know what to expect with certain backstage transitions) and by the end you're dead. But it is SOOOOOO amazingly fun. Talk about adrenaline rush.

More details later. Tomorrow we run the whole thing all day again, but this time in full costume! Yay!

We did do Nutcracker in our bear suits, which was bit...spooky. Haha. Takes some getting used to, and to block out spacing with our costumes we had to be in them for about an hour straight without coming up for air (ie. taking the heads off). The actual dance is only 7 minutes that we have to be in there. So yeah, and hour was a bit...rough. The amazing stage managers had hands full of dixie cups with water as soon as we came off sweating like pigs (it's like a personal sauna in that fat suit, standing still, nevermind dancing!)

Anyway, it was such fun. I can't believe we open in a week! This is happening so fast.

PS- on the Halloween note, it was so funny...the other cast of Rockettes all dressed as Michael Phelps all exactly the same. They did their show run in bathing caps and goggles and gold medals, haha!

Xmas Tech Day 5: Backstage Choreography

Today we continued to run through pieces of the show in real time...we're starting to get down to the wire and we're now in the stage of learning where we need to be backstage and when. There are so many elements and props and elevators and costumes and shoes and people to be aware of in the wings and the immediate backstage area. We worked a lot today on the traffic in between our dances onstage. A bit of backstage choreography, if you will. And this is before we've even attempted dancing in costume or quick costume changes.

It's all still very exciting, though.

Very tired but very happy. Apologues for the brief blog.

Oh, and happy halloween everyone! :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Xmas Tech Day 4: Runnin' Thru

I'm dead exhausted tonight with a headache from being in theater-land all week.

It's a good tired, of course, but makes blogging low on the priority list...

Today was good, though. We finished up staging the rest of the show in the early afternoon, which meant going through Nativity and our curtain calls. Nativity's no big thrill in terms of choreography (I sit. Others walk.), but the curtain call is such fun. With lighting and everything today, you can't help but have a gigantic smile the whole time. I love being able to look so far out and up at the audience, a feeling you just cannot get in a studio. It's amazing, and I can't imagine it filled with faces smiling back.

After our dinner break we started to actually run through the whole show. We only made it a few numbers in, but it started the mad rush backstage of presetting our shoes where we need to change and such. Costumes will be a whole new element once we get to that point, probably this weekend.

Anyway, that's today in a nutshell. I MUST go to bed immediately before my head falls off, haha. Luckily tomorrow's rehearsal isn't until 1pm...and I'm supposed to have my last midterm at school tomorrow night but...might not make it if I'm stuck at the theater. Luckily my professor knows the scoop. Last week I came into class after missing the previous week because of rehearsal and as he was taking attendance he got to my name and he says, "Oh how's rehearsal going? I told the whole class last week that you're a star!" Hah. Most of the time at school it's like, Taylor who? Who's that? It was a funny moment.

Time to sleep. Tomorrow we'll probably get to a full run through in real time. It's getting close! One week til invited dress rehearsal (which I actually still have 2 extra tickets to if you're interested! let me know, 11/5 at 5:30pm). A huge thanks to the many of you who are planning to attend and have been in touch about tickets :) it means a lot that you're coming!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Xmas Tech Day 3: Almost Done

Today we almost finished teching the entire show.

We started where we left off yesterday: in the "Magic" scene where we're supposed to be at the North Pole. We carry these big candy cane pole things and today we used the real ones instead of the rehearsal props, and they were so much heavier than expected! We didn't have much blocking time before we just ran it, so getting used to the added weight was tough. I'm sure I'll get used to it by the time we open.

After that we got out for dinner early because they had to work with the little boys in the show for their next scene. It was kind of nice to have a longer break because I had school stuff to get done.

After dinner we went into the finale of the show (before Nativity and curtain call, so it's not REALLY the finale but...). We come down on these staircases on the sides of the Rockettes and I lead on. We have certain steps on certain counts we have to be on, and we're high up on the elevated stage, too, so it's difficult. I must have looked so stupid with my head down staring at where I'm walking so I wouldn't fall today, haha. Once we did it a few times it was easier to walk down without dropping my chin, but it will take some more time before I can look out into the audience comfortably while stepping down.

That scene took some time between all the different elements, even though our choreography isn't all that complicated. But once we finished we got to leave early for the night as well (only an hour early, but you would have thought it was the excitement of Christmas morning haha). Still felt like a long day even though it wasn't so much.

Tomorrow I'm sure we'll finish up teching the entire show in the morning. Who knows what the schedule will hold for the rest of the week? We're like a day and a half ahead, so perhaps we'll get to full run throughs? I can't believe how fast this is all moving...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Xmas Tech Day 2: Scary Stage!

If you get into this show, you CANNOT have a fear of heights.

I don't, but even still today was a little...scary!

It's been another 12 hour long day, so blogging will be brief. But we continued on with teching the show today. We started by finishing NYAC (New York at Christmas) and at the end, we all come in for a reprise on the "choral stairs" which line the walls of the audience. They start kind of by the 2nd mezzanine and head down to the stage, and we walk down and sing very quickly. Better not trip or I'm in trouble, haha.

That was not the worst of the heights.

We went into our big Santa Clause dance after that, which, until today, has been my favorite. Then I found out the stage actually rises up and down WHILE we dance. I knew the turntable would be moving, but raising the elevators? Eek! They did it very safely, of course, so we could all get used to the feeling of it all. But standing and just feeling the motion and actually dancing and seeing your eye level shift by the second are two different things.

Since I'm in the front line, there's like a huge cliff right in front of me as I do this jolly Santa choreography and jumps and stuff. And it rises during a jumpy step, so it's like that feeling when you're in an elevator and you jump and the floor hits you too soon. Takes some getting used to.

Then the's fun once you get used to it, but it actually moves quite fast. Faster than I was expecting anyway. And unfortunately it isn't fool proof and it doesn't always make it exactly 360 degrees back to where it started, so the lines on the stage don't come back to normally straight, so spacing is so hard. Ugh!

After running it a few times we finally all got used to it a bit, but I know for at least the first few weeks of shows I'm going to be on edge (pun intended). When our cast finished and went out to watch the other group I felt that nervous shaky feeling. I wasn't really scared by that point, but it's just this state of hyper-awareness.

Once that was over the rest of the day seemed like a breeze. We got around to starting one other number and then called it a night at 10pm.

Tomorrow we're there all day yet again. No complaints here. It's really nice that they're going so fast (we'll probably finish blocking the whole show tomorrow - 3 days for the whole Spectacular!) but the unpredictability of the schedule means a lot of sitting and waiting around. Ah well, after we finish the show we'll be in full run throughs by Friday!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Xmas: Discounted Tickets

Hi all,

Just FYI, if you're interested in coming to see the Christmas show I found out I get discounted orchestra seats.

My show schedule, again, is here. Shows start November 7! Regular tickets here.

For the discount, seats are right dead center in the orchestra in row WW (perfect view!). Throughout all of November and the first week of December (til 12/5) these tickets are only $36. However every weekend for the whole run they go up to $105. Through December during the week they are $72. Normally these seats sell for $172 every show.

If you're interested in coming at the discounted rate, LET ME KNOW asap via email (taylorjgordon (at) gmail (dot com).

I need to turn in a form at least a week in advance with credit card information for payment.

I also get to give backstage tours :)

Off to prepare for a full week of stage rehearsals!

Xmas Tech Day 1: Onstage!

Remember when I said I would love to live at the Metropolitan Opera House and just be a permanent resident of the theater?

Well, I'd like to make an amendment to that: I would LOVE to live at Radio City Music Hall, and I get to do pretty much just that for the next 12 weeks!!! (No, not live there, but spend the majority of my life there, haha)

Yesterday was our first day of tech at the theater, and WOW. I've only been in the house once when I was really young and we came to see the Christmas show on vacation. It looked like I remembered it, but bigger. That place is huge. The Met is big, but Radio City is a lot wider and the audience set back far away from the stage. It's amazing.

When I went to the stage door I saw people putting up the Christmas trees along the Radio City marquee, only to find the exact same image as the backdrop onstage in the theater! It's the background for our New York at Christmas scene, but it was such a classic moment to see it like that ironically.

I signed in and made my way to the house before I actually got to go onstage, so my moment of shock was more entering the audience and looking up rather than when I finally got to step onstage.

At noon we had "safety orientation" for all the new people to the show to teach us about backstage and such. As we filed into the audience to wait for the stage managers to talk, every person who walked in had the same open-mouthed, eye-widening expression as they saw the theater. What a view.

The stage managers spoke to us briefly about the basic safety rules (no running ever, be aware of all the flying set pieces, stay still if the stage elevators move unexpectedly!) and then we went on a full tour of the whole backstage area - the wings, the stage, the quick change spaces, the basements underneath the stage where all the animals stay and where the elevators drop (the stage itself is made of 4 elevators that go 20-something feet below ground to load scenery and 16 or so feet above the stage). Then we got to go to our dressing rooms, which are quite big compared to past dressing rooms I've been in. It's nice because there's plenty of room for everyone, especially when there will only be one cast a time there.

Then we went back into the house to get ready for rehearsal. We were only scheduled to block and space out Nutcracker all afternoon and be finished by 4pm, but Nutcracker went fast! They are way ahead of schedule, and as we were advised earlier, the schedule can change minute by minute, so we ended up staying til 10pm last night!

Staging Nutcracker was fun but tough. I had to get readjusted to the numbers and lines and spacing and everything, even though it was technically set up the same as how we had it at the studio. All the Nutcracker scenery was there for us, too, which added the next layer. The other "ballerina bears" and I come out of this big blue gift box center stage, and we had to practice the actual opening of the box. I'm in the middle and the other 2 girls are on the doors that open, so when it goes it SHAKES a lot. I have to stand strong in b-plus as I shake with the box and then step down and find my center again to actually dance. The first time it was bit like, woah, but I think I'm getting used to it. It'll be even harder with the bear head I'm sure!

Once I got over that first entrance everything was great. I'm dancing Sugar Plum center stage at Radio City Music Hall! It felt so so SO good to be back on a real's been a while. I'm so at home there.

After Nutcracker we had to wait around until they needed us again, which turned out to be not until after dinner. So we sat and watched the Rockettes tech for a good 2 hours and then had our dinner break. Of course it was pouring rain by that time, so I just ran quickly to grab a salad and ate in the dressing room.

After dinner we moved on to New York at Christmas and stage almost the whole thing. We weren't supposed to do this until Monday, so we are way ahead of schedule. I think this is the first tech situation I've been in that has ever not been behind schedule, nevermind ahead. I guess after 76 years they have it down pat.

The rest of the evening went smoothly with much less sitting around and much more stage time. We got to see the ice skating rink come up on the stage elevator and ice skaters finally do their real routine (very cool) and we got to use our real props (a camera that really flashes, haha).

It was a LONG day (10 hours there) but time kind of stops when you're in the theater. It's dark all day long and you forget that there's real life going on outside, haha. I felt a little bad because I was supposed to go review ABT last night at City Center since we were supposed to end at 4pm, but I suppose I'd rather be onstage myself than watching others (haha). No, seriously. I was dead by the end of the night, but it was so worth it. I love being onstage and the thing is, most of the time in the past when I've been lucky enough to perform at big theaters like that, I've been a background person or a corps member standing on the side or a kid in a minute-long dance. Now, I'm really really dancing. And it feels really really good.

Friday, October 24, 2008

my new favorite quote + studio newsletter

In doing a bit of Rockette research for my recent post on The Winger tonight I came across this line in a New York Times music review of the Christmas show, and it is officially my new favorite quote ever.

"The Rockettes dance the American dream in wondrous synchrony — row upon row of long legs and glittering teeth. As an anti-depressant they could put Zoloft out of business." -Bernard Holland, NYT 12/24/07

In the next paragraph he cringes at our Nutcracker bear scene (understandably...), but it's a fun article anyway.

Other NYT articles I came across of interest:
*What the Rockettes Want for Christmas: Respect
*History, Sure, But Add More Sequins
*A Nimble 75 Year Old Gets a Little Nip and Tuck

In other news, my old studio's newsletter that I write and put together is now posted online here if you care to take a look.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Xmas Rehearsal Day 11: Team Spirit!

Today was amazing.

It was our final day of rehearsal in the studio at the church before tech starts (tomorrow in general, but Saturday for us). We had a full run through nonstop of the show for each cast while the other cast watched. What fun!

First of all, yesterday at the end of rehearsal our cast, named the Blue Cast (the other is Gold), decided that we would all get together for our last day and all wear blue. So today everyone came in with blue leotards and shirts and so forth. Hooray for team spirit! I wore my favorite blue leotard and it was fun to see everyone all together like that - like school spirit. The energy was so positive with the group as a whole, way more so than the workhorse nature of the past 2 weeks. It was great. The other cast had the same vibe, but they had a group cheer for their cast, haha. Rockette cheerleaders. Throughout the two run throughs everyone was SO supportive of each other, cheering each other on and giving a standing ovation at the end. The directors even commented at the end of the day on how well we all worked together. They were pleased with the day (despite giving pages and pages of correction notes) and think we are ready to hit the stage. Just before we left for the day the big director made a comment while "almost getting weepy": "All your hard work and how much you genuinely love what you do is really showing through. What you created in this basement is truly incredible." Aw.

Our cast went in the morning, and the "show" went well. I felt good about it, and I enjoyed it much more having an audience beyond the 4 dance captains staring us down in search of mistakes, haha. Even though it was only the 50 or so members of the other cast watching (crammed in a 2 foot space along the mirrors up front!) it was great because it made me "perform" more.

At the end, everyone stood up and was clapping wildly - both casts. It was this incredible moment of satisfaction and excitement and energy and gratitude and joy and teamwork. You give so much while dancing, and those moments of actual performance are sublime. Your mind goes blank and your body takes over and it's pure movement and music radiating from inside.

But that moment immediately when it's over. At least, today, anyway. Maybe it's the adrenaline or the shakiness of muscle fatigue or the sake of being so very in the moment. But there is no feeling like that. Today I wanted to close my eyes and stop time and just savor those seconds of incredible happiness. I haven't felt it like that in so long, if ever, to that extent. Nothing else but performance can do that, to me anyway.

The clatter of applause drowns out all noise and time freezes with a smile, and then the warmth of joy melts you back to reality. Fulfillment and emptiness coexist. You have everything and yet gave it all. A few minutes later that moment is gone, forever. Ephemeral. I can only imagine what it will be like experiencing this moment ONSTAGE at Radio City Music Hall with 6,000 people clapping. I can't believe the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Xmas Rehearsal Day 10: Piece It Together

Today was a LONG day.

In the morning, we ran through the entire show with the whole cast. Stopping to piece everything together, it was tough but exciting to see everything starting to come together even more. It was our first time to see all of the Rockette numbers, including Parade of the Wooden Soldiers and the tap-intensive 12 Days of Christmas. Those girls are a-ma-zing.

After lunch we continued to run through things and go through pages and pages of notes and corrections. At 5pm everyone but us in the ensemble called it a day, and we continued to clean through different dances.

So we got out at 6pm, which was the time I was supposed to be 20 blocks south at school for a midterm exam. I RAN out of rehearsal and luckily hopped in a cab right away but rush hour traffic made me late, of course. The actual exam didn't start til a bit later so I only walked in on a lecture. With my brain half in Christmas dance land and half in memorizing accounting terms for my test, I was a bit of a mess, haha. Perhaps not the most effective way to go into an exam. Usually people prefer a clear mind and a full stomach. But I actually felt okay about the test (thanks to a crash study session last night) and finished way early.

AND, being the crazy overachiever that I am I decided that since I finished with lots of time to spare I'd run and try to make it to ballet class at 7:30. Unable to get a cab (which probably would have taken longer anyway) I literally sprinted across town and made it with 5 minutes to spare before plies :) Haha. I'm glad I went though. My body goes from sooo warm to sooo cold during rehearsal when we dance and sit and dance, and working through barre and class actually makes it feel better. I think that's why I haven't been nearly as sore as I expected to be (thus far...knock on wood).

Anyway, tomorrow is another long day of rehearsal plus school at night, but no exam. In the morning, we're doing a full run through without stopping so it will feel like a real show. Yay! And I believe in the afternoon we'll get to watch the other cast run it through. It's our last day of rehearsal in the studio!!!!!!!!!! Gosh this is going by fast. Theater on Saturday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Xmas Rehearsal Day 9: Blind Ballet

For the first half of today's rehearsals we were at the theater in the rehearsal hall there rather than the church we've been at all this time. Why? To do Nutcracker in our fabulous bear suits!

I walked down the hall to get to the room we're supposed to wait it and found puffy bear heads and big fat furry bodies lining the walls. I wanted so badly to take a picture of all the costumes - it was QUITE a sight - but I couldn't get my camera out fast enough before people started putting them on. I'm sure there will be more opportunities...

Before we actually got into the costumes they took us all in the studio to sit in a circle and have a "bear zen moment" to prepare for what was to come. I was a bit nervous about actually dancing in the head, but they made it seem like much more of a big deal, haha. We're all sitting there in the lotus pose "becoming one with our bear suit" and they're telling us it's totally okay to "have a moment" if we freak out inside the head or something because it takes some getting used to. I was more nervous AFTER this scene than before, haha, but it actually wasn't quite so bad.

They went slow so we could try to feel our spacing with our vision impaired. I swear, it's like dancing ballet blind. I don't think I would have given it a second thought if I didn't have pointe shoes on, but because of the turns and such we do and the way the head works it throws me off. Way off! By the end I finally started to feel my "bear center," haha.

It's hard because there's no peripheral vision so you can't see the other dancers around you, except of course in the mirror, which I was relying a little too heavily on. The way we see through the bear's mouth, you have to make an effort to look out rather than getting stuck inside the head (and hence listening to your own loud breathing rather than the music) and I'm afraid onstage looking out all I'll see is blackness, haha. I'm sure it will get better.

Anyway, besides the head, the costume itself is HOT. After we do like 1 step it feels like a sauna in there. Ick. Luckily in the real thing we're only in it for 7 minutes of Nutcracker onstage. But trying to move with it on and carrying that mega wand and moving around, my arms were SO sore by the end of the 4th hour. Ouch.

After our dinner break, we were back at the regular studio and we did a run through of our entire show, with just us in the ensemble. Doing everything back to back like that was tiring but it seemed like so much less work than all the effort we spent learning everything. Someone calculated something like 60 hours of rehearsal thus far for 23 minutes onstage. Wow. Of course it's necessary, but the show itself goes by really fast. Tomorrow we do the full show run through with the whole cast so I'm sure that will drag it out better.

Once we ran through the whole thing we got notes and went through to clean stuff, spending a lot of time on our Central Park dance. There's one time we break and stand on the sides to watch the ice skaters do their thing in the middle, and we're supposed to "be in love" with our partner. After the first run, the dance captains made everyone laugh by saying that my partner and I looked like we were so not in love and that we were "the shy couple."

How do I put this...I'm not the most physically affectionate person in general, so to "be in love" does not come naturally, haha. Luckily my awesome partner helps me out and after the next run through the dance captain was like, "Wow, I think Taylor might actually like Wes!" and everyone laughed. Ah, well. I'll improve. :)

It was a long day and tomorrow is another long one 10am-6pm plus a midterm at school immediately after (um, at 6pm...oops gonna be late) as is Thursday. Luckily it looks like we may have Friday off completely while the Rockettes start tech, so I can catch up on the rest of my life. I'm in no hurry for that, though. I love living in Radio City land :)