Friday, October 10, 2008

Xmas Rehearsal Day 2: Here Comes Santa

Just when you think it can't get any better.

Yesterday I found out I was a ballerina "bear."

Today, I found out that I am Santa Clause!

Oh man, it is amazing. For this big number called "Here Comes Santa Clause" there are 48 of us dressed as Santa (us in the ensemble plus the Rockettes) all dancing in unison for a LONG time. We spent the entire day learning just part 2 of this huge dance.

First of all, it was neat to finally see the actual Rockettes in person. They're not all as tall as they're cracked up to be, haha. But indeed, taller than me.

So yes, for this dance there are 6 lines of 8 people and lucky me I get to be in the front line on the end on stage left (right if you're in the audience). We may all look exactly alike in our big red suits and beards, but at least for part of the dance you may be able to find me knowing that, haha.

In this dance there is a lot less moving around in terms of spacing, so the number/color business that threw me off so much yesterday (read yesterday's post) wasn't as much of an issue today. Plus I'm just getting used to being aware of that kind of spacing. What DID throw me and all 48 of us off in this number is the EXTREME detail described for every single movement. If I thought ballet teachers were picky about detail, that is nothing compared to this. Everything from where your eye focus is to lining up your fingernail to the tip of you ear when pointing, to the angle of a flat back. Wow!

Catching the actual (jolly, jaunty) choreography with the intense details on top was another mind/body boggle challenge again. But when we do it repeatedly and it finally gets into your body, and we try a full sequence with the music and you get it right, it's like, oh my god this is so great! What a feeling! Several times I caught myself just smiling automatically for the joy of the movement, something that happens very rarely in ballet class.

One important thing I forgot to mention yesterday is that we have live music during rehearsal. Not just a pianist playing the main beat, but a whole drum/symbol set and keyboard and such. It's so cool and it gives such a different energy to the room with real music. The drums just drive you when you're tired after 6 hours.

Back to the mind bending choreography - one section of this dance goes into a Busby Berkley -esque scene where we get on a big spin table that rotates the stage and do lots of hand things that give an optical illusion type thing. We're holding Christmas bells the whole time (heavy prop number 2, almost more difficult to maneuver than yesterday's massive wand). It's all in patterns of when your arms go up or out or side or whenever and every person is different, so it got so confusing! During my lunch hour I got my Jamba Juice and sat in the park writing numbers and movements so I'd remember my patterns. By the end I finally got it, but I hope I remember next week, haha.

Anyway, we finished this part of the dance and it's actually really fun even though it's very aerobic - and will be more so in a fat Santa suit! Today we had the 2 casts in separate rooms, so unlike yesterday where we had a few minutes downtime here and there while the other cast used real spacing, today we were on the floor ALL day. We had our AGVA call out breaks on time like yesterday, but besides that we were up and on the whole time.

By 5pm when we had vocal rehearsal I was relieved, even though singing is my least favorite thing!

Oh speaking of least favorite things, part of the Santa choreography is the Shim Sham, a tap step that I simply cannot do! I haven't taken tap in years and even then it was like BASIC basic. Here I am doing tap steps with the Rockettes behind me. Uh oh, haha. I finally got the rhythm of it after many attempts but...this show is certainly teaching me a lot in only 2 days!

Anyway, back to singing. They gave our last hour of the day over to the music director of the show to learn the song, "New York at Christmas." Another skill I lack besides tapping that I should have: reading music.

The song is pretty short and not that hard to sing, but because it's an original song for the show and I've never heard it it was hard to learn the pitches by just looking at the paper. Eventually we dissected each phrase and the notes and such and I got the tune, but...yeah another thing on the to do list after this show: learn to sing and read music, haha.

I hummed it all the way home so I would remember the notes if not the lyrics just yet. Even though I was tired I refreshed myself with a shower before heading to ballet class at 7:30. Yes, only the insane dance MORE than necessary. I actually had a really good class, though, and felt more energized rather than less after giving so much all day. It's a great feeling.

Now class is over, my homework of writing down spacing and choreography is complete, and it's time to hit the sack early again. I'm still in the sleeping pattern changing process, so I'm really making an effort to get to bed by 11pm every night (way early for me...) so once shows start I can be bright eyed for a 9am Sunday show every week.

Thankfully the weekend is quiet. Just taking class tomorrow as usual, and Sunday celebrating a friend's birthday. Then back to the Christmas grind next week. I can't wait!

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