Sunday, October 19, 2008

Xmas Rehearsal Day 6&7: An Update from Last Week

Finally have 2 seconds to sit and update about all of last week's rehearsals.

Since my posts last week were vague and rushed, I'll start with Monday...

MONDAY 10/13

For the first hour of rehearsal I had a costume fitting scheduled and I was concerned because I thought I'd be missing choreography, but it turns out the part they were working on for that time period is a part I'm not it. It's the beginning of the big Santa dance (the section in the video in another post where they all come out from blackness) and my spot in the cast doesn't enter til everyone joins in together.

So I went for my costume fitting at the theater this time. It was for my fabulous ballerina bear costume, and oh my goodness, I could barely see a thing with it on! I see through the mouth but it's very hard to see out...I'm going to be like dancing on pointe with my eyes closed practically! I have new respect for those theme park people who wear those kinds of costumes all day long...although they don't do it in pointe shoes ;)

Anyway I tried that on and then I had yet another costume (I lost track of how many now...I think it's 7 for the whole show?). This one is for when we are people on the streets of New York before the Rockettes do their dance on the sightseeing tour bus. I'm a "preppy girl" and it's actually a cute little skirt and sweater outfit. I have to change in and out and back into that oufit VERY fast, as I learned later.

So anyway, Monday after my fitting I headed back to rehearsal and we did the full Santa dance with the Rockettes and all. I think of all the many dances I'm in, that one is my favorite even though you won't be able to pick out which of the 48 Santas is me for most of the time. It's VERY aeriobic, bouncy, jolly choreography - but very fun. At one point we all grab these Christmas bells and luckily my arms have gotten used to ringing them repeatedly so my forearms are no longer burningly sore like last week.

After dinner that night we learned the traffic scene for before the Rockette tour bus part. It was hard! You'd think walking would be the easiest part of the show, but, um, not. It's a very detailed pattern of where we go and how and so forth. Then at the end of this section is where we sing. Yes, sing. It's called "New York at Christmas" and we had only learned the song quickly last week, so trying to remember the words while learning steps that go with it was a challenge! By now I finally have it down, but that night was a bit confusing!

Later that night I had my usual Monday night rehearsal for the other little student showcase I'm doing in November. Yes, squeezing in a thousand things as usual, haha. But it was good because we finished learning the section of "Giselle" we're performing.


As I'm writing this I'm following along the schedule the gave me because Tuesday seems like so long ago and all the days mesh together, haha. So Tuesday was another 1-9pm day. The first part of the afternoon was spent learning the whole scene we do "in Central Park." On the Rockettes' bus tour they end up in Central Park and we come out and dance. This is also when the ice skaters come out (who we met but have not seen practice yet, ice in the studio hah).

This dance is really fun, too, but it wasn't so much when we were learning it. It's must softer and lighter than the Santa business, but they still want movements sharp and big. Being the ballet bunhead I am it was hard for me to not get too "graceful" with all my steps. This whole section is partnering in heels, which took some getting used to as well. My partner is super nice and understanding of my...insecurity, haha. He's done the show for the past 5 years (!!) so he helped out a lot. By the time we finished learning everything (and the confusing spacing numbers and lines to go with it, like I mentioned last week) it was fun. There are lots of lifts and such. Yay.

Tuesday night we revisited the Nutcracker section and did some cleaning up of details. I was much more comfortable going back over old choreography than racking my brain to learn new stuff. It all fits together and feels more natural once you let it sit in your brain for a few days. After that we learned another song we sing called, "Magic."


Wednesday we continued learning the Central Park piece and the reentrance we make to sing again at the end of the scene (back in "preppy girl" costume). Then we started yet another new number. It's the part where we come on as Santa's Helpers at the North Pole, and we dance with...a pole. Haha, it's like a giant candy cane thing with a glowing globe at the top. And, like the other props, it is HEAVY. And tall and awkward. Again, now after doing it for a few days it feels much better, but at the time we learned it, it was a challenge. We do this whole part moving all around the pole and lifting our legs and such, and all the while the cane must stay completely vertical. May sound easy, but when your arms are moving around and your legs are whacking up it's hard to keep that thing straight!

There's also a part where we all make a circle around the elves and hold our canes next to us so the person beside us grabs it as well. Hard to explain (see the video from the other day...) but because of the spacing and safety issues we spent a good hour just on this 16 count circle. Crazy! But it was necessary (a girl got bopped in the nose with a cane once!).

After dinner we learned the other half of this scene. We come in as if it were a parade of Santa's Helpers, and me and one other girl sit on this giant cart that is wheeled out. The rest of the cast stayed in one studio to learn the parade choreography while two of us went with the other dance captain to learn our little part of the cart. We're sitting down so it's mostly arm movements and little kicks. Kind of cute :)

The rest of that night we learned our third and final song called, "Shine," a tune that I could NOT remember for the life of me until we finally put movement to it on Thursday.


Thursday afternoon we continued with the "Magic" parade stuff. This time we actually got to sit on the real cart that they pull out. It's fun! It's high up and then we get lifted off by two of the guys. At least this is another time you can pick out which tiny person I am on the huge stage, haha.

After we learned the rest of it the other cast members in the scene came to join in. This would be Santa, Mrs. Clause, and the boys who are in the show (characters names are Ben - little boy - and Patrick - preteen boy who doesn't believe in Santa). It was fun to have them in the studio too, because it finally started to feel like a show with more than just us in it. The guy who plays Santa is so great! He has the perfect Santa voice (see NBC youtube video) and apparently has been doing this for years. The little boys were cute, too. One of them was SO little! It must be so exciting for him to be in this...although I'm sure my childish excitement is equal.

Thursday night we learned the finale of the show, where we sing that song, "Shine" we learned the night before. It's not really a dance piece. We stand on the choral stairs onstage as the Rockettes dance, and we kind of clap and sing and move our arms. It's a nice peaceful finale, though.

The rest of the night we went back and cleaned up the "Magic" sections we learned before.

FRIDAY 10/17

The day we finished learning the show! It was an exciting moment.

In the morning we started with the Nativity scene. I'm a shepherd, so I don't really do much. Nobody actually does much in this scene, but it is very powerful. I kneel looking up at an angel at one point with 2 other shepherds (and their sheep. I don't actually have a sheep but they have real ones!) and then I sit on the big rock with "Mary" and "Joseph" as all the kings and so forth come in. I have to say, it was a nice break to just learn to sit for an hour and a half on a Friday morning :) haha

After that we learned the curtain calls with the full cast. This was great because it was the first major time we heard the "singers" do their thing, and oh my goodness, they are AMAZING! Everyone was like cheering them on rather than taking our bows, haha. They're great. Our bows are, you know, bows. We sing again at the end.

In the afternoon we ran through the full "New York at Christmas" scene, including the Rockettes on their tour bus (or the fake set they use for rehearsal). Wow! This was the first time we saw the Rockettes actually dance all together like that in the studio and, just, wow. They are wonderful. This was another moment where I was like, oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm actually a part of this show. I am SO LUCKY. SO much.

I was so impressed I nearly missed my own entrance to dance, haha. Let's hope that doesn't happen onstage. Although I'll be in a quick costume change any time they dance so I should be okay.

After that we went through Santa again, repeatedly, to the point where we were all beat red, breathing hard, and shaking with exhaustion, haha. Wow, those dance captains can work us hard. It was so fun though.

After that we did Nutcracker again, this time with the girls who play Clara. One of them I know from taking class, and the other is SO tiny! Wow, fierce little things they are. They are lucky, too. Anyway, we learned our bows for Nutcracker and, at 5:42pm before we called it a week, we finished learning the entire hour and a half production of the Radio City Christmas Show. It only took one week.

One week, lots of sore muscles, lots of coffee, and lots of smiles from me :)

I am SO happy, if I haven't mentioned that before.

Anyway, I took class after all that on Friday night and felt wonderful, but Saturday during class I felt the tiredness sink in. I was better today, though, when I had a private class with my usual teacher (who took no pity :) The rest of today was spent doing a midterm paper for school that's due tomorrow that I hadn't had a spare second to start. Luckily I finished it, but I have 2 more exams this week on top of rehearsals. No worries...these are the best few months of my life.

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