Our opening weekend of previews went really well...and it was crazy busy for me personally with all kinds of visitors coming to see the show. Love it...tomorrow night is the official opening night party (expect many more pictures from that!) and then we get into the real swing of our show schedule - which means time for blogging. Til then, more pictures!
My dressing room mirror. Me as Mary in Nativity. Singing out in the New York at Christmas scene. I'm in the black coat holding a green bag. A whole bunch of friends from my hometown, who came to see the show yesterday! In front of the most amazing view ever.
There is SO much to say about the past week of Radio City rehearsals...and yet I have to revert to that old phrase, "A picture's worth a thousand words." There just isn't the time right now to explain everything in detail, but once we open (Friday!) I'll have long breaks between shows where blogging is the ideal time killer - promise! For now, here are some pictures from tech
week...tomorrow we add costumes, and the rest of this week we have full dress rehearsals! We open for previews on Friday, over the weekend I have many friends coming to watch, and then next Tuesday is the "official" opening :)
A bunch of us stretching the aisles of Radio City Music Hall on Halloween. I'm towards the back of the crowd, haha.
Gorgeous stage. Both casts of us in the ensemble on Halloween - we all wore shirts with our dance captain's old headshot on it! Too funny... Tech-ing the curtain call with the full cast! Tech-ing the Nutcracker section. We start in that blue box under the tree, which opens up to reveal us like this - and then we dance! (This is the other cast though). Later in the show we dance in "Central Park" - I'm in pink on the left.
I can't believe we're already done with the initial rehearsal process! Yesterday was our final day in the studio - we start tech in the theater tomorrow! Crazy. Yesterday was amazing because we had our first full nonstop run through of the whole show with the full cast, while the other cast watched as the audience. Amazing.
Here are a few pictures...I'm in the "gold" cast, so to show some spirit on our last day we all wore gold (or, um, yellow haha).
some of us in the ensemble the full gold cast! bear costumes lining the halls of Radio City
SOOOO excited to start in the theater tomorrow. We tech for a week and a half before previews start, 2 weeks from today!
Just a reminder that, even though I have yet to blog about this season's rehearsals in detail, you can always read about last year's Radio City Christmas Spectacular's rehearsals in the archives, here.
This week is our last few days in the studio before we hit tech madness (12 hour days in the black hole of the theater, haha) this weekend. It's all going SO well. We finished learning the show on Friday and now it's time to clean up the choreography and piece the numbers together.
And guess what I found out Friday - I'm Mary in the famous Nativity scene! Which means that even if you can find which little dancer is me throughout the whole show, you'll DEFINITELY see me at the end, haha. Big fun.
Haven't had a spare second (or any extra energy) to blog yet about rehearsals for Radio City, which started last week - but they are going wonderful so far!
I probably won't post in detail til the weekend, because rehearsals take up about every waking moment - and the times I'm not dancing, I'm either soaking in a hot bath or laying my aching body down to rest (if not sleep...). I'm so dead even after just these first few days, but I can't even say how insanely happy I am. I've waited all year for this, and it is sooo worth it. I can't even say how good it is to be back (and to not be the new person!).
More details soon, I promise. Til then you can catch me on Twitter a little more often...
...my true love gave to me me: a bruise, a blister, and many aches aches and pains!
Today was our first day of rehearsals - also known as Christmas bootcamp, haha. It is SO wonderful to be back in Radio City land, I can't even tell you. So great to see everyone and meet new cast members, and just to be dancing this choreography again!
I'll write more this weekend, because tonight I am simply exhausted. I've been taking crazy amounts of classes lately to get myself prepped for this schedule, but the way we repeat choreography so much as we learn it really takes a fast toll on your body. I'm dead...but so very happy. Will write all about it when my body rests this weekend. It doesn't help that I've had a cold for a week that won't go away...but I'm not complaining! Loving this! :)
PS- since I still have insomnia (I crashed around 8pm dead tired and am now, at 2am, wide awake...of course) I'm re-reading my blogs from last year's rehearsals. It's so funny to see how foreign this all was to me then, and how today I felt like I never left and I'm so at home with everything. Details and things. Read about my verrrrry first day last year here, when, again, we started with ballerina bears :)
I got a sample photo from the crazy shoot I was in last week...should be fun to see more soon, hopefully. I'm the glaring white one looking down in the middle, haha. As if I weren't pale enough, they added even whiter makeup so I look like I reflect the light, haha. Such a vampire ;)
Here are some photos and videos from the Cirque du Soleil event I danced in last Friday night (and wrote about briefly here). What fun! I'll write more details soon, but these pictures are worth a thousand words - dancing in Times Square. Amazing!
200 dancers getting ready
Shakira introducing us! camera guys
the dance beginning
a friend and I before dancing
One Drop was the charity we were dancing for, and they had billboards everywhere!
You know life is amusing when you get to put on a fat Santa suit on a warm fall morning in a random warehouse!
This morning and yesterday I had my costume fittings for Radio City - and what fun it was. I've missed the show SO much since last year, and being in the costumes again only made me more anxious to get going again. (Read about last year's fitting here.)
Yesterday I had to go fill out paperwork at the theater, and while I was there I had to try on all my headpieces. That started of course with my ballerina bear head! In the show this is the least fun part - trying to dance on pointe in a heavy hot fur costume, all the while being nearly blind thanks to the bear head. I got used to it as the season went on, but putting it back on yesterday brought back memories of when I first had to wear it in rehearsal onstage. It's a little dark and scary in there, haha. We can only see clearly through the space between it's lips - a very narrow slit. The nose of it is dark mesh that we can see out of only slightly, and that's if the stage lights are hitting it the right way. It's going to take some getting used to again...
After that I tried on three other hats I wear throughout the show, but they were different from the ones I wore last year. Though every cast member has their own set of costumes, my alternate from last year (the girl who did my spot in the other cast) and I are now in the same cast, so we knew one of us would be getting a new wardrobe this season - and that's me! I was excited to see which costumes I'd be wearing, and I got to find out this morning...
(Rockette toy soldier hats backstage last year)
I headed out to Radio City's costume warehouse in Queens, a very unassuming building in a pretty empty neighborhood a few subway stops out. They gave us really clear directions, but I think last year I got a little lost, haha. Luckily everything is more familiar this year! I got there early and took a little stroll around the neighborhood because it was such a nice morning. It's so funny to think that all the magical, beautiful, expensive costumes seen onstage are kept in such a dreary place.
Soon it was time for the fitting. I went in and up the elevator (which was the size of a small dance studio! I suppose it has to be to fit all the costume racks) and was greeted by one of the wardrobe folks. She led me through multiple rooms, lined with mile-high stacks of colorful threads, sewing machines galore, racks and racks and racks of old costumes, many mannequins, and all kinds of loose trimmings. Where the wardrobe room at the theater yesterday was packed with Rockette reindeer antlers and pretty headpieces, this room had endless lines of toy soldier uniforms, sparkly crystal dresses, and...a rack of all to familiar pieces labeled "Gordon" for me!
I've always been fascinated with costume shops. Back when I grew up in Boston Ballet's Nutcracker, a huge highlight was going in for fittings in the basement of the studio and seeing all the gorgeous tutus and tiaras. Ironically, one of their costumes I loved seeing up close was the bear costume they use in the party scene of Nutcracker. It was all brown tulle ruffles, chunky and itching looking at first glance. But onstage it really looked like a cute furry bear doing cartwheels and tempting the party kids (which was later me). It's amazing to see the differences in how things look up close and from far away onstage!
Anyway I found comfort in the familiar pieces on my costume rack this morning - my own ballerina bear suit, the red velvety Santa outfit, my silver "Shine" skirt and jacket. And then there were the new costumes I was expecting - well, not new, but new to me. They were my friend's last year, who is now out on the European tour of "West Side Story" (how jealous am I?!) and they're cute! The whole show is full of wonderful costumes, though.
First I tried on my new wintery dress for the scene where we dance in Central Park. Last year I had a finicky skirt that kept coming undone when my partner lifted me, but this time I get a simpler burgundy-ish dress with a cute jacket over it. I had to stand there forever with this one as the costume people (more familiar faces :) pinned and tucked and rolled extra material away because I'm so short, haha.
(my Central Park costume last year, with one of our fabulous wardrobe ladies!)
They are incredible with the amount of knowledge and detailed-thinking they have to work with. There were three or four of them at any given moment twisting the costume, discussing where and how to take pieces in efficiently and effectively. I'm amazed at what they can do, and even more in awe at how much work they have cut out for them just with my costumes alone! They really "fit you to a T" and make each costume absolutely perfect for your body, from sleeve length to evening out an ever so slightly tilted vest to the smallest imperfection in a line of stitching. It is so professional and it really is the royal treatment. I stood there, reminded of how incredibly fortunate I am to be involved in such a fantastic environment!
After my "Central Park" outfit I moved on to my "Magic" dress, which we wear in the toy shop scene of the show before the Rockettes dance the rag doll number. Here they messed around with the puffy sleeves a bit to avoid giving me "football arms," haha. This scene is super vibrant and colorful. Last year my dress was mostly a lime green, and this time I'm more yellow and purple. Fun!
(last year's "Magic" costume...I'm on the left on the cart :)
Next came my "Shine" costume, the one we do the least dancing in at the finale. Apparently they kept my same exact skirt and jacket from last year, but somehow it felt a little foreign on me. It's been a while, I guess. They made lots of pinning and adjustments - it's like the costume grew and became really uneven over the summer break, haha. But after that things got easier for them - my Santa suit was the same one from last year, and there's not much you can do with that thing to make it any more flattering, haha. It's cozy though. My "Nativity" shepherd robe also didn't need much editing. And the last to go was the lovely ballerina bear suit. I forgot how funny looking it is without the head on, haha.
Putting everything on made me really want to just get up and dance! I'm sure my body will remember most of the choreography when we start rehearsals next week (hey, I did the show 110 times last year!) but I'm likely going to be in a different track this time, meaning different places within the same dances. I'm SO ready to get going, get learning, get dancing, and get performing!
I'm very excited to tell you I'm dancing in an event this week as part of the 25th Anniversary celebration of Cirque du Soleil!
Technically I can't give details because the performance is something of a "surprise" until it happens, but the company has been spreading the word in general about the full event via Facebook, so I think it's okay I share just a little...
Basically the event is part of a 2-hour televised program to raise awareness for water conservation. Guy Laliberte, the founder of Cirque, recently went into space and the program will feature footage from him up there as well as celebrations from 14 cities around the world. Obviously I'm dancing in the New York section - and even though I can't tell you where we'll be, I CAN tell you to watch the full thing on DirectTV or online here on Friday night.
Moving Stars and Earth for Water event is a World premiere artistic event which will be presented via Live Webcast on ONE DROP's website (http://www.onedrop.org) next October 9, at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Organized in 14 cities, this event is the first social and artistic event that brings together personalities from different backgrounds who will join voices with Guy Laliberté to raise everyone’s awareness of water-related issues.
PARTICIPATING CITIES Resonating from Montreal, Johannesburg, New York, Mexico City, Paris, Marrakech, London, Tokyo, Tampa, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Mumbai, Santa Monica and Moscow, these voices will carry all the way to the International Space Station, echoing their concerns and their hopes for this precious resource.
PARTICIPATING PERSONALITIES Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, A. R. Rahman, Cirque du Soleil, Claude Challe, Dr. David Suzuki, Fnaïre, Frank De Winne, Gilberto Gil, Gregory Colbert, Jean Lemire, Julie Payette, Maud Fontenoy, Patrick Bruel, Garou, Peter Lik, Shakira, Simon Carpentier, Tatuya Ishii, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, Tiffany Speight,Vandana Shiva, and Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
It's a great cause and a really cool thing to be a part of. I've been rehearsing for this about 2 hours a week with a small group and the choreographer, but this week we get together to arrange the full piece - all 200 dancers! Wow.
I will definitely be taking pictures, and clearly there will be great video of it! If you can watch it live online please do...I'll post video here as well when we get it!
What I love (and hate) most about about my life over the past few years is the surprises that keep coming at me. Some have been good, and many have been bad, but there are always a few moments where I really just laugh at the unexpected turns life takes.
Yesterday I got to be part of a very cool photo shoot. I saw the posting last minute that this choreographer was looking for dancers for a shoot, so I sent along my headshot and resume. I've never been one to enjoy taking dance pictures (I'm much more a mover than a poser...as I've said I was not blessed with ballet legs and feet!) but I thought this might be a good opportunity to get some practice without much pressure. I didn't know anyone involved (somehow that always relieves a little stress for me, haha) and I didn't know exactly what the photos would be used for. But they wrote back asking me to be a part of it.
We were supposed to meet early yesterday morning at this seemingly random place in lower midtown. Very early, for an insomniac on a Sunday morning. As my alarm went off I nearly chickened out. There was no pay involved and they only asked me last minute so they wouldn't miss me, I thought. My fears of being super uncomfortable in front of a camera resurfaced, convincing me that I'd only embarrass myself. Buuut...since I couldn't get back to sleep anyway (clearly my new prescription is not helping) I got up the guts to go. What did I have to lose?
Well! I get to the place early and go in. A few other dancer-types are sitting around, groggily holding coffee and looking at their phones. One was asleep in the chair I passed to sit down. Soon more faces trickled in and many of them seemed to already know each other. The choreographer arrived and came over to introduce himself. Then we sat. And waited. And waited. And waited...
I've been to many professional photo shoots - dance related and not - over recent years thanks to my many magazine internships (but rarely am I the one in front of the camera!). If there's one thing I've learned from them it's that these things take time - lots and lots of time to get one single shot right. So I was not surprised to learn early that it would be a long day.
We were waiting for the hair, makeup, and stylist people to arrive. The hair lady arrived first and set up her station with multiple curling irons and varied sizes of hairspray bottles. She calls the first girl over to get started.
"Are you ready to look vampire-ish?"
Uh, what? I take another sip of my coffee, eavesdropping on the interaction.
Somehow I missed the memo that the concept for the whole shoot was that we were supposed to be vampires...or, well, vampire-esque. Not actual vampires with the teeth and capes and stuff, but all dark and scary still.
Ask anyone. I'm about the farthest person EVER from a vampire. Haha! I don't watch scary movies, I didn't read the "Twilight" books, I don't appear scary or intimidating in any way!
I shrunk into my seat as I realized she wasn't kidding. Well I can't leave now, I thought. Just do it! It's an experience...I've become really good at talking myself into things I don't really want to do, haha. So I took a leap and went through with it, my head spinning with curiosity and premature embarrassment: now I wouldn't even have the pretty technique of ballet to hide behind in the photos, I had to be scary and grimy.
I went along with it and...I have to admit it was really fun! Life is good when you find you can still surprise yourself. The whole thing was HUGELY out of character for me, but I think it was good to push myself out of my comfort zone in so many ways all at once. I certainly won't be as nervous next time!
After much waiting it was my turn to visit the hair lady. I've decided that hair people are officially the coolest people ever, haha. I remember one hair lady that worked on a shoot I did at Quick & Simple and she had so many juicy stories about the celebrities she's worked on. This hair lady (I'll get official names with the final photos, I hope! Sorry...lots of folks were involved...) was super cool, too. She spent about half an hour curling my hair. And I mean CURLING! I have naturally wavy/curly-ish hair, but she gave me some serious curls. They put my little Nutcracker party girl banana curls of years ago to shame!
The next stop was the stylist, who unloaded bags and bags of dark clothing on the big table. Everyone else involved, even the other dancers, seemed to already know what the theme of the day was. Some brought black, vampire-ish clothes to possibly use, but needless to say I was unprepared. The stylist guy had many options for me. First he handed me this slinky silvery-black short dress with a black corset thing to wear over it. I tried it on but he (and I!) didn't care for it. Next I tried this pair of puffy black shorts (that in real life I would never be caught dead in) but luckily they were, uh, too big. Finally he settled on this sparkly silvery-black turtle neck dress, with the black corset from earlier on top, with my own black tights. Later he added a belt and one black fingerless glove with a chunky silver bracelet.
I looked crazy.
Haha! Well, crazy compared to my normal, casual, "I love pink" self. It's amazing how different clothing defines you, and I really realized that when I found myself in this crazy dark outfit I would NEVER really wear, haha.
As if the hair and clothes weren't enough, I still had to get to the makeup lady. She came late as well, so there was a lot of standing around waiting through this whole process. I stretched a little bit, watched the others get their hair/styling/makeup done, and thought how amusing my life was at that very moment. In between the waiting some of the others worked through poses they wanted to try in the shoot - crazy lifts and balances with multiple girls hanging off a single guy. Luckily there were some good dancers involved!
Eventually I had my turn with the makeup artist, who made all of us indeed look more like vampires. My skin is already pale enough, but she made me just a little whiter and gave me super heavy eye liner. The whole get-up was...scary! I guess that was the point but...yeah, not me!
Finally it was time for the shoot. We went down this narrow hallway past the quiet kitchen for the place we were using, through a dark doorway and down a long flight of stairs to the basement. The place was spooky enough in itself. We were in a corner of the dark basement full of dust and dirt. Oh, did I mention I had pointe shoes on?
Yeah. Those shoes are done now...caked with gross basement goop, haha.
Anyways, some of the other dancers went first so I got to see what it was I should be doing. Another surprise - it wasn't much dancing. More like crawling, lifting, intertwining, reaching, and balancing each other. We did many group shots, all the while trying to look, um, vampire-ly. It took me a while to kind of get into it, but everyone was fun to work with and helpful. We were all in the same boat I guess.
It was not easy, and it was not comfortable, but I'm really glad I did it! In the end I really did have fun with it - although I probably look TOTALLY ridiculous in the photos. I suppose that's the point. Maybe you won't be able to recognize me, haha. Once I get them I'll post a few...maybe. Depending on how they come! But it was definitely an experience - one that reminds me why I love my life, and why I have to laugh at it.
This weekend was the end of City Center's knockout Fall for Dance season. With $10 tickets to wonderfully varied programs of dance, it's no wonder people stand in line for hours on end the day these tickets go on sale. Of course I didn't have the time or energy to go wait (or plan ahead for that matter), and my little hope that tickets would be available online or later was naive. When the programs started it didn't look like I'd make to any of them this year, sadly.
But I got lucky! Two very generous friends (and bloggers) invited me to two different programs - first Eric (from Ballet.co and demicontretemps) to the Graham/Tango/Morphoses/Les Noces evening, and then this weekend I got to accompany Tonya to the Australia Ballet/Diana Vishneva/Ailey night. How wonderful!
What I love about Fall for Dance is the extent and variety of dancing. As I noticed with Eric, previous years seemed to have more smaller, unknown companies while now the big names are all a part of it. It's fantastic to have the opportunity to see companies from afar dancing onstage with some of the New York regulars.
The first program I saw opened with The Martha Graham company, who I've shamefully seen very little of live. I enjoyed their "Diversion of Angels" and could see through it how clearly defined the Graham vocabulary is, having learned some here and there throughout my own training. After that was a tango piece called "Romper el Piso," which was fun. Some parts were better than others in my opinion, but the fast footwork was impressive. They had some overly choreographed curtain calls though, which I giggled at, admittedly. But with the popularity of ballroom dance right now on television and "Burn the Floor" on Broadway and such, it was nice to hear the audience so into the performance.
Before the program ended with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal's hyper-physical "Noces", the fabulous Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk stole the show. On behalf of "Morphoses" they performed "Softly as I Leave You," which I really loved. Drew began in a tall lit box, barely containing her wondrous height, with an otherwise dark stage. Writhing and trying to break free of her containment, she is soon joined by the lithe, intense Rubinold. The two, together and apart, keep you mesmerized from beginning to end. Part of the piece was set to Arvo Part's soft, sensual music that a few other choreographers have used lately. It was beautiful.
Be sure to read Eric's review of the night here. The Times review (which I partly disagree with) is here.
The second program I saw was lovely also. The Australian Ballet brought two really strong, beautiful dancers: Gina Brescianini and Tzu-Chao Chou. "Le Spectre de la rose" is a sweet pas de deux and was a nice nod to the Ballets Russes, which was supposed to be the theme of the whole festival. Following that was "Snow" by Sang Jijia, a long but interesting modern piece with real "snow" falling steadily throughout. Parts of it reminded me of TAKE Dance Company's recent "Footsteps in the Snow." But I kept getting distracted - almost hypnotized - by the snow falling heavier and slower and heavier again. It was a nice effect but I'm afraid the dancing didn't pull me in as much as the shifty backdrop. (Read a better critical interpretation of this piece here. Somehow I found it difficult to look too deeply at this one, but this writer drew much more from it.)
The second half featured ABT and Kirov star ballerina Diana Vishneva in the "Dying Swan" variation. This familiar music by Camille Saint-Saens always gives me the chills, and as the only live music on the program it was even more gorgeous. Vishneva is a born swan, but she seemed to be dying exceptionally violently at some points. There are so many interpretations and versions of this variation, and while I admire Vishneva's beauty I can't say I really cared for this particular performance of hers. (Times review here.)
Ailey's classic "Revelations" finished off the night. I saw this piece last year at the company's main City Center season and only enjoyed parts of it, but this time the energy of the entire thing got to me. Like the first time I saw it though, the "Sinner Man" section for three men (here Jamar Roberts, Clifton Brown, and Michael Francis McBride) was my favorite. Those guys are shot out of a cannon and on fire in this section. Those extensions! Those jumps! Those bodies! They won deserved applause and even a screaming fan (who would NOT shut up during the entire piece, screaming at entirely inappropriate moments. Audience etiquette could be a mini-course they should offer before every Fall for Dance program I think...)
After the performance Tonya and I went to the Fall for Dance lounge, which I totally should have been going to every night it was open! What a fun scene, with dancers and dance aficionados and new audiences all coming together to chat and chill. I got to meet another fellow blogger and writer, the very fun Michael, and we also talked to one of the Trocks! (Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo were on another program earlier in the week that I missed)
It really was a fun night, as was the first night I went. A huge thanks to Eric and Tonya for inviting me last minute! Next year for sure I'm getting tickets early!
In the past week I've been out to see two different friends' singing gigs, where they share their beautiful voices with friendly, engaged, relaxed, casual audiences. One was in a busy, clanky jazz club/restaurant uptown with listeners snacking and drinking and chatting. The other was in a private lounge for a rather elite group of older professionals, where listeners bobbed their heads and sang along.
(me with one singer friend, who also happens to be my fabulous yoga teacher! :)
Obviously there are as many genres of a singing career as there are in dance, but it dawned on me last night as I watched how casually people took the mic and improvised a show that it seems so much easier to share a singing talent than a dancing talent. Of course I know singing isn't easy (I fake my way quietly through our few Radio City songs well, haha), but you don't need so much immediate preparation to perform, or such space requirements. One can sing anywhere. As I listened to my friend sing and watched as others followed her I badly had the urge to get up myself and take the "stage." But, uh, I can't sing - and nor did I want to. I wanted to dance.
This is mostly a profound observation...and I'm rambling as I tend to do...but with dance we are so separate from our audience. We dance, they watch. Even though many smaller companies, particularly here in the city, embrace more intimate settings there is still a strong distinction between the entertainer and the observer. With singing, in cases like a cabaret or open mic or floor show, that line is blurred. Audiences clap, hum, tap their toes, mouth the words, rock out with the musicians (last night there were some fabulous drums!), and generally have more of a good time themselves. In a different way, I suppose. We tend to think of dance as a higher art, above the lowliness of club dancing which also can engage audiences like singing I guess. But wouldn't it be fun if there were a way to make dancer a similar kind of entertainment? Not sure what I'm trying to get at but...I've seen a lot of dance performances lately where I'm all together bored and ready to get out of my cramped seat and go home. If I, as a dancer myself, can't stand watching some of this stuff how can we expect regular audiences to be interested?
Yesterday was the first event of the Radio City season for me - our medical pre-screening day. Though it was optional, I was eager to participate given the tough year I've had and the trouble I've had in finding doctors that take our union insurance!
It was exciting to be back in the space where we rehearsed last year and it made me all the more anxious to get started with rehearsals. They divided the studios and other spaces into sections for lots of different medical teams: the physical therapists, the orthopedist, podiatrist, athletic trainers, and the regular doctor. We took turns going around to each group to be evaluated individually - and it was fun to see familiar faces from the cast last year going through the same routine.
I didn't really discover anything new...I know my body pretty well by now and all their tests (strength, flexibility, mobility etc. of certain joints and positions) proved that. But it was nice because at the end they sat down and gave personal exercises that will help some of my weaknesses so I can get through the season without further injuries.
Last year I missed out on this pre-screening. And throughout the season I knew there were great resources available to me if I needed them up at athletic training (those therapists work the same amount of shows we do, taking care of all the Rockettes' and all of our problems, haha). But I didn't really take advantage of everything I could have last year. I was so overwhelmed by everything being so new and exciting to me. AND I was (and still sometimes am) of the "ballet mindset" that you should never let it show that you're injured or sick. So often in the ballet world we fight through severe pain (I've known people who dance months with stress fractures!) without seeking treatment or taking it easy because we're afraid our directors or teachers will look down upon us, or change casting, or punish us in some other way. At least, I definitely experienced this at a studio or two I've attended. But in the real performing world (or the RC world anyway) I've learned it's more important to tend to your body and take precautions, not just struggle through. This year I plan to take advantage of all I can to minimize the dancing pain, haha. Luckily last year I did indeed come through the 110-show season without any more problems (just the stupid achilles tendon, but that's going on 2 1/2 years now.) There's no doubt the show schedule is taxing and there are days when it takes so much mental energy to get your body to physically push through the painful exhaustion (especially at 9am, in pointe shoes, in a bear head...). But pain or no pain, I'm ready!
I really can't wait to get started. Two weeks from this Thursday!
Just found out about a really cool opportunity to get involved with the hot Broadway show "Burn the Floor"!
Apparently cast members are teaching some of their fun dance moves in an open workshop for the next 3 Sundays at DanceSport in NYC. It looks like they're open to all levels, and are teaching everything from the salsa to the cha cha to the lindy. How fun!
More info is below. I'm hoping to make it to at least one of these classes just for fun. I got to see the show a few weeks ago and, wow, talk about dancing! With all the popular dancing we see on tv nowadays it's no wonder the show is getting attention. Although it took me a while to get into it (the first 20 minutes is more like a costume parade of the skimpiest, sparkliest costumes ever), there's no doubt the dancing is amazing.
As usual, big apologies for being slow with the blogging.
Things have been up and down and backwards and inside out lately, but once Radio City starts up again I'm sure blogging will be back to normal, for real this time!
Speaking of which, I'm getting verrrrrry excited for the season to start! They've already added more shows to our schedule since they sent the initial calendar out. I'm so ready to start rehearsals - I seriously can't wait. This weekend kicks things off a little bit because we have a medical pre-screening day, where I'm hoping they can help me with my evil achilles tendon (yes, after 2 1/2 years it's, um, still hurting) and maybe even the insomnia (yes, after 9 months I'm, um, still awake...), haha. It's really nice that they offer that for the cast as a sort of injury prevention option. Last year I missed it because I was hired so late (it's been just about exactly a year since that life-changing phone call), but I'm definitely taking advantage of it this time around.
Pretty soon I think they'll be scheduling costume fittings and shoe fittings (I'm guessing I'll wear the same as last year...), and then rehearsals officially start on October 15. It seems like so long away, but I know these last few quiet weeks will fly by. I'm sure I'll miss the rest when I'm in the middle of a 16-show week, but right now I'm really ready to get to work!
In the meantime, I'm involved in a pretty fun dance event happening in early October...but I'm supposed to keep the details quiet until it actually happens. It's pretty exciting but...you'll have to wait and see what it is ;) haha. I'll try to reveal just a touch more when it's closer...
And also this week we start rehearsals again for our next student showcase at Ailey, like the one we just did in all of August. Again I'm helping teach, and we're doing parts of Coppelia and Romeo & Juliet (ah, my favorite), so it should be fun. This time I'm going to try to take some pictures during rehearsals and share as we approach those performances (on Thanksgiving weekend...and yes, in ADDITION to my Radio City shows. It's going to be something like an 8-show weekend for me, haha. That Sunday I'm hoping to run back and forth between theaters to do 2 Ailey performances and 3 Radio City shows, all in the span of 8 hours! HAH we'll see if it happens.
Please join me in wishing a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a VERY important, special, wonderful teacher of mine, today!
(giving Kat flowers at our recent performance)
Not everyone is lucky enough to find a ballet teacher who not only cares enough to work personally with each of her students (in class of sometimes 50 or more people!) but who takes the time to truly get to know them as people. I feel so fortunate to have found a friend, mentor, and inspiration in my teacher. She has done more for me, personally and as a dancer, than I can ever say, and I'm forever grateful. Happiest of happy birthdays to you!
Today I got my show schedule and cast list for Radio City! Very exciting...
This year I'm in the Gold Cast, which means I'm in the later shows of the day each day, and Tuesdays are my day off. Last year I was in Blue Cast in mostly the mornings, and I'm a little relieved not to have those 9am shows this year (with this insomnia!).
Below is a calendar of my performances in case anyone wants to make plans early (hint hint...haha). Scroll over to November and December for the fun :)
It was 4 years ago this week that I first moved to New York City.
I am truly awed at how much has happened since my first days as a new New Yorker, a barely-past-sweet-16-year-old college student, a bunhead with a dream, a quiet kid with a phonebook entirely empty of New York numbers. I remember driving up to my dorm in midtown east on that sunny September morning, being greeted by a slew of "normal college kids" I knew I'd never relate to, and moving in all on my own. My first night here, I chose the "barre" over the "bar" - quite literally - and it's been that way ever since. While all the new freshmen went out to party in the city, I followed my carefully organized self-designed guidebooks to find the old Broadway Dance Center (before moving here I spent hours and hours online or at Barnes & Noble daydreaming and learning everything I possibly could about the city). I pulled out my map, roamed the grid of streets, and finally found the studio. That first class changed my life - in more ways than one.
Here I am, 4 years, 2 degrees, 5 apartments, and countless performances later, still in love with this fabulous city. It's shown me hope and despair, some real high's and even lower lows. But there is no other place on earth I'd rather be. I thought I'd repost a blog entry (or, actually a college essay) I wrote halfway through my time here (so 2 years ago) about my love/hate relationship with New York. I've been through this cycle at least once more since writing this, but thankfully I'm back to the wholehearted love side right now :)
I cannot express my deepest gratitude to my New York family and my real family for helping me continue to live my dream in the city of my dreams!
(I was a tad bit verbose here, and trying just a little too hard with my writing at the time...but I thought I'd leave this unedited, in its original form, for history's sake, haha)
-- I LOVE NEW YORK
I love you, New York. You are the source and breeding ground of all my dreams. You are the hope that got me threw some tough times; the opportunity that shined at an arms reach; the community for which I longed. Your bright lights waved at me with every visit and I knew some day I would be welcomed to call you home. Your tall buildings would look down on me, protecting me from the harms above. Your traffic lights would switch to green for go and I’d be on my way to someplace new every moment.
I love you, New York. Born in a small town of nothingness I always knew I’d have to look elsewhere to seek what I wanted: a life, happy and successful. We would visit you occasionally for a weekend in the summer, and honestly, it was love at first sight. I could see not much more past the striped walls of our hotel room and the scuffed leather of a cab, but I felt so alive as I had never felt before.
I suppose it was the movement. Even just glaring out from the 30th floor of the Marriot Marquis I could see the river of people below, the tops of heads like a school of fish trying to stick together yet still somehow apart. There was no sign of stopping. It was constant motion without a moment to catch a freeze frame with my CVS brand disposable camera. You couldn’t see their faces, but I knew they were all happy.
The lights from Broadway would tickle at our window. I’d watch the flashes repeatedly as I tried to fall asleep with my eyes open. I didn’t want to miss a thing. “10:15” the red numbers on the bedside clock would read, and I couldn’t believe my parents and I were already in bed attempting to block out the world in a calm sleep. I never slept a wink when we visited you.
I love you, New York. Years later I moved to a boarding school in Philadelphia. In the spring we would hop on the Greyhound and come to your thrilling land for day. Oh, it was such an escape! I could not have loved the traffic preceding the Lincoln Tunnel more: it forced us to sit there, with a screaming baby in the seat in front and a homeless guy drinking from a paper bag in the seat behind, and stare at that jagged skyline that is Manhattan. I would play Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” on my uncharged iPod and had learned to time it just perfectly so the big finish would sing right as the Empire State Building came into view.
It was perfect. Port Authority Bus Station was the golden gateway to fun, fame, and freedom. My heart would throb as I rode the escalator bringing me up to 8th Avenue. The bums on the corner could be my best friends. The trash on the sidewalk could be diamonds. I was in New York, and life was all good.
I love you, New York. I would visit Broadway and Lincoln Center with stars in my eyes. The music resonated inside me, flowing like the stream of people in Times Square. It never stopped. Curtain calls were just the beginning. I would never admit it, but every time the red or gold velvet closed for the last time of the evening and the orchestra packed up my eyes would turn to puddles, evaporating only when we hit the dark sun of 42nd Street.
The ballet was my favorite, even though I didn’t see one in the city until much later. The decadence of tutus and twirls singed my mind. I was so eager to perform, and even though I had yet to enter any of the theaters in Lincoln Center, I knew what that block at West 66th Street stood for: Passion. Pride. Perfection.
To my left was New York State Theater, to my right, Avery Fisher Hall. Straight ahead was The Metropolitan Opera House, its looming windows making it appear as a place of worship. I stood there by the fountain, with a penny in my hand (not much more than I had in my pocket at all) and closed my eyes. I did not make a wish. I had been making the same wish with every penny or shooting star my entire life and I knew this one had to be different. I promised myself that I would be here someday. That I would dance here someday. That I would be on one of these stages someday. It just had to happen.
I tossed my penny and watched it waver side to side before clunking to the bottom. There were hundreds of other pennies down there, some shiny and new, some grimy and barely copper anymore. But mine sat on top of them all in that sparkling water. The fountain was fresh, clean, and bubbling with energy, just like my New York.
I hate you, New York. You are the murderer and burial ground of all my dreams. You are the disillusionment that kept me pushing; the frustration that poked at my heart; the isolation for which I longed. Your bright lights blinded me with unfulfilled faith. Your tall buildings looked down on me, thousands of eyes threatening me through washed windows. Your traffic lights switched to yellow and suddenly everything was unclear.
I hate you, New York. I came here with dreams as direct and laid out as the grid plan of your streets. Uptown, around the corner, continue a few blocks and there you are, simple as that. I knew what I wanted and I knew you could give it to me. You held at your core the juice of my fervor. So shiny from the outside, but with one bite, so sour.
Oh sure, you gave me a glimpse at what could be. I’d roam your streets with not a care in the world. I’d go out for a walk and just simply discover: what makes you crunch, what makes you roll. What can I do here? Everything, and nothing. And I loved that. But you took it all away in a New York minute.
I hate you, New York.
I suppose it was the movement. You can’t hold on to a single moment here. Everything changes, even the good. You gave me a peek into the life I had always wanted and without telling me you moved it further away. That is the worst kind of sin: temptation. You teased me into thinking I could have it.
The lights from Broadway now ticker at my window. I watch the flashes repeatedly as I try to fall asleep with my eyes open. I’m not missing a thing, but I’m missing everything. “10:15” the red numbers on the bedside clock read, and I can’t believe I have so much irrelevant work to do that I’ll never get to savor a calm sleep until perhaps tomorrow evening, when I’ll run the risk of the same routine. The city that never sleeps, in it’s worst sense.
I hate you, New York. I visit Broadway and Lincoln Center with defeat in my eyes. The music resonates inside me, flowing like a funeral march at my own grave. It never stops. Curtain calls are now the ending. Every time I do get to be on a stage, any stage, I fear it is my last chance. You have stolen my hope.
I never admit it, but every time the red or gold velvet closes for the last time of the evening and the orchestra packs up my eyes turn to inward fountains, overflowing, fresh, clean, and bubbling with energy. Just like my New York.
I hate you, New York. With this fountain, I’m just another penny in your pocket. My face, like Lincoln’s, is squished between trash, lint, and sweat from work undone and unappreciated. I look up to you, drowning in your ripples.
I am not making a wish. I have been making the same wish with every penny my entire life in this city and I know this one has to be different. I promise myself that I will love you again someday. That I will dance with you in joy someday. That I will be at the stage of satisfaction someday. It just has to happen.
I hate you, New York. But I am so in love. ---
Here's to another 4 years (and more!) in New York City.
Wow, this weekend was crazy busy, but the performances went well! I was on triple duty: dancing, being assistant to the director, AND assistant stage manager. Woah.
Here are a few pictures from the weekend. It was a success! And we're already planning for our next one in November...
(celebration dinner after the last performance) (a friend and I) (my headpieces at work! you can't really see the details in this picture, but they took like 30 hours of sewing...) (bows - photo by Arthur Coopchik) (the cast of La Bayadere - photo by Arthur Coopchik)
I'm so glad I got to be so involved this round. Even though it was a challenge to juggle the many hats I had to wear at the same time (I'd run offstage after our bows to immediately go and man the stage door and call the next group on, then I'd run collect the tutus we lent out, for example) I wouldn't have it any other way. It gives you a deeper sense of accomplishment and appreciation when you're invested beyond simply thinking "how on was my performance? Why did that balance not work?" etc etc etc.
This week has been a little bit insane - in more ways than one. But this weekend I get to be onstage :)
This has been a busy intensive month of rehearsals and performance prep, and I've been very lucky to be so involved in every aspect of it. More details to come, but here are a few last minute pictures of our costume rehearsal last night and (endless) headpiece creation...