Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pics: Night 1 of David Byrne @ Radio City

Just a few from an amazing night! So fantastically wonderful to be back on that stage. I am SO grateful for this opportunity. What fun. More to come after tomorrow night's show, and will write more Sunday.

PS- my realtime twitter updates from the night are here and check out the other audience people who have already mentioned our kick line :) !

Friday, February 27, 2009

Back to Radio City: Dancing w/ David Byrne


Tonight I'm dancing back onstage at Radio City in concert with David Byrne (famous for singing "Burning Down the House").

As usual I'm backed up on blogging and haven't had a chance to write about the past 2 days of rehearsals, but they've been fun. We come out at the very end of his concert and dance. We rehearsed at a studio downtown before and this afternoon we get back to my theater :) I'm very happy to be returning so soon.

We have a soundcheck rehearsal and then the show later tonight, and same thing tomorrow.

I'll be "tweeting" on twitter in real time if you're interested, since I won't have time to blog til Sunday or so. You can follow my updates on the right side of the blog or here.

More details after the weekend :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Carol

What would be the logical first question one would ask when starting to cowrite an autobiography?

Maybe, "when were you born?"

Somehow I managed to bypass this obvious question in my conversations with Carol (though I did have the year she was born) and was therefore very surprised to get to her class tonight and hear whispers from the office people that today's her birthday!

Happy Birthday Carol S!

We sang to her before class started, but later she told me she hates birthdays and tried not to let anyone know when it was, haha. Too bad :)

What she does is amazing for her age, and I don't mean that to sound weird but...for all she's done in her life she could just sit all day and be retired and give in to life, but she still teaches enthusiastically and wears her leotard and tights and demonstrates combinations nearly full out.

I can only hope that I'll be as happy as her and still dancing 50 years from now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cuts at NYCB

Well, this doesn't look good.

Not for the company itself, not for the state of the dance world, not for the dancers being laid off, not for the rest of the New York dance auditioning world.

NYCB announced they'll be cutting out 11 dancers from the corps de ballet because of money issues. I'll be curious to see if they're outing the newer crop of dancers (ie. largely my generation of people just getting/finishing their apprenticeships) or if they'll cut some of the older ones who have been there for a while and whose names are on the roster but not really in the limelight.

I wonder if ABT will be the next to cut back? If the top companies in the country (Miami too...) are getting rid of the already few ballet jobs, what hope is there?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tea Time

In this period of down time with no school, no steady job, no auditions, I've been very fortunate to have friends who have friends who need temporary help with various odd jobs. Over the past week or so, I've redesigned websites, fixed printers, installed software, and other random things for people just for some extra cash.

I spent the afternoon with an older French woman, a friend of a friend of a friend - literally. She needed help fixing a relatively simple issue with her computer, but once we figured it out she asked me to stay for tea.

Why don't Americans have tea time more often?

What a sweet and interesting woman. I'm fascinated by people's stories. She was born in Poland but grew up in France during the war. When she asked how old I was and I answered she exclaimed, "Oh you were just born!" She went on to describe how she hadn't done anything by age 20 because those were the years of the war and she was helping with the underground Jews and so on. Fascinating. It reminds me how grateful I should be for my life thus far.

Over tea (which I don't usually drink, and therefore was majorly self-conscious of my tea time manners) and cookies she told me that age is really a mixture of many factors. You have a number age, then your mind has it's own age, and you have a physical age. (I could not agree more).

She says she's 8,4 and at every birthday she subtracts a year now because that's the only way to survive.

She pointed to her glass of tea. "You have to see the cup half full or else you'll never make it."

I should remember that more often.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

After some time apart due to scheduling conflicts on both ends, today Carol and I were back to work on her book.

We finished the bare bones outline of her full (amazing) life, ending today's conversation with where she is now. The next step is to fill in endless details and anecdotes once I pull all the information we have already together in some sort of cohesive fashion (a big task).

I thought I'd share a few more interesting quotes from her...I don't want to put too much on here at this point but I can't help but want to share her (potentially controversial) opinionated yet highly knowledgeable thoughts.

*"What’s happening in ballet in the schools now...I don’t think anybody recognizes talent anymore. That was the one thing. Mr. Balanchine could recognize talent, and everybody knew it. He could pick the person from a hundred people who was going to be able to be made into a ballerina. Sometimes I think he could just make anybody a ballerina. He zeroed in on who they were and what their personalities were like. He could use those personalities to make them into a soloist or a ballerina. He looked at the person, not just the technique. Now I feel the people that are noticed are the ones with the highest extension and the biggest instep or the most pirouettes, which really doesn’t count for much in the long run..."

*Here she's talking about Saratoga and how the company's summer season has been cut back.
"I spoke to a dentist up there that said, 'When I go to the ballet I want to see tutus and people in pink tights and toe shoes. I don’t want to see people rolling around the floor in the dark.' He had been trained by Balanchine as to what ballet was. The whole area had been trained. They were very fortunate to be trained that well. Now when they see things that aren’t as good they don’t want to go. You can blame it on the economy and anything you want, but they’re not being given what they want to see...You can't just be a good dancer. You have to be an interesting personality as well. That’s what Balanchine did: he developed you as a human being at the same time he developed you as a dancer and performer."

Oh there's so much more...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Loss of a Fellow Dancer

This morning in a class I don't normally take I found out some sad news.

A fellow dancer, who performed with me as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker I did two years ago, passed away earlier this week.

I didn't really know her personally beyond the two weekends of performances that year, but she was always so energetic and a very strong personality onstage.

The buzz around the studio was that she had had cancer for a long time and that was the cause, but nobody seems to know for sure as far as I could tell.

I can't help but feel a loss, even though I haven't even seen her around class or anything since that Nutcracker. She was rather young and it's scary and sad. The rest of my work in class was a little off after hearing that.

RIP Xiaishan.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Updates, and a Blog Question

February has historically been my least favorite, least productive, most miserable month of the year. This month has been no different until recently...and now as the last week or so of February approaches I'm finding myself with lots of exciting things going on, thank goodness.

Going from my insane schedule before New Year's to my current "normal person" kind of schedule feels like going from a marathon to a snail's pace, and it has taken some getting used to.

Anyway, good thing number one is that I get to go back onstage at Radio City next week!

Through a friend of a friend I found out they were looking for dancers for a weekend concert of David Byrne at Radio City (I admit, I had not a clue as to who he was until this came up). After some up in the air time, today I finally got confirmation that I'll be participating. It's just a brief part, but I get paid AND I get to return to my favorite stage far sooner than expected. We rehearse two days next week and then we're on Friday and Saturday at 8pm next weekend. Yay!

Good thing number two is that I got a scholarship to a summer intensive in Austria!

Since about November I've had this undying urge to travel to Europe. So much so that I had scouted out plane tickets and youth hostels and had everything planned as if I had won the lottery and were really going. I've never been anywhere outside the US (except the island of Aruba when I was young) and am majorly jealous of many college friends spending a semester abroad (in London, Italy, etc...). SO I was extremely pleased to hear I had been accepted to and even gotten a partial scholarship to this month long program in beautiful Salzburg, Austria. Unfortunately I still don't know if I'll be able to actually go yet...It's still so expensive for flights and so on but...we'll see.

Besides that audition season has been fairly glum...not many opportunities, and there are about a thousand people going to everything that is actually auditioning. I did make it through a Hubbard Street Dance Chicago audition the other day but...waiting to hear results.


Another reminder for this panel I'm speaking at next week for Career Transition for Dancers. It's on dance and blogging. My question to readers for the day is this: If you were attending this "Career Conversation" what kinds of things would you be interested in hearing about? Do you have questions about dance blogging? What are some of your favorite dance blogs? How can bloggers improve/catch your attention?

Feel free to comment and leave your answers! I want to give a helpful presentation and it will definitely help me to hear from you...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, all!

My day ahead is surprisingly busy, including seeing my old studio's winter performance - among other plans. (and I already missed the outing of the performance club I was planning on attending but...increasingly awful insomnia kept me up til almost 5am...I had to sleep instead)

Valentine's, like most other holidays, is a milestone of a year for me and I'm remembering past Valentine's this one from 2007 in ballet class, haha:

When I was growing up I remember some gossipy friend or another asking me on Valentine's Day if I was in love?
Yes, I said.
"Ooooh what's his name?"

Sad? Pathetic? You decide. I don't care ;)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Carolyn George D'Amboise

When I saw today's NYTimes obituary for Carolyn George, I didn't fully know who she was besides a former dancer with NYCB. As I clicked and in read on the name D'Amboise came up and I suddenly felt a huge sense of loss.

She was the wife of famous NYCB pricipal Jacques D'Amboise (who Carol mentions often) and mother of Chris D'Amboise, who I worked with a few years ago at BAE.

It's scary to think that the generation of Balanchine's own greatest dancers are...on there way out. Just last week it was reported that Darci Kistler will retire next year as the last ballerina to be hired by Balanchine himself. It can't help but feel like this is an era of transition in the dance world and beyond...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Interesting Presentation

For those in the city looking for something to do on a wintery Wednesday night...check out this interesting presentation on dance and animation by fellow blogger Doug Fox.

He'll be showing a series of video clips with animated dance sequences, which look really cool. Check out a few samples here (I particularly like this one with Bill T. Jones...). I spoke with Doug briefly about the program last week and it sounds so interesting.

If you're around, take a trip to Brooklyn (and please report back as to how it was, because I can't go unfortunately.)


Date: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time: 7:00 PM

Tickets: $10 (Purchased at the door)


Chez Bushwick
304 Boerum St. #23
Brooklyn, NY 11206

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Few More from TAKE

Ok, at least I had a semi-legit reason for not blogging this week. Article deadline for print, among other things.

This is a slow week coming up so I really will catch up with blogging...oops.

Anyway, just received these last few images from the TAKE Intensive. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Career Transition for Dancers Talks about Blogs

For some reason to felt like I spent the entire time sending thousands and thousands of emails. Do you ever feel like you spend hours and hours at the computer thinking you're getting something accomplished, only to be interrupted by your inbox? That was my day.

Luckily, most of it was good stuff. I received an email from Career Transition for Dancers asking me to participate in a panel discussion on dance blogging as part of their "Career Conversations" program. I'll get more details next week, but it's planned for February 23 from 5:30-7:30pm (though their website says the 26th, so I am awaiting date confirmation) here in the city. Do plan to attend if you're around!

Should be very interesting. I'm excited to talk about something I care very much about - dance, blogging, and dance blogging, haha - but I'm really NOT a public speaker. If you know me, you know I don't talk much in general and am pretty quiet (I write much more, and better, than I speak, haha). But I'm sure it will be fine.

I was honored they asked me to be involved. I interviewed them for an article months ago and they thought of me for this. Often when I get involved in this sort of thing I feel like I'm so not qualified to be an authority on any topic (remember when I was interviewed on MediaBistro as a freelance arts critic? hah!) But I think especially for performers involved in the Career Transition for Dancers organization can definitely benefit from blogging. I hope I have something to share!

ps- definitely check out their website...lots of good resources for dancers!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pics from TAKE Intensive

Just came across these and thought I'd share...from the TAKE Dance Company winter intensive I did a few weeks ago.

the directors watching a rehearsal

the whole group after our performance (i'm 2nd from the left on the bottom, in the purple leo)

at the end of Take's "One" excerpt we did

in a rehearsal for "Linked" (i'm leaning on the barre back there - hah)

rehearsal of my duet part in "Linked"

What a great experience!

Happy Groundhog Day

A random post for a very random holiday, haha.

Let's HOPE there won't be 6 more weeks of winter. After Sunday's beautiful weather I'm longing for the warmth and joys of spring!

Ever see the movie "Groundhog Day"? If you could choose one day of your life to live over and over and over again forever, what day would it be?

For me, it would be opening night of Radio City, hands down.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Though I probably could have called it, I am SO surprised to see this. Apparently I'm delayed with the news but...I can't believe how Pointe Magazine cut back:

"'Pointe' Editor-in-Chief Virginia Johnson and Reviews Editor Robert Johnson laid off at McFadden Media"

This commentary seems more disgruntled with the loss of the "reviews" section (which I wrote a piece for last summer, but it only made it to their website because even back then they had to cut back on printed page count). To my knowledge, I don't think Robert was full time there anyway but...

I'm much more disturbed that they let Virginia go!

I interned with her back in 2006 and have closely followed the magazine before and after that. She graciously gave me a shot at a review after meeting briefly at the Dance Critics Association conference this summer. I cannot honestly imagine who they would get to run Pointe better than her??? (though secretly I'd love the job, haha) Their new issue announces their 10 year anniversary, and she has been with them since the start.

I'll have much more to comment on in the morning when it's not 3am and I'm just finding this out,

Dance on a Dime

Major apologies for not blogging in - gasp - a week? Really nothing of note has been going on, and yet I still haven't had time to blog. Not sure how that happens but...ah well. Excuses.

Anyway, I just wrote this for my column in my ballet teacher's monthly newsletter that I edit, so I figured I'd post it here. Seemed to be a good way to incorporate some of the zillions of press releases I've been backed up on lately. Lots more to catch up on with reviews and so forth you go:

Dance on a Dime

Like everything else in today’s world, the arts are taking a serious hit from the dead muscle that is our economy. In the past month, 12 Broadway shows closed, several ballet companies cut back on tours, a major NYC dance studio announced it’s closure, and dancers everyone are struggling. The silver lining? Many dance events are selling cheaper for audience members, meaning more ballet for your buck (and other styles, too). Check out some of these performances you can attend on a budget this month to support American artists. Some great work came out of the Great Depression, so who knows what good things might come from these bad times!

Dance Conversations at The Flea is a FREE event once a month (this time Tuesday February 3 at 7pm) that allows movement artists to share work 
and engage in a discussion with a moderator, who is often a significant person in the dance field. This month,
 several groups perform with moderator and dance critic Gus Solomons Jr. 
at HERE Arts Center 
(145 Sixth Avenue between Spring and Broome)

A modern master’s work for FREE? It’s true, but you better get there early. Merce Cunningham’s Repertory Understudy Group performs at the 92nd Street Y on Friday Feb 6. Doors open at 11:40am, but seats are first come first serve. If you don’t make it you can always check out their new free master class webcast series, Mondays with Merce.

Balletomanes beware: New York City Ballet has often has student rush tickets for $12 if you hit the box office the day of the performance but you need a spout of luck. Sometimes last minute seats are way up or way to either side. If you can’t pass for a student, a seat in the fourth ring is a mere $20.

But why not spring an extra $5 for an orchestra seat? It’s worth the hassle. Thanks to the mysterious benefactors that care for good dancing, NYCB is offering 50 $25 orchestra tickets for each performance of their winter season (through March 1). Tickets are available at the box office of NY State Theater (now the David H. Koch Theater) on Mondays at 10am for that week’s shows, or through CenterCharge (212-721-6500) with code 25ORCH. An added bonus BARGAIN: choose the “20th Century Music Masters” program on Feb. 4, 7, 14, or 15 and you can see Jerome Robbins’ “West Side Story Suite” instead of paying outrageous prices for the new Broadway version, which opens in previews Feb. 23.

Dance festivals can be hit or miss, but if you’re not paying a cent why not give them a chance? Brooklyn’s WHITE WAVE is hosting the 6th annual Cool New York Dance Festival through Sunday February 8. There are two different FREE programs each night with over 30 small and unique dance companies/artists. Something’s bound to please. It’s held at WHITE WAVE's John Ryan Theater, located at 25 Jay Street in DUMBO (F to York Street, or A or C to High Street).

Another for the Brooklynites: Brooklyn Arts Exchange has a “Director’s Picks” program for as LOW AS $8, Feb. 20-21. Especially of note is Yasuko Yokoshi’s new work in progress, “Tyler Tyler.” After seeing her work at The Kitchen last year I’m a big fan.

Speaking of The Kitchen, they’re always offering intriguing programming. The premiere of Jodi Melnick and Burt Barr’s “Fanfare” is later in the month. The two-time Bessie award winning choreographer collaborated with sculptor and video artist Barr to provide a polychromatic setting for her meticulously designed movement. It’s ONLY $12 on February 19-21.

If you’re planning ahead, Jacob’s Pillow is offering a bunch of free stuff this summer. Inside/Out, the Pillow’s free outdoor performance space, will host over 25 dance companies, along with a full schedule of free events, exhibits, pre- and post-show talks, hour-long in-depth lectures and film screenings, classes, guided tours and more. My recommendations: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet are both there this season. Road trip!

While we wait and wish for summer, there’s one more great way to get ticket discounts. New York Times dance critic (and friend) Claudia LaRocco has started a performance club (now in it’s second month) that brings together dance lovers who attend and discuss certain shows each month. She works to get group discounts, so check it out.
If all else fails, keep dancing!