Monday, September 28, 2009

And the (painful?) fun begins...

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!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Want to Burn the Floor?

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.

If you're in the city, I'd say go!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Catching Up

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'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.

That's what's in the works. More to come...

A Very Special Birthday Girl...

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!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Show Schedule!

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 :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I love New York - 4 Years Later

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 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.