Friday, October 30, 2009

A Few RC Photos

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!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Radio City from the Archives

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.

More soon :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Xmas Takes Over

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...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On the First Day of Xmas... 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 :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Frightful Sight

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 ;)
Photo by Austin Green.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dance Mob in Times Square

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!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

RC Costume Fittings!

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!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Upcoming Performance: 25th Anniversary of Cirque du Soleil (UPDATED LINK)

(I originally posted the wrong link for you to watch on Friday...the correct link is here.)

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.

Here's info from the Facebook invitation:

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 ( 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.

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.

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!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Expect the Unexpected: Funky Photoshoot

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 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.

Vampires? What?!

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.

Fun at Fall for Dance

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 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!

Many Posts to Come...

Wow I have lots to blog about in the next few days...

Keep an eye out for updates on:
-my nights at Fall for Dance
-a crazy fun photo shoot I was in yesterday
-the "surprise" exciting performance I'm dancing in this Friday night
-some more Radio City preparations

Friday, October 2, 2009

An Easier Talent?

I've always been jealous of people who can sing.

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?