Redemption

flight

I stood backstage staring at the vibrant feather that I was about to pin back into my hair, and I began to remember January’s performance…

This was our moment of redemption.


My bare feet slid across the stage, and my arms swayed to create abstract shapes that showcased the wonders of modern movement. It all happened so fast, and there wasn’t much time to overthink the steps that my body had instinctively began to do. I soared as high as I possibly could, and I felt like I was really able to live in the moment this time. Just like that, it all ended. Looking out into the audience, the six of us stood together and bowed our heads. The applause filled the theater, and our hearts filled with relief; we did it!

It was honor to perform with this incredibly talented group of dancers, and I am so thankful that I was chosen to be a part of this piece. It was such a wonderful opportunity, and I feel like I have grown a lot as an artist by discovering new ways to move. This piece has also inspired my own choreography because I was able to see how unusual movements develop into something truly amazing. Overall, I really loved this dance, and I hope that I have more opportunities to work with brilliant minds like the choreographer behind “Flight.” Thanks for everything!

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Catching Up

photoshoot3

I hope that you all had a great week and a blessed Ash Wednesday! I apologize for my lack of posting/reading, but I should be able to get back on track now. Midterm week finally arrived which meant extra coffee and cram-study sessions for me… That pretty much explains why I have been absent for the past few days.

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I went to an early mass this year for Ash Wednesday because it was the only possibility for me, so I wore ashes on my forehead all day. I was shocked by the amount of confused faces that passed me in the hallways at school, and I actually had multiple people tell me that I had something on my head. It was an interesting day, but I was not embarrassed. I used these encounters as a way to educate others and help them understand the purpose of the ashes.

“We can feel a little funny with ashes on our foreheads, but for Catholics, that is how we mark the start of Lent. Ashes don’t say we’re holy. They say we’re sinners. They don’t say we’re perfect, only that we’re willing to try. They don’t say we’re models of religiosity, but they do say we belong.”

~Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM

Next weekend, we will bring “Flight” back to the stage, so be sure to keep an eye out for that post! I also just want to take a second to thank all of my loyal readers who continuously read/comment on my posts. You are all so positive and encouraging, so I will not desert this internet space anytime soon (despite occasional inactivity). You are all amazing, and I cannot thank you enough for that. Now, go be awesome!

Photo Credits: Richard Jean-Louis

Weekend in Wonderland

I had such a fun weekend performing in Alice in Wonderland, and I am already missing the sound of laughter that erupted from the audience. Acting was a major part of this comical ballet, and I really got to enjoy myself in each of my roles. I have to admit, it was quite difficult to not laugh at myself when I portrayed a crazy maid with an extremely defiant attitude. From pouring salt in my mouth and choking on chili to stomping across the stage with my tongue out at the dutchess, it was hard to keep a straight face with such an amusing role. I honestly don’t know how I did it! It was a great show, but it was also very stressful as we had constant quick changes and responsibilities backstage. Overall, everyone performed beautifully, and I am so proud of the entire cast. I managed to snag a quick photo with these lovely ladies in my deck of cards costume, and I was so happy to meet my friend after the show! I hope the audience enjoyed their experience in wonderland as much as I did.

Backstage Secrets

Pas de deux

The house lights start to dim, and hushed voices lead into silence. The orchestra begins to play the first few notes as the curtain rises. The show has begun. Audience members witness the artists’ story, but the other side of the stage remains hidden from them. Behind the backdrop, beyond the Marley floors, and in the depths of the wings lays an unknown world filled with secrets that only dancers share… until today. I have selected my top 6. Enjoy!

Toothbrush Trick: Believe it or not, I blend my hair together with a toothbrush before shows to to remove the dreaded streaks from a wide toothed brush/comb. Gel and hairspray makes hair stick together, so this trick is lifesaving. I have a specific toothbrush dedicated for this purpose, and it has never been used in my mouth. I thought I should clarify.

Calamine: We always have to apply a light layer of calamine onto our new pointe shoes before a performance so they don’t reflect the bright stage lights. Most directors would agree that shiny shoes can be very distracting.

Butt Glue: It isn’t ballet related (DO NOT use this with tights), but this is crucial for contemporary/modern shows when we are only wearing a leotard. We put a line of butt glue on the edge of our leotard so that it doesn’t move onstage. Trust me, it has spared us from countless wedgies. Enough said.

Securing Ribbon: It is practically impossible to tie all of the pointe shoe ribbon around ankles, so the remaining ribbon is tucked in under the knot. However, they occasionally fall out, so we always have to sew them to the top layer with a few stitches with thick thread (dental floss works too).

Weird Words: This was actually my idea, and a few of my fellow dancers still think this is a bit odd… During a long corps de ballet section, we are continuously going on and offstage, and it can be intimidating to run offstage with ten seconds to remember which part of the dance comes next. I create weird words or letters so that I don’t blank out in the wings before my next enterance. I still remember the Friends dance of Copellia was “SAP D-G.” The first time I went offstage, I came back on with my Solo… ran offstage for a few seconds and waited for the Adagio section to begin. I continued to go through SAP D-G until the end of the dance!

Rosin: We often coat the back of our heels with rosin so that our pointe shoes don’t slip off of our feet if they feel loose.

Thanks for reading! Did some of these things surprise you? What are some of YOUR backstage secrets?

Taking Flight

ceremony

During a live performance, nothing is promised, and the audience experiences something new each time the curtain rises. They are able to witness the real-time mishaps and slips that cannot be undone or edited out. Each show is simply an unparalleled mystery to both the dancers and audience members because it is never certain what the outcome will be regardless of the repeated choreography. Even though dancers try to maintain a professional image, we are just like the people in the darkened theater clutching tickets in their palms. We make mistakes. We fall. We have off days just like everybody else. No matter how hard we strive for perfection, we will never be flawless, and that is reality.

peacock

Saturday, we took Flight, a guest-choreographed modern piece, downtown with peacock feathers perched delicately in our hair. To be honest, I am quite disappointed with my performance. It was an incredibly stressful night as things continuously went wrong, and I had to endure that defeated feeling as I took a bow. This piece will be performed again later this season, so I am hoping that we can redeem ourselves. As of right now, we must move on because it is going to be a busy week in the studio as we prepare for Alice in Wonderland in three weeks! I will not waste any more time thinking about the past. We have a ballet to learn. 🙂

Giving Back

seniorshow

I am so blessed and honored to know this incredibly talented group of friends that I performed with this morning… We thought the residents at the local senior living facility would appreciate a small Christmas show filled with live music and dances before the big day! I am so impressed with each and every one of these amazing artists, and it is truly a privilege to share that stage with them. I really hope to do this again sometime because it is so rewarding to give back to the community (especially during the holidays). Great job everyone, and thank you so much!

Alice in Wonderland Casting!

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We are switching gears at the studio as we begin to prepare for our February production if Alice in Wonderland. The Nutcracker, snow, and peppermint offerings have been replaced by a giant Cheshire cat, mushrooms, and small cups of tea… Right after the busy weekend in the theater, casting was released, and we started to learn the first few dances of this ballet. I am looking forward to performing as Alice’s sister, maid, and deck of cards lead. I am so proud of my friend who was cast as Alice, and I cannot wait to watch her shine on that stage. It is going to be a great show, and I am excited to watch this magnificent story unfold.