Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy (Almost) New Year!

With the new year coming so close I thought it would be appropriate to begin thinking of a new year's resolution. Problem with that is I don't just have one, I have many. It seems impossible to come up with one thing and one thing alone so I'll share with you my top ten:

10) Be more adventurous--in everything. My choreography, my weekend activities, clothing, cooking, etc. Even if it's one new thing a month, I'll give it a stab.

9) Take care of my body more--Sure, I spend, oh, at least 15 hours a week dancing, but I know that outside cardio workouts are necessary and that strength builders are, too. It wouldn't hurt to try and manage meals a little better, take time to rest a little more. Maybe get my eyebrows waxed once in a while to keep those caterpillars in line.

8) Connect with friends--I'm terribly at calling friends and returning phone calls. Horrible at it. Ask any of my close ones, they can tell you. This year, I will be better even if it means I have to write myself sticky notes to remember, I will be better!

7) Find a hobby--See, my hobby is my life. I dance. Everything I do, all my thoughts are focused on dancing. I used to joke about this friend I had who only had five conversations topics, some of which coincided with one another therefore minimizing the amount of subjects we could chat about. Sadly, I have also become that person, constantly talking about school and dance, both of which, might I remind you, often coincide with one another. *SIGH* There are plenty of things I want to do (Learn to sew, learn to sketch, play the piano or guitar, pick up photography, cook more often, become a yoga master--well, master it for myself.), but I haven't set aside time to do that. This year, I will.

6) Learn to manage my money--I'm not too bad. Really. I can save like nobody's business. The problem is I have yet to learn how to really budget on paper. In my head I can keep track fairly well, but I think if I sat down and followed a plan, I'd be golden!

5) Be informed--I made this one last year, to read the news more and be up to date on current events. I did pretty well until summer and then I lost all track of the world. Sad part is I keep up better with People and other hollywood buzz--no more! It's a guilty pleasure I'm sure I will continue to follow but it all honesty, I should know more about my own country and have a clue as to what's happening in the world.

4) Count my blessing--everyday. Self explanatory.

3) Continue to laugh--I find that it keeps me from crying when I'm at a loss. Plus its so darn fun to throw your head back, let out the biggest belly laugh possible and continue until you're crying buckets! I love to laugh and I plan right on giggling through this coming (complicated) year.

2) Hug more--I read an article a long time ago that said humans need at least ten hugs a day. Let me tell you, I'm pretty darn sure I ain't been gettin' my ten hugs a day. Expect to get a hug the next time you see me. It has been scientifically proven to boost happy hormones in a person. No, really--I'll have to hunt down those articles to prove it to you now.

1) Be happy--I refuse to let gloom and doom settle into my life much this year. It's all about the positive even in the negative--I will continue to find the spring happiness in every day, I just have to.

Let's see how if I can actually check through all ten this year. In any case, number one should be the easiest goal of my year. Another thing to look forward to in the coming 2010 start off: This time next year I will have my masters and hopefully a job...if not it'll be another adventure. Share some of your New Year's Resolutions if you would! Any tips you think will help out my list? Happy New Year to one and all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Life w/o Sleep

There are certain tell tale signs that a person is lacking in sleep. For those of us who ignore said signs or truly are so tired that we are blissfully ignorant of the red flag waving in front of our faces, we embark on perhaps some of the most peculiar moments.

Peculiarity #1: I set myself up to study Sunday for my one and only final test, the rest being, of course, massive projects. Somehow while typing up the additional paper for this particular class I made the grave mistake of closing my eyes...I was out cold for a good 40 minutes before my saving grace of a boyfriend just happened to call and wake my butt up (Thank you, boyfriend, for your impeccable timing.) Back to work I go, furiously writing all I can about modern dance while simultaneously trying to remember names of foreign choreographers and their successes/failures, pupils, and whatnot. And I did yet another stupid thing. I closed my eyes again. This time there was no phone, no alarm, no rambunctious neighbor to stir this sleeping beauty. No, I woke up three hours later to my house lights brightly shining, cold cups of coffee on the table, and a candle STILL burning (it's a miracle I didn't set something on fire--I've left my house twice this week with one still burning. My poor guardian angel must look like she's been through the ringer...). The heavenly glow of my Christmas trees illuminated my body sprawled out on the couch, mouth wide open for catching flies, clutching my History of Dance notes as if I'll learn anything through osmosis. I thank my lucky stars no one had a camera to capture that "breath taking" view of me.

Peculiarity #2: I have come to realize that without much rest a person begins to lose the ability to comprehend their own native language. For the past week I have had to ask people to repeat what they've said multiple times because I swear they are speaking a foreign language. That and it takes about five minutes for a statement to process. Proof--While trying to fix my hair, a hopeless mess right now, in the ladies room last week, my fellow MFA lady, Cassie, began telling me a story. I looked right at her, made sure to pay attention and hang on her every word, conscious smile and nod appropriately when necessary. Did it help? Heck no! I stared at her for a minute after she finished before finally giving up. "Um, Cassie, I'm sorry. Could you repeat that again?" "Sure, what part?" "Oh you know...the whole thing..." Nothing sticks.

Peculiarity #3: While waiting on my cast of ladies to arrive at Starbucks last night for a coffee date, I happened to run into a sorority sister of mine. So excited to see her pretty face I jumped up to say hello and hug her neck. Half-way through our chatting I began to feel buzzing, no, vibrating along the right side of my body. Frantically searching through pockets, stopping mid sentence of relaying my story to her, I couldn't figure out where my dang phone was. As my dear sister watched with a glint of amusement in her eyes, I stripped off my coat and patted down my body searching incessantly for my cell only to realize that my cell phone was indeed in my purse and no where near my body. I'm so caffeinated my own body is vibrating...

Peculiarity #4: While the body is trying to chug along in its sleep deprived state, your emotions will take over all coherent thoughts and logical reasoning causing you to become a raging lunatic at any given moment. Symptoms include crying for no apparent reason, inability to process confusing or vague statements/texts that often leads to panic, frustration and inevitably more crying from lack of being able to think your way out of a paper bag. You are prone to obscenely loud outbursts at simple realizations--beware friends may find you to be hysterical or crazy especially if the outburst happens in a car. While you're driving. Symptoms can last anywhere from two to four hours. Simple solution for the problem: rest and relaxation. As if...

After today I will be taking my own advice, sleeping, trying to catch up so I can at least seem semi-human again. I swear I've never been so scatter brained in my life or felt more like a walking zombie. The good news is I've survived the semester and am now one year away from finishing my masters! Huzzah! And now, I must go make another pot of coffee or I'll have to resort to chewing on coffee grinds. Gross.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Tech Time!

We've survived Christmas Show Blocking weekend and are now immersed in tech week. Surprisingly, this has been the smoothest of all runs I've yet to see at OCU. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop while silently praying it never does.

I've got quite a bit on my plate but I'm working hard to get everything done. If it wasn't for the little things I don't think I'd enjoy this week so much. Yes, there are long hours and yes, it can be frustrating waiting around for hours just to tech one two minute number. Fortunately when you are surrounded by artists, everyone tends to get a little creative.

Case in point: There is a dance in the Christmas show called "Santa's Coming in a Pick-up Truck," and yes, a miniature Santa comes rolling out in a little truck at the end to wish everyone a booming "Ho, ho, ho" chortle. Well, somehow there are squirrels in the dance parked on a box of nuts singing and dancing right along with the rest of cowboys and cowgirls (It's the Christmas show at OCU, anything is possible!). Now in this box is a someone who manipulates these squirrel hand puppets and last night we had an extra little show while waiting for lighting cues to be set.

As I'm sitting there writing out one of my final papers for class, I look up to see Sammy the squirrel and his friend gnawing away at the foam nuts on the box, then they proceeded to break out in a little hand puppet dance and move on to have a conversation with one another. Hilarious, my friends, but then again I'm a sucker for anything similar to a Muppets skit. Who knows if the puppeteer actually expected anyone to watch. In any case, I could not help but burst out in my obnoxiously loud laughter thus catching the attention of the entire theater who then began watching the same improvised show I did. It was great, even Sammy and friends took a little bow for us all. Standing ovation from the dance department!

Another great part of being in the theater? The millions of giant character costumes walking around. I thoroughly enjoy watching a giant teddy bear bust out in Beyonce's "Single Ladies" dance. Have you ever? Only in the arts. What about seeing a giant frosty tump over in the middle of a performance on stage? You have to admit its pretty funny observing a huge snowball roll around helplessly on stage, unable to pick themselves up and then watch him be dragged off stage...hee hee...Remind me to tell you about the flashlight Baby Jesus. Another blog perhaps, have to save some stories for later.

So yes, there are some tedious moments when bringing in a show but there's never a dull moment, that's for darn sure! Happy holidays to one and all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Awareness Day

Happy Turkey Awareness Week!

It's that time of year that I love so dearly. Truly Thanksgiving is one my all time favorite holidays as is Valentine's but that will be left for another blog another day. I can hear the question, "Why is Thanksgiving your favorite?" Why not?!

First of all, this holiday is completely built around the most magnificent feast of the year. All day one can enjoy the mouthwatering aromas of delicious dishes, some of which are only created for this special occasion. A full day spent in the kitchen, dusted with flour and busy as all get out, heavenly to me!

Don't forget the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! I love getting up to watch the Rockettes (a dream job!) and see the latest Broadway shows open the parade. How fun to see the giant balloons glide on by with ornate floats right in tow. And after the parade one should always watch "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street" (The original only, please.) to get yourself started in the Christmas spirit!

Somehow in my house the kitchen has always been the one room everyone flocks to. Study parties were spent at the kitchen table where the plate of homemade cookies was just in arms reach. Suppers with family friends gathered around sharing the latest stories, discussing the weather or getting into heated debates requires a full belly and a steaming cup of Daddy's coffee. Afternoons spent gabbing with Mom about life took took place while she got supper on the table. Even some of the less happy moments of learning life's lessons took place right in that very room--so many different moments in one special room. There's something about a kitchen that brings people together, but more so on this particular holiday.

I love how unique the holidays are for my family. I hardly think my mom realizes just how much I adore our quirky get togethers and nontraditional traditions. For over a decade my family has been gathering with fellow family friends for Thanksgiving, rotating between every one's house bringing each family's favorite dish to share. Dressed casual attire and in a laid back mood, we enjoy a giant meal together catching up with one another in what has happened in the last year. Most often we engage in some sort of game afterwards--Mancala, a game I made Sarah play with me often, was first introduced one chilly Thanksgiving evening. Always there is laughter freshly served along side a scrumptious slice of pie. It's simply bliss to be around such wonderful friends.

The best part of this day is how conscious I am of all my blessings. In the run around of the passing weeks I often forget to pause and think how lucky of a lady I really am, especially these last few months. Don't get me wrong, there are those moments where it hits you like a flying freight train and you can't help but be thankful for the things you have. Thanksgiving allows a person to vocalize it a bit more and put more thought into what treasures we have in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Hope your holiday is full of great food, good moments and thankful thoughts!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ponderings from a Graduate Student

In recent months I've been approached by many students interested in learning more about the MFA program here at school. Having been a student within the department the last three years and now current MFA student as well as a school ambassador for the last four years, I'm probably the best person to talk to. I'm practically a walking billboard for my university and dance department.

That being said I am always pleased to sit down with students and visit with them about the program, how it works and all the benefits involved Recently I was contacted by a someone inquiring about the program and I had to take a few days to sit and ponder my response.

Somehow this person was interested in being a part of the program, but repeatedly exclaimed how they were tired of school and all the work involved. Jaw dropped and eyes wide, I couldn't believe this person was truly asking me about a GRADUATE program for their MASTERS and at the same time telling me they did not want to put forth the work involved. Perhaps she did not understand what a masters program entails...

This program has been a good swift kick in the pants this past semester. I have 12-14 hour days five days a week. There isn't a single night I go to bed before 11:00/12:00 (Unless I forgo homework to catch up on sleep) and my to-do list is constantly being added to. Weekends are spent catching up and working ahead to stay on top over everything so that when Monday rolls around I don't feel like the I'm running in circles without a head connected to my neck.

Now, when put into those terms you might be thinking to yourself, "Why would you put yourself through such mess?" A friend of mine recently told a story of her roommate who takes 2 classes during the week, does not work, has no hobbies and exclaims how she wishes she could do more but that would "stress her out." Excuse me, but in life a little rain must fall and you have to get through those hard yet stressful times to get to those good, sunshine days. It's the way the world works so put on your big girl pants and get over it.

Here's the funny thing, amidst all that has been going on I still love what I do. Love it. The friends I've made keep me laughing when I want to sit down and cry or pop someone over the head. Choreography helps me work through creative frustration and learn more about myself and what it is waiting to be discovered. Classes challenge me to do better and better to earn the grade, not just slide by. I love it, every little piece.

Bottom line is that whatever stress or busy time that comes my way is one more hurdle to challenge myself to reach my goal: getting my masters. From there? Landing a job teaching in a university. For anything you want in life, truly desire you have to work for it. So yes, I will push through the hard times knowing that in almost one year I will successfully have in my hand a degree that I worked for, that I earned and absolutely deserve.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Burton Ballet

There's something about Tim Burton--his movies always peak my interest and I can't help but appreciate his dark, artistic nature. "Nightmare Before Christmas" is one of my childhood favorites and I loved every Batman movie he made ("Batman Returns" and "Batman Forever"). I'm so excited to see his adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland" in the next year--another quirky story that grabbed hold of my creative interest as a kid. 

One of my favorite stories he created was "Edward Scissorhands." To me there is something so beautiful about the story--and yes, I realize the man has scissors for hands, but it's his innocent nature, the love he has for Kim and how he creates snow for her that gets to me. That and the haunting music by Danny Elfman, who has done many other scores for Burton. 

*Sidenote: Almost all of Tim Burton's movies have snow in them, one of his trademarks. There's always a scarecrow used somewhere along with some sort of Halloween or Christmas scene that he ties into his Gothic themes. Always thought it was neat how incorporated them into this movies. 

The misunderstood character of Edward Scissorhands is yet another way to tell the same old story of the poor outsider falling for the beautiful maiden, battling against the small minded town and eventually offering the greatest sacrifice for the protection of his love. How many ways can you tell the same story? Or rather, what other way can you re-tell THIS story?

How about a ballet? That's right, there's a ballet version! Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands is found in the UK as a recreation of the movie. This magical story couldn't have been better expressed than on the stage with the use of dancers retelling every special scene. Watch some clips to see how creative the Topiary Dance is and the gorgeous Ice Dance will give you chills! Would love to see this ballet in person someday. 

For your Halloween enjoyment, flip through some clips and see for yourself what a neat piece this truly is :) 

Friday, October 23, 2009

For All You Would-Be Techies

Choreography Show has come and gone again this year. I was lucky to be in a wonderful piece with a great cast where we reenacted the French Revolution to Coldplay's "Viva la Vida." Pretty badass number--way to go, Aubrey! Anyway, this posting is not about the fabulous dance or really dance at all, but more about my excursions during tech week. 

My fellow MFA students and I had to partake in helping set-up tech for the show as a class assignment. Over several days we did some observing and often times joined helping with what we could. I made the grave mistake to volunteer for a job without first finding out what the job was. Techies, beware. 

To say that heights make me slightly nervous might be an understatement. They make me very nervous. However, during the two days we spent in Kirkpatrick I took several trips up a ladder for different jobs, battling my way through anxiety and sweaty palms. I’m afraid I truly was a “weenie,” so to speak, during one particular job and poor Steve, the lighting designer, had to come up to help me. 

In order to get the right lighting for performances, adjustments have to be made along the way and thus comes my first lighting job: Climb into the lighting coves on either side of the stage, adjust the lights with Steve's trusty wrench per his instruction. Right. OK, no problem--big kid stuff, I was a management major. I can totally do this...I should have known it was trouble when I started climbing up the first ladder and half-way up asked Cassie to hold it incase I toppled into the wells. Oh and Steve forgot to mention that from the ladder to the cove was about a foot of empty space for me to heave myself up into. Have I painted you a pretty picture yet?

 I climbed all the way up the stage left lighting cove and while up there he gave me instructions to lean a ladder up against this wall/shelf, climb up to the top and throw my leg over this wall to adjust a light that was several feet above me (Keep in mind I would be leaning over the lighting instruments a couple stories up...hanging down to the audience seating.).  Looking up wide-eyed to my given task, I about swallowed my tongue and suddenly my body went it fight or flight mode. In the mean time Cassie is below me doubled over laughing as I start flapping my arms repeatedly to keep the perspiration to a minimum. My palms begin sweating profusely so I try wiping them on my pants over and over. Taking some deep breaths praying I don't start crying from sheer terror, I can't help but turn around and face my supervisor with the most pitiful, pleading look. Perhaps it was my sudden silence, the fact that I had “PANIC” written over my face or maybe how I began clutching my heart in hopes it would keep from bounding out of my chest, but Steve decided to climb up to help.

All I can say is thank goodness he'd worked with plenty of other girls over the years and was nice enough not to make me climb up there anyway. There's no doubt in my mind I would have had a heart attack. I made it through our second lighting adjustment in the other cove on stage right and safely back to the ground when Steve realized he had left his wrench in the first cove. On the wall he wanted me to climb. Did I retrieve the wrench? Yes, I did, but I find it hard not to wonder if that had been left up there on purpose. The mystery remains unsolved...

So all you would-be techies out there, be aware when volunteering for jobs and know there is no shame in pulling the "weenie" card now and again. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oldies but Goodies

Lately I've been noticing more and more how much older I am getting...and I'm only 22 years old. The first sign came the other day when our jazz professor put on an Alanis Morissette song for stretching and over three quarters of the room had no idea who she was...

Aside from these youngin's lack of musical education, and I myself am no guru, I've noticed how my body needs that extra time to prepare for class. I've become that student that shows up early, takes time to warm-up before the warm-up because I know something will hurt otherwise. Oh, and things hurt.

*Side note: Switch second leaps were created for rubber band people...**

It's not that I don't care of my body, eat the right things and get plenty of sleep...well, that last part I try to get as much as my schedule will allow. I just can't whip down into the splits first thing in the morning any more. What kills me is watching some of the undergrads waltz into class couple minutes before barre or jazz class, complain of tight muscles and whomp! They pop down into a full on straddle! What in the world!?

Part of me wants to let the kiddos know that they are not as old as they think--wasted breath really since not a one of them will believe me. Heck, I never believed those older dancers when they said that same thing to me. Truly it's a bit shocking how my body is not as limber as it used to be when I'm really not that old.

On an upside to this "aging" part of my career, I'm learning how to better prepare my body for class. I'm learning how to allow my body time to ease into stretches, focusing on the strengthening aspect of each movement rather than just holding a pose for minutes on end. I'm the girl that comes in with layers to keep my muscles warm, slowly peeling each one off over the course of a 45 minute center technique development sequence to stay good and warm . Focus on breath and visualizing where its going in my body has helped immensely for me as well.

Overall I'm approaching my classes, warm-ups, exercises with a more mature eye than I ever have before. It's been a gradual change over the last four years, but I've finally come to appreciate taking that time for my body. I look at that time as self-indulgent, relishing in every stretch I can take because I now know that later down the line, I'll be saving myself from some major muscle aches and possible injuries down the way.

For all you dancers, what are some stretches or warm-up rituals that you do to get ready for a class? Are they physical movements or mental reminders? I'd love to pass the knowledge on to my students now and in the future!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

If only...

There were more hours in the day, what I could accomplish! Alas, I truly believe that even with additional hours I would never finish what all I set out for myself to accomplish, including updating my forgotten blog.

It was always my intention to take at least one day a week to update this little page with information about dance, my own ideas, opinions, historical information and what have you. Unfortunately I have fallen into the same pattern I always do, creating grand plans and never being able to execute them all. Time management people!

I'm still perfecting the art that is "time management" and I'm always amazed at what I've accomplished and what is left on the list that looms largely on my purple pad of paper. Have no fear, I've returned and will hopefully be able to update this slice of insight to provide to anyone interested in reading. For now I can go on to tell you a bit about my experience in my first full semester as a graduate MFA student at Oklahoma City University.

Amazing. Simply amazing. It has so far given me everything I could possible want or need in a program that will hopefully send me on my way to teach in the dance community. I have wonderful professors that are giving me the tools to explore my own choreography and teaching style which is not always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes breaking the barriers of your typical style requires a little frustration, a little comedy and much creativity. I'm soaking it all up with an open mind and a positive attitude, a key to being successful in almost any endeavor.

There are two wonderful ladies who are also in their first year of the program with me. Each one comes from a different background and I've been able to learn so much just by observation. I encourage anyone in whatever field you are in to observe and take note of those around you. Successful or not, there is something to be learned by doing a bit of watching--for dance there is more "people watching" if you will, yet even the mental process of choreography and teaching can aid you later in your own experiences.

I'm still teaching at a local studio where my classes have grown some and I find that I'm continuing to fine tune my teaching style and learning how to build a solid curriculum--there is still a long way to go. Nothing brightens my day more than to teach a class, help the students and try to find what will work for each individual. What a constant challenge.

Dance, I believe, is an art form that is unique in and of itself it that every day is different. Everyday brings something new with how your body works and feels--there is almost never a two days in a row where you are completely aligned perfectly or right on the money when turning. Teaching class, taking class, there is always a constant strive to be better, work harder and learn more. Steps are invented every day, combinations are morphed into something more and of course there are various different types of genres within dance. Plus, it is one of the only forms of art that is creating art with your entire body--a continual reshaping of a sculpture that can change again and again.

How lucky I feel to be immersed in something that gives me such pleasure and continues to intrigue me. I can't wait to see where my bliss and passion will take me next.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Getting to Know...Me

I have been challenged by my friend and sister, Olive My Life!, to write 10 things about myself the share with fellow bloggers. In all honesty I love doing surveys and questionnaires like this, even more so love reading what people write about themselves. You never know what tid-bit will come up so here we go:

1. I love ladybugs. If you know me you will know I have a ton of lady bug paraphernalia all over my apartment. Key chains, push-pins, stuffed animals, cookie jars, vases...tons. What you may not know is why I like them. The truth is: I have no idea. When I was a kid my mom subscribed to this children's magazine called "The Ladybug" (a younger version of "The Cricket") and I would get little ladybug things all my life but it blew up in college. Ladybugs represent many different things: luck, love or even that the spirit of a loved one is near. Pretty cool, huh?
2. I am constantly wearing a watch--I feel naked without one and I absolutely hate not knowing the time which brings me to my third fact...
3. I have issues with time. I like to be early to events and be ready about ten minutes before I leave--I know, crazy to some, but I have an absolute panic attack if I I start pushing to clock.
4. I love to journal--pouring over blank pages with whatever pops into my head is so therapeutic for me. It clears my head, releases tension and frustration and can also help me relive the best moments of my day.
5. Sometimes I wish I were a writer--take people away on adventures through the pages of my story, make them laugh out loud with some creative quip or even wrench their heart in some tragic tale. For now I'll write for my own sake.
6. I've discovered that living alone isn't so bad. For one thing you can have a dance party around the entire apartment without disturbing anyone. Two, you can take over the living room with your homework and no one complains. Three, for the first time in forever I can finally leave my shoes wherever I want to :) Downside is I'm still the lone spider killer and I want a cat to keep me company. Ive even got a name picked out...dang, I'd love a fuzzy creature.
7. Nine times out of ten I will take a dessert over a drink any day. No cocktail can tempt me more than a warm chocolate chip cookie can and no wine could taste as delicious as a sweet piece of cherry pie. Seriously.
8. I love sundresses! Flowing, long dresses that twirl and swirl--they're so pretty! Plus they're great in the summertime when it's so hot and pants cling to you and even shorts ride up.
9. I devour books whenever I get the chance. I try to keep a goal to read a certain number of books during vacation (Ex: 10 for the summer) and I always surpass that. Even got this great series I'm on right now--so good! Ooh, if you want a fun read, check out the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich!
10. I have a dream kitchen that I'm working my way to. This kitchen represents more than a place for meals and a storage of food; it represents me in a way and I know, a kitchen is a little cliche for a woman, however, a kitchen means more to me than the age of Donna Reed.
One where I can make some delicious meal for myself on the special plates the represent me and sit at my table with a good cup of coffee and a crossword puzzle on a Sunday morning. This feeling that envelopes me when I fantasize (yes, fantasize) about my daily life in an ordinary room makes me feel whole and excited. Creating my kitchen is the beginnings of creating my own life, my own style, my own path.
I can make whatever I want with whatever I want whenever. I can paint my kitchen, like my life, with as many colors as I want, through in some fresh flowers and light up my life with the people (and creatures) that I want. In so many ways I can shape my kitchen like I shape my future. I can plan ahead or jump right in to the way I organize and create my kitchen. It all depends on what I want to do.
That last one was a little heavy...anyway! Hope you guys had fun reading this--I challenge you to write ten things about yourself on your blog!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

True Meaning of Proud

According to http://www.dictionary.com/ the meaning of proud is to be "pleased or happy." Those two words couldn't understate my feelings any more.

Saturday afternoon was the recital for the local dance studio I teach at in Oklahoma City. As many of you may have read, my whole goal in life is to become a teacher. Sometimes the idea seems a bit crazy as this was a career choice I swore I would never take on. Teaching? Phsh--who wants to do that? Deal with kids all the time, come up with lesson plans, make lists...wait, I actually like making lists. Anyway, point being that teaching was not on my To-Do list for life.

Over the last nine months I've been able to dip my toes in the gigantic pool of teaching dance with a class of high school girls and an adult contemporary class. Testing my teaching skills at a studio my last year seemed plausible, better to test my theory of wanting to be a teacher before I stuck in something I either:

a) did NOT like
b) was not good at.

Originally I was given a high school ballet class, a high school jazz class and then the adult class came out of left field. To say I was excited to begin the dance year does little to nothing of showing my enthusiasm. And sheer terror. High school girls? Oh boy, I was there once and look at me, I'm not too far from their age range. Add the fact that I look to be under 18 and I've got myself a bag full of fun right there.

My ballet class was a bit of a challenge, a grand oversight I mis-calculated in the beginning. After spending years in classes full of students whose lives revolved around striving for the absolute best in themselves, it was a bit of a shock to my system to find myself teaching a class of young ladies who simply just wanted to dance. Really that shouldn't have been such a earth shattering realization but for me, dance is my life, my future and my one greatest love. Honestly, I've never gone a year without it and suddenly I have a room full of girls who are here for recreation. In the flash of a momet I realized my notated class had to be thrown out the window and I had to make a whole mind adjustment. Throw in the added bonus of having surley teens who could care less in finding the difference in a "rond de jame a terre" and a "rond de jame en l'air." Needless to say I struggled for a bit with this particular class.

Fortunately after weeks of trying different ideas I hit on a good one: fun music. The more I was able to find music that they liked, the better classes went. I even had a few girls genuinely smile at me, not smirk, smile. Using different popular tunes or orchestrations from movie soundtracks seemed to do the trick, even old CD's of "Hooked on Classics"--a personal favorite of mine for house cleaning--gave them an extra spring in their across the floors. I researched to find some popular hits by the Vitamin String Quartet (Check them out, they have some great stuff!) and was rearing to go for the Spring Recital, but unfortuantely due to clas scheduling conflicts I was unable to continue teaching that particular class. Still in all, that class may have been a hurdle I hadn't anticipated but I came out fine on the other end and learned a valueable lesson in that you really have to find what will work for each class. Learning what works for them will take outside work, methodical planning and quite of bit of patience but the results will be well worth it.

My jazz class went through several turn overs of students as volleyball season kicked in or dance team try-outs came closer or the SAT's creeped around the corner, even choir concerts. Ah, yes. They days of a busy high school student, running from place to place, balancing eighty million to-do's. Don't miss those day....oh wait. I still have those days. Dang. Another adjustment for me: life does not revolve around dance class. Whoa. Who could have ever imagined?

In actuality, I never had a problem with them missing because I realized quickly that all these kids were interested in the pure enjoyment of the class. Can I tell you how nice it is to see a child spinning around and leaping with enthusiasm simply because it makes their heart happy? Don't get me wrong, I'm in a positive atmosphere now, happy to be working with the best place for my heart and soul and OCU--being in a studio atmosphere that's fun and relaxed is something I'd forgotten. It's helped me mellow out a bit and realize that getting them to be happy in themselves and their abilities is what counts.

I had a fantastic group of ladies for jazz that picked up just about everything I could throw and them and had some very positive attitudes. They helped each other outside of class and really were supportive in class as well--what a great expereince to watch these ladies being so giving. Their radiant positivity and energy filled the entire class and carried over to me as well. Thank goodness for my experience in student teaching at a jazz studio and all my time surrounded by the drill team world. Retta, Mrs. Dalton & Mrs. Jackson, if you ever see this, thank you :)

One of my students in the jazz class is a lovely thirty-something lady who decided she wanted to dance. She went to a dancer audition for the heck of it and really wanted to improve, after a while it became something she purely enjoyed. Lucky for me she had a background in cheerleading and in track which helped in teaching her--she was a natural! She also joined me in a class that I had tossed upon me at the beginning of the year, an adult contemporary class. That's right, a first time adult contemporary for begginners.

Two exhuberant women asked for this lyrical class, something they added to their bucket list and when I was approached with the offer I thought, "why not?" I was warned that a good glass of wine would probably be needed after a night's worth of teaching these mom's and yet I never once felt a crazy sense of stress after their class. If anything they inspired me, leaving me wired the rest of the evening. Of anyone or anything I've ever taught, this was my favorite class.

Let me tell, you these ladies worked hard, challenged themselves and always tried their best. We made sure it was a no stress class full of laughter and really good times. One of my ladies would bring her husband and three children so they could spend more family time together. Over time her little girls warmed up to me and by the end of the year they would run up to hug knees or check to make sure I was safely in my car before leaving after close. Her kiddos would dance in the back while I taught, picking up the steps or making up their own only to show me later in the evening. To my absolute delight, even her husband picked up the dance they were learning and was probably their biggest fan next to her three little girls.

For nine months we worked on a two minute routine my adult class performed at rectial. One of my mom's even did a solo! Honesty to goodness, I never felt more like a parent than I did at that 2:00 show. Smiling ear to ear, I watched my classes prance around on stage in their costumes, happily strutting their stuff like they were having the time of their life. Success. Absolute success if each one of those girls had most fun while under the stage lights.

With each time I walked into the studio on Thursday nights for my classes, my heart would swell. How could I feel any other way if I didn't truly love this? I've learned you give so much in teaching, it takes energy, patience, creativity (especially for a dance teacher) and quite a bit of outside time. In the end though, the finished product of a smilling dancer who feels accomplished, happy and self-confident is more than enough for me. I cannot wait to continue teaching, proving my experiment to be a positive experience and that I am indeed on the right path.

So like I began this post, "proud" does not begin to describe how I felt watching my ladies. There are too many emotions to possbily describe what this experience has brought into light for me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rocking It With the Rockettes

Graduation has come and gone--I stand before you now a proud college graduate! Yahoo! Now I start my masters this coming Monday and I'm pretty excited to begin this next chapter in my life. There hasn't been much down time since the big walk across the stage but I can't say that bothers me much as that's just how I'd rather be; busy rather than bored.
Much to my family's delight I was able to cram myself into the rented van and drive the three *cough cough four cough* hours back to my home sweet home before rousing myself the next morning, staggering sleepily onto a plane and heading for California! What exactly was in California? The Radio City Rockette audition, that's what! For many dancers this elite line of ladies is a dream job full of prestige and wonder. To link up in a Rockette line, proudly demonstrating perfectly in sync eye-high kicks might be possibly the coolest job I could ever have.
Gracing the stage in 1925 as the Missouri Rockets, these ladies set the precedence for the famed long-legged beauties we know and love today. They first debuted their Christmas show on December 27th, 1932 at Radio City featuring 17 different acts, one including infamous modern dancer, Martha Graham. The original "Roxyettes" as they were called, started with 16 members and now holds 36 woman on the line.

What's incredibly neat about the Rockettes is their dedication to precision and cleanliness in their dancing. Flawless numbers are executed perfectly in line with one another giving the illusion of one single dancer. No one is different, no one sticks out and there is nothing like watching 36 very individual women turn into a line of identical bodies. Not all ladies are able to grace the stage as a Rockette as they must be between 5'6" and 5'10 1/2". Don't lose heart, shorties, as they have ensemble members who are in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular as well.

Did you know the Christmas Spectacular has only been around since 1993? If you haven't watched their infamous "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" number, you should. OCU does their own version however its hard to compete with Radio City. Did you know they've performed for "The Daytime Emmy Awards" and even the premiere of "Miracle on 34th Street?" How awesome!

Well, I proudly sent my dancer self all the way to Burbank, CA for the LA audition for the Rockettes. I was prepared in every sense, however, I had not really mentally prepared myself. Just the Wednesday before my trip I took on full out freak-out mode because I was so worried about my physical condition. Did I look good in a leo, tights and heels? Was my hair going to be right? Was I sharp enough? Precise enough? And dang it, tell me some of these ladies have curves, too! After calming myself down and convincing myself I would make it a fun experience, I did just that. And then I got cut...

Let me just say that one mistake can cost you the whole audition. They expect exactly what they want which is completely understandable because, hello! A Rockette would not be a Rockette if she stuck out in a crowd. I knew the combination, had it down and while stupidly watching the group in front of me I witnessed a mishap for the center girl. My audition point. What to know where I messed up? You guessed it, same spot I witnessed just moments prior to my turn.

Was I disappointed? Sure, but did I have fun? Absolutely! I loved every minute I was in there and I fell in love with this job only four eight counts into the combo. A good majority my serious dancer career I've tried to reject the drill team gene I carry deep in my heart but once I slipped those heels on I couldn't fight it any more. I wanted that job.
So I messed up, chalk it up to good experience and call it a day. If anything I'm not more determined to go back and try again, year after year until I nail it. One gal at the audition was there for the EIGHTH time. Eight times. Eight years she has been trying. I hope I might make it in under three, and that may not happen, but if eight is what it takes, you can bet you'll see me there.
Good luck to everyone in Chicago and I hope everyone waiting on a phone call in June the very best. For now I'll continue with grad school :) Someday you'll see me high kicking it with these legendary ladies!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Change in the Wind

While this blog has been somewhat of an assortment of thoughts I realized there isn't much to it. I never wanted this to be a personal outlet for myself but rather a way to keep friends informed about my many adventures I'd hoped to have after graduation. Since I'm sticking around Oklahoma here a little bit longer I decided that this little blog either has to go or it needs a change. 

While searching through my fellow blogging buddies (a small group but I'm a dedicated reader nonetheless) I couldn't help but feel slightly jealous in all their posts. Each one reported on a new clothing store or restaurant, basically something of their own interest for the rest of the world. Why couldn't mine be more like that? 

The lightbulb went off: from now on my blogs will be about dance. Whether its a health tips, exercise advice, clips of various pieces, history snippets or updates on upcoming shows, I blog about it. Not only is this right up my alley but it'll help keep me better informed as a performer and a future teacher. I only see this as a positive change and I hope to get connected to many more dance bloggers out there as well. As I leave you now to go finish up my finals review I will leave you with this enlightening youtube video for a good laugh...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Results Are In...

I'm staying at OCU! That's right, folks, I am staying in the Oklahoma City area for another year and half doing the fast track program for my MFA in Dance. This entire year was dedicated to the grand graduate school process and after much research, essay writing, choreographing, editing, crying, convincing, endless emailing and many phones calls later my choice became very clear: this is the place I need to be.

The adventure starts this May where I'll begin with Dance Studio Management (apparently its in much more detail--honestly I'm not surprised since there was so much detail the first round.), Teaching Tap and Ballet. I'll also be working at Visitor Services again continuing to work as a school ambassador and teaching my last few dance classes. I've got the Rockette audition in LA right after graduation, literally. That's something I would still like to do and if nothing else comes out of it at least I will have been through the experience and know what will come at me the next year.

Also snagged a spot on the hiring list for Royal Caribbean just a couple weeks ago--That's the second time I've ever had an offer per say from them. (Basically I have to wait for them to contact me with an available position but I'm still hired in a sense that I'm on the list. I've got a job without having the job--much like my life this semester, having choices without the choices. Confused yet? Welcome to my daily existence.)

Anyway, point being that if I could get a cruise ship job at 17 and 21 I'm sure to get one at 23. To be completely honest I'm perfectly fine with staying in the OCU bubble. I don't believe I was ready to leave my safety net just yet and in a year and half I'll be ready--maybe my feelings on moving to NY will have changed. Ever since my journey up there last spring I've been scared stiff my soul will be eaten and any and all passion for dancing will be sucked out of me, therefore coming to the conclusion that I could never move there right away. I need to build a thick skin, get some experience and feel a little more steady on my feet before I'd brave the Big Apple on my very own.

This isn't the big change I initially wanted and its certainly not a brand new world, but a continuation of what I've come to love and understand. Each step from here on out is closer to the goal I have of someday teaching in a collegiate level--yup, I'm the next generation of teachers in the Theall/Libersat family line for my mom's side. Never thought I'd ever see the day I'd find a passion and undeniable desire to teach.

To sum is all up, I'm getting my masters :) Hoorah!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Blast From the Past

Yesterday as I'm finalizing appointments, signing off on emails and cleaning out the work inbox at Visitor Services someone ask me about a particular student that's coming to campus this Friday, today. Immediately I freeze in place, swivel around and say the name again: "Taylor Greer? OH MY GOSH! I KNOW HER!" You can only imagine my excited outburst probably scared the beejeezus out of some poor unsuspecting soul.

Turns out one of my old dance studio friends, Taylor, is interested in OCU and came up for a visit. I can't tell you just how happy it made--I swear I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day just thinking of part of my past catching up to my present. While being here I've run into many people I've had some history with. Logan and Peyton from high school and two others, Tony Smith and Alyssa Fox from my years at Kimberlin and Austin. Yeah, its always nice running into people you haven't seen since you last worse Keds and braces, but this was special to me. This is someone who's continuing on what I kept up with: dance.

Not only that but she actually finished out a childhood dream I gave up on. In some ways I'm sorry I did and in some ways I'm not--everything happens for a reason and if I hadn't done my stint at ADA who knows what I would have done. Whatever the outcome might have been, I'm pretty satisfied with life right now.

There's something to be said about sharing a passion and a love for an activity that's was different from sharing a school subject. Anyone I've had the opportunity to dance with is someone I automatically feel somewhat connected to. Maybe that's because I understand the hard work that goes into it and heart you have to have in it. Or maybe I just got excited about seeing an old friend and family that reminded me of my roots. Really I could analyze it and come up with 50, 000 different ways to look at it. Either way, it was a plesant surprise for my past to blow into my present day life.

Happy Friday to you all! It's Relay for Life tonight so if you're reading and feel like donating, check out my facebook page--we'll be taking money til the end of the year! Hope you all can make it out, too! On the note, I'll share a little happy with you :

Stand By Me

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Death to the Tooth Fairy

For anyone who told me having your wisdom teeth taken out was a piece of cake LIED, my friends. Day 5 and I still look like a human chipmunk and my teeth feel as if someone tried to pull them out with pliers. What the hey?! 

Senior year of college and for my final spring break vacation I decided that it would be responsible thing to have those daunting dentures removed while I had the week off--and was still on my parents dental (Don't give me that look, I'm sure you would have done the same thing, too.). In all honesty it hasn't been as bad as I've made it out to be. Let's see, pampering from family, lots of sleep, home cooked (and sometimes pureed) meals and an endless supply of "Gilmore Girls" episodes with my pup curled at my feet. Simply fabulous... minus the gaping holes in my mouth. Thank heaven's I never have to go through this again. 

Upside of all this, today I am finally buying my tickets to LA and Chicago in May for the Radio City Rockette Auditions this summer. I have so many possible plans in my head for my life its not even funny and the fact that I can't seem get one to work out is incredibly frustrating, but today will be different. Today I will have two tickets taking me to one more possibility and as exciting as it is, having those definite plans of a possibility makes me all the more exciting. (Shut up, I know I'm weird, but I like my plans regardless of the fact that I've chosen an unpredictable lifestyle). 

I'm not giving up hope just yet--I know something great is around the corner waiting for me to scoop up. Just gotta pick myself up and keep going until I find out--goodness I'm not sure I'm ready to be an adult just yet. 

For those of you who were able to hit the beaches or galavant off the NYC for a week of fun, hooray for you--I'm going to enjoy my last lazy day at home and soak up the time with my fuzzy pup, Piper. Happy Spring Break :) 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hello, World? Yes, I'm Still Alive...

It's the day of the show, ya'll. Tonight is opening night of the American Spirit Spring Show and I don't believe it has hit me quite yet. Since the beginning of the spring semester the whole company has been scrambling for this show due to Oklahoma's amazing weather--Ice Storm 2009 seemed like a blessing to us returning college students, but alas it's wicked timing cut the company out of three days worth of rehearsal.

At this point in time you're thinking "how can that really be that bad?" Keep in mind each dance gets a total of ten hours worth of rehearsal and when the snow flurries kept us home bound, it cut us out of the time we really needed for the show. Since then we've worked hard, practicing long hours to remember every step, count, blocking color and proper wing to make our grand entrance. Blocking weekend hit hard and fast with what seemed like painstakingly specific instructions while tech ran as smooth as can be--it all comes down to tonight.

It's my last (and only second) Spring Show at OCU--that is unless I stay for grad school (don'taskmebecauseIhavenoideawhatI'mdoingyet!)--and this one is pretty special. I was lucky enough to be chosen for a solo this year that I share with three other beautiful dancers. "Drifting" was a solo Jo Rowan choreographed and performed many times over and has graciously passed the torch to us. Remarkable--that's how I'd describe this experience. For a few weeks I've been able to work closely with Jo on a more personal level with a touching dance that I know I'll treasure in my heart for a long time. I can't wait to take the stage tonight, spinning in my golden dress and really delving into the character. This is my one shot at it for the run and I want to make it the best I possibly can.

In other words, COME TO THE SHOW!! Tonight, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm and Saturday at 2:00 pm. http://www.okcu.edu/Dance_amgt/spring.asp

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Apparently I'd Jump, Too

I've decided to join the ranks of the rest of a the world, hop on the bandwagon and start a blog. 

What, pray tell, could I honestly write in this blog? For so long I've been adamant about not having one just for the plain and simple fact that I never wanted something I write to come back to bite me. That's why I keep a separate, personal journal--much less trouble to my way of thinking.

 So what could I possibly blog about now and again for fellow procrastinators to randomly skim and enjoy? Since graduation is coming in a short 60 days (YIKES!) and it might be nice to share some of the (hopefully) exciting adventures that will be coming my way. Plus it might be entertaining to place some of my musings up just the heck of it. 

Hooray for following the pack and taking a flying leap off the cliff with the rest of my buddies--I'm officially a blogger :)
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