Archive for July, 2013

Dance classes start up again in three weeks, and I am getting ready.

Today I’m sorting through all my music. I opened my big music binder for the first time since I taught my last class more than a month ago. After tossing out the miscellaneous sticker sheets, rehearsal notes, and many copies of recital music (that felt liberating), I got rid of all the music I don’t like/rarely use and got to work on re-burning my favorite CDs that have gotten old and scratched (even though I could easily enter the 21st century and keep all my music on my iPod/smart phone/tablet, I prefer using CDs. I don’t know why. Old fashioned?)

Also on the musical agenda is finding new music for my jazz and primary classes (translation: “I’m tired of all the stuff I used last year) and selecting music for my contemporary class. I haven’t taught contemporary in a long (looong) time and I’m very excited to be teaching it this year. Selecting the music and choreographing for that class is fun for me.

The most important part of getting ready for the dance year is, of course, planning the classes. So far I’ve roughed out the first 8 weeks or so for my primary and level one ballet classes. I say “roughed out” because every group of students is different, and they may progress faster or slower than my syllabus. It’s really more of a starting point than a set-in-stone lesson plan. 🙂

My jazz, contemporary, and modern classes always do a set warm-up, with little variations made as the dancers progress. So far the contemporary warm-up is choreographed (and I love it), and jazz is next on my list. After that I need to figure out my creative movement and Mommy & Me classes (I haven’t taught Mommy & Me in six years. Eep!).

I also bought a new dance bag today, but I haven’t been able to put any of my stuff in it yet:



Happy dancing!

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Tell me, where does all the magic go
When the curtain falls to end the show.
Do the clowns always cry
When they pack up the paper sky?
When the champagne is being poured
And the lock is on the old stage door…

I just came from the final public showing of Godspell JR.
It was the best performance of them all. No technical glitches, no spacing/logistical problems, all the props were in their proper place and everyone hit the right notes and nailed the dance steps. All of us on the production team were very happy and very, very proud.

After the show I went around to hug the actors and congratulate them on a job well done. Several kids thanked me for working with them (and not just today, either. These are some very gracious kiddos, apparently). I told them all I was proud and that I hope to work with them all again next summer. A few of them are going to be my students at the dance studio this coming year. 🙂

The director said something very wise to the cast before the show: “If you’re striving for perfecton in yourself, you need to let that go. Strive for excellence, yes. But none of us are perfect.” I’m going to remember that for my dancers this coming season.

Godspell was a fantastic, fun, and challenging experience from start to finish. I’m so thankful I got to be a part of it–I’m already looking forward to next summer.



Now on to my next project: preparing for the new dance year. The fun never stops!

Lyrics from “A Clown in the Sky” from  Mystery Science Theater 3000by Best Brains, Inc, 1991

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Last night was the opening of Godspell JR. Craig came with me and we sat in the audience– a first for me; I’ve been backstage for every show I’ve worked on.

The first performance went well, although there were  few technical glitches (stage lights didn’t quite make it to their full brightness at the beginning, some of the wireless mics dropped in and out randomly and made the occasional feedback noise), a few props went awry and the actors looked pretty cramped on that small stage with that big set. I was still not quite fully out of rehearsal mode,and sat on the edge of my seat looking at spacing  (Let it go, Butterfly, jeez!). Still, it was a nice show: The scene where the cast says good-bye to Jesus one at a time (“On The Willows”) was really moving, the actors nailed all the timing on the funny scenes, and the littlest cast members were ridiculously cute. The audience really enjoyed themselves (including Craig!)

Before tonight’s performance, the director commented to the cast  that “The first performance is kind of like a really good dress rehearsal with an audience,” and things would go more smoothly this time. He was right– the lights so shined before men bright and beautiful, the props were where they needed to be & the actors seemed much more comfortable/less squished on the stage. The mics still had a few glitches in the second act, but everything else was spot-on! The dance numbers looked fabulous and were very high-energy (the applause went on for a while after “O Bless The Lord”), and this choreographer finally sat back and enjoyed the show. 🙂

The audience had a great time. Since many of the kids have a great sense of physical comedy and timing, there was a lot of laughter in the house. My favorite scene was the “Prodigal Son” parable in Act Two– it’s where some of the funniest kids really get to shine.


There’s more to write, of course, but I’m tired and my words are starting to fail me.

One more performance.

It’ll be a great one.

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Here’s a little about the Godspell, JR rehearsal process:

During the first week of rehearsals I set the first two numbers, “O Bless The Lord” and “Light of the World.” (That week was kind of a blur because it was also my last week of classes). We rehearsed in the medium-sized dance studio, since regular classes were still going on. Mama Butterfly was with me for the second week, and it brought back a lot of memories for her (since I spent most of my youth in musical theater). She, too, was blown away by how quickly the kids picked up the choreography!

After the recital, I started the second week off by setting “We Beseech Thee,” which is a lively number with a barn-dance type feel to it. The kids dance in partners quite a bit in that number; and there’s lots of skipping, chasse-ing and jump-kicking.  The next day (Wednesday) I started teaching “All For the Best” to the actors playing Jesus and Judas. Each character sings (and dances) a verse alone, then they repeat their verses twice more–faster– in counterpoint. The two actors use canes during the second part of number; and when they each showed me some steps that they wanted to do with the canes, I was happy to work those suggestions into the number.

During that rehearsal we also had to work out the little “magic show” that happens in the middle of the number, where Jesus (and then Judas) make the canes appear. Those “magic canes” took a little getting used to– it was hard to get the canes to “appear” exactly when needed, and you had to be sure they didn’t “appear” too close to anybody’s face (We started calling them “cane grenades” after I almost got poked in the eye twice during the first rehearsal).

The following day I taught the rest of the cast their part in “All For the Best,” which is pretty minimal until the very end, when they join in with the singing and dancing. After that the choreography was officially done, and Mama and I celebrated by going to the beach.

"Summers at the sea/ Winters warm and free..."

“Summers at the sea/ Winters warm and free…”

Friday I reviewed all four numbers, and then we had a week off for the Fourth of July (and I had to spend Mama back to Pennsylvania, boo hiss). I only had two rehearsals during the third week, for running and cleaning the numbers. During the fourth week (this week), I came in for run-throughs on Monday and Tuesday, and then it was tech time!


Tech was… tech. It was very stop and go and lots of figuring out sound and light cues; although it went better than about 90% of the tech rehearsals of my youth (my experience is that if you get through tech week without anybody getting into a screaming match/threatening to quit/going on a loud and profanity-laden rant; you had a great tech*).

The final tech was last night. The young actors still had two more rehearsals in the studio space (one today and one tomorrow morning), but I was not called for those rehearsals– I will not see them until the first performance.

I feel pretty good about the four dance numbers; and I think I did a good job adapting the choreography to fit the smaller space. Regardless, it’s all out of my hands now– the show opens tomorrow night. I’m excited to sit back, enjoy the show, watch these talented kiddos do their thing.

Merde to the cast and crew!

*All three of those things happened during tech week when I was in youth theater. Say what you will, but it certainly prepared me for the real world of professional theater & dance.

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Asides: Notes from Tech

Godspell JR, people!

It’s tech week, meaning the kiddos rehearse in the studio in the morning, then go to tech rehearsal in the evening.

Rehearsal was to begin at 6:30, and I arrived a little early to check out the stage and work out some logistical things (I have people going down slides, up and down stairs,and on & off platforms). The set looks fantastic– but the stage is quite a smaller than we’d anticipated (at least once the set is in there, anyway)! I had two options: freak out, or start re-working formations. I choose the latter.

It took about 30 – 45 minutes (maybe just a tiny bit of yelling*), but we got everything adjusted to fit the new space. I made use of the stairs leading down from the stage and of the space in front of the audience; and it looks pretty nice. Let’s see how the run- through goes.

Sounds checks are about done, so I gotta go. Later!

*Today was the first day in the performance space, with the full set and costumes. The kids were very, very excited– and loud. I had to be even louder to call them to order!

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This was posted by Tracy over at the Facebook page Democrats Organizing for America. It’s so true and so well-put, I just had to share it!

Happy 4th of July, everyone. May our country’s progress only continue. 🙂

* * *


HAPPY 4TH OF JULY ~ To All You Anti-American Teapublican ‘Secessionists’…

“This is not my nation any more.

This is not my America!” they say.

Don’t laugh- they’re probably right.

Because if you believe that America in the 21st century should function under the same assumptions and with the same values as America in the 18th century…

Then no, this actually isn’t your America any more.

If you believe that “Freedom of religion” means that you have the right to make decisions about health care, family planning, equal rights, evolution and education for people who do not share your religion…

You’re in the wrong place.

If you believe that black people vote for a black man only because of race but white people never vote for a white guy because of his race…

If you believe that a 90 year old veteran who has been voting for 50 years should be denied a ballot because he no longer has a driver’s license…

Then it’s not your America any more.

If you believe that bullying and abuse is ok as long as you do it for Jesus, and that kids are better off in orphanages than with gay parents and that rape shouldn’t be an ‘excuse’ for an abortion because some girls rape easy…

This is not your America.

If you believe that the working poor, pensioners and veterans in America just want ‘free stuff’ but the wealthy demand their personal income tax cuts for the good of the nation…

No, this is not your America.

If you think you have the right to say who other people can love…

This isn’t that place.

And if you believe that it’s not possible for your candidate to lose an election unless the “urban” people cheated… By voting…

That an acceptable way to win is to try to stop as many people as possible from voting…

That “bipartisan’ means that all the wrong people are supposed to do things your way…

And that the “United” part of “United States of America” only applies when your party is running the show…

Then you don’t understand what America is.

It’s not a country where you can just ‘opt out’ when things don’t go your way, and where a bunch of people whining that they want to leave will make us turn our backs on our principles.

It’s not a place where beginning a sentence with “I’m not a racist’ makes it ok to call the President a ni**er.

It’s not a country where a rich, privileged old man can attack a young woman’s character in vicious and almost pornographic simply because he disagrees with her politics and not suffer consequences.

It’s not a place where we believe that a helping hand in the middle of a natural disaster should come with a pricetag..

It’s not a nation where we think it’s ok for poor people to die from treatable diseases because millionaire CEO’s don’t want to cut into their profits.

And thankfully, it’s not a nation where bitter, obscenely wealthy men can buy themselves an election.

You folks are the same people who yell “America- love it or leave it” at us every time we try to fix what’s broken around here.

Now, it seems like you don’t love it enough to stick around and work together.

Well, we’re not trying to run you out, but you are certainly free to go.

Of course you don’t get to take your state with you- sorry, but that ‘Constitution’ thing you’re always going on about says the states stay together.

And you don’t get the flag you’re always waving; that belongs to America.

But you can leave, if that’s really what you want.

The border is that-a-way…



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