Posts Tagged ‘choreography’

Competiton season for our studio kicked off last weekend. Last Friday I met up with the studio director and we drove up to a college campus for the first day of competition.

We only had three students competing that day, one of whom was my dancer. We arrived at the venue early, expecting to check-in early and have plenty of time to warm up our students. When we got there, however, we learned that the performance hall would not even be open until 30 minutes before the first act! We waited outside for an hour– luckily it was a beautiful day– and I played with the boss’ four-year-old while we waited for our girls to arrive.

It was my dancer’s very first competition and she had been nervous in the days leading up to it, so I wrote her a nice encouraging note to read before she went on. For this first competition she would be performing in soft shoes instead of pointe shoes, which I thought was a nice way to “warm up” to competing.
Finally, the performance hall was open. I gave my student a speedy- quick barre, she went through her solo once, and then it was time to go backstage. She was the second number on (no time to get too nervous!), and she did a really lovely job! Near the beginning she forgot a step, but she kept moving and didn’t let it show on her face, and the judges didn’t pick up on it. 🙂 I told her I was very proud of her.

I didn’t stay for the awards ceremony (they were at 9pm!), but I learned the next day that my dancer won first in her division.
Tomorrow afternoon is callback/dance auditions for the 2 musicals I’ll be working on this summer, Willy Wonka, Jr and Beauty & the Beast, Jr. I’m heading over there right after my classes to audition kiddos for both shows. They’ll be dancing a little combination to a fun song called “Think Positive” from Willy Wonka, and then they’re going to do some chasses across the room to another song. I’m really excited about working on these musicals– I had such a blast with Godspell last summer.
Throughout all this I’ve been plugging away at recital choreography. I only have ten dances this year (only ten!) and so far four of them are finished. Hopefully I’ll knock out another two next week. I love the feeling of satisfaction that comes from completing a dance. 🙂
That’s my dance update for now. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat a nice dinner and hit the hay early– I’ve got a long day of dance tomorrow.

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Oklahoma! opens tonight. I’m really excited.

The rehearsal Tuesday night was great. My main job was to keep an eye on the dance numbers and make sure everything was as should be. All the choreography was spot-on (I only had a few minor notes), and the live music makes it extra delightful!

I did notice that in two of the numbers, the music for the “dance breaks” was different than the music we had rehearsed to. The choreography still fits– and still works well!– just not quite as perfectly as before. But I expected there to be some musical differences– that happens when you switch from working with a recording to working with a live band. The dance numbers looked clean, and the actors danced with gusto!

Mostly, I got to sit back and enjoy the show. And there’s a lot to enjoy! The actors do a really spectacular job of bringing their characters to life. Laurey is delightfully snarky in some moments and heartbreaking in others. Jud is alternatingly uncomfortably creepy and downright terrifying. Ado Annie and Will are very funny, but the Peddler is hysterical ( the “Persian Goodbye” bit had me in tears from laughing!).

After rehearsal I would tell the cast that aside from the numbers I choreographed, I was seeing the show for the first time…and that as an “audience member”, I greatly enjoyed their performance. 🙂 Everyone left rehearsal in high spirits.

Now Craig and I are getting ready to leave for the opening performance. I’m really excited. Away we go!

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I’m here at the second-to-last ‘Oklahoma!’ rehearsal.

I haven’t been in to rehearsal in almost two weeks. After all the choreography was complete, I took two rehearsals to clean everything up…and to acclamate a new cast member  (we ended up having to replace a cast member in the last few weeks). The young man who jumped in to a fill a (minor-ish) role does a great job and learns quickly, and by the end of the second rehearsal he was dancing both “big” numbers with gusto.

Last week I was going to come in to watch a run-thru, but that day they needed to do a cue-to-cue instead. Today will be my first time seeing the whole show, complete with costumes, full set and band (the musicians are practicing right now, and they sound AWESOME).
Game plan for today is to clean up a few scenes (and numbers) and then do a full run.

We’re starting in 10 minutes, so I better boogie. Later!

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Wow, I haven’t really updated since my Pennsylvania trip.

The wedding was beautiful! They had  a lovely but light-hearted ceremony, and M looked magnificent! The reception was a lot of fun. Mama Butterfly was my “date.” It was a great day!


While I was up there, I stopped by my old dance studio to take class. It’s changed ownership since then, and has a new name and a remodeled waiting room, but the studio is still the same. The oldest girls at the studio were mostly first/second graders when I taught there…and they remember me! I had a great time taking class with them and catching up with G, my old teacher/fellow dancer and now-owner of the studio.

Another day I drove up to the Pocono mountains to drink in the mountain air and fall foliage and visit some of my old stomping grounds.


When I got home it was back to teaching, competition practices, and musical rehearsals. I set “All Er Nuthin” the week I got back, and last week I got to work on staging some of the less-dancy numbers. Today I will tackle the final two “dance lite” numbers, “Many a New Day” and “It’s a Scandal! It’s an Outrage!” (I’m excited about “It’s a Scandal!”) Today will be an exciting day at rehearsal because a newspaper is coming to take pictures and do an interview. We open in less than a month.

…and one week after ‘Oklahoma!’ closes is the audition for the dance studio’s production of ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ The audition will be in three parts– ballet, then jazz, then tap– and I will be choreographing the ballet portion of the audition. It will need to be a 90-second (ish) variation for the White Rabbit; with a simpler version for the younger dancers and a more advanced version for the older. I haven’t gotten started on it yet (only found out yesterday),but it should be fun!


And that’s why it’s been quiet over here lately. I’ll try and add pictures to this post once my phone starts cooperating.



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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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We’re halfway through the last week of classes and my first week of Godspell JR rehearsals. I’m a special kind of tired right now, but it’s all good (plus La Bayadere was playing on the radio when I drove home from work; and that would make any day awesome).
Rehearsals are going great so far! I rehearse with the kids for two hours in the morning. When we made the rehearsal schedule, I allowed my first the first two rehearsals to teach the first dance number (“O, Bless the Lord, My Soul”); figuring we would start another number around the end of the week. Instead, I ended up setting the entire number in my first hour and a half on Monday. I was really impressed with the young actors and how fast they learned! Many of the kids aren’t trained in dance, but were able to pick up the movement very well.
On Tuesday we reviewed the number and I tweaked the choreography in a few places; then I started to teach them another big dance number (“Light of the World”). We finished it today. I will not rehearse with them tomorrow, and on Friday we’ll review and clean the first two numbers. 🙂

Classes are wrapping up, and the students are ready for the recital. We teachers are already preparing for next season (which starts in August) and starting to plan next season’s competition pieces. The studio will be doing Alice in Wonderland for their production next year, which I am very excited about (my old studio did Alice years ago, and I had a blast with it).

I have two days of classes left to teach, and when I get home from my last day of classes my mother will be waiting for me. I can’t wait!

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I haven’t written about dance all year. What’s been happening?


Dance started on the second day of the year. I took on an extra day of teaching this semester– one of the master teachers moved away, so I took on his two advanced classes and his Level One ballet class (now I teach all of the Level One ballet classes).

Since our recital isn’t until the end of June, we don’t begin recital choreography until late February. I was thrilled to have almost eight more weeks to spend working on technique before starting spring choreography, and to have more time to finalize my music choices and get some ideas percolating. I won’t lie, I really didn’t feel ready to start choreography first thing after the holiday– not that I couldn’t have made it happen, but I liked having more time to work out music and choreography ideas. Once I got a look at what costumes my students would be wearing (the studio owner selects recital costumes), I switched some of my music and concepts to suit the costumes. You’ve got to be flexible, in more ways than one!


The theme for our recital is the 1990s, which is totally exciting for me because I’m a 90’s kid through & through. 🙂 Most of my primary classes are dancing to music from kid’s movies that came out during the nineties. My little Level One Jazz class is dancing to the Spice Girls, and I am probably more excited about that than I should be. At our studio, the ballet teachers are fortunate to be allowed to go outside the theme and use regular classical music for the ballet dances. I did that for a few classes– one of my Ballet Ones have a costume that remind me of a doll dress; so they’re doing “Waltz of the Doll” from Coppelia (and are very excited about getting to be dolls). Another class is dancing to Strauss’ ‘Annen Polka,’ which they really seem to enjoy (probably because it has a lot of jumping, and that class likes to jump!).

All told, I’m choreographing fourteen dances this spring– thirteen for the recital and one for a private lesson student to do in a talent show. It seems like a lot (who am I kidding, it is a lot!), but when I first started I really wanted to choreograph, and now I get to do plenty of that. Can’t complain!


My original intent for this season was to blog about my dance teaching experiences, and maybe make this blog more of a “dance” blog (like my old one)…but the reality is, I just can’t find the time! For some reason after teaching/choreographing/being keeper at home/taking part in some small artistic pursuits; once I sit down at my computer all I want to do is zone out and read what other people are writing. I have no idea how these women who have nine children and a homestead find time to write a lengthy blog post every couple of days.

(Being out of practice is a surely big part of it– it’s been almost three years since I regularly sat down to blog. As Twyla Tharp would say, I’m out of the creative habit. Shame on me for letting that happen!)

I’m on spring break for another three days, I hope to get some more posts written before I go back to the studio on Tuesday. I have things to tell you about, internet!

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