I just realized how silly I am…

Over the past few months I have cut back on my television watching habits.  I’ve picked up more books and magazines and even my knitting with my new free time.

I really only try to keep up to date on a few shows like The Big Bang Theory, AFV, Castle, Walking Dead, and  Ancient Aliens. And when their seasons return: So You Think You Can Dance, Breaking In, and Destination Truth.  Oh, and SMASH!! But that’s new, so I kinda forgot to mention that.  Everything else, if I catch it, cool, if not, oh well.  I felt that TV was wasting too much of my time.

But it just hit me while commenting on a friends Facebook post regarding the television show, Supernatural.  My idea of TV is a little silly.

My realization was this: While I think that a lot of shows aren’t my cup of tea, it could be an opportunity to not only watch and but to analyze the acting, the writing, the casting, the costume design and the direction of any show.  Whether or not it’s good, could be irrelevant.  I could figure out why it is or isn’t my cup of tea.  (Usually, it’s only tiny moments that I happen to catch while walking in and out of the room.)  As someone who would love to pay my rent and my bills with the paychecks I would earn from gigs, why would I not utilize the free time I have while watching TV for something a little more productive rather than just a passive voyeur of what’s on the screen?

This then brings me to other contradictory quirks I have.

Let’s take pictures.

As someone who loves to be on stage and in doing so, have people watch, why can’t I get past my aversion to having my picture taken? There are special times when I power through my issue, such as for the Fatty Affair event.  I think it’s because feel like moments are meant to be fleeting.  And the moments that people do want to capture are what have passed and so they try to recreate them and thus making it less true.  I don’t mind the candid shots.  Of course, I always have the most horrid looks on my face when these happen.

Speaking of horrid.

I enjoy going to the theatre and going to the movies as well as watching movies at home.  The thing that these activities share is that the lights get turned down so the focus goes to the stage or screen.  The original storytellers were cavemen.  They told recreated the events of the day’s hunt and relayed it to the clan crowded around the fire.  There’s something in our ancient self that still enjoys the shared experience of listening to a story together.   I love it.  When it comes to scary movies, they are totally my faves!  Hands down, no doubt.  When the lights come back up, I can logically sort out in my melon all the things about the film or show that make it impossible to be true.  But at night when it comes time to go to bed and be alone with my thoughts, my imagination, the thing that helps to transport me to different places and times on stage, begins it’s process of putting me in a new place with influences of what was recently watched.  Because I refuse to try and control my imagination, I do believe that there are things that go bump in the night.

There are times when I feel like my imagination is my biggest asset.  It helps me to create or recreate worlds and people.  Conversely, it sometimes feels like my imagination is my biggest fault.  Sometimes, I feel like I can’t leave those worlds, or when ideas arise, they are overwhelming when I know that they can be pared down and streamlined.

There’s a quote that comes to mind.  It’s from Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed” that says, “Everything is true.  God’s an astronaut.  Oz is over the rainbow.  And Midian is where the monsters live.”

Have you ever noticed contradictory things about yourself?   Please feel free to share your contradictions or not.


I Feel Like Dancing!

Do you hear that music?

With the latest season of So You Think You Can Dance underway, I find that sensation and urge of wanting to get back into a dance class.  I miss the structure of working on a step with someone with experience to tell you “Dude, you are totally screwing that up.”  Of course, the teacher doesn’t say that, but I happily accept their help as a response to that message, whether verbally communicated or not.

On the way to the kitchen one day, as I was listening to music, I got the bright idea to bust out a double pirouette.  It was on my good side, so I landed it, yeah, it was a wee bit wobbly, but I got a little jazzed and tried to do the other side just to even things out.  HA!!

I got one rotation and soon I was hugging my coat rack and trying to keep from smacking my face against the wall.

Have you ever watched America’s Funniest Videos and seen a clip where someone for no reason whatsoever falls?  Like they have NO sense of balance.  I have that as a…hmmm, not really a fear….and it’s not a pet peeve, so I don’t know what to call it.  I just know that I don’t want to be that sad sack that loses their balance just because I get looked at the wrong way.

Dancing has been a love of mine that I sadly admit that I don’t do nearly enough.  There’s something about the beat of music that makes my soul jump and groove and glow with a happiness that I can’t get anywhere else.  Some say that Latin people have a rhythm in their souls.  In 2005, Tina Ramirez, founder of Ballet Hispanico, was quoted in the Washington Post saying that “In Hispanic culture, you are born dancing.”

One of the many books that I am currently juggling is about the women of New Mexico which features stories that were written during the Roosevelt Era.  Many of the stories talk about all the celebrations and dancing from the time the sun goes down and carries on throughout the night.

With that in mind, I am researching which school would be best for me.  I know Lee Ann Payne’s Musical Theatre Class at Zohar is a ton of fun, but I didn’t see it on the summer session schedule. I really want to take a hip hop class.  I love the style of the dance, but I am the least likely candidate for the culture.  I’ve also always wanted to try my hand at contemporary.  I just don’t knowwwwww!!  So many choices!  I wish someone just had a flat rate for unlimited classes so I could give them all a test drive and see which one fit me the best.  We’ll just have to wait and see exactly how that plays out.  I’ll keep ya posted.

Do you take dance classes somewhere?  What school are you attending?  What’s your focus?



Photo from CapeTownDailyPhoto.com

Has anyone ever told you to trust yourself? Or how about: Get out of your own way?  I get that often.  Actually much, much more than I really care to hear.  While hunting for an old headshot of mine last night, I came across all of my old paper work from past theatre classes and I kept a lot of it. On nearly every critique from my teachers or more advance students, that dreaded word was in each of them: Confidence.  Character believability, vocal choices, physical choices and interpretation were all very well received, but that little word has kept me from reaching the fullest of my potential.  And, to be frank, I don’t know how to get over that.

The reasons that I have thought of have been fear of success or fear of failure.  Of course that’s always a big issue for nearly everyone.  There is also lack of a seriously studious work ethic because I have to try and balance a “normal” job somehow/somewhere in there.

But I think with the advent of shows like “American Idol,”  I may have actually found the real reason.

I am amazed at the ego that some of the “hopefuls”, and I use that term very loosely, have when they come in to audition for things like SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance) or AI. I worry if maybe I have been coddled as clearly most of these people have been.  You can tell that they are being told by people how good they are, when it obviously isn’t true.  Most likely, it’s their parents, or friends or even well meaning teachers that are just trying to build up their confidence.  Could I possibly be having that same thing done to me?  I don’t know.  I can tell you for a fact it isn’t my family.  They always had quite the opposite reaction. But I won’t get into that.  Friends are supposed to support you, but do they always tell you the truth?  The really good ones do.  Even if you don’t want to hear it.  For the sake of breaking this down fully, let’s look at some other possibilities.

Or I can liken this to crazy people.  Please forgive my use of such a politically incorrect term.  The thought that I have is that crazy people don’t go around asking if they are crazy do they?  It doesn’t occur to them that they are standing just outside of the “norm.”   So logically, one would believe that simply by asking yourself that tiny question, you shouldn’t be crazy since you are taking the time to think about the issue.  If I were just to believe that I could do everything well, would that I mean I have the talent to do it?  If I stopped and thought about it, it wouldn’t make any sense.  This would then make it fall into the realm of ego right?  But what if I had examples of it working out in some aspects and not others?  No longer is it ego, but more like the crazy man trying to figure out if he is indeed crazy.  So, couldn’t that same theory hold true for my situation as well?  Possibly.  Let’s look at another thought.

There is also what could be the attention factor.  By saying that I don’t believe in what people are saying about my performances or ideas, some people usually try to explain why they are well done or good, thus breaking down the work and adding more compliments to it and more time praising which equals more attention.  And while yes, I have a lot to say (some which isn’t appropriate for this blog site) and a outgoing demeanor the occasional ego stroking could be most welcome.  However, I can assure you this one isn’t the case.  Well maybe by 5% it could be.  Subconsciously, speaking of course.

Another reason could be trust.  Now I know that this could be a real stretch, but hear me out.  I know not everyone likes the same genre of music or style of singing so therefore, many people don’t agree on what sounds good. There are the singers that sing out of their nose.  There are the singers that sing like they are trying to hold everything in the back of their throats. Then there are singers who have a whole other voice sound or quality that they use to sing.  That one I can’t even explain but I’ll try.  Now I am not going to name any names, but let’s say I know someone who talks like Kermit the Frog, but when he sings, he sings like Miss Piggy.  For the sake of argument, I did exaggerate this.  But the sound and quality of his voice changes in a way that, to me, makes the whole performance feel fake and just bad.  So when I see things like this happen on stage especially when there are other people that I know who could have fit into the role better, then I feel I have a legit reason to distrust people.  And sometimes that distrust of people plays with my head. For example, about a month ago, I went in to audition for the role of Bob in “White Christmas” and the Vocal and Orchestra Leader was Rachel Michelberg, who I worked with on “Sweet Charity” at the beginning of the year.  She had never heard me sing, and after the auditions, she said how well she thought I did.  Do you know what I told her?  My dumb ass said, ” Really?  Blech.”  Then she took me to task! Whew!  Her mouth fell open for a second in disbelief and she said, “I am a professional music teacher! I teach people how to sing so I know what I am talking about.  When I say that you sing well, you say ‘Thank you!'” So really really embarrassed I said sorry and thank you and quickly left.  I do have to say thank you, Rachel for that needed slap in the face.  The thing about that exchange was that it was just like a reflex to disregard the kind words of someone else.  I find it confusing, because I can take a compliment if it were about shoes or clothes or even a blog post, but when it comes to “talent” or appearance, I just can’t do it.

So in the end, I guess what it comes down to is even if you don’t believe in yourself, ACT like you do; but seriously dig deep and find out why.  The roles or opportunities that you have missed out on before could be yours if you have confidence.  Here are some ways that will give you a boost.  Be prepared.  Study your material so you know as much as you can about it.  Know what your guidelines are and be sure you respect them.  Dress in something that makes you feel good about yourself, not necessarily something that makes you look good.  When I wear a suit I feel super constricted and uber-self conscious so you’ll hardly ever see that.  Be sure that it’s not something trashy though.  Don’t wanna walk into an audition in a pair of cut off shorts if it isn’t called for, right?

I think that maybe my lack of confidence comes from a little of everything, I don’t know for sure.  But I figure if I point it out to myself, I will finally start working on it.  Thanks for lending me an eyeball!

Do you have confidence?  What are some things that you have found that work for you?  Do any of these ideas about where the lack of confidence stems from resonate with you?  Which one?  Let me know, maybe we can help each other out of this.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Step Up 3, no D

I was crazy excited for this movie to finally make it to the big screen, especially since I had mentioned that the Europeans had already had theirs out for months.  Well, that and the fact that Adam Shankman was hyping it up on So You Think You Can Dance.  So I went to the AMC Mercado and had two minutes to spare before previews began.

Here’s the plot: Dance crew (House of Pirates)  needs money to save their home, and the only way to do it is to win a battle where the prize money is 100 grand.  That’s all.  There’s a few minor things that happen throughout but really the whole story is bleh.

The movie opens documentary style with dancers being asked why they dance.  This opening sequence was fantastic and featured some SYTYCD greats, like Twitch and Legacy. I found those first four minutes of the film to be the most satisfying “acting” bits in the entire movie.  But then again, when I think of the past ones, of course the acting isn’t great in those either, so at least you won’t be disappointed there.  The emotional arc is less of a hill but more like a speed bump that no one would really slow down for.  The acting throughout, while decent (use the term loosely)  put a complete halt on the energy of the movie.   So let’s get down to the dancing.  I don’t want to give you all the details because I hate it when people do that to me for a movie that I want to see.

What I was hoping for was brief dialogue in between these epic dance numbers.  What I got was a lot of typical story with a few dances thrown in to break up the acting.  The first dance segment, which takes place on the NYU campus, is between one dancer (Kid Darkness played by Daniel ‘Cloud’ Campos) who represents the “House of Samurai” and the other is a freshman at the college.   The Samurai dancer was actually one of Madonna’s tour dancers and the co-star in one of Shakira’s videos where she’s flipping and dancing around on a bed. But back to the movie. The student (Adam G. Sevani), nicknamed Moose, tries to follow a pair of rare Nike high tops (yeah, that’s exactly what happened.  Lame.) when he gets caught up in the middle of this battle.  I was put off right away, because the cameras were trying to get so close to the action that they cut the “picture” of the dancer.  What I mean by this is that instead of seeing the entire body of the dancer, you see the torso and head.  I want to know what he was doing with his feet, too, to get the whole picture.  This happens only when it’s one dancer being focused on and it really bothered me.  This particular scene was most bothersome because the “Samurai” was literally twisting 3 or 4 times in the air, but you only saw mostly torso, so the full effect wasn’t as incredible as it could have been.  There were one or two tricks done that I’d never seen before, but in that whole 3 minute sequence I wanted to be blown away.  I appreciate the effort to try and get the viewer as close as possible, but I wanted to see everything so it just frustrated me.

There’s a club scene that had so much potential.  The leader of the Pirates, Luke (Rick Malambri) has a crush on this mystery girl, Natalie, (Sharni Vinson) who shows up at his club, but always runs away after a minute or two of playing cat and mouse.  Luke also wants to be a filmmaker and tries to film her dancing which is only the same body rolling and hair flicking that you get from the Brittany wannabe dancers.  Unimpressive.  Meanwhile, because Moose defeated the “Samurai” dancer at the school, some of the Samurai crew lead by Joshua from SYTYCD tried to battle him in the bathroom at the club.  This last for 30 seconds before the “House of Pirates” come to Moose’s aid and a brawl erupts.

This competition (World Jam) that the Pirates enter into requires them to get past 2 rounds of other crews to make it to the finals.  Isn’t that the same as You Got Served?  Maybe it’s just my bad memory.  I’ll have to watch that again. Anyway…where was I?  Oh, yes…So with only three major battles implied, I felt let down.  Although just before the last battle, after some drama, Moose and his BFF, Camile (played very, very well by Alyson Stoner) have this little number that travels down the block to a fun little jazzy tune that is very Musical Theatre in style and is a lot of fun to watch.  I was actually smiling at this number for being adorable and not overly cheesy.

As far as the battles themselves go, the dancing is great!  My gripe is that if you are part of a crew dancing together to present an image and an impact, for crying out loud, you have to be in sync.  I know there’s the whole idea of dancer individuality which is cool and wonderful when you are dancing as such, but when you are choreographed in unison…  Just sayin’.  I think there were only two times that I said “Cool” or was impressed by the execution of movement, and only once when I saw a brand new trick.  There wasn’t really anything new being brought to the table by way of choreography.  I was really hoping for something that I could flip my lid over, but the movie never truly seems to go for it.  Almost as if they had to hold back because of the fact that this was being filmed in 3D.

Oh, I just remembered something else that struck me as weird with regard to the filming.  Whenever they show the main members of the Pirate crew, they never show Legacy.  Yet, in the battles you see him all the time.  He is even in the documentary film that Luke was working on.

Speaking of the 3D: I don’t think this movie warrants moviegoers to have to spend the additional 8 bucks to enjoy this flick.  There was only really one scene that the 3D was well executed with.  At the midway point of the movie, Luke and Natalie have a type of Marilyn Monroe moment on top of a very large fan/vent and play with their ICEEs/Slurpies.  With this massive fan blowing everything up in the air, they drip strawfuls of the flavored ice into the air and the overhead camera is in the direct path of that slushy goodness.  That was the only thing in the movie that made me feel like there was possibly something that was heading toward my face.  Skip the 3D.  You’re welcome.

So there you have it folks, a decent dance film that isn’t really breaking new ground for the world of dance but capitalizing on technology to try and bring you something different.  The music is fantastic and during the dances it fits every step and movement.  So for you dance lovers, see the movie, but spend that 8 bucks on the snacks.