Friday, April 24, 2020

Dance Therapy

We all have different ways of coping with difficult times. Some people can't stand learning off of a computer screen and deal with their feelings in other totally valid ways. I wake up every day lately feeling deep sadness. I can't help but check the news. I can't help but feel heartbroken when the suffering hits closer and closer to home. I don't feel like moving when I wake up and lately I find myself in bed until almost 11am. Regardless, I make myself get up, put on a little bit of a face, and move. 

I am thankful that my dance studio is giving barre, the Rockettes are teaching their style, NFL teams are posting prep classes, La Duca is offering multiple classes per week, and my fav NY teacher is giving class. I was supposed to be in NYC right now and would be running around trying to make it to a bunch of classes anyway. The opportunity to work on my technique, mind, and body in my own apartment is too good to pass up. 

For someone who has worked in a non-dance position for a year, these classes are giving me a chance to return to my self. I feel like me again. I miss feeling like part of the industry. Seeing friends in Zoom classes and reuniting through movement has made me feel more connected. Since I'm not always in New York anymore, I often take dance and fitness classes online. Right now, it is even more of a privilege to be able to take live class from my favorite teachers. The only thing that has truly improved my mood when I'm down throughout my life has been to dance on my own or take class. 

The Metropolitan Opera has been streaming shows on their website. Watch here. They just put up "Merry Widow", which is the show I did there and also at Lyric Opera of Chicago. It was the highlight of my career so far. While watching, I realized how much my heart breaks for theatre. Dancing, singing and viewing performances bring so much joy and also serve as an escape from reality. The arts are so important right now. The theatre community is so strong. What better way to at least temporarily be transported to another world than through theatre or dance? We will get through this together. 

Special thank you to essential workers for keeping us safe during this crazy time and always. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Keep Dancing

Where would I be without the arts? Where would any of us be? With so much going on in the world and after being laid off, I have been dancing the days away. I am kind of in denial about the whole thing. Dancing and music have given me so much joy and stress relief in the past 11 days I've been without a schedule. My favorite bands have put on concerts from their homes, countless artists have been giving class, and there are so many great shows to binge at the moment. I've had the opportunity to reconnect with the dance community and learn from teachers around the world. Right now it feels like nothing will ever be the same. I worry about having a job in any of the fields that I've trained so hard in. I know that I'm not alone in this. 

Personal favorites at the moment: 
Naples Academy of Ballet 
La Duca Shoes
Yoga Labs
Pop Tap 
The Fitness Marshall
Tiler Peck

Short term quarantine goals: 

  • Read a book
  • Organize and deep clean my apartment
  • Be active every day (do at least one class or video)
  • To make it through the rest of my lease and still have some $ in my account
  • Connect with friends and fam (Facetime)

Lastly, please stay home. Several friends have come down with the virus. It doesn't discriminate. It is all happening so quickly too. Within the last 2 weeks, my boyfriend arrived home to visit thinking he was leaving for The Keys for spring break. Within days, things were shutting down there and his law school decided to go online. I lost my job and every restaurant and public beach shut down days after that. Life can change in an instant. I know there are people with greater problems than that though. My prayers go out to anyone in an essential job right now and anyone feeling alone. My hope is that we learn to appreciate Earth and each other. Joy and meaning can come from the most basic things. Stay strong, friends. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Back To Me.

I just turned a certain age and have really been reflecting on what I've learned in my life:

  • Don’t ever give up your dream if you can afford to stick it out. Your dreams may evolve a bit, but if there is something in your heart that makes you come alive, fight for it even when things are hard. Everyone says that, but I’ve experienced it. I always feel on top of the world doing what I know I was meant to and like something is missing when I am not. 
  • Everything really does happen the way it’s supposed to and for a reason. There are so many things that I have questioned in the beginning and come to find that they were perfectly meant to be. If I hadn’t moved back to Naples and taken a non-performing job, I never would have met the love of my life; if I hadn’t chosen to pass up a certain opportunity, I never would have danced at The Met; if I hadn’t worked on ships, I wouldn’t ever have seen amazing places like Antarctica, etc. I've been hesitant about things in the beginning and they ended up changing my life for the better. Trust your gut and know you’ll always end up where you belong.
  • Age is just a number. On my first contract out of college, our cast ranged in age from 22-50. We were doing the same shows, living the same lifestyle and never really thought much of the age gap because it didn’t matter. It’s a state of mind. My dancing improved way beyond college and will hopefully continue to. You learn more with each contract and carry that experience into the next. 
  • You can start over. I’ve met plenty of performers who started later or returned to it after having families or taking a break or doing a different job entirely. If you want to leave the industry, that is possible too. I feel that skills learned performing and traveling are invaluable and translate to other jobs as well. You can always do something else. Just be sure you’re doing what is best for you. You only get one chance at this life.
  • Work to live don’t live to work. Seriously.
  • If something doesn't feel right or if you know you're worth more, trust yourself and don't do it. 
  • Be nice to everyone. You really don't know what people are going through. It doesn't matter what your job is, where you're from or how much money you have.   
  • Take care of yourself. I didn’t know what this meant until I was in the ER on my 19th birthday with mono and horrible tendinitis in my hip. That was a low point, but I stopped staying out late and waking up early to make it to a 6 hour dance day and started taking care of my instrument.

The truth is... I miss performing. I miss waking up in a different place every day. I miss being in the industry. I miss class. I miss being around people with the same passion. I don't think anything can bring that level of excitement. I can very much still dance. I feel like I'm living a double life. Once a dancer always a dancer.

On that note, I really need to get back to myself and what makes me happy. I honestly haven't had a good dance session in months. I need to start doing things that make me happy, because right now I'm not making the most of life and it is too damn short for that. I really don't have a schedule that allows me to have time for it. So for now I guess it will be a yoga membership and training myself until I can do more. 

One thing I was able to make time for was a photoshoot. I recently shot with Luminaire Foto in Naples. He made me feel so comfortable and confident that I was doing crazy dance poses on the floor by the end of the shoot. Can't wait to see all of the images. He truly has a gift of bringing you out of your comfort zone and working with you to find your best angles and looks.

Friday, March 8, 2019

New Adventure

Who am I if not a dancer? If not this one thing I've always been. I have to remind myself of the struggle. Of living out of a suitcase and never not worrying about what's next or if I'm enough or why I'm not booking things that I know I could be great at if given the chance. There was never rest or calm. I always placed my dreams above everything. Relationships, holidays, etc. I accomplished most of what I set out to and have no regrets since the right people and things that were meant for me stayed or found their way into my life. Now, in this period of transitioning away from everything I've always known or been, I'm having a hard time with this intense fear of missing out. I see auditions being posted and think I want to do that again. However, all the times I've acted on this feeling have caused me to turn my life upside down. They have created stress to the point of affecting my health or relationships. They put me back in the same place and although great on the resume, if I did it again, it would be detrimental to my soul and happiness and growth as a human. 

Dancing still makes me feel free and most myself though. Or maybe most not myself since the feeling is so surreal regardless of whether its onstage or in class. I was not the favorite growing up and I didn't have the best technique, but I wanted it so damn bad. I worked extremely hard all the time and improved so much so that I could compete with the NYC crowd. I feel on top of the world when I move. But at some point, you start to base your self worth on it. Will people still be interested if I'm not continuing to do what I've done? I would take class in NYC or nail an audition and walk out thinking I could conquer anything. Then I would have a bad day or get cut and feel worthless. I'm learning that what you do or have done is not all that you are. There are so many things I love about myself and about my friends that have nothing to do with dance ability or resumes. It's easy to forget that sometimes. 

I started realizing that maybe I should change my direction when I began to do things because I could instead of doing them because I truly wanted to. Just because you know you can do something and feel like you want to prove that you can, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. I'm on my way to finding more balance and meaning outside of everything I've always known. No one said that once you stop getting paid to dance that you aren't a dancer. Dance will forever be a part of me, but in a different way now. At this point in time, I've reached my limit with moving back and forth between the city and my parents' home. Although I was fortunate to have places to go, I never felt comfortable or settled anywhere. At the same time, when things did seem to get comfortable, I would be looking for the next thing to give me the high that travel and new opportunity brings. Not the healthiest. 

I believe in always evolving and creating new goals and standards for yourself. That being said, I've decided to pursue a more consistent position with a company that I've always been interested in. Technically, it can be considered a performing career. I think the fact that dance gave me discipline and taught me to always strive for more will benefit me in my new adventure. I'm so excited to interact with people and help make their experiences better. Everyone seems so nice and the location is really beautiful so I look forward to training. I studied communication in school and I love to hear people's stories and make connections. I can't wait to learn and make more friends and have my own place for once. 

I look forward to supporting my friends who come to town with tours and continuing to take class and maybe performing when time allows. I'm going to use all of the invaluable skills that I have developed through dancing to excel at whatever life brings. If you're still in it and dealing with the insanity of audition season, keep going if it's what your heart truly wants. I don't know of many feelings greater than that of doing what you love or achieving your wildest dreams.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Williams(barre)g Workout

I have taken barre classes for years as a way of cross training for dance. Eventually, I decided to train to teach barre a few years ago in NYC. Barre in the city ended up not being for me, but we used to practice for hours at a time and do exercises so many times that the burn you're supposed to feel would just disappear and I became so numb to it haha. Well...if you stop for even a week, it becomes hard again. While visiting The Burg for a few weeks, I decided to get an intro package at a studio I hadn't been to yet (idk why! I've only been dancing in the area for years...), Pure Barre Williamsburg. For an entire month, I challenged myself to take as many classes as possible. My goal was 15. 

The community at Pure Barre Williamsburg, VA is so strong. I've never been to a friendlier location. Everyone is so welcoming and wants you to do well and have fun from the teachers to the clients. It is a dedicated group! You see the same faces every day and it's awesome to work together toward a common goal. I made a new friend at my second class and that gave me the motivation to go back almost daily. There was one day that we both didn't want to go, but had told each other we would and hadn't exchanged numbers at that point. We both stuck with our commitment and were so glad after. It's nice to have someone to hold you accountable. I've been to some studios where no one wants to talk to you or get to know your name and that was not the experience I had here. Love it!

My personal fitness goal is to get more of a booty. I definitely think barre is great for your shape. Everything is so much more toned and lifted. I'm going to have to start lifting legit weights eventually if I want an actual butt, but this was a great start. It teaches you to push beyond what you think your limits are, but it doesn't give you fear that you will hurt yourself. It's all about proper alignment and modifying to make sure you're doing what is best for you. They are good about giving both physical and verbal corrections. I seriously enjoyed the classes of every teacher I went to at this studio and ended up beating my goal with 19 classes.