Thursday, November 18, 2021

You Can Can Live Your Dreams.

My latest gig was at a Moulin Rouge themed party. We had rehearsal the day of since we performed a can can number. I'm glad we did since we did those over the leg cartwheels with a partner. That is probably my favorite move, but I'm a lefty so I had to learn right. All went well! The decor was so cute from the windmill to an ice Eiffel Tower and life size martini glass with a performer inside! Jump splits and high kicks always seem to find their way back into my life. Thank you Pzazz Productions. 

After our performance, we helped get the party going. I learned some fancy ballroom moves with a guest. I've been wanting to take ballroom forever. I signed up for ballroom club in college, but was too nervous to dance with strangers (I had never partnered before I booked my first professional job) and only went to one meet up. Hopefully Max will take lessons with me soon. I choreographed a little Waltz for our first dance so I'm assuming he will go along with it ; )


Monday, November 8, 2021

Married in My La Duca's

Surprise, surprise…I got married wearing La Duca Shoes. La Duca’s have danced with me for 15 years through summer intensives, at too many auditions to count, around the world on a ship, during my dream job with Susan Stroman, and at so many other life changing jobs, events, and classes. But most importantly, on my wedding day. Thank you Max for my gorgeous custom wedding shoes. Although they are no longer perfectly white and glittery post-wedding, I have the best memories of marrying you in a garden and dancing (… and jump splitting) the night away. 

Photography: Love Letters FL

I choreographed our first dance.

Dancing in Wine Country: A Grape Time ; )

Maybe I'm crazy, but when I was presented with the opportunity to travel and perform 4 days after a friend's wedding up north, and the weekend before my own, I jumped at the chance. In 2006, I went to my first Rockette Summer Intensive. Eileen Grace ran the program in those days. Fast forward to now and she happened to be the choreographer for my first performance gig since 2020. Pzazz Productions flew us out to Napa to perform at the most unique winery in an actual cave! I had never been to that part of California and I actually preferred it to Southern Cali. We drove in 2 groups from San Fran to Napa, stopping for the first of many sandwiches (lol) in a little town along the way. I can't put into words how special it felt to be back in rehearsal again. We rehearsed for a few hours the day we flew in. It was a privilege to kick and dance alongside some gorgeous new friends, including several Rockettes. 

The following day, we had rehearsal in the space with time to explore and take beautiful pictures. There is a waterfall in the middle of the cave that was always there and they just built around it! So neat. We did a run through in the most glam costumes created by Suzette Picazo. For two nights, we performed dances and kicklines at the event.  Having an audience after a year plus of not knowing when or if the industry would make a comeback, was A DREAM. They were so into it and appreciative. Our industry is coming back, don't give up! We even got to try some of the winery's amazing wine at the end of the night. 

It was interesting to see Napa right now. The fire meter is extreme and everything is very dry. There is also no cell service in many parts. I could tell what a beautiful place it is regardless and I can't wait to return someday. I definitely want to go on the Napa Wine Train next time. We had time one morning to explore downtown Napa and I used my concierge skills to find a cute brunch spot (Napa General Store). 

The morning of our flights, we drove from Napa to San Fran to check out Fisherman's Wharf. We drove across the Golden Gate and experienced the hilly streets made famous to me in Princess Diaries. I grew up playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater so everything looked familiar to me from the adorable sea lions to Alcatraz in the distance. I bought some souvenirs and we grabbed amazing crepes before heading to the airport. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Your 4 Year Old Self Was On To Something

Don’t give up on your dreams if you know in your heart it’s what you’re meant to do. I know life is so much harder now and we all have to do the best with what is left after Covid. However, your 4 year old self was on to something. You did what you loved without fear and self doubt. Let's strive for that when we are back in the studio and onstage. 

I didn’t have natural turn out or technique when I got serious about dance in high school. I didn’t get into the dance program at my first choice college. I was cut pretty fast and it was heartbreaking. I choreographed and rehearsed my solo for months and was never given an opportunity to perform it. They slapped a list on the door with the names of who would stay after barre and mine was not on it. But I loved to dance. I loved performing and thankfully grew up dancing at a studio that very much valued performance quality. I sucked up my pride and went somewhere else to major in dance for 2 years. I worked very hard to transform my technique and perform as much as possible with the school's dance company. After an injury, mono (woof), and a rough winter, I just wanted to get to New York City and have a fresh start. I felt like I was wasting time. I transferred to the college that shunned me for dance before. I went for communications after 2 years of being a dance major and LOVED it. I planned my school classes around my Steps and BDC schedules. I trained with Rockettes (shout out to Rhonda Malkin and Melissa Thomas) and continued to participate in summer intensives.

I was pretty shy growing up unless I was onstage. I came in late to already established dance teams and always felt like I should have done more earlier. I didn't do competition team until high school and I didn't do marching band kickline until my senior year. I didn’t have natural technique and turnout, but I had passion. I worked really hard and took classes in all styles. When it came time to go to college, I found a program that had some jazz and tap. However, I had a horrible experience with a modern teacher. It seemed like if you didn't do ballet or modern, you weren't a dancer to him. He actually announced to a room of my peers that “Rachael is stripping now,” when I got my first professional paying job as an AFL dancer. I was working as a dancer while still in school and was excitedly sharing the news. I was proud of myself. Silly me to assume that every dance educator would be supportive of their students. 

I love ballet and modern. They are beautiful and so helpful with technique, but they weren't what I wanted to do professionally. I have zero respect for people who belittle the accomplishments of others no matter which famous company they used to dance with. I wish I had the strength and confidence that I have now back then. His harassment would not have gone over well these days. I'm afraid there will always be people like this though. Years later, a friend of an ex found out I was moving back to New York and told me that the chances of me achieving my dream were pretty low. He had never gone after his dream, but what gave him the right to put limits on mine? There is no greater feeling than finding success in spite of these people. Keep going. Their opinions don’t matter. 
I think we all know by now that I have wanted to be a Rockette since I saw them for the first time at 12 years old. I made it through the Rockette audition 6 times and was invited to a private audition, but never ever got the call. The training and work I put in lead me to booking other dream jobs though. One "no", no matter how big and heartbreaking it may feel, does not mean you won't get to perform on famous stages or travel the world doing what you love. I may even go back and try again. Ha! I'm relentless. 

When I was little, I was convinced I was the next Britney. All I did was sing with my karaoke machine and beg my parents to move us to LA. I wrote songs and recorded singles on cassettes. I knew I wanted to be a performer since I was very young. When I tried to take it to the next level, I got cut at school choir auditions. I was insanely nervous even though all I ever did was sing and choreograph at home. My confidence took a major hit and I just accepted that I couldn't sing. MANY years later, I got the confidence to audition for a local equity theatre. I did YouTube vocal warm ups. I didn’t have a "book" and I had one song prepared. I did well enough to book the job. I met an amazing teacher in the cast of that show who helped to bring me out of my shell through voice lessons that felt like therapy. I created a book and went on to more confidently audition. I performed with that theatre again and hope to in the future. Don’t doubt your ability to tackle something you once thought was impossible. Do put in the work. 

I guess my point with this post is to share that it took me a while to get to where I am. I didn't feel truly confident in myself as a performer until my mid-20s. I know some people may have issue with the whole "fake it til you make it" thing, but I really think that is what you have to do sometimes. It helped me grow. What I'm saying is to give yourself the benefit of the doubt and just go for it. I faked confidence at every audition I went to for years until I finally started feeling it. Imposter syndrome is a real thing. My years of not being chosen or not being the best inspired me to work my butt off. I took so many dance and fitness classes that I started to surprise myself when I would be able to hold things longer or turn better at auditions. I started to book my dream jobs. 

If you work hard and have faith in your abilities, you are absolutely worthy of being in the room. You are meant to live the life you choose. Little kids have all the confidence in the world before the world tries to tell them who to be. The opinions of those who don't want what's best for you won't pay your bills. Make your 4 year old self proud.  

Friday, March 26, 2021

My La Duca-versarry. 15 Years.

15 years ago this year, Mr. La Duca fitted me for my very first pairs. I needed character heels and taps for my first Rockette Summer Intensive and wanted the real deal (what the Rockettes wear). Up until that point, I had only practiced in some good old fashioned jazz shoes. La Duca rolled out the carpet and made me feel like a STAR. La Duca shoes have been worn in movies, musicals, tours, and more. I couldn't wait to start practicing in them. This moment truly kicked off my career. I started to feel like anything was possible in this crazy dance world.

For 15 years, they have helped me to feel my very best both onstage and off. They are made in Italy and last a long time. I have had contracts where the shoes kept breaking and they finally invested in some La Ducs for us. They feel even better as they are broken in. Who doesn't love when their dance shoe is molded to their foot and has that fierce point? Not to mention, they make your feet and legs look SEXY. 

La Duca has been there for me from summer intensives to auditions and performances. I have booked dream jobs in these shoes. What you wear on your feet can make or break your performance and even career. I feel safe, supported, and confident in my La Ducas. I think my favorite pair so far were the red can-can boots for Merry Widow. Below you will find some of the highlights of my dance life while wearing my La Ducas. My dream is to continue performing in them and to one day own a custom pair.

Many years ago at the La Duca store.

During one of my 8 years at RSI, we got to perform on the Radio City Stage!

Made it to the end of the Rox audition this day. 

My basement practice space growing up.

Cruise life. Standing still on a moving ship is harder than dancing on one!

Waiting to rehearse at Lyric Opera.

I loved this costume for Merry Widow at Lyric Opera.

Backstage before my favorite number in Merry Widow.

With my fellow can-can ladies.

A fun contract at Busch Gardens with friends.

Pre-rehearsal selfie at The Met Opera. Still breaking my shoes in.

Performing with Tryon Entertainment in The Bahamas.


Being a showgirl at Theatrezone Naples.

Luminaire Foto