Wednesday, December 16, 2015

That's A Wrap.

Last Sunday was our final performance of The Merry Widow at Lyric Opera of Chicago. This contract was even better than I dreamed it would be. I loved my job, the people, and the dancing. I really tried to take it all in and really watch the final show from backstage. My dad was able to see me dance for something other than arena football and I think he really enjoyed it. I feel bad that he paid so much money for a balcony ticket since I ended up being able to get him a free ticket in the second row. Oh well! We had a little after party at a bar with the cast and then my dad took me to fancy dinner at the Palmer House Hilton. This show is the highlight of my career and I'm so happy it happened and sad that it's over. 

A little pre-Kolo Act II warm up. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Being Tourists.

Justin came to Chicago last week to see my show. Thankfully, I had several days off to explore and act like a tourist with him. I think the cold was a little shocking to him. The kid lives on a paddleboard in the sunshine so I got some pretty funny texts when he landed at O'Hare. Most of this visit revolved around food (we walked a ton!) and I was thrilled to be able to introduce him to my fav city treats. 

We started with Millennium Park, where an ice skating show was happening.

I'd pick him first ; )

After we took the obligatory Bean pics, I showed him where I work, and then we made our way to Giordano's. I can't really eat dairy so I ordered spaghetti and Justin ordered this yummy deep dish. 

He had never been to Magnolia Bakery (what?!) so I hooked him up with a cupcake and the best banana pudding in existence. 

A few days later, I made him try Sprinkles.

And Shake Shack...

I didn't get the chance to visit Eataly when I lived in NYC so it was fun to finally check it out here. We got some fancy little coffee layered with hot chocolate. 

The food there looks so good. I don't think I'll be trying the octopus any time soon though.  I really hope I have an opportunity to go back for lunch, especially since my roomie works there. 

One of my favorite things we did was have a few drinks on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Building in their Signature Lounge. We went early (around 4pm) and all of the window seats were already taken. Luckily, someone left and we moved for a better view. 

The apple pie martini is delish. What a romantic date! I loved being on top of the world with my love. 

Justin's cousin lives here so we were able to have dinner at a good taco place with he and his wife. On our last night together, we went to one of my old favorites, Grand Luxe Cafe. I know it's a total chain, but it is great and they give you enough food for like two days. 

I had the perfect opening night weekend and relaxing vacation with my love bug. 
The countdown begins again...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Opening Night.

Opening night of The Merry Widow at the Lyric Opera of Chicago was magical. We were given nice little gifts and goodies prior to the show and copies of our beautiful program. It is so fun to see my headshot and bio in there. I had been a bit stressed the week leading up to opening, but for some reason I was totally calm. Everything went well and felt like a dream. Our audience was so responsive and seemed to really enjoy it. Standing O! Reviews were pretty good, especially for the dancers. Click here for the one from the Chicago Tribune. I had the love of my life in the audience and I'm happy that he finally got a glimpse of my world. He was so cute getting ready before we left and took longer than me haha. He looked really nice. 

With the legendary Susan Stroman. I am so happy that she picked me for this show. Her choreography and vision are beautiful and she was a joy to work for. 

After the show, Lyric threw a nice party to celebrate.

My handsome date. 

Everyone in the cast is so talented. These two beauties both danced for Radio City. 

Ashley brought her mom to the party and we found out that our moms were sorority sisters at the same university. Small world. 

With our Danilo, Thomas Hampson. 

Click here for the promo video for our show. We have 8 performances left so get your tickets now!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dress Rehearsal

This week has been a whirlwind of tech and dress rehearsals. We ran the entire show without stopping yesterday when friends, family, and press were invited to attend our dress rehearsal. Performing is so much fun, especially with big names like Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson. Everything went pretty smoothly until the very end of the show when I had a little costume malfunction. The heel of my fab LaDuca boots got caught on my skirt and I almost went down. The show must go on though! Probably wasn't as bad as I thought, but still embarrassing. The costumes we get to wear were beautifully designed by William Ivey Long. My favorite is my Act II costume which is what I have on in the first picture. Our official opening is this weekend. I can't wait!

Saturday, November 7, 2015


I am having the most incredible time in rehearsals at Lyric Opera of Chicago for The Merry Widow. We learned pretty much the entire show within 4 days. After we had all of the choreography down we started rehearsing with the singers. I am blown away by the amount of talent involved with this show. Susan Stroman is our amazing director. She came to rehearsals already knowing our names and gave us big hugs. Her choreography is beautiful and I feel so pretty performing it. We are doing our first run of the show in costume tomorrow. This week is also our final dress rehearsal. 

Getting around this city has been a bit of a struggle since they are doing a lot of construction on the train routes. Overall though I think Chicago is beautiful and clean. A lot of my NYC food favorites are here including Pret, Magnolia, Shake Shack, and Bloomingdales (looking forward to getting some peanut butter froyo at Forty Carrots). I can't believe it has been 6 years since I visited. The last time was for the Rockette audition in 2009. I actually auditioned in the same building and room that I auditioned for this show in. 

During my time here, I am staying with my former cruise ship cast mate, Kevin. I had missed him so much and we had fun celebrating our 2nd Halloween together, on land this time. One of the singers in our show also had a party and it was the best party I've been to aside from a wedding. It had a haunted mansion theme with the yummiest food, drinks, and desserts. 

I have always loved the rehearsal process. I think the most interesting and perhaps most challenging part is taking the show from the studio to the stage. There are many new elements to consider in addition to all that you've spent so much time on. Yesterday, we saw our gorgeous Act III set for the first time. You have be fully present and thinking about what you are doing at all times so that you don't get hurt. Set pieces and props enter and exit the stage all while you are dancing and being lifted around. It is thrilling!  

Showing off our lovely new LaDuca boots. 

Sajen and I became fast friends and have had fun exploring the city from the farmers market and shopping to Magnolia Bakery and the bean. I love my cast!

This house is gorg.

I look forward to going to work every day and Lyric has made this the most enjoyable experience. Not one day has felt like a job. It is a dream. Everyone in the cast has been professional and great to work with. The Merry Widow opens one week from tonight. My boyfriend will be flying in for opening night in a few days. He has never seen me perform so I am beyond excited. I can't wait for my dad and hopefully mom to see as well. 
For more information and tickets click here

Friday, October 9, 2015

Flashback Friday

I went to my first Rockette Summer Intensive almost a decade ago. At the time, it was run by a guy named Christopher who made everything so fun. Those first few years in the program were my favorite. Fast forward 9 years and I learned that he lives nearby in Florida and is married to someone that my boyfriend went to school with. Small world! We met for drinks recently and had a blast discussing NYC and dance things. It's nice to see someone else still living their dancing dreams outside of the city and in the place I plan to move to. Here's a picture of us from the 2007 RSI!

And now...
Can't wait to get together again!

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Purpose.

Lately I’ve felt like I’m waiting for my life to happen again. I am working hard everyday to make money and get in the best shape possible for my upcoming job, but I’m really just ready to dive into rehearsals. I love the rehearsal process and working with a company toward something incredible. So many things have changed in my life over the last year and I hope they continue to evolve in a direction that allows me to feel I have a purpose and to be in love with the life I create for myself. 

I can't believe how quickly 25 years have flown by and how soon 26 will be here. I feel like I've already lived several different lives in one lifetime. I hope to continue with my adventures and passions, but cannot wait to have a home base (other than my hometown) in the near future. I always need to be working toward a goal so in order to remain focused, I've compiled a list of 25 things I plan to accomplish. 

1. Work with Susan Stroman and perform in another major city. 
2. Spend more time with Justin.
3. Take a jazz class in Chi town. 
4. Buy a car. 
5. Get a place of my own. 
6. Make fun friends and more of an effort to maintain my friendships. 
7. Improve my balance. Especially whilst doing dance and yoga on a paddleboard!
8. Audition to be a Rockette...again...
9. Travel to a new place. 
10. Sing at another audition.  (Theatrezone Naples).
11. Eat less sugar. 
12. Read 5 new books.  
13. Go back to NYC and do all of my favorite things. 
14. Learn to play a song on my guitar...after I learn how to tune it. 
15. Save a lot of $.
16. Surf. 
17. Ride a horse. 
18. Come up with some go-to recipes. 
19. Inspire someone to pursue their dream.  
20. Have a themed party. 
21. Teach more dance. 
22. Eventually find a job that makes me as happy as dancing. 
23. Learn how to do my makeup so I don't always look like a cat or as if I'm about to perform. 
24. Volunteer with Alz Assoc. or another organization that means a lot to me. 
25. Donate most of my wardrobe and start over. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Just Keep Kicking

This is the first year in my 7 years of auditioning for the Rockettes that I will not be in line with the other hopefuls today. I have put so much focus, effort, and all I had in me into the pursuit of that dream and it is time to try something new. Moving on is hard, but I am still living the life my childhood self always wanted. The thought of doing something else rarely crossed my mind growing up. However, I have recently come to terms with the fact that there is more to life than Radio City. 

2014 RSI Invitational 
RSI 2010. Such great memories. 
I moved to Manhattan in 2010 with one goal, to be a world famous Radio City Rockette. After 11 Rockette auditions, making it to the end several times, a private audition with Linda Haberman, a video about my audition experience, 7 summer intensives, receiving a scholarship and assisting the program, training privately with several Rockettes, and still not getting that call, I still haven’t entirely given up the desire to audition to be a part of the legacy. I would not be the dancer I am right now had I not trained so hard in precision jazz and tap. It has opened other doors and so many invaluable connections. You never know what’s to come.  The plan is to go back and audition next year, but who knows. 
I don't know why Radio City never wanted to hire me. It could be my height or weight or turns or kicks or any number of things they will likely never tell me. An awesome former Rockette said one of the nicest things to me when I was dealing with this last year. She said the job requires you to blend and not to stand out. She suggested that maybe those who don't fit the mold are too unique, individual, and beautiful to blend. That has stuck with me and actually makes perfect sense as every job has a "type" they look for. You can't be perfect for everything. 
After making it through the 2012 Rockette audition.
Me in the December 2014 issue of Dance Spirit

For me, dancing has and always will be synonymous to breathing. Nothing will change that.  I have traveled the world doing what I love, performed on many stages and trained at an advanced level with some incredible teachers. I have realized dance dreams I never knew were possible. It is a privilege to be able to do this and I've worked my butt off to get here. I won’t let the fact that I haven’t checked one goal off the list undermine others that I have. I don't want to be defined as the girl who gave up any semblance of a "normal life" for a dream she failed to achieve. Recent performance jobs have lead me to truly believe that I have already achieved the dream; I get paid to do what I love. I am also finding the value in a tiny bit of normalcy.

All I ever do is dance. Once a dancer always a dancer, no matter what. One of the first things you learn when entering this industry is that rejection is inevitable unless you’re one of a rare few. You have to use these heartbreaking moments to make you a stronger dancer and person. You keep going if it is what you truly want as only the strong survive. 

This fall I will be making another major dream come true. I will be dancing in The Merry Widow, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman. The audition was two days long and the most fun I had had in a long time. We did high kicks, jump splits, and cartwheels. I will be dancing in the style that I have trained so hard at while wearing some super glamorous costumes. I'm beyond excited to begin rehearsals with this amazing company. I have chills just thinking about performing in such a beautiful place. 

I wrote this post for myself and anyone who may sometimes feel discouraged by their big dreams. Life will likely not happen the way you mapped it out, but I believe more than anything that you should follow the path that makes you feel most alive and fulfilled. You will only regret the chances you never take. Best of luck to all auditioning this week!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Gnarly Harley Paddle Fun

Since 2007, when my family first started visiting Naples, Florida, I had wanted to paddleboard. Everyone at Vanderbilt Beach looked like they were having a blast on them, but I never had anyone to do it with me. Eight years later, I met a guy named Justin through friends and found out he just so happened to have his own paddleboard business, I jumped at the chance to try it. 

I was freaked out at first. As an Ohio girl, I'm pretty terrified by the thought of sharks and gators. However, Justin is an awesome tour guide and kept me calm. My friend Emily was visiting from New York so we got to do it together. We were paddling on our knees half of the time, but finally got the hang of it. By the end of the day, I was hooked. 

I kept hanging out with (and dating ;]) Justin and we continued to paddle in Bonita. I was soon introduced to his adorable pups, Harley and Skiff. They are great swimmers and love to ride on the boards. Their balance is way better than mine and I'm a dancer!

We take drinks, find shells, swim, play with the pups on this cute little island, and then paddle back. I love that you get a great workout without even realizing it. I'm trying so hard to improve my balance and do crazy dancer things on the board. I thought I finally had my arabesque and then fell off and embarrassed myself. 

Justin's tours are super fun and if you're visiting SWFL you should definitely book one. I wouldn't want to paddle with anyone else. He makes it fun and it doesn't hurt that he's a cutie. There are several different packages including a photo option and board rentals which you can read all about on his website.  I am probably the only person who paddles with him who hasn’t seen a dolphin or manatee so I'm sure you will! 

At least I was fortunate enough to find this cute little clammy!