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!