Tuesday, April 19, 2011
This performance of Die Fledermaus happened to fall on the exact day of my 1-year anniversary of dislocating my kneecap!! The theatre's Executive Director knew that and presented me with this beautiful anniversary gift of a decorated mask!! (Check out the photos in the other Die FLEDERMAUS blogs to see me dance with a different mask as part of my costume!) Rosalinde, when she attends the ball as "The Hungarian Countess", hides her identity with this mask. That gift is very special to me and will always be cherished!
I gave myself an anniversary gift of my own! I purposely choreographed one of my solo dances to include Fouettes and turns! (If you check out the blog entitled: "Swan Lake Variations", you can read in the postscript about my talent for turning!) As a present to myself, I challenged myself to see if I could perform fouettes and turns exactly 1 year after I was in a hospital emergency room (on a stretcher and with my kneecap at a horrible angle to the rest of my leg)...by the way, to everyone's amazement, I didn't cry once over that injury-not even in the ambulance or in the emergency room...never underestimate the inner strength of fragile looking dancers!!
In fact, a full 1/3 of one of my solos was all turns! Including my beloved fouettes!
Check out the photo above-I'm in mid-fouette!!
It was a night to remember and I will never forget the guts it took to "debut" again, after my injury, the return of those fouettes and turns during a live performance with everyone watching!
I'm sure there will be a day when I won't be able to do my beloved fouettes and turns, but hopefully it will be a day of my choosing-I'm extremely glad that injury didn't take them from me.
Accompanying the cast on the piano.
I challenged myself to perform on the piano during the performance, when I wasn't dancing!
I have a strong piano background.
I began piano lessons, along with my ballet lessons, at age 6.
I was a STATE WINNER and won gold, silver and bronze awards for my playing. I completed the numerous requirements for the National Piano Playing Auditions, administered by the National Guild of Piano Teachers!
My piano playing was always know for my expression and sensitivity.
At age 11, my teacher beckoned my parents to come with him after my weekly piano lesson. He led us all to the recital room (which had a grand piano instead of the usual uprights used in the lesson rooms) and bid me play the piece he had given me a couple of weeks before-Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, 1st mvt.
After I finished, he told my parents that my playing "comes from the heart!!" and pounded the area by his heart for emphasis! He went on to say that he had given the same piece to a 17 year old who despite working on it for months, in his opinion: could never play it with my sensitivity and power of feeling...This was quite an accomplishment as the 1st mvt is a truly "grown-up piece of music" and surprising that an 11 year old could bring that much power to it. He wanted it performed on a grand piano to hear the full effect-he even opened up the lid! :)
Things were going along great (or so I thought), until one day at age 13, he yelled during my lesson!! He was tired of my lack of progression. From 11-13 years old, I had averaged about 10 minutes/per week of practice! Ballet was simply taking over. (You can read in the "Swan Lake Variations" blog about my prodigious ballet/pointe schedule at age 11!)
" You should Quit doing ballet and become a pianist"!!!!!!!!!
Well, I decided that day, then and there, that I would actually quit PIANO instead!
I stopped going to lessons, the piano lid came down and the piano stood dormant for years.
Then I tore my hamstring, and unable to experience the creative outlet that dance has always given me, I turned back to the piano to play once again. (funny story: I actually forgot all the names of the keys except middle "c", and couldn't read a note of music anymore...HOWEVER, unbelievably, I could sit down and play small pieces I had memorized years before as an 8 and 9 year old (no Moonlight Sonata, but small 1-page long Sonatina movements!)...It was true "muscle memory" taking over)...
I relearned how to read music and play again and now have that wonderful creative outlet as well as dance! Now I have the best of both worlds-Finally, I can dance and play piano! (I also took up learning the violin when my hamstring was torn...I picked that up super quickly and even got to the level of playing major concertos (in Italian: "concerti") -probably all helped because I am nearly ambidextrous and am very at ease using my left hand in a highly skilled fashion)
As a highly creative person, it is a great comfort to me to know that I will always have these wonderful creative outlets through music making-if I am no longer able to have that with dance.
Through this production, I certainly lived up to an adjective that many people have used to describe me: Renaissance Woman. (which is meant to mean a person who has many talents in diverse subjects.) I am especially pleased with this production because I choreographed it, did the majority of the dancing, accompanied the cast on the piano during the performance, produced (including marketing, advertising and made all the graphic design decisions for the poster and program book), directed more than 20 people in the cast and edited a 3 hour Operetta to a concise 1 hour theatrical production!
The only difficulty I had was finding enough time to physically be in so many different places. I was everywhere from Lexington (in a church next to the Battle Green, no less!) to do rehearsals with the singers-to driving up to the North Shore to teach one group of dancers some choreography-to weekly rehearsals with a dance partner-to special rehearsals with another set of dancers (some who hailed from as far away as Providence, RI!!!!
As overall Director and Producer, I included 6 singers from New England Light Opera, a professional pianist, lighting designer, a dance partner and 10 dancers. I also danced the principle role of the production: Rosalinde. I have extensive knowledge about music and opera and so was able to literally take the 3 hour Fledermaus score and find intelligent ways to edit it down to a 1 hour production.
On top of that-I choreographed the entire show and even accompanied my cast during the performance, when I wasn't dancing! It was very difficult to find enough time for me to practice the piano, keep myself in performance condition as a dancer, do marketing and graphic design for the posters/program and rehearse everyone else!! (as is typical for me, the choreography didn't take much time, because I am one of those rare people who get much of the choreography all at once-fully formed in my head- and all that is left to do is simply write it out! Maybe 5% of the choreography needs to be worked out in the studio, but that is mostly finding some steps to link the other 95% "fully-formed" chunks that come to me away from the studio.)
I will always remember this production because it allowed me to utilize the diverse talents that symbolize a Renaissance Woman.
P.S. That ability to combine different talents is also what led me past the first round of auditions for a major primetime network reality show! I was asked to re-perform for the Executive Producer(!), was named a STAND-BY, and was sent a wonderful email afterwards which stated in part: "We are creating a list of ALL the ACTS we loved in Boston, and you are on that list!"...That whole audition process was such a wonderful experience!!
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Ah...The Hungarian Countess...I LOVED choreographing and dancing this part!!!
I made her multi-dimensional. Sly, sophisticated, elegant, a gorgeous femme fatale, but also in love with her husband and truly hurt by his infidelity. I made her larger-than-life with hilarious mannerisms. One of the mannerisms I gave her was for her to toss her hair-to great poetic effect! Check out these video stills that catch her tossing her hair!
One of my favorite roles to dance!! Here is some of the performance feedback I received for choreographing and performing this role:
described as "a feast for the senses, so many textures/feelings, each more gorgeous than the last", "fascinating", "one-of-a-kind", an "extraordinary, extraordinary dancer-better now than before her injury-puts on shows/does things that no one else does", "wonderful to sit so close and watch so much talent", a "complete package", "star presence", "wonderful-great" and "such a good performer/dancer".
Friday, April 15, 2011
My most FAVORITE dance solo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hilarious combination of FOOTBALL & BALLET!!!!!!!!
As you can see from these photos, I'm having a ball and enjoyed performing this immensely.
This was the most popular dance I ever did in Competition. Dozens of dancers came specifically over to me afterwards to tell me how much they loved this dance.
You can read more about this in the side bar notes in my posting on YouTube!