Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Is Living the Dream

I woke up this morning like I always do.  I sat bolt upright when my alarm went off and mumbled what I assume were swear words at it.  I then face planted back onto my pillow, and took a deep breath.  Thus began what I like to call "The Snap/Crackle/Pop Morning Symphony."  I stretched my back, rolled my ankles (crrrraaaaacckk!  poppoppop), worked my legs under the covers (snap! snapsnap!  crrrrunch. thud) and flipped onto my back, stretching my arms over my head.  I dragged myself out from under the sheets, cracking my feet/toes/arches, snapping my shoulders, and otherwise releasing the various air bubbles and bundles of pressure that formed in my body as I slept.

I shivered and hurried to the kitchen to put the kettle on.  Said my prayers as I cooked breakfast, did my stretches, etc. etc. etc.  The same as any morning - but this morning was different.  This morning as I packed my oversized bag full of everything-I-could-possibly-need, I had a sudden realization.  In the quiet of the kitchen I finally understood - this is it.  This is living the dream.  On a smaller scale than I'd like to, of course - but even dreams come in babysteps.

I was about to head off to a day of Winter Camp with kids at the Learning Center where I teach.  We would play on the trampoline, run races, tumble, perfect handstands, do a mini-ballet class, listen to classical music, color, and dance all day.  Our only breaks were for snacks (banas, apple slices, cucumbers, and unsalted pretzels) and storys.  Then I would hop into the car, eat a quick flatbread from Subway and rush of to our final tech rehearsal. . .

For my first professional performance.

This morning I threw my sweater and notebook in my bag and relished that for a moment.  My first professional show.  I'd like to tell you it was for something big - a new work for a prominent company.  Or glamorous - world premier for a new ballet.  Or even that I had a big role.  The truth is, it was a very small part of a big show, and I am only on stage for a few, brief, glorious, seconds.  I don't even really dance: it's just being a comedic character, making the audience laugh.  But that audience?  It's a venue that holds 2,000 people.  And tonight, every seat was taken.  It's not high-paying - 50 dollars a show, and 10 comp tickets, plus meals provided.  But it is in fact paying which means I get to end 2011 not as the aspiring dancer I've been all my life, but as a professional dancer.

For a few, sweet days.

I can share the benefits of my "pointless," and "expensive," major and my "risky," and "impractical," career choice with friends and family in the form of free tickets to a sold-out show.

I get to live the dream: and what a dream it is.  The seconds I stepped onto the stage it was like lightening passed through my body.  I have never been more alive.  No moment has lasted longer than that split second, forever frozen in my mind, when pure adrenaline and love suspended time.  The only sound I can ever imagine comparing to the noise of 2,000 pairs of applauding hands is the first time I hear my future children's voices.

For the next two days I get to go from job one - playing with and helping shape children - to job two, helping make 2,000 people laugh.

How lucky am I?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Music

Maybe it's the good Catholic girl in me, who loves Midnight Mass with its softly glowing tapers and rapturous hymns.  Maybe it's the dancer in me, whose spirit responds to song like an autumn leaf responds to a breeze.  Maybe it's the singer, who needs music to live.  Whatever it is, music is an integral part of my Christmas.  So my Christmas present to you my few, dear, wonderful readers, is below:  some of my favorite Christmas songs.  For whatever reason, many of my very favorite carols and hymns are actually set on Christmas Eve.  Enjoy this blessed night my friends!

"Fall on your knees - oh hear, the angels voices!"
"Oh Holy Night," as performed by Celtic Woman

"All is calm - all is bright. . . "
"Silent Night," as performed by Sinead O'Connor

"Listen to what I say: pray for peace people everywhere. . ."
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" by Bing Crosby

"I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum, Thats fit to give a King."

"Little Drummer Boy," as performed by The Harry Simeone Chorale

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Bump On The Path

Sometimes. .  . sometimes it is hard not to be bitter.  Or a sad.  Or even a bit frustrated.  Today is one of those days.  I generally try to avoid self-pity, but today every part of me just wants to give in to the urge to kick something over and cry.  To sulk in a corner and demand "When is it my turn?  Why me? "  It has been a long and frustrating semester.  Forget that - it has been a long and frustrating three years.  I feel as though I want a very few things.

To feel safe.  At this point, I don't really care if I actually am safe.  I'd just like to feel that way.

To go without injury.

To take my classes, work at my jobs, and go to rehearsals.

In conjunction with that, to get the GPA I deserve, the pay I've earned, and the benefit of stage time.

To make enough money not to starve, freeze, or be unable to contribute to the collection basket at church.

To perform.  I am, after all, a performing arts major at a performing arts school.  And yet there are seemingly endless obstacles, rejections, or issues.

I would like to go to sleep at night without fear, and wake in the morning without pain.  I'm tired of fearing the shadows, the corners, the back alleys.  I wish to walk home after a late rehearsal or study session and not need a friend to walk with me, tense and alert for danger from both strangers and those who are supposed to be my family.

I feel dissatisfied with myself, with my performance chances.  I know there are elements of theatre and dance that despite being 21 (old for a performer) I'm still new at.  That I won't get it every time. . . but I would like to get it some of the time.  You win some, you loose some.  May I win some, please?

I know what I need to do.  I need to thank God for these obstacles, each and everyone, because they are there to make me stronger.  I need to focus on bettering myself and not worrying about the outside world.  I need to ask my faculty for more advice, guidance, more pointed criticisms and focused goals so I can excel better.  And finally, I think tonight I need to go to my room and cry for awhile.  Just until I fall asleep.  Just until tomorrow.

Than I will be back to myself. . .  at least, I will be back onto the path we're all on.  The path to finding ourselves.  This sadness, anxiety, loneliness.  This doubt.  It is all just a step off the path, a rock to rest on, weep on, and move on from.

I'll lay my burdens here tonight Lord, just for awhile.  I promise to be stronger when I awake.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today I Am

. . . anxious.




I'm checking my email obsessively, because the casts lists for our spring shows come out.  We're doing Hairspray and Boys Next Door.  I had a really strong audition and I know I work well with the director for Hairspray, so I'm hopeful.  On the other hand, it was a huge audition and lots of people did well.  Plus Craig likes to do unusual, even strange things with his cast lists (and his shows are always bomb because of it) so I'm kind of on pins and needles.

I'm also waiting for a second email, or possibly a phone call.  I may have landed a job dancing over break and am waiting to hear from the choreographer.  Trying to be nice and having very talented friends may just have paid off for me!  Yay for word-of-mouth-jobs.

And I'm going over my ipod and sifting through my itunes, trying to compile good music for the various dance classes at various levels that I'm teaching over break, starting tomorrow.  I feel like a kindergartner all over again every time I go to teach.  Will they like me?  Will they play nice?  Will anyone show up?  Will the parents think I'm too young to know what I'm doing?  Will I have the right music?

I'm deeply feeling my career choice today. . . cast lists and music, waiting and praying.  On one hand I think "the stress related to this career is going to give me a heart attack young and send me to an early grave."  On the other hand, part of me is relishing this.  Right now I'm still in the student-cocoon, safely shielded by family, faculty, and like-minded friends. . . but this is still a taste of the real world.  Sitting in my yoga pants, cutting my music and waiting to find out if I got the gig.  I'm a lucky, lucky, lucky little girl.

So I guess thats what I am today.  A performer.  A working artist.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just. . . Yes.

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze that it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

-Jack London.

Doesn't it sing right to your heart?