Tuesday, December 29, 2009

You. Better. Work.

The fall semester has wrapped up and winter break is well underway. It feels good to be done with another semester. I can officially call myself a senior. All of the hard work I have put into my education has led to this. Everything I have been working for has been for this year. My final year as an official student (I hope to always be a student in life). I look back, though, and wonder where the time went.

Nevertheless, I am happy for a break. This break, I am spending with my best friend and love, Mark Toland. He is a magician in the great city of L.A. What an exciting adventure this provides me! It is my last year in college and I am already getting a glimpse of what life has in store post-graduation. The real exciting news that I want to share is that I have already found work. This is so promising, for me. I am not even a college grad and I have landed a short gig teaching over winter break. The winter break that I am fortunately spending in L.A.

This is exciting to someone new. This is wonderful for someone just starting out. My first job that I can list on my resume. Wow. How cool is that? It really renews my faith that I can do this. I can really venture into this crazy world of art, performance, entertainment, teaching, and whatever else life has in store for me.

I just wanted to share my excitement with you all. I hope that the work keeps on coming for everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


One week until the end of the semester. Time is really tricky. Sometimes it seems like everything is moving so slowly and you blink and suddenly so much has passed. I am not quite sure how it happened, but the choreography final is tomorrow and everyone finished. We will call it theatre magic. Somehow it all gets pulled together in the end.

My group piece was inspired by the quote “If two people love each other, there can be no happy end to it” by Ernest Hemingway. The first time I read it, I thought, “man that is a depressing outlook.” It took a while for that concept to sink in. Humans strive to make connections with one another. We spend our whole lives making relationships with each other as friends, lovers, parents, and so on. In some way or another, all of these relationships will end, maybe not badly or sourly, but they will end. It is about growing up and apart from each other as you continue your own journey through life. I am at that stage now. As friends grow up and graduate from college or fall in love and get married, I realize none of them are on my particular path and we will part our ways. It shouldn’t be sad, but rather a realization that life takes you in all kinds of directions, but your direction is completely unique from everyone else’s.

I titled my piece Up and Apart. This video is from a dress rehearsal. The dancers were wonderful. Please note that one upstage boom was not cooperating throughout dress rehearsal, so some shots in the video are much darker than they will be during the actual performance.

It feels so good to complete a project and put your creativity out there for everyone to see. I decided to really put myself out there and audition this particular piece for the American College Dance Festival next semester. Much to my surprise, my piece was chosen to go. The university always takes a faculty piece and a student piece. Out of the six pieces that were auditioned, mine was chosen. I really can’t tell you how surprised and thankful I was for that opportunity.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

A look at Pina

This past week a guest came into the dance department. He was a student that graduated from my dance department in the 1980’s. For the past 15 years or so, he has been dancing with Pina Bausch in Germany. Being around that kind of success and professionalism is really priceless. I tried to soak up information from him like a sponge. He taught two modern classes and spoke in our choreography class. Being that close to the real deal makes you jump into action. It makes my goals seem closer and not some intangible thing.

The best advice I took from dancing with him for the week, was that it is all about hard work. Keep looking and you will find something, but it will always be hard. I can’t wait! Bring the challenges on!

(the picture above is a shot from The Rite of Spring)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Moving Along

It is the end of October and our Kansas Dance Festival concert is in one week. Time moves by at such a fast pace, it is hard to keep up.

In choreography class, we have had several assignments due, and even squeezed in a trip to the local art museum to gain some much need creative inspiration. I can't say that I left the art museum renewed and refreshed with brilliant ideas, but you never know what will come of a great trip like that.

Solos were due this week and that had me completely rattled. I changed ideas so many times before settling. I finally decided that it would be great exercise to re-structure a combination that I did over the summer. The music changed, the mood changed, and most of the movement morphed which is exactly what I was going for. The video is posted below. You will see many similarities to the original combination which I posted a while back to the song Free Fallin'.

The next big project on my list is a group piece and I have about 2 weeks to pull the whole thing together. I am auditioning that piece to go to the American College Dance Festival, to either be performed at the informal concert, or the formal concert where it will be judged and critiqued.

This is something I am really inspired to work on and I hope I can get it done in time! After I gain some more headway on that project, I hope to write an entire post on the inspiration for that idea. I feel like I have a lot to say about it. Until then, I have to keep creating!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall Begins

Fall semester is well underway. In just a week it will be midterm. Time goes by so quickly it seems. This fall, I am dancing in a total of 3 pieces. One is an excerpt from the ballet Coppelia. It will be beautiful. Another piece is a twist on modern and jazz, which should be fun. Lastly, is my favorite piece so far. It is a contemporary ballet/modern piece. The choreography is absolutely stunning and I am thrilled to have been chosen to perform in it. Overall I am excited for the show in November.

Choreography class has been an interesting experience, and I am hungry to keep learning more. I like my classes to go at a fast pace, and so far this has been dragging. I have so many ideas that I want to get out there and I feel like I need that push and urgency. I am creating with or without the help of the class. That group piece I mentioned in past posts is still stirring around in my mind. I also am excited to start a duet. It has such a unique feel to it. I can't wait to get it out there and perform it. Some of these ideas are still just in the creative stage, and I can't say too much yet. I wish I could share every little detail, but it wouldn't make sense.

I started working on the duet. There is just a small chunk that I performed for choreography class. It was my first run, and I am in love with the movement. Now for some shaping and molding to get it just right!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer Ends.

Summer is slowing down and the fall semester starts in one week. I have had plenty of time to relax and get my mind in a focused place. At the end of last semester, so much was happening, it was hard to create. New ideas are now making themselves known.

 My two summer intensives went well. The one in July was more productive because I knew what to expect. This fall will be slightly less hectic. I will continue to teach at my old studio and work on new material for my choreography classes.

 I have three more semesters before I throw myself out into the real world. I am very excited! Until then I will continue to shape these ideas that are running wild in my mind, hopefully finding new creative outlets along the way.

 This fall should be great. It will be crammed with rehearsals, trips to see my biggest supporter in L.A., and all new choreography works! Janice Garrett will also be making an appearance! Life can be so exciting…

 I will leave you all with a combination I did for my July intensive.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Ballerina

These thoughts are all inspired by my latest adventure at a place I will call Sifernd U. 

 The ballerina is the definition of beauty and grace. Her lines are exquisite, her dance is captivating. The self-discipline is the strongest I have ever seen. Everything is immaculate, from the bun on her head; to the way the seam runs down the back of her tights. She is sophisticated and demure. The ballerina needs structure… and French! I think the classical ballerina is wonderful…..BUT… I am no ballerina.

 I wiggled into my pink tights that took me all morning to find. They made me feel lumpy all over, and I am not a big girl. Only a ballerina would have no muffin top in a material that fits this close.  Next, I squeezed into my black leo and I tried to talk myself into believing it wasn’t so bad. My next layer was all me. Comfy black jazz pants and a loose fitting white T, but I wouldn’t have these layers on for long.

 I went to enroll for this weeklong adventure. When I arrived, no one was in sight. I signed up anyways and paid my fees. Next, I was whisked off to the dressing room with my class schedule and page-long instruction guide on how to be a dancer. At 20 years old, I was told to inform the instructors of my lunch plans (so they could keep an eye on me of course). This is a whole new world. What did I drag myself into? Well, a world of tiny, pristine ballet babes. At ages 11 and 12, some of these girls already showed more discipline then most grown men I know. I was the only one from the outside, and the oldest of course, because the story just gets better.

 Class was intense, and I kept my mind open to the ways of new teachers. I enjoy learning from new people and trying to broaden my worldview. This was hard being the only “outsider”. Everyone else knew each other. They all had danced side by side for years. They were so serious! I was actually a little scared to smile… something might be wrong with that. With one little grin, I could have ordered the whole group a round of push-ups. Quiet was definitely the way to go. No fun to be had here.

 The list of expectations was long. Hair in a bun, this color shoe, that colored pant, bring your Bible, pens and papers.  WHAT? By this point, I was completely and utterly lost. Since when did this FUN intensive that I thought I had signed up for turn into a concentration camp with Bible hour?

 The line had to be drawn somewhere for me. I raced back and forth in my mind: FIGHT OR FLIGHT. I grew wings pretty fast and flew away even faster. Hey, I managed to stay 8 out of the 9 hour day. That is pretty good!

 More importantly than what happened to me, is what I gained from this experience. I know more today who I am, then I did yesterday. I am not a ballerina. My hair is curly and out of control, most of the time. That is the way I like it; not slicked back to match all of the other robots. I listen to jazz music and blues, you know, the kind that is all improvisation and no set structure. I like being comfortable in my dance clothes. It makes me feel confident. I need a class that makes me want to get up and dance every single day. I will work hard, but it has to make me happy. I am not happy when I am being told what to do, how to stand, whom to be.

I have tried to fit that mold on the journey to find myself, and I have finally come to the age where I can see myself clearly and accept what I am. I love the ballerina, but I love me, more.

 So I applaud you, ballerina, for your grace and beauty. I applaud you for all of your hard work and motivation, but I want to say, ballerina, that you could also learn something from a girl, no, a dancer, like me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I have several projects I am working on at the moment. There are a few group pieces in mind and a couple of solos as well. Without other people to work with during the summer, the solos are the easiest projects for me to focus on. I have cut music for some of the dances already and I am excited to get started. Inspiration is coming from everywhere at the moment. Everything inspires me, from my long distance relationship to a movie I have seen recently. As an artist, I really enjoy being able to discuss issues that I find important through my work. Movement is so powerful and I find it easier to express myself through movement. If I can influence just one person who watches one of my pieces, then that is all I need. I don’t want to give too much away before I really dig in, but I want to discuss a few of the pieces I am working on a little bit more.

One of my more whimsical ideas definitely has serious undertones. It is a piece about our vices. The vices range from drug abuse, to eating too much chocolate, and anything in between. It is a story of overindulgence told in a cute way. The movement is fun and carefree, with sections that feel a bit robotic, like a habit that you just can’t break. I am excited about the music for this one that I cut myself.

Another idea is a group piece that deals with serious issues. The music doesn’t match the intensity. It is about the “ideal” American couple, and how they aren’t ideal at all. It is a sad story about what goes on behind closed doors. The music is the polar opposite of the movement. The music has a relaxed, “life is good”, feel to it. The movement that I chose to combat that easy-going feeling is quite serious and slightly disturbing.

I will talk more about some of the solos I am working on in later posts. I am trying to take advantage of my time off this summer and get some good work together.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dance in the summer

The summer always slows my dancing down. I really enjoy a little time off. It is important to remember why you love something so much and it makes the return to your art even better and stronger. I am really hoping to work on some choreography this summer. I have a few summer intensives lined up. I was really excited to be asked to teach modern at my local studio. Modern isn’t a part of their curriculum and they haven’t had anyone come along that was passionate enough about it. Hopefully I can fill that spot and make modern dance a staple at my childhood studio. This summer is mainly going to be cross training, choreographing, teaching, and of course summer school.


This is my time to focus on my art. I should have some more information up soon about some projects I am working on.

I also wanted to put up videos of a few pieces that I danced in. They were choreographed by some some very talented friends of mine, Genny Rounkles and Amy Pollard. In the first piece,Capitulation, I start at the far right (I have short curly hair, capris, and white socks on) and I am wearing the same thing for the second piece Irrevocable.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Choreography 2

So far, I have taken two choreography classes at WSU. Spring 2009 was choreography 2, and I really felt like I made progress in this class. Half of the class was devoted to learning the "toolbox", and the second half was devoted to creating a 4-6 minute group piece.

 The way I view choreography has changed drastically over these last two years. For the longest time I thought that there was something so special about people that choreographed dances. They had some knowledge that I didn't possess and I wouldn't be able to construct a dance until I had "it". In the Spring of 2008, Doug Nielson was the guest artist at Wichita State. He came in and taught our dance improv class a few times and had some really great advice for creating. My favorite quote was "Don't set out to make a masterpiece." It is so true. You aren't going to create a masterpiece right away...you have to have time to grow and find yourself. I guess the point is to just create. That is the only way to learn.

 It is so exciting for me to try and find my voice as an artist. I have realized that there isn't some magical knowledge that makes it easy to choreograph. There is only experience and practice. My second chance to practice in front of an audience was with my choreography 2 project "Dissonance". My dancers were great and one of them was kind enough to shoot a video of it and post it on her youtube page. Here is the video of my piece "Dissonance".


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Doug Varone

Spring break of 2009 was the hardest I have ever worked as a dancer. Doug Varone dancers came to WSU to set the piece “Of the Earth Far Below”. I went into this audition prepared and confident. I had no idea whether or not I would make it, but I just wanted to do the absolute best I could do. I was shocked when the cast list was called out and my name was there. It is so rewarding when hard work pays off. This piece was nearly 17 minutes of pure movement. The cast of eight learned the entire piece over two weeks. Knowing that I could do this has just made me hungrier as a dancer. I want this more than ever and I finally feel like I can have it.

People will always try to tell you that you have to do things even though you hate them. I have always been the one person that says “NO, you don’t have to do something you hate”. With hard work and complete dedication, you can be anything you want to be. Knowing that is a powerful thing and some people never get there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First Choreography

Throughout my sophomore year of college, I could really begin to see my voice as an artist coming through. I was finding out that I have important things to say and that my ideas are worth hearing. Finding that confidence to explore and create is just great. It makes me so excited. It was finally time to put some of my

 ideas out there, good or bad. I choreographed my first piece that was actually put onstage with lights, music, and costumes. I completed a project! I also choreographed with another dancer. Working with others is so valuable. I love it when ideas are bouncing around. It is great when different styles come together to collide or complement one another. “Shades of Grey”, and “Living Vacant” were the first dances I had ever put up for an audience to form an opinion about. I can’t wait to do it again. Here are some pictures from my piece “Shades of Grey”!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Fall of 2008 was off to a great start. Within the first few weeks of school, Andrew Palermo from dre.dance was in to hold auditions for his new work beyond.words, choreographed by him and Taye Diggs. I was so pleased to be cast in this piece. The movement really inspired me. It is an exploration of autism, and is absolutely captivating. Not only did WSU get to perform the first section of this evening length performance, but we also had the opportunity to dance alongside the company members. Getting to know those who have made it in this hard occupation was invaluable. I tried to soak up everything I could. The Wichita Eagle wrote a couple of great articles on the premiere of this piece. One article can be found on their website at http://dredance.com/Wichita_Eagle_9-3-07.pdf . Also, dre.dance has posted a little demo video of this particular work. I was excited to see myself in the background of this! I am making my way one step at a time! Here is the video:

Monday, May 11, 2009


I really want to start where it all got so exciting for me. Up until this point, dancing had never taken me anywhere. It had always been my passion and the reason for all of my dreams, but they were always just dreams. After only one year of dancing at WSU, I got the amazing chance to travel abroad to Taiwan to perform.

We got the best greeting you could ask for. I tried new foods, took new classes, and experienced a culture so rich and different. It was such an honor to perform there. It was a ten day tour spanning three cities and filled with excitement. Here are just a few pictures of the piece I was in and the beautiful places I got to see.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This year

This year has been an amazing journey for me. I have had the opportunity to work on so many new projects. I decided it would be best to keep a record of the things I have done while it is all fresh in my mind.

It is only my second year as a dance major at WSU, and I have gained so much. The faculty is so supportive and helpful. I finally feel like I am on the way to accomplishing my dreams.

I have had the opportunity to travel abroad, work with amazing choreographers, and even start putting together works of my own.

I have so much to say as an artist and it is only the beginning.