Category Archives: Dance

Anticipation

My writing and reading schedule has been overtaken by rehearsals lately, but the next California Rhythm Project dance concert opens tonight!

Pass It On

March 8th & 9th, 7:30pm, Southwestern College Dance Studio Theater

I’m nervous, but excited and I feel so lucky that I get to dance with such an amazing group of tappers. I’m planning to enjoy this weekend to the fullest because I know it will be over in a blink.

Then, my rehearsal schedule will settle down for a while and I’ll be back at work on my novel and also on a short story that I plan to submit to Ashland Creek Press for their forthcoming anthology, Among Animals. This story doesn’t feature Lola, but perhaps my next one will.

Meanwhile, I’m also pondering which book I want to nominate for next year’s One Book, One San Diego selection. Should I choose an old favorite? Or a new one?

I just finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel (I know, everyone else has already read it) and I can see what all the fuss was about.

Next up in my TBR stack are:

American Umpire by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman

A new political science and history book by the award-winning novelist and historian who also happens to be mom to Lola’s Dalmatian pal, Casey.

Canada by Richard Ford

“First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then the murders, which happened later.”

Who wouldn’t be intrigued by that?

Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

A mother/daughter travel memoir by an author whose novels I’ve enjoyed.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

This book club pick is earning high praise from NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers
Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Sounds like a winner!

I have until the end of the month to make my One Book, One San Diego nomination. But we all know how time flies. I’d better get busy reading!

What exciting books or projects are up next for you?

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Filed under Authors, Books, Dance, Reading, tap dance, Writing

Summer of Mischief: a guest post by Lola

It wouldn’t be fair to say that my person neglected me over the summer while she was busy tap dancing with the California Rhythm Project. Let’s just say that she was a little less attentive than usual, so I had plenty of opportunities for fun.

I chased a cat up the acacia and it ran all the way to the top… miles above my head.  I think it would have stayed up there for a long time, but my person called her tree trimmer to get it down.

I also dug holes in the garden so my person will have less work to do when she’s ready to plant something new.

I chased rats out of the vegetable bed.

I barked at the hawks and the crows.

I took naps in my person’s chair, under her desk and on her bed.

I even helped recycle the junk mail.

Now that the summer is over, we’ve settled back into our routine for the most part, but I heard her talking on the phone the other day and I think she’s planning something fun for us. She said that the car is tuned up and ready to go. You know what that means.  Road trip!

Look out, Grandma and Grandpa… here I come!

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Filed under Dogs, Friendship, Lola, tap dance, Travel

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

School has started again and although I’m no longer a student or a teacher, I love that fresh start feeling that comes with a blank notebook and a brand new pen. I’m craving a school supply shopping spree to help me get back to my routine of writing and studying. I don’t normally stray from my habits in the summer unless  I take a short trip or a spend few weeks with houseguests, so it’s been a while since I felt the excitement of la rentrée, but this summer, my schedule was turned inside out.

In June, I joined the California Rhythm Project, a San Diego tap dance company, and I spent the last three months rehearsing for a Labor Day weekend concert. Four rehearsals a week expanded to five or six. Add that to my usual two or three dance classes a week, and my time in the studio tripled. It didn’t take me long to realize that I needed a new, sturdier pair of tap shoes.

I was thrilled to be dancing so much, but I had a few unexpected moments of panic. One day, I would have the combination and the next, I’d lose it. There were times I feared I was too old and too slow to learn the steps. For a certain crazy-fast snippet of choreography, I had to put myself in training on the exercise bike to increase my stamina. As for the fear that I would choke in front of the audience, there was nothing I could do but practice and have faith.

When I was overcome with doubt, my teacher assured me that he was proud of my work. The company director encouraged me to relax and enjoy myself. With their support and with the camaraderie of an amazingly talented group of hoofers, I found my way back to the stage.

Photo by Kevin Patterson

We’d been working all summer at using the music and movement to tell stories, but adding lights and costumes made it come alive for me. I became a mysterious wanderer with a secret or a fun-loving party girl at a nightclub. And backstage between numbers, helping each other with costume disasters and quick changes, I felt like I was home with my family.

The first show was nerve-wracking, but it only took a few moments of dancing in front of an audience for me to find the joy of performing again, something I hadn’t felt since I danced with Jenesko’s Tap Dance in France almost twenty years ago. I wasn’t perfect, but I held my own and I think I managed to camouflage most of my mistakes. Having my husband and many of my friends in the audience to share this long-ignored part of myself with them was a delight.

Did my writing suffer during my tap-dancing summer? Yes. And no.

I had a lot less time for writing, so my word count decreased.  I’m embarrassed to admit that there were days when I was tired enough to nod off over the keyboard. I did submit a short story, though, and I’m looking for contests to enter and more anthologies with hard deadlines so I’ll have the motivation to declare a piece finished.

Although I didn’t get as far with revisions on my novel as I’d planned, I made slow progress and I sketched out a schedule of chapter deadlines for myself. They’re self-imposed, so not quite as effective as those contests, but it does help me to see forward motion on the calendar. I’m hoping I’ll have a draft ready to share by next summer.

Meanwhile, the California Rhythm Project is taking a short break, but soon we’ll be back in rehearsals, albeit not as intensely, for another concert in the spring. I can’t wait to start juggling my writing and dancing schedules once again.

So tell me… how did you spend your summer vacation?

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Filed under Creativity, Dance, Short Stories, tap dance, Writing

Audition!

Photo by Kevin Patterson

When I went to see 42nd Street at The Coronado Playhouse back in February, I started to dream of dancing on stage again. I told myself that it was a fanciful notion, that I’m too old and it’s been too long, but my friends were so supportive and encouraging that I found myself hoping I might find a way to participate in community theater again.

My sister didn’t push, but she did send me a link to a website that listed auditions in my area, so I couldn’t use the excuse that I wasn’t plugged in to the community. I checked the page from time to time, but I got busy and forgot about it. Then I heard a few people at my dance studio talking about being cast in Fiddler on the Roof. I’d missed an opportunity because I wasn’t paying attention.

Not long after that, though, I heard about another audition. This time it wasn’t for a musical, but for a tap dance company.  The California Rhythm Project was looking for new dancers and they’d scheduled an open audition for the following week. My stomach flipped and my joints started to quiver. I felt a goofy grin creep onto my face. Was this my chance?

I drove home from the dance studio imagining being a part of a tap company again, something I hadn’t done since the year I taught English in France twenty years ago. Did I still have the energy and the brain power to learn a repertoire? Was I even good enough.

The day of the audition, I tried to convince myself it was just going to be a lark. I’d do my best and que sera sera. Then, I got to the studio, filled out the audition form and wrote my name on a tag. My stomach knotted and I had to force myself to breathe. I was shaky on my feet, but I felt better once we were all called into the studio to start learning the combination. We began slowly, then added music and sped things up. No problem, I had it.

We were split into groups and I was in the first one. Not so bad. It would be good to get it over with. The music started and my mind went blank. Somehow, I faked my way through the first few steps, got the combination back and fumbled my way to the end.

Disaster.

I found myself at the edge of the room watching the next group perform the steps and I realized that I’d completely forgotten to smile. My heart pounded painfully as I watched everyone else dance, all the while kicking myself for having let my nerves get the better of me.

They promised to let us know by the end of the week and I dreaded that phone call. My husband and I had plans to go visit my parents, so I focused on preparing for the trip and tried to forget about everything else. On the morning we left town, I found an e-mail in my inbox. Much to my amazement, I was in! I guess my audition wasn’t as bad as I thought. Bruce reminded me that I’m my own worst critic.

Now I’m caught up in rehearsals for a Labor Day weekend performance.  I’m thrilled to be a part of The California Rhythm Project, getting ready to perform again for the first time since 1993. I’m nervous, of course, and afraid that I’ll get onstage and choke, but with four rehearsals a week, I should be able to do the steps in my sleep.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that all of this extra dancing is charging up my creativity.  I’m more excited about writing than ever, so maybe having less time to write will turn out to be a good thing after all.

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Filed under Creativity, Dance, tap dance, Theater, Writing