Category Archives: Dance

The Dancing Chorus

I love musical comedy.

I know a lot of people are annoyed by spontaneous song and dance numbers, but that’s my favorite part of a show. I saw my first musical at a community theater when I was eight years old. My sister and I sang the songs from Camelot nonstop…

“If ever I would leave you, it wouldn’t be in springtime…”

Until we saw Showboat a few weeks later at the same theater.

“Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly…”

When I was in high school, I started auditioning so I could join in the fun. I was in the cast of the spring musical at my school every year and in summer, I tried out for the dancing chorus in local community theater productions. I loved the long rehearsals learning songs, dances, and blocking on a bare stage. Then came dress rehearsals with imaginative sets and colorful costumes and finally, the thrill of performing for an audience.

42nd Street cast performing"We're in the Money" at Starlight Theatre, Rock Valley College

I’ve lost track of the friends I made during those summer productions, but I can still see many of them so clearly. Liz, Melinda, Jennie, Doug, Sarah, Erika,  Brad, Julie, Andreas, Marlene, Ginger, Melissa… By day, we were ordinary, but we were transformed into larger than life characters on stage.

Last weekend, I had the chance to see a fabulous performance of 42nd Street at The Coronado Playhouse.

It wasn’t a big production but the dancers were so talented and the small cast filled the theater with those songs I love. I had to force myself to sit still and not sing along; I wanted so badly to be up on stage with them. On the way home from the theater, my husband bet me that I’d be auditioning for a show again one of these days.

I wonder.

Would I have to lie about my age? Would my hip and my foot hold up to the hours of rehearsal and four performances a week? Would I be able to handle the late nights and still wake up early to walk Lola and write?

Probably not. It’s a nice dream, though. But maybe one of these days, I’ll forget caution and try out for the dancing chorus again.

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Filed under Dance, Musical Comedy, tap dance, Theater, Writing

School for Dogs: a guest post by Lola

My person is still working on that NaNoWriMo project, so I’m back to write a little more about my life. I am a busy dog and I like it that way. I patrol the house and yard and I’m also in charge of rodent abatement. It’s a fun job and I’m good at it. I’ve also taken a few classes to learn things that don’t come quite so naturally.

My teacher is Aleita Downer at Cape-Able Canines. She is a smart person who knows more about dogs than any human I’ve ever met. She teaches many regular dogs like me, but her specialty is training dogs to help people with disabilities. She learned how to do that by studying with Bonnie Bergin, the founder of Canine Companions for Independence.

My first class with Aleita was Puppy Class. I learned Sit, Down, Come, Heel and Stay and I learned how to walk on my leash. When I got older, I took General Obedience where we worked on some of the same things, but it was all just a little harder. Once I could do all of the things I learned in Obedience, I got to take Intro to Agility.  That was fun!

We jumped over obstacles, ran through tunnels, walked on boards that were high off the ground, raced up and down a ramp, went over a teeter totter, and leapt through a hoop. I was very good at agility because I am super fast. I won the race on the last day of class.

I'm very proud of my first place medal.

Next, I took a class called Tricks and Games. I learned to do things like Shake, High Five, Wave, Speak, Crawl and lots more. I love to do my tricks because I get yummy rewards when I do a good job.

Finally, my person signed me up for a class called Canine Freestyle. My person loves to dance and in Canine Freestyle, we dance together. We learned to do some basic movements with music. On the last day of class, we had to perform a short dance for the teacher and the other students.

My person and I are about to perform in class. My teacher and her canine assistant are watching.

This is a short video of my person and me practicing our beginner level dance in our costumes. You may notice that there are plenty of treats involved so I was happy to practice a lot.

If you want to watch an advanced Canine Freestyle dance team, take a look at this amazing video of Carolyn Scott and her dog Rookie dancing to “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease.

My person and I haven’t taken a new class for a while, but we still practice at home. It’s a fun way to spend time together and when we do our tricks for our human friends, it always makes them smile. What better reason could there be for doing anything?

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Filed under Dance, dog training, Dogs, Lola, NaNoWriMo

Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit

There are plenty of opportunities to see great dance and theater performances in San Diego. I miss a lot due to inattention and lack of planning, but I managed to get tickets for Come Fly Away, the Broadway musical choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp. A live big band performs onstage with one vocalist and the voice of Frank Sinatra while a cast of dancers tell the story through the choreography. Sounds like heaven to me.

I’ve long admired Tharp’s work and I loved Movin’ Out, the 2003 Tony winner for Best Choreography, also directed and choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Movin’ Out was a similar format, with a singer/pianist and a band performing the music of Billy Joel on a raised platform while dancers performed onstage.

Tharp also wrote one of my favorite books on creativity, The Creative Habit.

There are twelve chapters densely packed with practical advice based on her more than forty years of creative productivity. She shares what she’s learned, how she figured it out, and offers thirty-two exercises to help artists of every genre build their own creative rituals and habits.

Two of my favorite chapters are Spine, about finding the central idea, the meaning behind your story; and Skill, the reminder that talent does exist, but that hard work, study and practicing to build the skills we lack give us the foundation for our creativity.

Tharp says that “the best creativity is a result of good work habits.” I’ve found that I’m happiest with my work when I stick with the habits I’ve built for myself. I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned from her book and delighted that I’ll have another chance to see the result of her creative habits when I watch Come Fly Away.

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Filed under Art, Books, Creativity, Dance, Writing

Trolley Dances Update

The concert was as amazing as I had hoped.  We saw six unique dances in unusual spaces. I can’t choose a favorite.

Between dances, the audience was entertained by Circle Circle dot dot, a collaborative community-based theatre company. They performed whimsical vignettes at trolley stops and even on the trolley car.

You can read Janice Steinberg’s review of Trolley Dances, Get Moving with Trolley Dances in SignonSanDiego. There’s also a piece written by one of the dancers and choreographers, John Diaz.  If you’re interested in seeing photos of the dances, visit Rotepix.

There’s still one more weekend to see Trolley Dances.

Performances are scheduled for Saturday, October 1 (Saturday tours leave on the hour at 10, 11, 12, 1, 2 and 3) and Sunday, October 2 (Sunday tours leave every half hour at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3 and 3:30). Each tour lasts about 3 hours.

Tickets are $30 for general admission, $20 for seniors and $15 for students and they are available online and on the ground level at Grantville Station on performance days. An all-day trolley pass is included with price of admission.

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Filed under Art, Dance