Sunday, July 10, 2011

A blog entry I wrote for a friend's blog.

Here is a blog entry that I wrote for my friend and former teacher Christopher Fleming's blog reminiscing about an early dance experience, and I thought I'd share it here. The link is:

Here is the entry as well, but I recommend going and reading more about Christopher's travels as a company director.

As a young student in ballet, I was taught extremely meticulously. Learn each of the positions. Perfect each of the many movements. Learn how to give the illusion of perfection on an imperfect instrument. Ballet, especially in the formative years leaves hardly any room for anything but the merciless quest for beauty and grace. With this being the structure, many dancers grow up to fill the stereotypical mold of stiff, snobby, unapproachable “bun-heads.”

Ten years ago, after already having danced for a couple of years professionally, I was given the opportunity to go back to school for the summer and train with some of my teachers in Philadelphia. I knew that I would be working in my medium by doing the usual-technique class, men’s technique class, partnering class, baseball training, ballet reperatoire-BASEBALL TRAINING?!? Hold the phone! Now, I had definitely thrown a ball around as a child, but it had probably been a good eight years since I had thrown anything other than a frisbee, so you can imagine my surprise when Christopher Fleming called us to rehearsal, and with his casual swagger began handing out baseball gloves and balls to us as if it was just “another day at the office.” I for one wasn’t quite sure what to think of this, but since even as a young dancer I had already begun to love the character and acting aspect of the art form, I thought, “What the heck?” and I put on a glove.

Those early rehearsals saw a lot of missed passes, a few bruises and absolute terror in the eyes of several a young man and women as we strove upon fear of certain death NOT to put a ball through the mirror! We also began dancing with baseball bats, juggling and singing to learn Fleming’s ballet “Play Ball.” (Another day at the office indeed!)

I’ll give you a bit of insight into the mind of a young classical dancer. When the majority of what you have been taught up until a certain point is the classical vernacular, it can be a hard sell to get the dancer to accept something that is a departure from what they are used to. So, there were some grumbles during and after some of those early rehearsals. (Unfortunately, many dancers never grow out of this state even after many years of professional work.) Years later, looking back after my ballet career has ended at those early years and specifically that summer in Philadelphia, I realize that we were simply scared. We were being challenged in a new way, and we didn’t want to fail. However, unbeknownst to us at the time, we were being given a gift. We were being given a glimpse into what our future would hold. We were being stretched to learn to move outside of our comfort zones. We were learning to be artists, and on top of that-WE WERE GETTING TO PLAY BASEBALL ON STAGE!!! How fun!!!

What ensued was a new level of trust and camaraderie. We had to trust that not only would partners not drop each other physically, we would also do our best not to hit each other in the head. The timing of each throw and catch was so musical that if something went a bit off….WHOOPS!!! Balls did get dropped. Balls were even dropped on stage, but this too taught us how to think on our feet.

To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about this experience in a long time, but thanks to the internet, I recently saw pictures of the most current cast of “Play Ball.” Suddenly, the memories came flooding back, and may I add there was a delicious dread that still lingered in me as I thought of those early days of trying to make sure I caught the ball! However, to think of another group of young and talented men and women learning and perfecting something that had been a part of my life all those years ago really brought a smile to my face. It reminded me of the early years of my career when I was only scratching the surface of the artist I would become. I am extremely thankful to have had this experience, and I hope that the dancers who have performed and will someday perform this piece will have warm memories as well.

Well, there you have it! Hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


So....after much auditioning-MUCH auditioning, I found out I'll be heading back to my Kansas City "home" to perform in the Starlight Theatre's production of "Cinderella!" I'm very excited to get to go back. It's a quick gig. We have something like eleven days to put the show up, do seven performances, and then I'm back to NY and the grind. I am extremely grateful though, and I just wanted to drop a note in case anyone happened to be wondering what was going on in my life! There you have it!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Another revelation.

30 years old. So far, so good. I've almost been in NYC for a year now, and I'm still alive and able to pay my rent. Neither of which I take for granted by the way! I'm actually currently in Raleigh, NC where I just judged a dance competition, and I will leave back for home in just a few hours.

The other day, I had a wonderful conversation with a friend of mine who has been living and working in the city for a number of years. After the conversation with her, I had a wonderful realization. I'm ready to allow myself to have a life again-within my budget of course! I've given New York almost a full and pretty darned painful year in many ways, and I've decided to allow myself to venture out again.

Here are the facts. I've been auditioning as much as I'm able for months. Nothing has opened up as of yet. I've gone through a wave of emotions, survived my first unemployed winter, and it's now spring. I LIVE IN THE BEST CITY IN THE WORLD!!! I realized when talking to my friend that if I don't let myself live in the in betweens, I'm going to miss out on so much. Let work come when it will. Have I proven that I am tough enough to take the risks necessary to go for it? Heck yeah! At a certain point, it's not up to me! I've talked about this before, but now, I finally get it!

So, I'm pleased to say that I'm going to begin to have a little fun! After all, it's spring time, and I just celebrated a milestone! I'm quite a lucky guy! Who knows, maybe stuff will happen when I least expect it if I relax and don't look for it so hard as the cliche states! Don't worry, I'm still gonna bust my butt at auditions, but I'm going to try to enjoy all the stuff that surrounds those brief minutes out of my life and let "life" itself dictate my happiness. NOT the time in front of the judges.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm 30.

It's hard to believe it, but I am now officially out of my 20's and on into the wild new world of a new decade. I can still see the birthday card that my Maternal Grandfather once gave me that said "Welcome to the double digits." It seems like yesterday. Here I am twenty years later.

So much happened in my twenties. You know what? Most of it was pretty darned good. Still, I'm ever reflective (wouldn't want to break the mold,) and I can't help but look back and give my usual cliched remark of "the next decade is gonna be even better!" However, let's be honest. On one hand, it's completely true. I'm going to give my 30's everything I've got-why not?!? On the other hand, I'm in the middle of the uphill climb of my life. No, I'm smack dab at the beginning. I could be all dramatic and worry wart-ish, but instead, I'm going to just say what I'm feeling. I'm scared as can be, and at the same time, I've never been more excited in my life. I'M ALIVE!!! I've made it 30 friggin' years, and in my last career, I accomplished more in ten years than many do in twenty. I'll allow myself this one opportunity to be pompous because in my family we have a saying that says, "It's your birthday, and you can do no wrong!"

I am extremely lucky-blessed (whatever you want to call it.) I don't take any of it for granted. I definitely didn't make it to this point on my own, but I most certainly pushed myself to get here. In this current new and often frustrating time, I can only hope and expect that I will continue to govern myself with the same discipline that helped me through the first third of my life. I am optimistic. Really, what more could I ask for? I have my health, a roof over my head, and above all, I have an ever increasing support group of friends and family surrounding me. How could I possibly fail.

So, here I ago again. I'm beginning what I am sure will be the most exciting decade to date. I was sure that the last one couldn't be topped, but I'm out to prove myself wrong.

Hello 30.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's been a while.

Hello, remember me? Well, I'm still very much alive. I haven't been feeling so great this week since I've been at home with an awful cold. I thought I'd take this time to reflect and bring anyone who still cares to read, up to date. I am still constantly auditioning. I believe that my body finally said "REST NOW!" Nothing like being ill to make that happen! So, that's all that I'll speak to as far as the auditioning goes.

One thing that has been special recently is that I was asked to sit on an alumni panel for my Alma mater, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. (UNCSA.) I participated in this with about six other alums this past Sunday. It was such a treat and an honor to speak to several benefactors of the school and get to say "Thank you" for their investments in my education and that of so many others. We discussed stories of our teachers, our fond memories, how the school helped shape us, and had we been given the chance, I think we could have stayed there all day without drying up of thoughts. One thing we definitely all had in common was a sincere pride and love for the place we had spent a good chunk of our time in our high school and for some college years.

Speaking of my success as a dancer in the ballet world also made me all the more passionate and motivated to get this next phase going even more. Of course, by that I mean I actually want to get a job now more than ever! I want to make people proud again. I know that there is a fair amount of ego rolled into that statement, but I don't care. I own that ego. It's mine. It's part of what makes me do what I do. I just hope it happens sooner than later! I miss making people's lives better from the stage. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing for now!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Still going.

Here's just a short one. I went to the opera the other night which was a wonderful escape. As I was enjoying it, I went back into my head and remembered how much I enjoy the act of being on stage and providing that escape for people. Then, everything snowballed. I'm NOT on stage currently! I'm NOT providing an escape! It hit me like a ton of bricks, and actually made me realize further how much this new lifestyle is taking its toll on me!

Before this begins to sound any more like a whiny journal entry in the style of blogs that I hate, I'm going to wrap it up by saying this: I know that this is all just a part of the journey. These daily ins and outs and highs and lows. My eye is still set on the ever changing prize. I'll get there.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Here's the basic jist of things. Auditioning sucks. (I apologize for my less than poetic rhetoric, but I haven't the energy for poetry at the moment.) Now, lest anyone think I am going back on things I may have previously stated, I still find enjoyment in auditioning at some level. Auditioning appeals to those of us who are adrenaline junkies. We're the ones who stand on the top of a tall building and wonder what it would be like to parachute down. We're the ones who love roller coasters. Yes, we're a sick breed, but you have to have this kind of sickness in order to put yourself through the Hell that is auditioning in New York City.

I've done seven auditions in three days-three of which were today. Today, I signed in for what is called an Equity Principal Appointment, and reserved an audition time for 5:50pm. Then, I rushed over to another space with barely enough time to sign in before an extremely physical dance audition. Then, I piddle-farted around and killed time before going to get in line at an audition for which I hadn't previously signed up for.

Note: you can sign up on a list ahead of time thus making the order you are seen in sooner rather than later. Sometimes I forget to do this.

At this particular audition there were 600 people signed up ahead of time. Fortunately, not all of them showed. Even at that rate, however, I was number 151. Three hours later I sang my eight bars (sixteen is the norm, but there were too many people,) and then I trudged downstairs to wait another hour before my appointment to sing for the other audition.

Folks, there is something romantic in the un-romantic life that is the actor's. We put ourselves through absolute crap in the hopes of finally getting a gig. All of this considered, as I walked to the elevator to leave, exhausted from my day, I thought, "This will pay off eventually." I really believe that once I finally get a job, I'll have such a great story to tell.

Here's the part that's even more amazing. It's not even a new story. People have been doing this for years. Welcome to the club Matthew.