Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Something new.

I am pleased to announce that as of today, my check has cleared, and I am a member of the Actors Equity Association. I am now part of two unions. (AEA and AGMA.) I feel that while there are naturally some down sides to only being able to do union shows, the benefits (health insurance, better wages, better contracts over all) in the long run will well out way the negatives. As I have said, I feel fulfilled artistically having been on stage for almost ten full seasons, that if it takes me a little while to get back up there, I will be ok.

To me, it is important to be able to walk into the union audition calls without having to wait to be seen. I also feel that while yes, my resume isn't yet as extensive in the theatre department as it will be, it is good enough to back me up in this decision. I have worked consistently in a union theatre for the past four years. I've worked consistently in a reputable ballet company for ten. I've weighed the pros and cons a million and two times, and I feel confident in my decision.

Most importantly, I'm excited!! I feel like I'm ready to have that label (AEA) attached to me. Now it's time to prove to the casting directors that I can indeed back it up! Once again, here goes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Here I am in the wonderful world that we dancers call "Layoff." To some, that may seem like a scary or strange word just as "Retiring" is, and I suppose for the rest of the world we could call it "Break," but there's not really anything glamorous about it. It's a reality of the profession. We do however look forward to it. It's nice to have time off, especially after a long run.

Most dancers collect unemployment for a couple of weeks, travel to see family, take guesting gigs, or in my case (and for the first time,) stay in town and try and save money! I realized that I needed to use these couple of weeks to begin to clear my head and get a bit more organized. To be honest, I believe more of that will happen during the second week! This first week, I am allowing myself to have a vacation. I'm going to check some things off of my Kansas City "Bucket List" such as visiting the National World War One museum and anything else that I can think of. As an artist, I am fully aware of the importance of taking a real break from what I do.

Simply breathing and giving myself the chance to do things unrelated to dance will help me refocus and build up steam to propel me into 2010 as well as the rest of the season. So often, the craziness of my daily schedule drowns out the sights and sounds of the beautiful opportunities that are around me. Many times in my life, I have found the most clarity and the ability to identify open doors that I had no idea were there when I have simply been quiet. Those who know me well know that my definition of "quiet" is anything but quiet for the rest of humanity! Still, I am anxious to see what doors may appear over these next two weeks. Perhaps I will only end up cleaning my apartment and doing laundry, (unlikely) but at least I will be able to sleep in a couple more days than usual.

My Last Nutcracker Performance as Drosselmeyer.

I wasn't ready to speak about my last experience on stage as Dross yesterday directly after the performance, but I am ready now. I will start by saying how thankful I am that I was given such an opportunity to play the role of my childhood dreams. I had the chance to thank my Ballet Master to whom I had first expressed interest in the role after the show for giving me the part, and I felt that it brought closure to the whole deal. He after all, is the caretaker of Todd Bolender's production of "The Nutcracker." He was the closest to the creator himself.

Even before I stepped on stage as Drosselmeyer yesterday, there was something special in the air. I put on my makeup while looking at the picture that I use as a guide (of myself) from my first Dross. In the picture I look so excited yet calm, and that is how I felt until the last moment. My dressing room mates and other dancers were kind to ask me how I was doing from time to time. It hadn't completely hit me yet.

Every detail of my preparation for Dross was special. Preparing my magic tricks, presetting my props, making sure my pyro-technics were loaded and ready to fire-it all was slow and meticulously handled with the most care ever. My first entrance felt calm and wonderful. During the party scene, I made sure that I was aware of every movement I made. I still acted from the heart and made sure things were naturally played, but I remember every second of that party. From scolding Fritz for breaking the Nutcracker all the way to pretending to straighten the photographs on the back-drop (something the majority of the audience would probably never know I did,) I made sure that I took every detail in.

The first time I began to tear up was during the scene where Drosselmeyer quietly takes the Nutcracker from a sleeping Clara's arms and repairs it. When I looked down at Clara, I was overtaken with the emotion of how much joy it brought me to live as that character and guard over that little girl. I've probably had about 16 people play that role with me over the years, but this time it meant even more than usual. I felt what I can only imagine it would feel to really take care of a child of ones own.

The transformation/tree growing scene felt powerful and elaborate. When it came time for me to make my final entrance is when I really lost it. In this production, Dross masks the "Prince" with his cape as he makes his way behind the bed to become the Nutcracker. In that moment, I realized it would be the last time that I would be seen on stage in Kansas City as that role. Through my tears, I made myself see as much as I could of the scene and beyond. I registered the exit lights in the audience. I took as much in as I could. It was the last time I would hold that power.

In our production, Dross doesn't get a curtain call. However, this time, they allowed me to take a solo bow. I did it in true Matthew fashion-with fire flashing from my hand and everything!

When the curtain finally fell, I was overwhelmed by the support of my coworkers as they gathered around me to hug me and say "Congratulations." They were so kind and amazing to me.

I know that it is time to move on, but I still haven't completely registered that Dross is over. It seems like yesterday that I was twelve pretending to be the character. Now it's gone! I know that I leave the part in capable hands who I'm happy to say enjoyed the role. Now, as I enter into the rest of my season, I plan to do exactly as I did with this last show. I want to see everything around me. I don't want to miss a thing. Drosselmeyer may be finished in my book, but I have all the memories I need to last me the rest of my life. I am completely thankful for the experience.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nutcracker is closed.

Today, I had my last two performances with Kansas City Ballet of "The Nutcracker." I was pleased with both performances, but I am not ready to go into great details right now.

I "remained vertical" which is always a plus during Trepak, and Drosselmeyer went off as well as I could have hoped for it to. I had a wonderful time.

I plan to elaborate tomorrow on my final experience, but for now, I'm quite drained. I am thankful and humbled by the support that my friends showed for me today. They took excellent care, and I am forever indebted to them.

To be continued...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Mouse Tale.

From time to time, we performers are given what I like to call "gifts." In tonight's performance of "The Nutcracker," I was given such a gift.

Today seemed to go by as if it was some sort of hazy dream. My next-to-last Dross was great, but there was something different that I couldn't quite put my finger on. It was almost as if my subconscious was trying to stop time and make everything go by as slowly as it could. Needless to say, I didn't succeed.

In the second performance, I portrayed my last "Mouse King." As tradition commands, I tormented the Soldiers, Bunny and Nutcracker backstage before the "battle." The children had no way of knowing that this show was any different from any other. To me, this marked the death of a tradition.

Zoom forward to my last battle. Here is where I was given the "gift." A "gift" is something that I define as an opportunity which happens during live theatre that isn't planned, thereby giving the artist the chance to use their creativity. The amount of creativity the artist is able to employ quickly during such an event defines a part of their artistic maturity in my book. Note, it is nearly impossible to accept and use such a gift if one takes themselve too seriously.

During Todd Bolender's battle scene, while the Mouse King is attacking the Nutcracker, the Bunny pulls the King's tail in order to distract him. The King, surprised by the pull sweeps his sword and accidentally swipes his own tail. His pain causes him to jump which also startles the Bunny, thereby causing her to jump.

Tonight, once the tail-swipe and jump were accomplished, I looked to see my tail laying on the floor. The Bunny didn't know her own strength evidently, and pulled my tail clean off.

I did what any agonizing soldier would do in this scenario, I picked up my tail with hopes that the doctor would be able to re-attach it. In the meantime, I beat the Nutcracker senseless-both with my sword (as choreographed) and the tail-much to the delight of the audience.

I must say, this was the most fun I have ever had as the Mouse King. Naturally, I had already decided my motivational theme for the evening before entering the stage, but once this happened, all characterization shifted. I now had something real to play off of. Moments like these are what I absolutely live for in theatre.

I cannot think of a more monumental way to say good-bye to such a fun role. With tonight's fiasco, I was given the chance to have a closing performance that I will never forget. I can't think of a time when I have ever received so much applause for this character. It was as if I had a true farewell and curtain call of sorts. What a rush.

Sleepless in Kansas City-again.

After some time trying to get my body to settle down and get some rest tonight, I've finally identified the anxiety that is keeping me awake. I only have two more days and four shows of "The Nutcracker." Tomorrow-well, today-I'll perform my last of two Drosselmeyers, my last Mouse King and my last Buffoon. It's funny to be mourning parts that I have taken for granted for so long such as the latter two of the three roles I just mentioned.

I suppose that in having a day off for the Christmas holiday, and my family being here, I was distracted and didn't have much time to do my usual brooding over the significance of these last upcoming days. They've just snuck up on me. I'm happy that I've had the fun of family and friends this week, but now reality is quietly raising it's hand as if to say, "Remember me?"

Well, "reality," I do indeed remember you, and I'm ready-and not ready-and ready. I'll just have to see what it's like in a few hours when I take to the stage.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Time!

As luck would have it, my last Christmas in Kansas City has turned out to be a "White Christmas." Most of my immediate family made it to town to see my last Nutcracker and be with me for the Holiday. The shows have been going well over the last couple of days, and for that I am thankful.

I may be one of the only dancers who feels this way (I'm sure I'm not,) but I really hope we don't get snowed out of any performances. I want every last chance on that stage. I can't imagine why anyone would rather not be up there. I don't care how tired and sore I am, being on stage is the place to be. All to soon, it will be over. When we're younger, we don't really have a true grasp on this concept. We all feel so artistically immortal in the early years. (note: I don't have to do Snow and Waltz of the Flowers, which I understand to be grueling time after time.)

I received a Christmas card from a dear teacher of mine from NCSA. He had an encouraging way to state and look at retirement. He said that when he finished dancing with the American Ballet Theatre, he stated that he was "Graduating" from dance. I thought that was genuinely a unique and not-so-solemn way to express it as "Retiring."

I'm considering adopting this phrase-at least on the days when I'm not feeling super dramatic. (a.k.a. when I'm not feeling like myself.) Other than that, I think I'll continue going for the surprised and somewhat shocked look when I tell people I'm retiring. After all, it is fun to say.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Here I come to save the day.....

Call me crazy, but I love getting "thrown on" for a role that I wasn't scheduled to perform. I love it when I see a performance and there is an announcement that an understudy or different cast will be performing. To me, that is the time to see true professionalism come forth.

Today, when I arrived at the theatre, my friend came up to me and said, "Just so you know, Jim called out today because he has a fever." "What's Peter doing?" I asked. "Lead Spanish." he said. I quickly did the math and realized that I was the only one available to do the role. I would probably be going on for Trepak. When the Ballet Master came towards the dressing room door I asked, "Why do I have a suspicious feeling in my gut?!?" He said "Yup, you're on-thanks guy!"

And so, on I went for Trepak, and I think it was my best one so far this year. I was happy to get to do it again because my family is here, and I had a chance to outdo the performance they saw yesterday (which I think I succeeded in so doing.) I'm beginning to feel more comfortable with it again.

Here's my philosophy about being thrown on for other people, and I know it may sound silly. I calm myself by thinking, "Hey, I wasn't supposed to do this part today. I'm saving the show! There's no pressure. I'm just going to enjoy this one. So, I do just that! I enjoy it. I pretend to be a kind of hero. In reality, it falls under my job description, but I still like to think I'm saving the show.

I know this may sound ludicrous, but this is honestly how I prepare myself in these situations. Actually, I'm beginning to apply this to my daily performance routine in order that someday, I may find a way to not be nervous at all-regardless of the situation.

It's always a bummer when a coworker is sick, but I'm happy to take opportunities to perform as they arise (especially this year,) and this one went pretty well over all. I'll take all the stage time I can get at this point.

-the names of the dancers that I referenced were changed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Get a grip.

Most everyone who knows me knows that I am a bit dramatic (I've confessed to this many times.) I have to be honest and say that my stupid fall during my performance last week has affected my mentality a bit. I psych myself out before I get onstage, and I actually have to remind myself that things will be okay. I've done the role a million times before.

I think the thing that may be bothering me the most is the fact that I watched the video of the mishap directly after it happened. Sometimes, ignorance is indeed bliss. I was not happy with the way I looked on the video (after the fall, of course.) Mind you, I give myself quite a bit of grace for being shaky having just eaten floor in front of everyone, but my ego is a little bruised by the way I felt I looked.

We are most definitely our harshest critics, and this will be so until the end of time. I have to say that I've always felt that I dance better on stage because I can't see what I look like without the mirror. I feel more free to simply dance and enjoy being myself. If there's one thing that I would encourage dancers to do, it would be to wait at least a little while before watching a performance of themselves. More often than not, it will never look as good as you remember it feeling, but with time, fortunately it won't look as bad either!

Never fear, there is so much more to my life than whether my toe-touches looked like glorified jumping jacks or not, so no one needs to worry about my mental health. Still, while I'm struggling with the normal issues of wondering if I still can cut it as a ballet dancer, watching the video did bug me. Tonight's performance was much better than the one I had after "the fall," so with my next two shows of this role, I hope to regain my confidence even more. Any way it goes, they're my last, so I'd better make them count! (no pressure...)

Monday, December 21, 2009


I've spoken about it before, but I was reminded tonight once more of how lucky I am to have had such a diverse community of artists to connect with here in Kansas City. I love being able to go to parties such and events and see artists who I have worked with or crossed paths with over the years.

I know that I am really going to miss this. There is a small town feel to this city that commands a high quality and level of excellence without seeming too arrogant. It's amazing to me to see these things coexist. I feel that in a larger city, the rat-race could breed such nasty and competitive energies if one isn't careful.

One of my goals when I move to New York will be to take the graciousness I have learned by watching the actors in Kansas City and attempt to hold onto that positive energy. It really carries a power that is unlike any I have ever seen.

By pushing myself into the community of artists beyond the ballet company during my time here, I have had the chance to learn about good and bad energies as I've built my own character by watching those around me. I wish I had time to learn even more, but hopefully, from what I have observed, I will be set up for a good start.

More Media.

The Kansas City Star did a two page spread on me in the Star Magazine section of the Sunday paper. Here's the link to the interview:

Happy Holidays.

Last night I put one of my most beloved Kansas City traditions to rest. It was my sixth annual "Hark the Herald Dancers Sing" Christmas Caroling party. Every year the party has had it's own flavor-sometimes singing occurs, sometimes not so much, but I always have looked forward to this night. I felt so grateful to have such a great group of people in my place helping to "make the season bright." This year was unique in that one of the dancers (and the one who got me this job) had her baby with her. It was a truly special evening all around.

I will miss the ability to host that many people in my place. It definitely has been a good place for that over the years. I'm doubtful that I will find an apartment in the city that I can fit forty people into! That's not how many were there last night, but I've seen that happen before.

Thank you to all of my lovely friends who were at the party, and those who couldn't make it for being so wonderful and caring over the years. I've loved hosting you.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The right path.

Yesterday, I attended the audition that I made mention of in the entry prior to this one. Simply stated, I had a blast. I found myself enjoying the process of it, and I really felt full of an energy that seemed to say, "You're definitely making the correct decision for yourself." Let me be clear, I was definitely nervous, but even in the more challenging section of the audition for me, I was able to keep my head on straight, stay focused, and enjoy myself. I made it through both of the cuts and was one of five who was asked to sing out of around twenty or thirty-something male dancers who auditioned.

This was just one of many auditions that I will attend. Whether or not I book the gig at this point isn't what matters the most to me. The small success of loving what I was doing was huge for my confidence level. I can't wait until I am able to say, "I love auditioning!" That is the goal I have decided to set for myself.

I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day. I had two performances after I had the audition, so I'm practically delirious as I write this! In the evening show I danced Trepak once again, and I'm happy to report that I didn't fall this time. I was a bit less comfortable with it than usual, but my confidence will return, and I'll enjoy it once again! In the meantime, I'm getting some rest.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holy Smokes!

Today after my short interview aired on NPR, there were more hits than ever in one day on this humble blog! Thank you to all who checked it out.

Some random thoughts tonight. I was touched by an audience member who was moved to tears by the Nutcracker. It was a wonderful experience. Remember, I'm not one who forgets that this art form is first and foremost a performing art-for the audience, but I was almost shocked to realize how meaningful what I do can be to people. That is worth more than a million curtain calls. It is such an honor to think that I am indeed making a difference in at least one person's life. It's nice to have the reminder that what I do is indeed important.

Tomorrow, I have an audition for a large and reputable professional outdoor theatre here in town. I am excited to get a taste of what I will be soon doing a lot of. I'm going to make it a point to enjoy myself. I'm going to allow myself to be whatever I happen to be in the moment-excited, nervous, you name it. I'm simply going to be. There is always something to be learned from auditioning. In a few hours, I'll find out what this lesson has in store.

-Oh, on a totally different subject. My dear Mother is good at catching spelling errors that I make that my spell check may not have. If anyone ever is offended by a misspelled word or simply wants to help save my reputation as the fourth grade county spelling bee champ, please, feel free to comment. Don't worry, I'll make sure that I have a good editor when I begin turning these many thoughts into a book.....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

There's a first...

"The Nutcracker." The colorful party scene, watching the Mouse King battle the wooden man, the graceful snow flakes, the colorful Land of Suites with all of their beautiful divertisments-all this and more, that's what Christmas means to me, my love! (as the song says.)

Now, picture me sleeplessly trying to get a nap in before going to the theatre, the steps I've executed countless times racing through my head-Pirouette-one, two, three, plie-double tour up!-Repeat. Picture me excited as I giddily take company class, doubtlessly annoying the other dancers with my enthusiasm. I make it through the party scene, I warm up backstage, I complete the introduction to the second act, I wait anxiously-Spanish, Arabian, Chinese-finally, Trepak time! (Russian) I spring onto stage and complete my first diagonal, I rush around to the upstage right side and begin the repeat of the first diagonal to the second side. I complete it-land, and then suddenly, the floor moves out from under me! Before I know it, I hit the deck in a swirl of orange and blue with a dull thud. All that comes to mind as I roll upstage is break dancing. I acknowledge the audience with a proud and generous gesture, and I spring to my feet to complete the dance-laughing all the way, HO, HO, HO!

Wow. What a rush! In ten years of dancing with the ballet, I haven't taken a spill like that. I've seen others do it, but never have I! It was exhilarating! However, I'd be okay with that being the only time that ever happens.

In that moment, I have to say, I laughed! What else could I do?!? Directly afterward, I watched the video, and no, the rest of the variation definitely wasn't the crowning performance of my Trepak career, but hey, I had just fallen! If there was ever any doubt in my mind, I now know that I can indeed take a spill on stage!

I laugh and almost boast about the experience, but it was humbling for me. I'm thankful that I didn't hurt myself. It was a bad enough fall that my executive director came backstage from the audience to check on me (which meant a lot.) Even though I display a cocky and boisterous response to the event, it still shook me up. I have to make the decision not to let it freak me out too much. I have to brush it off. I am glad that I was able to see the humor in it. I think it signifies that I've grown as an artist-it's not the end of the world. I love what I do. I love that I was out there and able to enjoy and laugh at the worst technical performance of my career. I'm really not exaggerating.

To any of you dancers who have yet to fall on stage, fear not. As long as you don't hurt yourself and as long as you don't take life too seriously, you may find that falling is just the thing you need to make you realize how much you love what you do. Drink it all in-every moment. It goes fast.

On the radio and web.

For any who may be interested, tomorrow, Dec. 18th, KCUR our local NPR affiliate will be airing an interview I did about my blogging about my retirement. After it airs, it will be posted online and one can listen to it there. There are also several pictures on their website posted now. the link is:


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Never forget.

My first Drosselmeyer went well this morning I'm happy to report. What I'm interested in writing about now is a bit of eavesdropping I did while getting prepared in my dressing room.

The young boys in the production and their mothers have the dressing room directly next to mine. The boys range from ages six to fourteen. This morning, the air was buzzing with their excitement. Not only were they talking about the upcoming performance, but they talked about funny or cool things company members had said or done in the recent days. They talked about video games. They spoke about their families. Most interesting though, was hearing them compare how they got started in dance.

Hearing these tidbits made me analyze the importance of remembering how we come to the places we are now as adults. For all of us, there are dreams from our childhood that jump started our minds and helped us to think about "what we wanted to be when we grew up." Although sometimes we deviate from those dreams in adulthood, they still exist somewhere in our memory, and the ability to tap back into the energy of them can make a huge difference in our careers and our lives. In the times when we find ourselves stuck or without inspiration, if we can look back and tap into those memories, I believe we can do much more than simply "pull through" the difficulty. It may even help us to refocus and perhaps do something scary and/or risky that could put our lives back on a track that may be closer to that of our initial dreams.

I have always enjoyed hearing the simple wisdom that comes out of the voices of children. Yes, sometimes their energy can be jarring, but during Nutcracker, I am going to try to listen to their innocent voices and see what other lessons they may spark in my mind.

Opening Night/Day.

I'm up much earlier than I need to be this morning. I don't know that it is completely out of excitement or completely out of anxiety and nerves. I wish that I could pin my inability to sleep of late on one thing or another.

This morning we open with a school show of Nutcracker. The house will be completely packed with kids from local schools. This is traditionally the most enthusiastic crowd we will have the whole run. I get the ball rolling with Drosselmeyer. As it turns out, I open and close the run with the same part! Perhaps I'll never know if they planned it this way or if I simply got "lucky." I'm happy it turned out this way.

This evening will be our official public opening of the show. I always get a thrill from an opening night. Regardless of the show or role, I love knowing that there are finally people who have paid, sitting in the audience expecting a good show. What a privilege and a duty to serve them. Who cares about nerves, who cares about sore muscles at that point? I have to muster all of my energy and give it my all as if it's my last one.

Of course, that last statement rings a bit more true for me this year as each one really is my last Nutcracker opening. I feel as if I'm trying to inhale the whole experience and hold my breath for fear that if I exhale, it will all be gone.

How did my career go by so quickly? Around every corner backstage I run into some ghostlike memory from Nutcrackers past. Stories pop into my brain that I had forgotten. In the eyes of the little soldiers, angels, party and Mother Ginger children, there is no way of knowing that behind the mask of this goofy Mouse King who is playfully harassing them or the Drosselmeyer who they ask to do magic tricks for them (even offstage,) is a man who is sad and feels that a part of him is dying.

Even in my sadness, I feel that I am ready for this. I am excited, and by golly, I will-I repeat WILL find a way to live for every moment my feet step onto that stage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I am a bit behind this year, but I will make it. You see, I have made a holiday ornament for each of my colleagues for every season that I have been a member of the Kansas City Ballet. It began as something fun just to say "Happy Holidays," but for me, it turned out to be something that I really enjoyed. I love a challenge, and to come up with a different idea every year and sometimes even learn a new skill through the process of it all has been a wonderful experience for me. I'm not finished with them yet.

I put a lot of pressure on myself this year thinking I had to go out with a bang. My moment of clarity came when I found myself looking at a glass ball ornament and I realized that in order to do what I had envisioned, I was going to have to practically take a "ship in a bottle" approach and come up with a way to collapse and erect a sculpture inside the orb. I was driving myself insane over ornaments! That was ridiculous! I took the balls back to the store and came up with something different. Suddenly, the stress lifted (a bit) and the joy was back in the process.

This made me think about how often in life I allow small things that should bring me happiness get out of hand and find control over my emotions. If I want to maintain the ability to call myself a "control freak," this simply can't be so! I have to be bigger than the ornament! Seriously though, taking a breath and remembering that things will naturally fall into place if I don't try too hard to force them to will save me a lot of head and heartaches in the future. The small fiasco with the ornament was a reminder of that.

It also helped me to realize that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to top the personalized "bobble head" ornaments I made of everyone in the company back in 2003. I mean, come on-what could?!?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm human.

Okay, so I take myself and what I do WAY too seriously sometimes. It's an easy thing for dramatic people to do. As I've talked about before, it stems from a lot of things. As an artist, I care so much about what I do that sometimes I lose perspective, and thereby I lose my cool. Today I had one of those moments.

By this point, I don't need to go into another long entry explaining how much I love the dramatic role of Drosselmeyer. Today, I had my first full costume rehearsal, and overall, it went well. Many times when I have gotten upset during my career, it has been about small things that seem big at the time. I'm sure most humans can identify. Since I've been doing this role for so long, I like not having to think about anything new. Well, the new guys that are doing the part are quite a bit taller than I am, and so the cape that Dross wears had to be extended. Even though it was tacked up, as I exited the stage, my foot got caught in it, and I heard it rip. I was extremely upset.

I lost my temper as I exited the stage, and I headed straight to the wardrobe area to give the cape to the costumer. I plopped it on the chair and angrily expressed something to the effect that I had severely damaged the costume piece. Suddenly, as I was ranting, I realized what a jerk I sounded like, and whether it was too late or not for me to pedal backwards, I tried to flip the situation around by saying, "But the good news is that I saved money by switching to Geico, and I lowered my cholesterol...."

I think I back tracked well enough, but I still felt like a jerk. To say that I don't always roll with the punches easily would be an understatement. I was upset that things hadn't gone perfectly and I had damaged my favorite costume. It has become a security blanket of sorts to me over the years. I was even more upset for not handling the situation in the best way.

Fortunately, I work with patient, understanding and forgiving people, but I hate it when I do things like that. I scared myself today because I realized that I am going to be pretty darned careful over these next two performance weeks because I think my emotions are riding a bit higher than I was aware. I'll figure it out, but I may have to find a better way to control my temper than simply quoting television commercials.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nutcracker Memories.

I thought of a story tonight as I was watching the little angels rehearse their part at the beginning of Act II. In Todd Bolender's version of "The Nutcracker," as I've said before, there are Italian commedia clown-like characters called "Buffoons" in the "Mother Ginger" scene. The costuming is diamond-checkered unitards and a mask....

During my first season, I was casually walking backstage wearing the Buffoon costume. All of a sudden our ballet mistress grabbed me by the hand, handed me a towel and pointed to the upstage left portion of the floor. There, I saw a puddle. Who knows if it is true or not, but we could only assume it was angel piddle. So, as all of the dancers exited stage after bowing to the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, on came a random clown who cartwheeled, from stage left and began feverishly spinning around the floor mopping up the mysterious liquid. After that, I cartwheeled back off, and the show continued without missing a beat.

There have been several instances such as this throughout my career, and I look back on them and grin and chuckle out loud. I love live theatre. A "perfect" performance is naturally the goal, but for me, it's the mistakes that lead to the best memories. I always loved hearing my teachers tell stories from their dancing days that seemed so outlandish and fable-like. Now, all of a sudden I realize that I too have some wonderful stories that I can share. I love it. Angel pee is hilarious-I don't care who you are! That's good material!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Here I go again.

Today I go into the theatre to begin tech rehearsals for my last "Nutcracker" with the Kansas City Ballet. Woah! It's already time?!? I am extremely excited to get back on stage again. I hope that the performances go well for everyone and that we all stay safe and healthy. We are cramming almost the same number of performances that we usually do in four weeks into two. It should be interesting. I look at it as preparation for what I'm hoping to do next! Eight shows a week with one day off is the life I want, right?

This is going to be strange for me because as I've said before, I really enjoy Nutcracker, and in two weeks it will be over. I'm going to continue to savor every second-even the potentially tense and frustrating stage rehearsals. Oh! Due to some cast shifting, I'm going to have one second act entirely off. I was only going to be playing a minor role in it, (so I'm not bummed) and now I'll get to watch the company dance from the audience if I get dressed fast enough after act one! I'm thrilled about that. I've only gotten to see our production from the front once in my whole time here! I love seeing how beautiful my coworkers are.

Time to crack some nuts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


One of the perks (if you will) of being a senior dancer is getting to observe. I have been observing a few of the newbies. I am encouraged by their drive and dedication to the art. Their eagerness is not yet jaded, and I hope it will continue to stay as such. Sometimes when entering the company life, young dancers can be swayed by the negative energy of some of the senior dancers. I have been around long enough that I can identify "negative energy" as insecurity being manifested through words and actions.

With every generation there is a chance to create new and positive perspectives on the field of dance. (or negative) It is my goal that by presenting an honest and realistic view of the field, I may be able to encourage the younger generation to focus on the positive aspects of what we do. Negatives can be so easily found! After all, we're dramatic people! All I can hope to do is talk to the younger dancers and let them know how much joy can be found by simply enjoying their careers. Don't worry! It will be over soon enough!

I am by no means an expert, but it is nice to feel that I can have some influence on those who will come behind me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Slow down month! Where is the time going? I'm running out of it by the second! Perhaps it seems to be going so quickly because usually by this time we would have already begun performing Nutcracker? I don't know. Regardless, it's going fast. I have so much to do!

Tomorrow, I have what will be my final seasonal meeting with my Artistic Director. In the past, these have been cause for a bit of anxiety as this would be the time where one finds out if they are planning to reengage you for the next season. I have quite a different feeling this time as I prepare to go in for my meeting. I anticipate it will be a time to further discuss my goals and plans as the second half of the year approaches. I look forward to hearing what he has to say.

I have way to much on my plate than to dread tomorrow's meeting. In many ways I continue to feel that I am behind, but I believe my next productive spurt is just around the corner. Any day now-let's get on with it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


We've now had our first snow of the season here in Kansas City. Hopefully, it won't get too bad-I guess I'll know once I wake up in the morning. Driving in the snow is something I definitely won't miss. I always have such anxiety over it.

Over the last several days I have been having some panic attacks and overall feelings of being overwhelmed with my upcoming adventure. Tonight, I don't have a lot to write about on that subject suffice to say, I hate this feeling. That's where I am today.

I guess it's in keeping with the weather patterns outside that I feel as if I'm caught in a snowball that is getting faster and faster as it speeds down a hill. Hopefully, I won't splat at the bottom into a huge tree. Any way it goes, there's no getting off of this ride.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Drosselmeyer Part IV

Oh, it just keeps getting better! In my most recent Dross/Mouse King rehearsal, I was waiting to go on as the Mouse King while one of the other Drosselmeyers was doing the scene prior to battle where the tree grows and he brings all the mice on, etc. I looked around and was fortunate enough to see the most wonderful thing. There sitting quietly was one of the school boys acting out Drosselmeyer. I was so tickled! He caught me looking and smiled sheepishly. There's no way I was going to embarrass him in that moment! I asked him how old he was, and he said he was twelve. I told him how that was about the age that I began practicing the role. He responded with "It's a really cool part!" I couldn't agree more. I encouraged him to keep working on it.

A little later in the rehearsal, when it was my turn, I walked up to him with cape in hand and asked if he'd like to go this time instead of me. He looked excited as if perhaps he could actually have a go, and then a concerned look came on his face as he explained that he didn't know everything. I told him not to worry about it for that run, but to pay attention and learn it all if he wanted to. I told him that I wouldn't mind if he practiced it in the back as I rehearsed it. Sure enough, he was on his feet learning it behind me to the music.

Moments like this are defining my career these days. I loved seeing that kid get excited about that role. I hope that no one ever stomps that drive out of him, and I hope that I was able to encourage him enough in those brief moments to keep dreaming about the future. It really took me back about sixteen years to when I had a cape wrapped around me as I scurried around the floor trying to be just like the guy who was lucky enough to have that role. It's nice to finally be "that guy" and see someone else in my old place. To this young man, I am happy to pass the torch.


I am not surprised by the fact that I have touched peoples lives around me in my time here. I don't mean for that to sound cocky, but how could their lives not be touched if mine has been by them? Interaction with one another is the most basic human instinct I can think of. We impact those around us one many levels daily-positively and negatively. Fortunately I have a positive story tonight.

Tonight and last night as I had spoken that I would, I had the great pleasure of watching my ballet be performed by my students. Oh my. I really couldn't be more proud of them. They more than rose to the occasion. The best part for me was that they looked like they were enjoying themselves.

After tonight's performance, the kids presented the teachers with flowers. Then, the director gave me the mic in order that I may say some words to my dancers and the audience. I held it together! I didn't break down and blubber like a baby. I saved the tears until one of my students fell apart and could barely breathe she was crying so hard. It's hard for me to believe that I am that valuable to anyone. It really goes to show that two nights a week can really make an impact on someones life. What a huge responsibility.

As I was leaving the theatre, I was even more humbled as several parents thanked me for the work I had done with their children. They had such kind things to say to me, and I wasn't quite sure how to accept their praise. What an honor it is to have people put so much faith in me. They trust me with the education and safety of their children. They believe that I am good enough to assist with their development. I've never really thought of it this way until now. Thereby, this is quite a lot to digest.

Tomorrow it's back into the studio for ballet class-we'll see who shows up after the weekend of performances! Whether it's a small class or a large one, I will do my best to guide them and to soak up all the time I have with them before it's the new year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Clara's Dream.

My students just had their dress rehearsal for my ballet "Clara's Dream." (Nutcracker) This will be the fifth year it's being performed and the first year that I will get to see both casts perform. Usually, I'm performing at the same time, but due to a later Nutcracker opening for KC Ballet, I will be able to attend two of my school's shows.

I love the buzz and the excitement the students have as they get prepared to open tomorrow afternoon. There's nervousness, giddiness, frustrations-all the good stuff that goes with performing. They really have done a lovely job this year, and I can't wait to see how it evolves even further in front of the audience.

I'm also interested to see how I will be emotionally. I prefer to expect the dramatic end of the spectrum for myself, and then I can be pleasantly surprised if I remain calm and tear-free.

Here comes yet another chapter closing. What a theme. I am so thankful that I have had so many years with such a wonderful and supportive school. The staff and teachers have truly saved me on numerous occasions with their love and generosity. They've smacked me around when I've needed it, and they've been there for me when I was hurting. I won't even begin to go into how much I will miss the students. We have truly had some amazing times together.

I wish all the dancers "Merde" for this weekend.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


A story from my youth popped into my mind the other day, and I thought I would share it.

Earlier I spoke of my dear teacher Duncan Noble and how he came to mean so much to me. Well, there is another teacher of note who I was always respectful to, but I may have misbehaved a bit for. It's time fess up.

Melissa Hayden was a famous ballerina with the New York City Ballet, and she taught for years at the North Carolina School of the Arts. She was known for her tough and often ruthless approach to training. She was to many of the girls the teacher that Mr. Noble was to the boys. That said, she wasn't always the boys' favorite.

I had her in the tenth grade at 8:30am nearly every day. Oh what a way to wake up. "Honey, you can't dance! Go home, drive a truck, and make babies!" This was one of her motivational speeches. You couldn't help but be horrified, but at the same time, she was immensely entertaining. Well, perhaps now more than it was then.

During that time in my growth as a young man, my back would spasm. Conveniently and (coincidentally of course,) my buddy's back would do the same thing. Somehow, this would magically occur at least once a week at exactly 8:30am. I don't understand it to this day. It was a true phenomenon nature.

We would wait in the locker room until we were sure class had begun, and then we would sneak through the hall-our mission, make it to Student Health Services to see the Physio Therapist without getting caught by Ms. Hayden. Often we would have to take turns being the lookout to make sure her back was to us as we ran past the studio door and outside to our freedom. "GO!" we would whisper/shout, and then we would laugh all the way to P.T.

Once inside, we were in our sanctuary. We took our therapy extremely seriously. We loved to attach the electric stimulation pads to our backs while we iced them and see how high we could turn the voltage up when the therapist wasn't looking. We cranked it up all the way on most occasions, but were usually forced to stop once the P.T. saw our backs twitching. We thought it was great fun.

Afterwards, with our excused absence slips in hand, we would cockily limp back to school content with the knowledge that we had received good training for the day that was sure to enrich our development. Sometimes we would go back to class, but more often than not, we would go have a soda.

If the truth be told, what seemed like a weekly occurrence probably happened less often than I remember, and both my friend and I went on to have great careers. It's still fun to think back to those days. I was quite a serious student as I remember, but my time at NCSA was full of such fun memories. Many of my friends and teachers from there I still stay in touch with.

I suppose I will end this by honoring the memory of my teacher Melissa Hayden with this: Ms. Hayden, were it not for you, I wouldn't be the dancer I am today, but I definitely would not be the prankster I am today. Because of you I learned to set a clock forward on April Fools Day, bring a buffet of treats to have a party instead of class, but most importantly, my back feels great! Thank you!

Please note: memories like these help me as a teacher now because SOMETIMES I have a little more mercy when my own students try to pull one over on me. However, I'm pretty sure I would get arrested if I said some of the things to them that she used to say to us!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Seeing is believing

I have already spoken about how proud I am of my students as they feverishly rehearse for my Nutcracker this weekend. Today, when I walked into the office before rehearsal, my boss directed my attention to a coffee table book that was sitting on his desk. Our photographer had made a book from her pictures of my ballet from last year. They were so beautiful. She had picked the loveliest shots-every one completely flattering.

I felt tears come to my eyes-yeah, yeah-surprise, surprise. To see such a colorful and vivid book of something I had created was one of the most moving experiences of my teaching career. Of course I was proud of the dancers, but I have to allow myself to toot my own horn (and the horns of the countless members of the village who make the show possible.) I was blown away to see such a concrete representation of something that I pulled out of my own imagination.

I have always loved pictures. I love them even more when you can see movement in a still shot. That to me is the sign of a good dance photographer. I am so thankful for this lady and her gift of photographic sight! Seeing this book completely lifted my spirits. It gave me comfort by making me aware that I am indeed leaving something behind-a good something.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Life is quirky.

Today, after seeing a movie, I went with a few friends to a nearby restaurant to have some food and hang out a bit more. As we were sitting there, a lady nearby joined into our conversation. It came out that she happens to be here on business and is from New York. She and her fiance live in Astoria, Queens which is one of the top places my roommate and I are planning to look when we apartment hunt. She was extremely friendly and offered to remain in contact and help however she could once I got to the city. She even offered their air mattress if I needed a place to crash.

I believe that humans can find a "sign" in anything when we have something specific on our minds, but whether this was a self made sign or merely a coincidence, I'd rather be excited about it. I choose to take it as a good omen. Perhaps the universe is more aware than I thought that I am indeed making a huge move. Regardless of how this presented itself, I am tickled to think that in my own "hometown" I met someone today from my soon to be new home. I am most definitely thankful for the constant reminder that yes, this is indeed going to happen, and it's going to be great.

Drosselmeyer Part III

Since I promised to be honest about my feeling when I began this writing experiment, I cannot leave out my thoughts about my most recent rehearsal of my dear role, "Drosselmeyer." Please note that if you're new to reading this blog, I would advise you to search out the entries "Drosselmeyer Part I and II." It will help this make more sense.

Today, I experienced something new in rehearsal. I became jealous. I wasn't upset that I wasn't on the floor rehearsing as much as the other two, but I simply felt myself getting angry that I am going to have to let this part go. As I've said before, it's hard to think of being replaceable as we are as dancers (so to speak), and today, I felt that bitter truth sticking out its tongue at me.

It was hard this time to see the others get coached in front of me. I wasn't angry with them-just jealous of their experience. I don't really need the rehearsal-I'm set and confident. I simply had a moment where I wanted the part all to myself. How selfish I felt!

I took a deep breath. I allowed myself to embrace this frustration, and then I allowed myself to let it go. I allowed myself to remember that just because others are being coached differently is in no way a negative reflection on how I interpret the role. I allowed myself to remember why I have chosen to close this chapter of my career. Finally, I allowed myself to once again look at my colleagues with pride, respect and excitement for their chance to take a shot at this special character.

Almost as quickly as my insecurities sprang up, they subsided. I still have several performances with which to say goodbye to Dross and to allow myself to continue building my excitement for the future. I am thankful for the chance to have this frustrating moment and to be able to deal with it as I did. As I have moments of doubt or questioning such as this one where I wonder "Am I really doing the right thing," I get this funny visual in my mind's eye of one of those "Great Eight Ball" toys. It answers my question with "All signs point to YES."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bring it on.

After a lovely three day Thanksgiving weekend, I feel ready to go back to work and begin the holiday season. As I've said before, I love the holidays in this city, and for me that includes the tradition of "The Nutcracker." I plan to give it my all and do my best to enjoy every moment.

The clock keeps ticking onward towards the end of the season, but I am checking in right now by stating that overall, I still believe I'm doing a good job at finding the happiness in my work and life wherever and whenever I can.

By the way, I have only two days of work, and then I get two more days off! I really do get paid to play! What a great job!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am an extremely lucky guy. I had twelve wonderful people over for Thanksgiving dinner. Everything came out perfectly-even my turkey! Trust me, the bird was low on the importance factor in the grand scheme of things.

As far as I know, and for what I'm planning, this was my last Thanksgiving in Kansas City. It was definitely the last one in my loft. Keeping myself busy by hosting, I didn't have time to dwell too much on the bitter sweetness of the event. Now that everyone is gone, of course, I have plenty of time!

Ten Thanksgivings. l am incredibly aware of how important holidays are. I have always appreciated them, but the idea of leaving my "home" made today seem all the more precious. Today was a day I will not soon forget. The people made it perfect for me. The warmth in the room was intoxicating. What is more beautiful than a dozen friends coming together to celebrate the gifts we've all been given.

Whether one considers themselves "religious" or not is of no importance to me on a day like today. What stood out to me was the undeniable fact that everyone in the room had someone and something to be thankful for. Perhaps I'm stating the obvious, but by just being there, we had each other to give thanks for.

Whenever one moves and begins a new life in a new location, friends and acquaintances change and shift. That is a scary thing for me. I've never been big on change. However, whatever changes may come-whomever time and location puts into my life, I will always love and cherish the people I have laughed, cried, danced, grown and shared my life with for a decade in Kansas City.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving.

Technically, it's Thanksgiving Day although it's time for bed. For all intents and purposes, the holiday comes after this night of sleep. I spent today preparing my home for about fourteen people including myself. When I first moved into my loft six years ago, I hosted Thanksgiving dinner, and now that it's my last year, I felt that it was only fitting that I host one last "Turkey Day" for my friends.

I won't use this post to go into all that I am thankful for, but I will say that I am excited to be hosting a dear friend of mine for the week. We danced together for seven years at the ballet before he retired and moved to New York. He is currently in the international tour of "West Side Story," so I couldn't have been more thrilled when his producers decided to fly the cast back for this holiday week. He is a positive reminder that there is life after ballet. I have always admired his drive and determination as he paves his way through life.

I am incredibly grateful for the little reminders that keep popping up when I need them of how things will somehow work out for the best. Life is tricky and sends us whatever curve balls it sees fit, but I believe that if I'm open to them, then hopefully I won't strike out. I choose to expect the curve balls and hope for a home run-or at least a base hit! We'll see.

Happy Thanksgiving! Let's kick off this holiday season with much merriment!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Those Kids.

Tonight I rehearsed five of my students for their roles as the Snow King and Queen and The Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier for my Nutcracker. I received such a rush coaching them and seeing them respond to what I offered. I felt completely in control of my ability to be kind yet critical at the same time. I loved feeling that I was sharing my knowledge with the next generation.

For years I have taught and choreographed. I have known that I am pretty good at communicating with people, and I am aware that I can command a room with authority. However, on some levels, I have always been aware of the fact that teaching was my job on the side. Yes, I've always poured myself into it, but still, my main focus was on my own performance. Today, it felt different. Perhaps I was simply in a good mood-I don't know. All I know is that it felt different. It was a different sense of accomplishment. It was more than being proud of my students. I felt that I was comfortable with being the coach and not the dancer.

Just as I have spoken of being ready to be a ballet audience member, I suppose I can liken this feeling to that one. It was a kind of calm that I can't recall having until tonight. Hmm. Interesting. Well, I'll take it.

Sleepless in Kansas City.

One of the many things going through my mind early this morning (3:09 am) is how honored I have been to be a teacher for the past several years. It's quite funny to think about. Actually, I inherited my teaching position from the dancer who left the company opening the Drosselmeyer spot for me all those years ago!

A few years back, I was asked to choreograph an abbreviated version of "The Nutcracker" for the school in which I teach. (Miller-Marley School of Dance and Voice.) It was quite an undertaking for me. The most challenging parts were choreographing the "Snow" scene and the "Waltz of the Flowers" scene because I created them without any dancers. I had a video camera, a notebook and myself.

Yesterday, my students performed the majority of my ballet at a benefit luncheon, and I was able to attend. I feel like a broken record because in many of my posts I keep speaking of how proud I am of those I am in contact with. I assure anyone reading that this is not due to a lack of vocabulary or creativity! It's the honest truth. This time my joy comes from watching people I have known from the time they were twelve grow and prepare to graduate high school. The thrill of seeing them take what I have taught them (along with many other teachers, naturally) and grow artistically as they mature into late teen/early adults is quite a moving experience.

I stumbled upon teaching. I never really planned to do it, but I have a hard time turning down opportunities that are challenging. As for choreographing, I've never pretended to be a George Balanchine or any other big-wig choreographer. I have always tried to be myself and make things that I would enjoy dancing, and luckily I've had people enjoy my creations.

I was humbled today to see my work being danced with conviction on two panels of dance floor laid over a carpeted ballroom floor. Even though the conditions weren't perfect, the kids looked like they were having a wonderful time.

It makes me think a bit how proud a parent must be to watch their children grow. If I receive so much joy from a student ballet performance, I cannot even imagine what a mother and father could feel.

As a performer, I have made many choices. Obviously, the biggest one is putting myself into a field in which I have had to spend the bulk of my energy and focus on myself. Many people around me are married (even some of the dancers,) and many of my friends are beginning to have or have had children. I don't envy them. That is their path, and I am doing what I love.

Today I realized something. As cheesy as it may seem, my students are my children. I believe I have played a vital role in helping them grow into themselves, whatever that may mean for each of them individually at this point in time. As children grow, so do their parents, and like a parent, these kids have seen me in good and bad moments. We've laughed with and at one another. I've talked to them as they cried. They've seen me lose my temper (yes, I threw and broke a chair once-great story.) All of the things we've gone together through have been remarkable for me. We've had a great time.

Sure, I may teach elsewhere in the future, but along with my ballet company career ending, so this chapter feels as if it is closing. I will miss terribly the kids that I am teaching and have taught. It is cliche, but I know that I am the one who has learned the most during my years of teaching.

Congratulations kiddos. I am so excited to see your upcoming performances in December. Thank you for taking such good care of my choreography. I look forward to the rest of our year together.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Drosselmeyer Part ll

Yesterday, I had another Drosselmeyer rehearsal with one of the new "Dross's" and our Artistic Director. I have to say how excited I was and am to watch this guy begin to take hold of the reins and really begin pouring himself into the role. There is nothing worse for me as an actor/dancer to watch than when people don't take opportunities to expand themselves as artists. There are many types of dancers. Some are technicians, some are tricksters, some are more theatrical, and some (but few) can do it all.

Not all dancers enjoy or feel comfortable playing the acting roles. It is nice to see the role that I love and respect being treated with care and not taken lightly. I commend my fellow dancers who are now creating their own versions of Dross for working as hard as they are.

In that rehearsal, I enjoyed watching the other guy getting coached. I have been playing this role for so long, and I have many clear and set-in-stone choices that I use because they work for me. I have never been bored by this fact because as it is live theatre, it continually breathes and changes. However, it was fun to stretch my brain a bit and take myself back to when I was creating the character by watching the other dancer work. Listening to my boss give ideas and motivational guidance gave me the chance to reevaluate some of my choices. Usually, I don't get to do this because due to the fact that I know the part like the back of my hand, I simply go to rehearsal, do my thing and leave. In this coaching session, I had the chance to step back and look at the character afresh.

More than likely, I will continue to execute the role in the way I have fashioned it over the years. I can say with confidence that I am happy with how I portray the part. That doesn't come from ego as much as it does the fact that I love this part and do everything I can to preserve it. As I said in my first Dross posting, I've been working on this part since I was a little boy.

It is exciting to be passing the torch on to the others, and of course it's still heart-wrenching, but that's all part of the game! I hope that the dancer who was working on the role so well yesterday really is enjoying it because if he's not, then he's an even better actor than I thought! It's looking great, and I'm so proud.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It is amazing how a scent can trigger our brains. Today as I was leaving a bookstore, I stepped into the parking garage, and I was immediately in the New York subway again-well, so my nose told me. Some would disagree, and perhaps I would as well if I were in the city at the moment, but I loved the smell today. It made me instantly excited. Obviously, it doesn't take much to make me excited about my home-to-be, but small surprises like this are such welcomed gifts. Hopefully, moments like these present themselves to remind me that I am indeed continuing down the right path. Of course, I could just be looking for a sign in anything these days. Either way, I loved thinking about not having to drive!

(Then, I got into my car and drove away.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

God I hope I get it...

I love the surprises that life sends our way when we allow ourselves to be open to them. Today gave one of such surprises. This morning, I happened to check an email account that I don't use anymore on a whim, and there was a message from an actor friend of mine who was in town touring with a Broadway company for the month. I hadn't heard from him in years. I quickly called him, and it turned out he needed a place to do laundry! So, he did laundry at my place and we had lunch and got to catch up a bit. While we were visiting, he received a call saying he would be going on for the principal role that he understudies at tonight's performance. Thereby, I was able to get a chance to see him do a great part!

Seeing him up there and watching the cast was yet another reminder that I WANT THIS SO BADLY! It almost hurts how badly I want to be on stage doing a show eight times a week. I want the lifestyle. I'd actually love to try the touring life for a while-aw heck I'll do anything-I just want to work!

I had time during the show (which was wonderful, and my friend was superb) to think about life and get nervous yet again. If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times, the auditioning is what I'm most dreading! I pray that I'll get used to it and find joy in it somehow. That's a lie! I pray that I'll get lucky and not have to do much auditioning at all!!! How's that for a pipe-dream?!?

Standing by the stage door and waiting for my friend, I thought back across the years to the times such as this when I've had friends come through with tours. It is always such an exciting time for me. It's a special feeling to get to show my city off a bit. I have been so proud to live here. It is bittersweet thinking about how much I will miss the excitement of the tours coming through when I can just take for granted that I can walk out my door and see a show anytime I'd like. Hopefully the magic won't be gone, just different.

I'm glad it will be different. I love that I will have memories such as this from Kansas City. Here's to the Broadway I've seen in the Midwest. Play on.

Learn to say "I'm sorry."

As a passionate and yes, dramatic person in this field (and I'm nowhere near alone,) I tend to have a short fuse. I speak before thinking, whether trying to be funny, relay a point or defend my position on something, and that doesn't always go over well for me.

People who get close to me are sometimes put off by my directness at first, but the ones who scratch down just a bit learn that I really mean well. Where the heck am I going with this? Hold on! The strange rambling is almost past!

I am the king of apologies. That isn't something that I really feel deserves bragging rights, but it is something that I am proud to know about myself. In my time with KC Ballet, I haven't had any major disciplinary problems that I can think of. This is because when an abrasive moment happened, I would always cool my jets and go to the person in charge(whoever that was in the situation) and apologize for my behavior if I felt that was warranted. As a result, I feel that I was able to cultivate trusting relationships with my employers. Am I saying that I should be given an "Employee of the Decade" award? Gosh no!! What I am proud of is that overall, looking back on my career and my work ethics and relational behavior with my employers, I feel safe that I can leave not worrying if they liked me or not.

That is a big need and insecurity of mine-the need to be liked. I'm working on not caring about it so much, but when it comes to my business, heck yeah I need to be liked! Being fired would stink!

There is power in being able to apologize for a situation that has gotten out of hand or at least be able to discuss it. Things can get handled so much more efficiently when they're handled calmly. This is so hard for me, but the ability to remind myself that I am dealing with people-many different levels, but they're all people, helps me as I strive to learn how to be the consummate professional and human being. I could tell some extremely funny stories of semi-"fits" I have thrown now and again. There haven't been many over the years, but the words and actions that I've used during them have often left me the legendary butt of the joke! I believe if people could be filmed while in a temper tantrum, we would laugh so hard and be extremely embarrassed of how childish we look. This is one of the reasons that I always try to resolve any issues that have resulted with an out lash-whether by myself or someone higher up.

The moral of the story today: People are people. Learn to treat them as such. Learn to apologize(even if it's unclear if you are entirely in the wrong.) Finally, if after taking these steps you're unhappy with other's treatment of you, walk away. If you are satisfied, sit tight and have an awesome overall experience wherever you are as I have been fortunate to have had.

....and it ain't over yet....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Duncan Noble

I want to write about a man who was a huge part of my training. He was my teacher, Duncan Noble. I have dedicated every performance to him in my bio since he passed away some seven or so years ago.

When I was a youngster training in the preparatory division of the North Carolina School of the Arts("University" had yet to precede the title as it does now,) I wore glasses. Big glasses. I was a scrawny kid with wiry hair that unlike me hadn't decided what it wanted to be when it grew up. As a kid in the after school program, I had different teachers than those in the high school and college division. I did however know who the teachers were, and I had great respect and fear for a couple of them.

Their reputations preceded them. Melissa Hayden was known for her sharp tongue and brutal(and sometimes confusing) coaching techniques. Mr. Noble was known for a very quiet, direct, sarcastic and intimidating presence. Mind you, these are my personal recollections.

One of the earliest memories I have of Mr. Noble even noticing me came in a story my Mother told me after class in the car one day. "Did you see that Mr. Noble was watching?" she asked. "I don't know that he knew I was your Mother, but he spoke to me of you." I was excited and asked what he said. He said in his slow mellow tone, "When is that boy ever going to get contacts?" I lost it. That was it? That was all he had to say? Nothing about my dancing?!? I had such and insecurity about those glasses, and somehow with those few words I was crushed. I started bawling right there in the car. Needless to say, I had contact lenses shortly thereafter!(I actually prefer to wear glasses now-funny how perspective changes!)

Mr. Noble was my first main teacher when I went to NCSA as a full-time student in eight grade. I didn't get him at all. He taught the same class daily, he was so meticulous-frankly, I was bored. On top of all that, he picked on me relentlessly. I didn't have a naturally flexible "ballet body," and he would say things such as, "Matt, I'm going to tie a rope around each of your legs, attach them to two horses and send them in opposite directions. Then maybe you'll have some turn-out." I was an overly serious student. I couldn't take anything lightly. Everything was a personal attack in my eyes. I had yet to learn the humor in life(and I still struggle) especially when it comes to ballet. Oh the naivete of youth! His class was anything but boring. It was technical! He was laying the groundwork I needed to base my technique upon. More than that however, he was teaching me to have a sense of humor in my art.

In those days, Mr. Noble taught the first and third trimesters of the year. I left the Fall trimester happy to be finished with his class. During the next couple of months, I began to lighten up a bit. I saw him in some contexts outside of the studio, I heard the older male dancers speak with such respect of him, and more than that, I saw from their actions and work that they had learned so much from him. I wanted that.

The first class back of the Spring term, Mr. Noble responded to whatever I was or wasn't doing by asking, "Matthew, where is your head? Would you like to leave and come back in and start over?" Before, this would have ripped me apart inside, but this time I responded somewhat precociously, "Why yes sir, I would like to." And I walked out of the studio, turned back around and strutted back to my place in class. I knew that it was perhaps one of the most risky and potentially disrespectful things I could have done, and I held my breath the whole time.

From then on, we got along great. I wasn't afraid anymore. I learned that he simply wanted me to lighten up. I finally understood. I went on to learn so much from that man over the course of my studies there. Let it be noted that there was never any disrespect in my familiarity with my teacher. He was in charge, and I never crossed any lines in my speech or actions towards him.

Lately, I've been thinking about my experience with those who gave me the knowledge to do what I have been doing. Mr. Noble was such a well of information and a guide to many of the male dancers in this country that went through that school. His passing left such a hole in (U)NCSA. I suppose I'm telling this because I wanted to pay a little extra homage to him as I continue on.

The ability to laugh at myself-and others quite frankly-has helped to make this such a rewarding career. Not everyone would know this about me if they were on the outside looking in, but trust me. I would have thrown the towel in years ago if it weren't for the ability to laugh or give a smart-alecked response to break tense moments. I have indeed crossed the line at times during my professional years, but I have always tried to apologize when I'm in the wrong.

Thank you Mr. Noble for your training, your sarcasm and your relentless belief in me and all of your students. You are still missed very much.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A celebration.

"This building has a wrecking ball with its name on it." This was a phrase that the executive director of the Kansas City Ballet gave annually and sometimes bi-annually for over half of my career with the company. The motivation behind it was that the building that we were in was only temporary. It sat on the grounds of what is now becoming the Kauffman Center for the the Performing Arts.

In 2007, the wrecking ball did indeed come, but not until we had moved across the street to our current temporary space. The new space is much larger than the old one was, but again-it is only temporary.

Today, I had the joy of attending the brick-laying ceremony for the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity. This will be the permanent home for the Kansas City Ballet. It was such a lovely and exciting occasion. I felt as if I was seeing history be made, and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

I had the honor of writing a passage for the time capsule which will be in the new building and opened in about fifty years. That was strange for me because I wrote from the perspective that I may no longer be around! It was amazing to try to speak to an audience who would quite possibly have no idea who I was-to be a ghost-like presence to them. It was a huge experience to try to relay a message from the grave so to speak.

Today at the ceremony, my eyes welled up with tears several times. Listening to the words of the people who spoke and hearing and seeing the passion that has gone into all of this was enthralling. To see the pride in the eyes of people who have been envisioning a day like this for longer than I have been dancing-not just here with Kansas City Ballet, but for my whole life of dancing! There was always a dream in the founding directors hearts for this to be a thriving and ever growing company and school. Mr. Bolender especially had a desire to see a day like this come.

Today, one person was missing for me. That was Mr. Bolender. I didn't know him nearly as long as some of the people I work with did, but in the time I did, he taught me so much. Just as I may be watching from beyond this world when the time capsule is opened and my letter is read, I feel that Mr. Bolender was not far from us all today as we gathered to do much more than lay a few bricks and kick off a building. We gathered to pay homage to a man who changed the face of ballet in Kansas City. He was a man who humbly dared to dream. He pushed everyone to achieve greatness-not just the dancers but also the community. Today, we witnessed his legacy continuing to unfold. What a beautiful journey this is going to be for the Kansas City Ballet and city together. Way to go Mr. Bolender.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

People watching.

I would perhaps consider writing a complete series of entries about the sentimental feelings I'm having as I look around at people who have impacted me if I didn't think I would bring nausea to everyone reading! I will resist, but I will however write a small bit.

I have been noticing details not just concerning places in Kansas City that spark memories, but also odd details about the people I will miss. It's perhaps stupid stuff such as the way a friend laughs or responds to something someone has said, but I find myself overly aware of random things.

I've always been fascinated by people, and now I have the chance to look at them from a slightly removed standpoint. I will say that focusing on details(however random they may seem) is a welcome distraction from stressing out over everything going on. I'll just keep rolling with it and see what pleasant discoveries come along.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Taking time to think.

I have an amazing ability to get caught up in my life(as I'm sure we all do) and lose perspective on the world around me. This isn't a bad thing, but lately I have begun acknowledging my need for people. I don't want to lead anyone to believe that I've been reclusive by any means, but in my stressful moments I am having to remind myself that I am surrounded by caring and wonderful friends.

In some ways, this transition could be a lonely time. It is natural to begin to pull away from people as I begin to get closer to "good bye," but for me this is an unsafe place to be. I'm learning that it is okay to stay close to people and ask for help when I need it. Sometimes I feel guilty and selfish asking over and over for assistance, but I know that someday I will be able to offer my help to someone in a situation that is possibly like mine.

As I take time to accept the generosity of those around me and think of all the friendships I still stand to make, nurture and enrich in Kansas City, I am reminded that it is okay to take a break. I can have people over for dinner. I can meet someone for coffee. I can go to a movie. I can and will do these things without worrying that I am losing time. In the end, my personal sanity is the most important, and I accept that I find a lot of comfort by surrounding myself with amazing people.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Memory Lane.

I had some spare time today in between rehearsals, so I began looking over videos in the ballet's archives. It shook me up a little to see myself as a young man fresh out of school and full of energy. I could see myself mature as the years went on. Technology is an amazing thing! To have record of my work is such a wonderful gift for me as I move on.

Lately, I have been battling a bit with some insecurities about my dancing. This is common I believe in this field because dancers get hired at a young age, and while that is happening, those around get older. I still feel as young as them, but I can't ignore the fact that I'm not. Just like ice skating, the technical tricks get trickier and every generation can execute more fancy maneuvers than the one before it. I have to state thought that It is great to see their energy as they tackle their first years of dancing with a company.

I hope that I may be a good example to them of someone who has enjoyed his career throughout its ups and downs.

Monday, November 9, 2009


It is interesting to see the different reactions that people have when they find out that I am "retiring." I'm so used to people knowing about it by this time that I am often surprised when someone is startled by the news. It gives me a bit more validation as a person and as an artist. I know it's selfish, but it is nice to know that I may be missed if even the slightest bit.

One thing that I am thankful for and that I welcome is the advice that people are giving me. It's so generous and moving to hear people get instantly passionate about my move and give pointers with such care that you would think they were sending a loved one off. It's as if they are rooting for me and just want everything to turn out great. Responses such as these further fuel my determination to succeed. I don't see at as negative pressure, I just feel so honored to see people coming out of the woodwork to support me. I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am these days.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blinders on.

Tonight, I heard a quote that I am not going try to quote, but I am going to attempt to relay its message. I was attending a performance, and the actress was asked how she dealt with the competition aspect of the field. She had an interesting way of speaking of it. She talked about keeping blinders on as a horse does in a race. If the horse was to look to the side, the other horses would pass him.

This field is extremely competitive. All I can focus on is myself-not those around me. When it comes time for me to go to countless auditions, I need to remember that I am only on MY path. I am not in control of others' paths. There are so many factors that go into casting a role, thereby I don't want to make myself crazy wondering why someone else got the role over me. I need simply to focus on doing everything I can to prepare myself as best as I can. From there on, it's out of my hands.

This realization came as no big surprise to me, but it is nice to see how life reminds us of simple truths when we need to hear them.

I'm going to do my best to keep my blinders on.

Friday, November 6, 2009


The only emotional milestone I can really compare my current experience to is my graduation from North Carolina School of the Arts. I attended that school for just two years shy of of the length of my career in Kansas City.

I keep having pseudo flash backs to my last year in school when I was preparing to graduate. I was nervous and unsure of myself, yet I had a strange confidence that things were somehow going to be okay. That said, towards the end, I was an emotional basket case. I think that back then, I was too cool to let it show as openly as I may now, but I was a mess. I was leaving my safe zone to go out and try to make it.

Now, I'm once again leaving an even safer zone. It's more difficult this time because in a sense I am walking away from the sanctuary that I built myself. When I was in school and living at home, I knew I was safe. Simple things such as the meals I ate were provided for me. In my adult life-which began when I was still technically a teenager, I have made myself. I have forced myself to "grow up" quicker than most who go the more traditional route of college.

I am already preparing myself for two scenarios come the end of the season. Either I'll be able to play it cool as I did at graduation, or I'll be a big weepy mess(a happy weepy mess nonetheless.) I'm definitely not too cool anymore to hold my feelings inside. As I've said before, I'm not really going to plan my reactions. I'm going to let them come as they may. I am excited to have made the connection between the similarities of what I'm going through now and what I went through a little over a decade ago. I am choosing to let it help me remain calm and trust that once more, the path will somehow form in front of me.


One thing I have tried to keep in check for myself along the way during my career is the sense of entitlement that is so easy for dancers to fall into. Somehow we forget despite our talent, so many factors go into giving someone a place in the company. I don't believe we really even realize how much we take our jobs for granted at times. I believe it stems from having fragile egos and loving what we do at the same time, but it's one of the personality quirks that I don't like about dancers(including myself.)

Throughout my career, I have kept myself in check by remembering that I can be replaced. I may have spoken to this effect previously, but today it is fresh in my mind again. I know that I have brought enjoyment to audiences over the years, and I feel that I have brought much to the table during my years of work. I know that individual artistry takes time to harvest, but I also know that there will be hundreds of excited young men when they find out that there is an opening at the Kansas City Ballet. I'm excited for them.

As I am stepping away, I feel proud that I can give someone this opportunity. It will be their turn. I have no way of knowing all of the ins and outs of how my job offer came to be, and neither will my replacement, but I do hope that my job is filled by someone who is eager and not easily dragged down by a premature sense of entitlement. Yes, we as dancers have worked hard to get where we are, but we must never forget how lucky we are to get our jobs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Motivational Issues.

As I move into the "Nutcracker season," I have found myself feeling a bit down the last couple of days. I've wanted to do little more than watch movies and sleep. I am not a person who is usually lazy, but right now I'm having somewhat of a hard time motivating myself to do anything.

I think I pinpointed the issue today. Over the last month or so, I had so much momentum. I was working on the website, getting my business cards printed, making contacts for my visit to New York, doing my Fall show, etc. Now, I think I'm simply worn out. This makes me nervous because I know that I have so much more to do, but more than that I am getting more and more uneasy about this change. It is important for me to allow myself to acknowledge nerves such as this as they arise.

When making a life alteration such as this one, I imagine it is only natural to go through peaks and valleys emotionally and in the motivation department. I know I need to try not to worry about it too much and let it run its course. I know I'm not lazy. I know that I have what it takes to get myself through this. Most of all, I know that I need to breathe and try to relax into all of it. As I've said, this change coming-ready or not. I know I'll be ready, but as someone who is a control freak, it's difficult for me when I feel I'm at a pause. Time to find that second wind.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kansas City Holidays.

There really is something special about the first place you call "home." Kansas City has been where I feel I have done much of my true "growing up" because it was the first place where I was on my own.

There are many things I like about this city, but my favorite time of the year is about to be here. There is something special about Christmas in Kansas City. I can't put my finger on it. I simply love it, and I will most definitely miss this time of the year the most when I leave. Mind you, I realize that I am going to be living in one of the most festive cities in the world, but Kansas City has a unique blend of urban energy with a close to home mid-western flare.

I must confess that I have finally let go of some of my inner "Grinch" when it comes to the holidays. I used to almost get angry at the thought of anything to do with Christmas before Thanksgiving. Bah Humbug!! I still find it strange that this year the two holiday radio stations began airing "Jingle Bells" the day after Halloween, but I'm okay with it this time. Like I've said before, I want to soak up everything I have loved about this place for as long as I can. Thereby, if I choose to listen to carols for two months straight, so be it! This is my season!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, November 2, 2009

College Degree.

My parents had an interesting way of looking at "higher education." They seemed to believe in the journey more than the end result. When it came to whether or not to go to college, they were never hell-bent on it being a "must do." They supported me pursuing any means it took to get me to my individual end. They always said that one needed to find his or her own path to get wherever they needed to go. If college is what it takes, go to college. If trade school, go to trade school. For me, performing arts high school did the trick.(so far.)

A weird thing began to happen about three and four years into my career with the ballet. My childhood friends began graduating from college. It was a difficult thing for me to grasp at that time because in a way I felt left out, but it was much easier to shrug it off since I felt on top of the world having already completed four seasons supporting myself and living alone practically unaided by my parents.

That was several years ago. Now, as I embark on this next phase, I have been having some slight(and I do mean slight) anxiety issues surrounding my lack of higher education. While I do have a few college credits to under my belt, I decided early on that if I were ever to do school, I would want to do it all at once. I have no interest in the twenty year plan. It works for some dancers, but for someone with a short attention span who isn't the biggest fan of school, I would need to completely immerse myself in it in order to succeed. Sometimes now that my ballet company career is winding down, I feel nervous about the future from an educational stand point. I've often joked that one needs a degree these days in order to get a job bagging groceries! A resume that states that I danced the role of "Blue Bird" in "Sleeping Beauty" isn't much help compared to "4.0 from Chapel Hill" when it comes to booking a job in the "real world."

I spent much of my life saying "I'm never going to college," but now that I'm looking ahead I need to state how much respect(and a small bit of jealousy) I have for those who have degrees.

The flip side of this whole issue is that I need to point out that I work with and have met some of the most intelligent people in this field and many of us have the "no college degree" thing in common. In a world that looks down on people for such a thing as this, I am honored to be able to buck the system! In a way, not going to school is another way that dancers sacrifice "normality" in order to pursue our passion. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and I work with a couple of people who have college degrees. Sometimes I'm REALLY jealous of them!

I guess the point of this rambling entry is to point out that we all have different ways of taking our journeys, and I need to be confident in the path I've chosen. I applaud my parents for allowing me to pick my own route, and I encourage other parents to do the same for their kids. For now I'll keep trusting that I've picked the correct path for myself.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


When I was about twelve, I was in my first production of "The Nutcracker." I was a child in the "Party Scene" of the first act. I had my first small taste of the limelight, for I was interviewed by my small community's news paper. This is one of the earliest memories I have of wanting to do more than steps-wanting to tell a story. When asked to describe my role, instead of stating it as most would-a child in the party scene, I said, "I'm not actually the boy who breaks the Nutcracker, Fritz is, but I play Fritz's best friend." That was me making something out of a chorus role at an early age.

In that production, I fell in love with a role. That was the role of Herr Drosselmeyer. Drosselmeyer is the mysterious, somewhat kooky inventor/magician who gives his goddaughter, Clara the Nutcracker. When I was a young boy, I would get so excited to watch how one particular actor turned dancer would portray the role. He had such a fun and whimsical way of playing him, and I swore that one day I would try to play this part.

About eight years ago, one of the best Drosselmeyers I have ever seen in a professional company stepped down at the beginning of the season. I was about twenty-one or so, but I did something that I've only done once in my career. I asked for a part. I expressed to our ballet master that I would be interested in learning Drosselmeyer. I said that it was the part I had wanted to play since I was a child, and even if they thought I was too young looking, the chance to learn it for the future would be welcomed. Lucky for me, they put me on. Ever since, I have had this part in Nutcracker to look forward to every year.

I was given a gift. My leaders took a chance by giving me this part. I was also one of the last Drosselmeyers at the Kansas City Ballet to be coached by one of the foremost experts in balletic theatrical storytelling, Todd Bolender. He picked the role to pieces and opened Dross(as we call him) up to a world of possibilities for me. He said things such as, "Dear! When you're doing this part, think of being a great bird! Use your cape to fly across the stage!" As with many actor/coach scenarios, I had already set Dross in a certain way in my mind, and Todd came in, and together we stripped the character down and built him back up.

To this day, I do the role similarly to when he coached me because it simply works. I find new ways to keep it fresh, and with live theatre one has to naturally adapt to unexpected things on stage. When "surprises" arise on stage, I welcome them as gifts. I love having to make spur of the moment decisions(as long as it isn't something that I feel gets in the way of my storytelling!) Admittedly, I have had my share of angry moments for things not going right! That's showbiz folks!

Yesterday we had our first Drosselmeyer rehearsal. We have two new dancers going on this year. I felt a sense of pride to be the veteran and watch them begin to discover the character as we worked. I look forward to sharing what I know with them. It is one way for me to keep the memory of Mr. Bolender alive.

I don't expect everyone to have the same obsession as I have had with this role. We all have different parts of our lives and careers that are exciting and serious to us. Nevertheless, I know that by passing the torch,I will be able to live vicariously through the portrayals of Drosselmeyers yet to come as I say farewell to a character who has gone from being a childhood dream of mine to a dear friend.

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's a personal journey.

I've spoken a bit about this before, but I've been thinking today about how personal "retiring" from this field really is. Since making this decision for myself, I have really been hyper aware of others in the field and how and when they decide to take this step. It fascinates me. I've seen everything from finishing after four years to suddenly being offered a job and announcing two days later that they're taking it.

I have to say that one perspective that I can allow myself to be a bit jealous of(sometimes) is the dancer who gets to dance until they're in their forties. Holy smokes! The natural ability and focus that it takes to maintain ones craft and have a lengthy career such as that baffles me. I happily raise a glass to anyone who is able to do so.

A piece of advice that I would offer a young dancer would be to dance as long as he or she can. More importantly, dance as long as it fulfills them and makes them happy. I will have danced ten seasons, and I am thrilled to be exiting still feeling that I love this job. I would never want to stop because I was sick of it or unhappy.

There is no right or wrong time to retire. Those of us who get to do it in our own timing and on our own terms are definitely lucky and unfortunately not always the norm. It is such an individual choice, and I hope that my writing these many entries will help dancers feel that this isn't just a scary part of the career but an exciting part.

Whatever the reason for dancers finishing their runs as company artists, injury, the desire to have a family, wanting to do something else, you name it, it is my wish that they will come to know that this career and training-no matter how long it lasts, has prepared us for so much to come. We really are a special breed.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another nostalgic moment.

I am continually learning that I have no way of knowing when my emotions are going to sneak up on me during this phase! Today, my last rehearsal was for a section in "The Nutcracker" that involves all the men. Only four dance at a time, but we were all in rehearsal together. When the music began, I almost had to fight back tears! I managed of course. I'm ever the model of machismo.(feel free to chuckle.)

Here's the thing. The annual first rehearsal of this section is quite an entertaining experience. Picture a group of grown men acting like kids. We all give one another a hard time, whoop it up and it actually becomes a game of sorts. Of course we get our work accomplished, but overall it's a low stress rehearsal that can be as fun as we choose to make it. Today was fun.

In these rehearsals I've always played a game where I try to see how many times I can make the "newbies" dance the part(there are three casts usually) before I actually have to do it. I've done the part so many times, so never fear, this isn't an act of defiance on my part! It's actually quite fun, and we usually get a laugh out of it. Today, one of the new guys tried to beat me at my own game and see how much he could get me on the floor. Ultimately, I won, but I admire his efforts and his spunk!

It is so much fun for me to watch as the new dancers take over the company and make it their own. Thinking back over the years during this rehearsal, I was able to reminisce about the great times I have had with my male colleagues. We are a strange batch of fellows. We're the ones who withstood the ridicule from our ignorant peers in elementary school(and sometimes even until this day believe it or not.) We didn't pay attention to the bullies. We laughed at stereotypes and chose to follow our dreams. Today was much more than a rehearsal and a chance to goof off for me. It was in a way another "Goodbye" to something that I didn't even realize I would miss. I stand corrected. Thanks for the great times guys. You'll always be a bunch of "Buffoons" to me!