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!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Share and share alike.

Lately, I have been struck by the generosity of artists around me. For the most part, I have had many people who are entirely willing to share with me the "secrets" that they have learned of the business. Any information they may have gleaned from their experiences such as where to look for jobs that I have never thought of or where to look for apartments has been helpful.

This is such a dog eat dog world, and often artists feel threatened by each other. I know I have felt this anxiety on many occasions such as when I am up for a role against others, and it's not clear who is going to get the part. At times such as these, it is human nature to "look out for number one." When it comes to casting, I'm trying to learn that since much of it is entirely out of my control, I may as well just do my best and let the chips fall where they may.

Now that I'm entering a different and even more competitive pool where people don't have the luxury of getting paid even if they don't get the part, I'm really having to prepare myself mentally. I find that the people who are the most successful and respectable are also the ones who are the most helpful. They don't seem threatened by anyone else. They are confident and calm, and many that I have met so far are even kind! Go figure! It's often people who I call the "ankle biters" who are so frantic about getting the job and taking care of themselves that they aren't willing or able to help those around them.

Everyone has a story and experiences that influence them in their personal interaction with others. I know that I can tend to fall into the nervous insecure category. However, by knowing this about myself and admitting it openly, I hope that I as I grow I can be more like the helpful and confident artists who I admire. In self defense, I don't feel that I've ever been one to deny help to anyone who needs it, but as a human, the competition factor often creeps into my mind. I know that on many levels this will never go away. My personality is what it is, but I hope that I can continue to learn, accept criticism and graciously be able to help others someday as much as I am being helped now in this transition.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One item to check off the list.

After much frustration and several weeks of work, my website is complete. Such a sense of accomplishment accompanies this! Of course, I will continue adding to it, but the initial(and a bit scary) part which is simply getting it online is finished. So, for today, this will be the extent of my blog, and if anyone who is reading would like to take a field trip of sorts and be let into a bit more of the life of this author, go to:


Monday, October 26, 2009

Home again.

What a week! I feel as if my feet never stopped moving, and my heart never stopped racing! It was so exciting to be in what will be home, but work beckons me tomorrow at the ballet. I feel refreshed and ready to go into that Nutcracker time of the year.

I feel a bit frantic now that I've been away, and I am even more aware of the magnitude of this transition. I have so much that I need to get accomplished-I'm beginning to sound like a broken record.

To backtrack to yesterday. I managed to see one more performance bringing my total to three Broadway shows and a community theatre production in five days. All were inspiring. This week put me in what I feel is a win-win state of mind. I feel artistically fulfilled at work, and now I feel even more inspired to get through the rest of the season and really enjoy it. I don't believe I could have hoped for more out of this trip. Even though it was in truth a vacation, I most definitely feel like I began laying some important ground work.

I landed in Kansas City about two hours ago, and now it's off to train and choreograph for the future generation. Off to teach go I, and tomorrow it's back to work full speed ahead. Time to continue making this dream a reality.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Philadelphia Story.

It has been quite an exciting day. I left New York early in the morning via "Megabus" on my way to Philadelphia. When I stepped off the bus, I felt as if I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. Philly was where I first lived away from home. It was such a period of growth for me. I began to establish independence and a clearer knowledge of what I wanted to do with my life. It was quite an inwardly emotional homecoming of sorts today.

I visited the Rock School which is where I did my last year of formal training. My word it has changed! The school has grown, and it was exciting to get to look in on the eager and talented young students continuing the tradition. Wow were they good!

If I had only gotten to tour my old school and see my teachers, that would have been enough in my quest towards closure. However, by some stroke of fate, I happened to be in another part of the city and saw one of the ballet masters of Pennsylvania Ballet who had also been one of my teachers! I called out to him, and he invited me to come and watch the company's rehearsal on stage. I got to see a former colleague of mine from Kansas City Ballet who I hadn't seen in years rehearse his lead role. He looked remarkable. Although I don't find myself jealous of dancers anymore on stage, I do still get inspired by their passion for the craft. It was wonderful to see him and several others from my past.

Currently, I am writing this entry while on the regional railway. I spent many a day on the train in and out of Philadelphia, and for some reason I always enjoyed writing on the train. It's something about the rhythm and the sound as we rumble along. It's a much different energy than the subway, naturally, but I find I feel safe surrounded by so many people. it's quite comfortable for me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Looking around.

Today I let myself fall in love with public transportation again. One thing about it that I find interesting is how it forces people to be in close contact with each other. You get to make the choice-depending on personality and/or mood-on how you interact with those around you.

I've been enjoying seeing the look in peoples' eyes when I am courteous or polite. It's a look of surprise and gratitude. It makes me realize that I have an opportunity with everyone I see to make a brief connection. I don't think I'll necessarily change the world, but I can try to spread some positive energy. We'll see how far this takes me. If nothing else, hopefully it will eventually begin to change me and make me a better and warmer person-the kind of person I would like to know(or at least share a subway ride with.)

This is such a fun trip, and it's going by so quickly. Tomorrow, I'm going into Philadelphia, and I'm going to visit the dance school attended for the year before I went to Kansas City. I'm excited to see my teachers. I think this will help me in my continuous quest to find closure in this transition.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

So inspired.

I am so hungry for more of the inspiration that I am finding simply by walking on the streets here in New York. The energy of the people, the crowds, the simple fact that there is activity going on EVERY NIGHT is exactly what I'm needing at this point in my life.

I hope that I am lucky enough to get work performing quickly after I move here, but as long as I find some sort of job to pay the bills, I am sure that(at least for a while) I will be content just getting settled into this new place and pace of life.

I am excited to find classes and further my training as an actor, but I am more excited for what I will learn from the life experiences I will have and the people I will meet. I love being surrounded by people who are in the same field as I and are pushing for work. Yes, I could be discouraged by the great odds that are against all actors when searching for work in a saturated field, but instead(for as long as I can,) I hope to focus on the joy of my new surroundings.

Let me say that I haven't forgotten that I have a wonderful rest of the season to go back to at the ballet. I promise to continue to keep my focus sharp on my work.......but I'm still so excited by NYC!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's time.

At the completion of my first day in New York City, I know I've made the right decision to move here. I love this place. I'm still nervous about the finer details such as the financial aspect and finding a place to live, but I'm so excited. The energy on a Tuesday-a Tuesday! I just love that every day of the week can be buzzing with life.

I'm enjoying the people watching and imagining where people come from or are going to. Once I'm back in Kansas City, I'll be able to truly reflect upon the week that I'm sure will be full of adventures, but for now, I'm going to rest up. My(well, almost) city awaits tomorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The day after.

I have always had an empty feeling the day after a performance series ends. I always go through a form of withdrawal once I'm not on stage anymore. Today is no exception. Today's struggle makes me think about the withdrawal that will come after I'm on stage for the last time in May. I'm glad to be thinking about that now because I feel that if I prepare myself for the worst, then surely it couldn't be too bad, right?!? Either way, it's not fun to think about.

I love being on stage. Yes, there are roles that I don't care for, but I love the stage. It's going to be hard to take that final bow with the ballet. Hopefully, I won't have to wait too terribly long before getting back under the lights after I "retire." We'll see.

For now, it's time to focus my energy this week on relaxing in New York and enjoying the people I'm with and the adventures I'm bound to have. I can't think of a more exciting place to live at this point in my life. I'm bursting with anticipation about my move, and this visit will be a great time to get myself motivated even further. Big Apple, here I come.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

One down, three more to go...

It's over. Boy, does that go fast. The performances were safe and successful. I was thrilled to be a part of them, and I did what I said I wanted to-I took everything in and enjoyed the shows as much as possible.

I am ready now for my week off in New York. I plan to have some wonderful(and relaxing)adventures. I need the break. My mind feels pulled in two directions right now. The Kansas City present in which I feel comfortable and love so much, and the New York City to come. The latter is uncertain and a bit frightening.

With one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, I plan to make my way there. I'm just going to trust that it will somehow turn out fine. Everything else has so far. It's time to shake things up a bit.

Thank you Kansas City for ten great Fall seasons.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Performance lll and iv

There isn't much to report that is incredibly enlightening about the third and fourth performances. They went smoothly, and I corrected my mistake from yesterday's show-not that I was worried. I still find it a bit humorous.

I suppose it is appropriate to talk about the young couple I have mentioned before who have been working on their first principal pas de deux. They performed it today at the matinee, and they were wonderful. I look forward to seeing great things come from them.

Tonight as I was watching the show before it was the second act in which I perform, I felt really distant. It was wild. It was the most distant that I have felt to date. I watched my beautiful colleagues dancing, but this time, I really felt as if I was an audience member. It made me angry actually. I felt that my mind or body or something was getting ahead of me-betraying me in a way. I'm still here! This is still my job! Naturally, I turned that frustration into character motivation and seethed on stage as was appropriate for my roles. All's well that ends well, eh?

I'm excited to have a week off after this to go out of town and clear my head. It is much needed.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Performance ll

There was more fun on the stage of the Lyric Opera Friday night as another cast of Kansas City Ballet artists took to the floor. Once again, it came and went rather uneventfully-which is a good thing when people are hurling themselves across the stage in positions that living creatures were never meant to assume.

There was also a first for me. I prepared my first entrance in the wings. It's a rather simple one that I've executed many times before. Something felt strange about it as I rehearsed, but no matter. I went over it and over it. Then, I went on stage. The dance is a military dance with several "about faces," and several men are dancing in unison. On the first one, when I was supposed to turn to the right, naturally I turned to the left. What?!? "Ah well," I thought and kept going. Hey, it's live theatre. If I kicked myself every time I messed up, where would I be? But wait, I honestly couldn't remember making such a blatantly wrong choreographic error EVER in ten years! Then came the repeat of the same part towards the end of the dance. I was definitely in the back this time, and I hesitated long enough to follow a colleague in front of me so as to make sure I was correct, and I turned the wrong way again! I couldn't believe it. All I could do was find the humor in it. I definitely couldn't be reprimanded for not practicing! I had practiced-I practiced wrong, but I practiced!!

I must say that I don't take mistakes like this lightly. I have always prided myself on being a consistent dancer. I am learning though to forgive myself when I make a mistake. And yes, I guess I am bragging a bit about not being able to remember making one as obvious as that in ten years of dancing! So there! Eat your hearts out Kansas City! Ha!

(sarcasm must be noted...)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My last season opening....

Oh my goodness. I couldn't have imagined what this would be like. All of my fretting and pondering led to this-a normal day like any other. It is simply a reminder of how what I do matters very little in the grand scheme of things. Hold the phone-that's not true. To have been able to have been there and offer my support to my fellow artists, to have been on the stage as a contributing force to the whole product, I was/am valuable. I loved every minute of it.

I shared with just a few close friends how this day was a bit strange for me. They were entirely supportive, but I was careful not to take away from their moments. It's a strange field because it is an organism that keeps replenishing itself. We care for each other's transitions, but we have to continue on. We can't stop life just because someone is getting off the boat. That said, I am thankful for the care and sensitivity that people afforded me.

I kept it together today. I wasn't sure if I was going to be an emotional basket case or not, but it looks like I'm safe for now. I began to get a little sentimental walking into the stage door, but I kept my head on.

Now, I'm just looking forward to the rest of the run and taking a week off in New York after it's over. It will be my first time visiting the city knowing that I will definitely be there(to make it or break it) come the summertime! I plan to soak it all in.

For now, I'm going to put my feet up and be thankful for a wonderful season opening. I'm glad that it went well, and I'm honored to have been a part of it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Theatre week: Day 2

One of the most rewarding parts of this job is seeing the finished product come to the stage. After all, this is what it is all about! Today I had the joy of watching the parts of the show that I'm not in, which is three out of the four pieces(predominately women-I'm not upset!) The dancers really brought themselves into the work. I don't mean to sound surprised because I'm not. I guess I just love being reminded of the heart behind what we do. No matter how unhappy we are from time to time, no matter how much we fetch and moan, no matter how grumpy with one another we may get, there is no question in my mind when I see everyone pulling together that we love what we do.

I loved being at the theatre today. I loved getting to chat with my colleagues and praise them for a job well done. I want them to know that I am so proud of their growth. Several of them I've gotten to watch from the time they joined in their teens, and it is so extraordinary to see them blossoming into mature artists. I am sad that I won't get to see the new ones grow this way, but that's ok. The ones I watched grow will watch them grow. Hopefully, the new "senior" dancers who I knew as new artists will be able to appreciate and nurture them as they mature. What a unique gift this career can be when we learn that it doesn't revolve around ourselves. It is about the whole product. We are allowed to pass it on to the next generation. How exciting.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Theatre week: Day 1

It was a quiet day for me. I felt overall a bit meditative. I didn't really feel too sad-just a bit strange. As most of the men are only in the second act full-length piece, our rehearsal didn't begin until seven thirty this evening. I took class at the ballet, and then I went home and pounded away at the website I'm building.

While doing this I had some time to reflect on the years before. I always have had such an excitement and great anticipation when going into the theatre. It's a sacred place for me-almost spiritual. As I am going into a much different world where it's unsure after this season the next time I'll be on stage, I want to give the theatre the respect it deserves more than I ever have before.

It's interesting when other people start to make note of "the last times" I will do things. For example, my dressing roommate, an old friend from school, realized that this would be the last time we would be sharing a dressing room together. It's crazy to think of how much simple things such as a dressing roommate have become a large part of my professional experience. I will greatly miss these simple things.

The rehearsal went well. I took the notes I was given less personally than I would have in the past(not that they were anything to take offense to,) but oftentimes, we as artists get taken aback by things such as notes. It's sometimes a response to how they're given, but this time I simply felt quiet and calm in the realization that there was no need to do anything but take the note and just do what was asked of me. After all, these are all the last notes I will ever receive for a Fall season series with the Kansas City Ballet. Interesting...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Performance Week.

Tomorrow I go into the theatre for "performance week." I always get excited to get into the dressing room and go through my theatre rituals. I have a suitcase that serves as my "theatre case." In it I have my tackle box of stage makeup of course, but I have memorabilia that goes back the length of my career. There are trinkets and worthless pieces of stuff without which I couldn't function-the show simply wouldn't go on-HA!

The superstitions that go with performing are funny. Everyone is different in their traditions. I'm not a superstitious guy to the point where I completely freak out if everything is not in place, but I have always held to certain traditions. I am proud to be a link in the great chain of artists who have been adhering these traditions for years-i.e. no whistling in the theatre, not saying the name of the "Scottish Play," etc.

I am holding my breath as to how this last fall theatre week will go. I don't think I'll be a complete weepy mess, but I am prepared in case I am wrong. I am excited to be back on stage because this has been the longest time I have been off of it for a while. It's been about five months. I can't wait to hear the applause-even knowing it doesn't belong to me individually. I can't wait to feel the lights and sense the energy from the audience to the dancers and then back out to the audience. There is an electrifying love affair between the audience and the performer that I cannot explain. I'm thrilled to feel it again.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Passing the torch.

This week is theatre week. On Thursday, I will perform my last Fall Season opening night. I feel that things will really begin to snowball from then on.

This week, I had the opportunity to watch a rehearsal of a young couple who will be dancing a pas de deux in the show. I found myself getting a bit teary-eyed. I know I've spoken about my emotions while watching my colleagues from my "sense of pride" point of view, but his time was different. I found myself thinking about how we as artists "pass the torch" onto the younger artists. It is humbling to think how fast my seasons have gone by. I remember being the age these two dancers are and doing my first principal roles. It was such a surreal experience. I didn't know if I deserved the opportunities-I just did my best. I was too naive to be nervous or worry what other dancers thought of my getting cast over them at such an early age.

Sometimes when given these early chances, dancers can begin to feel a sense of entitlement-that they should always get these parts from then on, and there is no guarantee that this will be the case. I have to say, the roles I have danced I've never taken for granted. I've been happy when they've come along, and above all, I know I've been lucky.

I hope that young dancers today are able to truly treasure their opportunities. This career really feels like a flash in the pan. I still feel nineteen years old. I can still remember listening to the rehearsal schedule hot line and hearing that I had been scheduled to rehearse my first pas de deux. I still get chills when I think back to that. I wouldn't trade that memory for anything.

I believe it is important as I move forward to encourage the younger dancers to cherish these moments. I want them to be able to have the fulfillment in their careers that I have had. I want them to be able to look with pride down at the younger dancers that will someday take their places. One can be bitter or threatened by this replacement, or one can see it as part of the natural progression of life in this field.

Now that I am looking at it this way, I am even more proud to be a part of this tradition.

Eyes Open.

Just a brief thought today: I need to be open and flexible. At this time in my life I need to be soaking up anything and everything. I need to focus not just on myself but on the world around me. I want to only pay attention to things that can add to my life, i.e. art, friends, nature-anything positive.... Perhaps this is a bit "hippie" sounding, but I'm realizing that I need to fight against anything that would allow any doubt or negativity enter in. I am at a fragile state-even though I try to present myself to others as well put together and strong. I'm fine with it. It's simply where I am.

As I spend time focusing on my upcoming goals, I welcome the opportunity to run head-first into game.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


It's interesting how life can come full circle when it is allowed to. Let me explain. Some of my early introduction to performing came from seeing my Father work as a freelance clown. Naturally, wanting to be like him, I tried to be a clown as well. I learned to juggle and unicycle and a whole plethora of other tricks and gimmicks. I took some classes and workshops, and had an overall great time. As life has progressed, I have had to focus on my dancing more and more, leaving little to no time over the past several years to even entertain the notion of working on my clowning chops.

It's interesting that since I've made the decision to end the ballet company portion of my career, my clowning interest has begun to come back. It isn't that I've been seeking it out. It actually has found me by way of people who have been put in my life recently.

This posting isn't about me announcing that I am running away to join the circus. It actually has very little to do with my interest in anything "clown."

I am learning that I need to be aware of ALL the interests that I've had in my life, for I never know when they will come back to me and become more than hobbies. I have referred to myself with the cliche phrase "jack of all trades, master of none." This has frustrated me many times, but I'm beginning to look at it in a different light.

I am fortunate to have many interests. I want to begin to embrace them all on some level, and in so doing, I want to find an avenue to creatively encourage others to do the same with their interests. As artists, we put so much life and energy into one focus, and when it comes to the end of a career we can easily feel lost. It takes active attention not to forget ones childhood ambitions. Even if these ambitions seemed silly at the time(such as clowning,) we never know where those "silly" dreams may take us. If we don't hold onto those early ideals, I am beginning to believe that we run the risk of missing out on some real happiness.

For me, I am hoping to find a way to incorporate clowning into my life again. From there, I want to be open to anything else that may surprise me and possibly take me in new directions I could have never dreamed of. I want to be open to anything. For now, I'm going back to my roots.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Puzzle Pieces.

As I document this year, I will at times share about some of the basic ins and outs of uprooting my life and making this move. As things begin to fall into place, I will report about them.

One thing I have known for a long time is that my living situation in New York will most definitely be different from that which it is in Kansas City. Here in Kansas City, I live on the eleventh floor of a six year old renovated high-rise apartment building in a nine hundred square foot one bedroom corner loft. I have an elevator, a dish washer, a lovely view from six windows that measure approximately four feet wide by seven feet tall. The windows fit in perfectly to my thirteen feet tall ceilings. My rent is just a touch over six hundred dollars a month, and for the icing on the top, I live alone. I have never had to have a roommate in all of my years of working in Kansas City if I didn't want to.

All of this said, knowing that I'm ready to let this nice stuff go-and excited about it even, I couldn't help but think about how this would be different next year. I knew that I would definitely need to have a roommate(or roommates.) I am pleased to report that as of a couple of days ago, I made an agreement with a good friend of mine that we would live together in the city. It's such a feeling of relief to know that this is one less thing I will have to worry about. It's also nice to have a friend to begin planning with. While so much of this career shift has to be gone after alone, it's comforting to know that in regards to my living arrangements, I have a pal who will be in the same boat as I, and we can take care of this aspect together.

I happily put positive energy into the atmosphere at this moment with hopes that this will not be the last of things to naturally fall into place as the year progresses. While I know that not everything will happen this easily, I feel that there is no need in fretting about things. I'll just enjoy the ride and wait for the next puzzle piece to present itself. Here's to finding a wonderful roommate. May we not kill one another!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Yeah, I'm going to miss it.

Today our visiting choreographer finished the world premier we will be performing in the Spring Series. As of now, there are two groups learning the piece, and I had the opportunity of seeing the other group run it in its entirety. It is so rewarding to watch a new work come together. Being where I am at this point in life, I believe I am able(for one of the first times) to non-competitively revel in the successes of my colleagues. They were beautiful.

I must say, there is something truly unique about being in a ballet company. To be part of a group of people who work and grow together for years on end is a rare opportunity. I once heard someone speak of it this way. Being in a ballet company is like being in an exclusive club, and once you're out-you're out. I am beginning to see the truth in this statement. I have loved being a part of this club. It hasn't been without hard times, but it has been so rewarding. I am sure that I will continue to blab on and on about my discoveries and thrill as I watch my co-workers, but I am simply enjoying it so much, and I am learning as the days go by that I am going to miss them.

Having been a part of theatrical casts, I have to say that there is a totally different set of familial values. They are every bit as inspiring and valid as a ballet company, but they are entirely different. I am so lucky to have been given the chance to be in a dance company first, because it is true-unless you are in one, there is no way to EVER really understand the experience of which I speak. The only thing that I think may be similar in the theatre world is if one is a member of a repertory company. But, having yet to be a part of one of those, I can only hypothesize.

I know I am ready to let go of this "club," but I am going to miss it so much. No matter what is going on in my personal life, it takes me away to a calm and wonderful place when I watch the people I work with bursting with energy and striving for perfection as an ensemble.

I thank my stars that I was given the chance to take my time and say good-bye to this career over the course of an entire season. For me, it is what I need in order to remain calm and reflect on the journey I have had here. I know that I will be ready to let it go, but have I mentioned that I will miss it?!?

Monday, October 5, 2009

An interesting way of looking at things.

I have always prided myself on being fairly good at taking criticism. I don't always like it, but I'll take it. I've had a phrase I have used over the years and a couple a different ways of saying the same thing. One is, "Tell me everything you don't like about me. Tell me what you find wrong with me, and I'll probably agree with you. Then, we can go from there." The other way I state it is that "If I tell people what my flaws are, they have nothing negative left to say about me." I think both of these statements are true. I don't mean them in the self-degrading way that they may come out in writing. I have used these statements to establish truth in the fact that while I do think highly(enough) of myself, I know that I'm an imperfect person-no better than anyone else.

How does this apply to this "Retirement" series? It applies because my views are continually changing towards myself, and those views help me come to the decisions I am making these days about each next step.

I was having a conversation today and I was explaining my views of myself both personally and artistically to a friend. I was laying out the things that I don't like about myself and also the things that I'm aware that I need work on in my profession. My friend asked me to consider looking at life this way.(this is how I interpreted the insight.)

There is no right or wrong with where I am. There is nothing wrong with me. There is no need as a human to limit myself. I am on a path, and yes, I will make decisions that will greatly affect that, but they won't be the wrong decisions as long as they're made with truth and honesty.

I sometimes don't realize how much I judge myself. Of course, I need to hold myself to standards and morals, but sometimes I can really get in my own way. It's a bit nerve-wracking to think of letting go of control in my life, but oh, how I need to do just that.

I will let go...Then I won't...Then I will again, and that will be ok as long as I begin to accept and own the idea that I am going to make the right decisions. I will as long as I stay on a clear path, and that path is whichever one is before me at each moment. I think I can trust that.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Leggo My Ego: Part ll

I had spoken in an earlier posting about needing to learn to come to peace with not being recognized on the street for my work after I leave the ballet and move to New York. Well, I had a lovely experience this week that served to remind me that perhaps I can still enjoy my medium fish-small pond notoriety for a bit longer yet.

I recently purchased a new computer, and I was taking it to the store to have the data from my old machine transferred onto it. As I was speaking to the technician and going over the ins and outs of the transfer, she suddenly asked me if I knew a certain dancer. I said "Of course! We worked together for years!"(my internal monologue went a bit more like this, "Ha! Another person who knows who I am! I've still got it!") I went on to say how this was my tenth and last season with the ballet-the normal line that I give to my adoring public.(please read the last part with the sarcastic tone it was intended to have.) It turns out that this technician plays in a band with the before mentioned dancer's husband, and had seen me perform. Nice things were said, and of course it felt great to have my work be appreciated. It was exactly the ego boost that I needed.

After we finalized the transaction, I said goodbye to my computer and the technician. With a big smile on my face and a bit more spring in my step than usual, I departed the store to go on with my day. As I was unlocking my car door I caught sight of my reflection in the window. There, upon my chest in bold white lettering against a black t-shirt were three words: Kansas City Ballet.

I did all that I could think to do at that moment. I began laughing out loud in the middle of the sidewalk! Of all the dumb luck! I suppose I should rewrite the song to say, "You're so vain, you probably think this shirt is about you..."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It is personal.

As I was thinking more about how we as artists react to artistic decisions such as casting, I began to think how personal this art form really is. We strive for perfection, and when after putting so much work into a role, we don't get to perform it-we can feel totally rejected. It hurts. It can be crippling depending on the person, the role and the individual relationship history with the artistic staff. You name it, there's a scenario.

How do we learn to deal with these things? These mini rejections are awful? It makes it near impossible sometimes to see the forest for the trees when in one moment it seems like our chance at something we loved was shot down. It's easy to hold onto the negative aspect of this field if one doesn't have a clear view of the future and a healthy sense of self.

With such the small window of time that is a career in ballet, it is hard not to feel as if there's a ticking clock staring you in the face. It laughs and mocks. "The end is nigh!" it seems to say. It really can make a dancer go crazy if it is allowed to.

I have seen the regrets that people have for never getting to do certain roles. I have battled some of my own. There are many different levels of grief that these people go through, but I learn the most from the people who are able to embrace the moment-even in rejection. To be able to learn to roll with the punches and accept what is going on in the moment is what can make or break an artist, I believe.

Perhaps it shouldn't be about what I am performing during moments like these but about continually looking forward while maintaing a clear head and acceptance of what is happening at the time. Thereby, whether it is success or what may seem like failure, I can know that there will be more great things to come.

Thankfully, my life does not hinge on one opportunity. I am really happy for that. If I let every role that slipped by eat at me, I would have retired years ago! As a result, when I look back, I can be satisfied by the wonderful chances I had to play some amazing parts.

Let the countdown begin!

Two weeks away from opening night is always an exciting day. It is the day that the official casting is posted for the dancers. On this day, we find out if the roles we've been rehearsing are ours or not. It is a day of excitement and sometimes disappointment.

Today, I wasn't disappointed. I've know what I am going to be dancing for a while. I just feel different. For me, this will be my last Fall season series. Then Nutcracker will come, then Winter series, then Spring, then.....who knows?

I feel a bit detached from the other dancers at this moment. It's strange because I'm still me-still doing the same thing I've done for years, but I feel like I'm on the outside looking in-yet I'm still on the inside. It's as if I'm hovering and seeing everyone go through their reactions to the casting.

I hope that my colleagues are excited about the opportunities they are having, and I hope those who are disappointed will find a way to keep their heads up. This year I hope I can be more encouraging to my fellow dancers than I've been in the past. I believe this is the role I should try harder to play.