Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

As I was enjoying the holiday, I came upon this article of my friend Jennifer Grapes. It ties into my theme about "Retiring," and I wanted to celebrate her career by sharing it. Congratulations Jennifer. (Just cut and paste it into your browser.)

I hope you enjoy it. Happy Holidays everyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Deep Sigh.

Tonight, I rushed home from the airport in Newark, New Jersey, and together with my roommate had a small Holiday Party with a few wonderful friends. In keeping with my tradition, there was a bit of Christmas carroling!

After everything was cleaned and put away, I finally lay down on my bed and gave a big "Ahhhhh!" I did it. I made it through all of my gigs successfully. I am ever thankful for them, and now I feel like I can breathe financially at least for a few moments while I continue to focus on why I am here in the city. I'm going to celebrate by getting my Christmas shopping finished tomorrow and going to lunch with a friend. I think I deserve it!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another Last Nutcracker.

Today, I awoke at 4:30am Pacific Time, and I haven't been able to sleep since. I think my body is getting me ready to go back to the New York. I couldn't be more excited about that. Doing Nutcracker gigs has been a wonderful gift and a chance to express myself artistically and above all for now, get paid well for it! I've gotten to travel as was one of my goals upon moving to NY, and I've met wonderful people. Now, I'm ready to embark on 2011 and see what happens. I am quite anxious. I wonder if this anxiety will ever go away? Perhaps once if book a long term gig. That said, I'm not going to sit afraid and worry my life away! I know I'm fortunate, and things have continued to work out for me somehow each step of the way. Heck! I've already been in New York for over half a year, and I haven't starved yet or missed a months rent! Not bad.

On a slightly different subject. A word to the wise: if you are unable to sleep, DON'T decide it is time to go through your phone and clear out photographs in order to gain more space! It was painful to walk down memory lane and see my friends who I have missed so much back in Kansas City. It's haunting in a way to scroll through and see photos from a year ago at Christmas time. Life goes by so quickly. Even though I consider myself someone who tries to enjoy each moment, it still happens far too fast.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I love it.

My Nutcracker gig in DC was wonderful. Now, I've just completed two of six shows in Seattle. Tonight's show was a blast. Today, I'm inspired by the fact that dancing is so much more fun now that I'm "retired" from company life. Sure, the venues are different, and there are many things I miss about the security and familial setting of my previous employment life, but now that I'm doing it for myself, I'm having a ball. I always prided myself on the fact that I truly allowed myself to enjoy my work when I was with Kansas City Ballet. However, I'm really having a blast gigging. I'm much more forgiving of myself if things don't go perfectly, and with that in mind, I find that I free myself to give a better performance. Who knows what it looks like from the front, but my employers have been happy, the audiences have been responsive and my partners have been happy. Most importantly however, I've been happy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nutcracker 2010 Part 1.

Success! I just completed a somewhat difficult but overall enjoyable and rewarding week in the DC area performing my first of two Cavaliers of the season. My Sugar Plum Fairy was a lovely young lady, and we meshed from the beginning with our aesthetic and timing. Sometimes you just luck out.

I admit, I was nervous about donning the white tights again and all the body and technique exposure that comes along with that. I haven't worn white tights for a role for years, and I definitely hadn't performed a classical pas de deux in quite some time. Well, I've still got it! It went well. Naturally, there were a couple baubles, but hey! It's live theatre.

It was a strange process to "get back on the horse" so to speak in terms of my solo work. I was more than acceptable and clean, but I still wasn't at the top of where I remember my game to be technically. I would like to be more than just acceptable and clean.

It's interesting to try to figure out how to balance training and auditioning and life in NY, and I am pretty good at it. However, I still plan to do more as I can afford to. I am extremely grateful that I had such a wonderful opportunity and such lovely and warm people to work with. Now it's time to put that version of the pas out of my mind and remember the other one that I'm doing on the West Coast!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

My roommate and I hosted our first New York Thanksgiving gathering! It went off without a hitch, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it! It was a strange one for me being that it was the first one I've spent outside of Kansas City in many years. It also hit me how quickly a year goes by. I was looking at my pictures from last years dinner, and I remembered the day as if it was yesterday. I really miss the people from that chapter of my life. It's strange how we all lose touch in many ways, and suddenly it's over half a year since I've seen some of them.

Today marks my half year mark to the day of my move here. It has been a wonderful experience so far. I'm getting ready to jump into my Nutcracker performances. I can hardly believe that I will be on stage again shortly doing strict ballet. I am excited as well as a bit nervous, but I can't wait to see how the shows go. I am thrilled to get back on stage again.

I have many things to be thankful for on this day, and I am lucky that more and more things keep coming my way. I don't take them for granted-don't worry.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A new chapter.

I'm getting antsy to get this-well at least the first big chunk of this into book form. I am excited, and I already am beginning to see where I want it to go next! I had a wonderful time speaking with another "retired" dancer tonight, and it is fascinating to hear what she has done post ballet. I am inspired to collect more stories such as hers as a way to further encourage and inspire young artists in the beginning so they'll know that there is much to look forward to at the end.

On a personal note just to check in. I remain well. I'm kicking my own derriere as I continue pounding the pavement with auditions. Don't worry. I'll write when I find work.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Got sleep?

I feel like New York can be a kind, generous and good friend. However, much like a good friend, New York sometimes gives advice and offers lessons that are a bit tough to swallow and sometimes not solicited. For example, yesterday I felt the painful sting of the cost of going to the bathroom at an audition when your number comes up. Pushed to end of the list, I was unable to be seen that day, and thereby I spent almost five hours waiting around for nothing. Ouch.

Tonight, I'm up late pondering all of my auditioning and trying to remind myself to be patient. More than ever, I'm realizing how much of this is out of my control. If I have such a great grasp on that concept, then why does my mind not let my body go to sleep? It's constantly running wondering what is going to happen at the next audition, or the next, or the next.

I would love to land a show in New York someday. I told my roommate today that I think that is exactly when my next wave of training will really begin. You see, to be in a show that would allow me to have many of my days free, I could focus on finally getting into acting classes and singing classes and work on continually bettering myself as a dancer. But it's one of those catch twenty-twos such as the old expression, "You have to have a job to get a job nowadays..." Well, I'm going to keep pushing. Harder than ever. Let me re-stress. I refuse to starve.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who'd have thought it'd be so fun?!?

This past weekend, I traveled to DC to rehearse with one of my partners for one of the two Nutcrackers I will be doing this holiday season. I had the time of my life. I am enjoying the experience of getting back into "Cavalier Shape." It's strange. I'm putting quite a bit of pressure on myself to be as strong as I can be, but there's still a freedom that comes from having the opportunity to do this outside of the setting of my former company.

When I performed the role there, I had the wonderful honor of dancing with the most seasoned member of the company. I will always hold that experience close to me. However, now I'm making new memories. I feel that I am just continually turning the pages in my life's book, and each one holds something new and exciting.

I have two wonderful partners this holiday. I am lucky and inspired to make them both look as beautiful as I can. They don't need much help from me there, but I can sure try to enhance.

Note: If you are one who doesn't like to see smiles and joy when watching a pas de deux and thinks the man should be stoic and classically stern, don't watch my rendering.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It was good.

Last weekend's visit to Kansas City proved to be exactly what I needed. The company looks wonderful, my friends were welcoming and I was able to yet again solidify that I made the right decision for myself by "retiring." I found myself wondering if it would be as easy to watch my former company perform and remain sure of my decision as I am able to do when watching New York City Ballet, ABT or any other ballet company that I have gotten to see while in New York. I was worried that perhaps since those companies really held no part of my past, it is easier to watch them and not want to be up there, but if I saw the company I used to be a part of, I would be sad and miss it.

Not a chance.

I don't wish for this to come off as cold. I couldn't have more respect for my former company that gave me such a wonderful life for the past decade, but I am ever encouraged by the fact that I have moved on! It's so tough up here, and at times I have caught myself going, "Gee, do I miss having my old job with health insurance, a union contract that I helped put in place and a decent paycheck!" But what I now realize from that statement is that those things are all non-artistic. They aren't what comprise my love for what I have done or am attempting to do. I am flat out nervous about the fact that it's expensive to live up here and I don't have a performing job that I want yet, but that doesn't stop the fact that other than the friends I'm missing and my life and home in Kansas City, I have made the right move for myself. I must be doing something right because I've done something really stupid from a financial standpoint! I've left a job without having another one lined up! I must really be sure about things! Hoorah!

I can't help but think (and maybe I've said this before) about the stories I have heard about people being completely devastated after losing their job only to find out that it was the best thing to ever happen to them. It allowed them to find and realize their true passion. Ballet was and in some ways always will be a true passion of mine, but as an ever evolving human, it's time to find the next. I think I've found it. Now, let's make it pay! In the meantime, I'm going to keep pushing and be thankful for the opportunities I've had and connections I've made in less than six months of being in the city. Not too shabby. I'm extremely grateful.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Home again.

"I got to Kansas City on a Friday. By Saturday I'd learned a thing or two...." That song was going through my mind as I arrived in Kansas City last night. I am here to see the Fall season opening of my former company. It's wild to think that I've been now writing this blog for over a year. The things I have been through have been both remarkable and at times frightening. This weekend however is a celebration. I am here to support my friends and see first hand that life really does go on. I was completely calm as I drove my rental into the city. No regrets at all. I've moved on, but my memories are overall wonderful.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What an honor.

Tonight, Petrouchka closed at the Duke Theatre on 42nd Street after three well received performances. We hosted the largest crowds the Duke Theatre had ever seen for a single performance, and we sold out two out of three of our shows. I am thrilled that I had the chance to perform in a new and exciting piece. I hope that it opens doors for my director/choreographer who had put over nine years into the production. I can only imagine what a mix of emotions he must be feeling at the completion of this, his dream.

To me, NYMF makes a statement. To be chosen for the festival takes a great deal of determination and confidence. Some of these shows may be the great shows of tomorrow. Whether mine will or will not be is not important to me. Yes. I would love for it to transfer to something greater. I can't tell you how amazing that would be. However, the drive and commitment that everyone put into making this show possible taught me so much. It reminded me that art is still more than a paycheck. It is the chance to transport lives. I find that it is easy to lose sight of that, and I hope that I will continually be brought back to the reality of why it is that I do what I do. I love to dance/act/perform.

There it is. I accept it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Petrouchka is here.

Tomorrow is opening night for the NY Musical Theatre Festival's production of "Petrouchka!" I'm excited to be a part of the show, and things are coming along nicely. I think we're ready. The director/choreographer seems pleased and calm, and the cast is really coming together with good energy. It has been a challenging process for me as I have been working on moving in another way, but it reminds me that I need to trust that I have good training and the ability to adapt. At times I have to remember to ignore the demons in the back of my mind of people in my past that made me feel inadequate at picking up different styles. I feel lucky that I was given the chance to stretch myself and begin to make a new impression of myself on the minds of other choreographers and dancers. So, here goes! I'm going to enjoy myself and feel grateful for the opportunity to perform on 42nd Street in the heart of Times Square!

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm on board.

Tonight, I had the privilege of attending the opening night party for the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF.) I have been getting increasingly more excited about our October 7th opening as the show I'm in has been taking shape, and tonight, the energy fueled my flame even more. NYMF is in it's seventh year and has 30 new shows. Everyone is working their tails off with the exhilarating challenge of creating what may be the next big hit in the musical theatre world!

Watching and feeling the energy in the room was both inspirational and encouraging. A well known Broadway actress sang a comedic song about the trials and tribulations on her "road to success." One line in it really rang true to me. When speaking of auditioning she said, "When they say 'no' don't get upset, it means 'yes' but just not yet." That summed up the hopes and feelings I've had as I am currently been pushing and striving to make this new career work.

Tonight was a reminder that I am not alone in this. No, I'm not financially "successful" in my new career yet, but I have broken into an amazing community of artists, and thereby, I'm going to claim that as "success" and just go from there.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's about that time.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Fortunately, that doesn't mean I have to leave NYC! It only means that I need to begin gearing myself up towards finding a "Real Job." I've been happily surviving on the "Government Artist Fund" i.e. Unemployment for a while, and I could extend come November, but my weekly benefit amount will be less than I can afford to live on. Bummer. But hey, things could always be worse! I woke up feeling a little anxsty about it even though it's still September, but the months fly by up here. I didn't want to be caught unprepared. So, I began putting out the feelers with friends first on Facebook. I'm hoping to get a job serving in a restaurant. I know for a fact that with the right gig I could make a killing and even get to the point where I am only working a few nights a week, but I have to find that gig! I'm also hoping to get some clowning gigs.

One thing that will be nice when I get "the right gig," is that I will hopefully find myself making more than I do on unemployment, and I'll actually be freed up to do more than simply survive. You know, the extravagantly luxurious things such as work on paying off my credit card, get health insurance-elitist things such as those!

Everything has its trade-off. On unemployment, my schedule was free and I could really get the rest I needed for classes and auditions. With a job, I'll definitely have to budget my time better so that I'm rested, but as I said before, I may be able to afford more. I enjoy working, fortunately, and I'm about at that point where I'm ready to do a little more in the city than simply enjoy it. I trust that somehow (perhaps with some digging,) the right job will present itself at the right time. After all, it simply has to.

By the way, I haven't given up hope that there is always a chance that I may book something before I have to get a job or run out of my dear Government Artist Funds. Let's not forget what I'm up here for.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A little early perhaps?

Some may find this strange, but then, so do I. I happened upon a friend's Facebook photo album that was entitled "Christmas in Kansas City." Lately, I have been missing what I finally accepted as my "home." My company continues without me. My friends go on without me, and yes, while I do the same without them, it's still strange for me.

When I thought about my favorite season, Christmas, it struck me to think of all the things I would miss. There are two radio stations that play Christmas music. I would listen to them in the car-I don't have one anymore (thank goodness) but still, it's weird. I'm preparing to dance in another Nutcracker, but it won't be the one I've "grown up with."

When will this transition plateau?!? The moment I think it's finished, something else rears its head. I'm fine with it, but still, it haunts me. Thankfully, the simplicity of the voice of a friend on the other end of the phone line can snap me into the reality that I am not really so far removed from those I love.

I am still a lucky boy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Nutcracker.

So, what everyone says is true. It's a lot harder to leave ballet behind than one might think! Yes, I still say I've "retired," but remember, I always was careful to say that I was retiring from "ballet company life."

The point of what I'm doing beating around the bush is to say that it seems I have booked a Nutcracker in Seattle in December! I will be playing the Sugar Plum Fairy's Cavalier which is a role I played during my career. I am excited for the challenge and the opportunity.

I feel fortunate to still have my health and ability to be able to dance gigs like this. What a gift. If I was so narrow minded as to say "No! I only do theatre now," I would starve. So, why not take a great paying gig while I still have the ability to do so! I need to remember that I trained my whole life to be able to do the things I do, and if they can provide me income and a level of comfort, then who am I to turn such an opportunity down! I'll get to travel to a wonderful city I've never been to and dance a wonderful role!

(and I didn't even have to audition.)

Friday, August 27, 2010


When I was a little boy, during my first year at the NC School of the Arts, I was offered a special opportunity. I was offered the chance to be in the classic ballet "Petrouchka." It would have required about one or two weeks of extra rehearsal in the evenings, and since my family lived about an hour away from school (and we were accustomed to only traveling to the school a couple of days a week at the time,) my parents decided that it would be best if I didn't do it.

When the performance went up, my parents took me to see it. It was fun to see my peers on stage, and I enjoyed every moment of the ballet. When we got into the car though, I lost it. Tears came from every which direction. I know now that my parents felt absolutely horrible. I suppose it was at that moment that we all realized that this ballet thing wouldn't simply be a "phase."

Last week I auditioned for a production that will be in the New York Musical Festival or "NYMF" as it is called. Long story short, I booked it. It's the first thing I've booked since I've been up here, and it is something that my agents sent me in for. The name of the newly envisioned piece,


Mom and Dad, rest easy tonight. I guess this means you're off the hook.

The End.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A New Season.

The Kansas City Ballet began their 2010-2011 season today. It hit me pretty hard, as I had expected it would, for the first time. I'm no longer on the website, I am definitely not a part of that company anymore. I'm not being dramatic (well maybe a little,) but it really was strange for me to think about today. I'm glad that I spent last year preparing myself for this.

I find it interesting that even with it being my choice to leave, it is still a huge adjustment when I realized that I really wouldn't be going back again. The company goes on without me-as it should. I really believe even more fervently right now that it is immensely important that dancers choose when to leave their careers behind if it is in any way possible. I can't imagine not being ready for the next phase of life.

I find myself coming full circle now and really want to spread encouragement to the younger generation to enjoy their careers if they're lucky enough to land a job in this field. It's too short not to enjoy it. When it comes time to move on, I'd like to further encourage dancers to be brave and generous enough to do just that-move on. Now, I'm merely referring to the circumstance where someone may continue dancing because it is all they know how to do and all they are comfortable with. I do believe there comes a time when it is someone else's turn to fulfill their passion ESPECIALLY when a dancer may not be doing it for the love of the art anymore.

I find pride in dancers who make long careers of this form and still acknowledge the love for it. I wish my former fellow dancers as well as my "replacements" the best for the future. May they love and be fulfilled by what they do for many, many years.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Suddenly, I found myself sitting with two ladies I had gone to NCSA with and hadn't seen in over eleven years. One of them had hired the other two of us to teach for her ballet school's dance intensive. At that moment, however, we were sitting outside sharing wine and stories, reconnecting and reminiscing about old school days. It suddenly dawned on me, we were now the ones in charge. We were remembering the days when we knew each other, and at that time we had been the ages of the students we had taught that day. My, how the years fly.

We shared our thoughts on how the things that we felt worked in our training and those that didn't. We shared our views on what we had kept with us from our teachers and those things we didn't agree with from their methods. We had three entirely different experiences, different opinions, but one thing was the same, we were all there together with a common bond. That was a wonderful school that had trained us and helped us develop our distinct personalities. Now, it was our turn.

Today, I finished my two day teaching excursion in Maryland, and I feel refreshed and ready to head back home to New York. I'm not going to be returning to the Kansas City Ballet next week when my former colleagues do, but I am experiencing something new and exciting, scary and exhilarating, and perhaps slightly insane! It's my journey though, and I'm loving every moment.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Learning my way.

Yesterday, I once again attended an audition for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. They had been my first audition after I "retired" from the ballet. I'm learning that often, auditors teach the same combination at each audition. Thereby, I was able to think a little less and focus on performing. I made it a bit further than I did the first time before I was once again cut, but hey! I'm gonna look at that as progress!

Now, this method of teaching the same combo over and over for years and years can be frustrating if it's your first time auditioning. Another show that I auditioned for two days ago had a fun but quirky dance that we were learning. Most of the guys in the room knew it before going in, and thereby had quite the advantage.

I have an idea. If ever I'm in a place to be running an audition, I'm going to try to have a couple of combos. Thereby, (in theory) I can shake it up a bit so that those who already know the choreography won't have as unfair an advantage. Of course it's inevidible if one has been attending the same audition for five years that they'll know the choreography, but still, there has to be a way to at least try to level the playing feel. It could be wishful thinking.

These auditions can be quite cutthroat. So many people want jobs, and often it seems that there is little that some will stop at to get them. I'm working to stay friendly as I need to be but overall positive. While I'm not there to make friends, I definitely don't want to come across as negative, snarky or rude, beause I never know which of these dancers I may have to work with someday.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


The waiting game can be the hardest part of my profession. I suppose that's how it is in any profession in which one is waiting to find out the outcome of a job interview. Auditioning is like fishing. You cast the line and reel it in and occasionally you get a bite. The tough thing is that YOU'RE the one at the end of the hook as bait! Sometimes just as in fishing, there seem to be nibbles or positive feedback only to pull the line in and find a half-eaten worm! The difference of course is that our pride can be what gets bitten off by the "fish." It's hard, and keeping that tough skin is definitely necessary. (Well, this analogy made sense to me!)

I'm learning patience already. I know that I've only been here for about eleven weeks, but I can already see more than ever how one needs to be touch up here. Rejection is hard, but if one can't get past oneself and keep moving onward, there's no way to survive. I'm finding ways to make it pleasant for myself even when I get cut by focusing on other aspects of my life that I enjoy. It really helps. I do have to make conscious efforts to remind myself when I get cut that "it just isn't my turn yet." But oh, do I feel it coming.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Nutcracker Fall Video...

If you're been reading this blog for a while, you may remember my story about falling during the Trepak (Russian) dance in "The Nutcracker." It was a role I had performed for about nine years, and it became epic on my opening night of my final run with this role. Even if you haven't been reading for a while, I'm pretty sure this clip is entertaining enough. I also gave a silly update at the end of it as to how my luxurious "Retirement" is going so far. Enjoy!!

Ok, so I tried to post the link, it didn't work, so go to Youtube and search for:

Matthew's Nutcracker Fall 2009

There will be a picture of me wearing a white Panama hat.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pursuing dreams.

On Friday, I had a rare opportunity. I auditioned for "The Greatest Show on Earth" i.e. Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. They held an audition searching for clowns. It was a wonderful experience. The audition was actually in a circus tent. Ringling Brothers has a new one-ring old fashioned circus tent show that is stationed for the summer at Coney Island. I can't think of a better place to do the audition. Coney Island has such a history for circus-esque shows, and where better to audition than in an actual circus ring!

It really was a surreal experience. I made it all the way through the audition, and they talked to me. They said they would be in touch, but now, I can only hope. Hey, I walked away from it feeling energized and excited, so I'll just wait and see. In the meantime, if you go to and scroll down, there is an article about the audition. I am mentioned at the end of the introductory paragraph. (not by name, but it's definitely me.) I am also one of the "8" who made the cut. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Keep those puzzle pieces coming.

Well, the agency signed me! Phew, am I relieved! I count myself fortunate because many talk about how difficult it can be to get an agent. There are of course many ways of getting to where one wants to be, but for me, I keep being pleasantly surprised at how things seem to fall into place when I don't force the issue. That said, and as anyone who has been reading this for a while, I'm not just sitting on my rump waiting for things to happen. I have been and will continue to prepare myself the best I can, so that when things open up, I will be ready.

I am extremely grateful for my new agent. I look forward to seeing how this changes things. It's still up to me to be good enough to book the job, but at least with an agent, I'll have the chance to be seen more often for different projects that I couldn't have submitted myself for.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Just more along the journey.

I'm excited for tomorrow. I have my first interview with a potential agent. Somehow, I'm not anxious, but I am excited. I simply hope that it goes well. I feel that I have things to offer, but I need guidance on how to get going-AND CONNECTIONS!!

I am thrilled about an audition that I have at the end of the week. I will be auditioning to be a clown with an extremely renowned circus. We'll see how it goes. The audition will actually be under a circus tent! I'm getting ahead of myself, but if I was to get the job, it would mean that I would be on the road for a year. Wow!

Being a clown and loving the circus is something that has been in me since my birth I feel, so we'll see what happens! Again, as I've been saying. Whatever happens, I have a chance to perform on Friday. After that, it's up to the auditors. I'm just going to be myself and see what they think. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For the first time.

Today, I had the wonderful experience of seeing Twyla Tharp's new Broadway show "Come Fly Away." It had some elements from her earlier concert piece "Nine Sinatra Songs," which I had performed with KC Ballet.

This show was incredible. It was the first time that I found myself missing ballet. I think it is because it had all the difficult elements of ballet, but being a Broadway show, it had the flashy elements that need to be in place to tell a story and hold give people what they expect from "The Great White Way."

It made me actually want to be up there with the artists on stage-everyone was stellar.

I am still bowled over by the performance, and thereby, I'll say no more for this post!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Follow up.

So, as I had imagined, I wasn't what they were looking for for Phantom-this time. I had a great audition, and I know that I danced circles around many of the guys there. That said, there were also a couple of really nice dancers. It reminded me of a time long ago when I was auditioning for ballet companies, and I would get frustrated when it was clear that my facility kept me from getting certain jobs. Now, there's no way of knowing if this was the case, but still, it brought me back.

It also reminded me how much I haven't missed auditioning for ballet companies! I NEVER really enjoyed it. I was driven because I wanted to get a job, but I always hated the stress of measuring myself up against so many others. I suppose I'm doing that again now, and in a much more competitive field in some ways, but this time, I actually enjoy auditioning. As I've said before, it's my time to perform. Hopefully I'll keep getting better and better at it!

Monday, July 12, 2010


Ok. So, I don't write as often as I was during my "retirement" year, but hey-I didn't intend to at all at first! Take what you can get! Ha! Jokes aside, I'm putting some positive energy out into the world right now, and I'm going to ask for the same from anyone reading.

Tomorrow/today(it's 1:15 am) I'm auditioning for the show that first made me fall in love with musical theatre which led me to dance in the first place which led me to my eventual ballet career which brought me back to musical theatre....follow? I'm auditioning for "The Phantom of the Opera." To be honest, I don't think I'm "buff" enough for the role of the one dancer for which I'm auditioning, but naturally, I can definitely dance it.

It's strange. I'm so excited to do the audition, but at the same time, I don't want to in a way! It's such a fantasy to me that I don't want it to be taken away!! I'll be fine if I don't book it, naturally, but still, the mind plays games such as, "Why weren't you in the gym more often in your youth?!?" No worries though, I'm not listening to my mind. I'm actually laughing at it. I'm going to simply enjoy myself.

On a different subject, I do have a bit of an announcement. As far back as my second week here in NYC, I (think) I decided what I want to do after my second "retirement." (Well, after all, this blog is about preparing for the next step, yes?) I think I may want to be an agent. For years in Kansas City, I was asked to find dancers for various theatrical events and shows, and I found that I loved booking people in jobs and making them money as much if not more than I loved booking the gigs myself. Since I have also been enjoying being an audience member lately, I think this may be a natural progression. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind, but for now, this is where I am. I know I love to serve people and contribute to their success.

Just thought I'd go ahead and announce that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A good one.

Today, I had my first really good audition. The short of it is this: I was asked to stay after the first cut (tap-yeah that's right,) and then I had a chance to show off balletically with a turn and jump combo, I felt strong when I sang, and the director of the theatre complimented me afterwards! Who knows if I'll book it, but that's beside the point for me for today. The important thing is that I know that I'm beginning to get more and more comfortable in my own skin in the audition room. I'll just keep at it!

Now to actually book something. That will be a TRULY good audition!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tap difficulties.

I want to answer a question that was posed to me by a reader. The reader asked:

What are the difficulties you notice as a ballet dancer doing tap? Are there things which you think might make it harder for you, with your background?
(I am asking because I have noticed that some ballet dancers have a harder time relaxing certain things -such as the ankles- when doing tap for the first time)

The answer I have to offer is thus: the whole process stinks!!! Relaxing my ankles as a formally trained ballet dancer is actually the least of my worries!! I feel that I am struggling with the coordination of learning a completely new vocabulary of movement. I find that often I understand the movement, but I can't get it to go from my head to my feet. It is really frustrating! I keep going back, but it is still completely embarrassing! Oh well, I have no choice but to stick with it and hope the teacher doesn't hate me for being there!

There are dancers who don't have as much trouble picking up new things such as tap even if they aren't used to doing it, but I'm not one of those! My body fights me every step of the way, but I suppose that's how I have reacted to dance from the beginning! I'll just have to keep fighting back.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Oh boy taking tap continues to be a challenge. However, I am continually being encouraged by the teachers I am taking from. I don't know why this surprises me. Perhaps it is stemming from the perfectionism that comes from ballet training. Yes, tap has to be completely perfect too, and in a way more so, or the sounds won't be correct. It's strange still how even after a class where I feel I have danced terribly, I am able to walk away feeling ok.

I suppose I should put myself in the teachers shoes. After all, it's not hard because I've been a teacher for years. Even when a student isn't up to the highest level I praise their hard work. I think another reason I am hard on myself is that because at a certain point in ballet, one knows whether or not one is going to have the chops to "make it" or not. Thereby, I tend to be down on myself when I don't catch on as fast as I would like. I actually get a bit embarrassed because I feel like I'm the student who shouldn't be in a class of the level I am taking. Then, just when I feel I am on the verge of tears (and I smile and laugh at myself to avoid that,) the teacher tells me he's proud of me for working so hard. My day is suddenly shinier, and I have an ounce more confidence to keep coming back. So, that's what I'm going to do! It may kill me, but I'm going to keep coming back.

The end.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The end of an era.

I had a rare opportunity yesterday, and I attended the farewell performance of Darci Kistler from the New York City Ballet. For anyone who doesn't know, she was the last dancer that the late director/founder of the company, George Balanchine personally hired. She had been dancing for over thirty years.

The performance was beautifully tailored to showcase the ballerina. She looked wonderful. I felt moved many times to think what an honor it must be to be on stage with her. There was a beauty that I cannot describe on that stage. It was a reverence that seemed to come from every dancer toward her and she gave it right back to each of them. There was such a gentleness, and it was clear that there was no question that each dancer knew they were a part of history as they performed alongside this great presence.

It was amazing to see how Darci commanded the stage. She closed with the fourth act of the ballet "Swan Lake," which was beautifully fitting. She projected her movement to every corner of the house. It gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes.

Her curtain call was a sight to behold. Each dancer brought her flowers and so did her family members until she could no longer hold them. The entire company was on stage with her as confetti rained from above and flowers were thrown onto the stage from the audience. This was a retirement like those I have only ever seen in books and movies. It lasted over fifteen minutes, and she deserved every bit of applause and more.

I have nothing more to say really except that I feel so lucky to have been there today. I bought tickets over a month ago for this, and I am so happy I did. I wish her the best for whatever is to come next.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An interview.

I was recently interviewed for a dancer website called, and here is the link to what I had to say!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ok, I'm hooked.

I went to see the NY City Ballet for the third time in two weeks tonight. I'm finding that at least for now, I'm really enjoying watching the ballet. I'm simply floored at the technical level of these artists. Holy smokes! Of course, their artistry is great too, but I'm completely bowled over at how many great technicians there are!

Tonight, there was yet another piece on the program called "The Concert" by Jerome Robbins. It was another favorite piece of mine that I was privileged to dance twice in my time with KC Ballet. The past three shows have each had an important piece on them that I have danced. It made me think how many great ballets I've been fortunate to perform.

It also put another thing into perspective. These pieces that I usually only did a couple of times, these dancers will have danced hundreds of by the time they retire. On one hand, I'm extremely jealous. However, on the other hand, I can remember each experience in fairly good detail because they aren't drowned out by a million other performances.

Tonight, I left with yet another reminder of how fulfilled I feel from my career. I hope I keep enjoying observing as much as I am now.

P.S. It's been exactly four weeks since we moved into our apartment. My do things go fast up here!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Well there it is.

It hit me tonight, just as I predicted it would. At a random time, doing a normal activity-walking my dog actually. I didn't have a meltdown or even cry, but I realized that I'm not a professional dancer anymore. Heck, at the moment I'm not a professional anything. Now, before anyone even starts to have that sentiment of "Oh, yes you are! You're this, this and this...." let me explain. I am still happy. I like not having anything to do at the moment but pretend like I'm on a small vacation. Let's be clear on that.

It was simply strange to think for the moment how structured my life has been up until this point for the better part of two decades. No matter what I may move onto next, I can pretty safely say that I will never have that kind of stressful structure again. Even if I was to become a professional body builder beginning tomorrow (feel free to snicker,) it wouldn't be the same as what it took me to be a professional ballet dancer. In my moment tonight, I became largely aware of how my colleagues will be going back to work in a couple of months-business as usual. There will be new dancers who have no idea who I was/am. I am now one of the mythical figures as a former dancer as the enigmatic people I used to hear tales of who had left the company before I joined.

Well, now I'm having a shift in thought process. I'm actually excited to imagine what the stories of me will be like! Hmmm.... I bet they'll be colorful! I can almost guarantee that!

I'm still massively enjoying New York City. Tonight, I stood with two friends in Times Square and looked around me at the bright lights and thought-no said out loud, "I've finally made it." You see, to me, the once young North Carolina boy who had a dream-this is making it. The first step of my dream was to live here. I've almost done it for a month now. It's quite amazing. I won't rest until I've found work. That's "dream" part two.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Inspired again.

Tonight, I attended another performance of the NY City Ballet that also held special meaning for me. The first piece on the program was the first Balanchine Ballet, "Donizetti Variations," that I had danced a principal role in with KC Ballet. Once again, I didn't find myself grief stricken by how much it made me miss dance. Quite the contrary. I felt like saying "Wow! I did that piece once upon a time!" The dancers were beautiful once again.

As a dancer, I often spoke, and I've talked about it in my entries about how I have always worked to take the audience out of their own heads and away from their problems for a couple of hours. Tonight, it was my turn to be taken away from my issues, and I felt truly happy.

Naturally, it's time for a "Donnell Disclaimer." I reserve the right to miss ballet at anytime! I'll write about it if/when I do. Just because I'm feeling good now doesn't mean the reality has sunk in yet. I'm not sure if it ever will....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This city constantly astounds me. From having a plethora of excellent dance class options to multiple performances to be able to attend to all the wonderful things that happen just because one is "in the right place at the right time," I am soaking it all up like a sponge.

One of my favorite aspects always has been and I'm sure always will be the chance occurrences of running into someone I know on the street. It happens almost daily! It is a reminder of how small the world really is.

Back to the before mentioned class part. I am loving taking ballet now that it isn't my job anymore. It is also a welcome release for me after struggling to keep up in tap. I am definitely humbled when I take tap! I'm trying to be patient with myself though. I actually was annoyed that I have an audition tomorrow because it meant I would miss tap! How silly! When I take ballet class, it reminds me that I am good at dance still even though I feel terrible in tap! I can redeem myself!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Maybe I'm simply too tired to freak out, but in an hour and a half my audition slot will be open. Today, I'm branching out and doing my first non-dancer call. I'm really pretty excited about it. The worst that can happen is that I could bomb, and I don't know of any famous actors I've heard of who don't have a "worst audition" story! Thereby, I'm simply excited to perform! I have to get my performance kicks in my auditions to satisfy me until I get on stage again. Hopefully, it won't be too long.

So, here goes. Let the rat-race begin.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Last night I had a real treat. I attended my first ballet performance as an audience member since I "retired." What a show to see! New York City Ballet has for years been one of my favorite companies, and I've known a pretty good handful of people who dance there. Several of them are my generation, and I feel that this time after several years of not seeing them, I was given a gift. I got to see how much these artists have grown. It's a bit like seeing a child after years of not seeing them and being surprised by how tall they are! It's not that you don't expect them to not have grown, but yet, you've kept the past memory of them etched in your mind.

The first couple of pieces were more contemporary in nature and extremely physically challenging. Someone I knew in the audience from Kansas City asked me after these pieces if it made me miss it. Shockingly perhaps, I was able to answer "No." It was true. It made me proud to know what amazing efforts these dancers were making, but I didn't envy them. This may have changed a little after the last piece which was George Balanchine's "Who Cares?" which was the ballet I just retired with. Even so, I grinned from ear to ear the whole time and found it inspiring. It's such a theatrical and jazzy piece that it made me excited to be pushing for exactly what I'm doing with musical theatre. I've just got to get back on stage!

I loved being in the audience tonight. What an exhilarating experience, and I cannot wait to have more.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A man with a mission.

I've got to get a job.

This whole retirement thing is great and all-collecting unemployment benefits and otherwise living a life of "luxury," but I've got to get back on stage. It's at the point now where I'm looking at the audition calls, and I feel like, to heck with getting nervous! If there's a call that I'm remotely right for, I'm going in! Hopefully, that won't bite me in the rear, but at this point, what do I have to lose?

As I've said before, one of the great things about being in NYC is the opportunities to audition for many different companies. I'd be stupid not to take advantage of those auditions.

It is a bit difficult balancing my schedule (even though I don't do much) with my personal life and my classes and my weight training. It's an adventure indeed. I'm going to make it happen though. I have an interview with an agent in a little over a month, and I'm excited to see how that goes. In the meantime, I just keep pushing, pushing, pushing. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Tomorrow I will get to do an audition at last! My first since moving up here for good. Now, it's a tap audition, and for those who know me or have been reading my blog, that small three letter word scares me! It's getting less and less scary, but it is still intimidating to me. So much so that I almost decided not to go to the audition because I didn't want to mar my image upon just having arrived. However, my friend who is currently in the show said to do it anyway. So, I'll give it a shot!

It's all a part of the adventure! At least this way I will feel that I'm being at least a little productive!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's just not my turn.

It's so strange how things happen in the time frame in which they're meant to. For example. I had two auditions to attend this week, and the first one I learned at the last second was a call for Latino men-thank goodness I figured that one out! The next one seemed perfect for me and promised to be a fun audition was cancelled. Thereby, there is only one audition for me to do next week, and it's a strong tap call, and I'm not the strongest tapper. That's ok. I'm going to try it anyhow! It will be fun.

In many ways, I feel that I should be more nervous than I am for these things, but really, I'm so bored right now, and I just want to feel as if I'm doing what I was trained to do. As I've said before, an audition is a time to perform. I already miss it even though I feel burned out at the moment. Well, I'll have plenty of chances to audition come the late summer/early fall, so I'll need to remember this time when I was complaining (but not really complaining) about having nothing to do.

I'm having a good time getting to know my roommates. They're great guys. I won't lie though. It is an adjustment for me as I have spent the last ten years living alone for the most part. It is nice however, to have people to hang out with already built into my life, and we are fortunate to have such a large apartment. Often, it feels as though I am living alone. Still, at the end of the day, all is well with the world, and I am honored to be living in such an amazing apartment in an amazing neighborhood with amazing people.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Out of my comfort zone.

For some reason, I have been putting off getting back into dance class. I'm not sure why, but I think I really just feel burned out. Tonight, however, I made myself go. I went to a jazz class. So, not only was it my first full class back in three weeks since retiring, it was two hours long, and it was a style that I am far from an expert in. I had a great time. It was nice to do something different and move in a way that is a bit more foreign to me. I have felt for years that I am no good at that kind of movement because people laugh to see me do something different. In this class, I knew no one, so I was able to just give it my best. Yes, I still look like a ballet dancer, and I need to shake that out, but that's what class is for. You can't learn something without working on it. It was fun to branch out. I'm going to be sore tomorrow.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What a day.

I spent most of my day by the sea relaxing and throwing frisbee with a couple of my close friends, and then by dusk I was watching sailboats play around the Statue of Liberty. Following these events, went home, showered, and then went back out to meet with some friends. While we was at the restaurant, the server (my friend's friend" said "Matthew?!?" Yup. I knew her. We had gone to school together at the Rock School eleven years ago! Here I was concerned that no one would ever recognize me again!

I don't know any other city for myself at this point in my development where I could experience the exciting things I am at this moment. I'm looking forward to my auditions this week, and we'll see how they go!!

Familiar faces.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in New York City! Sure, the weather was lovely, but I had my first experience that helped prove that I will still get to see people I love even if we don't all live in the same city anymore.

I began the day by having coffee with my former stage manager from KC Ballet, and that was simply great. I've always enjoyed the times when I get to visit with her. A bit later, I had lunch with one of the dancers who is in town visiting and taking classes. This place really is a safe place to be if one is concerned with staying in touch with dancers. I ended the day having dinner with my stage manager and her friends. It was lovely.

I am so thankful for opportunities like this. This city is full of them around every turn. It would be easy to forget why I'm here, but I haven't! I have a couple of auditions coming up this week, so here I go! Let's get this started!

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm here.

Finally, for the first time in my life, I live in New York. I'm residing in Astoria, Queens, and it takes me about twenty minutes to get into Times Square by train. My neighborhood is charmingly residential without seeming suburban, and yet I'm a block away from busy life round the clock. I finally just finished organizing my room. It was a huge task considering I have the most stuff of all of the three of us living here. I now feel like I can breathe a bit easier.

Next week if all goes to plan, I will attend a couple of auditions. It's time to try to make it happen. I'm still feeling a bit burned out from the past ten years, but I know that I am up here to perform. It's what I love doing, and energy or not, I need to go for it. I can rest when I'm dead! Whether it takes me days, weeks, months or years, I am excited that I live in a city where there is life to occupy the dull moments and the waiting times. Sure, there is life everywhere, but nothing touches the energy of this city.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I can almost taste it.

The drive across the country has been beautiful and fun. I am going to miss my life in Kansas City terribly, but to be East again and going through the mountains and seeing the green and with a good friend and a good dog-Aaaaahhhh!! Big sigh!! I feel home again.

We spent the night with my brother and had a wonderful time being goofy around the fire and grilling food. I woke up early tired but too excited to sleep. We're so close to our new home, but our roommate (the one who actually has a job) is shooting today and isn't available until the evening.

Every step of this trip is working out in such a way that I am feeling more and more comfortable with my decision. That's a great thing because I've felt pretty darned good about it since day one anyway!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Woah boy!

Today was a wonderfully easy drive overall. We left at ten this morning, and we arrived in Indianapolis at eight. I only backed into one car with the truck at one of our gas fill-ups, but there was not damage, and my roommate and I left the scene feeling very lucky.

So.....we are spending the night in a mansion. Yup, that's right a mansion. This house is full of beautiful European artwork and treasures from all over the place. I am writing my most poorly worded entry because I can't think straight! I'm so in awe of the generosity that has been offered to us by these friends of my roommates mother.

The lesson I take from this? Keep connecting with people. ALL OF THE TIME. As a performer-heck, as a human, I believe it is important to learn the best people skills one can in order to share experiences and events and....I have to stop writing! I can't put into words what I'm thinking! I'm simply floored, and I am learning so much from all of my opportunities.

I can't wait until I can once again offer a place for others to stay and extend (in a much wimpier way) a helping hand.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Here goes....

My last two days in Kansas City were packed to the brim. I'll hit some of the high points that meant something to me.

Story one requires some background first. Ten years ago, during the summer of 2000, I attended a jazz concert in my hometown of Mt. Airy, NC right before I was to leave home for good, and it was there that I first heard the jazz standard that says "Goin' to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come..." I've loved that song ever since. On Saturday, I went to listen to my friend's father who is an amazingly talented and versatile guitarist play jazz at an awesome barbecue joint. Talk about killing two birds with one stone-KC jazz and KC barbecue! The second song that I heard them played was-you guessed it-"Goin' to Kansas City!"

Earlier that day, the Penske moving truck rate was dropped from $609 (an already good rate) to $258 because they were late having the truck delivered! WOW!! I'd dare say this trip is a go!

On Sunday, I went to the high school graduation party of a young lady who I had first met when she was played an angel in "The Nutcracker." It was completely wild to see her grown up and preparing to go to school. It had been a couple years since I saw that family last. I had to fight back tears when watching the power point slide show of her life.

Tonight was a low-key night over drinks and food with a small group of friends. I am continually touched that people would come show such wonderful support for me. I am fortunate to have had such a strong core group in this town. The feeling of rebuilding that is quite daunting.

I feel stranger now at this moment than ever. I officially have no car, I drove a car for the last time-for a while at least-tonight. Until we arrive in New York, I will have no apartment keys on my key chain for the first time in ten years. These things may seem insignificant, but consider again that this was the first place that I made my own home.

I guess I can finally understand the famous quote, "There's no place like home..." After all, that story did take place nearby. Now, if anyone thinks I'm going to wear ruby slippers, then think again!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So close I can taste it.

What do I do to stay calm at this point? With only six days left until I move, I'm pretty frazzled! I have been loving working on the Starlight Theatre Gala because it's a revue of many musicals, so I'm getting to sing and dance. I've had to fight back tears a couple of times when we sing "What I did for love" from "A Chorus Line." Yes, so I'm sentimental. Just like the actors auditioning in that show, I'm not sure what my life would have been like if I hadn't had the opportunity to do what I love for the last decade.

On another note, I've come upon some frustrations with the knowledge that somehow some people don't seem to know that I sing. I am quite pigeonholed in this town as a dancer, and that is another frustrating reason that it is time to get out of town and get a fresh start. Am I an opera star? No. Can I do a bit more than just carry a tune? Yes. It's amazing how people get an idea of you in their mind, and that can be hard to change for some reason.

Well, I look forward to auditioning for everyone who thinks they know me again sometime. Hopefully, this confidence with which I'm writing will carry over and out of my mouth in the form of a voice that will surprise them. A triple threat I am determined to be.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Level playing field.

I went to the college graduation party of a former student of mine yesterday. Of course, I had another opportunity to talk about what I was going to be doing soon with my move and my transition. Speaking to my student and hearing about his summer gigs and then his plans to move up to New York in September really made me think again about how I really am starting over in a way. Thankfully, I have a good resume behind me, but I'm moving up with "the class of 2010" from all of the theatre departments across the country. It can be quite daunting when I stop to think about it. Thereby, I choose not to-well at least not for too long at a time.

On a fun note, at this time next week, my roommate and I will be on the road and hopefully about four to five hours into our journey eastward! How exciting!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In Limbo

Rehearsals are going just fine for what will be my last gig while I'm living here in Kansas City. That's a strange thing to think about! What a wild ride this has all been.

I'm going a bit crazy today. I feel somewhat stuck right now. I feel as if I am waiting for a train (or something) to come and take me off, and it's running late. I know that this week will fly past, and I need to just enjoy it, but I feel somewhat detached from everything at the moment. Several of my close friends are here in town still, but since work at the ballet ended, I don't see them every day. I suppose my withdrawal has quietly begun. I do miss the day in and out of my job at the ballet. Well, at least I miss the idea of it. I miss the security of knowing that I can begin work again in three months and see everyone as usual.

I really want to get to New York and find out how I'm going to do. I hope to be settled in relatively quickly. I'm just anxious about the unknown. Well, it won't be unknown for much longer.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Counting down.

I can’t believe I have eight days left. It has been hard saying my “Goodbyes” to people as they leave for the summer, and I know I won’t see them for longer than usual. I have been having dreams about my Kansas City friends and weird scenarios. I find this tends to be a pattern when big changes come my way in life. I find dreams interesting, and I wish I was skilled at interpreting them! Ah well, I will just let their mystery baffle me!

Today, I was rehearsing for the gala I am performing in before I leave town, and we were singing “What I did for love” from “A Chorus Line.” I had to fight back tears again as I sang because the emotions I felt when seeing that show a couple weeks ago came flooding back. This career was amazing. I can’t wait for the next one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's Continue.

High in the air traveling back to Kansas City, I finally have some time to process the events of the last couple of days. The only thing I can say is “Wow. I did it. I’m doing it. Wow.” I had a dream as a little boy of someday and living in New York to pursue theatre. It was thwarted for almost two decades (and thankfully so) by another dream to become a professional ballet dancer. Now, as of a few hours ago, I saw the apartment that will be my home for at least the next year. I am going to be a resident of New York in two weeks.

I find it appalling that some people would have the audacity to crush the dreams of others. Somehow, I was born into a family where getting ahead wasn’t the name of the game, so success was able to be birthed. Let me explain. You see, when you don’t focus on being number one and killing the competition, something happens naturally. The universe makes it possible to succeed. Thereby, success comes at the time and level it is supposed to. Yes, there are those in life who are driven to “get ahead.” They will stop at nothing to win. This can be a great quality in some, but in most of the people I have known with this quality, one major thing is lacking. That is true happiness. At the end of the day, unless one is actually happy and grateful for their success, I don’t really call that being successful. Now of course, this is my own opinion.

Some who know me would say, “Matthew, who the heck are you to say this? You’re not happy all of the time,” and some would even go so far to say that often I seem downright miserable. That is very true. I struggle with the “get ahead” mentality. I am super competitive, and I always have been. However, I am learning more about my nature, and perhaps not booking any of the last few gigs I have auditioned for is meant to teach me something. Sure, much of that could be based on a slew of things-luck, timing, type, but I’m trying to find ways of studying the events in my life. This time, I’m using my rejections as a time to try to learn to be happy for the people who do/did land the jobs I was going for. Thereby, when it is finally my turn, I won’t simply take my success for granted.

So, I began by talking about stomping on dreams and then went off on a tangent (true to form,) but I do have a point. I need to make sure that I aim to spread the same support that I have almost always been given throughout my training and career to those around me. I am about to find myself in an interesting position. I’m going to be living with two other actors. While we are ALL in different areas and different types, I would be a fool not to acknowledge the risk of feeling jealous or competitive as we begin to have successes at different times. I’m gearing up now to make sure that I work to aid in the dreams of my roommates.

The last ten years really taught me a lot. I have much more to learn.

This blog was initially designed to chart my last year as a dancer. I feel that I have completed that goal. However, I have been encouraged to continue this blog into the next phase of my transition, and I think it could be interesting to do so. Thank you to all who have taken the time to read, respond and support me this year. I will continue to report and still strive to stay true to my first goal of not making a glorified “Facebook” status of my postings.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Coming down.

My schedule was crazy on Sunday. I finished the show at four, was on a flight at 6:10 with one of my coworker's mother and grandmother (which was nice,) and after a long and bumpy flight, I finally arrived at my friends house by 12:30am. When I awoke, I went and had breakfast with two dear friends from Kansas City, and then I went to stand in line an hour and a half before my audition. After the audition-of which I made it to the second cut, I met friends for cocktails and dinner, randomly met a girl who had graduated from my school six years after me, went and played board games with the friends from earlier in the day and finally went back to where I am staying for the night.

Needless to say, I haven't had time to take in the fact that my career with KC Ballet ended on Sunday afternoon at 4:00. In a way, I'm happy, but I know myself, and I am going to need to find time to grieve that loss. However, if I am really honest with "knowing myself," I know the time to grieve will find me. Probably by something harmless and random such as a hot dog stand that looks like one that used to be outside my building in KC or something. I'll be standing weeping on the sidewalk in NYC making people wonder who the new crazy guy is who has just been added to the mix?!? Actually, here, no one would notice!

I LOVE MY NEW CITY!! I cannot wait to get back. No, I didn't book the Radio City job, but that's ok! It's not my turn yet. I did well, and I know that my ballet performance stood out-perhaps too much-who knows. In the meantime I'll just focus on my last week and a half in KC (I fly back tonight,) and I'll make them wonderful. This is my last "visit" to New York! It's my last time "crashing" with friends! This year has been full of many bittersweet "lasts," but these are wonderful ones!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Today is the day. It is my last day as a member of the Kansas City Ballet. My whole career here in Kansas City will come to a close. I am at a loss for words. Instead of trying to come up a description of what I’m feeling now, I’ll simply say “Thank you.”

I am grateful to the audiences who have supported and watched me. Throughout the weekend I had several people tell me that they had enjoyed watching me since I arrived. Sometimes, with so many people in one company, it’s easy to feel overlooked by ones boss, and it can be discouraging. However, when I receive the feedback from the audience, my work is completely validated. Sure, we as dancers want our employers to appreciate us, and they probably do, but what we leave behind, our legacy, rests in the minds of those who paid to watch us for years.

I’ll have more to report later, but for now, this is it.

I wrote the above early this morning, and was unable to publish it due to no Internet connection. Here is part II.

I am "retired!" The performance went well, and I didn't even cry too much. I'm now sitting in the airport waiting to board for my flight to New York. All of this will settle in soon enough, but for now I'm sure I'm in denial. I know that I am excited. Up, up and away I finally go.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another opening, another show...

This wasn't just any opening for me. This was it. This was the last time I will open a Kansas City Ballet performance as a member of the company. I've said it before, and I'll take the luxury of saying it again, where did the time go?!?

The show was a huge success. The audience was receptive and jovial. As I watched from backstage, I tried to savor every moment. I took in the view of the dancers from the wings with lighting "booms" in the way, and I tried to take mental snapshots. I have had the best seat in the house for years. The audience sees the perfect illusion. Those in the wings see the true beauty in the perfection and imperfection. They are both amazing in their own rights. I actually prefer the latter.

Tonight, dancing George Balanchine's "Who Cares?" I let myself go. Was I perfect? No. Can and will I improve upon my performance in the next two shows I do of that piece? Yes, or at least I hope so. However, I had the time of my life. I gave everything I had to the audience and those sharing the stage with me. To me, it was my way of saying "Thank you" to everyone who has been watching for so long.

After the show, at the opening night party, I was presented with a beautiful photograph from my performance as "Iago" in "The Moor's Pavane." This was the role of my career as I've said before, and I am ecstatic to have this memory saved and framed. Several people at the party approached me and thanked me for my work here. I felt so humbled and thankful that I have added even a small speck to the portrait that is the Kansas City Ballet. I will always carry the good wishes of these audience members with me for strength as I pursue the next phase. Here I go.

Home stretch.

My final dress rehearsal was a bit eventful. Earlier in the day, one of our dancers was having anxiety attack-like issues, and so he had to go to the hospital. Before I go on, I will say that he is fine and will be back in for the performances. I happen to understudy said dancer in one of the pieces, and so I was thrown on for the run. I was pretty anxious, but overall, it went well. The choreographer was pleased and shook my hand, my ballet mistress came back stage to praise me, and even my director seemed happy. Needless to say, I felt quite relieved.

The rehearsal continued on, and the piece I do "Who Cares?" closes the show. It went well until the very end. There are a series of lifts in which I pop my partner quickly into the air fully extending my arms. Tonight, the music was played a bit faster than we have been rehearsing, yet I still tossed my partner and brought her down very quickly. During the second of these three lifts, something pinched, pulled, slipped-or something-in my lower neck/extreme upper back. Now, I am currently sitting writing with an icy-hot patch glued to me. Today, I will see the physio therapist, and although in pain, I'll make it through tonight. Never a dull moment in ballet.

I am excited about opening. It is going to be special. My colleagues are being sensitive towards me knowing that this is a strange experience for me. The good thing is that all of my loose ends seem to have come together, so I can enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The final piece.

I have an apartment lined up! As of yesterday morning, my roommate who already resides in New York found a great deal on a large three bedroom place in Astoria. It is newly renovated and will be perfect for us! I am excited to see it next week when I am in the city briefly.

Just knowing that I have a place to look forward to moving to is a huge relief. I had reserved the moving truck the day before without even having an apartment locked down, so to have something fall into place the next day was simply perfect.

Yesterday’s theatre rehearsals went well overall. I was definitely ready to get some rest afterwards though. Today, we have tech and then dress rehearsal at night. Man oh man it’s flying by! I’m savoring as much as possible, but it’s going too fast! The whole last ten years feel like a blur. All I can do is point my feet as hard as possible, smile and let it all soak in.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Well, that snuck up on me! I looked at my schedule today for the next couple of weeks and realized that tonight is my last class teaching my students. I am booked with rehearsals and out of town travel the next couple of weeks. In a way, I'm glad that I didn't see this coming because I had no time to dread it! Tonight, I'll teach my heart out and try to give one last great class to these kids. It is clear to me that I may never teach some of them again, and that is a strange feeling.

The dance world is small, and I look forward to seeing these kids again. I'm sure that many of them will continue on with their dance education and then on into the world of performing. Teaching has been one of the joys of my career here, and I hope that I will get to continue doing it in my next surroundings. One thing at a time though. I need to recover from this closed chapter. Heck! Who am I kidding?!? I need to get my resume out soon so that I can book some teaching gigs! I've never found a better and more enjoyable way to make money (other than performing!)

Part II: (written today, the 4th) the Class was great. The kids worked extremely hard, and afterwards there were many tears. Wow that was hard. I held it together though. Now, I'm off to my first last day of theatre week.

Beautiful Friends.

Tonight, I attended the end of the season party for the dancers of the Kansas City Ballet, which was hosted at one of the dancer’s lovely home. The party began at six, and I felt a little bad showing up late, but I had my students’ last show to attend. I got there around ten, and was bowled over. As I entered the house everyone began singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow.” The end of the year party was a party in my honor. They had all gotten there at six o’clock, and the joke had even become that they didn’t know if I would even make it. Make it I did, and I am still incredibly moved.

They presented me with a framed picture of the entire company, and around the matting, the dancers had written messages to me. I also learned that one of the dancers had organized a questionnaire about me that each of the dancers had been working on throughout the week with questions ranging from “When you hear the word “Donnell” what do you think of?” to “What was Matthew’s best/funniest moment?” and on and on.

There were a lot of funny comments, but there were also a lot of heartfelt ones which made me realize all the more how much I am going to miss my colleagues. This was the most amazing gesture that I could have been given, and I will be forever grateful. This gives me yet another group of people that I don’t want to let down. Where would I be without the support of these people in my life? I hope that I may be the friend to them that they have been to me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dress Code Attire.

Today, my last full rehearsal day in the studio of Kansas City Ballet was quite fine. I didn't have any emotional breakdowns-thank goodness! I simply danced and enjoyed myself. I'm ready to do these shows. For class, I wore what a student wears: white shirt, black tights, white socks and white shoes. At least that was the common attire when I was a young kid in school. My line was "I wore this coming in, I'm wearing it going out!"

Tonight, I was inspired as I watched my students perform in their Spring concert. My piece opened the show. They all seemed so excited to see me there, and I was equally excited to see how much they put into the performance. One of the most important things when being in a position of director/choreographer is to realize that once the show goes up, there is nothing left for you to do but sit back, relax and enjoy whatever is presented to you. Yes, I am critical of my work and the work of my students, but it does no one any good to come down on someone for their performance if it didn't go perfectly. This is my philosophy on this type of leadership. It promotes a safe zone where people feel encouraged to succeed. Unfortunately, it isn't always like this in the world of performance, but when it comes to myself, I can control the energy I emit to my students. As a result, I believe they felt safe to do their best, and they gave a beautiful performance. I was proud. I'll get to see it twice more tomorrow with a different cast. I can't wait to see what they bring to the work. It is exhilarating to see one's work come to life! It has been wonderful to have the chance to work with young artists over the years.

All in all, I must say that today was a nice day. I look forward to seeing what tomorrow will bring. I hope to make my last twenty-two days in Kansas City full of positive energy and good times.

Friday, April 30, 2010


Life is so strange. While I was going through my things during my huge packing excursion, I came across several old letters. Several were from old pen-pals from ballet summer study sessions of yore. There was one that I found, and it made me think of how sad it is when we lose contact with people. This person and I had some great times when we were away from home at the ripe old age of 13.

Well, tonight, I received a “friend request” on Facebook, and long story short, it was this person! I find it exhilarating that these types of things seem to keep happening to me this year! I had literally been thinking about her the week before, and then she found me! Wild!

It is easy for me to find all of this exciting and think that it’s some sort of cosmic gift being bestowed on me by the Universe as a “retirement” gift. However, it makes me pause to think. I bet these kinds of gifts are always around us. There are just times in our lives when we are more open to being able to see them. What would it be like if I was always open and able to see the gifts that are given to me daily? Well, honestly, I think that would get to be boring. I’m enjoying the novelty of these pleasant surprises. I think that I can accept that good things are always coming to me, but would never want to take them for granted. I like the constant ebb and flow of being surprised just when I need it. I guess I’ve really been needing it lately with all of the emotions I’ve been going through!

Speaking of these things. Tomorrow will be my last full rehearsal day in the studios of the Kansas City Ballet. Wowsa.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A closed chapter.

I did it. I moved out of my apartment-completely. The only thing I have left to do is hand over my keys. At 11:52 am yesterday, I completed cleaning and rushed from my apartment to work for a 12:05 rehearsal. I made it. I kept expecting to have a reaction to the fact that I had just become “homeless” so to speak. Nothing happened. Until later that night.

I went to see my roommate-to-be in a musical being done by the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. The performance was being put on in a theatre that I could see from my old place. The show was a wonderful piece that blended Shakespeare’s “Othello” with political points about the harmful aspects of war. They had me at “Hello” with the subject matter as I have recently portrayed Iago, and I love seeing renditions of that story. I managed to keep myself together throughout the show.

Then, afterward, as I sat in my car to leave, it hit me. I was driving away from my home. I realized that the apartment I could have walked to from the theatre was no longer where I live. I was driving in the opposite direction. A wave of emotion poured over and out of me as I experienced fear, excitement, panic and doubt about my upcoming move. All the while knowing still that I’ll be just fine, yet I was still freaked out.

This was my first meltdown of the week. I have been anticipating some in the upcoming days, but I wasn’t sure when the surprise would come. Well, there was number one, and I’m glad I got that out of the way. I feel much better now, and I will continue to feel more comfortable as I get used to my beautiful BIG new surroundings.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm gonna make it!

One more carload! I can do it all in one more carload! I think. Then I'll have the joy of cleaning the place for the inspection-yuck. I am so excited to be out of that apartment. It's a huge load off. Hopefully, within the next two weeks I'll hear good news about acquiring a place in New York. Everything has been going so smoothly overall, that I have no reason to doubt that the rest of it will fall into place. I will be excited to report.

It's strange getting used to living in such a HUGE house! It's fun though! My dog is slowly getting used to the place, but boy did he seem disoriented. I suppose that makes two of us.

Well, I've been writing this on a break from work, so I'm going back now. I am finding it more and more fun to watch my coworkers dance. This is my last week in the studio before performance week, and it is all completely surreal. I've never wanted time to go slowly and quickly at the same time so much as I do now.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My first night "home."

What a house! I am floored by the generosity of my host! The house I am staying in is amazing. I joke that I'm going from living alone in a large one bedroom loft to living alone in a three story house to living with two maybe three roommates in a shoebox! Oh what an adventure.

I am almost moved out of my apartment, and it really is strange. I can't get out of here fast enough. It just isn't my home anymore. I feels erie without all of my things. So, short post, but I have to keep moving!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My last night "home."

I am so lucky that I have such wonderful friends in my life. Tomorrow, I will begin moving to my temporary home. My friend has recently purchased a house, and he is allowing me to stay there until I leave for New York. I am floored by his generosity.

I found my first rental agreement for the loft that has been my home, and I realized that I had lost track of time. I've actually been living here for seven years, and I thought it was six. Tonight, I will spend my final night in my apartment (unless I crash on the floor while cleaning this week.)

Suddenly, something weird is happening. It isn't home anymore. I feel as if I'm being released from it. It's a wonderful place, and I'm sure my sentimental side will kick in at any moment, but I am simply so overwhelmed with this move, that I can't wait to be out of here. I have to have it emptied and cleaned by Friday the 30th. Oh boy. Well, here I go. The good thing about this deadline is that it will put me in a good place for my performance week. I would have been really stressed to be trying to move during that.

Well, so long my wonderful loft. You have been a safe place as I asked you to be. What an amazing residency. You'll be hard to live up to.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Moving Insanity.

I can barely walk through my apartment because of all of the boxes. How can one accumulate so much in a one bedroom apartment?!? It's driving me mad, and the problem is, I don't know what I can get rid of! I need to get an unbiased friend to help me feel ok with getting rid of stuff.

Today, one fun thing I found was the old budgeting workbook my parents had made for me when I first moved to Kansas City. In it were worksheets designed to help me know exactly where my money was going. It was wild to see that my income that first season was just over $10,000! Somehow, I made it work! I felt rich. I still say today that the first year I was making a living was the most financially free one yet. I was so happy to be living on my own.

Well, now I'm going to be starting over again financially in a sense. Sure, I'm going into things with quite a bit more in the bank than the first time, but I am also going into things with a much smaller paycheck than I'm used to-at least at first. One thing that the two experiences will definitely have in common is my excitement factor. I am thrilled to meet this new challenge!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lessons learned.

You learn a lot when you live in a place for ten years. I have really grown up in Kansas City. As my "retirement" approaches, I am finding myself reflecting not only on the successes of my career and what I have learned onstage, but also that which I have gleaned from life experience offstage.

One thing that dance has taught me is that without heart and the emotional commitment to one's work, the art form is shallow. When you don't bring every emotion to a role, whether it be character or abstract, you miss out on the chance to make great discoveries. While making these discoveries, you learn how far to take a role. You definitely learn when you've taken it too far, and sometimes this can be a sobering thing. It can result in a bad revue or ending up on your ear. Nevertheless, you have to be willing to take the risk in order to reach one's fullest potential. Learning this over the years has made me grow from a school student into an artist. I don't have to be everyone's favorite artist, but I know that an artist I am.

I want to take this a bit further and point out that this has helped me offstage. Dancers are passionate, and we often have a hard time leaving this passion at work. There are direct relationships to what I said above and how I have conducted myself in my life that have taught me many things. I have learned when I am playing it too safe. I have also learned from the times I have taken risks and have gone too far. Those times have been painful, but I have learned the most from them. Those times were/are needed in order to figure out who I am as a person. I'm not there yet, I'm pretty sure it will take me the rest of my life. (well, duh.)

I love that I am able to take what I have learned from my chosen profession and apply it to my life. Every artist has his or her own relationship to their craft. Some may see it as I do, but some may be able to detach and simply do it as their job and be fulfilled by that. One way is not more correct than the other. However, what I have shared is my experience, and I hope that I will continue to learn as I go. It's painful to learn from mistakes, but oh, the hope of being a truly great artist and even further-a truly great person would be such a dream come true.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Students.

They don't cease to amaze me. They are a hot mess at times, but I can't help but love my students. Tonight, we had the first run through of their Spring concert. Parts of my piece still need a lot of work before I'll be happy with it, but I could definitely see their effort. Sometimes, it's easier to feel that the "other" pieces are the ones the kids care most about, but that's only because my ego is attached to my own work.

I know that classical ballet is not the favorite genre of many of the students, but as it is my forte, I feel that I shouldn't slack off when choreographing for them. Who knows, I may be their main exposure to the form.

This said, I was terribly impressed by them tonight. The show is still a week and a half away, and I will be excited to see it completed. I am going to miss being a teacher and resident choreographer. Since I have been there for eight years, it is almost as much a home to me as the KC Ballet. It's hard to think of closing two chapters at once, but it is amazing to think that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of something so wonderful.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I have been coming across many wonderful things as I've been packing and "downsizing." I have kept many letters over the years from family and friends. I came across many of the "Merde" (good luck) cards from early on in my career from my colleagues, bunches of letters from my parents than span back all the way to when I was thirteen and fourteen until now, and I have also come across some old "pen-pal" letters. Does anyone remember those?

Well, once upon a time there were objects called "pens" or "pencils," and people used to drag them across something called "paper" in specific designs. Then, the paper was folded and placed into another piece of folded paper-oh, gosh! Just the thought of it is wearing me out! How primitive! How did we ever live in such a world?!?

Seriously though, it is so nice to have these tangible pieces of my past. I did put a few of them into the trash can-but probably not as many as I should! I was able to get back in touch with some of my old friends via Facebook, and that was quite wild! One of them who was sixteen when we last corresponded now is married with one two year old child and another due any day now!

I was thrilled to find letters from some of my friends who I had met in high school and have remained part of my life ever since. I know that I will have them as long as we are alive. I think fourteen years makes us all stuck with each other!

Finding these letters is yet another much needed reminder that the life path that I am on is the correct one. With its many twists and turns, some things do stay constant. When I play my cards correctly, or at least as well as I can, the people I love are there for me, and things seem to go my way. I am thankful for that, and I'll keep playing the game as long as I'm able.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Something that some of the dancers have enjoyed doing together annually is going on a camping trip. I was excited to get to go on one last trip this weekend with them. I hadn't been on one in a couple of years, so it was a lovely reunion for me.

Getting to stay up late and laugh and play games together is such a fun diversion from our hectic lives of rehearsing. We're all able to put aside the dramas of work and just be plain goofy. Taking this time is a reminder of the much needed break from work that humans need in order to remain healthy in life.

As usual, this was bittersweet for me. I felt sad much of the time even in my happiness. I was reflective and allowed myself to sit by the lake this morning and journal about the changes that are happening in my life.

Last night, I actually had a dream about my last day of work. It was actually about my last moments bowing onstage and the curtain coming down. It was a freaky reminder that this is coming up soon, and it is very real.

What stood out in my dream were my friends. They were around me and encouraging me. I wasn't alone. It's nice to know that I have such great people in my life. People who I can sweat and stink with by a campfire.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"What I did for love."

Tonight, I had the privilege of seeing the national tour of "A Chorus Line" here in Kansas City. I went alone, and I'm thankful that I did. I purchased an inexpensive balcony seat, and I had my binoculars in tow. When I was being seated, the usher told me to take a closer seat because the show wouldn't be sold out. Furthermore, he told me I could move down even closer once the show began.

As instructed, I moved down to a closer seat, and this proved to be disastrous. As the famous opening of the show (which is about auditioning for a Broadway show) began, I completely lost it. To say I became choked up would be an understatement. It was amazing that this show that I am all too familiar with as a classic piece of American theatre now held a different message for me. I quickly and quietely moved back up into the balcony to a seat away from other audience members, and it is a good thing I did! I cried for over half of the two hour and fifteen minute-no intermission show.

Watching this story about hopeful auditionees and what they go through is now my life, and it will begin to be even more so over the next few months. I left the theatre feeling inspired but exhausted. As I let the stories told in that show give me hope and encouragement for what is to come, I renewed a vow to myself. Failure is not an option. I will do whatever it takes to be a success on the highest level I am able to. Perhaps I should just say "God I hope I get it" and leave it at that for now.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Always something there to remind me.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of seeing yet another teacher who impacted my life/training as a young dancer. This keep happening! This made me realize again how incredibly fortunate I have been to have had such wonderful opportunities in my life.

With this knowledge comes the sobering realization that I have a duty to now continue to uphold my end of the bargain. My teachers have given so much to me. They have taught me discipline and countless other lessons that go far beyond ballet technique. During these last several days, I need to work harder than ever I feel to keep my head in the game. It's not over 'til it's over as they say. For that matter, it won't ever be over.

I may not always be a professional ballet company dancer, but I will always be myself, and I will always carry the lessons I have learned with me for the rest of my life. To everyone who has taught me and nurtured me, thank you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I have begun the tedious process of putting things in boxes as I prepare for my move. One of the more difficult things has been sorting through which books to keep and which to get rid of. I am realizing that I am lucky on one side of things because I don't have a lot of things that don't mean much to me, but I am unlucky because this means there isn't much that I'm willing to part with! This may prove problematic moving into a small apartment!

Memories flooded to me as I was putting books in boxes. Three bookmarks in particular made me a bit misty-eyed. One was a bookmark from KC Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker" from my second year in the company. It had the picture of a dancer/friend who has long since retired. Another had a theatre schedule from the 2003 Winter Series. It was fun to look back and remember what I was performing then. Another was a hand made Christmas card from a girl who was hired as an apprentice with me and was only here for my first year before moving on. This was perhaps the most special thing because I realized again how important my friendships are to me as I am still in touch with her. I found comfort in this because it is a reminder that even though I may be moving away from my "home," I will still remain in touch with the people who have become so close to me over the years.

It is such a gift to come across memories like these. I am excited to see what more I may dig up as this move continues.

Oh! I received another pleasant surprise this evening when one of my best friends and former coworker called to tell me he would be coming into town tomorrow and staying for the rest of the week! I am looking very much forward to his visit.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Soooo many boxes! I am so fortunate that a friend of mine had about a gazillion moving boxes that I was able to acquire. Now, I think I will begin to feel even a little bit more comfortable taking the next step and loading thing up. I am also very fortunate that people have been coming out of the woodwork to help me with places to stay while I'm briefly homeless in Kansas City.

Baby steps. Baby steps. Back to packing. Not very deep tonight, but that's where I am today (as I always say.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

May 9th.

I realized today that in less than a month I will no longer be employed by the Kansas City Ballet. This has been a title, status symbol and safety-zone all rolled into one for years now, and it will soon cease to be so. Yikes! I am amazed at how laid back I feel about this right now. Should I be freaked out? Why am I so confident? I don't even have an apartment to move into, and I'll be moving out of my current one in three weeks!

One thing is for sure, and that is that I'm ready. I have been realizing that my posts as of late have seemingly less substance than the earlier ones, and I don't find that problematic. It is simply a natural progression and an indication that I am doing what I should be doing and becoming increasingly more at ease with my decision. No, I don't have an apartment yet. Yes, my current apartment is a mess with all of my belongings on the floors. However, I will find a new apartment, and I will somehow manage to move out of this one. All will be well. Why? Because it has to be!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Maintaining relationships.

This will be a short post.

As I have spoken about before, my friendships have been an integral part of my time here with the Kansas City Ballet. They have brought me through good and bad times, and I have learned a lot about the human capacity to love and support. As I prepare to move on, I am inspired by the connections I continue to make with people who I haven't necessarily been close to. It is a reminder to me of how important it is to keep an open mind and heart because you never know who will impact you in life-now or later. It is easy to write people off because of a preconceived notion of who they are or what their personality entails. When we do this, I am learning, we block the chance to make a connection or friendship that may grow into something substantial.

I am encouraged that I am continuing to learn life lessons even at this "down to the wire" time in my journey. I welcome experiences such as this, and I hope to have many more of them.

(See, I said this would be a short post.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A blast from the past.

My apartment looks like Armageddon hit and left no survivors. I have removed everything but clothes from my closets. I feel that I need to see what I have in order to begin pairing things down and organize this move.

As I was checking the pockets of an old back pack, I found two souvenir key chains from auditions for the School of American Ballet (the official school of the New York City Ballet) from my time in high school. It was a treat to think back to the "old days" when I was just an aspiring student wondering if I would make it into a summer training program.

I also stumbled across an old composition notebook from 1996. At the end of summer programs, we as students would write notes to each other as we parted ways-I wonder if the kids still do this now? Page one had a short message from a dancer who I would end up dancing with during my first season with Kansas City Ballet. He is now a principal dancer with the Cincinnati Ballet. It is wild to think of the people you meet at such a young age in this field and how they stay in your life on some level. We really affect one another. It's such a small world.

This makes me once again pause to think how grateful I am for the memories I've made and the people I have met. I know no other lifestyle, but I cannot think that any other field is as unique as this one in this manner. We dancers share something rare. I love it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Saying "Goodbye."

It's happening. I'm beginning to get emotional at weird times. Today, I contemplated using the rest of my personal days in order to have shorter work weeks. It wasn't because I hate being at work. It's because I'm having a hard time being at work. One part of me wants to be there soaking up every last moment, but the other part of me feels the sting of how hard it is to let this place go. Sometimes when saying "Goodbye," people try to find an escape route so as not to have to. That's what I feel like doing at this point. It's just too painful.

I have written a couple of letters now to thank people and groups I have worked with for their impact on my life here, and that has made me a teary mess. I love the ability to put my thoughts into words, but I feel as if I am writing my own eulogy in a way. This sounds hokey and dramatic perhaps, but that's me.

The good thing for me is that I know that I will come back here at some point. This was my first home in a way. Whether I was planning on that or not, it happened. It will forever be a part of me, and thereby deserves the respect I can offer by coming back to it. I find this comforting because I do love it here. I'm glad that I am leaving a place that I want to come "home" to. It speaks to the quality of my life and community here. What a wonderful place to have called home for a third of my life.