Sunday, December 5, 2010

Remembrance Story

Last night was hands down one of the most touching performing experiences I have ever had. Just being invited to be part of Rowan Tree's Annual Candlelight Remembrance Event was an honor and an even greater honor to actually meet and perform for this seemingly tight knit community. Rowan Tree Foundation was founded by a woman (Corinne O'Flynn) who lost her first baby in the first few hours of her life. Rowan was born with trisomy, which they didn't know about until she was born. After experiencing that trauma, she found a community of people in the Denver-Metro area who had gone through similar experiences of losing a child (either pre-natally or as an infant), and founded Rowan Tree Foundation. It is a community of people who get together to support one another through these types of losses. I was blown away by the level of encouragement and love this group of people eminated to each other, and to Kevin and I last night.
  Around 6:30 pm, Kevin and I got to the church where the reception was being held. The group that would be watching our performance was already at the candlelight event, held annually at a park across the street. There is a statue of an angel in the park, which represents something precious to parents who have lost children. I was not able to attend the event because I had to set up our space and warm up before the performance. I would have loved to attend, hopefully I will be able to next year. After we got into the church, we warmed up a bit, got into costume, and put together our "set": A small couch at the back of the space (which was a wide space in the lobby, with even a beautiful Christmas tree at the back!), and a chair with a white scarf draped over it to represent what we had lost (the name of the piece is called "that which was lost"). Then, we set up the ipod speakers and did a sound check. Finally we tried a couple lifts we'd be doing in the piece before people started arriving. Right off the bat I experienced encouragement from a little girl (probably around 8 years old)-- when she saw me in my costume (a simple black dress) she said to me, "You look BEAUTIFUL!" How precious!
  As people started arriving around 7:15, I was able to meet a few of the board members of Rowan Tree Foundation. As Kevin and I continued to warm up in the hall behind the lobby where we would be peforming, Corinne (the one who I had been communicating with the whole time about the event) found us, introduced herself, and immediately gave us both hugs. She told us we'd be performing in a few minutes, after people had gotten their hot chocolate and cookies, etc., and that she'd be introducing us to the group. We could see people pouring in the doors and getting in line for refreshments. There were so many kids there, and whole families. It was so cool to see families that had been through this type of loss coming together and honoring their children together at such a healing event.
  Then it was time to perform. We walked out and stood in front of the group of people (around 150) as Corinne introduced us, and that we'd be performing a piece based on a loss I'd experienced. She said I had channeled my grief into choreography and that we'd been performing the piece around the Denver area at grief support groups. I took the mic and explained a little about what the piece meant to me, and Kevin did the same. Then we walked back and prepared to enter to perform.
  The seven minutes in which we perform the piece are always like another world to me--  I always throw myself completely into the emotions involved in the loss I experienced almost 2.5 years ago-- shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, reconstruction, healing. I still think about the technique of the steps but more often I am concentrating on portraying the emotions and connecting with Kevin in a real way. Something really special and precious happens to me in these several minutes, my heart is being taken through the motions of the loss once again and I am often near tears-- real ones. Last night was no exception. As I went through the different stages and as Kevin walked and danced beside me in them, a little healing bubble was created for me and hopefully for those watching. Something happens when you really understand the depth of someone else's pain-- especially if you can relate totally to that pain. As we danced the room was totally silent except for the music (and this was even more amazing considering the sheer number of small children who were there).
  When we were done the applause seemed to go on and on-- we don't normally do a classical curtsy or bow, but both of us acknowledged the applause with a little casual bow and acknowledged each other as they were clapping for us. Then we exited stage left to create a bit of closure to the piece.
  Afterward there were many individuals and couples that came up to us and thanked us for coming and performing. Several of them had tears in their eyes as they thanked us, and told us it was beautiful and very moving. This blows me away-- performing the piece has a huge effect on me personally of course (because it is my story), but whenever people tell me it made them cry or I see tears after we perform,  it is so incredibly touching and exciting as well. It tells me that our dancing and our performance as a whole was done in an honest and real way, otherwise it would not have had any effect at all on them (especially when they've gone through a similar loss themselves, they know what it is like to feel these things). Corinne later told me that "there was hardly a dry eye in the place." Another woman told me that she was sobbing throughout the piece.
  Several kids came up and said "I liked your dancing!" which was so cute. One little boy in particular came up and said "I liked your dance. Alot." I said, "Oh thank you! Which part did you like best?" He looked straight at me and lifted his leg to the side, almost spilling his hot chocolate. I said, "Oh, you liked it when we did that move?" He nodded, lifted his leg to the side again, almost spilling his hot chocolate two or three more times in the process. So cute and funny!

                                          (Corinne and I at the reception)

                                         (Part of our "set"-- and kids zooming around and having fun after the event)

 We stayed for a bit and had some hot chocolate and cookies. I was so impressed by the way everyone in the room seemed to know and love each other. Kids were zooming around and playing and families/people were standing around and talking and laughing for quite a while. This tells me that community, and sharing each others' grief, and supporting others through hard times of loss creates a healing atmosphere. In this type of atmosphere and environment, tears can be changed into smiles and laughter if we bear each others burdens. It was touching to see so many kids at the event as well, especially because of the nature of many of the losses they've experienced. I am so grateful to Corinne and those at Rowan Tree Foudation for allowing Kevin and I to be part of this special community for at least one night.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Walk to Remember

Kevin and I were just invited to perform at “A Walk to Remember” (, a walk and event in Littleton to raise monies to help families who have suffered the loss of a baby. At this walk and event, parents are able to honor and remember children they have lost. I am so humbled and honored that this dance has grown to be so much more than just a dance, and a way to reach out and help heal hearts and comfort to those who have lost something so precious. This year’s event had more than 900 parents in attendance, and the invitation to perform at next year’s event is a compliment far beyond what I’ve hoped to recieve!

Please contact me if you know of any group or event that might benefit from having us come share this story with them.
Official Facebook page for our grief outreach:
youtube link to the dance performance in Boulder this summer:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Performing, Snow, and Amazing Opportunities!

  It's snowing in Denver! The first snow of the season is always pretty magical. I love watching the flakes float and flit their way down. Driving in it at first is another story-- sometimes not so magical. Speaking of magic, I had my first almost full length performance with Ballet Ariel this week. Being onstage is always a magical experience in a lot of ways for me, especially when my nerves don't get the best of me.
  I was super excited to be performing the roles I was given: In "Napoli," a classic Bournonville ballet (translated: lots of quick movements and jumps, made to look effortless... yeah... not so easy) I was given a role in the women's trio and a solo. "Polar Equals,", the contemporary pas de deux I performed in the summer at the studio tango show, was also part of the program. It is a fast, furious, and energetic piece to Nine Inch Nails that literally leaves me breathless halfway through. Lastly, we performed "Peter and the Wolf" in which I danced the role of the bird. Again, lots of jumps, running, and quick movements. Needless to say I was exhausted by the end but happy. Not everything went exactly as I wanted (and I haven't seen the video yet, so my real opinion is yet to be formed) but I am fairly pleased with how it went.
Lately I have also been making a lot of calls to local grief support organizations and groups, offering my dance piece "that which was lost" as a kind of dance therapy performance. Because our first show at a support group went so well, I was hopeful that we would be invited to perform at other venues and support groups/events to continue to be an outreach to those in need of comfort. And, exciting news-- we have been invited to perform at The Rowan Tree Foundation's Annual Candlelight Remembrance Event in Parker early December! ( The Rowan Tree Foundation is a non profit organization run totally by volunteers, helping families heal after the loss of a child. In the directors' invitation to us, she mentioned that her entire board watched the dance on video and one of the board members called her in tears, saying they needed to have us come perform. What an amazing thing! For me this is a HUGE encouragement that God is using this to help others through grief. The Candlelight Remembrance Event will be attended by about 150 people, all parents who have lost a child. I am honored and beyond excited to be able to share my story through dance with them.                                                                                                                                                             

check out our offical facebook page for "that which was lost" grief outreach through dance:              

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Growing Joy

Recently Kevin and I were privileged to perform at a grief support group in Littleton (pictures above not of this show, they are of the Boulder show July 2010). It was one of the most moving and unique "shows" I have ever done. We basically set up in a big empty room and performed for the 12 members of the group on their break between sessions. Ever since I started choreographing this piece ("that which was lost") I knew I wanted to eventually use it to reach out to those who are grieving and going through exactly what I have gone through.
One sweet woman came up to us afterward with tears coming down her face and thanked us for performing for them, telling us: "I have never been so moved by dance before." She asked what the music was from and I gave her the composer and title. This is exactly what I wanted-- to bring comfort and healing to those suffering through loss. It was one of the most rewarding things I have used my gift of dance for. It has turned my own personal grief into a vessel that others might, because they have seen the piece, heal and move on just a bit faster than they would have. These opportunities to perform have turned my sorrow into joy-- I am so grateful to be able to use such a difficult experience to reach out to others and help even just a little bit.

For more info on the piece and more pictures from the summer show, go to our facebook page dedicated to the grief outreach this piece has become:!/pages/that-which-was-lost-Grief-Outreach-Through-Dance/171242346221582

Please let me know if there is any venue, event, group or performance we might be able to be a part of.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kicking Nutcracker in the Head.

It's Nutcracker time again... We've officially hit the season again at my new dance company. The photo at the right is me as "Clara's Friend" in DTDT's production of Nutcracker two seasons ago. My bow was not cooperating for the photo and you can see I was frustrated, so my mom took full advantage of this moment to capture it :). Speaking of frustration, most ballet dancers who have hung on for more than 10 years in this career will tell you that they dread this time of year. This is because the sheer repetition of this ballet and its music sometimes makes a veteran "nut cracker" want to, even before the start of any rehearsals,  kick it in the head. I am happy to say I haven't felt this for this year's production yet. Maybe it's because I know I won't be rehearsing for hours daily (a guaranteed way to make ones head/toes explode), but only three days a week. Maybe it is the positive environment I find myself in. Whatever it is, I am glad to be dancing the roles of Frau Silberhaus (Clara's mom), Snowflake, Arabian solo, and Flower Demi-Soloist this year. Another reason to be excited-- I rarely get to dance sultry roles like Arabian, and even more rarely a role that denotes any age over the teens (ie a mom!).  It is nice to know I will be stretching the boundaries of what I've done in the past. Can I hear a WHATWHAT for artistic growth!

My initial reaction after this first week with the company-- I am very excited for several reasons: a) Not only are the dancers in the company fabulously talented, they all seem genuinely sweet and friendly already. b) The atmosphere is awesome-- supportive and appreciative. I feel at home there already which is a great sign for me.  c) Artistically, it seems to be a great place to be as well. We will be performing three shows before the end of the year. The director and ballet mistress seem excited to rehearse us and excited about the shows. As a company we do a mix of narrative story ballets (one of their well known pieces is "The Chase" about Charlie Chaplin, and we are doing a new ballet about Molly Brown's life in the spring), classical ballets (ie The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, etc) and contemporary pieces. It is a great mix and seems to suit my abilities well. Many companies today lean either toward just the contemporary or (less often) only the classical. The narrative story pieces are the ones that especially excite me, because of my theater and acting background.

Upcoming shows: We will have a collaborative Halloween show ("Monster Brass") with the Denver Brass on October 23rd at the Newman Center (2:30 and 7:30). We'll be doing the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "The Pink Panther" to the live music of the Denver Brass. 
November 7th (Sunday at 1 pm) we'll be performing with Zikr, a local dance company directed by David Taylor, at the Brooks Center in Denver. I'll be performing a solo and trio from the ballet "Napoli", a contemporary pas de deux called "Polar Equals" (with one pointe shoe!) to Nine Inch Nails, and "Peter and the Wolf." If you haven't seen me dance in awhile this will be a great one to come see because I get a lot of stage time.

And then of course Nutcracker at the Cleo Parker Robinson Theater December 11-12 (3 pm shows), and Dec 18-19th (also 3 pm shows)...
It's going to be a great season I think. It is nice to not want to kick Nutcracker in the head for sure, and I am really looking forward to seeing what else this year holds.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Lately I have had a ridiculous amount of chances to perform, a direct gift from God. (Thanks God :) ). After "Dark Deeds" closed, I was able to perform up in Boulder with Delusions of Grandeur dance company's "Body of Sound" and debut my piece "that which was lost," a pas de deux about processing through significant loss. It was especially moving because Kevin and I were able to dance to a live string quartet. I also got to perform some improvisation to drums, and dance in a traditional Russian character dance "Dark Eyes," which was so fun for me-- some of my favorite memories at the U of Utah ballet department were of Character Dance Ensemble where we learned and performed many different types of folk/character dances. All of "Body of Sound" was performed to live music and the reactions from the audience members were so enthusiastic! It was truly an exhilarating collaboration with the live musicians, everyone was there because they wanted to be, and all of us were truly excited to share our work with the audiences (which were nearly sold out both nights). I hope to participate again in the future when Delusions of Grandeur does another show. The drives up to Boulder were so worth it!
  After that I got to dance a contemporary pas de deux at a local tango performance with a well known choreographer and dancer in the area. It was to an instrumental NIN song, I wore one pointe shoe and we did some really fun and crazy lifts and partnering. It was a great experience to work with him (he was a principal dancer at Colorado Ballet for years) because he is one of the best partners I've ever danced with and is such a creative and talented choreographer. Best of all I know I grew as an artist and dancer through it all.
Me rehearsing my piece "that which was lost" with the string quartet
  If you want to see my piece I did up in Boulder ("that which was lost") here is a link to the Vimeo site: (my piece is at 6:30)

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Today is one of those days that being a "feeler" on the Meyers Briggs Personality Test truly defines me... Part of what that means is that my emotions sometimes drive my day or what I decide to do. I feel certain things very deeply and this affects me in my daily life sometimes.
Sometimes in rehearsal for my piece on grief and loss (which we perform next week!) I am "in it," in the story of the piece and my brain and heart process right there in the moment while dancing and I walk out feeling refreshed and that I've processed something good. Today was not one of those days. It was a good rehearsal, but I am feeling more of the weight of the piece now, afterward. It is all sitting heavy on my heart.
Losing something precious is not something that is processed through quickly. In our case, we lost a tiny child I didn't know I was pregnant with. I began miscarrying about six hours after I found out I was actually pregnant. This happened to us a couple years ago, and I am nowhere near done processing this event in my heart. I am glad to be telling my story in hopes it will encourage someone else going through their own personal grief, but feeling that loss is hard. There's just no other way to say it. It's hard.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yelling at My Bed.

(Pictured above is myself, Kevin (my dance partner in the July show), and Colleen in "Mobile" March 2010)
Today I am appreciating the demanding discipline of dance. As much as I love to complain about the sore muscles, the general fatigue, and getting up early (earli-ER that is) for class, I pretty much always am glad I did it. I've been preparing for a dance audition and a show in July up in Boulder (see my facebook page for details). And that means ballet everyday and pointe shoes back on my poooor little feet (cue sympathetic "awwwwwww"s). Those things make taking class at LEAST a billion times harder than dancing in the nice soft canvassy goodness we call flat shoes. Otherwise known as ballet slippers.
I haven't danced everyday for awhile, due to my rib injury and before that, the ballet company season ending. It is just hard to make yourself get up everyday and do rigorous exercise if it's not totally necessary-- or if you are getting paid to do it (or in my case, would lose my non-paying job if I didn't show up). There's something about my bed that is just so comfy early in the morning. It talks to me, croons at me, says, "Isn't it so nice and cozy here? Look, you are soooo tired. You really DO need your sleep. Come on, you can skip class just for today. It's not a big deal." To which I reply, "GET BEHIND ME, WARM COZY BED!!!"
Ok, well, most days I do. Some days I just submit to the soft sleep cocoon. But the last few weeks I have actually done better in this respect. There's just something about an audition and show in the near future that strikes the fear of "Holy crap, I am going to look like a complete idiot in this audition and/or onstage if I don't get myself into performing shape immediately" deep into my heart. Something about a whole audience of people watching my every move makes me get my butt into high gear.
My point is: Discipline. It's hard. I hate getting up earlier than I need to and forcing my legs and body into positions it doesn't like (at least the first 20 minutes until my muscles warm up). But I am always glad I did. Now, just to convince my bed to stop talking so nicely to me early in the morning...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


We had our third rehearsal today for a piece I choreographed, called "Loss." I set it on myself and a guy I danced with at the ballet company. It is loosely based on the seven stages of grief and how a couple deals with a mutual loss together. I choreographed it based on a personal experience of loss that happened a couple weeks after we moved here to Colorado, which makes it a rich and difficult piece for me to work on and rehearse. I choreographed it knowing this would be the case. Processing this loss has been a long slow haul for me and I am nowhere near done, and don't expect to be in the near future.
I knew I needed to do this piece when I woke up one morning to the clock radio tuned to the classical station, hearing the sounds of a string quartet singing a slow and beautiful song (from what I heard in my heart) of grief and towards the end, hope. It gave me chills from the sheer beauty of it, and also immediately brought the memories of our loss rushing back into my conscious. I knew at that moment I needed to look up that song and use it as a way to express my story.
Working on this piece with my partner has been a really great experience already, even though it's only been three rehearsals since we started. After completing the choreography in two rehearsals (and it's seven minutes long!) we have started really feeling the cadence of the music and telling the story of the couple and how they move through grief together. I am feeling the steps become not just steps but ways to show where I was at those particular moments just weeks after the move to Denver. I can tell it will become harder emotionally the more we rehearse, but I am ready for that. I know God brought me this piece of music, and this opportunity to perform it in Boulder mid-July for just a time as this. I am so glad he is giving me the opportunity to continue processing in my own heart and to perhaps touch others who have gone through, or are going through right now, their own losses.
Here is a video of a string quartet playing the piece if you are interested-- they play it beautifully!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dark Deeds Done.

We did it... We finished the two weekend run up in Brighton for "Dark Deeds at Swan's Place (or Never Trust a Tattooed Sailor)." I am once again in post show blues. It's the same every time. Every time, a jarring realization it is over. It gives me all the more motivation and passion to give it all when I am given the gift of being onstage-- because, truly, no show lasts forever. You only get so many chances to play the role, say the lines, dance the choreography. It's like the basketball players say, "Leave it on the court." I think that's what they mean anyway :). Above is Mother McGoof telling the audience her sorrows. I think this is one of my favorite things about melodrama, the breaking of the fourth wall and getting to talk directly to the audience. It involves them in a wonderful way and makes them feel as if they know you.

Here is our hero, Matt ("Jack Swan") and me as Tai Pan. He is hilarious and does one of the best cheesy heroes I've ever seen, goofy and totally stereotypically gallant.

Larry ("Captain Bermuda") and his parrot Venus. Venus had lines by the way. Next to me as a pirate is Kelly (our damsel "Bertha Birthright" later in the show).

Keith ("Sourdough Birthright" and "Preacher"). He got to die in his opening scene which I was quite jealous of. I think it would be so fun to die onstage. Not literally of course.

Dan, the villain "Montague Leech" and "Tai Pan" (aka "Frying Pan," "Kung Fu," "Ginzu" and other ridiculous names) in character! I had to concentrate so hard to not laugh onstage during our interactions. He is one of the most hilarious villains I've ever seen.

Band of seedy pirates! ARRRRRRRR! I am going to miss singing and dancing around with my sword.... Thanks for the great time guys. I miss you already.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Look! I'm Asian!

It's time for a new post.
I'm in a new play! This time it is a melodrama (think Muppets type humor, stupid jokes, overacting on purpose, stereotypical characters that are super fun to play). There is so much ridiculousness that ensues in this production. We have a villain and a damsel in distress...

We have a hero! *cheers*:

Ok well, he's not in character at the moment but you get the idea...
And we have me, Tai Pan, a clueless yet business savvy Chinese girl:

I play a pirate before I play Tai Pan, thus the head wrap and black pirate coat... You can see, however, that I am wearing a wig-- the greatest invention ever for stage. All I have to do is pin up my own hair, put it on and voila! Instant look change! Now, the makeup takes a bit longer than that but I won't bore you with those details.
I have had a blast with the other actors these last couple months. It is one of those plays that is written so well that you laugh your way through the entire play, everytime. Even after lots of rehearsals and hearing the same lines over and over. It's been a while since I personally have had actual lines onstage-- I did a lot of theater in high school and college but since focusing on my dance career, I haven't had the chance to delve into acting much. I absolutely love being stretched as an actress this way, especially in a comedic role, even though it has been a big challenge.
We close the play this weekend-- come see me! Give me a call or check my facebook page for details on when and where!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pictures worth a thousand words each...

I am currently processing through post-show blues-- missing the fun of Oklahoma and all the people involved... But here are some pics (professional quality!) to show you all the fun I had! The pictures of me in the white dress are of the dream ballet, in which I played Dream Laurey. The green dress/corset pictures are of me as part of the female ensemble. Fun fun. For the whole album (if you are on Facebook) click here:!/album.php?aid=2031340&id=120701580&ref=mf

My personal favorite of my partner and I, above-- it captures the feel of the ballet duet perfectly in my opinion.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Last weekend of "Oklahoma!", Growth, and Encouragement

We have performed two fabulous and exciting weekends of "Oklahoma!" so far-- two down, one to go. The photo above is me as "Dream Laurey" next to the real "Laurey." I am already preparing myself for the post-show letdown. For me this means missing the excitement of being onstage, being around such energy and wonderful music/dancing, and missing the company of people I grow to love over the rehearsal process. We have become and are now a community of people working toward the same goal of telling a good story with music, acting, and dance. A lot of times we will go out after a show for drinks and food which solidifies our friendships beyond our work/rehearsal/show environment even more. It is a huge understatement to say I love this cast. It is rare to get along with everyone in any show, but I dare say it is true in this group of people.

In any performing situation, it is normal to feel insecure about one's talents or abilities. The thing that stands out most about this cast is the encouraging words and actions being dealt out daily. I have never felt so encouraged or uplifted in any rehearsal/performance process. To anyone in the cast reading this-- thank you. You have contributed greatly to my growth as an artist and human being.

Dancing the role of "Dream Laurey" is an amazing experience for me. I am doing partnering that I wasn't given the chance to do in the ballet company and found out that I really am capable of achieving these things! Having a solo, although intimidating, is freeing as an artist-- because I can connect with the audience in a special way while I am onstage alone. Not only have I have grown as a dancer but as an actress. The more I delve into Laurey's character the deeper the experience becomes when I perform the ballet-- she's not just a girl with a crush, but someone working out her deepest fears about love. It has been a privilege and gift. Here are a few pictures of me and the cast so far, more coming soon. If you haven't come to see the show yet, please check it out-- it's our last weekend of shows and you won't want to miss seeing this incredibly talented cast of people!

John and I, he plays the villain "Jud." Ironically he is one of the nicest men I've ever met.

Callie, Rachel ("Ado Annie"), and I in the dressing room in our farm dresses.

Putting on the makeup, making silly faces. Love it!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Last night I accidently took the "daytime" Tylenol Sinus pills instead of the "nighttime." About two seconds before I tucked myself into bed.

Nice job, Gina.

The effect of those green pills (note to self: green=DAY. white=NIGHT) were not as ghastly as I thought. I assumed, as the little green pills made their way into whatever organ they enter first, that I'd be up all night surfing youtube for interesting/cute kitten videos. Fortunately, I got a *little* sleep. Meaning I was in and out of sleep, which is better than no sleep.

I need sleep today because we have our last rehearsal in the studio for "Oklahoma!" before we have our tech/dress rehearsals at the theater! A lot has happened in the last month and instead of writing ten billion paragraphs on them I thought I'd spare those of you that care and give you a fun bulleted list:

  • I got in a car accident and totalled the car (not my fault-- see previous post).
  • We moved! We now are the proud owners of a townhome about 20 minutes from where we used to be. I love it, and thank goodness because I wasn't even able to go see it (see above post for reason) until the final walk through. Casey did an awesome job of choosing a new home for us.
  • My dance season with the ballet company ended and I was privileged to dance in "Mobile" for this last run of shows. It was definitely the highlight of my career so far. For more photos, check out my facebook page in the "Eclipsing Venus and Mobile" photo album.
  • I am looking for a job, preferably in the theater world, not necessarily onstage although that would be ideal.
  • I saw "Alice in Wonderland." Loved it.
  • We had to put down our little parakeet Charles DuMar due to long term health problems in his lungs. It has been hard and we miss him everyday.
  • I have been deep into "Oklahoma!" rehearsals and loving every minute. It is especially fulfilling to see my voice improve (I have been taking voice lessons). As Dream Laurey I am so lucky to utilize my ballet training, do some partnering with a great and technically excellent partner. I love the cast and have been so encouraged by everyone there-- it has been super healing for my heart and has done wonders for my confidence as an artist.
  • Still teaching ballet and at the moment, prepping my little dancers for various recitals. It is so fun to see the excitement in their faces when I say it's time to practice the dances.
That is about it... Sorry to anyone that hasn't seen me for weeks. Please come see me in "Oklahoma!"-- we open this friday and go for three weekends, see my facebook page for more info on that!!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I walked away from THIS????

The other night after Oklahoma rehearsal, I was going through a green light, with right of way, straight through the intersection. Another driver "miscalculated" my speed and tried to turn left in front of me before I made it through the light. These pictures show what resulted from the collision.

Before anyone freaks out, I am ok. Although, judging from the pictures and what I saw immediately after frantically jumping out of my car (thinking it was on fire) I should have been really hurt. Or worse.

On impact, my car spun to a stop to the right of the road as you can see, and the airbag deployed. It started giving off this gunsmoke-smelling looking smoke. Thus, my thought that the car was on fire. After prying the drivers side door open and getting out, I realized it wasn't going to blow up. Then I looked around, feeling really dizzy, my nose throbbing, neck hurting a bit, looking like a deer in the headlights. A witness came over to me (as did the guy that I collided with) and asked if I was ok. I thought, "Do I have a concussion?" but said, "I think so." The other guy said to me, "I am so sorry, I miscalculated your speed." How's that for an admission of fault???

Then after a couple minutes of gathering my wits about me, I tried to squeeze myself back in the car to get my phone. Couldn't find it, and had to borrow the other guys phone.
All the rest of the story is pretty boring, I called Casey, they called the police, the fire department guys (who were SO comforting and calming, by the way-- loved them) came and checked my vitals and said I looked good and ok but I should go get checked out at the ER just in case. We cleaned out the car. We sat and filled out a bunch of paperwork, statements for the police, etc.

I couldn't believe how bad the car looked. We had to tow it, and we are thinking it's probably totaled. Which in actuality might be a good thing since we'll get more back on it. We're hoping for that.

I think the main point of my story is to share how strange it was to walk away from a car that looks like this. The impact felt immense and even though I was only going 40 it felt like time stood still for a split second before we collided. In that split second, as I was slamming on the breaks and turning to try to avoid a collision, I thought, "I'm going to be hurt from this.... DANG and it's show week of all weeks!!!" After I regained focus after the car stopped, I couldn't believe that I wasn't more badly hurt. The main issue now, a couple days later, is my neck (it's sore) and my nose is pretty sore as well. I guess God has more plans for me here, and that I am not done with the things He wants me to do. That is a humbling and awe-inspiring thing, to know it could have turned out so differently. If I had been in another lane, or if I had left rehearsal a few seconds earlier or later... Who knows. But I know one thing, that it was nothing I did to keep myself safe. It was just not my time to leave yet. And, although it would also be great to go be with God, for that I am glad.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mardi Gras Ball Dance Showcase Photos

A couple weeks ago I was privileged to go home to California and dance at a Mardi-Gras Ball Dance Showcase. The majority of the performers were ballroom and swing dancers, but I performed a contemporary ballet piece. It was one of the most encouraging experiences-- ballroom dance audiences tend to clap whenever they like something (which is often), even whoop and holler at things they think are good. Typical ballet audiences can be shy of clapping for what they like and only clap at the end. For me, getting applause for things (and the amazing compliments I recieved afterward) was surprising and encouraging in the best way.
In my heart I dedicated this performance to my grandfather who recently passed away. It was a very powerful night for me for all these reasons.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Today I found out that my character has been being grossly misunderstood by someone in my life. I tried to explain my true intentions and they were having none of it. It is a heartbreaking thing to find out that someone believes something false of you and will not change their mind or even try to understand where you are coming from.
God is my ultimate Judge and perfect, loving Father. Days like today remind me that I CANNOT (if I am to emotionally survive in this world) trust in man's (or women's) opinions, thoughts or beliefs concerning me. It makes my heart relax more than a bit to know I have God to run to. I don't have to depend on other people's view of me to know the truth about myself and the world.
"He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing." (Isaiah 40:23)
He is the trump card! He is the one that created the "rulers" in this world, and HE gets to decide what we are worth. I hope I can really let this simmer in my heart today and beyond, because even if this person never cares to find out the real truth about my character, it will save me a whole lot of emotional energy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Elf is one of my favorite movies. I love Will Ferrell, and I love the character he plays. His unabashed excitement for life and candy and smiling is just hilarious. Sometimes I wish I was more like that... I was born with a streak of melancholy in me and am sometimes more likely to look in deep thought than just be smiling for no reason.
One of my favorite lines in this movie is: "Smiling's my favorite!" It is a funny line but also has me thinking. Why isn't smiling MY favorite? Do I let my stress get to me and my melancholy streak take hold too often? I don't know. Some people I know are just naturally fun, smiley people. They have a hard day and just "shake it off" or "look on the bright side." I also think the fact I am a "feeler" in the Meyers Briggs personality test has something to do with this as well.
When most people meet me for the first time, a lot of times they think I am shy, quiet, and/or serious. Then, later they say to me, "WOW, you are so much sillier and more quirky than I thought at first!"
This bothers me. I want to be able to wear my personality on my sleeve and be who I am right away, and not just reveal my more fun aspects after I get to know someone. Yes, I can be a pretty serious person, but I like to also think my silly side is just as big, if not bigger. So I think from now on I will try to smile more and to look at the glass as half-full. Not to be blind about the world and it's bad things, but to choose to shake the bad off instead of holding onto it.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

First Dream Ballet Rehearsal

So tonight was my first time being "Dream Laurey" (look back a few posts to learn what that is, if you are sitting there confused). The times I have watched the ballet on youtube (even the Hugh Jackman version, with Josefina Gabrielle) I have been impressed with how floaty, easy and free the dancing looks. I guess I didn't think about the fact that the whole dream sequence is upwards of ten minutes long. And I am dancing for a good chunk of that, onstage the whole time. Even being a dancer, I was fooled by the good acting of the dancers thinking "oh, this looks fun and maybe even easy."

Not really.

The easy part, that is.

Most of it is that I need to build up the stamina for that long of a piece, which will happen easily enough. A short description of what I do: There is a lot of partnering in it (which is my personal favorite) a sizeable solo for me, a trio with two other girls, and a couple other dances involving cowboys and then the scary Jud at the end (who throws me around and generally abuses me). All of the choreography is challenging and quite delightful. In one particular lift my partner basically flings me up to his shoulder, with me ending up balancing on my stomach, with my ankles crossed behind me and my back arched up in a nice swan-like pose. It could have been a scary experience, but I was prepped for that after learning one VERY terrifying lift with the ballet company (DTDT) last week. Everything happens for a reason, right, even terror???

All I'm saying is, I am having a blast and working with such encouraging, fun people. It's good to be in the world of musical theater once again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Imaginary Glance

It's been a not so good week already. My grandpa passed away, which is pretty much like losing a father. I got sick after I got home from California. At work, we jumped straight into rehearsal with a guest choreographer who I can tell does not like me, and my ankle is acting up again. I have drama in my life that I would like not to be there. I don't know where my career in dance is going at all, and if it will continue past these next three weeks. Is it possible to have peace in all this?
I think so. But it takes focus on a certain thing.
Today I had a bad moment. A really bad one. So, I decided to take an imaginary glance into my future in ballet. It looked dismal, dreary, dark, empty. I felt totally useless. But you know what? God trumped the imaginary glance and dropped a tiny, beautifully wrapped present into my heart. Suddenly, in that moment, I had peace even though I felt like everything I've worked for was falling apart. Despite the fact that I have not been too great at including God in my life lately, he just gave me that moment of peace, unearned and undeserved. I saw who it is in my life that really matters and who is taking care of me. Himself, for one. My husband, my friends, my cute little mama.

Not to mention the opportunities that have dropped into my life lately, opportunities to perform several different places in the next few months. These also feel like little gifts. Just when I think I have failed at what I moved out here to do, God says, as if he is holding out that exquisitely wrapped box to me: "Look what I brought you. No, not there.... HERE. It is in my hands."

Thursday, February 18, 2010


At around 2:30 am this morning, Anthony Lano passed on. He was my Grampa and the rock of our family, loyal, faithful, and steadfast. When anyone in our family needed a place to stay, he and Grams always opened up their house. They also never imposed a time limit on how long we could stay. He was a selfless giver, a patient grandfather (he taught me to drive!), and had the best dry sense of humor. If you weren't paying attention you might just miss one of his zingers.
He wasn't a loud man but his love for us was. I felt it in every one of his hugs and kisses (of which I got at least two everytime I saw him). I saw it in his eyes as he listened to us talk (and talk, and talk, and talk-- we're Italian, all right?).
I felt it everytime they helped me, or anyone in our family. We are connected like that, eventually we heard about how they stopped by/wrote yet another check/took someone out to lunch-- it's called "Tele-Lano." I felt his love every time he picked me up from ballet lessons when I didn't have a ride. I heard the love and pride in his voice in the background when he videotaped almost every one of my dance performances. There were so many of them-- but I literally can't think of one that he missed. He told me once that he noticed how graceful and beautiful my hands were when I danced. I will never forget that compliment.
I will miss Grampa everyday from here on out. His absence leaves a hole no one else can fill. I am so grateful for the love he poured into me, the years I got to spend with him, and the fact God gave him to ME for a Grampa. He didn't have to do that. What a special gift and relationship. I am forever changed because Anthony Lano was in my life for almost 32 years, and I will forever feel his love living on in my heart.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Late rehearsals

So far I've had three rehearsals for Oklahoma (all singing/music related) and I can proudly say I think my sight reading/vocal skills are coming back. Slowly. I sight read and blended my voice with at least 20 others everyday for two years back in college (not to mention in high school when I got to do "Little Shop of Horrors"-- so much fun!) and am remembering now all the challenges that came with that. Especially when you're the alto. If you are blessed with the range that allows you to be a soprano (wow those notes are high), the melody is often all yours. Rarely as an alto do you get the melody, but that's life, and once I get the notes by heart it'll seem like the harmony is the melody. In my own little world that is.
Last night we went till 9:30 pm rehearsing, first learning "Oklahoma" and "The Farmer and the Cowman"with the full cast, then "Out of My Dreams" with the women only. I was feeling really under the weather, but it is amazing what a fun theater experience ("yippy-yi", anyone??) will do for the stomach. Everyone's personality and energy is so dynamic and interesting. Not only that, but I am just blown away by the sheer amount of talent in that cast. Every one of the women could sing the lead (Laurey) and do it well. These are professionals, people. It is going to be a great show, get your tickets now, because it is likely to sell out (google "Oklahoma" at Lakewood Cultural Center if you are interested).

Monday, February 15, 2010


Mmmmmm coffee. Or, in my case, mmmmm espresso (or as we say in Italia, mmmm buono, caffe). I lived in Florence for around two years (not consecutively but in total) and during my time there I found myself drinking at least three shots of caffe per day. For Italians, it is a lifestyle-- get up, go to the corner cafe, have a pastry and cappuccino for breakfast. After lunch? Straight shot of espresso. After dinner? Straight shot of espresso. And no, it does not keep them up. It does not even make them hyperactive buzzing little people that can't sit still. It didn't me either when I lived there, strangely. I just felt normal.
Here's my issue. Yesterday I had two lattes. Just two, mind you, with the caffe all diluted in milk even. My reward: My body staged a revolt (tummyache, etc) that rivaled the best laid attacks of the last three centuries. I thought, "What has changed in my life that I can't even handle two coffees a day? What is so different that allowed me to function normally on at least three there but not more than one here in the states?"
Is it cultural? Just a simple fact of my body adjusting to the amount of caffeine? How much coffee do you drink a day?