Sunday, July 3, 2011

Molly Brown makes history in Leadville!

Molly and JJ Brown

I just got back from touring to Leadville, Colorado with my dance company. This town (which you probably have never heard of unless you are a history buff) was where the famous "Unsinkable Molly Brown" got her start in life. She moved there, began working as a seamstress, married for love (JJ Brown) and later on became famous for surviving the doomed Titanic voyage and championing womens rights in the early 1900's. 

Street view of the historic Tabor Opera House

We had the amazing opportunity to perform at the historic Tabor Opera House. Apparently we were the first ballet company (or even dance in general) to ever perform there! So the fact we were able to share our ballet "Avoca: A Tale of Molly Brown" was quite appropo and touching-- not only to us, but I believe also to those watching who had grown up hearing about Molly's beginnings in Leadville.

The stage of the historic Tabor Opera House

Even in the first moments we drove into town, I began imagining where Molly had walked (through the mountains, up the street to go to the drugstore) and the significance of our performing there began to hit me. This made the entire experience very meaningful to me, and I think to the company as a whole. From when we first walked into the historical theater to prepare for rehearsals, to the final bow at the end of the show filled with "bravo!"s and "brava!"s (thanks to the very entertaining master of ceremonies, who taught and encouraged the audience beforehand where and when to cheer for us :)) it was an experience Ballet Ariel is not likely to forget. These are the moments that dancers and performers live for-- when your performance means something special historically, emotionally, and artistically to yourself and to the audience.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I smell pretty... I smell pretty...

Some things require you be a girl to be excited about. I recently decided to spend my birthday money on perfume. Why you ask? Because I never spend more than ten dollars on any sort of nice-smelling product and I thought, "Why not spend it on something totally frilly that I'd never get to buy otherwise." And yes, I have always been a bit dissatisfied with the amount of time the scent of lotion/body spray/etc lasted on my body, and I assume the more expensive kind lasts longer. This decision also places me squarely in the "grown up" category-- the "I spent more than ten dollars on perfume" section of women.
It fascinates me to ponder the differences between my women friends: Some are so girly they seem to have a pink aura floating about them 24/7. Some others refuse to wear makeup at all. As far as where I land between the two extremes, I am definitely more on the girly side. Especially since living in Italy about 8 years ago. There are very few tomboy-ish women in that culture, and the ones you see there are most likely Americans who haven't figured out yet that baggy t-shirts are a no-go there. I think I brought more than ten BIG shirts in country with me-- and I left with one. Maybe two.
Enough rabbit trail for now... And by the way, this is in no way an advertisement for Clinique. In fact if you went looking for this particular product I am about to describe, you won't find it because it is a spring season product and everyone is sold out. I barely found this one online. But here it is:

"Happy in Bloom"-- it is just flowery enough to not be overpowering, and not too powdery. It makes me feel prettier when I wear it. And that is why I place myself more on the "girly" side of the continuum. I like being a girl... How about you girls out there? Where do you land on the "girly" continuum?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Twitter and Donut Holes

Twitter is a fascinating little society. At first when I heard about it, I thought, "An entire site dedicated to (short) update statuses? What is the point?"
And now, after personally joining myself, I have found that yes, it is true. It is a site mostly concocted of short blurbs and updates. What is the point then?...
Twitter gets straight to the point. It gives you all you need to know in your ten minute coffee break at work, and if you want to check out the person's/company's/etc's website for more research later when you get home, you can. It's like a donut hole or a mini can of Coke. If you don't have much time for a WHOLE donut, this is your site. I have found it is totally worth joining Twitter just to follow funny people like Conan O'Brien or Jim Gaffigan, who daily share hilarious little one line zingers. And if you start following someone and find out they are more interesting than you anticipated... Bonus! Then you can go get a dozen donuts of the same flavor at Krispy Kreme. Mmmmm... Krispy Kreme...
And that's why I like Twitter. And (here goes my plug) this is why, if you are at all interested in the dance/live music/original film/art world in the Denver Metro area, you should check out and follow DelusionsofGrandeur (DenverDelusions) on Twitter. You'll get bite sized updates about what's going on and keep up on the important stuff. The only other thing I am going to say about Delusions (about which I've said lots more in preceding blog posts, if you decide you're hungry for the whole donut :) ) is that it was the artistic highlight of my dance year last summer and it is already the highlight of my dance year this year. Which is saying quite a lot considering we've only had about four rehearsals so far... Oh, and if you really want to know more and go for the whole boxed dozen...
*gets down off Twitter soapbox, gets into car, drives to Krispy Kreme*

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Apparently my hair REALLY needed to be flat ironed.

 I started sleepwalking as a child. The earliest memory I have of doing it is when I was  eleven and preoccupied by the upcoming babysitting job I had the next day. I had created a sort of "kid kit" to bring with me to the job, full of crayons, games, etc to occupy the kids I was to babysit (extra points to you if you know where I got the idea!!). Apparently I got out of bed that night, grabbed the kid kit, and proceeded to try and exit the front door.  My mom found me fiddling with the lock and gently led me back to bed. "Never wake a sleepwalker," people say. I think there is some kind of legend out there that the sleepwalker will have a heart attack or something like that. The times I've been woken up in the process though, I've only been slightly annoyed and embarrassed. I have never except for the above occurence, tried to exit the house, and most of the time I have almost complete clarity of what I am doing at the time. For example...
In the past while sleepwalking, I've looked out windows for minutes at a time (my favorite sleepwalking activity), taught ballet (sometimes from the bed and sometimes standing up: "Ok, now, go to the right... Good... No, Jan, don't sickle!"), rehearsed for plays (I often notice what time it is-- "Why am I rehearsing at 4 am? Oh well, I guess I have to do it..."), took stuff off the wall and put it near my bed (a mirror a few years ago in Portland), and pulled entire comforters/sheet combos off the bed. Nothing compares to the other night here in Denver though. 

I was dreaming that I was part of a wedding, and that I needed to do my hair for a photo shoot involved. I looked at the clock and it was 2:30 am. This, by the way, is what I often do when I sleepwalk-- notice the strange timing of whatever I am supposed to be doing, and sit confused for a while about whether I should just go back to bed or continue in the task. That is exactly what I did the other night, but apparently thought I should probably go ahead and do it just in case it was reality. So I walked over to the bathroom, opened up the cabinet and pulled out my flat iron, and plugged it in. I went back to bed until it got hot. Then, I got up and proceeded to, yes, flat iron my hair. I only got to a couple sections on the left side of my head when I thought (again, normal for this sort of thing), "This is weird timing for this photo shoot. It's three in the morning. I wonder if I am sleepwalking. I should just go back to bed." So that is what I did, after unplugging the flat iron of course. What was funny was I didn't even come close to burning myself. It's like I am in an alternate universe when it happens.
Do you sleepwalk? What is the weirdest thing you've ever done if you do?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Delusions of Grandeur

  Today I had another rehearsal with Delusions of Grandeur (the company made up of professional dancers, musicians, and other artists in the Denver/Boulder area, choreographing/composing and performing their own original works). We are working on "Eternal Dialogue," our summer show. This is the company I performed with last July-- the production in which I shared my piece "that which was lost" for the first time-- and I am super excited to be involved again. All the dancers, choreographers, musicians and artists are hand picked and are of amazing talent and quality. I am honored to be part of this group. One piece I am part of is set to "Clair de Lune"-- the music as well as the choreography is beautiful and haunting. This piece in particular is already feeling like one of the artistic highlights of my year dance-wise.
   I am in several pieces for this show, and am also choreographing another piece to Glenn Miller's "American Patrol," half of which I got to set on my dancers today. They exceeded my expectations even for a first rehearsal, and I am so excited to see how it will grow to be even better! It is a comedy (with many slapstick elements) based on the home life of a stereotypical 50's married couple, and the husband discovers halfway through that he can control the wife with the tv remote. The dancers I cast are natural comedians and are bringing their own hilarious touches to the characters. It's amazing to me that the choreography I feel I was given in my head and soul, can and will be expressed by others and made into something to be shared onstage. Last year I was in my own piece, which is a bit different. This time I can be on the outside and watch every step as an director which is a great thing. I am already enjoying this new role.

I am also in charge of marketing for the company this year. This means updating the website, facebook page, twitter page, writing and designing the newsletter, and keeping us in the news in general. Here is the website for the company with a blog to keep you up on all the happenings for Delusions and "Eternal Dialogue" (we are doing three performances this year in August, two up in Boulder and one here in Denver!):

Monday, May 23, 2011

an inconsequential post about bird feeders and birds.

We have a bird feeder now, it's hanging outside our sliding glass door. When I am eating at the table I can see the birds pigging out which is super cute. And it is driving our cat Stella crazy to be so close, yet so far away to the birds...
This isn't the feeder we have, but isn't it pretty? These look like the "hoppy birds" I speak of in the next paragraph.

I like to go to Starbucks to journal, read, and get some alone time with God or just with myself. In Oregon, I used to love when it was warm enough for me to sit outside and do this mostly because the tiny little "hoppy" birds would be nearby looking for crumbs. I loved how they hopped around instead of walked. They had some serious glute strength, those little birds! They just made me happy. Some of these birds have come to eat the seed out of our feeder and that has made me smile lately.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

the end of things.

teen dancers in waltz scene after "Shipoopi"

No, I am not going to talk about the supposed "end of the world" which (shocker) didn't end up happening... I'm going to talk about the fact we closed Music Man this last weekend (May 15th)... The cast was one of the most positive and caring bunch of people I have worked with so far, the play was just plain FUN, and overall the experience was amazing and one I just wanted to go on and on. I was not ready to close the show-- I could have easily done three more weekends. 
They say all good things must come to an end, but along with these kind of endings come post show blues. You work with a group of people for sometimes months, put your hearts and souls into a show as a unit and become really close because of the mutual goals and efforts. This causes sometimes serious withdrawals (especially because the reality is you won't keep in touch with everyone you became so close with-- the cast had over 35 people!) Offstage, one of my favorite things about this experience offstage were the pre-show prayer circles we'd do before most shows. It was so neat to see even the kids come out and pray with us. Onstage I feel I really grew as an actress and singer playing Zaneeta. The choreography was just FUN, and I had a blast playing and dancing onstage with the other "teen dancers." There were so many special moments onstage with other actors that I'll never forget, and singing along with an entire cast has always been such a beautiful experience for me.

teen dancers -- "Marian the Librarian"

So how does one deal with the endings? The bittersweet realization that you'll never get to do it again with the same people, same circumstances, same experience? New projects have always been key in helping me move on, and yet I am hesitant to just "bury it" and move on so I don't have to feel any sadness at all. I've definitely done that before with other experiences and I am fooling myself if I think I can just forget it. Maybe for awhile, but that doesn't make for an emotionally healthy Gina. I believe the period of feeling the loss is important and part of the process of letting go completely. It is necessary, and an opportunity to realize how blessed I am to have these experiences and this passion. God has always provided another outlet for my love and abilities and I don't think He's going to stop now. However, knowing this doesn't make leaving these beautiful faces and people any easier...

To the MM cast: Love you all. Looking forward to working with you again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Face of Love.

   The face of love can take on a million different forms. Some people find their passion in singing, some in fishing, and others in less public actions such as accounting or writing. But when a person is united with their passion and is given an outlet to shine their talents and use them for the benefit of the others and the world, something magical happens. We are treated to a picture of absolute beauty. It is the face of love, expressed in a way that only that each individual can express it because: THIS IS WHAT THEY WERE CREATED TO DO. I find nothing else more captivating than seeing someone in this moment: Doing what they are made to and love to do.
  This is what I see in every one of my castmates  in Music Man. Below you will see many faces (not one being mine, as you have seen plenty of that in the last month) shining with love and passion and doing what they love. Pure magic. Come see this show if you can because I can guarantee you won't find too many other groups of people more passionate about, and more talented at, what they love to do.


Marian in "My White Knight"

Amaryllis and Winthrop

Harold and Marcellus in "Sadder But Wiser"

Traveling Salesmen in "Rock Island"

Mayor Shinn and Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn in "Shipoopi"

The "boys band"

Harold Hill in "Goodnight My Someone" reprise

The hilarious Pickalittle Ladies doing their "fountain" pose

"Marian the Librarian" scene- teen dancers

Harold Hill meets his first River Citizian 
Our Barbershop Quartet

Tommy and the teen dancer boys in "76 Trombones" dance section

"Till There Was You": Harold and Marian find love in the most unexpected place

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A couple more shots- Music Man (live performance)

One more weekend of shows left! Here are some more shots I got of us performing Music Man...


Zaneeta is annoyed at Tommy.

Shhhhh! Marian the Librarian will see us!
Contact Lakewood Cultural Center for tickets. Sunday and Saturday matinees only have a few single scattered seats left so hurry! Website and box office phone number below.
Box Office: 303-987-7845

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Few Music Man Performance Shots

Here are some shots of the final dress rehearsal onstage for Music Man. I love that I can look at these after the show closes (which isn't till May 15th, but still) and all the memories and feelings and sensations of being onstage flood back. Stay tuned for more, these are just a few I acquired! 

76 Trombones

"Ye gads!" Tommy, Zaneeta, and Harold Hill after 76 Trombones

Tommy shows Zaneeta his new invention

Shipoopi!! Tommy, Marcellus, and Zaneeta in the foreground

Zaneeta and her mom, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn looking a bit worried for Harold's future
We have two more weekends left starting tonight, and I am already getting a bit sad about closing the show. The energy onstage, developing a character and expressing it to the audience, dancing to live music, and the relationships you form in a cast are unforgettable and such a great gift. I teared up in the grocery store the other day when I thought about what a wonderful gift God has given me in being able to be part of this show and cast. That is the double edged sword of theater-- you get rejected sometimes, yes, but you also get to be part of an amazing community for just a short while sometimes. And it doesn't last forever, so it's bittersweet. Yet we come back again and again...
If you want to come see the show (please do!) it's at Lakewood Cultural Center and you can get tickets by calling the box office at 303-987-7845. Some shows are not available to buy tickets for online.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The times, they are a'changin...

I am considering exploring a career in social media marketing. This means (as far as I can tell so far) I would help businesses/individuals have an active online presence on facebook, blogs, twitter, and other social media. Considering the time I spend advertising my shows the last few weeks before they open on my blog/twitter/facebook, and the interest I have in what it takes to get the word out about cultural and arts events, I figure this is a job that might be right up my alley. I am currently doing the marketing for Delusions of Grandeur Productions (the dance company I performed and choreographed with last summer up in Boulder, out of which my piece "that which was lost" came). I am also discussing possibilities of taking on the social media marketing for a photography business as well. 

  This is pretty exciting, because it is something I am actually really fascinated by, and I do adore writing in general. Also, how in the world did we get to the point that a lot of people get most or all of their day to day information online instead of the paper? And because this is happening, how does one compete with the millions of blogs/pages/ads etc online and get your information to people that might be interested in it?  It is an amazing transition we've made and it seems businesses need to be thinking about jumping on board with facebook, twitter, blogs, etc if they are to survive financially.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy birthday to meeeee! And happy opening of Music Man too!

I turned old a few days ago. *offers up my face to be slapped by everyone older than me* . Yes, I had yet another birthday and 100% of people I tell of this event, do not believe me that I am my factual age. So I decided to try and figure out just how young I could get away with being... First I tried to say I turned 16 (Zaneeta, the character I play in Music Man, is that age). No dice. People just looked at me with narrowed eyes and said, "Really? Really. No." So then I replied, "Fine, fine. I'm 21." They then continued looking at me (with slightly LESS narrowed eyes) and didn't answer for a bit. The lucky ones, I told my real age. Can you guess how old I really am? Doesn't count if you've known me for more than a year.

"Ye Gods!"
Can I just say I frickin LOVE the cast of Music Man? A couple darling friends I have made in the cast knew it was my birthday and went and got me a birthday cake on the night of final dress/tech rehearsal (which just happened to land on my birthday). They had the lettering say "Ye Gods"-- Zaneeta's catch phrase. I love you, Susan and Carolyn! It was one of the yummiest cakes anyone ever got me, not to mention one of the most thoughtful. We brought it with us to a restaurant after we finished up rehearsal and had a little celebration (during which 25-ish cast members with amazing voices sang a perfectly harmonized version of "Happy Birthday" to me... I HATE being sung to, so embarassing, but I have to tell you... I didn't mind this so much because it was so beautiful!)

Susan and Gina in our "Iowa Stubborn" dresses

We opened Music Man at the Lakewood Cultural Center in Lakewood, Colorado April 29th, 2011. I was so excited to get onstage in front of a live audience with this show, because I not only get to dance my little butt off, but I have lines and get to sing as well. I play Zaneeta, the Mayor's "oldest girl" and a very twitterpated teenager secretly dating Tommy, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. I cannot tell you how much energy it gives back to us when we hear the audience laugh or applaud at something we were hoping they'd like, and something we've been working on for so long. It is just the best, most natural high in the world.

Zaneeta and Tommy (Andrew) ready for "Marian the Librarian scene
 After "Oklahoma!" last year, I doubted that I would ever have as much fun onstage again in a musical. Luckily I was wrong! Music Man is a very fun, fast faced show that has a lot of comedy in it. Being that dancing and laughing are my two favorite things to do in the whole world, I consider myself very lucky to get to do both at the same time.

Some of the teen dancers and Marcellus in back ready for "Shipoopi"

Speaking of comedy... Some of the funniest people on the planet are in this show. Not even kidding. Below you see me with Dan (plays Charlie Cowell in this show), with whom I got to act in a melodrama last summer ("Dark Deeds at Swan's Place"). He was the villain and I was his little puppet, basically. Here we are reinacting a scene from last year's play. 

Montague Leech and Tai Pan reunited! (Here costumed as Charlie Cowell and Zaneeta Shinn)

Here I am with my "parents" Mayor Shinn and Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn :)
 I also must add, that there is so much talent on that stage! The singing is out of this world. I have learned so much by being in close proximity to such amazing performers. They make it fun to give up my weekends!


Above: Me, post opening weekend at home taking out my hairdo... This is how I get my hair to stand up in that little roll around my face. A poly-fiber stuffed knee high over which I wrap my front section of hair. You can see how much I enjoy wearing it...

Casey has been such a trooper with me gone so much lately!
Casey has been a true "white knight" during this very busy time. He's been busy with work as well, but we don't get as much time together as usual with me gone so much at the theater. I am so blessed to have such a supportive guy who is happy I am happy doing what I love!!!
Come see me in Music Man, it's my biggest role yet in the musical theater arena and I can guarantee you will have a good time. Here's some info below if you would like to come. I hear tickets are selling out fast so get on it!

Show times: 
Friday May 6, 7:30 pm
Saturday May 7, 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm
Sunday May 8, 2:00 pm

Friday May 13, 7:30 pm
Saturday May 14, 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm
Sunday May 15, 2:00 pm

Lakewood Cultural Center
Civic Center North Building 470 S. Allison Parkway 
Lakewood, CO
Box Office: 303-987-7845

Show synopsis: Con man Harold Hill poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader, sells band instruments and uniforms to na├»ve townsfolk before skipping town with the cash. In River City, Iowa, prim but progressive Marian the librarian sees through him, but when Hill helps her younger brother, Marian begins to fall in love with Harold. Harold, in turn falling for Marian, risks being caught to win her. Songs include "76 Trombones," "Trouble," "Goodnight My Someone," and "Wells Fargo Wagon." 

Thursday, February 3, 2011


So, about a week ago I bit the bullet and walked headfirst into a musical theater audition. This involves the slightly nervewracking experience of singing alone in front of people. As most of you know, I have trained in dance for years and years, and have been involved in many theater productions over the years as well. I have been taking voice lessons since last March but singing alone still makes me nervous.
There's no way on God's green earth I would do this unless motivated by a very attractive end goal. And this end goal was to actually BE in this musical. Performing in musical theater productions happens to be one of my top three favorite things to do in this entire world, ever.
So, I got through it (no doubt with the encouragement and prayers from many beloved friends). After my audition I was asked to come to dance callbacks! Yay! Now THAT is something I can do. I will dance for you all day long if you want me to!
Sunday night I arrived at callbacks just in time. We learned some choreography and performed the combinations in groups of four. I saw a few people there that I had worked with before, specifically in "Oklahoma!" with PNTC last year (the experience that once again introduced musical theater into my system as my own personal form of artistic, emotional and social crack). This helped me relax a bit (seeing familiar people, not crack) and actually forget about my nervousness and have fun in the audition. After dancing I was asked to read lines for the character Zaneeta Shinn. She is the dance lead in Music Man, and giggly teenage daughter of the Mayor of River City. For those of you who aren't familiar with her character, the line she is most known for saying is "Eee Gads!"
As it turns out, my happy meter is now about to explode, because I got the call that I am cast as Zaneeta! I am so excited about this role, because I will be dancing quite a bit, AND I have lines as well. I am so excited to develop this giggly teenage character and to see how much fun I can possibly fit into three months of rehearsing and performing again.
The show opens April 29th and runs for three weekends (until May 15th). I put the link to the Performance Now Theatre Company's website below if you want more info.