Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Came, I Tapped, I Conquered!

I have been puttering around the house, trying to avoid writing this post because I know how emotional it will make me. I literally already started crying. I guess I feel that there are no words that can express the feelings that I am feeling right now. But I will do my best.

I consider myself to be a very hard worker and the girl with the get it done attitude. But, I have never given more of myself to a project than I have to 42nd Street. From the moment I received that call telling me that I was cast as Anytime Annie, there was a fire ignited. This was my chance to stop all the excuses of why I can't dance. This was my chance to prove to myself that I can do anything that I put my mind to. And for one of the first times in my life I can confidently say that I am so proud of myself. I came, I tapped, conquered!

I was watching the 42nd Street tap ballet last night and for the first time I stopped and looked at everyone on that stage and just smiled. There are kids who I have taught and have seen grow up through the KidzAct Program. There are old friends who I have worked with who continue to amaze and inspire me with their dedication. There are new friends who have opened their hearts to me and have become a part of my life. There are people backstage, giving up their free time, to support us, and they are watching, as I am, in amazement. Everyone working together. Some may have said that we couldn't do it, but then some do not understand the hearts and souls of these amazing people. I could never have done it without each and every one of them. And that is why I feel so lucky to be where I am today. Sure, I am not famous. My name is not on Playbill.com. I haven't been on Broadway. But I know that I get to work with the greatest people in show business because their passion for this never dies. These people are my family. They love me, they support me, they comfort me. And I only hope that I do that in return. Life is not about your resume. It's the passion you bring to each day. It's about doing the best you can in each and every moment. And we did that every performance. And we'll do it tonight, one more time!

I dedicate this final blog post to the cast and crew of 42nd Street. I hope you know how much it has meant to me to have spent this time with you. I would do it all over again, in a heartbeat.

Love,

Your Mission Accomplished Tapper!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Giving It Everything I Got!

One of the things that I love most about performing is what you learn about yourself through the process. It has been a rough couple of weeks with the voice. I finally broke down and went to the doctor on Tuesday and found out that I have tonsillitis. And I have probably had it for the past 2 weeks and was speaking all day and singing all night with it. That's gotta do some damage. I got my medicine and was on my way. But the damage was done. I have been squeaking through some notes in the show. And although many tell me that they don't notice, I notice. I want to be able to sing my face off. But I have to be careful. But you know what, I am doing my best not to let it bother me. I can't let a couple notes pull me back from doing my best. I just gotta keep on keeping on. It hasn't been easy having this attitude, especially when you are crying through vocal warm-ups because you can't hit notes that usually aren't a problem. But when that orchestra starts and that curtain goes up, I am flashing that Annie smile and if I can't sing my face off then I am going to dance my heart out. After all, I have worked so hard to get here, I am never going to settle.

On the way home from the show tonight I realized something as I was chatting with my wonderfully adorable husband, I always give it 100%. I never want to walk away and wonder what I could have done or make excuses and blame a bad performance on my voice. I take it one scene, one song, one dance move at a time and try to be in it to win it. If I go away in focus for one second I pull myself back. I have worked on this focus for many years and preach it to my students every day. And I am glad that some of those students have come to see the show and can see me practice what I preach. Check out the pic of 2 of the cutest kids in show biz.



And then there is my wonderful mother who has come to see the show every Friday and will do so again next week. Now you see, my mother loves Broadway. She is probably the one that influenced me most in this love of the theatre. And when I was talking to her about auditioning for this show she told me I had to do it because she just loves the music. And I have to say, during the reprise of Lullaby of Broadway at bows, when she is in the audience, I only sing and dance with her and it makes me cry every time. I feel like it is just the 2 of us in the room and we are having our moment. My mother is wonderful but not one to shed a whole lot of tears or share her emotions freely. But when she saw me in this show she immediately teared up with pride and told me how proud she was of me. You have no idea how much that means to me. And she continues to tell me every Friday night. This show is such a blessing in so many ways but the most important one is how close it brings me and my mother together. I love this woman.



Who knew so many great things could come out of hard work and determination. I am beginning to like the fact that nothing in life is easy. I learn so much more when I work harder.

Only 5 more shows to go and I am already feeling emotional about it. I honestly could do this show forever. This is the most fun I have ever had in a show and you know why that is, because I love to dance and I am so grateful that I get to do that 5 performances a week and improve myself every time.

Time for bed. We have a matinee tomorrow. Oh and by the way, for those of you following and don't live in the area, 42nd Street had a completely sold out run! That's pretty impressive for little old Naples, Florida in the off season.

Goodnight all,

Your Loving Every Minute Tapper!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Never Wanting It To End!

It's been a difficult week of shows. I have been battling vocal troubles all week. And with worrying about my voice during the show it distracts me and takes me out of the moment. In this show you can't leave for one second or you will make a mistake. But I tried so hard not to let it bother me. And I have to say I was somewhat successful. I just kept saying to myself I can only do the best that I can do right now. And that is what I did.

Finally, my voice came back strong for the Sunday matinee. I was really happy to end the week on a good note (get it?).

So now we have 2 weeks of shows left and I am already dreading the end. I don't want this show to end. I always feel a certain amount of that with shows, but I feel like I have so much room to grow in this show. Yes I would like more time to myself and yes I would like to get more rest in my life. But I would give that up to continue performing in this show.

Well it's back to work teaching the kidlets.

Your Not Wanting to Stop Tapping Tapper.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just How Hard Can One Push Themselves!

So I have been feeling neglectful of the blog lately and then my friend Ken came up to me in the green room tonight and said he had been missing it. I honestly just haven't had the time. There are always interesting things that go on night in and night out but nothing that stands out as blog worthy.

One of the biggest reasons that I don't blog as often is because there literally is no time. I am up at 6:30 AM and eat my breakfast while I make my lunch and dinner for the day. Then I squeeze in a shower, make sure I am prepared for my classes and it's off to the theater (with many bags in hand and some lemon tea for the vocal cords). My first class starts @ 9:00 AM and I have 15, 6-8 year olds who I try to teach to sing, act and dance, but mostly I am just trying to keep them quiet and not hit each other. Class is out @ noon and I get a short lunch break where I work on class stuff, eat and some times try to get a nap but that rarely happens. Then it's off to production class @ 1:00 PM where I am a rehearsal assistant / acting coach for 36, 8 - 13 year olds. That class lets out @ 5:00 PM and then it is time to go to the teen production class rehearsal which goes until 6:30 PM. That brings me right up to my time to start getting ready for the show. Talk about changing gears! How did I ever think I could do this? Oh I know the answer, because I think I can handle anything. But I must say I am breaking a little bit. Not that I am too tired to do the show, but my body is exhausted. And with all the talking, stress and lack of sleep my voice is weakening. This really upsets me because I love doing this show every night. I don't care how tired I am, I fee so blessed to have this opportunity that I want to soak in every moment. But I find that hard to do when I am worrying about straining my voice and squeaking in mid song. I have been very careful the past few weeks in class and I have really been trying to support my speech and singing but it isn't working. And I can only do so much to remedy it. I'm sucking down lemon tea, sucking on raw ginger root, drinking tons of water, staying away from alcohol and getting vocal rest whenever possible. And I just think my body is telling me, this is too much. But I don't like that answer. So my question, how much is too much?

I like to think I can do it all and push myself very hard, I always have. And I do my very best. I guess that is all you can hope for. But I just wish things were a little easier right now so I can enjoy every minute of this show. Any words of encouragement would be appreciated.

Well it's time to go to sleep. Gotta get up at 6:30 AM.

Your Tough & Tired Tapper!

Before I go, on a positive note, the audience rocked tonight. Their energy was incredible. It felt good to feel like a rock star at bows again. I just love this show and I can't say it enough. I never want to settle I always want to push and get better (I'm such a pusher!) GOODNIGHT!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Proud Mama Tapper!

This blog post is dedicated to my students in the cast of The Ever After who inspire me every day.

The show that I have been directing for the past month opened yesterday. I invited the cast and crew of 42nd Street to come and see our final dress rehearsal since they most likely will not have an opportunity to see the show because we are performing at the same time. The kids were ready for an audience and what a perfect audience they were. It's like Preview Night. It's filled with people who are so supportive. These kids rocked the house. They stayed in character the entire time, they were improvising lines and jokes left and right and they just enjoyed themselves. My cheeks hurt so much because I couldn't stop smiling and laughing the whole time. I was a proud mama. And the audience loved it too. People could not stop talking about how talented these kids are. And you know what, their right, they are talented! And it is their talent and risk taking that inspire me every day. I am so lucky.

So, of course, I was disappointed last night when I couldn't see the entire show because I was getting ready for 42nd Street. But when I gave my opening night pep talk I told the kids to do the show for me and I would do my show for them. In between getting ready and vocal warm up I was able to see a good chunk of the show and they were rocking it again. So when I went to places for 42nd Street, I was a little nervous because I was out of my usual ritual, but I was also motivated to give it my all and take risks like my kids and I had the best show yet. I finally had that feeling where everything just went right and I didn't make any mistakes and I was fully living in the moment. It was a great day and night!

And as I was talking to my husband today on our way to Whole Foods (side note, the only 2 place I go now are the theatre and Whole Foods, or at least that is how it feels) I told him my favorite thing about this show is that I feel like their is always something to improve upon. And my students remind me of that every day because they are always improving.

To the Cast and Crew of The Ever After, thank you for an amazing experience!

I could say the same to the cast and crew of 42nd Street. And I look forward to our remaining time together.

I am in theatre bliss right now. Well it's off to the theater for another wonderful show.

Love,

Your Proud Mama Tapper!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

You Can't Lose Focus For One Second!

It's been an interesting couple of days. After a wonderful Preview performance and Opening Night, the exhaustion started to kick in. I was really feeling it on Saturday night. And even though I had gotten a full nights rest and relaxed most of the day, I was still dragging. I guess it all just caught up with me. But I knew I had to do the best show that I could do. I have also been really worried about my voice. It has been a little raw and I was worried about getting through Saturday nights show. Well I think I really let that get to me and rather than be completely in the moment and just see what happens, I was worrying about it. Now don't get me wrong I didn't have a bad show but my body kept making little mistakes. And in Lullaby my hat fell off and the chin strap was choking me. I didn't think it really mattered but as soon as I thought about a moment I could put it back on, I lost a second of choreo. Normally, I am very good about not missing a beat but with dancing, it's much harder. But overall I got through. I just kept reminding myself to push through each number and do the very best that I could, and that is what I did. When it was all said and done everyone said that I had great energy and that they didn't notice the mistakes. The moral of the story is, you have to keep going like nothing has happened and the audience will forget all about it. I have really learned to let those little things go. In the past I have always strived for absolute perfection and if I didn't get it than it wasn't any good and I let it ruin the rest of my show. But I realize now that it's not always going to be perfect and I will experience a brain fart now and then. Just keep going and forget about it. Don't occupy your mind with unnecessary junk.

So today I was ready to go. I had a great nights sleep, woke up and made protein pancakes for the family and went in to the theatre. I felt ready, even though my voice was still a little raw. Everything was going well, but I made a few silly mistakes in Go In To Your Dance. Again I don't think many people would notice them but I knew I had made them. Than in the ragamuffin section of We're In The Money, my hat fell off and I again thought about how to pick it up and lost a second of choreo. Blast these hats! But I did pick up the hat inconspicuously, so it wasn't hanging about for the rest of the number, which was good.

Overall, in my mind I had a rough couple of shows. To everyone else, they were good. Although I know everything can't always be perfect, I don't think that it's a bad thing to strive for. As long as I don't let the mistakes get me down. I never let myself waver in energy and always go out there and do the very best that I can and that is all that I can do.

I am loving this show and I am so happy that we have 4 more weeks to perform it. On my way home from the theater, I turned and looked at my husband and said,"Can you believe that I am in 42nd Street?" It's very surreal. I know I have said it before, but I will never forget this experience.

Well I have a full day off tomorrow. No work, no show! So I am going to get some much needed rest. I can't wait until Wednesday when we get to start all over again.

Your Happy to Have Some Time Off But Eager to Get Back to 42nd Street Tapper!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To!

Opening Night was amazing. The show was really tight and maybe a bit better than Preview which is odd. You know how shows usually have 2nd night blues? Well I didn't feel that last night. Everyone was really on. There is just something about this show that keeps you pushing and fighting. We can't ever lost that. That is what makes it fun and rewarding.

I was definitely more relaxed last night. Preview Night really made me feel like I could do this. I needed that first show out of the way to prove to myself that I could do it. Because, quite frankly, I wasn't sure. I thought my whole body would freeze up.

And I realized something last night. I spent the entire rehearsal process worrying about the dancing and the tap, that I never had a chance to relax in to my character. But I was able to do that last night because I finally believed in myself. It's amazing how much we can stand in our own way. And let me tell you, it is fun to play Anytime Annie. She's so brassy and sure of herself. I am so excited about the run and finding new things every night.

I look back on the start of this journey and I guess in the back of my head I always knew I could do it, but there was always that little voice saying, what if you can't? It feels so rewarding to have worked so hard and to reap the rewards. And I really feel like I proved to myself that you can do anything you set your mind to. And I like that my students see that example, because I would never want them to think they can't do something. That is why I teach, because when I was a kid, I didn't have a teacher there for me, believing in me, telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be and anything I wanted to do. I want to be that for them. Kids need that in their lives. And I am so lucky to be able to share that every day. I have such a passion for the theatre. It is my entire life. I don't know anything else. And that is what you will see on that stage. My deep passion for this art form. I am so blessed.

Thank you so much, again for supporting me on this journey. And although this feels and seems like a goodbye and an end to the blog, it is not. I fully intend on continuing, because the learning has not stopped. As actors, we are always in process and therefore, always learning.

Well I am off to enjoy my Saturday off until showtime tonight.

Your Mission Accomplished Tapper!




Friday, July 1, 2011

What A Night!

Words cannot describe the emotional roller coaster that was last night. It was an amazing evening but before the show started I had no idea how it was going to turn out. To say I was nervous is the understatement of the millennium. I couldn't tell you what emotion I was feeling because I was feeling all of them. I was scared, but excited and a little bit numb. As people started trickling in to the theatre it was becoming more real. I couldn't believe we were finally here. And then my great friend Gaby pulled me aside and gave me a gift, an evil eye to wear during the show to ward off evil. I bawled like a baby. She knows how hard this journey has been for me and when she told me she was proud of me I just lost it. And then Dawn came over and just looking at her made me start all over again. She was the one who believed in me and gave me this opportunity. Without her belief and pushing me, I never would have been able to have done this. I cried at vocal warm-up, I cried putting my make up on, I just couldn't stop crying. My journey kept coming in to focus and I remembered the days of spending 3 hours in the studio working my butt off and I got so emotional about it.


So before I knew it, Rhoda was calling places. Ahhhh! So nervous. Are all my costumes set? Do I have my shoes? Do I have my water? Do I have my throat spray? Do I remember the moves? Walking on stage behind the curtain, I lost feeling in my legs. I was so numb. I have never felt like that before. I didn't feel prepared or unprepared. I just felt tingly and numb. I kept reminding myself to have fun but my fear was winning. And then it was go time. As soon as the curtain rose on our feet the crowd went wild. That just filled my soul. It reminded me that I couldn't fail.

We finished the Opening Number and the audience went crazy. People even stood up. At that point my engine was revved. Although, I was still very nervous about Go In To Your Dance. I didn't know how my nerves would affect my tapping. But when it got to the number I just let myself go and it went very well. It might have been my best solo yet. And since the audience was filled with many people who know my story and follow my blog, I got some nice applause on that solo. It truly made me feel like I had accomplished what I set out to do.

I relaxed in to the rest of the show and had a phenomenal time. I knew when it came to the bows that it was going to be an amazing moment, and it was. It was more like a rock concert than a musical. People were going crazy. And then we started singing Lullaby of Broadway after the bows and I just couldn't contain my emotion, I cried like a baby. It was a great moment.

After the show we came down to the lobby for our Preview Night Reception and it was great to see everyone and hear the support. I got a lot of compliments on my dancing, some people didn't even believe me when I said that I had never tapped before. What a compliment!

The night was absolutely magical. And like Dawn said,"there is something about this show." I am so excited for Opening Night tonight. My voice is a little raw but at least I get some r & r tomorrow before the show.

And just in case anyone wanted to know, I will be continuing my blog through the run so don't forget to stop by and say hi.

Thank you all for your support!

Your Very Proud and Humbled Tapper.

No more working days, it's Opening Night! But I will still keep working and fighting.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's The Day of the Show Y'all!

I can't believe the moment is here. It is the night before the show y'all! So many emotions are running through me right now. I am scared, exhausted, excited, nervous. Name an emotion and I am probably experiencing it right now.

We had our final dress rehearsal tonight and it went well. I was really feeling nervous in the opening number but I got through it ok. Then we were going in to Shadow Waltz and I got nervous again. Half way through the number I reminded myself that I know the steps, now it is just time to have some fun. It worked even though I made a slight mistake in the choreography while thinking of my singing note. You can't lose focus for one second in this show. I was really happy with Go In To Your Dance. Although I don't know why the slow tapping that I do to teach Peggy a move, freaks me out so much. I guess it is because it is just me up there, no music, no singing, just silence and my taps. But I was practicing when I had a second offstage and I know I just have to bend and go for it. Overall, I was really pleased.

So here it is, the moment that I and so many others have worked so hard for. I am so emotional just thinking about it. I know that I am a hard worker, but I don't know if I have ever worked as hard as this. We've come a long way from auditions and now it is time to go out there, have some fun and tell our story. I can't wait to share it with all of our friends and family.


Alright, it's time for bed. It feels a little bit like Christmas Eve!

See ya on the other side,

Your Anytime Annie

1 More Working Day Until Opening Night!
But who am I kidding, tomorrow night is showtime!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

For The First Time In My Life, I Feel Like A Dancer

Tonight was a good night! I had a lot of fun and I put everything I had in to the show. I was trying to treat it like we had an audience. Before the curtain rose, I actually got some performance butterflies.

So I was able to practice today and take a nap. You can really do anything once you put your mind to it. I took a 45 minute power nap during my class when the choreographer was teaching a number and I practiced some numbers right after I got in to hair and make up. I realize that I have to run all of the tap numbers before every show to remind my muscles what to do. While practicing I kept reminding myself to think into the ground and really dance hard. That is always the best reminder because then you get all your sounds. What I tend to do is rush from step to step and then I look so frenzied all the time.

I like to stand on stage left and watch the ballet. The ballet is the actual 42nd Street number and it is an 8 minute tap ballet. It's got some really cool characters and the choreography is unbelievable. As I watched on the side I noticed the people I kept staring at were the ones putting their all in to every move and they had something going on in their faces. I found myself getting lost in it. I hope I look like that.

So here it is. Almost time to open. I have one more night in rehearsal mode and then it's nerves time. I have no idea how my body will react, but I hope I can calm it down enough to enjoy every step. I know I really need to relax before Go In To Your Dance but it's so hard. As soon as I realize that I have to tap by myself I clam up. Not that I don't know it's going to happen, but with all the changes and the way this show moves you are always in the moment and then all of a sudden it hits me right before and my hips tighten. But on a positive note, because I always like to add that, I really feel like I am a dancer. As you have heard me say before I have always wanted to be a dancer. I would look at girls in their dancer clothes and their buns on their heads and just watch them move and be so jealous. But I finally feel like a dancer. I have never danced this much in a show and I am so grateful to those who gave me this opportunity (you know who you are). This experience is one that I will never forget.

Well since it is before midnight, I am going to take advantage and get in to bed for some serious needed sleep. Look for my super nervously excited post tomorrow. I can't believe it's here. Goodnight!

Your Super Excited, Nervous and Overtired Tapper!

2 Working Days Until Opening Night!
1 More Rehearsal Until Preview Night!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Go Big or Go Home!

It's 11:45 PM and I am finally in bed. Tonight was our 2nd dress rehearsal and it went ok for me. I really felt like I lost a little fire. Ever since we started costumes I haven't been able to get back to that comfort level that I was beginning to feel. And tonight I was just making tons of silly mistakes. It's getting too close to Opening Night for silly mistakes. I know that I am tired but that is not going to change. My schedule is crazy and I just have to deal with it.

So what can I do to bring the fire back? Well I can keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be performing. Tell myself to go out there and just have fun. But I think tomorrow night I am just going to keep chanting, go big or go home. I know I need a little more push and I have to bring it now. Only 2 more rehearsals to go.

I really feel like I have to practice my tapping before we run tomorrow, but I don't know when. I must find time because I don't feel comfortable with some things right now. I find myself noticing how scared I am during the run. Annie is confident and knows that she can do anything. I just have to walk around with that attitude and believe it, otherwise I am not telling the story and that is my job.

I am really excited about Preview Night. I can't wait for my family to see everything put together. And all of our family and friends will be there supporting us. I know we can't fail in their eyes. But I really want to show them what we can do. We've worked so hard and it's gotta be great. I am going to do everything in my power to get there. Although I know I am going to be so nervous that I can't even see straight.

Well, the computer screen is getting blurry. Time for bed. Goodnight my loyal readers.

Your kicking it in to high gear tapper.

Only 3 Working Days Until Opening Night (WHAT?)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Home Stretch!

It is the eve of the final stretch of rehearsals. Tomorrow night is our first full dress/tech rehearsal. This is the last step before opening. And I have to admit I am getting very excited.

I will start out by saying, I have been riddled with problems this week. I'm constantly tired because I am working all day and expending a lot of energy, working with kids. I have also been battling vocal troubles that are brought on by overuse and exhaustion. But I don't like to let anything get me down. However, after a long week, I was feeling very exhausted. When we started tonight I was feeling very weak and almost like I was going to pass out. But as soon as that beautiful band started playing and the cast looked around at each other with,"Let's do this thing," written all over their faces, I was feeling a little more ready. And then we started dancing the opening number and I felt incredible. There is just something about that number that thrusts you right in to the show.

I am at this point where I have mostly forgotten about the tap steps themselves and am trying to let myself go and just have fun. And let me tell you, I am having a lot of fun. I am finding little acting moments here and there that are fun and remind me of my strength in this role. I am always looking for new things on stage. I will never stop looking until the day we close. That's the best thing about live theatre, it's never the same. That is what is so exciting about it. And it's why I volunteer my time with others who love it as much as I do. Boy, I am a lucky girl. And I always try to remember that on days like today when I am tired and feel like I can't go anymore.

So, this is it. The home stretch. I am still a little nervous but I think the excited factor is kicking in to high gear. The cast and crew have been very supportive and complimentary and that is always motivating. And I have to dedicate this blog post to them. I love going in every night and seeing their smiling faces. And even though they are as tired as I am, they still want to go out there and give it all they got. That's another reason why I am so lucky, I get to spend my time with such wonderful people. I love you all and I can't wait, "to show 'em what we can do!"

Goodnight!

Your little tapper that could!

6 Working Days Until Opening Night!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Insert Eye of The Tiger Music Here!

Its the eye of the tiger, its the thrill of the fight, risen up to the challenge of our rival. And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night and he's watching us all with the eye of the tiger!

There is a lot going on in my head right now. I want to share it all because I am always 100% honest in my blog but I must admit I don't know if any of this has a point, so bare with me.

First of all I should have written my noon blog that I promised on Facebook, because last night's Dance and Sing with the orchestra was amazing. The band sounded, as I like to say, Super Broadway. I had goosebumps everywhere from the first notes of the overture. Go In To Your Dance was so much fun and so lively. It was the first time I came off of the stage after that number feeling like I had nailed it. And everything else was pretty great too. The energy in the room was great. Everyone was excited to hear the band. It was a great night and it was the first time I felt excitement, not fear, about the show opening.

We did a run through of the show tonight. It's our last one before we start teching the show tomorrow. So it was really the last time to concentrate, just on us, before we start layering on additional distractions like crazy costume and set changes, lighting, sound...etc. I have to admit I wasn't feeling very ready for tonight. I have not been able to rehearse as much as I would like because I am working around the clock. That is why I knew I had to work so much in the beginning. But in my head if I don't work a certain amount of hours every day, then I am not working hard enough. I know what you are thinking, "Jessica you are too hard on yourself." Boy, if I had a nickle for every time someone said that to me. I know I am too hard on myself but I don't know how not to be.

Anyway, I went in to tonight saying to myself, "I know the dances, I know my lines, I know the songs, just go out there and have the most fun possible." Quite honestly, that is what I try to do all the time. And I did have a great time. I still had my mistakes here and there but I was trying so hard to just get lost in the show. By the time we were done I was spent. I had nothing left. But I didn't feel exhilarated, I felt wiped. Then we started notes and working through them trying to make the changes that Dawn has been asking for. And I just got to a point where I felt like I couldn't work on it anymore. I was so tired and I have worked so hard that some times I feel like it's not getting any better. There is no way to judge. I felt a good cry coming on, but I held off until I got in my car.

Remember to smile, have fun, do the right steps, sing the right notes, push, fight, act...am I doing it all? Can I push more? I am sure the answer is yes and you should always be working toward more, but at this moment I don't know if I have anymore left inside of me.

But I wrote something down on my notepad tonight that we all must always remember, "Never forget how lucky we are." Not many people have this opportunity and get to work with such professionals who demand so much of us. If they didn't demand it, no one would know what they are capable of. And that is worth pushing and fighting for. We are a part of something so amazing and I don't think we all even realize it yet. Last night, I actually cried when the band played the overture. To hear these iconic songs played to their fullest potential, produced such emotion in me. I stood there thinking about how many times I have been on a stage, getting ready to open a show, going through the process and I knew I didn't want to be anywhere else. This is what I love and this show begs for that love. It's like Dawn said, "Hello, you get to sing Lullaby of Broadway!"

It's been quite an emotional roller coaster these past few days. But I am happy I signed up for the ride. Because nothing is worth doing if you don't do it with passion. And I am so passionate about this. That is why I am also so emotional. Lychee martini, anyone? Just kidding.

Wow, this turned in to me cheering myself up. Good pep talk Jess. I am so beat, I must go to bed.

Thank you for reading.

Your fighting passionate tapper!

9 Working Days Until Opening Night! (Ahhhh....Single Digits!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today's Blog Is Brought To You By Breath Support!

I am sitting at the theatre, typing on my new MacBook Pro given to me as a surprise by my wonderful husband. I am so happy because now I can blog more, yay!

Tonight is our Dance & Sing with the orchestra. This is a very exciting moment! This is when it becomes real.

I have to admit that I am dealing with another uphill battle at the moment. I started my summer teaching last week. So I am at the theatre from 8:45 AM until 10:00 PM and now this week we go to 11:00 PM. Needless to say I don't get much sleep and I am teaching musical theatre to 7 - 13 year olds. It has taken a toll on my voice as it usually does. So I am taking this opportunity to learn from it. I have asked a few experts and I need to support my speech the way I support my singing, with full breath support. Easier said than done when you are used to a certain teaching style. But I must adjust or I will continue to lose my voice. I rested my voice all weekend and really concentrated on controlled speaking in class and I feel pretty good. My voice is still a little weak but I am hoping to remedy this problem. Which is why I always love challenging myself because it teaches you new things all the time.

Well I have to keep this short because I have to rehearse before our exciting night. Expect many more messages now that I have mobile technology. Thank you husband!

Your supported voice and new MacBook Pro owning tapper!

10 Days Until Opening Night!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You Take Them Both and There You Have The Facts of Tap!

Sometimes you just don't want to stay and work, but you do, and then...magic!

Tonight we finished spacing the show on stage. I was done at 9:15 because the cast was going to spend the rest of the time working on the ballet. I really wanted to go home. After being at the theater since 8:45 AM teaching children and expending all of my energy, I just wanted to go home and rest, but I didn't. I listened to my gut (that is nauseous because of how close opening night is) and I went upstairs to the 2nd floor dance studio and worked. And since we got our dance CD's to practice with tonight it made things very much easier. So I got to work on all the tap numbers in the show. I had some issues with the Opening Audition number, but nothing too major. And then I got to Go Into Your Dance and I just couldn't make certain sounds, I just wasn't hitting the floor at all. I was getting so frustrated. Here I am working my butt off day in and day out and it's not paying off. Or at least that is what I thought. I kept thinking,"What am I doing that is causing me not to make these sounds?" And I started putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together. I realized I wasn't bending my knees all the time. I start bending them and as I get more tense or tired I straighten them and that kills me. So I reminded myself to bend, pound that ground and smile baby. And the number was great. It really felt like another eureka moment. Some times you just need to sift through the bad to get to the good.

Well Bedtime!

Your so glad she stayed and worked tapper!

15 Working Days Until Opening Night!

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Crunch Time Kids!

I know it's been a long time since I have blogged, but every time I sit down to write I don't know what to say. I am at this point of no forward motion, or at least I feel that way. But I guess there some things to fill you in on.

One thing is, we finished the show! Which is an accomplishment in itself. Yes we finished with our choreographed bows on Friday. It's nice to know that we are at that point where we don't have to process any new information. Except for the fact that we have to re-space the entire show onstage, which adds numbers in our heads. And since this is a massive dance show, it's a lot of numbers. This show is such a beast.

We finished Shuffle Off To Buffalo on Thursday and it is the cutest darn thing, and quickly becoming my favorite moment of the show. Since it's not tap dancing and it relies on character, I sink right in to the piece like an old pair of slippers. The thing to really make happen is to get that comfort with the tap dances. I realize that I just need to go for it and hope for the best. Act the you know what out of it. Easier said than done but I am trying my damnedest.

So here we are 2 & 1/2 weeks out and it's crunch time kids. "Go big or go home," as Dawn says. I keep trying to push myself harder and harder but it's just not there yet. I need to stop evaluating myself as I go. I must remember to have fun. But at this point with all the stopping and starting it's hard to get in to a flow. I am trying not to use that as an excuse but is difficult.

Since I am back to work full time with my teaching job, it doesn't leave much time for tapping outside of rehearsal. However, I have decided to tap for 1 hour every day. And I'll tell you what, I keep learning little things that help me become better day by day. Today I realized I need to strengthen my left ankle and get it really loose because when I shuffle I want to use my whole leg right up to my quadriceps and you can't do that. You need to utilize from your knee down. Every time I slip on those tap shoes I learn something. Which may be the coolest thing about this process.

I will say, I have a lot of support from my cast and crew. They are always giving me words of encouragement and telling me how much my hard work has paid off. That's enough to keep you going for a lifetime. That's why I love working in the theater, the family that I have accrued. I feel so lucky in that regard.

As I was riding home tonight, I was listening to the soundtrack of The Book of Mormon (my husband kindly purchased the CD and then put it in my car so I would be surprised when I got out of rehearsal). The music is big and very Broadway and it gave me goosebumps. It reminded me why I love musicals, because the music makes you feel something. It's like your heart immediately connects with it. I want to give that to our audiences. It's time to get wrapped up in the 1930's and in this world. Go after what my character wants and get it at all costs. Throw it all out there on the stage. No more being scared. Just go out there and do what I know how to do.

Wow, that was a good pep talk! I hope I can remember that every night for the rest of the rehearsal process and even performances.

Well I am weary and still have things to do so I must leave you now. Thank you for stopping by.

Goodnight!

Your pep talking, take no prisoners tapper!

17 Working Days Until Opening Night! (Holy Wah!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Having Fun Is So Much Fun!

I went in early to the studio today and met with some of the other girls from the show. We wanted to review everything before the run through tonight. I was so happy to have people to work with. Some times it gets boring working by yourself. After we went through everything, the other girls left and I stayed just to solidify some things for myself. Then I got to that point where I knew I had to be done. So I packed up and left.

When I got home, I continued to work on other aspects of the show and really try to get everything set in my head. Of course, I felt like I didn't work hard enough, but hey, there are only so many hours in the day.

On my way in to the theater I just kept up my mantra, "just have fun." That's all I can do. If I am not having fun then the audience is not having fun. I turned on "Take On Me" by A-Ha and jammed out in my car and remembered how much fun dancing like a loon with complete abandon can be. I thought to myself, "have that much fun."

When I got in to the rehearsal room everyone was tapping away. I threw on my shoes and started working on some steps. And I found that I was messing up almost everything. I tensed up and got worried. But before we started I reminded myself once again to have fun. Who cares if I mess up just have fun. And that is exactly what I did. I went out there and gave it almost everything I have. I certainly messed up my fair share of steps but I didn't care. I noted the mistakes and moved on (I'll clean them in the studio tomorrow). And after it was all said and done I had that great feeling that actor's crave, I didn't even realize what had happened. I was so in it I couldn't remember it. Now that's what I call fun.

There are still many things to work on but today has been stamped as a success and provided just the motivation I was looking for.

Well it's time for bed! Nighty Night,

Your carefree, fun-loving, 100% committed tapper.

22 Working Days Until Opening Night!

You Gotta Fake It Til You Make It & It's Time To Make It!

I don't even know what to write about any more. Which is pretty much how I feel about the show. I feel like I have been working so hard and I have plateaued in every way. I need a jolt, something to energize me through the next couple of weeks.

I did work yesterday in the studio for an hour and a half and it was good work. Other than thinking in to the ground which is a constant issue with me, I discovered a few other things. I noticed I constantly lift my hips and that prevents me from striking the ground. This tightness not only comes from concentration and tension but also, I am not always breathing. That can't be good. I also realized that on my left foot I am pointing when I shuffle out which makes it hard to get it back in quickly. This is going to be a hard habit to break. But I did start to feel the certain bounciness that tap requires. It is all about weight distribution which I have said before, but it cannot be taught it has to be discovered.

I have to admit it was not easy going back to rehearsal tonight after 4 days off. I felt like I should have spent all that time working on the show but I was just unable to. One, because I went away for 2 days, two, because I have other work to do for my job and three, I don't even know what to work on anymore. I am singing and dancing non stop, drilling everything in to my head. And at this point nothing seems to be getting any better. Although I did enjoy learning the opening choreography to Shuffle Off To Buffalo. It was in my comfort zone. It made me feel competent.

And then on my way home tonight it hit me. I have forgotten the fun. Why do we do this? Certainly not to make money and certainly not to further our careers. We do it for the fun. Every time I get a role in a show I complicate it and make it so hard on myself to get everything absolutely perfect, when what I need to be doing is letting loose, trying new things and having fun. Most times I just let the uptight part of my personality get the best of me.

So from now on, forget perfect. I am going for fun. I am hoping that will infuse energy in to this listless hoofer.

Tomorrow is our Design Run where we will run almost the whole show (what we have up to this point). It's an exciting night because there are new eyes and new reactions. I hope all my hard work shows through. And if not, I am going to have fun anyway.

Goodnight!

Your,

Fun loving, not perfect tappa, tappa, tapper!

23 Working Days Until Opening Night! (Yowzaa)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Smile, Baby!

I am writing to you while I am on my way to Orlando for a getaway weekend. You may be asking yourself, "Why aren't you at rehearsal Jessica?" Well that is because I have the night off. And it couldn't come at a better time because I need to step away from the tap shoes.

Last night we ran all of Act I for the first time. I tried not to think too much and really stay in the moment and I have to say that it worked. I really felt the culmination of all of my hard work. I knew I had to work really hard in the beginning in order to start feeling comfortable now.

It didn't hurt that my husband was present for the run. So as usual I asked him what he thought and he said your dancing is great but you need to smile. In this whole process I have concentrated so much on the steps that I forgot to smile.

So with that I went in to the studio to work today. I really wanted to work on Go In To Your Dance. But as I started working I just had no motivation. I realized I was tired and needed a break from the whole thing. So this weekend couldn't come at a better time. It's like Julian Marsh says in the show, "You've earned it, go out and have a good time, forget about the show." And for the next 2 days that is exactly what I am going to do. My hope is that I come back refreshed and ready to work.

Have a great weekend!

Your taking time off tapper.

26 Working Days Until Opening Night!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Am A Competent Tapper!

Now some of you might be saying, "DUH!" But for the first time today I believed it and felt it. I spent 2 and 1/2 sweaty hours in the studio today. I am actually off from rehearsal tonight so I decided to go in early so I can spend the evening with my wonderful husband. I started to work on Go In To Your Dance and that darned military time step. Still heavy, I went to youtube to check out the pros and I saw this lightness about them. I tried to mimic it and voila, I was getting better. It's definitely a work in progress.

I attempted pullbacks for just a bit but I just cannot get my right foot to make the 2 sounds that I need it to make. The left is great but the right just goes up and down. I NEED HELP!

I worked on We're In The Money. The great thing about this dance is that nothing is particularly hard but you do have to practice it and know the sequence very well. I started slow and then got faster and faster. It was a great review.

I did the Opening Number once and I found a few things to work on. I worked on them and did it again with a sense of abandon and relaxation. It was much better. But still hard to get through with a smile on your face. Can anyone say CARDIO?

All in all I feel really good about today. Every day that I work I find out something more about where my weight should be. That is the most difficult thing. Trying to think up and down at the same time. Trying to be light on your feet but slam that ground. It's not something one can learn in a day, a week or even a month. But I am getting there and that makes me feel so accomplished.

I wanted to work a little bit longer but I was getting tired and was unable to do even simple moves. So I knew it was time to pack it in for the day because I didn't want to get frustrated with myself. It's all about balance (new mantra).

I am excited about my progress and looking forward to learning the final part of Go In To Your Dance tomorrow.

Well it's time to make some homemade pizza.

Love,

Your finally starting to believe in herself tapper.

30 Working Days Until Opening Night!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pound That Ground!

Worked for an hour today. It's very hard to go in to the studio and decide what to work on. I want to work on everything but I have to have a focus. I equate it to going to the gym. I like to go with a game plan so I can get in and out and feel like I have accomplished something. So I started working right away on the military time step. I was trying to incorporate tips from Dawn and every one else who has been helping me but I was getting frustrated because I still feel like my body is out of control and it feels impossible to get all the sounds. I attempted to work on pullbacks but I don't want to hurt my pinched nerve too much. After that I just decided to do all of Go Into Your Dance for a review. It wasn't great, but it was ok.

Then I moved on in to We're In The Money which has a couple moves that really confuse my entire body. One is the New Yorker, Flap-Heel-Heel-Brush-Heel-Toe-Heel. My feet just go in their own rhythm and do not take any direction from my brain. I go over it slow with just the feet and I master it. Then I add the arms and (insert loser sound from Price is Right) my body just breaks down. So I worked on it slow and then a little fast and it came and went. I took whatever success came from it and moved on.

Then I decided that I was going to work on the Opening Number and really try to serve up the acting. The first attempt was just that, an attempt. My mind gets so wrapped up in the moves that I forget to act at all. I stopped half way through, took a breather and decided to start again not worrying about the moves but trying to act, loosen up and think in to the ground. It was better. Not where I would like it to be, but better. So I have decided that today is Day 1 of doing the Opening Number every day. Each day I will work on my acting in the number, not my feet. This is what I am good at and what truly makes me feel alive on stage. All this thinking and worrying is really draining my energy and leaving my devoid of any life at all. So not cool.

For the last 10 minutes in the studio I decided to work on Go In To Your Dance and my solo in that. I threw my brain out the window and thought, pound the ground. Just think ground. Hit that ground. Take all your frustration and put it in to that ground. Everyone has been telling me that I am thinking too up and I need to think down but you can not imagine what a hard concept this is to get in to your body. Well with this new focus I have to say I started feeling where my body weight is supposed to be. It started clicking all over. It was just for a blip of time but that will keep me motivated throughout this process. I will cling to any success possible.

The good news is I have learned all the tap that I will be doing in the show. I only have one number left to learn and it does not involve tap. That is comforting because there will be no more surprises. I know what I need to work on and I have the time to do it.

Well it's time to go out and party it up a little bit. Goodnight!

Love,

Your pounding the ground tapper.

33 Working Days Until Opening Night!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No More Being Timid!

I am writing this with my feet in a vat of hot water and chamomile epsom salt. My feet are happy.

We learned the rest of We're In The Money tonight and I am overwhelmed with more tap steps and now we are dancing on wooden dimes. In the dance we are doing stomps into brush backs. These are my least favorite things. I have a hard time figuring out how to stomp my foot and then get the brush back in immediately. It seems impossible in these shoes, they have absolutely no bend. And then my toes are scrunching in my shoes and that is causing tension and then I get annoyed that I can't do it and that causes more tension. It's a vicious cycle. Also, we are doing bombershays which are a complicated flap step that invloves what? You guessed it, brushes! Ahhh! Breath Jessica! I just have to step away from it and go over it on my own. I need to give it time to sink in.

I am meeting with the Dawn tomorrow (director/choreographer) for a personal session. The things I really feel I need to work on are flapping and shuffling under my body. This will make faster moves more clean, like the military time step. I also want to work on pullbacks, of course. And just overall placement of my weight.

Megan said something that stuck with me tonight. I was having a hard time flapping under myself (as opposed to out to the side or front) and she said that I was being too timid. As soon as I decided not to be timid, the steps got better. I have to apply that to all of the dances and even the entire show. So my new motto is, "No More Being Timid!"

Well times up on the epsom salt! Gotta go to bed, goodnight!

Love,

The tapper who wonders if you can purchase loose ankles online.

36 Working Days Until Opening Night!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

With Me It's All Er Nothin'!

Today I am singing a tune from Oklahoma, feel free to sing along with me if you are familiar;

"With me it's all er nothin'. Is it all er nothin' with you? It can't be in between It can't be now and then No half and half romance will do!"

Allow me to explain. Being a runner, Sunday is my long run day, which means I run anywhere from 6 - 13 miles depending on where I am in my training. Well I have been having a little trouble with a pinched nerve in my big toe on my right foot. It doesn't really hurt but I definitely feel it tingling. In the interest of not hurting myself I decided this morning that I was not going to run because I thought the constant pounding would not be good on the toe. So I went for a nice 14 mile bike ride instead. Although, it still doesn't feel like enough.

What is the lesson to learn here, I have a hard time finding a balance in things. I am either in it to win it or I am not doing it at all. There has to be some sort of middle ground that will make me feel comfortable.

Anyway, I went in to the studio yesterday and with my toes wrapped with athletic tape, I went to work. I knew that I really had to work on Go In To Your Dance. I broke it down slowly and was feeling pretty comfortable with the dance by the end. This show is just one of those things that requires constant practice to get the muscle memory. You can't do it in just one session.

Here are some issues that are still arising:

1. I am not shuffling properly. I am doing it more with my leg than my ankle. This is preventing me from doing the military time step faster and cleaner.

2. I know my hips and ankle are not supposed to be tight. But what is supposed to have tension. Something has to be working. When I go all limp everything gets sloppy. My taps start to sound scrapy. How can I get those clean sounds and still be relaxed?

3. I am still having issues with how low to bend and how much to be up. I think this is just something you begin to understand with time. I have a deeper understanding now but I need more.

My plan this week is to work as much as my toe allows. I am really trying to listen to my body and not break myself. But I have talked to several dancers and they said as long as I am careful it's not a threatening issue. We are finishing Go In To Your Dance on Tuesday and we are doing We're In The Money tomorrow. I am not really sure if I have any other tapping to learn after that because Anytime Annie is not in the 42nd Street Ballet number. So it will just be regular dances to learn which comforts me. Don't get me wrong, I am having a blast with the tap, but I don't want to overwhelm my brain and my body.

But I will say that I am proud of myself for striking a balance today with my running. I think that shows how dedicated I am to this. I just have to be careful with myself for the next couple of weeks if I want to practice on top of rehearsal. That is a lot of physical output that is tough on the body.

So on that high note of praise I will leave you! Have a lovely Sunday!

Love,

Your Tingling Toe Tapper!

38 Working Days Until Opening Night! (YIKES)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My New Address: Relaxation Station, Positive Town, USA

Well, with my take no prisoners attitude on pullbacks and my insane need to continue exercising on top of everything else I am doing, it's no wonder my quadriceps are screaming at me. And getting up at 3:30 AM every morning isn't helping either. Needless to say, I was pooped today. However, I went in to the studio anyway. I know, I am a glutton for punishment but any practice is good practice. And I always feel better going in to rehearsal having worked that day.

Since I was tired, and I am listening to my body, I decided to put an hour and a half cap on my time. I started working on that darned military time step. At first my tired legs couldn't keep up, but then I applied something that Crystal said last night which is use your big toe. That kind of clicked for me and it was getting cleaner and cleaner. Then I attempted some pullbacks. I was getting them but then I noticed that I was still kicking my left foot out too far. I think I need some one on one time for these now that I have a new understanding of the mechanics. I decided to stop because I didn't want to hurt myself. I went over Go In To Your Dance and when I got to my solo I realized that my legs were so stiff, as if rigamortis had just set in. I told myself to relax and just think in to the ground, use my big toe for the shuffles, and the solo instantly got better. I have to always remember to breath and relax now that I am improving.

I started working the opening number, however I was feeling so draggy so I decided to do the moves slow and really solidify them. This was helpful but I really need to work on them at pace.

I was glad that I had worked on Go In To Your Dance because we had extra time tonight and so we moved on in the dance. It felt different learning the steps tonight. I felt less overwhelmed. I am really just trying to have fun and tell myself that I am going to get it, because I AM DAMN IT (that was for you Dawn)! It was actually fun to learn the choreography and I was really getting excited about the number. It is going to be a blast every single night. I just have to practice, practice, practice.

I am so happy that I am still residing in Positive Town! It's such a nice place to visit. I think I'll stay.

Well Goodnight,

Your tapper whose feet feel like they are going to fall off. Yay!

41 Working Days Until Opening Night!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Umm...Was That A Pullback? BOOYAH!

Today's blog is dedicated to all of my teachers and castmates who try to help me in any way. And especially Sulley who was able to make me understand what everyone had been telling me. That's right kids, Mama did some pullbacks today.

Last night, Sulley helped me to figure out how to practice my pullbacks (going from double pullbacks in to syncopated pullbacks). She was pretty much telling me the same things every one else was telling me but it just clicked at that moment. So I went in to the studio today on a mission. My mantra was,"I am not leaving until I get this." I started with the double pullbacks trying to think up not back. I was not satisfied with the lame sound my feet were making so I plied a little more in to the floor then lifted up, came back down in to a nice plie and up again, all the while remembering to have loose ankles. And the sounds were more pronounced. So I tried to separate my feet and do my right foot first then my left in order to get 4 sounds instead of 2. At first, I encountered the same trouble as before but with what I had learned previously from my double pullbacks I was able to start scraping my right foot and before I knew it I was getting 4 sounds. Sometimes I was getting a scrape, but I was working on them for an hour and a half so my legs were a bit tired. I was sweating so profusely and my quadriceps are screaming now as I type, but I was elated. I had done what I had set out to do. And they are only going to get better now that I understand the mechanics. I immediately texted my husband to come up and see. I couldn't wait to share my success with him, especially after the breakdown he saw me go through. It was a good moment.

Then I was feeling full of piss and vinegar, so I decided to tackle the military time step sequence that goes with the pullbacks. I have been having trouble with getting my body to move quicker with this one. But I taped Sulley last night and I was able to see where her weight goes during the step and I was able to apply that. I am getting close to putting the whole thing together.

After that I drilled the Opening Number a bit and then finally decided that I was done for the day. I left feeling invigorated and proud and dripping in sweat. There is no better feeling than accomplishing something you've worked so hard to do. I really feel like I earned it.

I cannot wait to get in to the studio tomorrow and work it all over again to get it perfect. I am feeling more confident by the day which definitely helps with my character, who isn't afraid of anything or any tap step. I guess this process will really inform me for my part.

One of my acting teachers once said,"Hard work and patience never fail." I really feel that today. Thank you again to all of my wonderfully talented and patient teachers. You are the reason for this success.

Alrighty, time to get the hubby to give me a foot massage. Goodnight!

Love,

The proudest little tapper in the world!

44 Working Days Until Opening Night!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Role Reversal = Realization

Today was the teen auditions for 42nd Street. For those of you who are not familiar with The Naples Players, we have an excellent KidzAct program and some times in the summer the teens do the same show as the adults. It's a great idea because the kids get a fully realized show and since the creative team (which consists of almost all the same people as the adult cast) don't have to worry about working on a completely different show, everyone is able to focus on the work and getting these kids to really work hard and serve it.

So I was teaching the audition choreography to the teens today. I thought it was funny that I was teaching tap but since I am familiar with all the steps and the entire process I guess it made sense. I felt a responsibility to these kids to give them as much information and advice as I could. Coming from someone who is still in the process of learning I thought it was good to explain to them that this is hard and it takes time. I actually found myself saying these words. These words that everyone has been saying to me. I really started to take it in today and believe it.

Throughout the process I found myself getting extremely comfortable and serving up some serious face. I was doing exactly what I was told to do when I auditioned and in rehearsal, which is to relax and trust that it will come. But it wasn't until I was in the position of teacher, did I get it. It's funny how that works out. I do the same thing with acting. If I am teaching an acting class or directing a show everything is crystal clear and I give great advice. But as soon as I get a role I make everything so complicated. It's odd how we just fall in to these roles.

So as the teens were auditioning I was watching like a hawk and seeing tense, straight legs, very tight ankles, no breathing and extreme thinking. All the things that I have been doing and still do today. But by seeing this I was able to see how much I had progressed from the adult workshop that I took just a little over a month ago. It was so hard to see and feel that progress until now. I was there, tightness and all and I have really improved in such a quick time. Some times hearing the words from others isn't as helpful as seeing and feeling it for yourself. But I thank everyone for their words because it all adds up in the end. I wouldn't have come to this realization today without those words, and for that I cannot thank you enough (you know who you are).

And as I was driving home with my husband today I was talking about the auditions and I said something that really helped me put things in to perspective. I said that it's a process, just like my singing and just like my acting. It takes time and it may not be perfect but it will be the best it can be at that moment. And I am ok with that. I don't need it to be perfect. A great teacher once said to me,"Artists are always in process." How true that is. I will always be in process of becoming a better tapper and what will be will be on Opening Night. But what I know I can do is serve up a great character with a side of brassy singing. And the tap is getting there.

I so needed this day. I feel amazing. It's been a good couple of days of amazing realizations. It has given me so much hope for the future. I can't wait to keep working on this show.

Yours truly,

The tired and extremely grateful tapper.

47 Days Until Opening Night!

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Much Needed Mental Breakdown

So after my last post I was feeling pretty down. But it wasn't long until the positive messages came pouring in, telling me to be patient and to think of all I have accomplished. I called and you answered. And it meant the world to me. Thank you to each and every person who took the time to give me a little boost. It definitely helped.

So I had a renewed sense of determination when I went in to the studio today. I kept telling myself that I could do it and to be patient with myself. I vowed not to cry and to just keep working. And it came to the point where I was trying to conquer those dreaded pullbacks and I kept saying to myself that today was the day. But before long I was getting frustrated with myself. I was making the same mistakes over and over and it is so hard when you are alone. There is no one to vent to or get advice from. Already annoyed I moved on to the military time step and getting it as quick as possible and my body kept feeling disoriented, like it was working too hard. And soon I was feeling like it was impossible to get any quicker (which is a necessity). I couldn't take the lack of progress and I just fell to pieces right there on the floor. I fell to my knees and just cried. I begged for help and guidance. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to quit (very unlike me). I kept trying to break through the emotion but I couldn't. I texted my husband and asked if he wanted to go for a drink. As soon as he met me in the room I crumbled in his arms and went in to full metal breakdown mode. I started venting all of my frustrations with this process. And then it turned in to venting about my dissatisfaction with my life and my resentment towards my Dad and everything just came out. I cried so long, I got a headache. It felt great to get it all out. As a side note, something you have to know about me, I have to feel my feelings and express them and get them out. Otherwise they just hang around and bring me down.

So we went over to Trulucks and I had the most delicious Lychee Martini. It was much needed. We talked a little more about what I should do and he was so supportive and loving as usual (I am so lucky). And then it was getting close to rehearsal time. I didn't want to go but I knew I had to. When I got to rehearsal I realized that rather than learning the next part of Go In To Your Dance, we were reviewing together. The girls and I went over what we knew over and over again. I was feeling very warm and relaxed (and no it wasn't the martini). I stopped thinking for a while and it just started coming like everyone said. Now it wasn't perfect by any stretch, but even I started believing that I was a tapper. I got so comfortable I was able to explore my character choices a little more and I was actually acting rather than dancing in straight fear.

It was just the night I needed to get me through. And the breakdown didn't hurt either. I needed to get those toxic feelings out. I feel so much better and ready to tackle all the steps that are to come my way. I am not saying I won't get down again but I am glad I am on an uphill swing.

Thank you to you all who are following me and giving me support, advice and guidance. I couldn't do this without you.

Have a great night!

For the first time feeling like your,

Anytime Annie

P.S. 48 Days Until Opening Night!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Personal Struggle

This is sort of a personal post for me. I left rehearsal last night feeling a little dejected. Now it's not that the choreography is super hard for Go In To Your Dance, because it's not. It's just that I feel that I am always playing catch up. I am never that girl who just knows what she's doing and makes people go, "Wow, she can really do that!" Now some people may disagree with that statement, but the trouble is that I don't believe it. My acting is never good enough, my singing is never good enough, I'm never thin enough. I spend my life comparing myself to other people and trying to compete with what I think is their perfection. And in looking up to all these people I worry constantly about what they think of me. For example, I worried all night last night that the choreographer was wishing she just had someone who already knew how to tap because then she could move through the dance so much quicker. Now there was no indication given by the choreographer that this was actually what she was thinking, actually she was very understanding and patient. However, I made up this whole scenario in my head that if I had just gone to dance school when I was young this wouldn't be a problem and I wouldn't be slowing everyone down. But I am worrying about things that are entirely out of my control. And in the process, completely exhausting myself.

The funny thing is the choreographer will ask me if I know what I messed up and I know every single time. I feel and hear every missed tap and it is so frustrating. I do realize I am looking for instant gratification and have ridiculous expectations of learning in 3 weeks what these women have taken years to learn. But that is only because I want so badly to do this right. I want to make all the sounds with ease. I want to look natural. I don't want to look completely freaked out (which I did last night).

So the question today is how do I get there? How do I stop looking afraid? How do I believe in myself? How can I continue to be positive?

I am so scared that I won't be able to do this. But with that fear I am reminded that as usual I am taking myself out of my comfort zone and taking a big risk. I am always doing that which is probably why I always feel frustrated because I never just stay comfortable in just one thing. I want to learn it all and be great at it all (not good, great). And the question is, is that a good can-do attitude or just way too much pressure to put on myself?

I need your words of wisdom and encouragement today.

Thank you for stopping by.

49 Days Until Opening Night!



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Eureka!

I have been a little side-tracked by a chest cold and have not been able to get in to the studio to rehearse in 2 days. However, I have been going in to rehearsal an hour early and going over the opening number over and over again with my castmates. And yesterday I had such an epiphany. I realized that when I shuffle I am trying to point my toe and I should be flexing. This opened up my ankle and I was able to think loose and they were loose. It was an amazing feeling. I was a shuffling machine. Except for those darn rolling shuffles, they are way too fast.

Tonight we did the choreography to Shadow Waltz and I am in love with it. It's very flirty and cute but also graceful. It was fun to do a number that I felt I could do and do well.

Now tomorrow night is the big night. We are choreographing Go In To Your Dance and that is my big number. It's the one with those dreaded pullbacks. I am very nervous but I am going to do the best that I can because that is all I can do. I hope I come out of it feeling like it's possible.

Well, I don't really have much more than that. I must go to bed and rest this weary body. I'll let you know how tomorrow night goes.

Goodnight!

50 Days Until Opening Night!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cramp Rolls, Consider Yourself Conquered!

I was in the studio for and hour and a half today. I have to say, I find it hard to figure out what to work on. There are so many steps right now that need attention, I find myself falling in to ADHD mode! I move from step to step, not really perfecting one, but just getting fed up and moving on.

But today it was different. I was working on the opening number and was trying to clean up my problem spots when I realized that I have a very difficult time with cramp rolls. So I decided to stop and really try to figure the mechanics out. My feet don't want to make to the fluid sound. I kept thinking jump up and come down but it wasn't working. But then I really concentrated on relaxing my ankles and I started jumping off of one foot sooner than the other and low and behold, I did it, and kept doing it. I hope this is the correct way because it felt good to move from left to right cramp rolls with ease. I think this is a big step towards looser ankles.

So on to the sticking points of the afternoon. I kept trying rolling shuffles but I know that I am moving my leg too much. I know it's only a slight movement but I am not sure what else is working to make the sound. I am also having a hard time constantly hopping. I mean I work out my quads a lot but I just get too tired when we are constantly hopping. Also, anytime I lean to a side my leg comes up off the ground and won't tap. I have this problem a lot.

Another big issue I have is trying to keep my feet under me and being able to actually make the proper sound. I am tapping more in front which I realize is incorrect, but it is almost impossible for me to make the proper sounds with my feet under me. Also, whenever I am tapping to the side I feel like my legs are going too far and that is making it very hard to speed up the step. I think of trying to keep the steps contained but then I can't make the sounds.

But I did master cramp rolls today which makes me feel very successful. If I can have one realization a day, then I am that much closer to my goal.

I am very anxious about learning Go In To Your Dance this week but I am also looking forward to having a long time to work on it.

Today has been a complete success. And to celebrate I am having Mimosas! Woohoo!

Happy Mother's Day.

53 Days Until Opening Night!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Feet Hate My Guts!

All I can say is OUCH! My everything hurts. And I couldn't be happier. I am very proud of my war wounds, it makes me feel like a real dancer.

Had a great rehearsal last night. We finished the opening number! So I went in to the studio today for a little while before I was scheduled to to volunteer for Derby Fest on 5th Avenue. I went over the number and broke it down and tried to fix my problem spots, but I realize it is just going to take time. This isn't something that is a quick fix. It takes many hours perfecting. Speaking of which, I read a quote about Eleanor Powell that is my new inspiration. It was from when she was in Duchess of Idaho, starring Esther Williams and she said that she was so touched watching Powell rehearsing until her feet bled in order to make her brief cameo as perfect as possible. Now, don't get me wrong I am not a masochist. But I realize that just because she made it look easy, doesn't mean it was easy. Practice, practice, practice.

Still trying to figure out how to keep my ankles loose and have some control over my sounds. I mean rolling shuffles are the bane of my existence right now. There is no consistency in them and that's because I can never tell when my ankles are going to tighten up. I don't know how to control that. I also still have the most annoying problem of not even hitting the floor at times. I am trying so hard to bend my knees while keeping my rib cage up. But I think there is a feeling to the body that I have to feel and be able to automatically go in to and that is going to take time. Nothing in life is easy.

The great thing about last night was that in the middle of dancing, I realized I am in a show. I have been working so hard that I kind of forgot that fact. It's weird how things just hit you. And I am so grateful and so lucky to have a place to perform and have amazing opportunities like this to grow and meet wonderful people. A big thank you to all of the continued support and advice. I am loving life.

And on that note, I must bid you adieu because I have a 5k to run in the morning.

Goodnight!

54 Days until Opening Night!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ankles, Listen To Me...Loosen Up!

Tonight was the first tap rehearsal for the show and we did the Opening Number. I was so thrilled I knew the choreography from taking the audition workshop. I tried to have fun and act my face off and it seemed to work. But I know that my feet are not making 75% of the sounds and I desperately want to fix that. Some people say to me that it doesn't matter as long as some people make the sounds, but I don't operate like that. I want to learn how to tap. I intend to continue learning when the show closes. I want to be as precise as possible. But I decided to just have fun and smile my face off and I feel great about it. I will say there is one thing that I have been preparing for and that endurance. I am happy that I have been running for the past year, it definitely is beneficial for this show.

I really need to work on rolling shuffles. My ankles are tight and I know that but I cannot get them to loosen. I think loosen them, I shake them, I even yelled at them tonight and nothing works. Where is this tension coming from? My pelvis? My legs? My entire body? If I can figure it out it would definitely up my percentage of precise sounds.

All in all I had a blast tonight. My plan is to work on the choreography in the studio tomorrow and keep working on my pullbacks because we are working on Go Into Your Dance next week.

That's all folks from this very tired tapper. Thanks for tuning in.

56 Days Until Opening Night!

And So It Begins...

Tonight was the first rehearsal for 42nd Street. The first night is always so exciting. You get to meet new people and reconnect with friends. As I sat down next to a wonderful friend and looked around the room, I had a bit of a sigh as I thought to myself, "here we go." And after we all introduced ourselves and cracked little jokes here and there we were ready to get to work and sing.

Now, some of you may not know this, but I have never been very confident in my singing voice. Many things contributed to this feeling, but mostly it was people telling me that I couldn't and me believing them. But I was always singing. I went to several vocal coaches who each criticized the technique of the other. No one really caring about my intense desire to sing and to sing well. So I sang in the car, in the shower (best acoustics ever), karaoke bars and basically anywhere there was a song I knew. And all the while I would be adjusting my instrument trying to make it work properly, trying to have a smooth transition from chest to head voice. I would listen to singers I admired, Linda Eder being my favorite, and believe it or not I could hear what was going on in their throat, chest and even diaphragm. I so desperately wanted to be a better singer. And without realizing it I was doing some hard core vocal training any chance that I had. I had worked without it feeling like work. Why? Because this is my passion. So when it came time for me to audition for 42nd Street I felt confident. And then in the callbacks I was hitting notes I never thought possible and doing it consistently. That old fear was gone. So when we started with music last night, I was ready. I had listened to the cd and went over my music and I was excited to sing. And to my surprise I was actually asked to sing soprano at certain places in a song. That has never happened to me. I was always relegated to the alto section (a place I have come to love) because of my low voice and harsh break. But last night I was belting out high notes with confidence and it felt so good. I have worked so hard for so long and it has finally paid off. I was even holding my harmonies on my own. It was a proud moment.

How does this relate to tap you ask? Well, I realize I am going to have to go through the same cycle with this as I did with singing. There will be times of frustration and trial but they will be balanced out by times of triumph and success. As long as I work hard and keep my passion I can do anything. And it doesn't hurt to have a very supportive director who believes in you and a stellar cast and crew of new and old friends who share my passion and excitement.

When I got home last night, I sat down on my bed and noticed that I hadn't stopped smiling since I left the theater. I looked at my husband and said,"you know what, I love this." And he sweetly looked back at me and said with a smile,"I know."

Who has 2 thumbs and is the luckiest girl in the world? This girl!

Until we meet again, which I trust will be very soon...57 days until Opening!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When Does It Get Easier?

Being alone in the studio, I returned to my old habit of getting frustrated with myself. I feel like I keep making the same mistakes. And the biggest problem is that I feel like an elephant in tap shoes. I just feel so heavy and feel like I look like I am working so hard. There is nothing effortless about it right now. How can I feel light? I am lifting my ribs but I still feel like a tapping Mack truck, now there's a visual.

I was very excited about working today because of the new shoes and they are lovely. I don't mind the taller heel because it reminds me to stay up on my toes. I warmed up and then started with pullbacks as usual. And they are getting very consistent across the floor. But now I am having trouble doing them without prepping first. I have to do them coming out of a shuffle-hop-step-step-step while turning and I can't do it instantaneously. In addition my legs feel tight. Almost like I am extending too much. I know I am supposed to bend but sometimes it looks like it's too much. And when I watch video of really polished tappers they aren't really bending that much. I just cannot get the pullbacks to feel comfortable. I am tightening the muscles in my legs so much.

Also, my shuffles are still inconsistent. They come when they want to. I am going slow but I just don't feel like I am getting clean sounds.

I am very scared about starting rehearsals because I don' want to be the only one not getting it and I don't want to get frustrated with myself. I know I will have time to work on it but I fear I won't get it perfect.

And after sounding like a Pessimistic Pam I will leave you with a positive thought. I realized during practice today that I want so bad to do this and do it well. And I am so happy to have something in my life that I want to work for. I can only do what I can do and I will do it. I know there will be days like today, many of them. But they will inevitably lead to a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. The journey is not always going to be easy. But the destination is so worth it.

I am so excited about starting rehearsals tomorrow night.

58 Days Until Opening!


Monday, May 2, 2011

New Tap Shoes!

So after having 2 days off for a Disney getaway I was eager to get back in to the studio. But of course life is always crazy and I had many things to do today. I worked early in the morning, had to take a nap, went to return the 1st pair of tap shoes up in Fort Myers and then I wanted to go to a fitness boot camp with my sister at 5:00 pm. As the day went on I could see that I wasn't going to be able to jam everything in. So when I got to the theater I made a decision. I chose to tap over working out. Those of you who know me will now realize how deep my commitment runs.

I did not have any tap shoes because the new ones I ordered online had not arrived yet. So I borrowed some from the costume shop and headed in to the 3rd floor rehearsal room. I warmed up and started right off with pullbacks and I was surprised I could still get them. And then I went on with the things I went over with Crystal and Megan. But I soon found myself very frustrated working alone. I had some of the same old problems with my shuffles not always happening. And I was struggling to stay lifted but also hit the floor. I want to make all the precise, light sounds but it's just not all clicking yet. And I guess I am feeling some pressure because rehearsal starts on Wednesday. But I kept on trying to be patient with myself and I did alright. I worked on double pullbacks and decided that I didn't care if I got them or not, I was just going to keep trying. I didn't get them, but I am closer.

So after feeling a little disappointed in my progress, I went home with my wonderful husband and on the table by the door was a package. It was my beautiful new tap shoes! I quickly put them on and instantly fell in love. I went right outside to my make-shift tap floor and started making noise immediately. "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." (What movie is that from, anyone?). I was so happy to have my very own beautiful, not touched by anyone else, tap shoes. It gave me a new found excitement for this process and I am practically giddy about going in to the studio tomorrow to try them out. I mean these are the shoes I will be performing in. There is something very cool about that thought.

I shall leave you with the most glorious picture (can you tell I'm excited?)...oh and 59 days until Opening!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Changing It Up!

I spent 2 days in the studio with Megan and it was a lot of fun. Not only do we have a lot of things to talk about but she taught be some very fancy footwork.

I was starting to feel a little tired of working on the same things. I know that I have to continue to work on them to master them but I was just done with it for a moment. And then yesterday Megan showed me some fun moves that involved very quick feet with some traveling. It was fun to learn something that was hard but easy once you broke it down. I still need work on it but I know I can do it if I stop thinking.

Today, we worked on lyrical and jazz, just to get the body moving in different ways and to work on flexibility. And it just confirmed, I Love To Dance!

I am very tired today though. This schedule has been hard to keep up. So I am off to Disney for a couple of days to...well not relax, but at least have a good time with my family. I hope my new tap shoes are delivered when I get back (I got the wrong color shoes so I had to order different ones).

I think I will be taking 2 days off from the tapping since I don't really have a place, shoes or time to work on it this weekend. But I will bring my resistance bands and work on strengthening my ankles. Then I look forward to getting back in the studio on Monday. I'll have 3 days to work before we start actual rehearsals. I am looking forward to seeing the choreography so I can start working on it.

Goodbye for now,

Your tired tapper!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Very Own Tap Shoes!

So after spending 2 hours in the studio with Crystal, I decided to go to The Dancing Shoe in Fort Myers and check out some tap shoes. I wanted to get split sole tap shoes because they are very helpful in learning the mechanics of the feet. However, the lovely sales woman insisted that for 42nd Street I must have heels (which I knew of course). So I purchased the Capezio Footlight Jr. in black. They feel very comfortable on my feet and the tapping sounds good. And I have to admit, it felt very cool to go in to a dance store and buy shoes for myself. I'm beginning to feel like a real dancer. I wanted to buy all the cool dancer clothes but alas I had to refrain. I am really a dance geek. I'm like a dance groupie.

Pullbacks are getting better and better. Every time Crystal says something it clicks in my head. I think we work very well together. She really seems to understand how my brain is working. I just blurt out my thoughts and she processes them and provides an excellent tip.

I still feel very heavy and it seems very hard to support my weight. I also get tired quickly. I know that will change over time but I want to feel light as air like Fred and Ginger. I may be rushing things here. But it's good to have goals.

Rehearsals start one week from tonight and I am very excited. I know deep down inside that all I can do is try my best. I must be patient with myself. But I really feel confident that I will get it. And it's all thanks to my wonderful teachers (can you tell I am grateful?)

Well I must go to bed now because after getting up @ 3:30 am, running 4 miles, weight training, 2 hours of tapping and running errands around town, this tapper is tired.

Goodnight!

Oh yeah, 65 days until Opening!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shuffle off to Buffalo!

I just have to say that I love shuffling properly. It's so much more fun when your foot isn't tense and you let your ankle do the work. I can definitely feel the difference and I am loving it.

Logged 3 hours with Crystal today and it was jam packed with little epiphanies. I discovered that I really need to be aware of my weight distribution. I tend to keep weight on my feet in general (pull your ribs up!) but I also don't like to shift my weight. What is that about? It's funny being in the studio and watching me think and then try to do something. It's like watching a baby take it's first steps. How does one think and not think at the same time? I guess I just have to take the time to absorb the information. Just like with my shuffles. Yesterday, I was using my tense foot and today they were totally different.

I am very excited to report that I am having great success with my pullbacks. We worked on singles and doubles today and they are coming. I am understanding the mechanics of them more and more. But they are not easy. You use totally different muscle groups and by the time I have gone across the floor I am spent.

I am feeling very encouraged by the progress that I am making. Every day that I work on it I feel more and more confident that I am going to get this. It's exciting to decide that you are going to do something and then actually do it. I am not entirely used to that. However, I couldn't do it without the support and education of my wonderful teachers, Crystal and Megan. Ladies, you keep me positive! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Rehearsals start a week from tomorrow and I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I know there is a lot of work ahead but I feel like I am preparing myself as much as I can.

Until tomorrow, goodnight...66 Days until Opening!

Never underestimate the value of a good teacher!

Today's blog is dedicated to my castmate Crystal. I went to her studio in Bonita yesterday. As I waited for her to arrive I walked down the hallway looking at all the dance pictures of her and her students in past competitions and shows. And I remembered when I was a kid and I would see my friend's dance pictures, I always had this feeling of pure envy. I wanted to look that beautiful and elegant. I wanted to dance. I have always wanted to be a dancer but was never given the opportunity as a child and as a teen and young adult I always told myself that I was too old to start. Hear me now, YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO START! You just have to do it.

That's why I am so excited about this process. It is giving me the opportunity to let go of the excuses and do what Nike tells me to: Just Do It!

So back to the tap lesson. Crystal helped me to realize what it meant to use my ankles but also how to keep them loose. I never understood that concept before. In every move, I was always using my foot to create the movement and sound. But now I see that it comes from the ankle. She also helped me become aware of how to lift my body while thinking in to the floor, another concept I did not comprehend. And even though I am an athlete and in good physical shape, this is a whole different ball of wax when it comes to your muscles.

Crystal was very patient with me and helped me through the mechanics of the basics as well as some more advanced stuff. I feel like I have a totally new way of working and now I have hope for crazy speeds.

In all my excitement to throw myself fully in to this process I was very disappointed that I was unable to work on Easter. The theater was closed and I couldn't figure out where to go. I know everyone needs a day off but if you are motivated to do it, Do It! So yesterday the husband and I took a trip over to the Home Depot and picked up some masonite and foam core and voila I have an instant tapping space on my lanai. I'm sure my neighbors will be thrilled!

Today is Day 2 with Crystal and I am very excited to work with her for 3 hours! I'm so close to pullbacks, I can practically hear the cork popping on the champagne.

Today's Mantra: Hard Work, Determination and Patience, Never Fail!

Oh yeah, 67 Days until Opening!