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.


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!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Take that pullback...well, sort of.

Yes that is right I performed a pullback today. And it wasn't an accident. I must have done about 10 all together. There I was in the studio all by myself and when I finally got it, I think I actually squealed. I looked around like there was someone to celebrate with, but it was just me. I attempted it again. And with a little thought I did it. I squealed again in self celebration!

So here is how I accomplished this amazing fete. I rocked back on my heels and when I plied I thought up. And it just happened! I realized I was pulling my body back and down instead of thinking up. But I'm not popping the champagne yet. I can't figure out how to do them without rocking back on my heels. Any tips?

I also worked on some of the combinations from the show and noticed that I was feeling a little more comfortable and able to go a little bit faster. It really is all about repetition and keeping your brain out of it.

I am still having a problem with getting shuffles in when I hop. I feel like I am jumping up and my foot is too far off the ground. And I am not hopping high. Should I be thinking down in to the floor? I am afraid if I think too much in to the floor then I will scrape and that sounds gross. Also, how in the world do you shuffle at crazy speeds? My legs and feet say, "NO!"

I went through the costume shop tap shoes today and found a pair that feels better but I really think I need to invest in a good pair if I want to do this right. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Overall, I had some great moments in the studio today and I walked away completely spent which means I was working hard. I am loving this process. Check back with me in a couple weeks I may be singing a different tune. But I am hoping to remain positive.

Mantra for the day: Must Be Positive!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stop Thinking!

I was very happy to have a teacher today rather than my own voice in my head. Megan, a castmate of mine, was nice enough to meet up with me and share her knowledge. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. When we met at the theater it was clear that we were fast friends and she was very patient with me. She gave me great tips about keeping my feet under me and also enlightened me about not moving my knee (which helped me control my body better). She also let me wear her amazing, expensive tap shoes and let me tell you I felt like a pro just wearing them. We went over some of the audition combinations and it further confirmed that I think too much. But I am proud of myself because not once did I breakdown and get hard on myself (my go-to reaction).

We attempted pullbacks and it was not successful, yet! I have a hard time figuring out how to get both sounds. I know I just have to do it and feel it in my body but some times I want instant gratification. Who doesn't, right?

Any way, I don't really have any questions today because I had someone to answer them so I will leave you with some quotes from the amazing Fred Astaire (who I have been watching religiously at work).

“The first thing you want to realize is that dancing is fun, it’s not something to get all tense and strained and tied up in knots about. Dancing is a relaxation, not a drudgery!”

“The chief thing is self-confidence. Don’t be afraid to try anything. Try it and you find that it comes easier with each successive start.”

Thank you Megan for an amazing afternoon and thank you to those who are following my journey. I am am so excited about this experience.

Goodnight...69 Days until Opening Night!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

They Make It Look So Easy...So Must I!

I waste too much of my time being anxious about life or dreading my daily appointments. Anything that isn't lying in bed with a book or a show I've seen a million times is too stressful. Well while standing around at the gym today and going over my day I started getting anxious about the boot camp I was going to do today with a very fit and fun lady and I wondered why am I anxious? It's a pattern, instinctual. Well I have decided to look forward to everything I get to experience in life. I think if I flip that switch and look forward to everything rather than worrying about my possible failures I will find things come easier, like tapping.

I was watching Fred Astaire and his many wonderful partners this morning and I marveled at how easy they make it look. They even have these moments where they pretend to look bored and they just relax their entire body and you can tell that they are not even thinking. It's really fun to watch. I want to look like that.

So I worked for about an hour and a half today. I feel that it is very helpful because I am learning where my body needs to be positioned. But I still feel very heavy. I am trying to think down and light at the same time and wondering how the heck you do that. Then I started pretending I was Fred and Ginger and just closed my eyes and took it easy and...IT WORKED! Maybe for only seconds but I saw glimpses of good tapping today.

I am trying desperately not to rush but as soon as I get it slow I want to try it fast and that is just not good. But I am not getting frustrated with myself yet which is a huge plus. Here are my observations for today:

1. Which part of my foot should I visualize striking the floor with on flaps and shuffles? I noticed I have a tendency towards my big toes. This causes a lot of scraping (YUCK!) Should I think toes? If so which ones? Or is it more a toe lifted thing, striking with the ball of the foot?

2. A big shout out to my friend Jaymi who posted yesterday. I mastered hops today because of the advice on no heel involved. That helped me stay forward and also helped me find a lighter jump. THANK YOU!

3. I was working on my double and triple time steps today and was wondering does the step involve the heel? I tried it without and it sounded much better but it wasn't easy.

4. I attempted pullbacks today. I think I did one real one and the other ones were...well, let's just say I was glad I was alone in the room. Looking forward to working with people who know what they are doing so they can help me master this. The day I get pullbacks I will be having a glass of champagne. Anyone is welcome to join me.

A BIG HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has been so super supportive and has offered their help. I am working with Megan (she's in the show too) tomorrow. And then Crystal, who is playing Phyllis in the show, next week. I am looking forward to getting some great advice from people who really know what they are doing.

Until tomorrow...70 Days until Opening!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

And so it begins!

I have always wanted to write a blog about something but I just never had something worth writing about. But I do now! I have just been cast as Anytime Annie in 42nd Street. For those who may not know this is a huge tap role and I want to do it complete justice. However, there is a catch, I am a very novice tapper. So I have started practicing today and my goal is to practice every day until we open to get this thing right. I have always wanted to learn how to tap dance and I feel this is the perfect challenge for me and a perfect opportunity. I have never been handed anything in my life, I have always worked hard for it and this is not exception. But I am definitely going to need some major help.

So here is where you come in. Each day I will be posting questions about tap dancing that I have. These questions will be based on my experiences that day and what my brain has come up with. If you can provide any help in this process it would be greatly appreciated.

Here are my questions for today:

1. Where should my weight be? I have read many differing opinions saying forward, center and back. What is the best?

2. When I shuffle or flap some times I do not hit the floor at all or I will hit it with the front of the tap or scrape the floor. I started lifting my toes all the times and this seemed to help. Is this a good way to work?

3. I noticed tightness in my hips today, should they be more relaxed.

4. I pride myself in having great rhythm. However, my feet want to do whatever they want. As much as I try to control them, they won't listen to me. I am trying to keep the rhythm of different time steps and my feet want to land whenever they want. What can I do to help this situation?

5. Are hops supposed to involve your heel? I feel so heavy when I hop and I am not sure how far off the ground I am supposed to get or what kind of sound I am supposed to make?

6. Someone please explain to me how in God's name is a pullback possible?

I know there is more but I left my notes on the piano at the theater. Any help would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!

I am so excited about this process and I can't wait for some great advice.

Thank you in advance for following...71 days until opening.