Moves Like Moo

January 20, 2012

Whenever I get really down on a performance, Herbie rubs my sore muscles and reminds me to “Orbach it,” referring to a piece I read a while ago by Jerry Orbach (not only a police detective but also a long-revered Broadway song-and-dance man), in which he talks about the challenges of performing the same show over and over and never being satisfied.  He finally came to the conclusion that he should view each performance as a chance to do better than the last, and that’s the view I’ve tried to adopt as well (it applies to every new day of parenting, too).

I was watching one of Moo’s shows this morning (“Superheroes!” starring Moo as Wonder Woman), and as I watched her dance, complete with sound effects – “Whoosh! Wah-ha!” – I saw in her performance what my performance is missing: total abandon.  When Moo dances, she is completely lost in the joy of spinning and leaping, and being completely lost in the joy of dancing is what my dance is supposed to be about.  But I haven’t quite allowed myself to do that.  I can tell I’m still holding back, for many perfectly valid reasons – strained hamstring, my feet hurt, I hate dancing in character shoes, ohmygodthisdanceissoexhaustingI’mgoingtodie…

But basically, I think I just need to suck it up, let go, and dance like Moo.


Well, it still stings. 

But great advice and empathy really do help, so thank you very much for your wise counsel.

Now, I pick up the pieces and move on.  I need a better monologue (and I need to take a monologue class, but must feed and clothe children before working on character motivation).  I need to schedule voice lessons, even if it’s only every six weeks, and start working on those “bad habits” my most recent music director mentioned.  And also somehow turn my voice into Sutton Foster’s.  Or Lea Michele’s.  Either would be fine.

I need to continue getting into shape, but unfortunately that means attending Phoenix Theatre’s Summer of Dance classes.  I love those dance classes so much and look forward to them every year (last year I danced four weeks after Juice was born), but I’m afraid I’ll feel a bit loserish attending this year, post-rejection.  But I’ll go anyway.  I just can’t resist a good dance class.

And I’ll look ahead to other possible opportunities.  Although it’s almost an hour-long drive, Fountain Hills Community Theatre is doing “A Chorus Line” this winter.  I would give my right foot to be in “A Chorus Line,” although that would make it very difficult to dance.  Desert Stages Theatre is doing “How to Succeed,” and I love that show, too.

But at the moment, there’s nothing on the horizon, and I feel blue.  Sick kids don’t help.  Rising temperatures don’t help, either.

“Bridesmaids” helped.

Moo singing along to “Seussical” songs helps.

Juice grinning like a maniac and hugging my knees helps a lot, too.

So do those flowers from Herbie….

Okay.  I’ll quit whining now.


March 7, 2011

I’m a bit of a swirl of emotions these days.  Tearing up at a snuggly love-fest with Juice one second, growling at Herbie from the couch the next second.  I think it can all be traced back to some conflicting emotions about the big events occurring in my life right now…

The flash mob for Jude.  I am overcome by the outpouring of support from so many people.  Sixty people have taken time out of their lives to come learn a crazy dance, and be crazy with me, all to celebrate the life of our friend, who some of them didn’t even know.  Wonderful!  But – on the other hand, 180 people RSVP’d and said they’d be joining us.  So where the hell are they??  I know our dance will be incredible, and 60 people is quite a lot.  But I am more and more befuddled by the growing realization that these days, saying you’re going to do something doesn’t actually mean you’re going to do it.  And what’s more, failing to follow through seems completely socially acceptable.  When did that happen? I suppose it’s all a lesson in human nature.  And, perhaps, a schooling in the good and evil of that fickle lover, Facebook. 

I know I need to focus on the (very) positive side of all this.  Yes, there were some people I thought I could count on that haven’t come through.  But there have been other people, some of whom I’ve only known for about three weeks, who have been so – I mean, I didn’t even know people could be so dependable and generous!   I need to focus on those people.   And maybe some of those 180 will still show up for our last rehearsal before the flash mob on Jude’s birthday this Friday.  I hope they do – it’s not too late!  I’d love to see another surge of support – I know most of these people’s lives were directly affected by Jude and so many of them genuinely care about her – so maybe they will come and help us celebrate her life.  I hope so.  But either way, we are going to have a rather amazing experience on Friday.

The other day after our flash mob rehearsal, Rosalind and I were in AJ’s buying sandwiches and discussing all things flashy, when we suddenly realized that our flash mob song, “Let’s Go Crazy,” was playing in the store.  You just don’t hear that song played very often anymore. 

Hi Jude.

Looking for the Purple Banana

February 26, 2011

On Wednesday, rehearsals began for my new show at Desert Foothills Theater.  We’ve had rehearsals every day since, along with:  Moo’s first parent/teacher conference (she prefers playing in small groups), Juice’s helmet appointment (Hallelujah, he’s done!), many many household chores utterly ignored, several panic attack near-misses as the flash mob’s first rehearsal approached, one memorial service for Judy’s husband’s father, and one flash mob rehearsal.

This has been some kinda week.

Show rehearsals are going well – just a small group of five, and we’re all on stage almost the whole time, so we have a lot of work to do.  I got the first glimpse of my costume, which I’d describe as Classy Cotton Candy Disco Queen.  We’ve learned lots of new harmonies and started staging the opening numbers.  My role as “assistant choreographer”  means I can’t space out, and I try to remember every incarnation of everything we do so that I can help clarify the movement if needed, while at the same time anticipating what she might need me to do next.  That sounds exhausting, but I love it, because I think, at least in the director’s eyes, I’m pretty good at it.

Our flash mob rehearsal went very well, although the turnout was less than I’d hoped.  I think everybody had a pretty good time, and everyone learned the steps and looked great doing them.  But in order for my vision to really come to life, we need about three times that many people… my hopes are high for next week’s rehearsal.

Tomorrow – rehearsal again and Desert Foothills Theater’s Oscar party.  Our table has an “Inception” theme, so in attempt to cobble together a sort of sleek, Inception-esque suity outfit, I purchased jeggings yesterday.  I actually own jeggings.  Not sure how to feel about that.

I’m exhausted and I miss my little ones.  But I’m doing good things.  And now I’ll treat myself to a black out bar, a glass of wine, Castle, and see if I can convince my gorgeous husband to rub my back for juuuuuuust a few minutes.

More Merlot

February 22, 2011

After one more mighty battle with her tummy, it seems Moo has finally convinced the evil germs to go away for good.  And so far, Juice has kept all of his peas and rice down as well.  All is quiet…

Except that actually all is chaos and confusion.

First – tragedy has struck Judy’s family again and it’s just impossible to comprehend.  How can one family bear so much pain?  Haven’t they earned some peace for a while?  And are we really supposed to go ahead and dance in honor of Jude’s memory when this new tragedy is so fresh?  Not that the tragedy of losing Judy ever seems like it didn’t just happen yesterday…


My first rehearsal for my Spring show is on Wednesday night (Did I mention I’m the Assistant Choreographer?  Assistant Choreographer to the Choreographer of “Mary Poppins?”  What?).  That kicks off rehearsals six days a week.  Costume fittings are right off the bat, and my stomach is not nearly as flat as I’d hoped.

On Saturday morning, I held my first rehearsal for the flash mob with my Official Helpers.  We jazz-squared like crazy and I am so grateful for their kind hearts and enthusiasm.  Our first Big Huge rehearsal is on Saturday with everybody.  Everybody!  And it’s when I think about that rehearsal that I reach again for the wine bottle.

Sure, I can make up a dance, which I’m hoping falls somewhere in the middle of the Choreographic Spectrum, which looks a little like this:  

Chicken Dance <——————————> “Steam Heat”  

Sure, I can teach the dance to my Official Helpers and feed off their excitement.  Maybe I can even, somehow (oh please Saint Fosse give me strength), teach it to a big ass group of non-dancers (ahemKristi*).

But can I figure out how to overcome the insurmountable problem of how to play music in a park?  No I cannot.  It seems I am not good at logistics.  First, I planned rehearsals for 100+ people at a park with no bathrooms.  And I also figured I would just plug in my ipod and a friend’s amp into the…park’s…outlet?  Because parks have those, right?  Also, it never occurred to me that I might need a permit to have a gathering with so many people.  Oops.

So begins a mad scramble toward Saturday.

*Kristi:  That was not a comment about the size of your bottom.


February 17, 2011

I think one of my problems has always been that I love the inception of an idea, but dread the carrying out part.  Is this a universal people problem?

I love that moment when I first get a fabulous idea – for a book, or an article, or a whole new blog, or…other things.  But in that first blush of a new idea, I live out the entire experience in my head – I see the whole entire story from beginning to end.  And that’s the part that’s really fun!  So when it comes time to write it all down, well, that’s just hard work.

A few weeks ago, I was driving along with the kids, thinking about Judy and how we could somehow honor her on her birthday on March 11.  And then  – ZING!  I had an idea.  

A GREAT idea.

A really amazing, stupendous idea!

We should have a FLASH MOB – a sudden, spontaneous, joyful dance on Jude’s birthday.  We would celebrate her life.  We would dance our little hearts out to one of her true loves:  Prince.  She would love it.  She would LOVE it.  I could see it all in my mind, and I was so excited I started to cry, which is what I do when I get really excited or really, really happy.

I was so excited I immediately called Rosalind and left her a babbling message.  I was so excited, the idea didn’t disappear from my mind as a silly flight-of-fancy after a long hot shower the next morning.  I was so excited I got Rosalind excited.  And then we posted it on Facebook and made it public.

So far, there are 128 people taking part, and that’s not even including the non-Facebook folks, not to mention all the kids.

And now I have to actually DO it.  The hard work.  I have to, somehow, choreograph a dance for 150ish people.  I have never done anything like that before.  I can see it all in my head, but as for actually getting 150 people to do the same steps at the same time?


I have moments where I wish I could tuck this crazy idea away with all the other ideas I’ve ignored.  But every time I start to view this as an opportunity for spectacular failure, I think about Jude.  And I imagine her bup-bupping, and shrugging her shoulders, like of COURSE you can do this Mama.  Shaking her head – of course.

And I focus.


January 19, 2011

I took my first belly-dancing class tonight!  It’s held in a large ballroom dance club/studio, and that’s Con #1 – we had to share the space with a Western Swing class.  We warmed up to whatever music happened to be playing, I suppose so that both classes could dance at the same time, but I certainly didn’t imagine myself belly-dancing to AC/DC.  Strange.

Con #2 – The class wasn’t the workout I hoped.  I think it could be, but the teacher moves at a VERY slow pace, and then every so often she took breaks so the Western Swing class could play a country song and dance around.  She could have had us doing something during that time, but alas.  My hips did get a good workout (so they tell me; my hips don’t lie), but not particularly my lower tummy, which is the poochy part.

Pro #1 – I love belly-dancing!  After having tried so many different dance forms, it’s fascinating learning a completely foreign one.  I love trying to get my body to move in a new way, I love all the graceful, intricate arm movements, and MAN do I love shaking my ass.

Pro #2 – Everybody wears these little jingly-jangly scarves around their hips, so with each booty-shake and undulation (love that word), we sound like an approaching caravan of winter sleighs. 

2 pro’s, 2 con’s.  I think I’ll be back again next week.

How long until I look like this?