nurturing thursdays: the eaglette has landed…

IMG_0493You might wonder why I write of my daughter’s comings and goings under the heading of nurturing thursdays.  It’s because health and wellness also includes…peace of mind. And knowing that my child is happy in her life…comforts me like nothing else can.

Having left Nashville Ballet a year ago in search of a better fit, my daughter traveled far and wide from Atlanta to Chicago to Germany to Toronto. She even poked around here in the Seattle area. Wanting to expand upon her contemporary dance experience to improve her resume, she opted to return to her mentor and coach who started her own company in the Music City, as Nashville is most famously known.

My daughter’s dance career has been 95% training, 5% performing. Opting to always hone her craft, she has trained elsewhere in the summers when ballet companies are usually on hiatus. In the early years she would have to pay for the training, but as she grew in her profession she was paid, and handsomely I might add.

In the end however, all things considered, the majority of dancers fall under the category of…”starving artists.”

I would compare a dancer’s life to a roller coaster ride. If she hangs on long enough, she’ll adjust to the twists and turns. And if she’s truly passionate, she’ll love the adrenalin rush in spite of being tossed about.

Social dancing was more my speed. Were I in my daughter’s pointe shoes, I’d have “caved” the first time I was critiqued in front of other dancers. Just as I would lose my meal the first time the roller coaster spun me upside down.

Enjoying the company of hardworking dancers once again, my daughter is elated to be back in the studio.

While fledgling, NEW DIALECT promises to thrive as a much-needed alternative dance platform in a city dominated by country music. That it might gain the financial backing of some of that genre’s most influential singers is powerful stuff. It’s not surprising though, since the director, Banning Boudoin is as much a woman with heart as an artist with talent to burn. Both extremely attractive to those wanting to bask in the aura of one poised to do great things.

Like hanging onto a shooting star, my daughter will thrill to the ride of her life as she and Banning soar the universe, exciting others with their passion.

Dancing…

…for the sheer joy…and love of it!

………hugmamma. img_5200.jpg

 

 

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…the person…not the label…

IMG_5221While my daughter’s away auditioning for a job with a contemporary dance company, I’m keeping busy putting Christmas away. Yes. Shame on me. It’s March and the ornaments, trees, tinsel, and holiday vintage collections are only now finding their way back into our garage. It usually takes a week or so to get them all up in the first place, so I’m in no hurry to reverse the whole process. And thankfully, my family is fine with the holidays lasting until spring. Then again…they’ve got no choice.

So as I’m organizing my house for the new season, I’ve a lot of time to think about my daughter’s work status which, for the moment, is in a holding pattern. Although not really since she’s a busy, little bee looking to join a new hive, so to speak.

What continually springs to mind is my daughter’s beautiful face, and with that, her great personality. They shine through despite the fact that she’s not yet landed her dream job with a contemporary dance company.

My daughter would’ve loved dancing with Staatstheatre Nurenberg Ballet in Germany. She found the movement quality and the director equally amazing. It seems Goyo Montero would himself demonstrate the choreography if he felt it would help the dancers. At an age when most directors would have stopped dancing, evidently he could still master the moves. That’ll get my daughter’s automatic respect every time.

Although she didn’t get the job, out of 94 from around the world who were invited to audition, my daughter survived the first cut as one of 12 who went on to the final round. Of those only 2 were kept. Since the director was looking for soloists, he was obviously scrutinizing every little detail with regard to their appearance, technique, and performance. That my daughter got as far as she did is a testament to her talent. The competition for jobs in Europe is even stiffer than here in America. 

Last summer my daughter auditioned in NYC for a premier Chicago contemporary dance company. Of the 300 dancers, she was one of 2 remaining. Because auditions had taken place elsewhere in the country, there were a few others being considered for the job as well. A couple of weeks later the director called to say my daughter had not gotten the spot, but that she should try again in the future. And so she’s currently in Chicago taking classes at the company’s studio, gearing up for the audition on Saturday with a call-back on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a job with a Canadian company is also on the back-burner. Its director promised to notify those in whom she expressed an interest at the Toronto audition last week. My daughter’s “holding her breath” for that one, even as she’s moving on to the next possibility. 

Of course as her parent, I would give anything for my daughter to achieve her heart’s desire. That’s every parent’s wish. And yet what I’ve learned from this whole process is that I will love her no matter the outcome. 

It’s difficult, I think, to separate the person from whatever labels we’ve assigned them throughout the course of their lives. My daughter was a ballerina, but chose to leave that position for another more personally satisfying dance job. Yet whatever it is she does, she will remain exactly who she is. And I really like who she is.

Ours is a society which labels people. We’re either upper, middle, or lower class. We’re either rich or poor. We’re either educated or illiterate. We’re either Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. We’re either Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or middle-eastern. We’re either northerners or southerners. We believe in God or we’re atheists. We’re either “in” or we’re “out.” We’re either employed or unemployed. Even housewives like me insist upon the fact that we’re earning our keep.

Parents can get caught up in society’s labeling game so that if our children don’t “make the grade,” somehow that’s a bad reflection upon us. Against our better judgment we tend to turn against our own, siding with society’s expectations. Until we come to our senses, our offspring are emotionally set adrift to figure life out for themselves. Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t.

Some children who can’t make it on their own for whatever reason, decide to avenge themselves against the society that labeled them as outcasts. I’m certain I needn’t remind you about all the recent shootings.

Accepting our children for who they are and not what they achieve or don’t achieve in life is often difficult. But it surely makes no sense to turn against them because others do. Who are these other people that come between you and your own? Complete strangers when you come right down to it. And if they’re so-called friends, then it’s best to get new friends. With friends like that, who needs enemies? And even if they’re family…

…i’d do what i feel is best for my own child…

………hugmamma.

nurturing thursdays: believe in yourself

My daughter’s decided that her 2014 New Year’s resolution includes…ferocity.

As she moves forward in her quest to become a contemporary dancer, my daughter’s inner voice is at the helm.

In ballet, dancers are taught to fit within a standard. Rigorous training reinforces discipline which, in turn, often engenders a relationship similar to that of a parent and a child. On the one hand it is highly effective in perfecting a ballerina’s technique; on the other, it may be difficult for the ballerina to grow comfortably into her own skin.

Along with everything else, a ballerina must find a balance between what is expected of her and what she wants for herself. Unlike puzzle pieces, the two sides don’t always fit together neatly. In fact, finding the balance between the expectations of others and her own are most likely an ongoing effort. At some point, she either acquiesces and dances on auto-pilot…or moves on.

Every ballet dancer at each stage of her career, from student through professional, must decide whether or not the journey is worth the sacrifices and commitment. No one is holding her feet to the fire unless, of course, she’s the product of a stage mom. God help her if she is.

Change is not easy no matter the profession. A ballerina, however, once enamored of the classics…Romeo and Juliette…Sleeping Beauty…Swan Lake…finds it very difficult to sever the ties that bind her to the beauty she can spin as part of an ensemble.

And as any ballerina will tell you, it ain’t easy getting hired by a company in the first place. It’s true what they say. For every one there’s probably twelve more nipping at her heels, eager to have their go at it.

My daughter’s experience, while not perfect, was promising. Had she waited around another few years, she might have been challenged to do more solo roles. But with the passing of years, 11 to be exact, she finally decided it was time to sever the “parent-child” relationship. It had outgrown its purpose.

Moving into contemporary dance has been freeing. There are no father figures; there are no children. All are artists. The difference lies only in their abilities, their experiences, and their passion for dance.

My daughter feels she can get to the top of her game, no longer hindered by the trappings of the environment in which she dances. Rather than be told “when” and “how,” she’s been asked…”show us what ya got!” And she’s only too eager to comply.

Believing in herself and her passion for her art, my daughter is excited to be auditioning. This week it’s Los Angeles, next month it’s Germany, and in March it’s Chicago.

Fierce is my daughter’s new mantra. Nothing’s impossible since…

…she believes in herself!

………hugmamma.

“it’s the daughta!”

That’s what my husband and I exclaim when our daughter calls on the telephone.

“It’s the daughta!” To which she replies “It’s the madda!” or “It’s the fadda!” Inside joke. And one which has us grinning like cheshire cats and laughing like madhatters.

What’s she been up to these days, for those of you wondering since our daughter left ballet for contemporary dance?

Well, her recent performance in Houston Grand Opera‘s AIDA went splendidly.

upper right corner..."the daughta!"

upper right corner…”the daughta!”

Our daughter was the dance lead which placed her front and center in Dominic Walsh‘s choreography. She was also honored to be only one of two dancers featured in the show’s glossy program, alongside the several, notable opera singers from around the world. The other dancer was the male lead.

Not one to be put off by funky costumes, our daughter relished her role as the Ethiopian witch doctor who battles the Egyptian warrior intent upon enslaving her people for his pharoah. I applauded her wild, frenetic moves in battling with her armed opponent.

I imagined our daughter following in the footsteps of her great aunt, my mom’s eldest sister, a kahuna…a native Hawaiian witch doctor. I never saw my aunt “in action,” although I’m sure she was just as formidable.

When not the wild and wooly witch doctor, our daughter joined the other female dancers as high priestesses and slave girls. Years of training and performing ballet continue to shine through our daughter’s seemingly effortless moves. Her solid foundation in technique will serve her well no matter where she lands in the dance world.

On the final day of the show the dancers were invited to audition for the opera’s spring engagement of CARMEN. The entire NYC production will take up residency for a month-and-a-half. Houston’s opera was asked to provide one male and one female dancer to “cover” or understudy the dancers being imported from the Big Apple

As she sat on a plane leaving Houston bound for Pittsburgh and her next gig, our daughter was notified by email that she was chosen for CARMEN. Talk about an ego booster!

While performing great roles is of course a dream come true, for our daughter the process is equally as important. 

Working with artists from whom she can learn and grow, and sharing in the camaraderie of fellow dancers with varied backgrounds and experiences is something our daughter relishes. She does not like to stagnate…as a dancer or as a person.

As she charts this the next course in her dance career, networking is absolutely vital. Hence working with the movers and shakers from the New York production staff of CARMEN will put our daughter in touch with folks she might not otherwise have gotten to meet. Already she was excited to work with the woman who put the dancers through their paces as she auditioned them for the opera. Our daughter looks forward to working with her again, as well as the director and his assistant who did not make it to Houston for the audition.

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

And here’s the thing. Dancers in operas CAN make more money than ballet dancers. For CARMEN our daughter’s salary will be nearly double what she made with the ballet company. After being with them for 6 years, mind you! I’m certain even some of the principals don’t make as much as she’ll be making. 

But then, of course, there’s the flip side to every coin. And that’s the fact that our daughter must pay her own way…from housing to health insurance…and everything in between. So life isn’t always…a bed of roses.

Nonetheless, our daughter is thrilled to be the one picking and choosing which roses she’d like to smell as she wanders down life’s path. And as far as we’re concerned, hubby and me…

our daughter is the most beautiful and fragrant of roses…

………hugmamma

…a new day…

(The following post was written earlier…)

My daughter’s middle name…Kehaulani  is Hawaiian for “morning dew.” Like drops of water clinging softly to a flower…my days begin with thoughts of my beloved daughter. 

Dew Drops

Today was no different, except for the fact that it was unlike any other…for both the Royal Family…and our family.

Delicate tutus will no longer grace my daughter’s lithe body. With pointe shoes in hand she is exiting stage right…a ballerina, and re-entering stage left…a contemporary dancer

While ballet companies are updating their repertoire to include non-classical pieces, they continue to make the bulk of their earnings from the likes of Romeo and Juliette, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Cinderella.

What ballerina doesn’t dream of dancing the lead in these epic tales of romance and drama? But as we all know the fairy tale ending is that only one lucky princess gets the prince. The company’s remaining women dance supporting roles.

While never the leading lady, my daughter has done her share of awesome dancing. She was especially honored to dance wonderful parts in pieces by guesting choreographers who hand-picked their dancers from among the company members. It became increasingly apparent to her, and others, that she was a natural in contemporary dance

Dancer Abby Silva Gavezzoli leads a master cla...

I had the rare opportunity to watch my daughter in dance classes while visiting NYC recently. She spent 6 weeks taking master classes at STEPS ON BROADWAY this summer.

Master classes are not for the novice…or the faint of heart or mind. They are normally taught by dance notables. As an added bonus, my daughter’s instructors were directors of small and large contemporary dance companies. She experienced their high expectations first hand, while sizing up the competition. 

Naturally I’m prejudiced, but my daughter was among the handful of dancers who stood out in each class.

Cheshire Cat

Among my daughter’s fans were a couple of moms who also observed classes in which their daughters were dancing. One remarked to the other “That girl in the purple tank top is an amazing dancer.” To which her companion replied “I know. I’ve been watching her all week.” Smiling like the Cheshire cat in “Alice in Wonderland,” I didn’t let on that it was my daughter about whom they were speaking.

The Russian woman who taught the daily ballet class my daughter took, praised and complimented her. The instructor loved having such a beautiful dancer in her class. Instructors in other classes made similar observations. Four were company directors who asked my daughter to keep in touch, a couple even asking that she send her resume and invited her to take class with their companies.

The future looks bright and promising.

My daughter is finalizing a Fall gig with a choreographer she greatly admires. In August she will audition to dance in a Broadway remake of “An American in Paris,” set to run during 2014-2015. And then, of course, she will be pursuing a dialogue with those artistic directors who thought she might be a good addition to their companies.

At 27 with 11 years of professional ballet experience to her credit, my daughter is confidently heading toward a new horizon in her career as a dancer. 

I wish Catherine and William and their royal son…all the love with which my husband, daughter and me have been blest.

babies are like dew drops…welcomimg the dawn of a bright, new day…

A drop of dew cupped in the leaf of the common...

………hugmamma. 

tears…of joy

When my husband recounted a conversation he’d had with our daughter this morning, it brought tears to my eyes and laughter to my lips. I couldn’t stop myself from doing either, so I gave in to both.

To celebrate one of the dancer‘s birthdays, her friends, fellow dancers, staged a scavenger hunt throughout town. My daughter and 2 others came up with the list of clues, shared them with Kelsey’s boyfriend, and passed them along to the other dancers who were involved in the hunt.

An example of a Trader Joe's storefront

Image via Wikipedia

As a ruse, Kelsey and her boyfriend were to spend the evening alone. First he told her he wanted to stop at the coffee shop he manages, and where they first met. When they arrived, one of the dancers happened to be there and in conversation passed along the first of the clues. Kelsey was confused but cooperated, with a little nudge from her boyfriend. Driving to Trader Joe’s they were “surprised” to see Kim, another dancer, who dropped the second clue. At this point, Kelsey, a very savvy girl, caught on to the game, and was raring to continue. Along the way, they encountered my daughter, and on it went.

Much to the chagrin of the dancers and friend Heather who was hosting the party following the hunt, Kelsey was ahead of schedule by half-an-hour. Everyone was texting one another to hurry on over to party-central before the birthday girl arrived. Needless to say, she was enthralled with the entire evening’s fun, and her friends were pleased with themselves for having pulled it off.

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.

Image via Wikipedia

The evening was bitter-sweet for Kelsey and her friends, for she will not be returning next year. Instead she will be moving to another state to work with a modern dance company. She’s been a great friend of my daughter’s, but I know they’ll keep in touch for dancers are great that way.

The previous evening our daughter had accompanied another dancer friend, Kim, to a symphony concert. Having played the violin for many years, our daughter has never lost her love of it. Continuing to dance to classical music, keeps her relationship with the instrument a perpetual one. She was quite taken with the guest violinist who performed with the symphony.

Following the concert, our daughter drove to another friend’s home where a party was underway. The group had a great time playing a board game, with which I’m not familiar. Their fun lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. Like Kelsey, Robert, who hosted the game party, will be leaving the ballet to pursue a modern dance career elsewhere.

It amazes me how these young dancers dedicate themselves to their passion, sometimes working 2 or 3 jobs to live their dream. And when they come to a crossroads, as Kelsey and Robert have, they do what they must to continue their journey in pursuit of that dream. Because of their dedication, work ethic, discipline, and unwavering ability to hope, these dancers will be alright. Wherever their paths may lead, they’ve already accomplished more than some folks twice their age. They’ve figured out how to deal with life and its many pitfalls.

So while I’m sad they must part company with good friends, my daughter in particular, I’m happy for the joy they will spread as they make their way among others.

glad for knowing…and sharing hugs…with kelsey and robert…hugmamma.

“i know i can be happy,” the homeless

My daughter recently danced a contemporary solo in a piece by choreographer Sarah Slipper, entitled “Postcards from the Boys.” The entire number was a fabulous aggregation of vignettes, a solo, a pas de deux, a pas de trois, and corps work. The work was accompanied by an orchestral ensemble for some of the movements, and a trio of country singers on guitar and percussion for the solo my daughter danced as well as some of the other choreography. Performed as the show’s finale, Slipper’s brilliant creation garnered a standing ovation on each of the 3 days it was performed.

Having worked with Slipper in Portland, Oregon, for a couple of summers, in the Northwest Professional Dance Project, my daughter was already known to the choreographer before she staged her piece on the dancers in my daughter’s company. I’m sure both were delighted to be working together again. As inspiration for her interpretation of Slipper’s solo, “Homeless,” my daughter reflected upon the words of a poem in a street newspaper.

I Know I Can Be Happy
by Deisaray Lovelace (former Homeless Poet)
deisaraylovelace@yahoo.com

I used to feel so empty
Nothing seemed to matter
I used to feel like I was lost
I used to believe I was nothing at all
Now I walk the streets all day
Now I look as joy fades away
Now I long for brighter days
My cup is broken
My soul still searching
Oh why is my eyes still cryin’

No one seemed to care
No one seemed to understand my fears
I’m not a bad girl
I’m just lost behind the hurt
I fight to earn respect
When all I want is a friend
I was told I’m nothing
That I was impossible
I want to prove them wrong
But can’t because they label me
All I am is homeless
But to them I’m just a nobody

Trying to make it
I have no place
No family of my own
Everyday I walk through town
I see all who laugh
Yet inside I’m broken up
Loving like I’m last
I need someone who understands
I need someone who sees all I have inside
All I need is someone to notice
Someone to know why I cry

No one knows the pain I feel
No one sees the scars
All they notice is fragments
If they’d only see the heart
I need a chance to live
A chance to be found
But every time I look
Hopes turn to tears on the ground

So take my pride
Take my every worth
If only you’d take the time
Try to learn my pain
You could try to take that away too

I can’t stand
When my knees are weak
When I can barely breathe
My nights consist of darkness
My days are the same
I need that glimpse of brightness
So that I can say…

I’m good
I’m brave
To still be standing today
Through the tears
and through the pain
I know I can be happy again
I know I can be happy
Again

the human spirit can overcome…as long as we have hope…hugmamma.