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Raw Edges

Today was audition day! No matter what audition you are attending if it is school base or for a professional company/show it is always important to take it seriously and take each opportunity that you have.

In todays audition we learned three combinations. A pointe combination and two contemporary/modern combinations. The pointe combination was based off of one of the student choreography pieces that is liturgical dance style. Because it was an audition piece though other choreographers requested and influenced the combination. Meaning that it was a mix style combination having the liturgical influence while also having petit allegro and pirouettes throughout the piece. This movement was very fast and technical. Overall for a pointe combination I really enjoyed the piece and look forward to seeing it in raw edges.

Next we performed a modern combination. I was in this student choreographers piece last year so I knew prior to her teaching this combo that she teaches very quickly. Because of that it let me really focus on her movement and counts right away. With this extra insight I felt that I really grasp the movement quickly. Although I do not feel that I performed it as best as I could have when we went in small groups due to lack of space I still feel that I did it well.

Lastly we learned a contemporary piece that was not typically my usual style. However I really enjoyed the movement quality to this combination. Although we had to improve at the end of the combination I did not let that throw me off. I do not typically love to improve especially with that short of notice but I know as a dancer I can do it.

At the end of the audition we were asked if we wanted to the combination again. If you are asked if you want to do something again you always say yes at an audition. You always want to show that you will go above and beyond in an audition. Also since I did enjoy the combination performing it again was exciting.

So now it is the waiting game. Casting will be up in just a few days!

Tis the Season – Featuring The Nutcracker Suite

Yesterday and today I have the opportunity to perform in four performances of the Mercyhurst Dance Departments holiday production. I have not been in a Nutcracker since high school and as much as the songs are haunting it is an amazing feeling performing Nutcracker once again.

In the production I had two parts, I was a tap dancer in Fa La La Lane and was a corp flower in Waltz of the Flowers for Nutcracker. This was my first role on pointe since I have been at Mercyhurst University and I honestly could not be any happier on how it went. I was double casted for Flowers but the two performances I had were both amazing. I am not the ballerina in the department and given this opportunity was something I will never take for granted.

In Fa La La Lane as I mentioned I was a Tapper. However this piece was not just that one dance but a twenty minutes small production. It starts with the Jingle Jolly players singing outside of the curtain. The curtain rises and you see a village scene and people the rest of the Jingle Jolly players setting up for the performance. Soon after everyone is sitting a trio of girls perform Jazz and Acrobatics. A little girl and her mother are apart of the scene and after they exit the audience realizes that the young girl left her teddy bear at the show.  After this then the tappers perform, and both Village people and the Jingle Jolly players are apart of this. The piece continues with some holiday magic when twelve different Santa’s come on stage dancing. After I return on stage to dance to Frosty the Snowmen. During all of this the young girl and her mother continue to make entrances on and off stage in hopes to find the bear. At the end of the piece a homeless women who was given the bear finds the little girl and returns it. The child is delighted and asks her mother if she can give the women a hug. This entire piece completely reminds me of what the true meaning of christmas is. It is not about the presents but the gift of giving and being with family.

On that note I want to wish everyone happy holidays. What are you doing for the Holidays?

 

AUDITION- RAW EDGES

In honor of my last Raw Edges audition at Mercyhurst this coming Tuesday I thought I post post about my piece last year. Raw Edges is a student choreographed production that is produced by the Juniors and Seniors of the department who are participating in Choreography 3 or 4. Most Seniors who are choreographing are choreographing for their capstone of the department which is a year long endeavor.

Last year I had the opportunity to choreograph for Raw Edges and although I decide not to this year does not mean I did not love the experience. Having something that is your personal idea on stage in this big of a production is priceless.

My piece last year was about 911. My program notes were the following:

“Never Forget, by Elizabeth Fischer is a tribute to 911. “A time to remember those who died, those who served, and those who carry on.” –unknown. After 15 years, this day is still vivid in people’s mind. Life stood still this day, however as the years go on less remember and this day is just another day in the history books. As one of the students at this school, our generation is the last generation who will have any memory of this day. We were only children however we lost something that day as well.”

My piece started with a video of different news stations showing the attacks. After one of my dancers ran of of stage the lights were dim but came on slowly and you see two dancers falling on to the stage, re an acting the fall of the tower. At this point all of the dancers on stage are representing the victims of the attack. The entire first movement shows the battle that each surviver or victim had during and even after the attack. I also used foreshadowing movement to represent the firefighters and policemen who gave up their lives to save another. The movement ends with each dancer laying on the floor in a clump.

The next movement is the original dancer who ran across the stage. He comes on looking for someone. At this point in the dance this is more of a dream like state where he is looking for his wife to say goodbye. Throughout this movement he finds each of the other dancers and finally at the end finds her.

The last movement is the couple saying goodbye. Half way through this moment the girl leaves the stage and he dances alone in the effort to move on. The piece ends with all of the dancers in the back and the lights dim creating a silhouette look of all of the people.

Hope you enjoy it!

Lake Erie Ballet

Although I have a performance this weekend does not mean it stops there! In just a few more weeks I will be performing in another Nutcracker affiliated with one of the local studios and small companies in the area. I will be performing three parts their including Clara’s mom, Snow corp and flower corp.

For the second act the performance is almost identical to what it is in our show this coming weekend. Mercyhurst is pretty much responsible for the entire second act of the show.

First act however was a separate audition. If you are not familiar with the story of the nutcracker here is a brief rendition.

The story starts out with a party at Clara’s house the night of christmas eve. Clara and fritz and the parents get the house together to welcome all of the family and friends for an enjoyable evening. Soon an unexpected guess arrives until they realize that it is Drosselmeyer, Clara’s uncle. After a warm welcome Drosselmeyer gives Clara and Fritz a present by presenting his large dolls that he made in his work shop. With a little magic the dolls come to live and dance for all the boys and girls at the party. Soon Drosselmeyer then gives Clara the famous Nutcracker. After she dances around and Fritz receives his present of a stuff mouse, Fritz breaks the Nutcracker. Being devastated Clara begs Drosselmeyer to fix the nutcracker which he does and the party continues.

After all the guess leave clara and fritz go to bed to dream. Clara is then found in the living room looking for her precious nutcracker and falls asleep in the great hall. Drosselmeyer returns to the stage and sprinkles magic on clara and the Nutcracker.  She is then woken by mice running around the stage. Her nutcracker grows and comes to life to protect Clara from the mice. After killing the rat queen Clara falls in love with the Nutcracker who than is turned in to her prince. They both travel through the winter night where they meet the snow queen. After the snow scene there is a brief intermission. Clara has now traveled to the land of the sweets where she is greeted by each of the countries, Spanish, Arabian, Chinese and many others. After the Waltz of the Flowers the Sugar plum dances to welcome Clara to their land. The pas de deux dances and everyone is thrilled to have clara.

Clara then wakes up at the end of the show with the crown on her head and realizes that it was a dream or was it?

I am super excited to be apart of Nutcracker once again and looking forward to the shows in just a few weeks!

DWTS- Finale!!!

Last nights performance was obviously the best of the whole season! I absolutely love being able to re watch some of the best performances of the entire season. Not to mention our three last competitors going up for one last dance to win the Mirror Ball. Going in to tonights show I honestly had not clue who was going to win the Mirror Ball.

Starting the Night James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess (Fusion Dance – Viennese Waltz & Foxtrot). All of the judges had amazing comments for this dance. Although they did win all 10s I do agree with some of my fellow friends that James could have danced more. He had the talent and can own his movement. Since a mans job in dance is to partner the girl I do agree that Sharna put her in the spotlight a little to much. However, that does not mean that he is still not one of the best dancers on the show. As Bruno stated he was one of the most versatile dancers on the show. Watch there last performance here!

 

Next Calvin Johnson, Jr. and Lindsay Arnold (Fusion Dance – Jive & Quickstep). This was personally the best dance that Calvin has done. Although he was the under dog in my perspective he went on the floor and owned the ballroom. The amount of content that was in this dance was also amazing. Lindsay did not let the ball drop on this one and really pushed Calvin as hard as he could go. Of all stars I feel Calvin has grown the most in this competition. First dance of the show I never would have guessed that he would have made it to the finals. Watch there dance here!

Lastly, Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy (Fusion Dance – Foxtrot & Argentine Tango). As we all know Laurie has been the one to beat since day one. She entered this competition just a month after winning an olympic golden metal. After the amount of training that takes Laurie knows how to be dedicated and focused to the craft. Although Gymnastics is completely different than ballroom dancing she still has the balance and coordination on her side. As always the judges ate her up after this performance. As Julianne stated she started with a bang and ended with a bang. No matter what Laurie will always have each of our hearts.

 

An spoiler alert if you have not watched the season finale Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy Win the MIRROR BALL! After a few months of training, Laurie could easily continue to pursue a ballroom career. Being the youngest competitor ever in the competition she killed each dance that she went out to perform. As much as I wanted James and Sharna to win Laurie completely deserved it as well. As sad as second place is James should be incredible proud that he made it to the finals and was the runner up to Laurie Hernandez.

Congratulations Laurie, And that is a wrap for the 23rd season of DWTS!

DWTS- Freestyle

As we head in to the last week of DWTS the last four competitors are racing to win Americas hearts to compete in one last day of competition. At this point in the game though, you have made it to the Finals! Tonights dances are completely Freestyle and are created to show how much the stars have grown throughout the competition. At this point in the game some competitors break out some of there moves that we have not scene before.

Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy Freestyle was absolutely perfect. It incorporated her free spirit and youthfulness while also showing off her lines and flexibility. This was the first piece that Val could add in some acrobatic skills to the routine without deducting points. I thought that the theme overall was enjoyable and fun and for Laurie I’m sure this was one of her favorite dances. Not to mention the Judges also ate it up! As Carrie Ann is crying of happy tears, Len absolutely loved the whole dance. Of course Julianne agreed.

 

 

Next my favorite duo of the night, James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess competed in there Freestyle. I absolutely loved how James started the piece alone and then Sharna stepped in. Not to mention the choreography choice and lighting choice really made the beginning a different experience as the rest of the dance. I also really liked how classical they made this dance. A lot of the times pros choreograph a piece that is not very ballroom since there are no rules to the week however they have all been learning ballroom dance so making the piece more contemporary with still ballroom partnering was a great choice. I was really impressed how well he captured the stage as well. The whole piece I was watching James and not Sharna or any of the other back up dancers. It was by far my favorite performance of the night.

Calvin Johnson, Jr. and Lindsay Arnold were next on tonight. Calvin really stepped it up in this performance. He is most definitely has proved that he is a contender to win the mirror ball for sure. Even though he had a slower start he showed that he is definitely broadway potential as Bruno said. He kept up with all of the Pros in this piece while maintaining the focus the whole time. Not ones was he late or early. This was the perfect freestyle for Calvin and really let him shine through. Apparently the judges all agree as well and he received a perfect score!

 

Lastly Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko Freestyle. Unfortunately there piece was not up to the caliber to everyone else in the competition. They still performed wonderfully but even she was not pleased with her full performance. Throughout the season we have seen Jana’s sexy side come out multiple times. I know this is her forte and Gleb is very good at choreographing this style however, it would have been really nice to see something new from her. I understand the overall concept to the piece but being a freestyle dance I expected to see a different side. Because some of the transitions were not semeingless and a small stumble Julianne state was why they only received 9s overall. However, Jana should still be thrilled with this amazing performance.

Sadly one more must go. Tonight we had to say goodbye to Jana and Gleb. They did absolutely amazing in this competition and this experience meant the world to Jana from my perspective. Who do you think will win the mirror ball tonight!

Choreography II Showing

Tonight I performed in a piece for the Choreography II showing “Shift Happens.” This show is produced by the Choreography II class at Mercyhurst University. The show is completely student choreography who are mainly junior year students pursuing a BFA degree. Each student creates a 5 to 8 minute piece and teaches it in roughly a month. Last year I was participating in the class and one of the students that learned my piece asked me to perform in there piece this year.

This piece that I performed in was possible one of my favorite pieces that I have performed here at Mercyhurst University. It was completely Musical Theater style and embraced the roaring twenties Jazz vibe. The piece was called “After Curfew” and started with two gentlemen out on the town after dark. Soon two girls walk in and grab there attention. After one of the girls realizes that they are watching she gets excited and starts to flirt with one of the gentlemen. The couples go back and forth throughout the first movement of the piece until the other girl gives in talking to the boys.

After the first movement one of the girls has a great idea and takes her friend to change back stage in to flapper dresses. While the boys wonder where they went the girls then come back on and grab the guys to start the second movement.

The second movement is completely upbeat jazz that is non stop moving and partnering. The couples then have a dance off and compete against each other throughout the piece. At the end the girls go to leave but then run back on stage and grab the boys to join them for the rest of the night.

Overall this piece was perfectly choreographed. The music, costume and choreography was perfectly connected and represented this time period extremely well. I would love to perform this dance as many chances as I can get.

Besides the piece I was in there was twelve other choreographers in the show. I was only able to watch the first few pieces but overall I felt that all of my fellow classmates did a great job. Most of the other pieces were ballet or contemporary/modern base. The piece that I participated was the only Musical Theater piece which I feel also helped seperate it from the other pieces.

Hope you Enjoy!

Choreography by Kathyrn Galimi

Music:
Act 1 Overature of Bounce by Stephen Sondheim
Sing Sang Sung by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

Dancers:
Elizabeth Fischer, Roman Hall, Katarina Flores and Hunter Hoffman

DWTS SEMI FINALS

Last night our Pro and Stars performed two dances including a typical duet dance with their partner but they also performed a trio with another pro. I think this is personally one of the hardest nights since the stars have to learn two long routines and have to be highlighted in the trio. Not to mention how much pressure this week is knowing that these are the dances views will vote on for the first night of the finally to ensure you make it to the last night of competition.

At the beginning of the episode Terra Jole and Sasha Farber performed the Rumba. Although this couple was not my favorite I though this was for sure one of their best dances. The judges also agreed and Terra received a perfect score for this routine! First off the song choice was perfect for Terra and Sasha choreography was perfect to show off her strengths. One of Terra strengths is definitely performing and giving a scenario that really represented her life was a great decision on Sasha’s part.

 

Our other perfect score duet tonight was the one and only Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy who performed the Foxtrot. First off I want to commend Laurie for being the youngest Dancing with the Starts star on the show. The schedule is not easy to adapt to but probably nothing like her training was for the past 16 years either. I also want to talk about the maturity Laurie has. This week was incredibly tough for her since her grandmother passed away who she was extremely close too. Not to mention that this happened almost suddenly that DWTS had already filmed her for the video promo prior to performing her dance. Listening to her grandmothers words tore my heart and I’m sure tore hers as well. However Laurie took that emotion and put it right in the floor with her amazing routine tonight. She is most definitely the one to beat in this competition!

 

Lastly all four of the trios received perfect scores. However, my favorite trio this week would definitely be James & Sharna & Jenna who performed a Jive. James is still possible my pick to win this competition or at least the one to go up against Laurie for the mirror ball and with this dance he continues to prove that to be true. As Carrie Ann would say that James is the reason that DWTS is a hit! To take completely untrained stars and teach them professional ballroom dances each week. To train for hours a day to learn a new dance or step. James is for sure one of the best male competitors we have scene on this competition. The fact that James got to bring together race car driving and dance in this performance proves how amazing Sharna is at choreographing.

 

Sadly another week goes by and another couple has to go. This week we had to say goodbye to  Terra Jole and Sasha Farber. They did absolutely amazing during this completion and Terra should be extremely proud at how far she had come and what she has accomplished the past few weeks.

An American in Paris

Yesterday I was able to go to Buffalo NY to see An American in Paris.IMG_2995.JPG This Broadway show was the most awarded winning musical of 2015-2016! Just a few weeks ago this Broadway show started to tour across the US. The Broadway Musical is inspired by the 1951 film of An American in Paris.

The Musical starts with an American Soldier, Jerry Mulligan deciding to stay in Paris after World War II to pursue his passion of painting. After meeting
Adam Hochberg,  a fellow veteran who is a composer in the musical as well as Henri Baurel the son of a wealthy French family. Henri battles his inner desire to move to America to pursue his passion for dance and singing. During the beginning of the show Jerry spies a mysterious lady. He is then reconnected with her and learns that she is a stunning French Ballerina named Lisa Dassin. He starts to fall in love with her prior to knowing that she is the same girl that his friend Adam is falling for as well as the fiancé to Henri.

Jerry then meets an American philanthropist, Milo Davenport, who is stroked by his talent and good looks. After taking a job from her Milo ends up falling for Jerry, although he still is only thinking of Lise. IMG_2997.JPG

Lise struggles with the decision of either going through with her engagement to Herni, or going with her true love of Jerry. Each man fights for Lise as hard as they can to show her their love for her. In the end each man has to realize that if they love her then they want Lise to have love to. During this realization it is revealed that Lise is beholden to Henri because he and his family saved her life during the war.  Henri ends up decides to let Lise go to love how he loves her.

When opening night for the ballet comes it allows Lise to realize that love over rules all and she is meant to be with Jerry. They announce their love and go through Paris in the night.

IMG_2994.JPGOverall this Broadway musical is different from most I have seen. I do agree it was beautifully done and produced but not my all time favorite. I do feel that the Ensemble dancers danced more then I expected and multiple group dances are not always my favorite. As a Broadway show though I would absolutely love to perform in this show for the same reason that the Ensemble does dance often. It is a show that is my dance style but not one that I would want to see often. However the producers did a great job at the show and the scenery that was very engaging. Although it was not my favorite I am still glad I went.

 

 

 

Showstopper Night on DWTS

This weeks episode was Broadway night! Every dancer no matter if you are focused on ballet or jazz loves Broadway music. Not to mentioned the guess judge this week was Idina Menzel who was a perfect addition to this week. As usual Laurie is one of the top competitors receiving a PERFECT SCORE once again but to my surprise this week was Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko routine which also received a PERFECT SCORE.

Laurie Hernandez and her partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy did a dance Cell Block Tango this past week which was possible my favorite dance that this duo has performed. First off this was one of my favorite Broadway shows when I was younger and this piece/song was one of the best. At first I was interested to see how Laurie was going to portray this dance since she is younger and does not like to show off her sexy side however I felt that she did a wonderful job as well as the fact that Val did great choreography. Sometimes choreographing for a younger dancer can make it difficult to do age appropriate movement as well as execute the essences of the piece. I was also impressed with costuming for Laurie that they gave her a sexy but conservative dress that played the part with out showing to much skin. Watch now!

 

As stated Laurie was not the only one to receive a perfect score tonight! Although Jana had a difficult week dealing with Gleb being in and out due to an injury. However this did not stop her from dancing beautifully. This waltz was extremely inspiring and should prove to everyone that no matter what they can learn to dance.

 

Besides the duos we also had team dances. Each of the teams did amazing but my all time favorite was the two girls who won perfect scores on their pieces tonight. This contemporary routine is possible one of the hardest dances to put together since it is more about emotion than technique but also one of the best dances to watch.

The other two duos also did extremely well. I want to point out the two men who had their group dance together which was equally amazing. Although they did not receive perfect scores this was one of the best group dances I have scene.

Lastly our couple that left us tonight was Marilu Henner and Derek Hough. Derek I am sure is disappointed not being in the semi and the finals however Marilu should be extremely proud with how far she came. If she did not have Derek as a pro I do not believe she would have made it this far. Super excited for next week on the Semi-Finals!