Category Archives: Mom Stuff

The Color Palate of Dance (Pt. 4)

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The Color Palate of Dance
Kaleena Miller Dance Company – SHIFT
The Southern Theater, Minneapolis
June 22-25, 2017

NoahShift

Day/ Performance 4

BLACK & WHITE

Black and white. Dark and light. Yin and Yang. But combined makes gray. Collaborative, cool, dark yet lighter than black.

Today’s performance brought a non-solid color to the stage. Beautiful black and white geometric style printed shirts and black shorts. I love black and white. It’s probably the most “color” I have in my wardrobe and I just happened to wear a black and white dress to the show. It’s classy, yet fun, playful but modern. However, this change in wardrobe brought us from solid colors to a combination. Once again, I’m not sure Kaleena had a vision for the wardrobe changes (I would guess YES?), but going from the stark, serious white to pink then red onto a playful black and white combo was perfect This was performance 4; the last show. My assumption was that most, if not all the dancers, would be pulling out all the stops today. Why not? The choreography was so extraordinary. If you know it, go for it. Whether it was over the top technical feats (Galen), more triple steps (Bruce) or creative facial expressions (Everyone), this show had it all.

This afternoon’s performance was a commissioned, pre-recorded piece from Reid Anderson. A little bird told me it was the company’s practice music so they knew it very well. Would this lead to even more surprises? There are two that stand out for me. One was the Kaleena and Galen duet which had music for the first time. I mentioned this before, but the addition of music to what once was an acapella piece transforms it into another dimension. This is not to say either version was better than the other, but to this music fanatic, being able to watch how dancers interpret music into their dance is magical. No matter how well you know your choreography, the right music will bring it to another plane. Kaleena and Galen HAD FUN during their time to shine. They were laughing almost the entire time and the crowd was right along with them. Sitting in the front row (yet again) was out of this world. It’s like being able to sit in on a private conversation without the couple knowing you’re there. But it’s not awkward, creepy or weird. It’s more about people-watching and seeing if you can interpret what each is saying only by body language. These two have that part mastered and I was honored to witness it.

The second surprise was an addition. In the first half of the show when the entire company is in a line doing the same choreography, each dancer had been taking a short 4 count solo and then moved back into line. In today’s performance, each dancer walked towards the audience, stopped for a second and walked back into line. It was a quick but somewhat intense moment. Most did not smile, so it was up to us to determine what the emotion was (or lack thereof) as they returned to the line. Having been there the other 3 nights, this to me was almost a thank you without the bow. But, it was also deliberate and meant to make you look at them AS INDIVIDUALS. Every dancer so unique but part of the whole—Gray.

After that small change, it hit me that we were heading towards the crescendo. The last dance of the night, the highlight, the finale. I couldn’t help but sit and compare each show to the other, trying to figure out which one was “best.” But I luckily stopped the comparisons to stay present. It’s tough to watch 7 people dance at the same time, especially from where I was sitting, but as the minutes wore down to the final number it was all I could do. The freedom and intensity—both of which were present in that last number. You could see the bittersweet smiles on each of their faces as they danced so beautifully so intently. I didn’t want it to end.

FINALE

Unfortunately for all of us in that small theatre at The Southern, this run of performances had to come to completion, but we weren’t letting the company leave without a roaring standing ovation. I could tell the dancers were so proud, so happy. And as the other 6 pointed at Kaleena to make sure she got extra kudos, that smile of hers couldn’t get any bigger. This was AWESOME. Art had come alive.

Even after a week of writing my thoughts here, I’m still left with so many emotions. Honored that I witnessed this stunning performance, humbled that I was in the presence of master dancers performing only feet from where I was sitting, inspired to continue my quest to become a dancer and beyond proud of these 7 ordinary people who have an extraordinary gift. They are Dancers; Dance is who they are.

Dancing is part of my soul and over this last year I was lucky enough to unearth it and tap into it again after so many years. I had been searching and yearning for something I couldn’t put my finger on until recently when I participated in my first formal dance recital. After seeing these chosen 7 dance, it became more real to me what dance is. It’s not just something to sit and watch or to ogle over. It’s not something that is easy or hard. It’s part of who we are as human beings. We all may not be master tappers, but hopefully we can all move, sway, or just close our eyes and FEEL.

Thank you, Bruce, Galen, Megan, Noah, Madelyn, Audrey and, of course, Kaleena Miller. For without you, I wouldn’t be writing these words, seeing magic and feeling so much love.  I believe in being at the right place at the right time. That the universe gives you things when you are ready. I was ready; you all were ready.

THIS was SHIFT.

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The Color Palate of Dance (Pt. 3)

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The Color Palate of Dance
Kaleena Miller Dance Company – SHIFT
The Southern Theater, Minneapolis
June 22-25, 2017

MeganShift

Night 3

MAROON

Red. It represents many things within our world: Energy, Dominance, Passion, Love, Danger, Attention, Power. When red is present, people take notice. Tonight, whether we all knew it or not, we were on notice.

The definition of red in one dictionary caught my attention: “the hue of the long-wave end of the visible spectrum, evoked in the human observer by radiant energy.” Radiant Energy. I’m beginning to think Kaleena had a plan in mind.

However, this wasn’t just any red. Remember, Night Two we had a blush pink. Not the “normal” pink one thinks of when that word is spoken. So tonight, we had Maroon. A color that “represents an action that is more restrained and sophisticated.” Now it all makes sense. As a side note, I only interacted with Kaleena a few times before these shows, but even if I had never met her and ONLY saw her dance, this would be how I would describe her as a person. She’s powerful, yet restrained; sure of herself and sophisticated. She stands out, but not one of ego or boasting. A powerful silence, a muted brightness, but not dulled to the senses. Maroon was the perfect color for tonight.

Last night there was a shift in energy; a subtle color change, a playful mood, a rowdy crowd and a transformation in music styles. Tonight, though, SHIFT moved to another plane. This night, Night Three, the dancers were on fire. The crowd was fully involved and it was the largest of the three nights. We all felt it, even if someone hadn’t been there any of the other nights, you’d be able to tell tonight was something special. We were in for a wild ride.

The music has evolved each night just as the dancers have. Intense and structured to playful and free. Once again, nothing here is good or bad. They are each their own, just as the music is unique and created by a different composer or artist. It’s extraordinary when you sit back and think about it.

As tonight came around, there was yet another assumption that only the music would change and maybe a few improv performances, but there was one major change: The Noah and Bruce Dance-Off had music added to their choreography. When the music started, I thought maybe their duet had been moved to another part of the show, but knowing that the choreography had to stay the same, what was going to happen? As anyone would expect when music is added to a dance, what got created is almost impossible to put into words. As an aside, much of this write-up has taken me days to write as I’m trying not to repeat words and explanations for things I can’t seem to find the right phrases for. This is one of those times I just need to show you a video of their performance (and I hope there is one!), but in the meantime, I will note here that it was one of the highlights of the entire 4 performances. These two guys DANCE and they work off each other in ways that only masters can and I don’t use that word lightly. It was gorgeous and fun. The music brought a less intense element from the other two nights, but there was still a cool darkness and unique collaboration that I hope many, many people get to see in the future. Thank you, boys.

For the night, overall there was less interaction on stage, but the dancers were “in tune” the best so far. There was a freedom present, whether it was from the music or it being the third night, that allowed all the dancers to shine like they hadn’t Thursday and Friday. For me, this was the “Best” show of the three. But once again, do I need to compare? I could pick out individual parts of the show each night that were the “gold star” of the entire run. But for now, I can say that Night Three saw Kaleena’s vision of SHIFT being realized.

Intense. Moody. Modern. Connected. Musicial. Freedom.

THIS was night three of SHIFT.

The Color Palate of Dance (Pt. 2)

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The Color Palate of Dance
Kaleena Miller Dance Company – SHIFT
The Southern Theater, Minneapolis
June 22-25, 2017

SHIFT_post_maddie

Night 2

BLUSH

Night two I arrived with my daughter. Excited, no nerves this time and feeling deeply connected to the dancers after meeting a few of them the night before. We chatted, they told stories, we laughed and hugged. As I’m writing this, I realize that I’ve never had this experience before. Six out of the seven dancers didn’t even know me, yet, when we connected to say hello, there was a bond already present. Was it me? Them? How is this possible? Just thinking about it leaves me a bit perplexed, but the only sense I can make of it is that we were all REAL, true to ourselves and happy. The night’s show was over. It was time to celebrate, make new friends and enjoy the wave of joy and connectedness that got created in less than an hour. It takes a special kind of something for that to happen.

The dancers are just like any one of us, though. They have friends and family who are proud and love them, they work hard, they do what they can to make their life work personally and professionally. But, one major thing makes them extremely unique and different from us—they DANCE. And not just dance, they TAP. It’s who they are and they have no other choice but to. That difference doesn’t matter, though, when the tap shoes are off and the performance is over. We are all just lovers of art, dance, music and the excitement of smashing them all together to create something brand new, something that inspires.

 

Night Two brought a new energy and a shift in hue—Blush. The definition is “a slight red or pink color.” If we want to get less technical, we can say Pink which is “of a color intermediate between red and white.” Does this mean Night Three is Red? I won’t dare guess. From the audience though, I admit I couldn’t tell what the exact color was (pink, tan, khaki?), but it was obvious it wasn’t white, and I believe, that’s what mattered. Subtle changes can make a major difference. But, with the energy shift from opening night intensity to more of tonight’s chill vibe, this made sense. These changes continue to have me intrigued with Kaleena’s thoughts and “story” around this performance. I tend to always ask: “But what does it all MEAN?!” when it comes to art, but right after I say that, I know what the answer is—it means whatever you want it to mean. It’s art; let it speak to you. So I did.

I have no idea what the crowd numbers were on Night One, but there were barely any seats left once the lights came up tonight. The audience also created an energy that turned electric rather quickly. Within the first few minutes, claps started for each dancer’s intro, hoots were made when a solo was nailed. This allowed the dancers to then continue with that energy, enjoy dancing, let go and take some liberties with their improv. Was this really the same routine from last night? I checked myself as I kept thinking something got added, but I was wrong. This is exactly what art creates. New energy, a change in music, letting go of the nerves and creating something unique. Trying to explain to you, the reader, what that even means to me is impossible thru words. All I know is that I’m blessed with what I’m seeing, feeling and experiencing with this show.

It’s hard to say whether I enjoyed tonight’s show “more” than last night as it was so different (and no, the choreography didn’t change!) and when you switch the music to Leah Ottman with her violin of layered sounds and looping pedals, it’s unfair to even compare. I did ask most of the dancers what their experience was in relation to the night before. The consensus was that they were “looser, sweatier and had more fun.” Because the music from Night One was all over the map, as I mentioned, the dancers had to be their own metronome. NOT EASY. Between opening night jitters and an avant-garde type of music that has a dancer constantly thinking, listening and watching, it’s understandable how tonight’s show brought a bit of color back to the dancer’s steps.

Awe. Inspiration. Joy. Play.

THIS was night two of SHIFT.

The Color Palate of Dance (Pt. 1)

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The Color Palate of Dance
Kaleena Miller Dance Company – SHIFT
The Southern Theater, Minneapolis
June 22-25, 2017

ShiftFlyer

Night 1

WHITE

I was nervous. I sat in my seat front and center as my friend and her daughter were adamant we do so. I felt naked, which was odd. I always want the front row at shows, but oddly enough at concerts, I never get that opportunity, unless I really work for it. Tonight, however, we were first in line. The theatre was ours. My dream of just walking up to the front row and sitting center stage came true—with hardly any effort. This is how I knew I was in the right place. That this, what I thought was an impossible dream of being involved with the tap community no less a (new) dancer myself, was now my reality. I was Home.

I believe in being at the right place at the right time. That the universe gives you things when you are ready. Although sitting in a particular seat in a theatre may seem like a very small thing, almost insignificant. But for me, being right there to watch the dancers—some I knew, most I didn’t, but it was like I was there to see my favorite band and they were playing just for me. I got to watch their feet fly, drag and flutter. Hear the click-clack, scrapes and soft shoe slides. How awesome would it be to tap like that one day? And in a moment, I was inspired. I watched the almost hour performance with a smile on my face, laughed at times and was in awe of the art of dance. My nervousness passed.

But then, there was the music. Music from JT Bates, the first commissioned piece, was playing before the show. It was percussive, beautiful and intriguing. As I listened, I could picture the choreography, but how? Some of the music was all over the map and I had no idea how it would be incorporated into this dance that was created BEFORE the music was even written. The entire idea blew my mind when I heard about it, but being there to witness this show, this performance, this beautifully choreographed, yet created-on-stage-in-certain-moments dance was beyond what I could have imagined.

Not knowing what to expect (and I wanted it that way) the dancers arrived to the stage dressed in all white. An extremely beautiful touch. Their shoes were unique to each of them, but white shorts and white button-up shirts was the costume style of the evening.

But of course, this all leads to the dancing. The tap. The tap–offs, the music, everything. The connections between each dancer and the group was palpable. They spoke with their eyes, nods, smiles, smirks and the sound of their taps. THIS is what my soul yearns for—the connection of artists to other artists and then that transfer of energy flows to their fans that love them and embrace their craft. There’s no other feeling like it.

The skill of this group—not being able to truly tell what was improvised and what was choreographed— was astounding. Solos were had, duets were argued, trios and quartets were arranged… Sextets and septets were loud, beautiful and joyous; intense, fun and symphonic.

Each dancer, their own personality, their own “way” of tapping, yet, it all melded together perfectly. Like the most beautifully written song, it must contain a solid melody, deep lyrics, a shocking bridge and the perfect resolution.

THIS was night one of SHIFT.

3 to 6…

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.. months that is.

Having two kids is a bit tough, just in case nobody warned you. I never got warned. Well, I kinda did, but seeing that we had an easier second baby than my first, I thought we were golden. I forgot that I had an active toddler, and then she decided to drop her nap this summer. Yeah, wasn’t a good scene.

I’ve come up with a theory that every child that you have after one, add on three additional months before things start to feel “normal.” For example, everyone says that after you have your first, month three starts to get better. Baby has a schedule, some are sleeping thru the night and maybe you have started taking regular showers. For baby #2, add another three. So, for 6 months, expect your life to be hell.

Hell may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I can tell you if I didn’t reach out and I didn’t have people around me to slap me in the face with “there’s something off with you” then one can start to go to the dark side. Luckily, I have a very supportive husband, Facebook (believe it or not) and amazing doctors that were able to bring some light to my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids and it’s great having our little #2 with all his smiles, laughs and fun.. and it’s an amazing sight to see both of the kids interacting with each other, but sometimes mama needs a little help.

Just thought I’d write this short blog in case someone else was dealing with the same thing and just happened to Google something and this came up. You will get better. Talk to your docs, get help and surround yourself with people that love you.. it only goes up from there.

Oh and check this out.. and don’t faint while reading it 🙂

Judge and Jury

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(DISCLAIMER: Please note that this blog will basically be a judgmental rant on someone I was around today. Sorry. I decided it was better to write it here to get it out of my system instead of boring friends and unloading on my husband. The only people who would truly understand are those that were there to witness this, but in any case, I’m still writing about it as, honestly. I’m thoroughly pissed off. You have been warned.)

I do my best to not be a judgmental person, but I learned very clearly in the Landmark Forum that human beings are on automatic pilot when it comes to being judgmental. We all do it, but it’s what we do with those thoughts that really counts, I guess. Most of us, I would think, tend to judge and then go to the next step in our day. There are some times when we may verbally judge to someone’s face, complain about a person to someone else or maybe just let it bother us. I’m in the latter category today.

I do have to say it kills me sometimes, not only how judgmental I am, but more importantly, how the actions or words of others tend to affect me. Hence, the reason for this blog.

This morning I brought my daughter to her weekly class at Isis. She loves this class, as do I. It’s the last room with the teacher as the parents wait in the building for an hour. It’s a good break for me as I get to chat with the other parents (mostly moms) and great for Jackie as she gets to be with her friends and gain some additional independence and self-esteem–a win-win.

Jackie has been in this particular class with mostly the same kids for 9 months. This term, a new little boy was added to the group, which I thought was great. It’s good to bring in new students for all involved. The established kids get to learn what it is to include a new person and the new person gets to learn about assertiveness and how to make new friends. The teacher is there to facilitate all of this and, in my opinion, we have one of the best instructors that Isis has to offer.

When this new little boy started, his dad brought him to class. This is very different as mostly moms are bringing the kiddos as moms are typically the stay at homes, but in this economy, I’ve been seeing more stay at home dads these days. It was a great change of pace and initially good conversation. It wasn’t within 2 minutes of meeting this new dad, however, that I started to have questions. He seemed more anxious than his son starting this class. He was concerned that all the other kids “knew each other” and seemed to think that his son would be excluded from the others (again, this is why there is a teacher there!). I reassured him that our instructor was one of the best and not to worry. His son may need a bit of time to acclimate, but knowing my daughter and the others in the class, I knew he’d be fine.

The dad was still very concerned and actually asked my daughter to “please include him” and then later told me that due to his son’s age (he’s usually the youngest.. FYI, my daughter is too), and therefore has some adjustment issues (HUH??). He also said he was shy and everything else you could say around that word. I still reassured him that he’d be fine and our kids were very nice and inclusive.

I was happy to see that I was right.

Things seemed to be going well all these weeks. His son was laughing and playing with the others each week, didn’t seem anxious or misplaced at all and generally was having fun.

What continually seemed odd was that Dad stayed away from us other moms across the room. Granted, there wasn’t enough large seats where we sit, but we continually said that we’d bring a seat over, etc. He continually said he wanted to sit BY THE DOOR in case his son got upset and bolted. Bolted? The door is shut and once again, THERE’S A TEACHER THERE. These instructors who are chosen to teach this class tend to be the most educated in child education and have kids themselves. This is only an hour class and designed to assist your child to move to the next level, which is usually preschool. Our instructor can handle it.

This dad has kept his distance, has had limited conversations with us, leaves immediately after class when the other kids tend to play in the play kitchen area of the building, and still seems to have a concern. Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t come across egotistical, elitist or anything like that, but he’s definitely being deliberate regarding where he sits. As an aside, I nurse my son each week I’m there and every time I do, Dad is generally on the phone–by the door. Most conversations I’ve overheard are general, but this week’s was an exception. He was speaking in a low tone so people couldn’t hear, was making statements as he was looking into the room thru the small window in the shut door. I was a bit perplexed–had something happened?

Before I went to nurse, I made small talk as I always do. I love Isis and feel like I have an obligation to bring new people in as we’ve been taking classes there since my daughter was 6 weeks old (she’s three now). It’s a great place and I want everyone to enjoy it and have the same experiences I have had. Making a bit of small talk is just nice in general and I’d always hoped it may make him feel more at home and possibly join us on the other side of the building one week. Dad seemed fine with our 1-2 minutes of talking about his book and I went on my way.

It was after that that I heard part of the phone call. When I was done nursing, I was completely floored to find him talking to my mom friend about our instructor and his dissatisfaction with how she was treating his son. WHAT?? Were we talking about the same person? Although when I walked up it seemed that he was at the end of his rant, but I had heard enough. He said that the instructor seemed to be “singling him (his son) out” and at one point “she picked him up and placed him down.. I don’t dig that. She’s treating him like he’s retarded.” Retarded???? I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was wondering what he was seeing or hearing as I trust this woman with my daughter to the highest degree. Now, I do have to say I tend to be a different type of parent. If I trust whoever is in charge, I don’t care if they need to physically move my daughter from place to place, reprimand her if needed, etc. Some parents get crazy over that and maybe he’s one of them, but I think he’s totally not clear on what this class is about and what the teacher has to do to keep the class at a level that it doesn’t get out of hand (e.g., stopping one student from continually running around the classroom so other students will be safe).

I just couldn’t believe my ears. I asked my mom friend who had basically had the entire conversation with him what was going on. We were both confused. I did tell her about the Isis policy regarding classes with parents IN the class. Teachers are not to touch the kids in the class, nor are the other parents. It’s up to the parent to redirect their child, etc. so that everyone is safe. But our class is the exception.

After our brief conversation she ran over to Dad to encourage him to talk to our instructor. It was obvious that he was looking and listening to what our teacher was doing thru some filter and he had totally misinterpreted what she was trying to do. I asked her when she came back if he agreed and she didn’t say that he did, but she hoped for the best. I then asked her what we should do. What if he doesn’t say anything to her? Do we say anything? Now that I knew this information and was part of his little rant, I wasn’t sure if I could keep my mouth shut. I was hoping that at least this week Dad would let his son come and play and talk to our instructor. Find some resolution and be able to end our session next week complete and happy that his son was part of the class… or, even choose not to come back; that maybe this wasn’t the best class for his son, but at least got some closure. Unfortunately, he just bolted as usual.

I debated for about 10 seconds on whether I was going to ask our instructor if he said anything. I walked over and asked and she told me he hadn’t. As I was talking I felt like I was being a tattle tale, but I had to follow my gut. I felt she needed to know, not to say anything to the Dad, but just to be aware. Was there something she could change with his son? Was there something she could say to the Dad to make him feel better? In the end, we both agreed there’s only so much one can do but if someone is not willing to open up, share or even complain. No changes can be made if there’s no communication.

After our conversation, I felt good about saying something, but also realized how fearful we are as human beings. Although I don’t like conflict, I tend to try to take it on as much as possible. I am not immune to fear, especially when it comes to close friends, but I do my best to try to get resolution on as many things as I can to clear the space. But, I think so many people are just willing to walk away and be mad, never getting resolution and then a filter is created for the next class they take their kid to, whether it’s the same place or not!

I’ve fantasized on what I would have said if I was ready for his comments today. I would have been straight with him because in the end, I feel he’s doing damage to his son. I could really care less about him, but his son seems like a cool kid and still happy. If he starts getting Dad’s energy and ideas about how shy he is and how young he is and how hard it is for him to acclimate to new surroundings, well then, he’ll probably end up that way. Fearful of life.

These Isis classes have been so instrumental to my daughter and I attribute so much to them.. I have no idea where I’d be without them and what Jackie would “look like” without all these great teachers and instruction.. not to mention the connections I’ve made with other moms.

I left Isis today pretty mad. Wondering if he’ll even come back next week and if he does will I even say anything? I’ll have to see how I’m feeling and who’s around to do it as I wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, but I’ll just have to go with my gut.

For those that got this far and are parents, I have a request.. if you’re upset with something, just say something. Whether it’s in your life, or something that affects your kids, just say something. It’s not worth making up stories and enduring anger or anything else when it can all be resolved with communication. If you’re paying for a service, you have a right to say something. Maybe something just doesn’t match your parenting style, or in general it’s not a good fit, fine. But at least get it resolved.

I hope this Dad figures out what’s going on and in a way after next week I’m glad I won’t see him. My heart breaks for his son.. all I can hope is that he can see over his dad’s fears and persevere. It’s hard to do that at three, but odder things have happened.

/end rant

A Changed Life

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Just a quick write as, well, it’s been six months. It’s crazy as I think about writing all the time, but trying to get the “time” to do it tends to be the issue.

The biggest update is that we have a new addition to our family.. Devin! He’s been a dream baby and Jackie loves being a big sister. I really can’t complain about much right now, although I’m fairly certain I’m done with the Toddler-dom. I’m sure I’ll look back and say I wish I was back there again, but she’s actually tougher to deal with than the newborn.

But, we do enjoy her, she’s becoming more of a young woman every day and I love hearing her budding vocabulary and growing sentences 🙂

More soon I hope but I at least wanted to get something on here to update.. lots going on this summer and into the Fall.. it’s not like I’ll have a lack of topics to write about 🙂