Come on, babe. Why don’t we paint the town?

And, all that jazz.

I’m not a musical theater buff in any shape or form. Harboring cheesy dance moves and peppy tunes that get eternally stuck in my head, I usually steer clear. However, there are exceptions.

I appreciate the dark and gritty, R-rated types…specifically Chicago, my all-time favorite. Give me glamorous femmes fatales and the unmatched genius of Bob Fosse any day.

Somehow I missed the boat, and have never danced to “All That Jazz”. Now you might be thinking…big whoop! But, it’s kind of against nature for a jazz dancer.

See, I was too curvy for tutus, too skeptical for interpretive dance—you know the kind where you’re supposed to actually be the tree—and too demure to crunk.

Jazz dancing has always been the right fit for me, a chance to sass and captivate. I could pretend to be back in the 1920s, a spunky cabaret dancer teasing the crowd and having a ball.

Recently, opportunity came knocking on my door.

Last Friday, RunUp 2012: The Roaring Twenties, a 1920s themed fashion show, gala, and costume party benefitting Froedtert and The Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Unit, commenced at the Historic Pritzlaff Building here in Milwaukee.

Guess who finally got to perform “All That Jazz”?

A good friend of mine, Hannah (the striking blonde who looks like Roxy Hart’s twin) was choreographing, and offered up the gig to a select few—the Jazz hands experts. The four of us would serve as back-up dancers to Bjorn Nasett, a legendary entertainer making a comeback.

Last year I hung up my performance shoes. Enthusiastically, I took them down, tossed some fishnets on, and got my shimmying self back on the stage.

And, it was grand.

Photo by Abe Van Dyke |
Photo by Abe Van Dyke |
Photo by Abe Van Dyke |

Sometimes I teeter on dualistic, an all or nothing kind of gal. This unexpected return to the spotlight taught me to rethink my stubborn ways, to be open to the right kind of opportunities.

Of all the times I’ve performed, I’ve only been paid once. Some years ago an envelope bulging with cash was hastily thrust into my hands before a ballet class, and it was weird.

Dancers don’t do it for money. The ones who do get paid earn peanuts.

As much effort as it takes, dancing for joy and pleasure has always made sense to me. It’s a special art I’ve known intimately all my life. It’s an honor to take people away, to make them smile, to encourage them to let go and have fun.

What happens on the stage is beneficial to everyone—the performers, the spectators, the choreographers and directors. To escape the grind for the sake of feeling good is a necessary perk of life.

In the words of Billy Flynn: “This trial…the whole world…it’s all…show business.”

If I can get my hands on some video footage of our performance, I will most certainly post. Until then, here’s a fun poll…I’ll reveal the correct answer at the end of next week.

Another Happy Dance for My Followers

In celebration of 100 followers for a physical perspective, I decided it was due time for another happy dance. I recently saw The Artist (phenomenal, by the way!), and decided a silent film with overacting, absurdity, and the debut appearance of Hazel the cat was the best way to express my gratitude to you all.

Sit back, relax, and have some laughs…and, THANK YOU!!!

Dancers: Quirkier than you think

Playing the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, my solitary duty was to entice the audience, whisking them out of the daily grind and into an ethereal world—graceful, beautiful, and effortless.

No stress, no blunders. Everything was simple and perfect.

And, here’s what the audience didn’t know…I couldn’t see anything!

Typically, it snows at the end of the “Waltz of the Snowflakes”. And, even though the stage is merely littered with bits of scrap paper, the cheap thrill is bizarrely breathtaking.

But the dancers have a different view altogether. Simply put, it’s a hazard.

During every performance I was blind, courtesy of snowflakes caught in my fake eyelashes. Every time I leaped off into the wings, I blew snow out of my mouth. It was comparable to dancing on an obstacle course, pointe shoes slipping and sliding on the messy floor like there was no tomorrow.

As a result, I muttered many choice words through gritted teeth.

Yet, the audience didn’t notice a thing, and exited the theater with dreamy expressions, Tchaikovsky and tutus forever embedded in their minds.

I fulfilled my duty as a performer. Sure it was dangerous and challenging, but I  cherished every last second.

Dancers are athletes, who know how to act. They make the impossible, attractively possible.

I often forget how enthralling the dancer species truly is, because I have always been one. So, I took a moment to step out of my dancing shoes to analyze quirky characteristics of the dancer, and share a few crazy things you may not know.

  • They’re shy  You probably don’t believe me, but I’m guilty as charged. I can dance for thousands, but I loathe speaking in front of people. I believe this is where the snobby misconception comes into play, others mistaking bashfulness for conceit.
  • Their posture is baffling  Due to my good posture, I almost failed my driving test when I was younger. The DMV tester guy made me pull over and instructed me to take deep breaths; he warned that he was about to fail me for being too tense, because of the way I was sitting. Uncomfortably, I slouched in order to pass.
  • They avoid pedicures  Dancers are hard on their feet, and probably need pedicures more than the average Joe. But, they don’t want to lose their calluses, which act as an important shield against bare floors and pointe shoes.
  • They create in teeny-tiny spaces  That masterful artistry you see on the stage was probably created in somebody’s shoebox apartment. Dancers don’t usually have the luxury of studio space, and make miracles happen in absurd amounts of square footage.
  • They’re always rehearsing  A dancer needs to remember and master, so they run through choreography constantly. They dance at work, the dinner table, the grocery store—you name it! Last week, I was dancing at the dentist.
  • They don’t know how to stop dancing  I’m not allowed to play sports, because I’m a distraction. Why? Because I point my toes when I sprint, I perform a high kick with the soccer ball, I pirouette to dodge something, and I do split leaps over the other players.

Dancers are some of the hardest working artists out there, juggling day jobs, rehearsal schedules, and teaching gigs.

They get paid the least and have the shortest careers, but dancers sacrifice for the greatest reason of all…they love what they do.