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A rare opportunity…

Bad ass choreographer, dancer Nika Kljun!

Each year, some of the best choreographers, dancers, and studio owners get together for a weekend benefit that raises money in hopes of finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. The event – Dance to Breathe – is pretty unique, but I probably wouldn’t have known about it had I not been involved with my studio.

Last year when the event came around, I was excited to see what it was all about and see my fellow classmates perform in the final show. It was at that show that, not only did I learn much more about CF, I also realized how lucky I am to be a part of my studio – not to brag, but I’m learning from some of the BEST in this city (if not the country).

As part of this benefit, there is usually a celebrity choreographer that comes to town to teach a master class. Last year, I was scraping by all of my spare dollars and sending them to the IRS, so I couldn’t attend the master class. This year however, I’ve already paid my taxes, so I was anxiously awaiting the reveal of the guest choreographer.

It was none other than Nika Kljun – here’s her resume from her website:

She has worked on major projects such as Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Ne-yo, Pitbull, T-Pain, One Direction, Cher Lloyd, the Britney Spears tribute on MTV Video Music Awards, Jessica Sanchez, Donna Summer, Kaya Jones, Gina Katon, Matt Pokora, Herb Alpred, Macy’s Glamorama fashion tour, Monsters of hip hop, Billboard Music Awards, Young Hollywood Awards, NRJ music awards, X-Factor USA, UK & France, America’s Got Talent, The Voice, Move Live on Tour and was just recently, for the year of 2015, a part of Justin Bieber’s dancing team.

As a choreographer or assistant she worked on projects such as So You Think You Can Dance in the USA, Ukraine & Portugal, Move Live on Tour with Derek & Julianne Hough, Dancing with the Stars, Kellogg’s summer campaign, Kaya Jones, Lena Katina, Blake McGrath, Victoria Bech and Monsters of Hip Hop show to name a few. You can catch Nika at Tremaine Dance Conventions, Monster of Hip Hop or Monsters A-list conventions around North America. 

…Like… are you kidding me? She’s an insanely talented dancer – and highly trained in traditional forms of dance, which makes her hip hop game solid. I’ll admit, though, that I was a little bit nervous to buy a ticket for her master class. I know that I’m late in my dance game.

I started taking jazz classes in middle school – and that is where my technical training ends. I danced on a competitive dance team for five years – being captain for two of those years. We were scrappy, and I recall very late nights at the studio, or in hallways, recounting and modifying movements to look sharp.

But I took a solid 10+ year break from dance. In that time, my body has changed, and parts of it have taken quite a beating between boxing training for four years, full-time retail and restaurant service work, and generally just getting older.

I know I struggle to pick up choreography quickly (although I am getting better), and I feel heavy on my feet. I have been to auditions and am learning to accept that even if I don’t make it (and I never have), it’s a free opportunity to learn from someone new, and at least try.

Sometimes, even if I can just get 1 8-count in a set of 7, I am really proud of myself, because the difficulty level is so far beyond me. Trying counts for something.

Many of my fellow dancers said they were taking Nika’s class, even if it meant standing in the back. Yeah, I thought, I’m going, too.

“You’ll walk away learning something,” one instructor told me. And he was right.

So, I bought my ticket. I woke up the day before the class with a classic flare-up of my pinched nerve. Because of course! But, I took my normal Saturday class, laid on a heating pad for three hours, popped a pain-killer, and headed downtown to meet Nika.

Right off the bat, I was pleasantly shocked at how nice she was – how much she simply wanted to help us learn and have fun. She taught us a combination from Jennifer Lopez’s tour, which was just cool to see.

I have never, ever tried any of the classic ballroom dancing, and she showed us the cha-cha, and salsa, and simply said, “Now you can watch ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and really know what they are doing!”

It was tough, and I struggled, and I stayed in the back. But, I gave it all I had and I pushed myself. Yes, a lot of people in the class were KILLING it. But many of them were also 16 – ah, to be young and thin and energetic!

Nonetheless, it was a humbling experience, and it makes me respect the hustle for choreographers and dancers. This is a physical industry – there’s no half-assing it if you’re on tour with Justin Bieber.

When the class was over, I was tired and sweaty, and snapped a picture with Nika, giving her a big thanks. I felt twice her size, but it’s whatever. I went home and had a solid night’s sleep – I suppose that’s what happens when you dance your ass off for almost three hours, pretending you’re JLo!

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Nursing the ‘Love Hangover’.

Another Monday is upon us and I’m still reeling from the “Love Hangover” – the showcase for the dance studio I’ve been taking classes at, Dance Austin Studio. It was the 10th showcase, and included some fantastic pieces, to say the least.

After I performed at the last showcase, “The Aftermath”, I had a lot of reflection about my life in dance and how it affects me daily (you can read all about it, here). And as my time at Dance Austin continues to grow, and the more showcases I get under my belt (last night was #3), the more dance means to me, and the more I feel like I’m becoming a part of “the group”.

I’ve met so many awesome people at the studio in this year and a half (time flies), people I look forward to seeing every day, and I hope they feel the same about me when we end up in class next to each other.

On Saturday, a day before the performance, we had a dress rehearsal. Although it went really well, I was exhausted afterward, and thinking back about previous performances, I definitely feel like this is the most advanced one I’ve tried.

Last showcase, I tested myself and performed an entire routine in stiletto heels. I did it and somehow didn’t fall and break my neck, so I did it again this time. The dance was fast, lively, and a little advanced for me with spins and jumps. But, it was very fun. I don’t know if it was technically more difficult than the ones I’ve done before, or perhaps I’m more emotionally invested, and really just want to help my “team” look the best we can.

If you don’t mind, I’ll go ahead and say my group kicked stiletto booty and I was happy to hear cheers and claps throughout our performance. We sure worked hard for it!

But by far, my favorite part about any showcase is simply seeing my classmates and our instructors truly shine. Last night, I saw a few ladies that I’ve danced beside in class totally kill it in ways I never expected. I don’t know what it’s like to have kids, but I would imagine the sense of pride I felt for these women was similar. I was happy for them, and also just in-awe of what we’re all capable of.

I said it after last showcase, and I’ll say it again today – we are all LIVING. Most of us are not dancers by trade. We work full-time jobs; have friends, families, and hobbies to tend to, but we’re in the studio day in and day out, and we put everything we have on that stage.

Sure, there’s a little fear. But it’s not enough to keep us from doing what we were somehow called to do. Frankly, I started getting a little emotional last night watching some of the pieces, because we are all in this awesome dance family, and we’re out there, in the public, expressing ourselves in a time when messaging is shut down.

Dance is a powerful thing.

I tried to tell all of my classmates how great they did last night, but if you’re reading this, and we’ve shared a dance class together, and you were on that stage last night, please know that you inspire me more than you could ever understand.

I came home last night on a dancer’s high after putting in 10 hours at the venue. My showtime was maybe 4 minutes, but my feet were blistering and I could feel the soreness in my muscles setting in. I had glitter in my hair and a pound of stage makeup, and I didn’t hop into bed until after midnight.

But that is what dreams are made of.

Whether you’re a dancer or not, it’s time you #LiveYourLife – in whatever way that means to you. No holding back, and no regrets.

Ready? 5, 6, 7, 8…

All hail, the Queen of Bounce.

Bow down to the Queen Diva, Big Freedia.

Bow down to the Queen Diva, Big Freedia.

I spent a decent portion of last weekend in bed watching back-to-back episodes of “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce” on FUSE.

As if I don’t already have enough shows on TV I like to watch, I find great joy in seeing what else is on that I can possibly latch onto. About a month ago, I saw this series was on and starting recording all of the episodes.

I let them pile up and then started from the beginning on Saturday – it was the perfect excuse to turn my head away from the protests and political craziness for a bit.

The thing is, I’d heard of Big Freedia, and have done some dancing to her songs at the studio, but really didn’t know much else. That changed, and I’m hooked. Here’s the trailer for season 1:

There’s at least five seasons, if not six, so there’s a good binge-session waiting for you. Anyway, who the heck is Big Freedia, the Queen Diva, YOU already know!!!! Okay, I’m sorry, I really do just love her positive energy!

Big Freedia is from New Orleans, where Bounce music originated, and has been popular since the 90s. Although many other artists have dabbled in Bounce before moving on, Freedia has been credited with taking it out of NOLA, and throughout the world.

Bounce music is difficult to describe – you’d know it if you heard it – but it’s music to twerk to, clap to, shake ya rump to – that’s the best part about it, it’s a genre of music that’s meant to be positive, meant for everyone to just cut loose without judgment.

Freedia started performing Bounce with drag queen and Bounce legend Katy Red in the late 90s. Hurricane Katrina sent Freedia to Texas, but when the city recovered from the storm, Freedia was performing several times a week, and became very well-known.

The television show catches Freedia just as things are really kicking up in her career. She’s about to embark on her first international tour, and is trying to figure out how to affordably become mainstream and go global.

Of course, the focus is on Freedia, but Katy Red is also in the show a lot, along with Freedia’s managers, dancers, producers, and family.

What I really love about the show is how it really shows this homegrown artist – a person who was born and raised in New Orleans, performing music known mainly in New Orleans; a person who has designed her own outfits and hair and styling for performances… and watch as they attempt to make it big.

The managers have one opinion, Freedia has another. But which decision will be the best for the career? For the tour? For the music?

It’s bittersweet to see because Freedia is just so awesome and humble and has this unique view of the world; but it hasn’t gotten her global (until now, of course).

Freedia started appearing nationally – in the New York Times and on HBO, in 2009, and is very well known for her performances at SXSW and her collaborations with RuPaul. She has set the Guiness World Record for twerking, and serves as the opening voice for Beyonce’s “Formation” Tour.

I’m only two seasons in, but I’m excited I still have plenty to watch, and plenty to learn. I don’t think I can quite convey how awesome the energy is – whether it’s in the music, the dance, or just the way Freedia talks (you’ve got to love a deep New Orleans accent, okey beh-beh) – it is just what I needed in these dark times.

So… if you need me, I’ll be twerking. YOU ALREADY KNOOOOOW.

‘Mariah’s World’: The show must go on.

Another episode of 'Mariah's World'.

Another episode of ‘Mariah’s World’.

Hello! Thank you so much to everyone who wished me luck and sent me well wishes yesterday – it was very sweet and I really appreciate it.

I’ve got the recap of Sunday night’s episode of “Mariah’s World” for you – a day late – but hey, today may seem like a Monday for those of you that had yesterday off work.

So, the tour is still on, and Tanaka is still hanging around despite the fact that he’s injured and not doing the one job he was hired for: dancing. Instead, he’s wearing a lamb costume.

Meanwhile, another dancer gets injured – because that is how FIRE the show is (it really does look intense, but cool). With another dancer down and a show in two days, Mariah is worried about the lift, and wants to simplify the choreography.

On the plane, Mariah is playing with Tanaka’s hair… and Stella wants to jump out of the place because it feels so awkward. Later, Stella tells Mariah that Tanaka MUST have a crush on her, and Mariah is acting so clueless.

The creative director is not down to simplify the show, so he’s called in some new dancers to help fill in just in time for the big show in Paris.

In other news, remember how Mariah Carey’s social media manager is 12? No, she’s really 12, it’s Stella’s daughter. Like that is a job people my age would KILL for. Forget the money, just the experience itself would be baaaad-assss; and a 12 year old posts a picture of Mariah’s ass in just hosiery, and she gets a little slap on the wrist.

Huh? Child, please.

And then Mariah has her last fitting with her wedding dress, along with her daughter in her little gown. Awkwaaaaard. Obviously this is the closest window I have into Mariah’s life, but I totally didn’t realize she was this far in to the wedding planning before they called it off.

James Packer makes a shocking appearance (although it’s very short), and Tanaka is finally starting to remember, ohhhh yeah, there’s another guy in this picture.

Right before the show, Mariah and her staff learn of the news that Prince has died. Mariah is very upset, as Prince was not only a big inspiration for her career, but also a very close friend.

However, the show does go on, and even with the new dancers – everything looks great (and they’re wearing these awesome hoodies that are completely covered in blue sequins). She has a moment of silence to honor Prince, and then sings “Hero”, and it is quite lovely.

Post-show, Mariah is hosting a vodka launch (her own vodka, and the label is pink). James is there, and he’s all over Mariah… and Tanaka is in the corner, pouting. He’s so sad, in fact, that he slinks off into the elevator alone, as elegant as anyone on crutches can do.

Tanaka is on the roof talking to one of the other dancers, and he confesses that he likes Mariah, and that seeing her with James is bursting his bubble.

In the preview for next week’s episode, Tanaka gets weed and Mariah is all flirty again… oh, boy.

On another note, is anyone watching “The Bachelor”? Don’t worry, no spoilers, but I just want to mention that The Backstreet Boys were on last night’s episode, and AJ and Nick (Carter), looked fine as all hell. Still.

Dancing thru challenges.

Hellooo.

Hellooo.

I mentioned on Monday that I spent my weekend dancing. The dance studio I attend, Dance Austin, put on its 9th studio showcase on Sunday, and I was performing in both showtimes.

I know I’ve talked about my love for dance on here before, but being a part of this showcase (my second) made me think about it a lot more. Let me explain.

I started dancing in 6th or 7th grade; taking a small jazz class where I learned basic turns and leaps, and also performed for our families at a local gym. In 8th grade, I joined my middle school’s dance team, where we performed during pre-game or halftime of the basketball games.

I also did this in high-school, where it became a much bigger part of my life. Dance wasn’t just something I did – it was a huge stress relief for me, an escape, and it was where I made a lot of my friends. It gave me goals and confidence; it shaped another way for me to express myself.

In high school, I dreamt of being a choreographer. I wanted to put together dances for music videos and huge productions, that is, until I did a project for school and discovered the harsh truth about that side of the entertainment industry – it didn’t pay much, and it wouldn’t be a job for long – my body would probably be too beat up to be a choreographer in my older years.

And so, when I moved away for college, I left dance behind. I knew I wasn’t talented enough to be on a collegiate team or to go pro.

But when I moved to Texas, I wanted to see if there was a place for adults of any kind to dance. I took to Google, and found Dance Austin, a studio with a variety of classes for anyone, and they did performances! I hadn’t taken dance in 12 years. So, I was nervous for my first few classes.

At the very least, though, I was burning calories, and dancing in a room full of people I didn’t know. I had everything to gain.

Since then – it’s been a little more than a year now of going to class four times a week – I’ve gotten to know several of the people who dance beside me. They are diverse in age, culture, background, and experience. Some of them are engineers, video gamers, or salespeople. Some of them are dancers who audition for paid gigs or choreographers. Some are school teachers or vet techs, and some are retired.

But we all love to dance for one reason or another; and we don’t just love it. We do it. We all have lives outside of the studio, but we do whatever we have to and make it to class, day after day, week after week, and we get to perform our work in front of loving crowds.

At the showcase on Sunday, the hostess (who is fabulous and teaches “Twerk and Burn” at the studio) asked the audience to applaud for the performers because they are LIVING life. At first I clapped and nodded, but she’s right.

Yes, I dreamt of making it as a dancer. I have dreamed of being one of those who goes on tour with someone as a dancer, or performs with a professional team at halftime. But that’s not how my cards were dealt, and that doesn’t mean I can’t still dance. I can still do it; wherever I am – and not just in my living room. I can still perform for crowds, and rehearse in a studio, and rejoice silently when I wakeup sore the next morning.

Dance is a daily challenge for me. I test my brain to learn choreo quickly and work it through my body to do the moves I want. I work to keep up with my instructors, and with my fellow students, who may be more fit or more skilled than I am.

And hey, I don’t know any of us who don’t get nervous before getting on stage. In fact, before February, I’d never performed on a stage in that capacity, ever. And I did it – I performed a dance for 200 strangers. And it was pretty awesome.

And Sunday? I had set a challenge for myself: perform a stiletto routine (meaning, an entire dance wearing heels), and perform it. And I did! There were even stairs involved, and turns, and a stage, and nothing bad happened! It was awesome!

The following day, sure, my legs hurt, and my back was sore, but it was all worth it. At our next showcase, in February, I’ll set another goal for myself, and I’ll walk away (or dance away) feeling more confident than I do today.

Hopping back into it!

Hello healthy life!

Hello healthy life!

Whew! It has been MONTHS full of stress, budgeting, cutting corners, adulting, working on the weekends, and all sorts of other non-fun things, and I’m happy to say that it’s finally, pretty much over. CELEBRATE!

I paid off my taxes, got my driver’s license and Texas plates, and even took Blanche to the vet for a checkup, and then I went on a much-needed beach vacation where I ate fried foods and drank lots of beer. It was incredible, and although I’m not thrilled to be back at work, I am happy to be back to a life I like: one with a friendlier budget.

My tight budget unfortunately involved eating more processed foods, and in return, I wasn’t feeling great. So, I’m happy to say that I’m back to organic, fresh foods, and it’s happening at the perfect time! The dance studio where I regularly go is having it’s showcase in six weeks, where I will be perforning a stiletto routine.

And so – this six weeks I’m hitting the dance studio hard, and I’m also eating as healthy as possible in order to hit the stage in November feeling confident and well.

Truthfully, I enjoy eating healthy. I think healthy foods are delicious, and I’m often too cheap to eat out. Plus, I enjoy cooking. My true weakness? The snacks at work. There are always chips, cookies, muffins, and other indulgences in the office that I don’t keep at home.

To combat this, I stocked my pantry with healthy snacks I enjoy such as almonds, individual packs of dried fruit and nuts, and organic popcorn. I’m making it a priority to pack these types of things in my lunch box so I can crunch on them instead of greasy chips or sweets. I know it’s still going to be a challenge, but once I get started, I think I’ll be okay.

I was also worried about the fact that I JUST discovered a vietnamese restaurant across the street from my apartment – it’s delicious and inexpensive. However, I looked up the nutritional value for my normal order: a vermicelli noodle bowl with grilled shrimp, and a side of egg rolls.

According to My Fitness Pal, as long as I swap the side of egg rolls for spring rolls (which aren’t fried), I’ll actually be eating something pretty healthy. If you’re not aware, one of these bowls is simply rice noodles with raw veggies and a choice of meat. There’s a small side cup of oil, but I mainly just use sriracha as a “dressing”. If you can get your chopsticks on one of these things, you will thank me. I swear.

The other side of this, is alcohol. I pretty much stopped drinking during my budget crisis for two reasons: 1. I couldn’t afford it, and 2. it was doing nothing for my depression. I’m not going to sit here and say I won’t enjoy a glass of wine on a Saturday night, but I won’t be doing any drinking during the week, or excessively at all. I’m in it to win it, folks – a rejuvenation of the mind, body, and soul.

Of course, I’ll be documenting my journey along the way, and if you’ve got any tips for me, I’d love to hear them!

Dancing, auditions, & the feels.

Open dance auditions for the 82nd Academy Awards.

Open dance auditions for the 82nd Academy Awards.

Two Sundays ago, I went to “Dance to Breathe”, which was described as Austin’s Choreographer’s Ball benefitting The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The show, which featured a performance from each of Austin’s dance studios –  note: Austin has a lot of dance studios – was about two hours long, and made me realize that I’ve been taking classes at one of the best studios in town.

A few months before that night, I’d auditioned for the finale piece of “Dance to Breathe”. It was my first audition ever – outside of trying out for dance team when I was in middle and high school – and the dance was VERY difficult. There were about 40 people crammed into a room made for probably 15, all of us trying our damnedest to “Get in formation” with the style of Beyonce.

When it was my turn to perform what we’d just learned, I basically just froze. I think I did about two moves, and just tried to keep things moving. I knew I wouldn’t get chosen (and I didn’t), and I was okay with that.

The thing is, I’ve never had “real” dance training. I learned general jazz technique at a class held at a gym when I was in 6th grade. My 8th grade dance team experience was more of a pom/cheer moment. Once I got to high school, our dance team performances were held at a dance studio, and we did practice leaps and proper turns between learning new routines.

My freshman year of high school, I was put on the dance team as an alternate, meaning, I had no secure spot on the team; I would only perform if someone was sick or injured. But, I attended a UDA dance camp that summer with a few other girls from the team. We learned some of the most difficult dances I’d ever seen.

We were low-budget, but our coach recorded our practices, and we critiqued ourselves, late into the night, perfecting these new routines to compete with, and eventually perform during basketball half times. My hard work earned me a permanent place on the court that year.

Despite dancing my way through high school, I didn’t perform or practice at all until I moved to Austin. When I was searching for a studio, the thing I liked about this one in particular, was they let anyone who wanted to (and who was willing to pay a fee) perform on stage twice a year in a showcase.

Count me in! I became a member, attend at least three classes a week, and performed at my first showcase in February. I loved it!

And the thing is, I’ve always dreamed of being able to perform, whether it be as a professional halftime dancer or in theatre, knowing that at some point, my body probably wouldn’t be able to sustain a career on that path. Even now, today as I type this, I’m recovering from a neck injury I got last week during a hip-hop class – I’m getting old, guys!

So much to say that I wasn’t upset when I didn’t make the cut for “Dance to Breathe” – dancing isn’t something that comes natural to me. I know I have to work at it, and often, I have to work more at moves that others can pick up in a second.

The host of “Dance to Breathe” was a well-known choreographer named Willdabeast. Here’s the scoop on him, according to his website:

Orignally from Indiana, Will “WilldaBeast” Adams moved to LA to pursue his dance career. Dancing for artists such as Usher, T-Pain, The Black Eyed Peas, Jason Derulo, Zendaya, 5th Harmony, Demi Lovato, GLEE, X-Factor, Nissan, MTV, Butterfinger, and Madonna he found a love for choreography. This allowed him to choreograph for artists including T-Pain, DJ Tiësto, GRL, Erika Jayne, ABDC, So You Think You Can Dance, and Nike.

In 2013, Willdabeast created the dance company immaBEAST and dropped the first official video “Dope”. Since then, immaBEAST has become one of the leading brands, companies, and influences in the hip hop dance world.

During the show, they showed his reel – snippets from the work he’s done – and my jaw was on the floor. And then, when he said he was from INDIANA?!?!! Whaaat?! So cool.

At the end of the show, he said that it was his first time in Austin and he’d never seen a dance community be as supportive as we were to one another – cheering for everyone as they performed on stage. “You don’t get that in LA,” he said.

I thought about my dance studio and how we really do encourage each other to WERK IT. When we’d performed in the showcase, the owner of the studio got on stage and explained to the crowd that everyone was welcome at her studio; it was a place to be accepted. The showcase was the result of that; anyone could get on stage, and we’d practiced our asses off to not look like fools – I’d spent hours in my kitchen, using a broom handle in lieu of a cane, to practice our group routine to “Pony”.

Last weekend, the studio held auditions for their next showcase – their first ever summer performance, and as far as I know, their first time requiring auditions.

I signed up to audition for two pieces; for two of the classes I take each week. I got a good night’s sleep the night before, I put on a little makeup (had to go with the sparkle eyeliner), and went to the audition.

And… it was TOUGH. I think I sweated more during the 30-minute audition than I have in an hour of class. My first audition was in stilettos to Beyonce’s “Freak-’em Dress”. We performed the dance several times, and again if our numbers were called. Mine was; so I went again, as the studio owner stood in front of me with a clipboard.

As we stood there, near-30 of us, in a number-order line as she looked us up and down, then back at the clipboard, I thought again about what she’d said on that stage months before – that everyone could get on stage.

Apparently not anymore.

The thing about auditions is that; they’re grueling, stressful, and oftentimes a giant disappointment – it is, as they say, the nature of the biz. Some people say that auditioning is just something, in itself, that you’ve got to get good at in order to make the cut.

In just these three auditions I’ve had, I’ll say there’s definitely an art to it – technically you’re being judged from the moment you walk in, and I had one choreographer tell me they’ll eliminate you if you dance when he says “listen”. Fair enough. Others have told me to nail the first and last move, or to rock the freestyle part, or to just get really great at facial expressions. It’s a science.

After my back-to-back auditions on Sunday, I was exhausted. I didn’t think I really had a shot at making the cut – although I was proud of myself for not just freezing and standing there like a jackass.

But I went home, and the news of the tragedy in Orlando started to sink in. A club; where people were dancing. Dancing is supposed to be a universal language; the one that breaks the barriers and brings us together. And I know the attack wasn’t against dancing, but it hurts my soul.

To soothe it, I ate cheap ice cream bars and watched approximately nine hours of “Dexter”.

Yesterday morning, my empty email inbox confirmed what I thought – no showcase for me. Sure, I was disappointed. And I bet I will be for a little while. There’s a big chance that my body isn’t cut out for the auditions and performances like it was when I was 16.

But why does it have to be the same people that win over and over? When are they really going to just let us be free; and let us all dance?

It’s week 3 of Cheerobics…

Living the cheerleading dream... well, kinda.

Living the cheerleading dream… well, kinda.

That’s right, I’ve been taking Cheerobics. It’s a class offered at the dance studio I’ve been with for six months – they have tons of different types of classes including ballet, jazz, modern, and funk, but I mostly take the hip-hop classes. However, I kept seeing the tail-end of the Cheerobics class as I waited for the following course to open.

It looked fun; they were dancing with pom-poms! Considering that’s all I did for five years of being a teenager – count me in. So, I finally went, and holy shit, it was the most difficult workout I’ve had in months.

Given that I’ll be on the beach in one month, I decided I needed to make this class a habit. So, I’m there every Thursday night. The class consists of a warm-up routine, stretching, and then you perform six full-length routines with pom-poms (and a smile), before completing a strength circuit, and a cool down.

The routines are fun, and the songs are of course, up-beat, as it’s supposed to be similar to a routine you’d see on a professional football field (and yes, there’s lots of clapping).

The music is fun, but the pom-poms really make the class for me. When I showed up for the first class, I wasn’t expecting much. However, I quickly realized that because you’re gripping the pom-pom’s handle for a solid 30 minutes, your arms get a workout FAST.

While I know it’s nowhere near as intense as the workout or practice for a professional cheerleader or dancer, it is really fun to get a little taste of what that life is like. I’ve wanted to be a Laker Girl ever since I can remember; and now that I’m too old for anything like that; I spend a lot of time daydreaming about it, and then binge-watching Dance Squad: LA Clippers.

The cheerobics class also brings back a lot of great memories for me as a halftime dancer in high school. Our practice schedule was busy, but they always served as great bonding experiences and were stress relievers for me. I was always so, SO nervous before performing, but thrilled for the applause at the end.

I noticed some of the other women in my cheerobics class have their own pom-poms, which at first, I thought seemed a little excessive. But, now I want a pair of my own, so I’ve been scoping them out. I think I’ve settled on a set of black and gold metallic ones, simply because I like those colors. I don’t want to commit to my high school or college colors (even though they match The Lakers’); I just want a pair that looks cute!

Since I started at the studio, I’ve been taking a class called “Sexy Stiletto”, which involves optional high heels. I skipped on the heels until just three weeks ago – in another attempt to amp up my workout. And wow, dancing for an hour in heels (especially turns) makes for a great core and leg workout. I haven’t fallen yet; but here’s to hoping I didn’t just jinx myself.

The ‘Love Hangover’, no meds needed.

If Saturday was the official “Love Hangover”, then Sunday was a performance hangover. Let me back this train up and explain.

You may or may not recall that I’m making a big effort to step outside of my comfort zone and do more things alone because, well because I don’t know anyone, and I’m not going to know anyone if I sit in my apartment all the time (but don’t worry, I’m not ditching that either).

So, last weekend, I went to a Saturday brunch at my apartment complex. While I currently kind of hate my apartment complex (the parking is terrible and the trash fee is $30/month, but whatever), they do have a pretty robust social calendar, and although I’m not a huge fan of getting to know thy neighbor, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Around the holidays, I went to a gift wrapping party they had and it was pretty fun, so I figured the brunch would be okay. So, I took a little walk to the clubhouse and found that it was a legit, homemade brunch and it was pretty yummy. About 20 residents showed up and I was sitting next to a woman named Linda.

She was older, and we started chatting about where we lived within the complex and which model we had (because what else would we talk about?). While we don’t live near each other, we live in the same apartment style, and she said she’d moved into the apartment, which is a little more than 600 square feet, after downsizing from a 1400 square foot apartment.

Eventually, we got to talking about where we’re from. Turns out, Linda is from New Orleans. We missed each other’s paths by a few years, as she relocated to Austin after Hurricane Katrina. In our short talk, you could tell she misses New Orleans (doesn’t everyone?), and we agreed, no one does brunch like NOLA, baby.

Since she’s lived in Austin for a little over 10 years, I asked her where to eat, where to go, that sort of thing. We also talked a lot about writing, because Linda loves stories and has been journaling since she was a child. But, I’ll be honest with you, as Linda sat and tried to convince herself that she’d go to the gym after brunch, I wondered if I was looking at my future.

Would that be me at 68, living alone, renting a crappy-esque apartment, trying to convince myself to hit the gym on a Saturday afternoon post-free brunch? That’s not meant to be a jab at Linda, or an attempt to say she hasn’t lived an epic life, after all, we only talked for 30 minutes. But it did give me a little kick in the ass.

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending the last six weeks practicing for Dance Austin Studio’s Annual Love Hangover Showcase, which happened on Saturday night.

We had some late night practices, often putting me home at 11pm during the week. Our group, the Video Vixens, were closing the show with, what our instructors called, a huge finale. So we had to BRING IT.

Friday night, show eve, we practiced at the studio until 10, and I went home, showered, and packed my things for the next day. I wanted to get a good night’s sleep.

On Saturday, our tech rehearsal was at 1:45 pm, at the venue, and it was pretty much understood we’d be there until showtime (my performance was around 9:15). So on Saturday morning, I was basically running around like a maniac trying to figure out and pack every single thing I could possibly need for tech rehearsal, the performance, and just in general hanging out for 7 hours pre-performance.

One of my fellow dance girls asked me to lunch,  so we met early (at Flyrite Chicken and it was so fresh and yummy) and got a bite to eat. It was awesome to relax before our busy day, and get to know each other! I joined the dance studio to have an outlet, but also to burn some calories and meet people, so it’s a win!

We headed to the venue close to 1pm, to get parking secured and prep for tech rehearsal. Since I got there early, I got a chance to see some of the other acts that were planned for the night, and I was impressed. During our turn for tech, it was the time to actually practice on stage, and walk through the audience for our entrance.

After that? I spent close to two hours slapping on my stage makeup! I was talking to my mom on the phone while doing this, and laughed, realizing that so much of my cosmetic stash is meant for performing. See, I have this dream of my life being a musical, which is why I love anything glitzy, I love glitter and sequins, and anything over-the-top. So, my Caboodle (yes, a real Caboodle) was packed with false lashes, glitter eyeliner and glitter hairspray, and multiple eye shadow palettes. I love it!

While it has been YEARS since I have performed (high school, senior year, 2003), the day brought back so many of those feelings I had pre-performance as a teenager. Of course I was nervous, but I was excited to show what my group had worked so hard for. I was also really excited to see what the other dancers had in-store. The entire studio, plus a few bonus performers, had all come together to make the entire night a special one.

But there was a huge difference in Saturday night’s performance: there was no one in the audience I knew. In high school, I never wanted my parents to sit within an eye’s view of me, because it would make me nervous. Why? Possibly because the very first time I ever danced for a crowd, I made a small mistake, and my dad sat in the audience and was loudly laughing at me. Go figure.

In a way, knowing no one I knew would see the performance was a load off my back, but of course, I wanted to hold up for my team, and put on the show these people paid for. But, it was painful to check my phone and see that not a single person wished me good luck that night (not counting my mom, because she told me on the phone).

Since I was performing in the second show of the night, I got to relax and watch the entire first show. And, I was blown away. There were great performances by the other group classes, but the instructors also performed, and it was fabulous! There was also a silks dancer and a pole dancer, who really showed out.

The owner of the studio, who choreographed my routine, reminded the audience that Dance Austin is a place for everyone: professional dancers, amateur dancers,  people who’ve been dancers, and people who want to be dancers, no matter the age. She created the studio so everyone could have that outlet, and without completely realizing it, that entire concept is really uplifting, and I’m happy that I somehow found it.

During the intermission of the second show, that’s when we all went backstage to change into our costumes (combat boots, black leggings, sleeveless oxford, cuffs, and a bow tie, complete with a cane) and any final touches to makeup and hair before lining up.

Our group was divided into two: the “chick-n-dales” and the “Magic Michelles”. It was a stripper battle for history. So, the Magic Michelles are on stage, just planning for their next show or whatever, and the Chick-n-dales show up to break up the part, kick them off stage and show them how it’s done. Then the Michelles kick us off, show off a little, and then we both get on the stage and perform together. The audience loved it!

And sure, I wish I had more pictures and video to show you, but it wasn’t allowed, and I was also just trying to stay focused and not be on my phone the whole time. I will keep my eye out for any pictures or videos though, and I’ll post them as I see them.

It was a fantastic night, and I’m really excited to go back to the studio tonight and work toward perfecting my skills for the next showcase in October. Who knows, maybe I’ll try something new next time!

On Friday, one of my coworkers asked me what I was doing over the weekend (because that’s what everyone asks on Friday) and I mentioned the showcase.

“Wow, you’re life is so full,” she said.

“Mine?” I was confused.

“Yes, you’ve got your blog, all of your dance classes… you stay busy,” she said.

Yeah, I guess I do! There are definitely times I feel like all I do is clock hours at work and then be a giant sloth in front of my TV (not saying that’s a bad thing). But, I really do work hard to create a big life for myself – it may not be glamorous, but it’s real, and I’ve got to say, it’s pretty fun!

[Stage makeup look: Eminence Bright Skin Moisturizer, Eminence Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum, IPKN New York Radiant Primer, Color Mates concealer, Maybelline New York Dream Wonder foundation, Sei Bella pressed powder by Melaleuca, Aph Orism brow shadow and gel, MAKE Skin Illuminator, LOC Shadow Stick, e.l.f Everyday Eyeshadow Book, pop beauty Bright Up Your Life eye shadow palette, e.l.f liquid eyeliner in black, e.l.f liquid eyeliner in stardust, L.A. Colors false lashes, Younique 3D Mascara, stila Extreme Lash Mascara in black, e.l.f blush in Pink Passion, the Balm Bronzer in Desert, Wet n Wild illuminating palette in Catwalk Pink, Sei Bella Definition lip pencil in nude]

Prada’s Candy & the ‘Fuller House’ drinking game!

A sweet-smelling perfume by Prada.

A sweet-smelling perfume by Prada.

It’s FRI-DAAAAAY! If you’ve been here all week, I really hope you’ve enjoyed the blog’s fun little twist. I really had a blast writing these posts and I’m so excited for all of the fun, HONEST content that’s coming your way.

But enough business talk, and let’s get to the real shit: it’s the freakin’ weekend and this one is a biggie! I’m performing for the first time (in a really long time) with my dance studio for their semi-annual “Love Hangover” showcase.

I am performing at The North Door in downtown Austin, at 8pm. It’s 18+, and there’ll be drinks and yummy food, so come out! It’ll really be a blast. I’ve been practicing now for 6 weeks, and I’m ready to shake it!

And then there’s the long-awaited Netflix release of Fuller House, which happened today! But more on this later. Let me get to the Fresh Friday scent profile of the week: Candy by Prada. As described by Sephora:

Prada CANDY is instantly seductive—pure pleasure wrapped in impulsive charm. In an explosion of shocking pink and gold, Prada CANDY takes us on a walk on the wild side, showing us a new facet of Prada femininity where more is more and excess is everything. Magnified by white musks, noble benzoin comes together with a modern caramel accord to give the fragrance a truly unique signature. 

Notes: Caramel, Musk, Vanilla, Benzoin. 
Style: Carefree. Sophisticated. Sensual.

This scent really does smell sweet, in a good way. It’s unique and I’ve really enjoyed wearing it for the past week. It’s in the running to be my favorite, but we’ll see… I honestly just keep thinking about Mandy Moore when I wear it.

…But why is she like, so pissed off in her room? And that Sony discman… but speaking of the 90’s: Full House! Full House ran from 1987-1995 and was the totally un-realistic sitcom about a widower and his three daughters, and he gets help from his friends and family, who somehow all live under the same roof.

So, Netflix announced a few months ago they were going to air “Fuller House”, the story of one of the daughters from Full House, DJ, now a widow, and she moves back to the old house and gets help from her family and friends to raise her three kids. Aw, how sweeeeeet.

Most of the original cast is back, including Uncle Jesse, Aunt Becky, and even Kimmie Gibbler. Michelle is missing, but the preview proved that she’s not forgotten.

It looks decent, right? Well, let’s amp things up a bit with a DRINKING GAME!

fullhouserow

Drink every time:

  • There’s a Full-House-ism including, but not limited to: Cut it Out, Tanneritos, Have Mercy, How Rude, You Got it Dude, etc.
  • Someone learns a lesson/hugs it out
  • Jodi Sweetin, “Stephanie” looks old
  • Someone alludes to “Michelle”
  • Nikki & Alex look cute (sorry, had to)
  • Steve steals food
  • You find yourself singing the remixed theme song

I FULLY expect to get snaps @OrangeJulius7 from you all while this is happening! Other than that, y’all have a great weekend!

That would be my car…

Poor car...

Poor car…

I had every intention of posting a sexy little fiction piece today, but when I got out of my dance class (Twerk and Burn) last night, my passenger’s side window had been shattered.

The bastard was after an old (very old) Coach laptop bag, and although inside the bag wasn’t a laptop (thank God), there was an iPad.

While I was a little sad about my now-gone iPad, I was more upset about the fact that I have nothing to read ebooks on, or my digital subscription to The New York Times. Sad.

But, I was glad they didn’t take anything else — left in the car was cash in my center console, a Kate Spade coffee tumbler, and a $200 bag from Anthropologie (worth way more than the bag they took). I was really glad about that (it’s plaid and has sequins on it, and I just love it).

Of course, none of that is really the thing that sucks. What SUCKS is that on top of having to drive home without a window, I now have to leave work today to have my window replaced (and pay $350). And because I don’t have a garage or a car port, my car just chilled outside all night covered with a plastic trash bag.

Classy.

At first, I didn’t notice the window. I actually got into my car and saw all of these sparkles everywhere. Glass. Then I realized what had happened and called the police. There were “no police available” to talk to me, according to the customer service rep, so she said they would call me within 24 hours (it’s been 12 and I haven’t heard anything).

I had so much glass in the driver’s seat, the dance studio lent me a broom to clean some of it out, while the owner of a nearby restaurant inquired, and said he was sick of all the break-ins happening in that parking lot.

“There’s a lot of homeless nearby and they just wander the lot and look in cars for things they want,” he said.

This was disheartening.

Obviously, I’ll never know who took my things, and I won’t know the situation they’re in. I honestly hope it wasn’t a homeless person. Why? Because I spent my Thanksgiving morning trying to help at least one homeless person. And because, when I see a homeless person, I never think badly of them. I always think, wow, there’s been times in my life where I was probably one paycheck away from being THEM.

So, I hope, really, that it was just some asshole who really thought they needed a Coach bag. Because I bought that bag as a treat for myself after a breakup… a breakup six years ago. The handle was barely sewn on, and the material was fading. If someone would have just said, “Hey give me that bag,” I would have given it up in a second.

And the iPad? It was a first generation that I solely used for reading. It was handy, but nothing detrimental to my life.

And yes, I sure as shit feel like a dumb ass for leaving those things in my car. I USUALLY make an effort to hide my things under my seat, but of course the one time I didn’t… The funny part is, I had originally parked further away from the studio, and I thought no, there’s got to be a spot closer, so I moved my car closer. Still didn’t work.

According to the restauranteur, it doesn’t matter where you park, there are always break-ins.

I’m really not mad about it, but I spent a good minute picking glass shards off my thighs after my drive home (before guzzling a double vodka and soda), and I was terrified to go to sleep, thinking someone would break in.

I KNOW these types of things happen everywhere, but people keep asking me what I think of Austin, and I’ll be honest: a lot of things that have happened to me here, have never happened before. The mouse. The break in. Is this payback for getting an awesome job? I certainly hope not, as I plan on being here for a minute.

Anyway, I’m done complaining. After all, it’s Friday, and I’m getting a new window at 2:30. May you ALL have a fantastic weekend — unless you’re the person that stole my shit and you’re reading it from MY iPad!

Then I hope that shitty Coach bag strangles you.

Pic of the Week.

Shot glass shelves.

Shot glass shelves.

Well, I realize that for a ‘Pic of the Week,’ this is a pretty subpar photo. I was too lazy to get on the ladder, and to be honest, I’m terrified of that damn ladder.

But! I’m pretty proud of this little project I accomplished, so there it is. Assembled shelves that are now home to my tacky shot glass collection.

I got the shelves from Ikea — I think they were a whopping $4 each — and they were really easy to put together. Although, I about fainted when I saw the back was VERY similar to the back to that invisible shelf I attempted to hang awhile back.

However, I got a little smarter this time ’round, and dropped dabs of paint where the nails should go, so when I held the shelves up to the wall, I marked the walls in the perfect spot. It worked and I hung the shelves in under five minutes. Voila!

Two shelves were enough to house my current collection, but I have a third one for the ones to come.

I started my collection many years ago, because I love looking at tacky souvenirs. Shot glasses were an easy thing to start collecting, because well, I love taking shots, and they are inexpensive, and every souvenir shop is bound to have them.

I realize at my age, a shot glass collection is probably inappropriate, but I’ve never been one to worry about things like that. So, there it is, my tacky shot glass collection right in my living room!

Meanwhile, I signed up to take a six week dance series class — ‘Six Weeks to Sexy’ in which we learn a dance over a six-week period, and the dance is in high heels and it’s to The Weeknd! YAASSSSSS!!

I’m so, so excited to have some fun with this one. We had our first class last night and it was packed full of women who were ready to rock out in their stilettos… it was a blast! I’ll definitely be posting some video the more I learn.

Pic of the Week.

My dance class options!

My dance class options!

Last Thursday night, I did something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time – years, even. I took a dance class!

On the surface, I know it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but I’ll explain.

I started taking dance in 7th grade, at a small athletic club. It was a jazz class, and even though it wasn’t very technical, it’s where I learned the bulk of anything technical – turns, leaps, barre positions, and transitions.

We learned a routine, practiced for weeks, and we performed for our family and friends. It wasn’t my first performance, but it was the first time I made a mistake during one – and my dad burst into laughter, Uncle Frank style.

Later that year, I tried out for the middle school dance team. I didn’t make it, and I knew why. I practiced, but I didn’t smile! So, I worked my booty off for the next year, and tried out again. And I was thrilled when I saw my name on the list!

We practiced all the time, and we got to wear sequined uniforms and perform with Pom poms.  Our coach was a Colts cheerleader. We even placed in a competition that year.

Once I got to high school, I tried out for their dance team. I made it, as an alternate. That meant, I’d have to learn all the dances but I may not get the chance to perform them.

When our coaches said we could go to dance camp that summer before school, I jumped at the chance. Although it was some of the hardest training I’ve ever received, it was a ton of fun. Because of my hard work at camp, our coach gave me a spot on the team – I wasn’t an alternate.

I was lucky enough to dance on that team all four years, and served as team captain for two of those years. Dance has never come easy to me, while I have always loved music, my body moves differently, and I have a terrible short term memory.

But the years of work I put in rewarded me in a way that’s tough to explain. Dance, as an outlet, a sport, and as a team was there for me for every downfall, from breakups and my parents divorce, to school stress and even, sadly, the death of our coach.

Dance gave me a way to cope and it gave me confidence. But once I graduated, I quit dancing, for no other reason than just… Writing took over.

But I’ve missed dance a lot, and lately I’ve really wished to get back into a studio. So, after some researching, I found one that looks fitting. They teach hip-hop, jazz, modern, funk, and even cheer. Holla!

So, I went to an advanced hip-hop class last Thursday, and although I struggled along, I had so much fun! My teacher was so nice, and suuuch a cool dancer.

I was so, so nervous going into class, I felt sick. I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know if I would be able to keep up, or if I would just look ridiculous. But everyone was kind and just wanted to let loose.

After class, I downloaded the song we learned a dance to (Superego by Disclosure, below), and have done a little practicing since. Tonight is my second class, and I’m pretty pumped to see how it goes.

Truthfully, I’m probably about two twerks away from breaking myself –  30 feels like 50 should, but I’m determined to give these moves a go! (I’ll be sure to post video once I feel my moves are good enough).