Up and Down and All Around

Always posing

Always posing

The past couple weeks have been busy!  We’ve already finished learning our second show, a Vegas themed production.  It’s a very diverse show.  In the opening and finale, I’m a showgirl, complete with a rhinestone bikini and feathers, but in the middle of the show, I do a fierce number to “Dark Lady”, a fun number to a Bette Midler song, and at one point, even dance with boxing gloves!  It’s a little challenging to switch into so many styles, but is very fun to do.

Rainy day in the studio

Rainy day in the studio

We’ve now moved onto our third production show.  So far, I’ve learned the opening number, full of more turns than I’ve ever done on stage, and half of “Queen of the Night”.  This show also has a lot of variety, and is known for being technically difficult and requiring a lot of stamina.  I’m enjoying the rehearsals, but am looking forward to a day off on Sunday to rest!

Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth

In other news, I got to meet (or pose with) Kristin Chenoweth!  She visited the studios for an event for a new ship in the fleet, and I was able to snag a photo and get her autograph.  I’ve been a big fan of hers since I saw “Wicked” in New York.  In person, she was lovely.  She was so kind to all of the cast members, and looked gorgeous.

So exciting!

So exciting!

I’ve been enjoying getting to know the other girls in my cast.  Each night, we end up chatting for hours.  They’re all so down to earth!  We went out for a “girls’ night” last week and made mojitos at the apartment on Saturday.  This weekend, we’re planning to do a cast barbecue, and maybe even go out for Sunday brunch!

Homemade Mojitos

Homemade Mojitos

I’ve been having a difficult time adjusting to the busy schedule while also maintaining a long distance relationship.  My beau, who I met on my last ship, was just sent to a ship in the Caribbean.  His hours are very different than mine, so we’ve not been able to talk as much as usual.  As a result, I’ve been somewhat emotional.  My amazing sister sent me a box of “happy food” to try to cheer me up.  Supposedly goji berries and hemp seeds help to boost your mood, so I’ve added them to my diet!  I don’t know if they actually help, but I smile every morning thinking of my sister while I add goji berries to the top of my cereal.

Happy food!

Happy food!

Overall, things are going really well.  I’m looking forward to finishing the last show, and getting ready for the ship.  We sign on in less than 3 weeks!  More stories coming soon.

 

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This is My Dance Space

I’ve been in rehearsals now for over two weeks.  In that time, I’ve learned many new styles and techniques.  The first show we learned was a ballroom show, so I had to learn cha cha cha, foxtrot, quickstep, salsa, rumba, and lindy.  It was a lot of information to take in, but I really enjoyed it.  Our choreographer was an excellent teacher and was very supportive, and the featured ballroom couple would help the rest of us with some technical details.

The day after we finished learning the show, we performed it in the studio for some of the staff.  It was a little stressful, because the material was so new, but was also very exciting.  Having an audience gave us all a lot of energy.  I already loved this show, but now I’m excited to put it on stage.  It will be really fun to perform.

Post-performance celebration

Post-performance celebration

Yesterday, we started working on our second show, a Vegas themed production.  It felt strange to be doing jazz again!  I’m looking forward to learning more today.  We get to dance to some great music, and I’ve heard the costumes are pretty fabulous.

Some of the boys stretching

Some of the boys stretching

It’s shocking for me to think that I’ve only been working with this group of people for 2 weeks.  I feel like I’ve gotten to know them very quickly.  The first weekend, we went out to a Mexican restaurant for a cast dinner.  After of in-studio performance, we celebrated with a drink down the street.  This weekend, we’re celebrating a cast member’s birthday.  It’s an energetic bunch of people, but I think I’ll really enjoy working with them for the next 6 months.

Mexican restaurant mmm

Mexican restaurant mmm

Check back next week for more!

Time for an Adventure!

One of the loveliest sunsets of vacation

One of the loveliest sunsets of vacation

My vacation has finally ended.  The past 3 months have been a bit of a blur!  I traveled a lot, and was blessed to be able to spend time with friends and family.  Here are some of the highlights.

Snow! Didn't see that in Australia!

Snow! Didn’t see that in Australia!

After about a week back “home” in San Francisco, I went to visit a very close friend in Portland.  We were mainly focused on catching up, but also managed to do some tourist activities.  She took me downtown a few times and convinced me, quite easily, that I should move to the Pearl District when I’m done with ships.  We also drove out to Multnomah Falls.  Due to heavy snow, we weren’t able to climb up the bridge, but the view was amazing!

Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville, VA

I went back to SF for a training course, and then packed up my winter gear and went to visit family in Charlottesville, VA.  I enjoyed some much needed time with my sisters, took a few yoga classes, and played in the snow!  Unfortunately, I don’t know how to drive in snow, so I was housebound for most of my visit.  I’m now an expert at snow angels, however!

Snow Angel Pro

Snow Angel Pro

My next stop was Romania.  I went to visit a gentleman from the ship that lives outside of Bucharest.  Early in the trip, we went to Peles, a beautiful castle built in the German Renaissance style.

Peles

Peles

We also went on a tour in Bucharest.  Our first stop was the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, where we were able to walk around a village of sorts featuring houses, mills, and chapels in traditional styles from across the country.

Museum of the Village

Museum of the Village

After lunch at a Lebanese restaurant, we went to the House of Parliament.  It is the second largest government building, after the Pentagon.  We took a tour inside, during which I learned a lot about the country.  The decor is beautiful, and I was fascinated to learn that all of the materials used to build and decorate the building, except for one set of doors, are from Romania.

Parliament

Parliament

Towards the end of my trip, we went to Brasov.  We went up to a ski slope to meet some friends, wandered in the city, and took advantage of the nightlife.  It was a great week.  I was able to explore a new country, learn more about a special friend, and meet some wonderful people.

See ya, Romania

See ya, Romania

Upon returning to the States, I spent some time with one of my sisters in Northern Virginia.  From there, a friend from the ship picked me up to drive to New York.  There, I saw a few ship folks, including my roomie, and some recently relocated friends from SF.  I did a few touristy activities, like going to the MoMA and walking through Central Park, but mostly made the rounds to see my people.

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park

My next stop was Texas.  I was able to spend a good few weeks with my parents, see my old friends perform with the ballet, throw my best friend a bridal shower, and do a photoshoot with an old dance buddy.  It was nice to be home, but I was anxious to get moving again.  I needed to feel like I had a purpose once more.

Bridal shower

Bridal shower

For the past few days, I’ve been back in Florida.  I just started rehearsals for my next ship, the Adventure.  In the past 3 days, we’ve learned a hip hop routine, a lindy, cha cha cha, foxtrot, and quickstep.  Only one of the dancers from my last cast is with me this time, so I’ve also been busy getting to know my new group.  So far, things are going well!  Check back next week for more updates from rehearsals!

Set the Stage

Since we signed on, we’ve been in “install”, meaning we are installing the productions in the theater.  Transferring the shows we learned in Florida to the stage is quite a process!  Due to long tech rehearsals, performances, and trainings, we’ve been unable to exit the ship for over two weeks.  Today our rehearsal director is signing off, officially marking the end of our install period.  Trainings and rehearsals will continue, though with less intensity.

La Scala Theater on the Voyager of the Seas.  My home theater!

La Scala Theater on the Voyager of the Seas. My home theater!

The evening of the 19th we opened our second show, “Music in Pictures”.  In terms of stamina, this show is much easier for me!  I was less nervous than I was for the opening of the Broadway show, so I was able to really enjoy my time on the stage.

The "talls" and our leading lady

The “talls” and our leading lady

After the second show of the night, we celebrated the opening with a champagne toast and snacks.  It was nice to be able to chat more with the band and production team.  It turns out my Production Manager sometimes works with Texas Ballet Theater!  We have a number of mutual friends/acquaintances in Fort Worth.  What a small world!

Champagne toast

Champagne toast

The following morning, we had to set the Welcome and Farewell numbers on the stage.  Waking up was rather challenging, so I appreciated that the rehearsal wasn’t too long.  In the afternoon, I completed my Safety Training.  I learned how to properly jump into the water in case of an emergency, how to climb into a life raft from the water, and how to flip a life raft.  After that, I was finally able to get off the ship!

Private tour of the bridge

Private tour of the bridge

Check back tomorrow for tales of my escapades in Incheon!

Happy thoughts!

Happy thoughts!

Let’s Get Down to Business

Written 7/13/13

Time has flown by since I joined the ship last Friday!  After signing on, we went straight into orientation.  Various safety and policy trainings have been spread throughout the week, in addition to rehearsals, costume fittings, parade rehearsals, and practice safety drills.

En route to the ship

En route to the ship

Days have started blending together in my mind, and my sleep patterns have been more than a little unusual.  The only constants have been meal times, though today I was unable to even make it to lunch.  We had our first full dress rehearsal of the Broadway show this afternoon, and have just one more run in costumes before we open the show!  I’m struggling with some of the quick changes, so I hope I can move faster tomorrow.

The water has luckily been pretty smooth during rehearsals, but simply being on a ship while dancing has added a whole new challenge. There are also a lot of intricate costumes and large prop and set pieces in all of the productions, so they have dramatically escalated in difficulty.  I was teased quite a bit during our parade tonight (first one!) because I looked somewhat panicked every time I left the parade route to change props.  I spent most of the day essentially paralyzed by anxiety.

The ship has stopped in Tianjin and Jeju, but I’ve been unable to go on land because of rehearsals.  I’m looking forward to getting off the ship and exploring soon!  I’m especially excited to go to Jeju.  From what I can see, it’s beautiful.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

I’ve made the most of the little free time I’ve had on the ship.  I’ve met some people from other departments, went to a crew skate night, attended a “strum session” at the staff bar, and went to a beach themed crew party.   I was also able to see the previous production cast perform our Movies show and watch the ice show!  I’ll start helping with lights for the ice show soon, so it was nice to see what I’ll be dealing with.

This week has been a roller coaster.  I’ve had emotional highs and lows, feeling joy, anger, and everything in between, but overall, I’m still optimistic.  Once I get into the swing of things (and stop getting lost), I think I’ll have a great time.

Port updates coming soon!

My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready to Go

I can’t believe I’m leaving Florida today!  I won’t return to U.S. soil until 2014.  How crazy is that?!

Farewell!

Farewell!

Over the weekend, I took advantage of my free time, and relaxed.  I had a movie night with a couple of the girls after rehearsal on Saturday, and Sunday treated myself to a “Princess Day”.  I slept in, ran a few errands, then went to a hotel on the beach for an afternoon at the spa!  I had a lovely “Heavenly Massage” at the new Heavenly Spa, enjoyed the steam room, sauna, and relaxation room, and after hydrating, sipped on a delicious ginger martini at the hotel bar.  It was great to have some time to myself to decompress.

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Lovely legs

Monday morning we had a late start time, a few hours of review and rehearsal, a send-off meeting, and most importantly, our office run!  Our performance of the Movies show went really well!  I loved performing with my cast.  A friend from another ship actually commented on how great our group dynamic was.  Most of the other feedback I received was about my legs.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled about that.

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A great team

We went back to the Mexican restaurant downtown to kick back after a rather stressful afternoon.  I had a hard time winding down, so I was grateful to be able to sleep in on Tuesday!  I ran a bunch of errands, did final loads of laundry, and re-packed all my things!  Somehow, my luggage has gained 10 lbs in 5 weeks.  I’m hoping I can avoid overweight luggage fees, but they may be inevitable.

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Happy thoughts

We are leaving the apartments early in the morning, then flying from Miami to Tokyo, with a short stop in Dallas.  I wish we had a longer layover so I could see some of my friends from home!  We’ll be in Tokyo for a couple hours before flying to Gimhae in Korea.  We are going to spend Thursday night in a hotel, and will join the ship Friday afternoon in Busan.  It’s going to be a long trip, but I’m really excited!  I have a giant book and a Nook (on loan from my sister), so I should stay entertained on the plane.  Unfortunately, I’ll miss out on any 4th of July festivities.

Let me entertain you!

Let me entertain you!

Next time you hear from me, I’ll be on the ship!  Things are about to get interesting…

Aloha!

The past few days have been a bit of a blur!  Since finishing the Movies show on Tuesday, our schedule has been filled with review times and full runs of both productions.  We also spent some time cleaning up the Welcome and Farewell numbers that we learned the very first day of rehearsals.  My brain has been working hard, and my body has been working even harder!

Each day has had a special sprinkle of excitement, so I haven’t completely lost my mind.  Wednesday evening, my cast had a luau at the apartments to celebrate a cast member’s birthday.  It was awesome!  She decorated the apartment, and we played “pin the flower on the hula dancer”, hula hooped, and ate… a lot.  It was so nice to hang out with the full cast.  It really is an amazing group of people!

Love my cast!

Love my cast!

Thursday we ran the first half of the Movies show in the morning, and after notes and cleaning time, ran the entire show again in the afternoon.  When we were done, we got to watch one of the other casts perform for their office run.  They did another Broadway themed production.  It was fun to cheer them on before they embark on their trip to the Caribbean!

Friday was a very long day!  We had our “unofficial run” in the morning, during which we performed our Broadway show with lights and mics for members of the staff.  It was a little unnerving to have an audience, especially for my Cell Block Tango monologue, but it went pretty well!   We won’t run that show again until we are on the ship!  In the afternoon, we ran the Movies show.  It was our first run with lights, and just the second full run of the show!

Surprise guests before the afternoon run

Surprise guests before the afternoon run

At rehearsal on Saturday, we are running the Movies show twice through, and spending time working out any kinks.  We have a day off on Sunday, and our last day in the studio (and our office run) will be Monday!  I can’t believe how quickly this rehearsal period has gone by!  I’m looking forward to all that is in store for us!

For your listening pleasure today, I’m going back to the 80s.  Fun fact: this was randomly my high school class song.

A Lot Like Love

A lot has happened in the past few days!  I’ve been a busy bee, but have enjoyed flying around.

Cast Jackets

Cast Jackets

Friday, we had a special delivery.  Our cast jackets arrived!  We spent the morning learning a quirky, “rock and roll” style girl number, rehearsed our Cell Block Tango monologues on mic, and ran the Broadway show.  We hadn’t rehearsed that show in almost a week, so the run was a bit under par.  I have a lot of notes to apply and details to review before our next run!

Saturday I was able to sleep in before rehearsal.  The morning was mostly review time, and in the afternoon we ran what we had learned of the Movies show.  We had exciting guests in the audience: my family!  They will not be able to come see me perform on-board, so I was thrilled that they were able to watch rehearsal and see what I’ve been up to.  After rehearsal, I met back up with my family for dinner in Miami with an old friend of my dad’s.  We had a lovely dinner outside in the Design District.  Since my parents had woken up early to catch a flight, I parted ways with them just after dinner.  I rejoined some of my cast mates for a Lipstick and Lashes party at the apartments.  It was a great night!

Lipstick and Lashes

Lipstick and Lashes

Waking up Sunday morning was a little challenging, but the rest of the day was pretty near perfect.  I met the family at their hotel, and after a tasty brunch and about 4 cups of coffee, we hit the beach.  It was wonderful to be able to catch up with everyone without the usual interruptions.  As usual, we laughed a lot!  I had to cut off my fun in the sun (or, more accurately, fun in the shade) to run home and deal with laundry and groceries.

Sisters on the beach!

Sisters on the beach!

I was picked up later for dinner with the family.  We drove into Fort Lauderdale for a delicious meal at Market 17.  I spent almost half the meal close to tears from laughing so hard.  Our waiter got quite a kick out of us, and gave us some great recommendations.  Saying goodbye to my parents after dinner was hard, but I hope to meet up with them in Asia!

The whole family

The whole family

Luckily, I had one more day with my sisters!  I only had rehearsals before lunch on Monday, so I was able to meet up with them relatively early.  We wandered into Downtown Hollywood, and found a great little happy hour spot.  Before stopping for dinner at a sushi restaurant, we strolled through the downtown area.  I love my sisters’ husbands, but it was so nice to have the time and privacy for girl talk!  My single girl stories kept them thoroughly entertained.  After dinner, we grabbed ice cream and walked through the food trucks set up in Young Circle.  I never knew Hollywood was so hopping on Monday night!  Parting with them was rough, but I know we’ll be in touch.  I’m so happy they were able to come spend time with me!

Sisters!

Sisters!

Tuesday was a long day!  We learned the finale for the Movies show.  It’s a Bollywood number, so there are a lot of details and unfamiliar hand positions.  I love it though!  It’s a fun way to end the show.  It isn’t too technically difficult, but is still interesting.  After learning the finale and bows, we ran the last 3 sections of the show, in order to become more accustomed to the transitions between each.  I was worn out by the end of the day, so I was thrilled to partake in Take Out Tuesday and watch a movie with my cast.  Mean Girls and Ramen?  Yes.

The song below is one of my “happy songs”.  I’ve been listening to it a lot because it always makes me smile!  I first heard Lord Huron during an emotional time back in November, and was able to see them live at The Independent.  They’re amazing!  Since I’m gearing up to disappear for awhile, I like that this song is about searching for the girl that got away.  I am that egotistical…

The next few days are going to be pretty intense.  We have a lot of cleaning to do in rehearsals, and will be running the full shows frequently.  Monday will be our last day in the studios, and then we’re off to Korea!

It Takes Two

I’ve had unimpaired vision since Wednesday (hallelujah!), and have been trying to pick up any slack from my days of partial blindness.  My rehearsal schedule has also picked up, so I’ve been very grateful that my body is finally cooperating.  We’ve been working on a Ballroom section and a Latin section for the Movies show, so I’ve been doing a lot of partnering!

Battle wounds

Battle wounds

There is always an adjustment period when working with a new partner, so learning 2 new styles with 3 different partners has been quite an experience!  My partners have been great, but we’re still working out some kinks.  In our attempts to master some of the more complicated lifts, I’ve developed some very colorful bruises!  I’ve also been acutely aware of my own faults and weaknesses.

Girls' Night

Girls’ Night

Due to exhaustion and the unavoidable signs of my own imperfection, I’ve been a bit emotional this week!  I needed a good cry, and luckily wasn’t alone.  My roommates and I kicked back one night with homemade brownies and The Notebook.  After chocolate, a few tears, and 2 hours of Ryan Gosling’s face, life seemed a lot better.

Searching for normalcy

Searching for normalcy

With so many new styles being thrown at me, I’ve been craving something familiar.  For me, that means a bit of ballet.  I have gotten critiques about my dancing being too “pretty” and too balletic, so I’m trying to balance barre with jazzier warm ups and conditioning.  I’ve also been trying to hone my “beast” status, “fierce” energy, and inner “sexy kitten”.  It’s been… amusing.

Since some of you enjoyed the song I shared last week, I decided to post another!  This has been one of my warm down jams this week.  The band (Slow Club) is awesome, and the video shows a different side of Daniel Radcliffe (you will soon know what drunk Harry Potter looks like).  Hope you like it!

I Can See Clearly Now

Since my last post, I’ve been more than a little frustrated.  I seem to have scratched my right eye, so I’ve been unable to wear my right contact lense.  I’ve been wearing my glasses as much as possible, but can’t dance in them.  The safest/most productive option has been to wear just my left contact at the studio, and rely on one eye.  My depth perception has been skewed, and it’s been hard to pick up details when learning new movement.

Rehearsal

Rehearsal

As a dancer, I learned quickly how to handle injuries.  I know how to decrease pain and inflammation (RICE!), and when to push through discomfort.  I can deal with injuries, but with eyes… I’m at a loss!  There’s nothing I can do to make them heal faster.

While I was struggling, we learned a quickstep and a pasadoble.  Both styles were brand new to me!  They are really fun, but I had a hard time feeling confident, especially with the lifts!  My partners were very helpful and understanding, and I know there’s nowhere to go from here but up.  I have video footage from rehearsals, so I’ve been watching and taking notes on what I need to work on.

Glasses...

Glasses…

After a difficult couple days, I was thankful for the weekend!  My roommate and I went downtown for a drink Saturday night and spoke with some amusing locals.  Sunday we took the bus out to the beach.  It poured down rain when we first arrived, but luckily I had an umbrella in my bag.  We still ended up quite wet!

Drenched en route

Drenched en route

Once the clouds dispersed, it was beautiful!  It was nice to have time to relax and crack open my giant book.  I loved having some time in the sun.  Even with multiple applications of 2 sunscreens, I got a bit of color.  It was worth it though!

Big book, burned legs, and beach!

Big book, burned legs, and beach!

I enjoyed a lazy Sunday afternoon and am looking forward to an early morning Monday.  We’re doing a short ballroom workshop, then continuing with the Movies show.

In many ways, I can see clearly now… my lack of physical focus has allowed me to hone in on what I need to mentally focus on.  Hopefully this awareness will make the remaining weeks of rehearsal even better!

Putting this week behind me

Putting this week behind me